Tag Archives: druidic

Druidry and making our own environments

Following on from yesterday’s blog about nature and nurture, I want to think about how taking up a spiritual path can involve deliberately changing your environment in order to change yourself. I suspect there are elements of this in any path, but Druidry is what I know best.

We can be quite critical of the apparently superficial things people do when they come to Paganism. Early on, some people can seem to be more about the surfaces than anything else. The bling, the clothes, the pretty things. It’s something I’ve tended to be suspicious of. However, I’m fortunate in that I grew up with music, folklore, and wildlife. For the person who grows up in a ‘muggle’ environment, sorely lacking in magic and creativity, the jump to Paganism can be a big one. Changing the surfaces around you can help affirm that jump and make it seem real, I realise.

Making our environment, and ourselves look ‘pagan’ can be part of a process for change. If what’s around us affirms our choices, we’ll perhaps be better equipped to act on them. It may be that we spend a lot of our time in environments that are banal and soulless, and that dressing the part and covering your home in green men is a necessary push back against that. What looks like a superficial, consumer-orientated approach may in fact be a way of creating space for Paganism, and for changing personally. It depends on what a person is looking for.

If you use environmental shifts to support personal changes, then they can help you. If you are buying Pagan things because you like the look, and a few years hence maybe you’ll take up a steampunk look, or a hippy look… then it won’t make much odds. If you want a pretty surface as a temporary amusement I don’t rate the chances of it transforming your life. If you are changing how things look around you, and how you look to reinforce other things you are doing, it’s likely to do that.

Take a glance around your living space and consider what’s there primarily to give a physical presence to your beliefs. Perhaps you have an altar, a depiction of deity, a green man. I have house plants and a scattering of fossils picked up on walks. And I do also have some dry mistletoe. I have art on the walls that, while not overtly Druidic, does things for me. I live in a colourful, chaotic space that reflects what I do. Other people may find soothing tones, or minimalism reflects their spiritual identity – there’s no one right answer here.

Doing things to your home to make it look more druidy, or witchy, or shamanic will require you to think about what that means. Where does a big TV screen fit into that? Do your kitchen cupboards reflect your path? If you walk into the bathroom and looked at the products there, do they affirm your sense of being a Pagan? If you align your living space with your beliefs, you may end up making radical changes to do that, and thus what starts out as a superficial, simple thing about looking the part can become a serious process of walking your talk.

Advertisements

Calling yourself a Druid

It’s been problematic for as long as I’ve been doing it. We are not the ancient Druids, so how can we claim the name? There are lots of theories about what the word means and where it comes from, and it may well relate to oak or trees, but at the same time, it’s a word we don’t fully understand. We don’t have the same training the ancient Druids did, or access to everything they knew, so how can we claim the title? And it is a title, historically denoting training, and status within a community that no longer exists.

Then there are the modern Druids you don’t want to be associated with. You know the ones. The Druids who are doing it wrong, the ones you find embarrassing and unacceptable and you don’t want to be considered as like them, or supporting them.

Of course all of this is true of any label that lasts more than a day or two. Labels develop histories. Meanings and associations change over time. Just look at how Christianity has changed over its history and how many versions of it there are out there. There are plenty of Christians who are deeply embarrassed by those other Christians who are doing it wrong. There are plenty of feminists who are furious with the other feminists who clearly have entirely the wrong ideas. There isn’t a human project out there free from disagreement, and safe from asshats.

What would it mean to have Druidry be something that no one disagreed over? There could be no new things, no experimentation, no innovation, no personal gnosis, no diversity. The vast majority of people I’ve encountered who want to identify as Druids want to do so on their own terms. We would not function without the room to change our minds.

How do you get a space free from asshats? Perhaps you have some people with the power to police who is allowed to call themselves a Druid and to throw out those who don’t make the grade. I can’t think of a single Druid I know who would be happy to be on the inside of that. Most of them would make an effort to get thrown out at the first possible opportunity. For every training order that confers titles there are plenty of Druids stood on the outside, shaking their heads and saying they wouldn’t have done it like that. For every person willing to stand up and say ‘Druidry is this’ you can count on their being at least one other person willing to stand up and say ‘oh no it isn’t.’

There are people doing Druidry who I don’t like at all, whose actions I despise, whose words I find ridiculous. I expect there are Druids who would say the same of me. Does that mean some of us can’t be Druids? Arguing about Druidry is entirely Druidic. Arguing with other Druids for the sake of arguing with other Druids is not the basis of a spiritual path. Trying to assert who is and is not a Druid is a waste of time and energy because there will only be arguments on that score. We can reject teachers and leaders personally – we should always be free to do that. We can talk about why we object to ideas and behaviour – that’s important. But, these are things not to get bogged down in.

