Archive for the ‘labyrinth’ Tag

Shinto and Shrine Druidry 3: Spirit in Nature   2 comments

[Shinto & Shrine Druidry 1 | 2 | 3] [Shinto — Way of the Gods ]
[Renewing the Shrine 1 | 2][My Shinto 1 | 2]

Below are images from our recent visit to Spirit in Nature in Ripton, VT, some eight miles southeast of Middlebury as the crow flies.  An overcast sky that day helped keep temperature in the very comfortable low 70s F (low 20s C). At the entrance, Spirit in Nature takes donations on the honor system. The website also welcomes regular supporters.

spinentry

As an interfaith venture, Spirit in Nature offers an example of what I’ve been calling Shrine Druidry, one that allows — encourages — everyone into their own experience. Everyone who chooses to enter the site starts out along a single shared path.

spinpath1

The labyrinth helps engage the visitor in something common to many traditions worldwide: the meditative walk. The labyrinth imposes no verbal doctrine, only the gentle restraint of its own non-linear shape on our pace, direction and attention.

spinlaby

Beyond the labyrinth, a fire circle offers ritual and meeting space. Here again, no doctrine gets imposed. Instead, opportunity for encounter and experience. Even a solitary and meditative visitor can perceive the spirit of past fires and gatherings, or light and tend one to fulfill a present purpose.

firepit

Beyond the circle, the paths begin to diverge — color-coded on tree-trunks at eye-level — helpful in New England winters, when snow would soon blanket any ground-level trail markers. When we visited, in addition to the existing paths of 10 traditions, Native American and Druid paths branched off the main way, too new to be included on printed visitor trail maps, but welcome indicators that Spirit in Nature fills a growing need, and is growing with it.

pathsign1

The Druid Prayer captures a frequent experience of the earth-centered way: with attention on stillness and peace, our human interior and exterior worlds meet in nature.

druidprayer

The trails we walked were well-maintained — the apparently light hand that brings these trails out of the landscape belies the many hours of volunteer effort at clearing and maintenance, and constructing bridges and benches.

sinbridge

A bench, like a fire pit and a labyrinth, encourages a pause, a shift in consciousness, a change, a dip into meditation — spiritual opportunities, all of them. But none of them laid on the visitor as any sort of obligation. And as we walk the trail, even if I don’t embrace the offered pause, the chance itself suggests thoughts and images as I pass that the silence enlarges. I sit on that bench even as I walk past; I cross the bridge inwardly, even if it spans a trail I don’t take.

benchsign

Sometimes a sign presents choices worthy of Yogi Berra’s “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

druidpath

Perhaps it’s fitting to close with the North, direction of earth, stone, embodiment, manifestation — all qualities matching the interfaith vision of this place.

moss-stone

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This is the 200th post at A Druid Way. Thanks, everyone, for reading!

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Servant of Isis   2 comments

oliviarobertsonThe passing last month of Olivia Durdin-Robertson, author, painter, and priestess of Isis, was remarkably non-reported in the American press.  The London Times (preview only) and Telegraph, and the Irish Times, however, all carried extensive obituaries.  Colorful and delightfully eccentric, and co-founder with her late brother Lawrence of the international Fellowship of Isis in 1976, Robertson inspired many in a rediscovery of the feminine divine.  Her writings, art, liturgies, rituals and personal example helped give a form to a widespread longing to experience the Goddess.

huntcastleRobertson was a member of the Irish landed gentry, and the family’s splendid Huntington Castle in County Carlow became under her influence a devotional center and extended series of shrines to the Goddess.

chartlabyI’m writing about Robertson not only because her life and work deserve to be known, but also for more personal reasons. As I’ve tried with varying success to record (Goddess and Human, Of Orders and Freedoms, Messing with Gods, Potest Dea-A Dream Vision), the Goddess is alive and on the move, even in my life.  I say “even” because many trends often seem to pop up, flourish and fade before I even discover their existence. And I can be remarkably obtuse even when spirit knocks on the door.

But the Goddess, through Her grace, is no mere trend. Will we look back at the present as another period of renewed veneration for Her, similar to the century or so of inspiration behind the construction of over 100 glorious Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals dedicated to the Virgin Mary in medieval Europe?  (The most famous is Chartres, which many know both for the cathedral and for its labyrinth.* The best website is in French, worth visiting for its images even if you don’t know the language.  On the horizontal menu, click on “La Cathedral” and then on “Panoramiques  360” — if you have sufficient bandwidth, the virtual tour is well worth your while.)

The most recent appearance of the Goddess (or a goddess — She/They may figure it all out someday) in my life is a series of meditation experiences this October over the span of a week.  Isis called to me.  The nature of the call wasn’t completely clear, and I also didn’t pay adequate attention.  Goddesses aren’t really my thing, I might say, in an arrogant ignorance I intermittently see the extent of.  As if the divine in any of its forms is something to dismiss as a matter of personal taste.  But I have two color images of Isis I printed from the web (though they’re in a jumble of a side devotional area I haven’t finished ordering and dedicating), and I am continuing to work with meditation and vision to see what comes of it. I pulled a couple of her books** off my shelves, too — evidence she is a presence whether I attend to her well or not.

