Archive for April, 2010

“my family too often crosses too many of my boundaries”

During a recent conversation with an online friend named, Terri, she posed the above statement. She and I have been engaged in an ongoing discussion of dealing with transition, energy, creativity, and other such huge topics that pertain to paganism and Druidry. Being able to really deal with these subjects in our everyday lives, hinges on the work of understanding and navigating boundaries.

Living with honor; having sacred relationship with the land, the people and the gods; dealing with the flow of energy;  finding our tribe; finding acceptance; healing emotionally; and all our other spiritual aspirations requires a deep look at boundaries.

This may seem abstract but really it is very simple. We all instinctively recognize when our boundaries are being crossed. They are just a fact of reality as we know it.  Do you think we can succeed at any of the above mentioned if we are constantly having our boundaries disrespected and we constantly disrespect the boundaries of others?

Our soul has boundaries. The first steps in Druidry as it was taught to me was to learn to feel its edges and to see how those edges react in relationship to other souls. This isn’t some “advanced” metaphysical “skill” one attains through esoteric spiritual practices. It is completely simple, intuitive and innate to each of us. It is the beginning of my practices, not the end result of them.

I say it is simple and some people think I am just being arrogant. Here are some examples to illustrate why I say it is simple. Have you ever had a boss look over your shoulder while you are working, getting way too close to you? They haven’t touched you physically but they are certainly not respecting “your space”. Have you ever felt someone staring at you from across the room or street? Their intention is invading your “comfort zone”. This “space” or “comfort zone” is where your soul lives. When someone invades it, you feel it. They are pushing into your personal intimate space. They are pushing against your soul. Even a little child feels this. It isn’t something that takes years of meditation to feel. The years of meditation center around how we use this awareness to live a better life.

When we live life through the soul and its edges, see more easily how we succeed or fail in relationship. This is the tough work of the spiritual practices. It takes brutal honesty to make progress. It takes great amounts of courage to look in the mirror and see we just how ignorant we are of how we are affecting the souls around us. It takes emotional processing heal the wounds in our psyche that make us put up razor wire edges – edges that no one can approach as we react out of a fear that rises from a place that has nothing to do with the current relationship.

When in relationship, we have to have our boundaries respected or there is insufficient trust – trust that enables us to craft relationship that is honorable, sacred, and soul deep (and it is those relationships that bring the flow of awen, flowing spirit, divine inspiration). And just as importantly, we have to look at how we are acting in our relationships. Are we invading the personal space of others, crossing their boundaries? It isn’t so hard for us to feel when ours is crossed. Can we feel it when we cross others’?

So how do we work with this?

We work at learning about boundaries by getting out of the mental space we all live in most of the time as we work at our computers, drive our cars, use our tools, watch our TVs and the myriad other activities we engage in. We commit to taking time to shift awareness to a soul level; to feel our intimate space and bring that awareness into the relationships we have with other souls (human and non-human), recognizing they have intimate space as well. We use all our senses, taste, touch, smell, sound and sight, all of the senses that make us conscious beings, to better acknowledge the souls around us. Although very challenging, it isn’t complicated.

The sanctity of our soul’s intimate space is synonymous with the “sacred space” we craft in ritual. They are one in the same. Ritual space is sacred space. And sacred space is the space where our soul lives. So eventually, ritual becomes the tool by which we live moment to moment, crafting a life built on recognition of the sacred.

This is the essence of what I practice and teach. It seems to me all other spiritual experience comes out of working on this level. How can we touch the gods if we don’t have sufficient trust? How can we deal with the souls of the dead if we can’t deal with the souls of the living? How can we move into ecstatic relationship if the issue of boundaries aren’t clear and navigated? It all comes down to boundaries and working to be able to feel our own and that of others. And then being able to let them go, to open them, when there is sufficient clarity and trust. When we are able to throw down our boundaries and have them thrown down in return by another soul, we experience the divine nature of things as compared to just having the divine be a mental construct. Without recognition of boundaries, their nature and why they are as they are, we will always be struggling to find relationships that allow us to share our soul’s true nature.

This is a life-long pursuit. I work at this everyday. It is the core of my path in life. All my journeys in life spring forth from viewing the world through the lens of sacred relationship.

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Moving Past the Light

Yesterday was summer like at my home in Casco, Maine – temperatures in the eighties, with a warm breeze, light thin clouds dancing above at 20,000 feet. Yet, it being April, the land itself hasn’t begun to express its summer song. The trees are still bare. There are no biting little critters flying about. Atop the hill, the rock I sit on and meditate with is warm and welcoming. I say meditate with because the rock isn’t just an object for me to contemplate. It isn’t just physical matter. It isn’t just a tool to sit on while I reach for intellectual constructs to banter about in my mind. The rock and I are in relationship, one to the other.

As I sit on the rock rooting into the ground beneath, I use the darkness inside of myself and inside the rock as a channel to reaffirmed my roots to mother Earth. I don’t envision the roots as tendrils of “light” to “make” this connection. Light is illusion. It shows us little of the world around us. What we see with our eyes is but the reflection of light off from the surface of another object. We see nothing of its past, future, nor more importantly, we see nothing of its inner nature. When we use our eyes for connection we only have the most shallow surface experiences. Learning to craft connection without light affords us the potential for much deeper relationships. We go from the mundane to the spiritual simply by learning to “see” without light. It is the difference between looking at a picture of a strawberry and the experience of touching, smelling, tasting, ingesting and digesting the exquisite fruit. So my work of crafting relationship, of rooting, connecting, learning to touch, hear, see and experience nature, isn’t one based upon seeking the light. It is just the opposite. I achieve this through working with the darkness that is within the all. Darkness is primary force of nature. Nearly 100% of nature is darkness. And as a druid, my work is to connect to the land, the people and the gods; seeking the exchange of the life energy we call awen. Having realized that most of reality is held within the darkness, it is there I seek the soul to soul connections that bring the flow of sacred awen.

So sitting on this warm grey rock, I find the connection that feeds my soul. It a relationship of breathing with the Earth – not oxygen-based lung breathing, but a different form of inspiration and exhalation. It is a breathing which is the mutual exchange of life energy. And to me this life energy isn’t about color or light. It is about potentiality held within the night, within that endless darkness of Nature herself.

When speaking of meditation, we often envision a mental process. We still the mind and are able to reach out from a place of stillness to find a deeper experience. We experience our sense of self retreat and realize the interconnection we share with all the universe. This isn’t enough. Realization while powerful isn’t enough. It is still confined to the mind. We are reaching out from an internal place, the observer and the observed. I am drawn to go deeper.

Sitting still on the rock, soul breathing with the Earth, I moved passed the “idea” of connection, of simple awareness of the world around me. My meditation moved to a new level, one of simply ” feeling”, perhaps “being” is a better word. It was a place of experiencing edges touching, dancing and combining with other edges. It wasn’t a place of stillness and peace. It wasn’t an experience of the center but one of the edges. It was filled chaos and potentiality swirling, life’s creation coming into and out of being – life energy merging with and separating with other life energy, both destructive and creative at the same moment. I say moment as I don’t think this is a place within the field of time. Time seemed left out of the equation. It most certainly wasn’t filled with “light”. It was completely held within the darkness, within the unlimited potential of empty space and the endless expanse of the void.

It is difficult to put these experiences into words. What I feel like is I made a step forward in crafting and communing with the dark goddess, of moving into an experience of deity that is beyond words. I touched her briefly and it has opened a door from which to craft a deeper experience of deity, to commune with the divine dark mother of chaos we call the dark goddess even as the sun god pours down upon me endless waves of light.

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