Category Archives: Becoming a Druid

Becoming the Very Important Druid, and other quests

What first brings a person to Druidry? There are of course, many answers. A desire for knowledge and experiences, a hunger for mystery, wonder and the numinous. Wanting a place to belong, feeling a kinship, needing or longing for something. We all have our own reasons and all of those reasons have their own validity.

Once you get onto the path and start learning, those initial desires can rapidly stop being relevant, or can evolve. In the first year of Druidry, working on the wheel of year can seem massively important, but that very work will show you what the wheel doesn’t do, where it fails to connect with your experiences, and so one quest can lead to another, very different sort of quest, as an example.

Sometimes the way a path grows and changes is very smooth and makes total sense. Sometimes the things we start with, and the things we come to want are quite at odds with each other. The very idea of spiritual growth can create interesting tensions. I came to Druidry in no small part because I wanted to learn, grow and change, to acquire spiritual depth. The steps from here to thinking yourself better than other people, succumbing to ego, to hubris, to self importance, are not many. It’s a potential pitfall for anyone who organises, writes or leads – that you start to think of yourself as an important Druid. Being A Very Important Druid doesn’t sit well alongside a deeply lived spiritual life. The more invested we get in our own importance, the harder it is to show up to the spiritual life.

At the same time, there is a real need for people who can organise, lead, teach, write and generally share the wisdom they have gained. There’s a need for celebrants and ritualists that isn’t just about the hungry ego of the individual. What little we know of the history of Druidry suggests that ancient Druids were very much in those places of leadership and wisdom for their tribes.

How much do we quest for the role of the important Druid? How much tension is there between role and personal spirituality? How do we treat those who take on such roles?

For me, the key to all this is service. If you show up to do the job – as writer, teacher, celebrant etc – and your focus is the job, it works a lot better. If you show up to be adored and looked up to, then it’s not about the job, it’s about the self importance. However, these are hard things to admit to. We’re all fragile and human, wanting to be loved and admired is natural. So is wanting to be valued and respected for what we do. The risk is that if our Druidry is all about seeming fabulous to other people, it may well not be giving us anything we need. It’s a shallow pool to paddle in at the best of times. I’ve certainly put my feet in it more than once.

Turning up to serve, the only questions are ‘is this working?’ ‘is this useful?’. If someone finds it useful, then you’re doing the work. If the focus is on doing the useful work, then any larger profile gained is recycled into the means to do the work and to reach and help more people, landscapes, causes. A Very Important Druid who uses their prominence to inform, enlighten and uplift others, is a person to support. If all the fame does is serve to bring adulation to the famous one then they aren’t doing themselves or anyone else any favours. Any attempt to knock that kind of activity down only feeds it though, because someone invested in their own superiority will see only trolling in the behaviour of people who do not like them. If a person is on an ego trip, then any attention paid to them, will feed it.

What to do then, if you wake up one morning and suspect that the desire to be seen a certain way has somehow taken over from the work of being a Druid? Go back to the trees. Back to the soil and the mud. Find a hilltop and be really, really small under the sky. Seek out the ancient dead and consider how long ago they lived, and step back into a more reasonable perspective on your life. I find it helps, at any rate.


Bird watching for enlightenment

There’s an issue I’ve been wrestling with for a while, and reading Mark Townsend’s work has really brought it into focus for me. There’s an aspect to following a spiritual path that says ‘you are not good enough right now, but if you do all the things you will get a better outcome’. Whether that’s enlightenment, heaven, or some other notion varies, but the idea of improving yourself is part (surely?) of what religion is for.

The idea of improvement creates problems though. I strive, and study and try and do all the right things. (Thank you Mark, for letting me know it isn’t just me, or I would not have been able to admit this). Sometimes, I start to feel like I’m getting somewhere. External achievements help with this. Ooh look, X has occurred and therefore I’m a better sort of Druid! Which on its own would be fine, but it raises the temptation to look around and see who isn’t this far down the path, isn’t this clever, or this good. It may be one of Druidry’s saving graces that we don’t have an agreed model for what the perfect Druid looks like, whereas Christianity suffers a good deal more from the effects of this because there are clearer patterns to follow.