The failure of other people to do Druidry in a way we like is not the failure of Druidry. You will not find a human project of any substance that doesn’t have dissent, its own heresies, heretics and dodgy characters. There isn’t a human project out there someone hasn’t tried to abuse to get power, or tried to dumb down, or used as a tool for hatred and discrimination. Shitty people get everywhere. Including Druidry. We are not magically better than any other human project.


Every Day Druidry

Part of the idea when I started this blog and called it Druid Life, was to look at lived Druidry and how Druidry impacts on what I do in the rest of my life. This is one of the reasons I write about a whole array of things that perhaps at first glance don’t seem very Druidic at all.

For me, Druidry is what we do all the time, not just at the festivals. It’s about the approach and the process, the underlying logic. It’s about the willingness to reflect, question and delve deeper. It’s the willingness to bring philosophical ideas into everyday life, to bring spiritual values into things that are not overtly spiritual.

The problem with this, is that I’ve found it’s easy to lose the sense of the Druidry even while trying to live the Druidry. My Druidry is about the choices I make in my working life, about activism and education. It is green living choices, and what I do creatively, and what I do to nurture and support others in their creativity. I bring my Druidry to volunteering for The Woodland Trust, and I’m bringing it to the Transition network locally, and I take it into pubs and make spaces for people to follow their inspiration.

These are not things to do while wearing robes. Not that I’ve ever been one for the robes. I’ve come to see this year how much ritual spaces and overtly Pagan and Druid spaces do to affirm a person as Being A Proper Druid or whatever they are being. Seeing ourselves recognised by other people on the same path is affirming, and helpful.

There are days when I can’t see the Druidry for the trees. I see the trees a lot. I see the wildlife. I walk. I’m closer to the patterns of light and dark than I have ever been, closer to this land than I have ever been. And yet when I see photos of all the proper Druids at Druid gatherings, I feel like an outsider. A fake. A wannabe. I question, over and over whether ‘druid’ is a word I should use, or have any entitlement to. I stay with it in no small part because I have no idea what to call the blog instead and there’s some comfort in being able to identify as something.

When you make something part of your life, it becomes less self announcing. The difference between a long term marriage and the first excited flush of a new relationship. The difference between starting a new exercise or diet plan, and having a healthy lifestyle. We notice the new, the unfamiliar, and we notice the things we have to really consciously work at. That which is embedded in life can be less visible even as we’re doing it. Equally, that which is an every day thing can be a taken for granted thing. It’s easy to say ‘my work is my prayer’ and that be an empty, meaningless statement. The work is only the prayer if you’re really doing it.

And so I pause every now and then and ask where the Druidry is in my life. What is my Druidry? What does it mean? What does it do? How does it manifest? What am I learning, making, changing? What am I dedicating to? Where am I needed? Sometimes I don’t really know what any of the answers are. It’s ok not to know.

When I started on the Druid path, it seemed that the Druid path was many paths through a vast an ancient forest. Perhaps the forest itself was Druidry. I saw many fellow travellers, I walked well worn routes. I knew where I was because there were plenty of signposts.

Right now I have no sense of there being a Druid path beneath my feet. No sense of direction, no signposts. No one waving to me from the next path over. Just quiet, and stillness and trees, and I cannot tell if this is because I have entirely lost my way, or because I have arrived somewhere.


Druidic Meditation

I’ve been interested in meditation for most of my life. The one thing I’ve known for a long time that I don’t want is an eastern-derived practice with mistletoe stuck to it. Meditation that comes out of Hindu and Buddhist traditions has certain underpinning ideas about the nature of reality and the goals of meditation, and these do not work for me.

Having done a lovely Contemplative Druid day at the weekend, I had a lot of time in situ to contemplate what Druid Meditation is. What we do in that space connects well with what I’ve been doing for years. There was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment for me when James Nichol spoke of how this practice creates stillness on the inside, but not to take us out of the world. Here are some extensions on that line of thought.

We slow down, and in slowing down are able to go deeper, or wider. We notice more and have the time and space for really involved thinking and feeling responses to whatever we’re experiencing.

In the silence of the circle, what we tend to get is a very softly held deeper kind of connection with each other as human beings, and a deepening of experience of the space, the day, the season. Usually the centre of the circle is a small altar with a light and seasonal representations, and this encourages seasonal reflections of what happens both outside and within us at this time of year. Space to share those diverse responses and to contemplate each other’s way of being in the world increases mutual understanding and eliminates dogma. Personal truths sit side by side and are honoured.

