OGRELD Redux: Spoofing Our Way to Wisdom   Leave a comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI mentioned OGRELD in an earlier post — acronym for that “One Genuine Real Live Druidry” that never existed. But for a non-existent thing, it’s proven surprisingly lively in my thoughts. Every time I scratch my head and say about somebody else, “How can you do that?” when they do or believe or say something that doesn’t match my quirky and partial understanding of the universe, OGRELD raises its fictitious head, pretty frisky for something that isn’t.

But then “existent” and “non-existent” together comprise a pretty useless category anyway, from what I can see. Hit a paradox, seek for a unifying truth behind it: basic tool in my toolkit. Do I really think that what became my mother and my father flashed into existence from nothing some eight decades ago, mucked around, made a life, made me (thank you!!), and disappeared again forever? That’s far less likely, far harder to believe — a major mismatch with my and others’ experience of the universe — than an alternative take on things: that what manifested as my parents, as me, as all the birds and animals and plants and everything here and there and everywhere, the Ten Thousand Things, is something the universe excels at doing.

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Rodent of Unusual Size

Why? Because, first of all, it just keeps doing it. Blessedly, bountifully, provocatively, right under our noses, before our eyes, in our ears, right on hand, at the tips of our tongues. And that, more than anything, spells out my sense of any immortality that may be: this wonderful energy keeps changing form, so don’t get too attached to forms. Roll with it. Dance with it. See where it wants to go next, and follow. Get sufficiently intoxicated in the flow, and its apparent ending is just a wave against a rock, a splash in the endless current. Real? Definitely. Splashy and messy? Yup. But not the whole story by any means. The story goes on with the current. The form (the previous chapter, where we left our hero/ine dangling from a rope above the rapid or the ‘gators or the Rodents Of Unusual Size*) gets left behind. Life 101. What do they teach in schools nowadays?! Move along, move along. These aren’t the Druids you’re looking for.*

But our sneaking suspicion of a truth underlying things also brings with it an annoying tendency for us to think that anything out here, in the manifest world, equals that underlying truth completely, finally, once and for all. That’s a mistake in categories — doesn’t work that way. Instead, it arrives provisionally. Approximately. We encounter any “underlying truth” through time, not all at once. You get your piece, I get mine. For today. Tomorrow we need to reconnect, re-source, re-build. Not “two steps forward, one back,” but instead, keep moving or stagnate, bleed and breathe or fossilize, innovate or institutionalize. Where we are today is always somewhere on that continuum (and almost never at either pole, however much the shrillness of current headlines wants us to believe otherwise. Exhibit A: Anti-Christ Obama / Exhibit B: A New Hope).

So OGRELD can seduce us along every one of its points. “One”? Unity is a tough one for human beings. We see it as a goal, but it usually happens intermittently, then we retreat to our local tribes.

“Genuine” and “Real”? Think of the money in both advertising and purchasing for whatever is “authentic, genuine, real.” But in spite of how those qualities have gotten cheapened, or rather because of it, we long for them more than ever. (The Velveteen Rabbit became real because he was loved. Could be we’ve been looking in the wrong places. “Genuine” and “Real” aren’t in other things, but in ourselves, or nowhere. Whether that’s an improvement, a miracle, a discovery, a revelation, Good News, depends on where you’ve been spending your time and energy.)

Even “Live” can be problematic. (That’s one sign of human genius: we can make problems out of everything.) It’s a game — as long as we remember we agreed to play, and as long as we know that the solution or the victory or the endgame is a solution for today. Tomorrow the games reboots. We’re back with the starting pieces and our own ingenuity and creativity. If we know it’s a game, it’s delightful. If we take it too seriously, it’s pure and absolute Hell for everybody. Oh, we know these things. OGRELD (fill in your preferred means of deliverance here: god, sex, liquor, drugs, the Singularity, Progress, Apocalypse), lead us into your truth!

And “Druidry,” the final component?  It’s just as problematic as the rest. It’s not for everyone — not because it excludes, tolerant** little sucker that it is — but because, as with most “solutions” we pose to the problems we created, we exclude ourselves from it. We’re better at no than at yes. If you’re looking for an idol to worship (and we all have one or more already), make sure it’s the best damn idol money can’t buy.

So make a list: what do you want in your job/mate/religion/diet/life? Then interrogate that list. If you actually had X, what would that let you do or be? Keep going through a few more cycles of interrogation: if you then had Y, what would that let you do or be? Stop when exhausted, or when you’ve arrived that the truth that underlies the “truth.” (If you don’t know what that is, there’s a project/problem for you. Have at it!)

/|\ /|\ /|\

*There are times when an excess of pop-culture movie references can mar an otherwise perfectly decent blog post.

**Some brands of Druidry are more tolerant than others. In some forms of Druidry, you’re encouraged to invest your time and energy exploring almost any tradition and practice EXCEPT Christianity — shamanism, Egyptian polytheism, Reiki, permaculture, Hinduism, Voudon, veganism, Asatru, Wicca, Buddhism and onward to the ends of the earth. But not Christianity. (If you think Jesus didn’t also teach good Druid principles, you’ve missed substantial insights from both Druidry AND Christianity.) Not true for all flavors of Druidry by any means, but Christian Druids tend to hang out together, or practice solitary, or stay closeted, or drift away, from what I’ve seen. But see OBOD’s page on Christianity and Druidry.

Images:  labyrinth — a fine instance of Druid (Pagan) and Christian imagery working synergistically; “Rodents Of Unusual Size”: photos and accompanying article at The Huffington Post, from an article from June ’13.

Updated 7 April 2015

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