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Archive for June, 2011

Wordless Ritual

My grove recently celebrated Alban Hefin (the summer solstice). This year we didn’t do any formal ritual. It was an exercise in simplicity. And I have to say it was as an effective a ritual as any.

One grovemate lives in a cottage on a farm here in Southern Maine. So we gathered at her place and walked down the farm road to back acres of rolling hills of hay. The lane was sided by a cornucopia of wildflowers, grasses, sedges, shrubs, bushes and trees. The air was filled with the hum of bees, flies, frogs and bird song – breezes rattled the leaves, coaxing song from the trees. It reminded me very much of England. The scent in the air was extraordinary, mixing mud, flowers and clover, stirring memories of summers long past.

We wandered through the mown fields atop a small hill. Simply sitting in a circle on the grass, with no altar or props, we took in the energy of the place, effortlessly rooting in the rich living soil, finding presence. Beautiful clouds drifted by stimulating our imaginations. It was like being a child again, seeing a whole other world and story in the endlessly morphing shapes flying through the sky. Finding myself surrounded by such beauty, sharing it with the people dear to me, the Awen flowed filling my soul with life enhancing inspiration.

The only word that really captures the moments we shared is “sanctity”. This simple sharing in Nature was totally sanctified. There was no need to call to the directions as all directions were present and speaking to us. There was no need to cast a circle as why would I want to delineate a boundary between myself and that which I was seeking, deep connection to Nature. This was a moment to simply be and open up, to let the edges dissipate and fall to nothing. There were no words to be spoken. It was a time to sit and listen and to allow the blessings of the moment to wash through us, opening to the beauty and abundance of summer allowing those gods to inspire, to make a shift from “doing” to “being”.

I walked away filled with gratitude and inspiration, feeling a soul deep connection to the land, my tribe and the gods. And isn’t that what this spiritual path is all about? I would that you all be blessed by such Grace.

Midsummer blessings,
Snowhawke /|\

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Instant Ritual

Still in California…

Today I ventured out at lunch to find something to eat. I settled on noodles from a restaurant next to the hotel I am staying at. After I got my food and stepped out of the restaurant, my attention turned to two little birds in the outside dining area I was passing through. They looked very similar but were obviously different species. Both were small dark brown birds of a similar shape. One had dark eyes and the other white. The second was obviously a type of grackle that we don’t have on the East coast and the other a type of sparrow perhaps.

I processed all of this in an instant. My attention drawn from the world of humanity to the greater Nature all around me. In a few steps I went from work mode to ritual space.

Ritual is the art of stopping and taking a break from the mundane to remember the sacred, to reestablish that all important connection with the Earth and the Divine, the connection that feeds us and gives focus and purpose to our lives.

Learning to shift our consciousness to a ritual mindset is a big part of Druidry. With dedicated practice, we can develop the ability to shift in a breath, in an instant, from the mundane frontal lobe visual world we all live in, into a rich multi-dimensional spiritual one. And it is in this state of mind where we are sufficiently present enough to craft relationships deep enough to open us up to the flow of Awen, divine inspiration.

I mention this because being out in Silicon Valley has made me feel terrible, surrounded by environmental degradation and societal dysfunction has been very trying to say the least. Everyone seems to be focused on image. It is a car culture, a cellphone culture and an appearance culture. People worship money here. And you all know my thoughts about “worship”.

Anyway, amidst this manufactured world everyone lives in, Nature is still trying to express herself. The little birds I saw for a few seconds taught me much.

The birds landed on the top of the back of one of the chairs in the eating area. One of the men sitting at the table immediately, without thought, swiped at them to get them to fly off. It was alarming to me that anyone could be so disconnected to behave in such a manner. He didn’t see anything of value in front of him. He didn’t see the sheer magnificence and beauty of the birds. They fly for gods sake!!

Because I was in ritual space, I knew what the birds were saying to me when they caught my eye.

“Your tribe killed the land. We need food and you won’t even share the crumbs!”

My response, sent out through my nemeton, through my soul to them was simple, “I hear you and acknowledge your plight. Yes, you are right. And I am sorry. I am trying to heal the land. You have my word on that. You are beautiful and I honor your soul and your tribe.”