During the day we’ll go into various contemplative activities – sound, art, and movement may all feature. These will be things we undertake together so again there’s that sense of deepening connection. We may go outside, and encounter the wilder part of the area with an open heart and more scope for seeing. We look deeply at things. Often the consequence is inspiration and there will be words, poems, images and intentions that form through these experiences.

Druid meditation is an expanding of relationship  with the self but also between participants, between participants and space. It’s a nourishing, nurturing practice that explicitly invites inspiration (Awen space is something we hold deliberately). There’s no intention to develop shared meaning, we share in order to witness, know and support each other. There’s no particular outcome that anyone is aiming for. In slowing down, paying attention, reflecting, looking back, looking forward, looking around, we will all find something and it usually turns out to be something we needed.

There are very few rules in these practices. We hold silence as the default, but there’s room to speak and share when something important comes up. Empty noise is eliminated and replaced with more soulful exchanges. We don’t do interventions for each other, although in some of the spaces, we can tackle each other’s questions if it makes sense. Not that there are any ‘right answers’.

I find it a very generous, allowing way of meditating. In some sessions I just sit with the quiet and let my mind wander where it will, enjoying the quiet companionship of everyone else as they do whatever they do. It’s a releasing process, allowing me to sort out the inside of my head in a more organic, less pre-defined sort of way. It permits whatever happens to happen, and that creates a great deal of possibility. It encourages inner stillness and calm, but I notice repeatedly that deep thinking and profound emotional responses often follow – for myself and others – because we allow ourselves to engage with anything that seems interesting in that space.


Reviewing challenges and reader implications

In the last couple of weeks I’ve read two review books that were not written to have someone read them flat out cover to cover. Sing me the Creation, and Penny Billington’s The Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew. I’m in the useful position of having been able to talk with Penny about her intentions with this text – she calls it a workbook and envisages people dipping in and out at need. “A book of ideas for workshopping as and when it seems appropriate: a reference book that, having read through for basic info, you can then pull off the shelf and dip into when it’s relevant.”  Undoubtedly, using the book in this way would result in a very different experience to reading the whole thing in three days.

I’ve read a number of books that were designed to be courses and worked through over extended time frames. Jane Meredith’s Journey to the Dark Goddess and Aphrodite’s Magic spring to mind as recent examples, but there have been plenty of others. In all these cases, the aim is not to have people learn by just reading your ideas, but to send them off to have experiences of their own, on their own terms, so as to be able to learn something more direct and personal.

Throughout her book, Penny talks about going out to where trees are, observing them, developing a sense of relationship with them. As it happens, I have a longstanding personal practice where paying close attention to trees is part of the mix. I have some sense of what a person would get from following Penny’s suggestions. But here’s the thing – I’ve not spent a year or so actively seeking out birches, oaks and yews. There is a vast and mighty oak on one of my regular walks. I don’t know of any birches or yews that I see regularly – I know they’re around, but I haven’t built those relationships. The experience of doing what Penny suggests is bound to be very different from reading it and thinking about it. As a reviewer, what I can offer is a best guess, not proper insight.

Those of us who take up spiritual exploration do so (often) with the desire to be changed by it. The odds are that facing the same material, we won’t be changed in the same ways, and the more the material encourages us to innovate, the more individual the experience will be. Where my birch trees grow is going to affect how I experience them. I’ve seen tenacious birches on old railways sites. I’ve seen them on the edge of commons, and struggling in over-damp Cotswold woods where the conditions tend to bring them down. There’s a lot of difference between a springy young sapling and a dying older tree, and what we find shapes what we do and what we therefore come to know.

I read how-to books out of interest, seldom intending to do the work as described. Sometimes I do bits of it – picking up what appeals to me. One of the great strengths of working with a book is that no one is directing your work and you have the freedom to do as you will with it. It’s also a weakness because some of us do better with guidance, and with the scope to have a response to our unique experiences.

If you’re interested in working with trees, Wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew may be well worth your time. Can I tell you what will happen if you get in there and do the work? Not at all, but I think that would be also true if I’d worked intensely with the book for months. I can say with confidence that it is very well written and accessible, it is Druidic – although aimed at a wider audience, it offers signposts to a meaningful journey, but how and if you take that journey is yours to decide.


