Posts Tagged ‘communal consciousness’

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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As I have written previously on several ocassions, in Druidry the tide between Samhain and Yule is a time of chaos, a time where we allow ourselves to drift and dream, floating in the cauldron, letting go of the need for handles to hold on to. Out of this dreaming come ideas that begin to move from raw potentiality into real possibility. And for me, this season has yielded two possibilities that I will hold as seeds to be planted for the new year’s cycle of growth.

The first idea is the creation of a pagan dance ritual that is a deep dive into the intuitive, a rite of shared vision. I have observed in the pagan communities a sense of fierce independence, which I think a core strength in our traditions. But often this independence comes at the expense of our shared interdependence. I think as a community, we are going to need to become closer, more reliant on each other as global economic recession/depression really begins to take off. Life is going to have to become more local. And as people of the Earth, pagans can lead in this process of learning to live in cooperation and harmony with the land, building resilience within our local communities.

Bringing this communal consciousness to the pagan community will involve deep ritual. Within the Native American traditions there are numerous rites that are all about holding the community together. People gather to seek vision, not for themselves, but for the tribe. Sundance, Naraya, the Long House and Vision Quest are just a few rituals that are about healing the tribe and not just for the benefit of the individual’s spirital journey. I see no counterpart to these within the pagan community. So I am working with others to create one. It will be a pagan rite through and through, honoring the Spirits of Place and held within our own cultural heritage. It will be local.

The second dream that has bubbled up from the cauldron is that of Druid College. I am working with another druid priest to create a new organization that is completely geared toward the training of priests (within Druidry, “priests” refers to both men and women). Again, this has everything to do with community. While many organizations offer courses on Druidry, they are geared towards presenting Druidry to the individual, to be used to their own ends. We are crafting a place where people can learn to become priests that are in service to the land, the people and the gods – priests of Nature. Rather than individuals who are “followers” of Druidry, we want to teach and support people to become “carriers” of the tradition. And to that end, we will be offering training for people who want to step up and be of service. A lot of work ahead to craft such a college, but this is so needed. The need for priests is so great and the number of people stepping forward are so few. For those willing, we want to share what has been giving to us by our teachers, passing on the knowledge to the next generation, completing the cycle of inspiration that is at the heart of Druidry.

So the common thread between these ideas is the concept of community. At a recent lecture by Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth blog, she made the comment that in the face of the coming global depression, we need to transform virtual communities into real communities. This is happening beautifully within the Permaculture community. And I thought about the state of our pagan community. Other than Beltane on the Beach here in Maine at Popham Beach, we pretty much exist as a “virtual” community. Yes, we have real groups, groves, tribes and covens that gather, but the interconnection and sharing between them is very limited, most of it taking place on the internet. So how do we make the tribe stronger, more connected, more resilient?

My answer is to simply start with reaching out and making connections. This pagan dance for vision will happen here in Maine. It will be the counterpart to Beltane on the Beach, the inward journey to Beltane’s outward celebration. The Druid College will be a place to reach for potential and bring those learning into service for the whole community.

I am sure we can have a stronger more resilient tribe of pagans that care for and support each other. And if we put our collective heads and hearts together, we can show the world a way to live on the Earth with honor and consciousness, while minimizing the harm we do as we express our humanity. This dream needs to be realized.

Thoughts? Would love to hear feedback on these projects as well as your own dreams moving into possibility for the new year ahead.

Blessings of new growth found in the depth of the darkness,
Snowhawke /|\

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