I catch myself doing it sometimes, and it leaves me uncomfortable. In the recognition of this as ‘failure’ is also the sense that there should be some other, better way of doing this that doesn’t risk replacing wisdom with smugness or experience with superiority. It also makes me anxious because I worry about being judged by others, not being a good enough Druid myself, not keeping up, not knowing enough or being clever enough and all the rest of it.

I may have come up with something.

When you take up bird watching, there’s a sudden learning curve as all the anonymous and familiar birds around you become individuals you can name. It’s exciting. You move on to less common birds over time, you get more confident about telling one from another from a burst of song or a flash of tail. Then, quite possibly, a thing happens. It stops being the birds that are exciting, and starts to be about the bragging. It’s not the seeing the crane, it’s the knowing how jealous other people will be when you tweet about it (sorry, couldn’t resist). You travel hundreds of miles to see a bird that isn’t rare where it lives, but is blown off course. You dash in, get a picture, dash out – you’re a hardcore birdwatcher now, and you don’t bother yourself with boring, everyday birds.

I think this is how it can go with religion, all too often. The practice, the trappings, the process start to take over from the thing that is the core of what you are doing. In the case of bird watching, what’s called for is just being able to enjoy what is there, still being excited about the everyday birds. What is the equivalent for Druidry? As Druidry is harder to define in the first place, I think the short answer is ‘showing up’. Be present, do the things (whatever they are for you) show up and experience, and don’t let the idea of big shiny things take you away from the little everyday things. Get excited about seeing something rare and precious – that’s a blessing – but maybe it doesn’t mean much. Maybe it doesn’t mean we’re getting somewhere, maybe it’s just luck, or grace and we do not need to feel important.

I’m a cheerful, naive bird watcher who still gets excited about robins and blackbirds. I’m going to try and take more of that mindset into the Druidry, and see if I can fret less about being a good Druid.


Beyond being a Druid student

Most people who come to Druidry will start out making no claims about themselves. Recognising that ‘Druid’ is a weighty word implying a lot of things about your role, knowledge and how you are seen by others, new-to-Druidry folk tend to talk about themselves as being students of Druidry, on the Druid path and the like. At some point, a transition will happen from student of Druidry to Druid. Where and when it falls will vary, but there’s often an external trigger. Completing a course can feel like qualification. Leading your first ritual, or Grove, being asked to act as celebrant or to teach something to someone else are also points of transition. Once people ask you to do the job, they will use the ‘Druid’ title in regards to you, and you may as well get used to it!

Many routes to Druidry are self determining. Even in a structured course like OBOD, the responsibility clearly lies with the student, and as they come into their own power there will be a smooth transition from student to practitioner, most often. Where the difficulty often comes is around more personal teaching, where the student submits to the authority of a teacher. That creates a very particular dynamic. It is all too easy for the student to decide their teacher is the all knowing Guru, and refuse to move on from that into responsibility for their own spiritual lives. It is equally easy for the teacher to fall into the ego trap of feeling important because they have all these students following them around being terribly impressed by them, and want to maintain that.

When this happens, the students are not allowed to cross the threshold into their own Druid status. Or won’t let themselves. To move on they will have to break with the teacher – something I’ve seen happen repeatedly. As often as not, this process breaks the student and they retreat from what they were doing. It doesn’t do the teacher much good either, leaving a legacy of wounded feelings that doesn’t make it easier to let future students go. At some point, you have to recognise that even though there are always more things you could teach them, they are ready to go it alone.

