We swear, by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. Mark, oh spirits and hear us now, confirming this, our sacred vow.
It’s a popular one for Druid circles, and I confess I find it ever more difficult. In a big Druid gathering, the odds are that I don’t know everyone well. Obviously I want to believe that all the other Druids around me are splendid and lovely people with whom I could easily stand heart to heart in all things… but we know how that goes. It’s a big dedication to make to a bunch of people you don’t know. More so, if you’ve experienced conflict with other Druids and are quite aware of the possibility that people can say this with you and get out the knives for a hearty backstabbing later.
I have spoken those lines in circle with a small number of people who went on to treat me really badly. Every time it comes up now, unless I know the circle, I feel that unease, and even when I do know everyone, the memory of who I have shared those words with in the past makes it uncomfortable.
I’ve stood in circles with people I am not entirely comfortable with. Again, with those big circles at Druid camp, at Avebury and the like, there’s every scope for being in circle with someone who irritates the hell out of me, or I feel uncomfortable with, or have clashed with, or just plain do not much like for some reason. In big community rituals, the choice is to either deal with the lack of peace and love some individuals may evoke, or step away from the community space.
To be part of a community is to deal with the people in that community I find abrasive and challenging. To be part of a ritual swearing to stand in peace and love, with those same people, is not easy. Is it hypocritical to even say those words when you don’t honestly suspect they will be universally upheld? Is it enough to offer them as an aspiration? We’re asking spirits to witness this as a sacred vow… that has implications.
Increasingly for me it goes… We swear by peace and love to stand, as far as is humanly possible, with some right to self-defence in emergencies and trying not to add to any pre-existing feelings of conflict. Heart to heart… because I would be open and honest and give freely of myself, really I would but on the other hand I’m very tired of doing that only to have my heart trampled over carelessly by people who do not give a shit… and hand in hand… well, there is some of that going on just now yes. Mark oh Spirits and hear us now, confirming this our sacred vow, but please don’t be too hard on us when we mess up, because someone will and I’m not sure how good a job I can do of this one.
A mix of spoken word and silent, slightly desperate appeal to the universe.
I’m also aware of the many who have honoured that pledge, heart and hand over many years, and it is a shame that experience of the few has so discoloured this for me that I find it hard these days to share it with the many. But, we keep trying, and hoping and aspiring, because these are good aims, and I’d rather fail while trying, than not try.