What do You do?

This blog post was prompted by a question that the Druid priest and Author Cat Treadwell recently asked of her audience at a talk I attended at Lin Dhu. The question was, What do you do?

As pagans it seems that many people find this question very difficult to answer. Why is this? Is it because we are ashamed of what we do? Of course not! Is it that we have been made to feel silly about what we do, by modern society and we fear ridicule? Perhaps. Or is it maybe that we find it difficult to answer because paganism is a lived spirituality, not something that happens on a particular day each week and only in a certain building? Maybe

Paganism as a spiritual path is something that colours our everyday lives and so we rarely. if at all, analyse what we actually DO. And it matters not what path we follow, as there are more things that unite us as pagans, than divide us, whether druid, wiccan, heathen, shaman, witch or any other pagan path. We all have a reverance for nature, we all have respect for the old ways and our ancestors, we all view all life as sacred and we all mark the passing seasons. But what is it that we do? If you ask 10 pagans this same question, you will likely get at least 11 answers! So all any of us can do, is answer the question for ourselves, what do I do?

So I will attempt to answer that question for myself, and try to define what it is that I do as part of my Druid path.

We all have small rituals that we carry out everyday, most of them not what we would call spiritual, getting up and making the bed, washing and brushing teeth, getting dressed, that first cup of tea, everyday acts, but rituals none the less. So with all these things going on, how do we define what is a spiritual ritual? What is it that is different about these acts? The difference is the intent. We do things that we would consider ritual acts with reverence, respect and intention.  So back to the question, what do I do?

Every morning, one of my first jobs is to go out and check on and feed the ducks and chickens, and while doing this I always salute the morning Sun and make a deliberate connection to my goddess Elen and ask for blessings on my day. I will also often make an offering to Elen on my altar in the garden. When I need to, I light incense to offer up a prayer of light a candle to ask for healing for a person, animal or situation. These are things I do very regularly. Another thing I do, that I consider to be part of my Druid path is to read and try to learn something new each day.. My two current projects are learning ogham and mapping local ley lines, but when I feel I have worked on these things enough, it will be something else.

Creativity is also part of my druid path and this includes writing, poetry, crafting. Trying to live with nature is another thing, so keeping ducks and chickens for eggs which we know have come from happy, well cared for birds. Growing as much of our own food as possible in the garden and allotment and herbs for medicines is part of it too.

To me though, druidry is more about service than personal practise and so much of my work as a druid is in benefitting the community. What I try to do in this respect is to facilitate the coming together of the local pagan community by organising meetings, outings, events and seasonal ritual with our group the Abus Coritani. I also try to offer healing, either through Reiki, crystal healing or herbalsim as theres are the things I am trained in, when I am asked. While this is part of my practise, it is by no means all of it, but I do feel it is important now and again, to just look at it, and attempt to answer the question, What do I do? So what do you do?

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Learning Ogham

This picture is a key for the ancient Ogham alphabet, which I am setting myself the challenge of learning. It is an ancient Celtic form of writing, often found carved on to standing stones and gravestones such as the one shown below.

standing stone, IrelandThis is a standing stone (galla’n) on Dingle Peninsula, Ireland.

These are found primarily in west Ireland, but they have also been found in Wales, Cornwall, western Scotland, the Isle of Man, and the Shetland Islands.

The table below gives a little more information and shows that each symbol is connected to a particular tree. This system can be used as a form of secret or magicl writing, but can also be used as a type of divination as each tree has been given a meaning, although this is probably a modern invention.

symbolic perspectives on trees.

Ogham Symbol Letter Ogham Name Tree Image Tree Name Tree Symbolic Meaning
Celtic symbol meaning for beithe B Beithe meaning of symbolic birch tree Birch Beginning, Renewal, Youth
Celtic symbol meaning for luis L Luis meaning of symbolic rowan tree Rowan Protection, Expression, Connection
Celtic symbol meaning for fern F Fern meaning of symbolic alder tree Alder Endurance, Strength, Passion
Celtic symbol meaning for sail S Sail meaning of symbolic willow tree Willow Imagination, Intuition, Vision
Celtic symbol meaning for noin N Nion meaning of symbolic ash tree Ash Connection, Wisdom, Surrender
Celtic symbol meaning for huath H Huath meaning of symbolic hawthorn tree Hawthorn Contradiction, Consequence, Relationships
Celtic symbol meaning for duir D Duir meaning of symbolic Oak tree Oak Strength, Stability, Nobility
Celtic symbol meaning for tinne T Tinne meaning of symbolic holly tree Holly Action, Assertion, Objectivity
Celtic symbol meaning for coll C Coll meaning of symbolic hazel tree Hazel Creativity, Purity, Honesty
Celtic symbol meaning for quert Q Quert meaning of symbolic apple tree Apple Beauty, Love, Generosity
Celtic symbol meaning for muin M Muin meaning of symbolic vine Vine Introspection, Relaxation, Depth
Celtic symbol meaning for gort G Gort meaning of symbolic ivy Ivy Determination, Change, Patience
Celtic symbol meaning for Ngetal NG Ngetal meaning of symbolic reed Reed Harmony, Health, Growth
Celtic symbol meaning for straif STR Straif meaning of symbolic blackthorn Blackthorn Discipline, Control, Perspective
Celtic symbol meaning for ruis R Ruis meaning of symbolic elder tree Elder Transition, Evolution, Continuation
Celtic symbol meaning for ailm A Ailm meaning of symbolic fir tree Fir Clarity, Achievement, Energy
Celtic symbol meaning for Onn O Onn meaning of symbolic gorse tree Gorse Transmutation, Resourcefulness, Exposure
Celtic symbol meaning for Ur U Ur meaning of symbolic heather Heather Dreams, Romance, Feelings
Celtic symbol meaning for Edad E Edad meaning of symbolic poplar tree Poplar/Aspen Victory, Transformation, Vision
Celtic symbol meaning for Idad I Idad meaning of symbolic yew tree Yew Transference, Passage, Illusion

So I think this means I may be quite busy for quite some time!