How does a teacher avoid this? Not setting yourself up as an authority figure in the first place helps. Avoiding terms that imply power over, or submission to, may help. That way there’s less to break at the end. Don’t teach alone, and if you can, teach with someone whose outlook is different, to avoid dogma and create more space for the student to find their own version of Druidry. If you can’t do that, there are plenty of books now, so you can expose proto-Druids to other perspectives and make it clear you aren’t an absolute authority. If the student is drawn in a direction that is not what you teach, let them go. Don’t make yourself responsible for their spiritual journey. Ideally as teachers we provide tools and ideas from which other people can find out how they want to do things. If we try too hard to make students too much like ourselves we limit them, and take from them the scope to be themselves. If you are taking a formal teacher-student role, have a strategy for how you are going to release them into the wild at the end.

As a student, I would say as a rule the more devotion, acceptance, submission and passivity a teacher asks for (in any context, not just Druidry) the more reason there is to move on. A good teacher will help you be the best you can be, rather than wanting to align you with their own message.

I will always be a student, because there is always more to learn. As a student I have come to value most the fellow travellers who share their experiences without trying to hold authority over me. Where I mentor, I offer myself on those terms as well. One of the things I especially value about OBOD is the emphasis on the responsibility of the student, and the culture of being people sharing a journey. In such company, the transition to self-identifying as a Druid is powerful, but not painful.


Working on your Druidry

When I first came to Druidry in my twenties, I was a serious, diligent student. I read widely, thought deeply, practiced deliberately and pushed very hard to try and be a Druid. With hindsight, I think this is an important opening gambit, and that coming in wholehearted and willing to make radical changes in your life is important, if not essential.

Moving from the mainstream into Druidry requires a consciousness shift. We start asking questions about our relationship with the rest of life, and that can create some challenges and demands. The need to live more greenly, with greater awareness and greater care seems to me an inevitable consequence of taking up Druidry. We might not have any set texts, but there’s a lot to learn around the modern history, mediaeval remnants and ancient fragments. There’s also much to learn about the natural world, your own ancestors, the land you live on.

What kind of Druid role do you envisage for yourself? Teacher, healer, lore keeper, herbalist, seer, peace maker, visionary… the aspect of Druidry that calls you to serve will make demands of your time and will likely require study and effort.

And so when a person comes to Druidry, there’s a lot of busyness in those first years. There’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of changes to make and it feels like a big, conscious investment.

Over time, either you decide it’s not for you and step away, or your efforts start to embed in your life. Remembering to do the recycling becomes normal, it’s no longer an act of dedication to the gods. The herb garden you planted is flourishing and in use, you no longer spend hours reading and learning. You can play the harp, you know some stories, you’ve read everything Ronald Hutton has written, you have a daily prayer practice, and a staff and a set of oghan wands and animal oracle cards and an altar in your home and a circle of Druid people to do ritual with… somewhere along the way it stops being a big, deliberate, conscious fight to radically change your life, and starts being just life.

I strongly suspect this is the point at which many people who lay down the title of Druid, do their letting go. Having done all the really hard work, they may be less conscious of the ways in which they are being actively Druid. It inclines me to think of the difficulties communist China had around the need to maintain the revolution. It wasn’t enough to revolt and start again, the revolution had to be an ongoing process everyone was consciously engaged with, to keep it alive and meaningful. In their case it meant there always had to be an enemy, someone to weed out and destroy. For Druids, the process may be the same but the implications tend to be different. Unless of course this recent bout of online angry infighting is all about keeping your Druid revolution alive by finding people to be cross with.

On the whole we are probably better Druids for letting go of the language, than for holding onto our Druidry by keeping ‘the revolutionary flame alight’ by starting fights with other people who dare to call themselves Druids, but don’t practice in the same way or uphold the exact same beliefs.


Challenges for new Druids

Go back twenty years and more, and the challenges for new Pagans and Druids were very different. There weren’t many books about Paganism, and if you didn’t know titles and authors, you’d have trouble tracking them down. Your local library wouldn’t carry them, most likely. Pagans of decades past were more cautious by far – there were no laws to protect us and a Pagan could lose their job for their faith. Back before the internet, your local moot, grove or coven would be considerably harder to locate. Finding other Pagans took time and patience, and you had to jump through a lot of hoops before anyone would spot you and take you seriously.

