Tag Archives: energy

The dangers of normality

Anything we understand as normal, we tend not to question. We are more likely to pick on things we think are abnormal about us as places to seek change, than to work on the things that make us the same as everyone else. We are less likely to challenge any feature of our lives that is a dependable constant. Thus the person who has been gently subjected to escalating patterns of abuse won’t feel there’s anything odd at all about being hit. This is why victims stay, and people who have not been victims struggle to understand why anyone would hang around for such abnormal treatment.

If I challenge directly over something you consider normal, the odds are you will become defensive. ‘Normal’ is our baseline for how reality works, so having it challenged is always uncomfortable. It feels threatening, so the desire to protect it is both strong and entirely natural, but that makes certain lines of though almost unthinkable. So let’s do one, by way of an experiment.

If you want to have a happier, richer, more rewarding life, live greenly and generally be a better Pagan, get rid of your television.

I know perfectly well that for many people, the television as been a lifetime companion. The defences – that some programs are good, that it is entertaining, comforting, sometimes educational will leap to the forefront of your mind. This may well be true of any number of programs, but once it turns into a conversation about how Star Trek inspired you to live a better life, what we don’t get to do is talk about television as a wider issue. The social and psychological impact of television is considerable. It’s now normal for young people to feel that they could not live without one, or without their beloved phones.

Television is a good case in point because if you watch regularly, you also get the daily normalising of our unsustainable culture. You’re looking at other people’s houses, loaded with certain kinds of stuff. You’re hearing about products, and seeing them sparkle. You’re seeing how people dress. All of these things create and reinforce your reality. It is a reality of unsustainable consumption, but we’re carefully not telling each other that so as to be able to keep doing it. Around you, everyone else is seeing the same TV reality and manifesting bits of it in their lives, dialogue, consumer choices etc. Music goes to number one in the charts because of TV, sometimes because of adverts. TV supplies content for our conversations (as a non-TV person, I really notice these).

We have lives full of material riches beyond anything our ancestors dared to imagine, but we’re not happy. We are consuming resources at a rate this planet simply can’t support for the long term, and the odds are that in our own lifetimes, there will be radical change forced on us and we will have to learn to live very different lives. Are you ready for that? Do you know how you would cope? Do you have the skills, the emotional resources and the intellectual flexibility? Can you imagine what it would look like?

If the world without television in it seems like a threatening idea, that’s a thought to spend some time with. If the idea that in the future we might not be able to cope with the energy expense of television seems outrageous, do ask yourself if you would feel differently had you’d watched a program recently envisaging how television might be impacted by a low energy future.

It’s a lesson with implications far beyond the television. You can play the same game with your emotional responses to any piece of technology. Your phone, your car, your computer. I know perfectly well how much I would struggle without access to the knowledge base and people the internet gives me. If I had to choose one piece of technology to save for the future, I would give up every other 20th century device for the sake of computers and the internet. Which one would you pick?

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Working with energy

For me, working with energy is not some kind of esoteric or magical practice. It is a daily concern about how to manage my energy levels so that I can do as much as possible. It’s not a wholly practical issue either. Energy is a basic necessity of life, so treating it as a more supernatural issue seems really bizarre to me. But then, much of my take on magic has far more to do with life as experienced, than that which cannot be pointed at.

I’ve learned some simple, practical issues around how much sleep I need (a lot in the winter, less in the summer) and what kind of diet actually sustains me. Getting that right has helped me a lot. I’ve looked at how I pace myself, moving between different kinds of work in order to stay mentally fresh. I’ve found I may be more of a morning person than makes emotional sense to me, but working late into the night burns me out far faster than starting early does. There are no one-size-fits-all answers here, it is a case of exploring and finding what works.

I’ve spent the last ten years and more trying to run flat out, writing, working, parenting, keeping a home, volunteering… I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve misjudged and burned out. The last few years I’ve been trying not to do that. Exhaustion is my single biggest trigger for depression and anxiety, and I’ve got to a point where body and mind simply cannot endure much more of that. It is essential for me not to spend too much time in that state. I get really ill. And so managing my own energy and learning to work within its limits, only pushing those edges gently and some of the time, has become vital for my viability.