I mention this because now it feels more significant, in retrospect, with Robertson’s passing.  Another reminder this life is finite, and that such opportunities, to the degree they manifest in time, do not wait forever, even if they may reoccur and reappear.

And if you can see from my admissions here how patient the divine can be with human slowness, indifference, ego, stubbornness and a few other choice weaknesses I’m probably missing at the moment, there’s really hope and encouragement for anyone at all.

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Images: Olivia Durdin-RobertsonHuntington Castle; labyrinth;

*A good starting point for learning more about labyrinths is the extensive site of the Labyrinth Society.

**M. Isidora Forrest’s excellent Isis Magic (Llewellyn, 2001, recently out in a second edition), and Rosemary Clarke’s The Sacred Magic of Ancient Egypt (Llewellyn, 1st ed., 2nd printing, 2008).

Potest Dea — a Dream Vision   Leave a comment

Goddesses are possible again — the word is spreading even to those who aren’t paying attention.  The new dream is all about shapes arising where before we thought there was only darkness pooling around our fears and our faces.  The old forms aren’t always the ones the goddesses are re-animating.  It’s also something new this time, answer to the severity of our need.  Need more, and the Goddess answers.  How much we need.  It’s called her forth.

Who is she? an old man asks.  He’s never had truck with goddesses before.  I don’t know anything about ’em.  You can see it in his face, in his posture.  He holds himself like a piece of cloth, something that can spread or crumple easily, at will or whim.  But then who has dealt with goddesses recently?  Ask around and what answer do you probably get?  Yes, a good Catholic says the Rosary, prays to Mary because she’s vastly more approachable than that God made in the image of the old men of the Magisterium.  Goddesses are possible, the old man says, doubting his own words, indicted along with the pedophile priests because we can no longer distinguish truth from truthiness, what is from what we wish to exist, to serve our weakness as a shield, so that we needn’t change.  The Goddess opens one door after another, doors rusty on their hinges.  You can hear them squeaking, maybe late at night when the only other sound is the breathing of sleepers near you in the dark.  Who has dealt with goddesses before? We all have.

To breathe in the dark, awake. There you can feel the Goddess.  It’s a start, a beginning like the edge of a blade, something sharp you can sense without trying.  She is more than possible, more than a shape companionable in the darkness, one that doesn’t move and so isn’t a threat, isn’t alive, but rather a piece of furniture, something you can count on to stay the same as you make your way around in the dark.  God the Father, in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning, the Bible says.  Everything she touches changes, say those who have encountered the Goddess.  And she touches everything.  So how can these two co-exist without canceling each other out, matter and anti-matter colliding and releasing some intense humongous cosmic energy to rival the Big Bang.

And the Cosmic Trickster lounging somewhere near the back door of our brains says That’s it exactly. Put God and Goddess together and you get the Big Bang, the ecstatic copulation, the first orgasm that even now continues, sustaining all that is, energy streaming out from both of them, because we need both.  God without Goddess turns out to be a dry old stick, a petty tyrant peering in people’s windows and clicking his tongue at s s s i n.  But ignore him long enough and he sends his grunts and heavies to round you up, to snatch you out and shove you up against a wall and shoot you, because you’re not holy enough, because you doubted, because you’re too real for the god-museum image that everybody worships and nobody lives.  And tell the truth and it’s only a toss-up whether you’re on the shooting side, or the shot side.  Not much difference in the end, it’s you or your best friend, opposite sides.  Then neither side is worth the game.

But the Goddess alone is no better.  It’s not the Fear of Feminism you see among some  men, as if the ladies will replace us  gentlemen in the fine art of hypocrisy and murder. Those men, they’re afraid they’ll get what’s coming to them, because they know deep down what goes around really does come around.   But it won’t be like that.  Instead, it all collapses into orgy, and everything comes.  The definition of a puritan, remember, is a person with the horrible fear that somebody somewhere is actually having fun.  God without Goddess is a stick, but Goddess without God is a soft gooey center that melts in your hands, not in your mouth.

Goddesses are possible again because we’ve earned them.  We’re opening the door we’re petrified to open, terrified to walk through, but we can’t help it because the imperative we all follow eventually is growth, and if Goddess will give when God holds back, then we need to meet and embody the divine as Goddess in order to live at all.  The prod of the god/dess is love for all existence, and we cannot both love and fear.  So much fear nowadays, you can smell it.

And love?  The Charge of the Goddess reminds us that all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.  This life is sacrament.  Priestess and Priest, be welcome to the rite.  Come before the Lord and Lady with gladness and thanksgiving.  Not in obedience, but in desire to celebrate what you know to be true, that each day is a gift, that this incarnation, in spite of all its troubles, is a blessing and worth that trouble.  Potest Dea.  The Goddess is potent, the Goddess can.  Praise God, the Goddess is.

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Blue Madonna by Carlo Dolci, Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida.

Labyrinth at Hagal’s Farm.

Edited for spelling and grammar 5 Oct 2013

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