Today’s challenges are perhaps not so obvious. Five minutes with a search engine will give you information that would once have required years of patient hunting, asking and waiting. Most Pagans are ‘out’ and you can find their webpages. However, you may decide that social media is enough, and not make it to a physical moot. Useful if you live miles away from others, but potentially also a trap, because you may not get round to in-person Paganism, and that’s a loss.

The internet is a big place full of a lot of information, much of it contradictory. Druidry is wide, and deeper in some places than others. The people who get online and shout the most often know the least. As an example, there was a person who rolled in here and on message boards, with the email address of ‘seniordruid@’ and started making a lot of noise – much of it rude and self important. It took five minutes to discover that said person had no knowledge base – perhaps in world of warcraft they were a senior Druid, but not out here in the real world. I confess I was neither kind nor gentle – overconfident pedlars of misinformation are too much of a liability to leave unchecked. But there’s a lot of them out there.

Would-be Druids of the 20th century largely had to contend with shortages of information and slow starts. 21st century would-be Druids have the opposite problem – too much information, too many options and possibilities. The challenge for the modern seeker, is to work through the mounds of information and the vast amount of noise to try and figure out what makes sense to them. You start knowing little or nothing, guided by a gut feeling or a yearning. Telling what is worth your while, and what has no value to you, is not easy. The old rites of passage were simpler, in that you knew when you’d found your way in. These days, ‘in’ is quick, but often devoid of meaning. Finding the needles of what you need to know in the great internet haystack is a sizeable challenge.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember, and the thought most easily lost in the noise, is this: The internet is not your Druidry. You can learn here and you can connect with people – and that’s all to the good, but this is not where Druidry lives. Druidry is about the earth you stand on and the air you breathe, it is tribe and wilderness meeting. You might be able to talk and learn about it here, but you can’t do it here. However valuable the things you learn online, you have to take them out into your life and apply them in some way.


Exercises for learner Druids

(Or, why I mostly don’t do that thing). I’m generally not a fan of little exercises for anyone, especially not delivered through this sort of medium. It’s one thing when you’re working directly with a student and helping them find things to explore, but with something like this, fired off randomly into the ether, it’s not a good idea.

Firstly we’re all different. What works for a young, bouncy, fully able person won’t necessarily work for someone with mobility issues or agoraphobia. What makes emotional sense to a westerner living in the town their family has always lived in, won’t work in the same way for someone who is a second generation immigrant in a very different climate. Each of us stands on a unique part of the world, with a unique mix of genetic and cultural heritage and little exercises tend to generalise and assume total similarity.

Then there’s the authority issue. If I tell someone to do a little exercise, I am at serious risk of asserting myself as great and wise Druid leader and teacher, and reinforcing the sense that here is an ignorant newbie who has to be spoon fed.  This is the dynamic of guru and follower, and it’s not how I want to work. I am always going to see myself as a student, and do not want to be in a place of authority over others. Many people come to Druidry when they are no longer children. They come to Druidry having lived, experienced, explored, contemplated and made choices about their beliefs and how they want to practice. I tend to assume that a person coming to Druidry already knows a fair bit, whilst I have no idea what it is they might know from the journey. None of that needs to be, or should be discarded; it is all part of who we are and what brought us to this point. None of us is a beginner.

I’ve been hit by little exercises that made no sense and sat awkwardly with me as emotional experiences. They were a hindrance to learning, not a help. A good tool offers a door, a path, an opening, rather than closing down our options.

So, how do we teach each other Druidry if not by giving the new folk little exercises to do? There are so many options. We can share ideas and experiences. We can talk about our own practice, and let people do with that as they will. Druidry is not doing little pious exercises every day for the sake of doing the little exercises, it’s about living, thinking, exploring and being. It’s about being real, not about issuing homework. It’s about figuring out what to do on your own terms rather than being told what to do by someone else. It is one breath to the next.

