Archive for December, 2010

Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever felt the nearly endless twisting pain of grief from losing a loved one? Have you felt the dangerous surge of jealousy flow through you? Have you ever been obsessed by the rush of lust?

Each of us has at one time or another felt a few of these currents moving through our soul. And I bet most of us at one time or another, have lost our footing in the face of such powerful gods as love, death, jealousy and lust. These gods move through us without any concern over our wellbeing. They don’t care if we have a life worth living as they overwhelm us with their power. They simply move on their own lines of intention and it is a wonder when we come out the other side. We often feel weak or lost or confused. Reestablishing our connection to the greater world can take some time. Without a doubt we are changed.

Recently I have been in a place where a few of these gods are surging through my psyche, through my soul, through my physical being. Emotions have been running high. Irrational thoughts keep dancing across my conscious mind. Dreams reveal uncertainty, fear and insecurity as well as making it clear just what forces of Nature I am engaging with, what gods are dancing with me at this time. It isn’t easy.

Life in this place isn’t fun. But it is most definitely real. It is shaking me, waking me and breaking me. These gods reveal much about my inner life. They show places in my soul that I didn’t know were so weak, vulnerable or broken. They show me where I need to direct my conscious energy. They demand that I wake up and learn to craft better relationship with them if I wish to live a life worth living.

How to begin to craft such a relationship becomes the question. What is it I need to do in order to stand firm and not get washed away, falling into a reactionary place where I make poor choices? The answer isn’t one I think I like as it is so easy. It isn’t one I want to accept as it seems so little to go on. But as I look at my current state of being, as well as looking back at my life and all the instances of being hit hard by the gods, it comes to this. I must always be present.

Presence allows us to be wakeful to our own soul’s journey and our relationship to the other souls we encounter. We can’t be living in the past. We can’t be dreaming of the future. We can’t be fantasizing about being elsewhere while ignoring the place we are at. We don’t have a choice in this if we indeed want to live well. And at times, I am sure we don’t. We are simply too damaged to make the choice to live well. We often choose disconnection when we are incapable of dealing with our failures of relationship. Thankfully this is rare for me. But the pull is always strong. It is so tempting to close down, to pull back, to hide and lick my wounds alone. But the ethics of it all pulls me back into wanting to be awake, to be alive.

Ethics? Well I am speaking of the every minute ethics my pagan soul lives by. Even though pain makes me selfish, I realize it isn’t ethical to take other souls for granted. It is never okay to eat my food without acknowledgment and gratitude. It is never okay to engage with my wife, family, friends, unknown acquaintances, the wind, snow, cold, fire,  the spirits of place, essentially all of Nature without being present, being honest, listening with attentiveness that is respectful of the other soul. Of course I fail at times, but the ideal stands.

So how do we become present when we are in a place of being hurt, overwhelmed, confused or filled with emotion? Presence is built on time and space. Being present in time and space is a state of ritual for me. So my Druid tradition helps guide me one step at a time into this place of ritual. To be present in space? Honor and acknowledge the souls around me, the spirits of place, touching with respect and equality. To be present in time? Honor, acknowledge and reach for connection to the ancestors of blood and spirit.

As I said, this isn’t much to go on but I do know without it, I cannot stand in the presence of the gods without getting torn apart. Rooting in place and in my ancestors is simple but not easy. And it makes all the difference. It is a challenge but such is life. Taking up the challenge is a choice. I begin slowly, honoring my own pains and processes. And as I begin to climb out of the darkness, the choice is only to grab the next rung and pull. Each time though, I move up a bit. And each time a little more inspiration surrounds me. I begin to live and create again. And simple things such as this post come into being.

Blessings of new beginnings,
Snowhawke /|\

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The Continuing Story Of…

I returned from a trip to England last week. It was a profound journey for me, one filled with working with the land, my ancestors and the gods. I had the great honor while there to help my friends at a green burial ground they own and operate. It is the most ethical, honorable and sacred enterprise I have ever encountered, providing a place of rest for the dead and a place of sanctity for the living. I was asked to dig a grave for a miscarried child. The task was very humbling and yet at the same time I felt so honored and filled with Awen to be able to help the grieving family with this simple work. I also helped with a funeral for a woman who had died. One day we spent planting thirty trees for the war memorial on the ground and on a few of the graves of those who rest there. The word that best describes this work and this place for me is “holy”.

During my stay, the spirits of my ancestors came to me in ways that were so tangible. I could feel them with me during the journey, welcoming me home and urging me forward into experience. It was healing on a deep level. The experiences are difficult to put into words without sounding like it was something supernatural (which I don’t believe in as Nature is so incomprehensibly huge and inclusive, I can’t imagine something outside of it!). Let’s just say there were physical experiences of consciousness that brought awakenings in my soul.

