Archive for the ‘spiritual guidance’ Category

“Little We See” — a Meditation


Go to the Bards, I tell myself yet again. The answers have lain there long. (You can tell I hang out with Bards new and old, even if I don’t always listen to them all that well — I use words like lain.)

Wordsworth, Old White Guy, still has something to tell us:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away.

Do we want some hints for living? Do we want some uplift, to know that positive change — and more important, joy — are still possible in this crazy world?

Bards offer a how-to for the spirit. These four lines yield some solid pointers.

Back away when you can, from the world, into the World. In the heart of even the most urban areas on the planet, green things still can find a way to thrive, sometimes with a little human help. A bee in the bathroom, a bug on the doorbell, a spider webbing the space between light-switch and corner cupboard — the living world keeps knocking. Find the green. Find the World. (Help the bug or bee outdoors again.)

“Late and soon”? Unplug from time, from the apparent world we’ve built for ourselves, into contemplation. We know it’s good for us, and with images, mandalas, music, incense on hand, we can enliven our dips into our own inner pools of calm and wisdom each time with something different, if we crave variety, or with the same deepening familiar artistic companion to our sojourns. It may be a walk with the dog, a time spent folding laundry, a half-hour gazing at the reflection of a pond, working with paints, or clay, or fibers. I turn to a longtime friend, the oooooo at the heart of the ah — oo — en Awen, the HU of the Sufis, a holy name not contaminated with profanity or dulled by careless use. Sing the names holy to you.

Our “powers”? So many of us are facing our powerlessness. In some cases we’ve given what we have away — “laying waste” our own abilities to shape and choose, however meager they may feel and seem. Yet if we turn from buying and selling, things that can’t be bought will reappear for us: time spent with loved ones, time spent in nature, time spent on diving deeper into our own creative selves, uncramping some of our little-used faculties and skills and talents. Reclaim our powers, one at a time if necessary. (No waiting for the next election to give us back what is native to us. No one can hold them back from us, once we recognize them again.)

“Little we see in Nature that is ours”? Let go of possessing, I tell myself, and things will come to me of themselves. Sit still enough, and the birds will light on my head and shoulders like they did with St. Francis, like they continue to do today on those who spend time being still, loving the stillness that keeps opening into something larger and more beautiful. If I hog the road, of course I’ll see little else — I’m what’s in the way. But more and more beings become companions along the way, if I share the path.

If I look in the rear-view mirror of Time, I see the Ancestors waving.

How have I “given my heart away”? Excuse me, I whisper. I’m taking my heart back. I gave it and you didn’t value it. Let me bestow it where it will be cherished for what it is.

Bad news, you say of Wordsworth’s lines? Blaming the victim? No — showing the victim how to unvictim. Empowering the victim with what’s right here, turning off the victim switch others have flipped. No special monastery, ashram, growth center, workshop. These may serve their turn, but they are kindling, not Essential Fire. If I make it, I can unmake it. If I’ve shut it down, I can open it up again. If I’ve created my life, I can change my life.

It can be long work. But what else am I here for? Oh, so many things, many things, sing the birds. Everything, whispers the wind. Come find out, says the path into the greening woods.


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Thirty Days of Druidry 25: Changes, Gods, Relationships

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[Talach is the Druid name of a member of the Order of the Green Companions. Because of his support for this blog and its reaching 300 posts today, this guest post is an opportunity for him to share insight on an interesting situation presented to him. We have permission from the person identified below as M. to print this email exchange, with minimal editing to protect privacy.]

Dear Talach,

National-atlas-coloradoWhen you spoke after our Beltane ritual about ritual and non-ritual realities, I felt you might understand this problem I’m struggling with and maybe help. My partner and I are both Pagans, I’m a Druid and he’s pretty definitely a solitary Witch, so he doesn’t come to our gatherings. That’s fine. Recently we’ve been talking a lot and fighting a lot about the gods. He’s had some profound experiences with the Lord and Lady and as a result of their guidance he says he wants to make some BIG changes in our life together. Move out of state, off the grid, become self-sufficient, open our relationship, begin teaching and accepting students, etc. etc. There’s a group in Colorado he’s been talking with and he’s pretty focused on them. He met a couple members at a festival last summer.

I love this man, but and it’s a MAJOR but, I haven’t got any confirmation of this even after several months of divination and meditation and ritual. We’ve had some major blow-ups during this time. Part of our fighting comes because he says I don’t work with the gods because I don’t believe in them. He’s right about that last part. I don’t believe. All honor to Brighid and Lugh and the goddess at rituals and as forms of power to work with. But I’ve never experienced them as REAL outside of rituals. I want to hold on to this person and relationship if we can make it work. But my partner wants to make these changes NOW, at the latest definitely before midsummer. Where do we go from here?


Dear M.,

Thanks for your note. You’re dealing several challenges here. Your partner wants changes you’re clearly not sure about. You’re facing a deadline. And part of the decision has been made to hinge on your awareness of the gods who speak to your partner about these changes but not to you.