The more precise the little exercise is, the less useful it is. If it tells you what to feel, it is especially suspect. It is my belief that if we want to teach each other about Druidry, we have to let go of the desire to shape and control each other’s experiences, and the desire to have someone else tell us what to do. We have to let go of the idea that what works must work universally – this is not science, we aren’t looking for repeatable results and ultimate truths and we could afford more space for diversity and difference.

Do what makes sense to you. Do what inspires you. Do what calls to your heart. Do what seems important or necessary. Pause, reflect, wonder, imagine. Stopping to think about things is the only exercise any Druid, beginner or otherwise, ever really needs. Anything else it might be useful or appropriate for you to be doing, flows from that, from your specific circumstances and the direction you wish to move in. We should be looking to pass around flexible, adaptable tools, not little boxes to hide in.


Becoming a Druid author

Anyone who has passable literacy skills, can write. These days, blogging and self publishing mean that anyone can put ideas into the public domain and offer themselves as a writer in their chosen field. The more ambitious can chase magazines, and publishing houses. Not all will succeed with this. Not everyone will find a large readership. However, having a big fan base is not the only reason to write, and getting ideas to the people who needed them is, for some of us, a lot more important. So, becoming a Druid author is easy. Success is a matter of how you measure it.

The notion of the wealthy, glamorous, fame filled, adoration laden life of the author really only exists inside the heads of people who have never tried to be authors. The few, most visible authors at the very top of their profession, get this kind of life. The passably successful author will get odd days when they get to feel loved, valued and important. For most authors, most of the time, the reality is lots of work for little reward or encouragement. If dreams of fame and riches motivate you, there are many more reliable ways than this one.

So, why write? Why set out to right if there’s no money in it, and no groupies?

Because you have found something that you think is important and useful, and want to share it.

To inspire others and broaden what they might be able to do.

To change the world.

My writing so far has come from places where I’ve struggled and wanted guidance and been unable to find what I‘ve needed. I’ve learned the slow, hard way things that would have been a good deal easier if I’d had a few pointers to begin with. I come back and offer those, and perhaps someone else is spared from re-inventing the wheel. I write to push for political, cultural and social changes. Increasingly, I write because it is a silly thing to do from an economic perspective, because it will probably never pay me fairly by the hour, and because I am increasingly a living act of protest against our collective insistence that everything should have a price-tag, and that everything should be devalued when that happens.

In a world where (I gather from Ursula Le Guinn) marketing departments at big publishing houses set the agenda for content, I’m proud to be part of a publishing house that has room for something as overtly un-commercial as a beautiful collection of Pagan Poetry, and that creates anthologies allowing less established authors a voice, an opportunity and an audience. I’ve loved being part of the Contemplative Druidry book too – many voices there, and another not so commercial venture. I am gladdened by the distribution of authoring authority in the Pagan community. Our non-paying magazines at least give voice to many people’s opinions and ideas. Our blogs are many and varied. I think there’s much to be proud of in the Pagan writing community, and plenty of reason to get involved.


A Druidic personality

Coming to Druidry, one of the things a person will do (if they are serious) is explore the changes to self that bring thoughts, feelings, and behaviour in line with Druidry itself. This is not unusual – all religions offer us such approaches. If you successfully align thoughts, feelings and actions along spiritual principles, your personality will change. One of the things religion shows us is that personality itself is really quite malleable.

Who we are is a cobbled together amalgam of many things. Our genes have an influence. The family environment we grew up in gave us our baselines for what’s normal and what isn’t. Wider cultures, brought to us through school, television, what happens around us, media, what we are told happens around us, what we read. The things we imagine also help to shape us. From that vast array of input we make vast numbers of tiny unconscious choices about what to believe and reject, what to ignore and uphold. Dissect your personality and most of what you have you can trace back to influences, experiences, choices and the habits of your first household. Personality may be intrinsic to how we think of ourselves, and it tends to inform and filter our whole life experience, but much of it is an unconsidered fabrication.