It is clear to me that there is only so much I can do by getting the physical underpinnings right. Sleep, diet and exercise are important, and if I get those wrong I suffer. However, they will not do the whole job, and sleep especially is affected by my emotional state. If I am demoralised, if I feel unvalued, if the people around me give me a hard time and feed feelings of uselessness, then nothing works. Equally, if I have the right kind of engagement with people, my energy levels rise dramatically. What I need are intense, emotionally honest, heartfelt interactions with people. Preferably enough people to feel a bit like a tribe. Soul friendship, sharing of life and self, people who are being authentic… this makes worlds of difference.

Thus far 2014 has really brought into focus for me which relationships in my life give me this. I’ve been able to step away further from connections that make me feel tired and low, investing more in those heartfelt interactions that feed my soul. I am seeing the effects on my output. I’ve written nearly a novel’s worth of short story material in the last month, I’m writing non-fic at a pace, I’m doing arty crafty things, and it’s all flowing. My morale, which is rooted in my relationships, is what makes this possible.

There is an incredible magic in connecting open-heartedly with people. New thoughts and feelings, new experiences, are possible. It’s not your wand waving magic of spells and determined change, but a more organic and unpredictable magic, no less life-changing. Energy work… it’s not all auras and acupuncture language.


The History of Feng Shui

Guest blog by Uma Campbell

Any tradition that is older than written records, and is still being practiced, has a complicated history.  Feng shui is no exception.  Feng Shui is a Chinese art of situating buildings in their most optimal position based on astronomy and life forces that goes as far back as 4000 BC, late Neolithic period. While the goal of Chinese medicine is to balance yin and yang in the body, the goal of feng shui has been described as aligning a city, site, building, or object with yin-yang force fields.

To give context to how far back that is, the European structures Carnac Standing Stones and the stone circles Brodgar and Stenness and cairn Maes Howe (Orkney Islands, Scotland) were in use around that time.  It is widely believed that these ancient sites were also in use for reasons of astronomical significance.

feng

 

To find the first use of feng shui (which means “wind, water”), it can be traced back only through records of building projects, so exact dates of first use are approximate and marked by the Dynasty that was in place at the time.  Initially, placements of tombs, shrines and important buildings would be specifically oriented to angle “auspiciously” to a cosmic event, like a winter solstice or rising and setting sun.  Based in cosmology, the principles were formed to capture good life energy or qi (pronounced “chi” in English) for a purpose, a different one for a civic building than a temple, for example.

Throughout the long history of this practice, feng shui evolved with differing branches of methods. These are referred to as “schools”, each focusing its practices on a different set of calculations or elements.

We may say the Han Dynasty shows the first organized use of feng shui (206 BCE-220 CE), referred to as the Form School.  The “form” in Form School refers to the shape of the environment, such as mountains, rivers, plateaus, buildings, and general surroundings. It considers the five celestial animals (phoenix, green dragon, white tiger, black turtle, and the yellow snake), the yin-yang concept and the traditional five elements (Wu Xing: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water).

One of the famous feng shui names recorded in the history of feng shui is Master Yang Yun Sang, who left a legacy of many classical feng shui texts and is considered the founder of the landscape school of feng shui. With the Landscape school, the Tang Dynasty (618-906 CE) used the lay of the landscape (rivers, mountainsides, soil, etc) as important ways to sculpt the energy effects desired.  Each of these schools had their own evolutions as well.

Utilized through Song Dynasty (960-1279), new techniques included a form of compass reading to orient to the 8 cardinal directions North South East West and points between), at roughly the same time as the magnetic compass as we know it was used for navigation. In the late 1800s, the Landscape School and Compass Schools merged, and utilize combinations of the tools each introduced.  [Han, Tang, Song, Qin (Ch’ing), Republic]

Today, feng shui is practiced as either by an expert in the stricter science and geometry of the ancient techniques, or by “softer” methods involving a bit less math, a bit more instinct and flexibility.   The eight cardinal compass points, landscape features and cosmic forces for house placement is possible, plus the bagua, or map, of directions and elements for interior space.

