Picking myself apart, I look for things that were put on me from the outside. There are a lot of them. I look for things I’ve been taught to believe that don’t hold up to rational scrutiny. There are a fair few of those, too. I carry so many assumptions, absorbed with little thought. This is a process I started in earnest when I was writing Druidry and the Ancestors. Looking at the way in which ideas and behaviours can be passed down through families, unconsciously. Hurt and wounding transfers from one generation to the next. In my family one of the big issues was that we don’t do physical contact readily or easily. I’ve had issues with boundaries that stem from there.
Often when I’m working on a book, I’m experimenting with my own life and thinking, to see what I can find out first hand. That doesn’t stop just because the book is published. I found myself thinking about my paternal grandmother last night. I know so little about her. I may have inherited some physical problems from her, and I do not know what else. What came to me from those ancestors? What of their lives and stories is meshed into my being? I do not know. I also keep asking what it is I bring to the mix that is truly myself, my own spirit, not a repetition of ancestry, not a manifestation of DNA, or training, but purely and totally me.
I have been aware from the outset of this work that the answer could be ‘nothing at all’.
There’s an energy that is mine. It’s a wild, high octane, intense, manic sort of energy and if I’m not careful with it, it can leave me burned out. It’s not reliably safe to be around, either. A forest fire, hurricane energy that isn’t as careful as it could be with people who get too close, and that worries me. I also have a perception that spiritual means calm. Spiritual people are all mellow and at peace with the world. I’ve put in a lot of time trying to be mellow and at peace with the world, and I can do it a bit, but it gets ever clearer to me that it is not in my nature to live there. The hurricane self needs to be more active.
There has never really been space for me to be wild. I’ve always had to be domesticated. I was taught not to show off, or make a fuss, or draw attention to myself and I learned to be a passably inoffensive presence. Now I struggle with energy levels and depression. The more time I spend quietly looking at this one, the more certain I become that I need to give my wild self more room, more outlet. I need to accept that I am not a creature of still, silent contemplation all the time. There are hungers in me. I do crave attention, that sends me out onto stages and into ritual circles, it has me writing books and blogs. Why should that be shameful? Why should I feel any need to pretend that I do this for ‘good’ reasons and that ‘good’ precludes attention seeking? Celtic tales are full of attention seekers. The bards, heroes, the beautiful women, the magic users – they aren’t self effacing. They take pride in what they do and draw attention to it.
Is it really a virtue to stay silent in face of pain? To not ask for help. Being open about my shortcomings, and learning to ask for help gives other people chance to step up and be heroic. It’s not failure to need input from other people.
I’m aware of food hunger in my body, and sexual desire. Having spent a while now exploring what it means to want, I notice how much I want rest and sleep, physical affection, intellectual stimulation, laughter, beauty, experiences. I’m a demanding creature by nature and I want a lot out of life. I am not satisfied by banality, by that which is unimaginative and lacklustre, and I’ve spent a lot of years pretending to accept what bored me witless, just to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. What I learned along the way was that wanting made me a bad person. My wanting was an affront to others, who either couldn’t make sense of it, didn’t like it, feared it… and I let myself feel responsible for that, hiding those bits that I was learning were monstrous and unacceptable.
I am not passive by nature. I’m experimenting with not being ashamed of the hungers, drives, desires and impulses that come from my body. I’m looking for spaces in which I can express them and distancing myself from places where being biddable seems like a requirement. I’m learning to accept that I cannot conform to the image of Druid as chilled out speaker of calm wisdom. That manic, fierce, burning energy that has so much potential for trouble, is mine. Is me. It may well be the most ‘me’ thing I’ve got. It’s survived a lifetime of attempts to cage and tame it. It has survived my feelings of shame in it, my rejection of it, my self-hatred. There is an old skin on the outside of me, and I can feel it loosening, ready to slough off.