To varying degrees, religions expose the illusion of self. Buddhism is really explicit about doing this, while monotheism seems much less so, but all offer ways of being that align a person with whatever the faith considers optimal. Submission/ subservience to higher powers and by extension, the priesthood of that higher power is frequently encouraged and a significant part of why atheists find the whole business so objectionable. However, if your identity, personality and relationship with the world is an improvised, unconsidered selection of random accidents, this is perhaps not helpful to you either.

For a person coming to Druidry, there’s not a lot of upfront information about who you are supposed to be. The wise old Druid archetype offers a possible endpoint, but clearly you can’t start there. Nature offers an array of models – to be natural can mean anything you want it to mean. Poisonous toadstools are natural. So is the partner-eating mantis. Human nature allows for all imaginable variations. We talk about being ‘authentic’ but when you arrive at Druidry with a tangled mess of self built up from everywhere you’ve been and your reactions to everything you’ve encountered… ‘authentic’ can be a bit of a mystery.

Simply, there is no behavioural template to magically align your personality with the principles of Druidry. Nothing we do actually works that way, which can be disorientating, demoralising, and frustrating. There are no easy measures to tell if you are doing it ‘right’ even.

“Know thyself” – which is a Greek instruction, not a Celtic one – is probably the most important piece of religious instruction out there. Find out who you are. Make sense of your reactions and feelings. Become the text that you study, and cross reference that to other texts, human; papery and nature based. Find out what makes you tick, and trace those threads of thinking and feeling. It will take years. You may well never manage the whole job, but that’s fine.

As you go through, finding out who you are and how you got to be here, you will find some of those sources please you more than others. On reflection there will be aspects of you that you like and wish to cultivate, and other bits you want to change. You will find virtues, values and vices, strengths and weaknesses, habits that help and habits that hinder. As you work out who you are, you will inevitably start to think about who you want to be, and how to get there. Slowly, over time, this self scrutiny and contemplation will lead you not to some one size fits all Druid model of how to be, but to your own, personal model of how to be the person you want to be. One of the things I have come to think from this journey, is that the person we choose to be is our most authentic self, and the only version of self not dropped on us from outside. The act of choosing makes something far more ‘me’ than the unconscious absorption that is the more usual method.


A work in progress

I was recently very inspired by Naomi’s post about the ongoing and unending process of Becoming a Druid.

There is no end point of having become a Druid such that you can sit back and not bother any more. There is always more to know, further to reach, more to love and opportunities for being confused, overwhelmed, awed and inspired.

When I started out along this path, I had no sense of that at all. I was a somewhat spiky young human and I had a great deal of need to prove some things. Part of the process of becoming has, for me, involved a process of letting go. When I started, I needed to get to the place (wherever it was) where I would be recognised and taken seriously. I was generally short of feeling recognised, valued or taken seriously and being in my early twenties really didn’t help with that.

I imagined that achieving Druid grade with OBOD would Mean Something. When I got there, I would Be something. By the time I got there I realised I was just beginning, but had also come to feel very cheerful about that prospect.

When I started out, the idea of it taking nine years of study to become a Druid historically, frustrated me. Of course I could do it faster than that! I could work harder, try more, be cleverer than anticipated and shave a few years off. And now, having been doing this for a lot more than nine years, I feel further away from the imagined goalposts than I did when  started, and also entirely at ease with that. It just doesn’t matter anymore.

I am regularly surprised and delighted by how much I do not know, and by how much I have to learn. I am smaller and less able than my younger self could bear to acknowledge. I’ve come to accept that I do not have to know everything, or be brilliant in all ways and that’s incredibly liberating. I am not required to magically have the answers and there are no guarantees yesterday’s answers would hold up today, anyway.