Feng shui is not easy to explain, but easier to achieve with the right advice and a little study.  Ultimately, you can choose how in-depth or lightly you want to apply these principles to your spaces.  If the effect of lighter, easier flow of energy is achieved, good living can ensue.

 

Uma Campbell is a freelance writer from Southern California. She loves writing about meditation and alternative medicine. To read more of her writing, you can visit the Soothing Walls blog. When she’s not writing, she loves to practice yoga.


The 70% challenge

I’m currently reading Molly Scott Cato’s book, The Bioregional Economy. You’re going to be hearing a lot about this, because it’s having a huge impact on my thinking. How I perceive the place of Druidry in the world is shifting. The choices I mean to make in my own life are all being reconsidered, too. In addition to that, I am so inspired by Molly and her vision that I will be investing time and energy in trying to get her work in front of more people. I’m not prone to being so inspired by people that I have to leap into action and do something, but Molly is an exception in so many ways.

We cannot have infinite population growth and infinite economic growth and infinite growth in consumption, given that we start out with finite resources. I’ve known this for years. What I’ve not had before is any sense of how energy use would need to change so that we can viably live within our means. According to The Bioregional Economy, current thinking puts the figure somewhere between a 70 and 90% reduction. That’s a staggering prospect with huge implications, and has really brought home to me the scale of the problem.

Could I cut my energy consumption by 70%? I may not be a good case study here because there’s already a lot of things I don’t have that a great many people take for granted as necessary. I’m living in a small space, with no car, no television, no fridge or freezer, a caravan sized washing machine. We have computers for work, we have a phone and the internet but are otherwise pretty low tech. I can’t cut back much further without being unable to work, and as this is a rented flat, there are things I’m not able to do in terms of getting a more efficient boiler, a water meter, or solar panels.

Most of my scope for cutting energy use depends on better sourcing of that which I consume. This makes me realise that I do not have any idea how the various things I buy contribute to energy use. There is nothing to tell me what the real cost of my food and clothes actually is. Where they were made, how they were produced, how they travelled, how people in that process were treated, and so forth, remain unknown to me. If I could get everything locally and direct from producers, I might be in with a chance of both knowing, and doing better. The costs of that would still be prohibitive for me, although I’m doing what I can.

There is a cost to all the things we are able to source cheaply in supermarkets. Most of that cost is invisible, but it is actually part of the reason why I would struggle to afford the things made by local craftspeople and the produce on the farmers’ markets. We push prices down all the time, and there’s a miss-match between what it is possible to earn, and what it is necessary to be able to spend. To sell my work in the modern market place, I have to charge so little as to push myself out to the margins. We’ll spend more on takeaway food than we are happy paying for printed books. British farmers in the UK struggle to make ends meet, unable to compete with cheap foreign imports. In other countries, people are growing flowers to sell commercially but cannot afford to reliably feed or educate their children. The whole system, is mad.

We keep hanging onto this myth, perpetuated by popular culture, that science will find a magic solution. Star Trek style technology will give us the lifestyle we’ve been sold, at knockdown prices with clean air. That isn’t happening. We keep taking more than the natural systems that support us are able to keep providing, and that plainly isn’t going to work.

A 70% reduction in energy use. That’s a stark and alarming figure. 90% is really rather frightening. What would that leave us? What will life look like when we finally bite the bullet and stop pretending there isn’t a problem? Assuming we get round to that in time. It casts the whole concept of what we might need in such a different way as to challenge every assumption our culture holds right now. That’s probably a good thing. Right now I don’t know how to do it, but I am determined to face that challenge.


Who am I?

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.


Working with energy

Nope, not a New agey post from me today, more a pondering of how the biology works, or in my case, doesn’t, partly prompted by reading some excellent material from Dorothy Abrams. I don’t have a deep understanding of bodily energy systems, but I can observe, and am starting to notice, and question a few things.

