“I am one, and we are many. Fellowship, in solitude”. – From the liturgy of the Solitary Druid Fellowship.
This post in a way acts as a counterpoint to Wednesday’s one on Getting out and shutting up, which emphasised the outdoors aspects of Druidry.
We are currently in the grip of a global pandemic. Coronavirus has spread across the world, and the response in most countries has been to shut down, recommending that public gatherings be cancelled, travel curtailed and people told to remain in their homes to “self-isolate” or practice “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the virus.
This means that for many, for at least the forseeable future, getting outside is going to be more difficult, if not impossible. So, in light of this, how can Druidry be practiced indoors?
If you’re self-isolating, even if you’re working from home, you’ll probably have a bit more time on your hands. This period of enforced isolation can be a chance to read, learn and study all you can and deepen your Druid knowledge. If you are able to get books delivered to you, my recommendations are Philip Carr-Gomm’s Druid Mysteries, Penny Billington’s The Path of Druidry, and especially for those practicing a solitary path, Joanna van der Hoeven’s The Awen Alone.
If getting access to books is difficult, then there are a wealth of Druidry resources available online. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids has a vast website with an extensive library of articles that are well worth a read, and there are many excellent Druid blogs out there too.
Want something other than reading? The OBOD podcast, Druidcast, has over 150 episodes packed with Bardic music and storytelling, and interviews and talks from some of the most influential and interesting Druids in the world today. There’s a lot to listen to!
Even away from the physical presence of other Druids and Pagans, we can still build community in solitude. Every Monday OBOD hosts “tea with a Druid” on their Facebook page, a live video-link with either Philip Carr-Gomm or a guest, on a topic related to Druidry. They normally last around 20 minutes, and being live, you can comment in real-time and join the discussion. Also on Facebook, the Pagan Federation Community Support Team do regular Online moots and rituals that aim to bring people together to celebrate and learn even of they’re far apart. The next Online Moot is on 22 March for the Spring Equinox.
If you have a grove but can’t meet them in person for a while, consider doing a “ritual in spirit” whereby everyone does a ritual (you can use a script if you want everyone to do the same ritual) at the same time, wherever they are. Checking in afterwards by text, social media or phonecall could be a good way to discuss the ritual and have a chat afterwards. That way, the energies of the group are held together and joined in ritual even if you can’t get together physically.
Of course, now is a time to think about the most vulnerable in our communities too. Can you safely help those who need help? Don’t put yourself at risk of infection of course, but by maybe donating to a food bank instead of stockpiling, or offering to run errands for an elderly neighbour, you can put the Pagan virtues of community and hospitality into practice.
Being stuck inside can make our connection to nature seem distant. If you are lucky enough to have a private garden, you can still use this while self-isolating, and by keeping the bird feeders topped up you can encourage nature to come to you. If you don’t have this, it can be more challenging, but nature is still there all around us.
Open a window, and feel the breeze gently blowing. Smell the scent of the air and hear the birds singing. Watch the clouds go by. See if you can spot any trees or plants from your window, and watch them to see what birds and animals make their homes there.
If you have houseplants, they can bring nature indoors too. Even a small potted cactus is a living being, part of nature, and you can honour and connect to the powers of the Earth and Spirit with a houseplant just as you can with a great oak tree. Pets, of course, are also wonderful nature companions and bring a great deal of joy.
And we are part of nature. All of us. So looking after yourself, your health and wellbeing, is honouring nature. Not sure how to start with this? Try my post on Elemental Self-Care for some tips.
Monks and mystics in religions and cultures around the world have been known to isolate themselves in hermitage to deepen their spiritual practice.
If you find yourself suddenly stuck at home, see if you can connect to this same spiritual current. Continue your daily practice, or even deepen it. Make time for meditation and prayer, divination and ritual. Look inward and rediscover the still centre of your being that can sometimes be drowned out by the noise of everyday life.
While I frequently emphasise the importance of getting outside and doing Druidry in natural places, these are extraordinary times. For the sake of ourselves, and for the sake of our loved ones, and the most vulnerable people in our communities, the safest and best thing to do right now is to stay indoors.
Druidry can be practiced in this environment. It just might take a little thought and reworking to make it fit, but it can be done. For even inside our homes, the Land still stands beneath us, the Sea still swirls around us, the Sky still stretches out above us, and Spirit still flows through all things.
And this, too, shall pass. There will come a time when the virus has run its course, when medical science has developed a treatment and a vacciene, and when our streets and cities will be open again. We will mourn those who didn’t make it, hold those we love close, and rebuild.
Let’s use this time now to deepen our Druid and Pagan practice, to make new connections to people all over the world, and to come together while staying apart, to keep the light of hope shining to guide us into a better future.
As Julian of Norwich, a Christian mystic who survived the Black Death, wrote:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”.