There is nothing to do but show up with an open heart, willing to explore, and to see what happens. Always a work in progress, only finished when dead (assuming we stop then, and I’m not actually sure). Always becoming.

We have such a success and achievement orientated culture. It has taken me a lot of my more than nine years to unpick that a bit, and stop obsessing about being qualified. It is enough that today there is sun, there will be orchids and good company and I have laundry to do. Hello sun. Hello orchids. Hello socks… The mysteries of existence are great, and numerous, and there is no dishonour in being a small thing muddling along in a state of wonderful bemusement.


Having all the answers

I had a really interesting critique of my blog writing via linkedin yesterday. “I also wanted to thank you, Nimue, for another insular, slanted and largely unexamined piece. As an outsider looking in to the Druid life that you portray, it appears that your penchant for confusing fantasy, and your own distorted thoughts and feelings — for truth — is a continuing theme. I still haven’t figured out yet what your writing has to do with leading a loving, open, unified, spiritual life. But then again, only very special people are Druids!” (https://www.linkedin.com/nhome/updates?topic=5876276182550351872&trk=eml_comment__view_update&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=3Wn8O_ApzYlSg1)

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve come to the conclusion that in many ways, that’s a correct assessment. Insular – absolutely, there is only one of me and I do not claim to speak for anyone else. Unexamined – well, no one else examines my output, and although I reflect on my own experiences to try and make sense of them, compared to a psychological, scientific or academic approach, I’m a lightweight. Penchant for confusing fantasy – I admit I do love Philip K Dick, although that probably wasn’t what was meant. I find life confusing, full of challenges, surprises, things that awe and bewilder me. I write sometimes to share that. Is it fantasy? I do not think I am in any position to judge! It’s nigh on impossible to be rigorously objective about innately subjective experience. Is any inner life more than fantasy if you are stood on the outside of it?

My distorted thoughts and feelings. That’s been a long and challenging journey for me, trying to ascertain what is mine and what has been imposed on me, what is fair assessment and what is distortion. There are days when I get it wrong, sometimes to awful effect. I have emotional responses other people sometimes find confusing, and sometimes I get very confused by how other people react to things. So yes, I have no doubt that other people will see some of my responses as distorted, that’s fine. My responses are what I’ve got, and while I acknowledge they may seem wonky, I don’t think that invalidates me as a person. I’m just a wonky person attempting to express themselves.

I don’t have a unified, spiritual life – guilty as charged. Doubt, uncertainty, maybeism and an absence of dogma frame my whole approach to spirituality so ‘unified’ isn’t really an option for me, and I’m fine with that.

Open… it’s funny that I can be all of those other things and not be open. I’m not sure I have the technical skill to offer more openness, perhaps this goes with ‘unexamined’ although I could be uncharitable and suggest the author of the critique hadn’t considered the inherent contradictions here.

Loving… ah yes. I love it when people come to me with all the open hearted love that allows them to write in this way – because we all know that this kind of challenge represents the deepest, most generous love that the universe can offer us, yes? Or perhaps not. If there’s anything that defines my life right now it is, I think the quest for the open heart, and the continual expanding into greater love. To do more, give more, be more, to love with few conditions and less regard for personal safety, to give, and give. But it’s not wholly unguarded and unconditional. Nonetheless, I really can love the challenge to try and make something good out of something that was clearly meant to wound me. So the only point in the whole thing I’m really going to argue is that I don’t lead a loving life, but, if this critique is what a loving spiritual life looks like, I am evidently some other thing and that’s fine by me.

I wonder what she intended and what effect she hoped to get. Why bother to write something like that? What does it achieve? A moment of relishing feeling superior, perhaps? Score one against the Druids? Why bother to read my stuff if it offends you that much? Why waste minutes of your life on me in this way? My curiosity about what makes people tick makes it hard for me to ignore something so utterly confounding. I’m confused still, insular, slanted, distorted… and unapologetic.