As I sit here and type this, its Christmas Day here in the States. Roughly about 0945 in the morning, and the outside temperature reads as 68F. Hardly the stuff of winter. At this moment, I am two days away from boarding a plane for Toronto, and then eventually a flight to Dublin, Ireland. Thus, my desk is currently an aftermath of an electronics tornado, as I get devices packed and together for the coming trip. I hate flying, so I am obliged to bring devices of distraction. I have my iPhone packed to the gills with audio lectures and music. My iPad has a massive number of electronic books available for my perusal, including copies of the fantastic magazine Pagan Dawn, which I have an electronic subscription for. And yet, I am still bringing three physical books with me. Why? Because the titles and information draw me towards them at this time.
Making the trip with me will be “The Deities Are Many: A Polytheistic Theology” by Jordan Paper. A book that has the look and feel of academia, which I do not mind reading from time to time. Another book that is making the trip will be “Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood Among the Siberian Yukaghirs”. I picked this book up on a whim, because it handles the concepts of shamanism, and animism from the perspective of a native tribe of Siberia. Not being familiar with the tribe, nor the aspects of shamanism or animism from a Siberian perspective just lends to the potential mystery of what I am about to read. Yes, another academic work. And while these two works are certainly interesting and exciting food for thought; the current book I am reading is already finding interesting moments and quotes for me to ponder.
“Spirits of the Sacred Grove: The World of a Druid Priestess” by Emma Restall Orr is a Moon Books Classics printing that I picked up, in no small part, because of what I have read from Orr previously. I am not even out of the forewords and preface, and already I am finding things that showcase doors where I never thought them to be.
From her “Foreword to the New Edition”….
For if it can be defined at all, Druidry is surely about immediacy: the ability to adapt and honourably respond to each changing moment within nature as it rises before us on the paths of our lives. That is what nature teaches us, and being awake and willing to be taught by nature is the essential practice of this British tradition.
And from the “Note” section immediately after….
Before we know anything at all, we are free. When we have begun to discover, we each carry way with us for some time the burden of thinking we know everything. True magic is about empowerment. Empowerment is about personal creativity, not control. Competition is the game of the ego. A good teacher will never appear superior. It isn’t a race for enlightenment; it is a journey towards balance and perfect peace. There is no Holy Grail which holds all the answers. There is only our own freedom of spirit.
For me, it has only taken the space of five pages for me to find small sections that already speak to who I am as a Druid. Nearly every work I have read from Orr has served as a basis of where I can step outwards, creating my own walk through the forest that may or may not utilize the already worn trail that many others have walked.
It is interesting that this shows up at this particular point in where I am in Life. I am reminded, yet again, that this Path was set before me feet for a reason. My previous six years of stumbling around have come from not shedding the concepts of rigid dogma that are encrusted upon me through my early years of life. I kept the ship clean above decks and down below, but I never bothered to check the hull for barnacles. Once I made that check, and removed my crustacean passengers, much of what did not make sense – clicked into place. In short, while I had found re-birth on this Path, unconsciously I had been clinging to pieces of a past life that was no longer relevant. Grow, change. Unlearn, learn. Take the steps that you need; not the steps that someone else made long ago.
Am I the same Bardic initiate I was six years ago when I started down this path with OBOD? Certainly not. I’m not even the same Bardic initiate I was two years ago, when I re-affirmed those steps at the first Gulf Coast Gathering. Growth, learning, walking the steps as I feel the need to do so. Observing. Watching. Still learning. Always learning. The titles accumulated along the way, the certificates stating that a level of training has been completed – all nice accolades. But only a small aspect of the memory of the learning that took place throughout the journey. Much like a photo captures a moment in time, a focal aspect of beauty — it never replaces the entirety of the experience. Only that singular moment.
I am excited to read through this book, and wide-eyed in wonder what I will discover within its pages. I am both ecstatic and absolutely frightened on what doors will be revealed to me; what connections I will discover that have been dormant and/or hidden from me. For me, there is one final point that has been made over the last six-plus years of study: there is no such thing as 101, 201, beginner, or expert studies. There is just studies. Everyone starts off on the same blocks at one point or another. How we each walk the maze is up to us individually. Whether alone or in a group – it still requires each individual to walk their Path. There are no piggy-back rides…..
I will likely not be posting blog posts while I am gone. I have no material queued up for anything like that. Most of my writing is extemporaneous here on the blog. In two days, I climb aboard a plane to fly into Toronto International Airport for a layover until the flight to Dublin, Ireland. It will be a whirlwind ten days while I am there. There will be a lot of things I do not get the chance to see, as I am with a group and our itinerary is set by the tour company. But I will be trying to use free-time to see some thing I have wanted to….such as Phil Lynott’s statue, and some the 1916 Easter Rebellion sites. One part of the trip will be to the Giant’s Causeway, which I have heard marvelous things about. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season….see you next calendar year!