What’s the most important issue here? It sounds like for you it’s your relationship. Is that true for your partner, too? What’s between you and the gods, or whether life is better somewhere else than where you are, are separate things to consider. You don’t say anything about jobs or housing or other assets, which are a big factor for you yourself, here and now, not just in Colorado or other place you or he may go, alone or with a partner.

So you can ask yourself a hard question, M., and if you do, be ready for the answer: is your relationship important enough for both of you to make it the center of any decision? This is separate from the gods or any deadline. If you and your partner can’t agree on that, you need to work through that, apart from Colorado or your openness to divine guidance. If you’re still both committed to each other and you both have some flexibility, could you try out the Colorado possibility for just a few months to see how it might fit you both?

gardeningOf course you may not be able to just pick up and leave. Your partner is asking for many changes, not just one, and with a deadline. Why the rush? Why midsummer? If it’s just to get a big garden going, can you do that where you already are? Try becoming more self-sufficient now, apart from the Colorado decision. If neither of you have spent much time growing and preserving your own food, that’s also something to try out close to home first, if you can. That’s a big enough change by itself. Pots and window boxes can help you grow a fair bit even if you don’t have much or any garden space. I urge smaller steps if you can, to make any changes easier to look at and consider and work with one by one.

Blessings to you both, M.


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IMAGES: Colorado map; gardening.

Thirty Days of Druidry 16: Gods in the Mist

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Lorna comments on Day 11:

As someone who has been pretty lost traveling off the map and will be lost again, I feel it’s a personal obligation to leave signposts, even if they’re only helpful to a small few people.

As an outsider to the major druid orders I do get a wee bit angry by those in the know only sharing to those who are paid up or part of a clique when perhaps their words could have helped us lost ones.

But perhaps if I’d had their guidance I wouldn’t have found my god in the mist…

As often happens, I’m indebted to a reader for an idea, and sometimes — like this time — a title, too. Thanks, Lorna.

I must say at the outset that I don’t know Lorna’s experience. And, partly, our ignorance of others’ experiences is what this post starts to address. I’m merely thinking with the words and impressions her comment gives me.

The courage to travel off what maps there are comes hard-won. Sometimes we may get dropped there seemingly by chance. Other times we manage to end up there all by our ourselves, out of sheer defiance of the boundary-keepers, or at the bidding of a deity, or through a kind of blessed carelessness that makes us miss the signs that might have saved us a wrong turn off the trail and the adventure before us. The familiar falls away, and like those medieval maps casually warn, the terrain (physical is spiritual, and vice versa) fairly shouts that “here be dragons.” No one returns unchanged, though it can cost a deal of trouble to convey to another person a glimpse of what happened or what the change consists of. We may not yet know ourselves.

Lorna notes she takes it as a personal obligation to leave signposts. Her sense that she’ll be “lost again” may have something to do with it. In a truly trackless realm, one starts to understand how even a little guidance can hearten a traveler more than stumbling on a cache of food, or a chance companion welcoming you to sit by a cheery fire. No, it’s not madness or a curse or some private doom that closes in on you, its breath on your skin, its claws at your neck, though it can feel like it. But traveling where no other has set foot can teach and toughen you, though it may never allow you to take your ease on such journeys.

I wonder, too, whether someone who’s walked off the path more than once has all that much to learn from “those in the know only sharing to those who are paid up or part of a clique when perhaps their words could have helped us lost ones.” Is that sharing over-rated? Does it amount to more than what we ourselves gain by going our own way? We return with the authority of our own experiences, along with perhaps a few more cuts and gashes and scars to show for our boldness. The greater wisdom may well lie with the sojourner in the wilderness, rather than with the elder at the evening circle, the author of a classic holding forth at a reading, the Chief Druid disclosing supposedly advanced teachings in a members-only workshop. Can the most valuable teachings be shared in words?

I suspect each of us encounters such tracklessness in our own ways, and some of the most welcome aid we can offer is the simple encouragement of knowing we’re not alone in being alone. Compassionate travelers signpost as they can. But I’ll quickly concede I may never have been as lost and found as others who journey there, survive and return to recount their hardships and discoveries. In the end, perhaps we can’t know such things secondhand, only experience them firsthand. Or to speak personally, perhaps I forfeit knowing as long as I keep to the well-lit trail, the easier ascent, the way clear-cut and signposted by hardy forerunners. But for just such a reason, I can strive to honor all fellow travelers. Then, when I do turn aside from the way where the grass lies flattened from many feet passing, when I enter the cave alone, swim the cold swift river, find foot- and hand-holds on the sheer face of the mountain, I may meet without intermediary what calls to me most deeply. Initiation tracks us when we think we’re tracking something else.

As Lorna concludes, “perhaps if I’d had their guidance I wouldn’t have found my god in the mist.”

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