For the last ten years or so, I’ve run flat out whenever I could, punctuated by times of illness and burnout when I could barely move at all. To do this I have learned to ignore pain and exhaustion, which is something I’ve been trying to unpick for a while. Yesterday I noticed that my muscles can be tired, while the rest of my body jangles with restless energy. It’s like being on a caffeine high, without drinking the coffee, and it contributes to not being able to sleep. My guess is that it’s the adrenal system.

Adrenaline is there for short term bursts of life saving fight and flight activity. It’s there for emergency dashes to the water hole, and for when you’re going to need to walk a long way to find any food. It has its place and its uses, but we aren’t supposed to use it all the time. I find I’m easily tipped into anxiety and often feeling threadbare in a way that leaves me wide open to depression, and I think this is because I’m pumping more ‘energy’ into my body than my body is realistically able to use. What I’ve been calling ‘running on willpower’ might better be labelled ‘running on adrenaline’.

In the last few months I’ve started to feel like I need to take proper care of me. I’m tired of living with pain, and the depression and anxiety are no kind of fun. I’m looking for root causes. Most of the circumstantial causes have gone, leaving a legacy of thought and behaviour habits to tackle. If I kick into fear/adrenaline mode at the start of each day, I start pushing and forcing myself from the moment I get out of bed, and then later fall into bed so wound up I don’t sleep, thus perpetuating the whole cycle. I can afford to stop doing that now, so am trying to get my adrenal system to step down.

This is another form of being vulnerable. Risking saying ‘no’ to things, and people. Not trying to do everything right now. It’s a process of learning not to think of myself as a commodity that should be available on tap, but as a person. I still struggle with that one, it’s another legacy issue. When people don’t treat you like you’re a person, you can end up believing it – it’s such a tidy explanation, you don’t have the same rights as real people because you’re too flawed to count. Intellectually I’ve been resisting that for a while, but the emotions often move more slowly.

I think that to move forward, I’ve got to explore making the constant adrenaline drive stop. I’ve got to let myself be tired and sluggish and a bit useless for a while. Then perhaps I can get some better rhythms going around being able to rest and recharge. There’s every reason to think that if I can sort this, I can reduce pain, exhaustion, depression and anxiety such that I end up with more energy and more scope for doing things. That helps me feel less self-indulgent about the process, because I still struggle with ‘because it would be better for me’ as a justification for anything.

Being with someone who supports me, and who will manifest that support in practical ways, is a huge difference. Being with someone who soothes my anxiety with gentle physical comfort, and who encourages me to take care of myself, not because I’m a massive inconvenience if I get ill, but because I am worth taking care of. Having the space in which to do this is so important. Head space as well as right physical environment. Having the inspiration from other Pagan writers to challenge my ideas about physical and emotional pain. I’m going to try and do something radical to change my life, and to be well.


Managing the energy

It’s all gone mad. My whole life. Not in a bad way, I hasten to add, but this is the kind of crazy rush that ought, in theory to happen at midsummer, and didn’t. This is not normally a ‘rush’ time of year for me. Some years when I’ve been pickling and preserving, it’s been busy, but not like this. Part of it is a direct consequence of my shout out earlier in the week. The response has been amazing – as a consequence I’m writing two or three articles a day plus this blog, trying to meet demand. It’s stunning, humbling, inspiring to find so many people are willing to put something of mine into the world. (And, do keep them coming, I’m holding pace, I will get articles to everyone who asks, and each article will be unique).

I’ve just been asked if I’ll read a book with a view to putting an endorsement on it. This is a first. A gobsmacking, overjoying first. There is no greater validation as a writer, than some other writer liking you and your stuff so much that they want an endorsement. Sales are lovely, fans are lovely, and startling, but this is a whole other level and my head is reeling.

I’m talking to a review site, that I want to work for and that may be interested in me. Things are moving for Tom as well, with all kinds of glorious chaos potential there too.

This morning I wrote a gothic short story, destined for an audio project with some great people. I have a series to write, and the creativity is flowing.