I write this as an example of what it is to find inspiration in the moment, when we need it. It is a conscious act. Even in the midst of desecration, disconnection, and destruction, we can find inspiration. It isn’t about just being in the beautiful places, reveling in those exquisite moments where we are just in awe of the sheer beauty of Nature. It is about opening our soul for deep relationship. And we can do this is the darkest of places, in moments of sheer horror. In fact, sometimes that is where it is need most. Those birds heard my acknowledgement and I theirs. And both our worlds have changed. From that brief exchange shared soul to soul, Awen flowed. And out of that inspiration is this blog post.

Remember to share the with the Spirits of Place, all those souls that live around you. We have chopped up Nature and disrupted the flow of the plants and animals trying to express their soul truth. We have stressed their tribes. The least we can do is acknowledge them and share the abundance we are experiencing at their expense as they try to live among us. Remember, it is long past where they can get away from us. I am not saying “feed the bears”. I am saying give back to Nature what is due Nature. And listen, really listen. It will change everything.

Blessings of acknowledgment, generosity and sharing,
Snowhawke /|\

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No Unsacred Place

I recently read the following quote by Wendell Berry, “There are no unsacred places. There are only sacred places and desecrated places”. This profound thinker has in one sentence, succinctly put what I have babbled on about for years. I think all true poets are at their core, Bards. And Mr. Berry is a true Bard and poet and I give him heartfelt thanks for writing this phrase. It will really help me in my role as a priest as I try to communicate the nature of Druidry.

I am out in California for work at the moment. As I drive around I take in with all my senses, the intense level of desecration that has happened here. I see endless miles of pavement, strip malls and corporate glass buildings. The land itself is paved over and chopped up so there is no continuity of the eco-system. This isn’t to just pick on Cali, this seems to be the case everywhere where we humans tread on this planet. But when I leave my home in the Maine woods, it is still alarming to experience the vastness of destruction as I fly across the continent. It is terribly unsettling, even depressing.

“No unsacred place”. Indeed, we are immersed in Nature, a part of Nature, made of Nature. And as an animist and a pagan, when I stop and really look at the world, I can not find any aspect of Nature that isn’t spiritual, that isn’t sacred.

Yet throughout the human collective experience, we all seem to experience a feeling of disconnection. Philosophers have been trying to understand the nature of human consciousness since the inception of the philosophical mind. I don’t have an answer as to why we all experience disconnection. What I do know is the result.

Where we experience disconnection, we cease to perceive the sanctity of Nature. And when we cease to see the world as sacred, we desecrate. All of us do this, all the time. Try as we may to “live consciously”, we can’t seem to stop adding to the damage and desecration of our Earth. Trying to become carbon neutral; growing all of one’s own food; or building a completely green home; while great in their intent, are still acts of participating in this modern society. And that by its nature is adding to the desecration. If you drive a car; if you produce trash; if you buy clothes; if you use a cellphone or a computer; if you buy food transported by fossil fuels; you are participating in the damage and desecration of Nature. The Earth is being hurt by these activities – very little on an individual level, but huge when looking at the collective. Not matter if you accept this premise or not, one thing is for sure, we are all in this together when it comes to the results. Our interconnection is undeniable (well you can try denial I guess :>) and we have collectively caused so much harm to the planet, it is possible we are approaching the tipping point where the Earth becomes very inhospitable to human life.

So what is the solution?

I don’t have one. My intuition tells me we won’t find one until we get past our frontal lobe and develop a stronger connection with the subconscious mind, and then even deeper to the soul. It lies with learning to live through the nemeton, living on a soul level. We need to run our decision-making through our soul, not just through the old and new brain. We need to take into account the entire story of the energies we are dealing with. We need to live in a sacred manner where what we do is entirely based on complete cooperation and integration into our environment. Where the sense of individualism is replaced with the perception of being part of.

We are capable of this. We can choose to work at seeing all of Nature as sacred. We can decide this is a basic premise on which we base our lives on. Only when we recognize all the souls around us as sacred, will we cease to desecrate. And I believe we as pagans can lead the way.

Someone very wise told me long ago, “Paganism was the first religion and it will be the last”. And as we edge toward the tipping point, I believe she was right.

Blessings of wholeness,
Snowhawke /|\

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