My Druidry is not, for the most part, about ritual, or meditation, or studying Celtic mythology. My Druidry is not, for the most part, about courses, titles, Orders and robes.
All of these things have their purpose and their place, of course.
A good ritual can connect us to each other and the Sacred. Meditation can still the mind to find peace. Celtic myths can reveal ancient wisdom. Courses can teach skills, titles can reflect experience, Orders can provide community and robes, well, they’re just fun.
But these are not the core of my Druidry.
About 90% of my Druid practice is this:
Go out into a natural place.
Look and listen.
There is more to learn from the natural world than from any book or course, any guru or teacher, any Order or religion.
The trees have stories to tell. The animals have wisdom to share. The wind sings the Oran Mor, the Great Song of all life.
I experienced, over the weekend, a day out to a local RSPB reserve for my socially-distanced exercise. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest, I was feeling tired that morning and a bit grumpy, and kind of wanted to stay indoors. But my amazing partner dragged me out of the house, and I am so glad they did.
Something in that walk, through woods and fens, along ridgeways and riverbanks, woke me up.
Or rather, something woke up within me.
Something that, without even realising, I had lost and now found again.
Something that I have come to call the Expanded Self.
We, or at least I, tend to go through days with a pretty stable concept of self. I am this person, sitting at the computer writing. My body is a vehicle to carry my brain about. It needs food and sleep but is otherwise uninteresting. My “self” ends here.
But this is one, very limited, way of looking at the self.
While some forms of Buddhism, and the occasional neuroscientist, might say there is no self, I think rather that there is an Expanded Self: a self beyond the conscious mind, beyond the limitations of form and body, beyond even the pure awareness hinted at in meditation and strived for across many spiritual traditions.
I am not a body-with-a-brain, or a brain-with-a-body.
Out there, among the trees and the river and the reeds, encountering cranes and deer, swans and kestrels, I found myself, or to give it the great big capital letter it seems to deserve, my Self.
I am the land beneath each footstep, holding myself up, the support of soil and sole (soul?).
I am the whisper of the wind through reedbeds, the song of breath and change.
I am the call of the crow, the trod of the deer, the iridescence of the kingfisher.
I am the river, the meander, the flow, the water’s endless dance.
In those moments, the limited self fades away, the boundaries of within and without blurring, fuzzing, becoming permeable, liminal.
The spirit of self and the spirit of place join in a fleeting eternity.
And in those moments, there, beyond the boundary, is the Sacred.
There is the Sacred Self, and the Sacred Other, in I-Thou relationship.
And in those moments, I have no gender – or maybe I have all the genders.
My gender is cold water moving over black soil. My gender is a skein of geese returning as the leaves fall. My gender is the song of moss and taste of eastern wind.
And in those moments, I am free.
This is the beating heart of my Druidry.
This is what matters.
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