Love can heal all

It seems to me that recently more people than ever are starting to recognise their spiritual side, looking for the path that will bring them closer to ………. what? Is it a search for meaning? A way to find happiness? A route to opening up forgotten abilities? Whatever it is, its spreading. You only need to look in the Mind Body Spirit section of any bookshop, there are titles on anything from Buddhism to Paganism, Jesus to the Dalai Lama, Tarot to Angles.

The fact that people are realising that there is more to life than what money can buy has to be a good thing which will hopefully lead to us taking batter care of the planet, the plants and animals on it and also each other. Hopefully what all these spiritual seekers are looking for is love, and a way to share that love with the whole universe. But if this is the case, why does there seem to be so much fighting, arguing and bitchiness in what are supposed to be spiritual groups and communities.

I think it is fuelled by fear. Life has taught us, in our modern world, that everything is competative, and it seems that some people bring this over in to their search for a more spiritual way. They perhaps feel that they are not as far along the path to ‘enlightenment’ (a term I dislike enormously by the way) as someone else and so this causes feelings of inadequacy and jealously. Worse still, some people seem to feel they are more ‘spiritual’ than the next person, and consider themselves to be better and so this causes feelings of superiority and heightened ego.

What we need to realise is that, while we may be able to help someone along their path now and again (if they ask, or just by example) ultimately the only path that should concern us is our own. We must treat others with love and try to send love even to negative situations, but that is the only energy we should send. Hold back your anger, jealousy, disappointment and send love and that will heal all.

It really saddens me to see people who are searching for a more spiritual way of life trying to undermine the seeking of others by petty and vindictive words and actions. Love can heal all, lets strive for that.

Truth and compassion

“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”
Albert Einstein

As a Druid, truth is essential for me, in all my interactions, but it is also necessary for truth to be coupled with compassion. Absolute truth is a way to raise our own vibration, which is essential for our personal and spiritual development, but it is also essential for the Universe to, in order to advance us spiritually as a species. “Modern science has concluded that everything that exists in the universe is made of vibration” Hiroshi Doi-sensei…”
The need for compassion in truth is part of this as by emitting positive energy we raise our own vibrations but also the vibrations of those we interract with. There is no benefit in telling the truth but at the same time destroying someone’s hopes, self esteem, happiness etc. So while it is still important to hold to your truth, it must also be done in a way that does not emit negative energy towards someone else and ultimately out into the Universe.
The only way we can raise the vibrations of humanity so we can live in a more peaceful, spiritually aware society is to start with ourselves. To do this we need to be mindful of many things:
  1. Be mindful of your thoughts – it is not only our words and actions that affect our vibration, but also our thoughts.
  2. Think before you speak – speaking your truth in a compassionate way will help to raise the vibrations of those you deal with too.
  3. Spend time in meditation – and also spend time in nature.
  4. Spend time with likeminded people – those with higher vibrations also help us to raise our own.

So remember, while truth is essential, always with compassion!

In the words of Usui-sensei

“For today only…
Do not be angry
Do not be anxious
Be grateful
Work hard and be kind to others…”

Magical Weekend!

by the Abus Coritani

I have just returned from the most magical weekend of the year for me. The event was the LinDhu Gathering and Healing Fest which is set deep  within the wonderful Lincolnshire Wolds at an enchanted space which has been created by the lovely Jayne Culver and Peter Kirke. There was much love, laughter, learning and healing to be enjoyed by all.

The space it is set in is absolutely incredible and the energy hits you as soon as you step out of the car. The site comprises a working farm and extensive horse livery, but there is more, so much more!

At one end of the site there is a wonderful, calm, peaceful meditation/temple area where you can go and light a candle, or incense. Write a note and pin it on to to prayer tree or just simply be. Many of the notes on the tree were deeply moving, especially the ones written by the children, because this is a weekend very much geared towards the whole family, dogs included. 

After sitting in the temple, you can walk the labyrinth, or sit/stand in the healing spiral, both wonderful, calming, healing experiences.

The other features of this site include a sweat lodge, a stone circle in the woods, a campsite, a large barn, including wood burning stove and a huge marquee as well as the stalls where you can buy any number of magical and often hand crafted items.

The things that happen here heal the spirit and set it soaring. There were wonderful talks on subjects as diverse as Druidry, crystal healing, crop circles, weather and elementals and many, many other things. There were life enhancing workshops including shamanic techniques, incense making and working with willow.

The Abus Coritani, of which I am a member, conducted the opening and closing circles in the square and planted a sacred tree in the woods to stand for generations as a prayer and blessings tree which will be known as the LinDhu tree. On Saturday night the square was also host to the wonderful Fire Crab, conducting the Fire Poi demonstration.

In addition to all this there was music from bands such as Merlin’s Keep, Endless Knot, Leafblade and the Angelic voiced Susan Raven. Drumming and chanting around the fire too and most of all, love, friendship and healing.

This weekend is, in short, a life changing experience and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it!