Novice Again

I’m very much a lifelong learning person. Learning new things, new ideas and new skills is a source of joy to me and I can’t imagine ever wanting to stop. Unshockingly, given the whole Druid thing, I find it a cyclical process. I discover something, I study, explore, practice, I get better at it. I start to feel that I can do the thing passably well. Then I see something else that makes me realise how little I know, and I find myself feeling that I am starting at the beginning again. Occasionally this is frustrating and depression, but most often it’s an exciting experience.

I’ve gone back and relearned how to breathe, repeatedly. Learning to breathe underpins all kinds of voice work, meditation, physical activities. Each time I learn, I go somewhere new, I make a kind of progress around my spirals. I go through it with music too, pausing to break down my techniques as I try to tighten up on some aspect of how I play. Working with voice and bouzouki, I had to go back and learn how to breathe again. Circles within circles. I never did get the hang of breathing, singing and drumming all at the same time, though.

When I started out learning Druidry, I studied correspondences, ideas about circles and elements and pretty much anything anyone pointed me at. I worked very hard to learn. Then somewhere along the way I grasped that Druidry is not wholly an intellectual thing you can get out of books, and that I needed to change my doing. I was outside a lot, but I had to do a relearn to bring Druid ideas to my time amongst trees, and then further relearning as I started to question and challenge the book learning. Particularly, having studied the wheel of the year, I then totally questioned the whole thing and wanted to move away from year narratives. Now I’m feeling a desire to look at that again, to go back to the fundamental cycling of moons and seasons, and think about my own year shapes.

I’m currently reading Dorothy Abrams’ Identity and the Quartered Circle. This is a book about fundamentals, and its making me go over my own practice and beliefs again, thinking about what I do, and how, and why. It’s a witchcraft book, and I’ve never seen myself as that kind of magical practitioner, but there are things that could stand a rethink. It may be time to go back to the beginning again and re-walk the spiral paths of Druidry.

I also find myself a novice in being a person. I don’t know who I am. That’s actually exciting, because it allows so much room for change and growth. I’m recognising things that have been put on me from outside, and shaking them off, but I don’t know who I am without them. Who would I be if I did not start from the assumption that I’m undeserving and useless? How would I behave? What would I be able to do that is currently unavailable? How would I feel? A fledgling in old skin, trying to work out if these are wings, or flippers or what, and flapping, and wondering if I belong in air, or water, of where… metaphorically speaking.

With anything, at any time, it is possible to rededicate, go back to the beginning and try to relearn. Obviously the things we have already learned go with us, either helping us to learn more deeply, or in the form of things we must first unlearn. We can always make the conscious decision to be a novice again, to reject what we thought we knew, or to reinvent it. There’s a letting go of self importance around choosing to be a novice. Sometimes I find it hard to admit that I do not know, or that what I have learned is wrong. Attitudes to myself and my body, I am having to relearn. Attitudes to how to interact peaceably, what to tolerate, what to resist – a work in progress. Admitting you don’t know is a tremendously liberating experience. It opens the door to learning.
Every morning is an opportunity to go out there and become something new. Again.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “Novice Again

  • Andrew Smith

    I can relate to your post, Nimue. In the last 2-3 years I’ve been revisiting things I learned 20 years ago (probably a mid-life crisis thing)… but this time I get it. Or, at least, I get it more than I did before – more deeply. The advantage of age and a bit more life experience, maybe. The cycle of learning keeps turning.

  • lornasmithers

    I’ve also found I’ve cast things aside with no intention of returning to them, then several years later return to them with a new understanding. Sometimes it feels like going back. But maybe it’s just going deeper?

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