Visualisation for non-visual people

Visualisation takes a number of forms in Pagan practice – it comes up in certain forms of magic, it can be key to developing the tools for shamanic journeying, and the more creative forms of meditation depend on it. Visualising a sacred inner grove is a key piece of Druidic meditation. What happens if that isn’t available to you? Not everyone is born sighted, and sight impairments can’t always be an easy match with instructions to visualise the beautiful, intricate details. I have no firsthand experience of this and cannot therefore comment with any great confidence, although I think there’s a good chance what I’m poised to suggest could be helpful.

I have a very poor visual memory and a weak visual imagination. I cannot hold the shape, and look of a clearing surrounded by trees, in my head coherently for more than a few seconds at a time. I can’t see it. I’ve been trying on and off for over a decade on this particular exercise, and I still can’t see it. My visual thinking skills have improved very slightly over that time frame, but it’s taken a lot of effort and I still can’t do what many seem to do easily.

I have a good memory for words and sounds. I can remember smells, and I really remember touch. I have a recall capacity for physical sensation which I didn’t really explore for years, while I was struggling away with what I could not see inside my own head. I also have good emotional recall, which works well alongside the touch memories. I can recall cats I knew thirty years ago, and remember the shape of their bodies and the texture of their fur. I can do the same with people I have touched.  I can remember a number of actual clearings in the woods as bodily experiences of being in a space.

I think the only reason we have ‘visualisation’ and not some wider ‘sensing’ is because most people are primarily visual. Some of us aren’t, especially not when it comes to memory and the mind. What happens if we take the idea of visualisation, and stop being so visual about it? In my case the short answer is, success!

If visualising doesn’t work for you, let it go, in whole or in part, to explore other forms of sensing. Work with the senses that most involve you in the world and that your mind can most readily conjure up. I work increasingly with my felt responses. I don’t know what a grove of trees looks like beyond a most general sense. If I imagine what it’s like to sit with my eyes closed, in a place surrounded by trees, then the smells, sounds and bodily feelings of that are quite available to me, and I can blend memory and imagination to productive effect.


Encountering landscape

Experiencing landscape is a full on sensory activity, engaging everything you’ve got that you can work with. For me, it’s all about walking, but anything that allows you to be present and slow enough to see things should also work. Sitting, cycling, other kinds of wheels. I think car driving is too fast, and too insulated, as are trains.

The physical shape of the land impacts on you as you try and move through it. There’s a huge visual impact to landscape, which for me is important in terms of shifting and widening my perspective. However, the sounds, smells and feels of a place are also intense and significant. On the hills, the wind buffets. Down in the valley, in a sheltered lane with the rain falling yesterday, I could not hear any traffic noise at all. In these encounters, the world comes alive to us, and we to it.

I am convinced that something happens biologically when I walk for hours. I think the rhythm of walking affects how my mind works, and tends to sooth and stabilise me. I know walking has good effects on things like cartilage repair, and no doubt there are endorphins from the exercise. Beyond that, a really long walk leaves me with a feeling of peace, and cleanliness, as though something has been washed out of my body. I’ve poked around in some online science, there are some studies suggesting walking affects biochemistry, but that’s about as far as I’ve got. It’s like a reset button for my mind; if I do it for long enough, out of kilter things click back into place. If I do it through beautiful landscapes, my soul is soothed, and I am inspired, and uplifted. It’s reliable, so long as I am well enough to walk.

There is always more going on than I can pay attention to. The sky and the distance views, birdsong, skittering undergrowth, fossils and quartz in the soil… the more alert I am to one thing, the more risk I’ll miss something else. This is one reason for not walking alone – with alert and likeminded walkers, you see more, because they see differently. I like that sharing process, too. Finding out what inspires someone else, what they notice and want to direct me to. I tend to have a much richer experience walking with people who are also keen.

Then there’s what comes of moving through the land. Recollections and stories sparked by locations and things witnessed. Speculation – reasonable and fantastical as the fancy takes. The sharing of knowledge and insight (what kind of bird was it, what sort of toadstool, is that berry edible…). If you keep walking the same landscape in different ways, you see familiar things from different angles, which is enlightening, you find new paths to walk… remember when we came here last time and went left? Let’s go right today… and so the walking of the land makes a story that connects to other stories you’ve walked, and to stories you tell, and knowledge stories and mad speculative what would happen if there was a bear stories.

I’m inspired in this by Robert McFarlane’s awesome book ‘The Old Ways’ and by the epic team effort that is ‘Story Telling for a Greener World’. To me it seems intensely Druidic, this weaving together of place, knowledge, inspiration and through that making new things, in community.