At the moment it feels like hurtling down a slope on a tin tray. It’s all going very fast. I have some semblance of control, but probably not as much as I need. Stopping could be messy…

Many of the creatures I love most are absolutely adept at harnessing the natural environment. Buzzards ride the wind, and I watch them most days, soaring effortlessly, using what is there. It’s so easy to get buffeted about, blown off course, thumped into trees though, for creatures like myself who are not adept at flying. My Druidry of the last few years has been so much about a quest for balance, peace and stability. I’m caught in a tidal wave of awen, a tsunami of potential, and am quite aware that it could crush me. I need to become the sort of creature that can ride the currents, harness the wind.

I know from past experience that the crazier the rush, the harder the crash, but I want this life, and I want the many things that are opening up before me.


Closed system earth

The boat is a closed system. It’s not on the grid, or plumbed in to the water and sewerage systems, anything that is going to be in the boat either has to be generated in situ (electricity) or physically brought in (water, fuel, food etc). There are of course some obvious downsides to this – especially when you consider having to sort out your poo… but on the plus side having the means to generate your own energy and source everything you need creates independence. If the grid falls over, I’ll still have lights.

One of the things this makes me very aware of, is the degree to which everything entering the boat comes from somewhere, and everything leaving it goes to somewhere. I have a much more direct sense than most people of how much lavatorial waste we generate in a week, and that it goes somewhere else and needs sorting out. It doesn’t magically flush away never to be thought of again. It goes somewhere. Something has to happen to it.

There are no bin collections for us. Consequently we cycle the recyclables a few miles to drop them off, and there are places we can appropriately dispose of the other things. Big bins all boaters use. And where do those go? Away… to that never never land where all the rubbish goes. Looking at those big bins every week, full of things other people couldn’t be bothered to recycle, and all the useless packaging and waste does not make me comfortable.

There are features of modern life that make it very easy to ascribe things to ‘away’. Water comes from ‘away’ and when you’re done with it, it goes away. Petrol comes out of a nozzle, the actual source rendered invisible. Rubbish disappears in a lorry every week or two. We insulate ourselves from most of the process, the whole structure of modern living encourages us not to see our own place in the many cycles we interact with. This is not helping.

The earth is a closed system. Everything we have is here. There is no off-world grid to turn to if we mess up. No method of being plumbed in to intergalactic water and sewerage systems. Anything that is going to be used on the earth has to be generated in situ. Fantasies about getting it all from space are not going to solve anything any time soon. There are of course some obvious downsides to this – especially when you consider having to sort out your poo… but on the plus side having the means to generate your own energy and source everything you need creates independence. Or it would, if we weren’t being collectively insane.


Taken for Granted

The simplest way to find out what you take for granted, is to not have it for a little while. Spending time in a city recently, I’m ever more conscious of the ways in which cars and electricity are taken for granted by those who have access to them. They make life a lot easier. I’ve never had a car, so I find the idea of being able to hop in one and go where you like, when you like, a bit strange, but for the majority, that’s normal. Electricity is another thing we all take for granted – there at the flip of a switch, all the energy to power the devices that enable our lifestyles. Refrigerators, lights, washing machines, vacuums, irons, computers, televisions, game boxes, cookers, air conditioning, and so on. How often do we consciously think about the power we use? It’s just there, waiting to serve our every whim. Maybe we think about use when the bills come in, or in moments of wanting to be greener, but for day to day living? Not so much.

The way we consume and produce energy isn’t sustainable. But we’re so used to flicking the switch and knowing we can have what we want. How on earth could we change? How could we move away from that assumption of use? Because it’s the assumption that we can have what we want, and should have it, which creates the dependence, and the overuse.

For once, I have something a bit like an answer rather than just more questions.

I’ve done a lot of camping over the years. In a tent, or caravan, there is no power supply. You have to run a generator, which makes you a lot more conscious of what you use, and when. Or you have to go somewhere else to source power.

There are increasing numbers of solar and wind units coming onto the market – some aimed primarily at campers. There are solar units that will charge your phone, ipod and other toys. There’s even solar gear coming in that will run your laptop. I’ve seen some very interesting domestic wind turbines too – with those you charge a battery and run from there.

