My understanding of what Druidry might be, and how I might manifest it, is an ongoing project. I doubt I’ll ever settle into a state of thinking I have it figured out. It’s complicated, because we don’t have the details of ancient practice, and if we did it probably wouldn’t translate well into another setting. There are many things influencing the varied approaches to modern Druidry, too. Rationalism, Christianity, eastern religions, and shamanic traditions from around the world can all be looked to for ideas and inspiration. What is my Druidry? How am I doing it?
Meditation has always been an important part of the mix for me, but western approaches tend to stand on the shoulders of eastern ones. I don’t do well with the meditation of the empty mind. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the possibilities of calm, unattached, in the moment and the like. Occasionally I find it helpful in small doses, but as a direction to move in, I find it unsatisfying, and it makes me uneasy. My emotions are part of how my body works, my body is a manifestation of nature, and anything that moves me towards tidying up my emotional responses reduces my experience of inspiration and by extension my creativity.
Some weeks ago I saw something that affected me profoundly. I saw Robin Herne at Leaping Hare, telling a tale from Irish mythology. It was a very human story, full of pride and ambition, and jostling for position in a complex society. It was also a story about wisdom, courage and mostly avoiding either violent or cowardly outcomes. Robin laced the tale with ribald humour, and he told it with passion, bringing to life the intensity of characters for whom pride, honour, status and action all matter more than death. The story, and the manner of its telling left me thinking about who I am, and who I want to be. It’s taken me a while to process that, but coming out of a depressed patch, it’s something I want to think about.
So often, the very idea of spirituality seems to be about resolving ourselves into peaceful, unconflicted, uncomplicated, at one with everything, able to take anything calmly in our stride sort of people. Either by letting go, or by faith in deity, or the calming influences of the right practices, we can free ourselves from trouble and discomfort. I’m not that. Too much of my identity is tied up in being a bit unseelie, mournful, gothic. I’m passionate by nature and passion is not reliably peaceful. I think too much and feel too much for such a path, and I have no desire to relinquish that for a spiritual idea that not feeling what my body feels would somehow be a good thing.
I have a confession: I like trouble and discomfort far too much to want to get rid of them entirely. Not because I enjoy being ill or hurting, but because on a good day, I can respond to a challenge. Trouble tests my wits, skills, honour and abilities. Trouble is when I get the chance to do something heroic, to be more than I had thought possible. Discomfort pushes me to learn and adapt, to take onboard difficult things, to open myself to the world or to protect myself from it, depending on the lessons. Peace, comfort and stability may seem nice, but if I seek those states and try to hang on to them, how am I also to be open to the pain of others and to their challenges? I can’t get freedom from pain for terminally ill friends, I can’t magic peace for the heartbroken and depressed. I can at least be there for them and try to understand, but I have no sense this is possible unless I am willing to share their distress, and be uncomfortable too.
Do I want to offer everyone else a simple, peaceful, untroubling and uneventful sort of tranquil life? I admit that I do not. I would prefer to be the grit that makes pearls, the spur to action. I love the primal figures who step out of myths with challenges and trials for mortals. Such beings I hold as sacred. Bloody, bold and resolute seems like a good way to go.