Druid chants

Music has always been a big part of my life, and I’m deeply attracted to the bardic threads in the Druidic weave. I’m also interested in meditation and contemplation. Unshockingly, this has led to time spent chanting. I even run the odd workshop on subverting and messing about with chants to make group singing more collaborative and playful. Let’s face it, there’s only so many times a bunch of people can sing ‘we all come from the goddess’ until it tails off in awkward silence. We are more likely to fall into tedium than reverie, if my experience in circles is anything to go by. I’ve long been interested in finding ways of changing that experience, for myself and for those around me.

I’ve been blessed with some excellent chanting experiences, too – most notably those led by JJ Middleway. His ‘enchanting the void’ sessions offer room for creative exploration around the chant, and I find what he does when chanting alone to be really powerful. However, I struggle a bit with the chants. Many of our ‘traditional’ chants come from the American goddess/feminist movement. Others are New Age or Hindu inspired. I can appreciate them as lovely and well meant things, but they do not resonate with me. They do not allow me to voice the things I want to put into the world, they do not reinforce the pledges I am making.

My general philosophy is, that if a thing I want isn’t there… that may mean it is my job to start trying to fill that gap. I began wondering what I would want from a chant, and have set myself the challenge of trying to write material that works for me. Having tested this one with the contemplative Druids recently, it appears to work for other people a bit, too.

So I’ve taken the plunge and put it on bandcamp. http://nimuebrown.bandcamp.com/releases

You can listen to it for free on the website, there is a small charge to download. If this works out well, I’ll do my best to write and upload some more of these. I’m also considering recording a few meditations and other spoken word things. It’s early days, and I’m very much testing the waters. If there’s something you’d like me to try – in terms of subject matter or approach, do let me know, I’m very much open to suggestions.


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.


Relationship in Druidry

The idea that Druidry is all about relationship comes up a lot. Often what’s expressed is the idea that we should seek honourable relationship with all things. Though admirable, this is tricky because the vast array of non-human presences out there are not able to express their opinions, needs and preferences to us. We are obliged to guess much of the other side of any relationship. In practice although we could ask, we also tend to guess and infer the other side of our human relationships, too. Sometimes we don’t get much choice, because the relationship is indirect, brought about by consumption or pollution.

The one thing we can most easily scrutinise is what we bring to our side of that Druidic relationship. What are we looking for? What do we want? What shapes our side of the interaction and what informs out inferences and interpretations? As a case in point, many people have held for a long time that other creatures do not feel pain as humans do. Research is starting to tell us otherwise, but for a long time, the consensus inferred that animals felt little. What we brought to this inference was the collective inclination not to have to worry about how our treatment of animals might impact on them. As lab creatures, farmed creatures, in zoo and circus, in small cages at home, hunted for sport and set on each other for entertainment, our history of relationship with animals has some distinct biases in it.

It’s very easy to imagine that, as enlightened, spiritual people, we don’t do that sort of thing. Except that we do. We bring assumptions to our relationships all the time. Often we are more driven by a desire for status and respect within our own communities than it might be comfortable to accept. But then as people pointed out on a recent post here, we’re basically still monkeys, and there’s no shortage of baboon culture in human interactions. How do we relate to the consciousness of plants? How much landfill waste do we generate, alongside our quest for honourable relationship with the earth? How much of our own behaviour are we carefully justifying and excusing because it suits us to do so, not because we’re upholding honour?

Landfill is an issue much on my mind at present. I send about a carrier bag’s worth of stuff to landfill every week, and every now and then there is more, when a large, non-recyclable, worn out thing needs to leave. I try and squeeze full use out of everything. Reduce, re-use, pass on, recycle… but some items just don’t fit there and eventually I end up with a landfill contribution. Much of my waste is from the kitchen – I’m in a flat, I’ve had no way of composting and food waste isn’t collected here. I’m getting a wormery to deal with that, which leaves the non-recyclable plastics from the foods that I can’t figure out how to get by other means. Each plastic wrapper represents oil taken from the earth, and earth that I will pollute by disposing of it. Each plastic wrapper is a failure on my part to be in honourable relationship with the land.

It would be easy at this point to play up the things I do well, the areas of strength, to claim an offset, a state of ‘good enough’ or to suggest that it is an issue for wider society, not me as an individual. Where is my honourable relationship if I pass the buck on this one? Why do I feel entitled to inflict my waste on future generations? It’s not good enough.

It is easy to bandy round terms like ‘honourable relationship’ in order to feel good about what we do, and bloody hard if not painful to live and breathe that moment to moment and enact it in all things.

None of my relationships are truly honourable. All of them are flawed, partial works in progress and in all of them, there is so much scope to do better.