Archive for December, 2019

My mentor, Bobcat, once described Druidry as the path of cultivating perfect presence. When I teach about presence, inevitably, someone equates this concept with mindfulness practices. I see a difference. They are not one-in-the-same. Mindfulness is an essential practice that can help us find presence. Mindfulness is the tool. Perfect presence is the goal.

My understanding of mindfulness is, bringing conscious attention and focus to what is immediate. We are learning to stop our mind from wandering to the past, future, or other place. We train ourselves to stay engaged in the current relationship. And since Druidry is all about sacred relationship, mindefulness is vital to the path. Without it, I think we remain dysfunctional human beings, stumbling through life without a sense of grace. Druidry however, isn’t defined by the practice of mindfulness. It is about presence. So what is the difference?

Presence brings in an element of our humanity that the practice of mindfulness does not. While some mindfulness practices do touch on it, emotion is a key component of presence. I need to be more precise by saying, feeling is a key component. There is a difference between feelings and emotions. Alberto Villoldo once said, “an emotion is a feeling that last more than twenty minutes”. That may seem strange or humorous but it is straight forward. Emotion is where the energy of feelings gets caught up in our belief system, our behavioral patterns, our history, our story. Feelings arise naturally – someone cuts you off in traffic and you feel fear and anger. A few minutes later, the feelings have dissipated. That is unless they get caught in your personal story, your emotional programming. In this example, if one is still experiencing fear and anger hours later, it speaks to something deeper than our natural ability to feel. It speaks to the past, to old trauma or behavioral programming we haven’t truly dealt with. One is carrying fear and anger from the past into current relationships where those emotions are not appropriate. They are guiding our action and responses, and those may not be relevant to the present.

Let’s define “perfect presence”. This is when we have brought the totality of our being to the moment. We are soul present. We have processed our past so that we aren’t caught in cycles of belief or behavior that aren’t completely relevant to the present relationship. In perfect presence, when a feeling arises, it moves through us without getting stuck. Our response is appropriate and not necessarily based on what has been. While many mindfulness practices speak about appropriate response, with perfect presence, it isn’t willful. It isn’t a decision or discipline. It is authentic. I think this is the key difference between the reaching for perfect presence in Druidry, and the discipline of mindfulness practices. We are more than our mind. Perfect presence is something happening on the soul level, not just our conscious mind or intellect.

Perfect presence is something we strive for. It is a goal, an ideal. Being human means we will almost assuredly have some hook from the past still embedded in our emotional body, in our psyche, in our soul. As such, a key practice of Druidry is dealing with our own beliefs, patterns, and emotional baggage. We dive right in. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. It’s messy and painful. But progress happens. And sometimes we experience just being present, without a need to respond based on the past. These are lovely moments, sacred ones. We can build on those. But first we have to unpack it all and see where those hooks are and where they come from. We have to learn how to release these emotions, how to get the hooks out. No one can teach you exactly how to do this, only that it is vital to do so. Druidry can give us some tools, but we have to do the work.

I write about this because I’ve seen people use the discipline of mindfulness to avoid having to deal with the past, to avoid looking at their own patterns of behavior, and to refrain from questioning their own belief systems. Remember, the biggest addiction on the planet is that of ‘being right’. And of course, I’ve experienced this in my own being. As a friend once said to me, “if you think you’re enlightened, just spend an hour with your family” :>)

So consider when you’ve responded to a situation where the response wasn’t authentic or appropriate, perhaps where it wasn’t so honorable (remember avoidance and not responding can be inauthentic and dishonorable as well). Recall when a response was charged with the energy of old wounds that never really healed – we’re all carrying the past around. Dive in and see what pattern is in your being that caused your response. Make a decision to release this pattern and begin the work of doing so.

I said earlier, emotion was a key element to presence. It is one of several we will explore. In my next post, I will give you an anecdotal experience of how we can do some of this challenging work of freeing ourselves from the hooks of the past.

Many blessings,

Kevin /|\

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I haven’t written in some time. I hope this post is one of many to follow…

During a recent conversation, I was asked what do I see as my role in our local community. I had to take a moment to really consider this. I see my role as two-fold, each one supporting the other.

The first role is that of building culture. I feel like we don’t have a real culture, one of a shared story, one that crafts an identity and a sense of place in the world. We just have consumerism, chasing careers, and supporting our favorite sports team (not much to hang one’s hat on :>). Even within the Pagan community, there is no real shared culture. So I see myself working to build something for our community to share – connection to the land, a spiritual/philosophical/religious common ground, traditions and stories. I think animism is the key here.

The second part of my role is connected to the first, it is to seed the next generation with traditions, rituals, and spiritual practices that support them having their own direct experience of the divine in Nature. It isn’t my role to tell them how they should experience the gods, only that it is important to do so. Part of accomplishing this is passing on a language of the sacred. Part of it is working to find what works and what doesn’t serve us. And finally it is the work of navigating a relationship with the spirits of place, with the land here, so that we walk supported, in accordance, and in peace with the beings that dwell here, so we are supporting them in turn – in other words, that of crafting sacred relationship with our natural home.

I have been reading Stephen Jenkinson’s excellent book on elderhood, called, Come of Age – The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble. He speaks of us as being elders-in-training. This hums with truth for me. We are in training because we don’t actually know what an elder is. Elders are not part of our broken culture. We’ve never had role models that demonstrate a community mindset. I’ve encountered a few people in life that are elders, but they were not part of my community. I didn’t grow up under their influence. They haven’t helped guide my community. They do this in their own community, but not the one I dwell in. So I see my role as being willing to be an elder-in-training – to work out what that means and to do the work.

One aspect of this journey as we work toward being an elder is to realize, we will not see the fruits of our labor. And we have to be okay with that. That is what loving the next generation is all about. We plant trees that may not bear fruit in our lifetime. We work to cultivate a humble selflessness and really listen to the next generation. We need to meet their needs. I think of my life work as being in service to eternity.

We are part of a flow. We are moving in time. Too often we think and view the world in only two or three dimensions. We forget about time. And recognizing the function of time is essential for the integration into place, into community, into being an ancestor. So I see my role as a gardener, planting and tending a garden that will feed those yet to come. The journey has joy in it. And I hope to share in the abundance should the garden hum with fecundity while I am here. If I am not here in the flesh, I hope I am one of the ancestors that come to circle when the fires are lit, the prayers voiced, and the songs sung as part of the traditions we are crafting now.

So I invite you consider the generations to come. What you are building for them? How are you lifting them up? And consider this question that was posed to me by an elder, “What songs to you want your bones to sing from the Earth when you have passed on?”

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