So my journey included the deep past of ancestors and the present songs of humanity. And with the tree planting, hopes for the future. These combined to give me a real sense of the continuation of the story – my story, our story. It sunk deep into my psyche that there isn’t a separation from the past, from my ancestors and the story of their lives. It is all one story, people procreating, the children sharing life and story and then becoming parents themselves and it all continues on and on, each generation to the next. Sure we are individual souls, but the story of each soul is so intimately entwined with others, the edges blur, each chapter adding to a greater singular story.

My teacher, Bobcat, often speaks in terms of the hearing the story. I see why she uses this metaphor. It simply works and encourages us to look at more than just the immediate, to look at the greater story present all around us. Each of us are part of the story – we may even be a major chapter, but still part of one ongoing story of our human family. Seeing our lives in this way makes apparent the interconnections, the weaving of the web. It connects us to life and to our land. We aren’t living in a vacuum. Not only does this help us live more consciously and ethically, it helps us find a sense of belonging and a sense of rootedness that I think essential to living well. We become a co-creator of the story of our people’s relationship to each other, the land and to the gods. And each soul we encounter, whether bug or wind, stalk of barley or mountain, are part of their family’s story. And all these stories combine to be the story of the Earth, of Nature.

This was a very healing journey for me. I feel much more able to embrace my part in the story, the part that hasn’t been written yet. I hope to write it well so when my chapter ends and I meet my ancestors they will welcome me and say, “well played”.

Blessing of peace, love and inspiration,
Snowhawke /|\

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Questioning Everything

So here we are in the middle of the Samhain tide. It has been a profound one for me, questioning everything in my life and daring to dream of possibilities. I look around me and all the things I have gathered in life seem like burdens and chains (even the nice stuff!). This time of year, I just want to empty my life of complexity. My wife and I have been purging our home of all the things we really don’t need. If it isn’t beautiful, valuable or useful, it is going away.

As I approach 45 years of age, I am reassessing my priorities (I don’t recommend waiting that long for those of you younger than that). Samhain offers us a great opportunity to just be in the dark dreaming of possibilities, without putting limits on them. It is a time to clear out the clutter that prevents our having the space and time to dream. Through this tide, it has become apparent to me just how little freedom I actually have. I am not talking about freedom to roam the land or to do whatever I want. I am talking about attitudes, thoughts, emotions, assumptions and the like, basically the realm of consciousness.

While we can control our thoughts, the environment of our day to day living does have a profound influence. And it is both realms I am reassessing. And this has a profound affect on the physical reality around me as it is my consciousness that determines the relationships I have and how I work within those relationships. So the TV, the car, the zip-lock sandwich bag all, come into my life because of my consciousness (or lack there of). And because I feel like I am drowning in this stuff, I am questioning everything in my life and reassessing all of my relationships.

I feel a bit like Neo in the Matrix, awakening to the reality of the real world. All the “necessities” of modern life are influencing my consciousness, cars, bills, faucets, electricity, computers, cell phones, email, marketing blitzes, movies, TV, the World Wide Web, and on and on. So I have to limit the effects and remove the hooks these things have on me as this complexity and clutter is preventing me from keeping my consciousness reaching for and touching the sacred, from being in a spiritual state of mind.

I just drove from Maine to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to visit my parents – two days of driving with one day of actually visiting and sharing. Driving 500 miles in a day, stopping at gas stations, seeing the endless chain stores of Corporate America, the urban sprawl and endless competition of traffic on the highways, I think would unsettle even the Buddha. The operative word I am working with now is “simplify”.

While in PA, it was eye-opening to me to be in Amish country. While I am sure there are huge differences in theology between the Amish and myself, I can’t help but admire the conviction they live by and the day to day life they have built for their community. They have managed to create a life living in intimate relationship with the land. They have a heighten sense of community and a living tradition of working together to help each other live well. They have deep religious traditions that carry the community. Basically they have everything I aspire to be a part of, a real community and a life that fits into my sense of ethics, one that is a living expression of my religions tradition of Druidry.

As I look at all the “stuff” I have (although little compared to the average American), much of it doesn’t support the goal mentioned above. What I really want in life is to live in a community that works closely with and honors the land, one that honors people as vital and valuable, and one that carries a sense of the sacred and acknowledges and honors the gods. I want a life where I don’t have to schedule time for meditation, reflection and connecting to the sacred.

Where to find this community? The truth is, it doesn’t exist for most of us. It has to be created – a conscious pagan community that is filled with people dedicated to true equality, the greater good of the community and to living in a sustainable sacred manner. I want, need, hope for and am working for a fundamental shift in the paradigm by which I live by. I need to be part of creating this type of community. It is the only thing that seems sane in the face of peak oil, a broken government, the corporate exploitation and destruction of our land and planet and the insanity of complexity and disconnection that is modern America. While I do recognize that I need to find the sacred everywhere and in every moment, I also think it is okay to say the emperor has no clothing. This modern world isn’t sustainable and is counterproductive to having healthy communities and healthy individuals that create them. It is time to ring some changes.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Blessings of Samhain,
Letting go into Cauldron of Possibilities,
Snowhawke /|\

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