Spoiler Alert: No Coincidences   Leave a comment

Manhattanhenge2_rotated+sharpened

Manhattanhenge pic

The title for this post comes directly from a Druid friend’s recent Facebook post. “Spoiler Alert — there are no coincidences”, he writes. “Details later”. That’s a teaser for a whole lifetime.

[Manhattanhenge — and  full moon too!]

He’s right, of course. And wrong, in another sense. Everything is coincident — it happens together with at least one other thing, and usually along with whole bunches of things. How could we recognize any event if it didn’t come wrapped up in everything else? Consciousness depends on noticing differences and distinctions. That’s how our primate brains are wired. We catch things that stand out from other things. We scan the field or background looking for what’s most salient — and that becomes foreground. Food? Sex? Danger? Beyond those three, we can get down to the business of culture, civilization, a lovely meandering conversation with a friend, drinks in hand, on a balmy summer afternoon, discussing unintentional magics like Manhattanhenge.

In this sense, looking for signs is wasted effort. Everything’s a potential sign, because everything is coincident with something else. Events arrive together like a large litter of puppies or kittens (your preference), and we lift one up to our faces to cuddle it, feel its softness against our skin, smell that delicious newborn animal smell of fur and warmth and milk-fed baby-hood. For the moment, at least, that’s our sign, our focus, our access-point to now, the thing that fills most or all of our attention.

But soon enough there comes a moment when our attention, which has dis-membered the whole of the moment in order to grasp at one piece of it, subsides, turning to the next thing, while intuition, the subconscious, a whole host of perceptions and awarenesses linked to but not the same as conscious attention, have been having their own party and we — by which ego often means conscious self — can feel  we weren’t invited. The hint, the nudge, the ache, the sense of missing something, until we re-member some of the original whole and just maybe pick up on other elements we didn’t track and hone in on the first time round. But we often suspect this re-membering because it doesn’t originate with that first conscious attention, but pushes up from beneath like a touch of green where we didn’t plant anything. And we have to wait an interval to see whether it’s a weed or not. If like me you’ve been well brainwashed ahem trained! by many Western methods of education, your response is to uproot it at the first sign of its non-approved life.

What’s all this got to do with Druidry? The gifts or original blessing that Druidry takes up and acknowledges in its rituals and perspectives, this embodied existence, along with all the other access-points of awareness and connection, is one key to spiritual practice. We’re not here “for a reason” — reason’s not some kind of cause of things, which if we deciphered it would finally open all the doors. What launches us, and the Land, all its many inhabitants, the whole cosmos, comes before our thoughts about it. Thought is a stop-gap between us and immensity. We’re not here “for a reason” because reason is simply too small to contain more than the most minute fraction of that immensity. But we can treasure and acknowledge being here, and make the most of it — not in some consumerist way, or antagonistic self-against-the-world way, but in an amazed self-in-the-world-with-other-selves way. Of course, reasons may come out of existence, rather than the other way around. Funny, though — they’re no longer reasons as commonly understood, but purposes — oodles of purposes waiting for us to notice and choose and commit to them. No longer the often forlorn quest for a “because”, but so many quests for “in order to” available, sitting or standing, playing their guitars or sleeping, each of them dreaming and longing for some particular one of us, in their Quest Waiting Area. (Settle into even some modest silence and you can hear them breathing and whispering as they dream.)

Druid practice, ritual, harvesting St. John’s wort (it’s almost Solstice, after all!), the work with animal oracles, the curve of a bird’s wing, gardening, the whispers of the Ancestors, the nudges of an animal guide, the fascination of so many branches of learning as they touch on greater mystery the deeper they reach, the quest for wisdom — these are all ways to participate in the blessing, and many more besides.

As far as we can tell, that blessing is inexhaustible. Or if it isn’t, no one’s seen the edge of the cosmos yet. Like the old medieval maps, announcing the edge of the world beyond which yawns emptiness or dragons or an eternal drop into nothing, our little human reason doesn’t do well trying to dissect the cosmos and “figure it all out”. So we try instead to set it to work on things it’s actually good at. Load it with purpose and it takes off like a rocket.

Look at the numbers of people who really want a purpose, but feel they lack one, and the greater culture has no other answer than consume (and spend even more time online).

Time to get to true work, time — we discover with amazement — time to get to joy.

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Image: Manhattanhenge (Wikipedia public domain).

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