Sustainable energy is unpredictable. On a still day, the turbine doesn’t work, and at night the solar panels won’t give you anything. Which means you have to figure out how to store your electricity, or you have to use it when it’s available, not when it suits you. Talking to people who depend on generating their own energy, I hear that they use their computers and televisions only when the generator is running, because that’s the most efficient way. They think about energy use in a totally different way from people who are used to it being there. They are not miserable however, and have adapted their lives to fit their resources.

When you have to generate your own power, you become a lot more aware of what you use. It’s a similar issue with running a stove rather than a heater – if you bring in the wood and the coal, you know exactly what you are consuming and it changes your attitude to it. You can’t run that kind of heat source without paying attention to it – they go out – so you can’t leave them on by accident, nor are you going to ‘forget’ and open the windows when it gets too warm.

If we all had to take responsibility for generating our own energy, we would not waste so much. We would consider need rather than whim. We would not default to electronic solutions – especially not for entertainment. This I think, would be good. I don’t think electricity is a bad thing – I’m writing this on a laptop and sharing it on the internet after all. It’s our relationship with energy that needs looking at. I’m starting to explore the options for generating my own, and although I’d say I was energy conscious beforehand, that has taken me forward in radical ways. I’m finding I do not need as much energy as I thought I did. I’m increasingly convinced that a lot of the problem lies in what we think we need, and that given the chance and motivation to test this, it is (I am finding) possible to totally rethink that.

Although I’d like a bit more internet access than I’ve had this last week, but that, as they say, is a totally different story.


Voices of spring

The change of seasons is a subtle thing, one day to the next, Buds fatten until the first hints of green peek out. Shoots emerge one by one, and the grass begins to grow, turning the faded tones of winter into fresh and vibrant shades. Birds pair off, their nest building apparent, and the days lengthen, getting warmer.

I don’t know why I wake before the dawn, but I do, lying in the darkness I hear when the dawn chorus begins. They are singing for longer now than they did in winter – the warmth and growing days giving them more energy to spare. Somehow they know the dawn is coming, and sing to greet it. Although my body seems to know too, based on when I wake, I don’t feel the coming of the light, but the song of birds is a comfort, and helps me wait out the darkness. It’s the loneliest time of the day for me, not wanting to disturb others who are sleeping, seldom feeling energetic enough to move. The darkness lies heavy and it’s a time when I’m most exposed to my own fear. But the bird song always eases that, and the return of light means a return of hope.

Where I’ve studied Druidry over the years, I’ve heard plenty of advice about how we should attune our own life cycles and moods to the seasons. Spring is the time for waking up, for new projects, fresh energy. As I spend significant time outside every day and don’t have much insulation from nature, I feel the cycle of the seasons keenly – the shifts in day length and temperature impact on me. I’m alert to the changes in plants and birds, and this year bats as well. But I’m not bounding with spring energy. I’m not feeling the thrill of a new season or the energy of new creativity. Emotionally, I’m still in the cold, hard depths of winter and there is a lot of ice on the inside.

This is not a new problem. I don’t lull into the gentle sleep of winter like a good little Druid – I can’t – winters for me are hard work, because I have little insulation from the harsh realities of them. Often the long days around midsummer give me a strange rush and a kind of hyper-energised insanity, but that’s the only time I ‘feel the season’ at all. Early on as a student I was actually told off for this and encouraged to perceive it as ‘Druid fail’. Which it isn’t.

The tides and seasons of our lives are unique to each of us. Trying to reduce them down and make them fit a perceived narrative of the year is unhelpful. I am not a flower to experience the year as plants do, entirely solar led. Nor am I a hibernating mammal or a migrating bird. Listening to the voices of nature and learning from them should not be a process of trying to entirely become what we are not. However we attune to sun and season, we are still human, and it is important to recognise and honour our own tides, which will not necessarily connect with any other natural cycle out there.

For creative folk, the seasons of our working and being fallow are not about crops or harvest. It takes precisely as long to incubate and birth a project as it takes. That can be minutes, months or anywhere in between. We might be caught in industrious energy through the autumn and winter only to find ourselves dying back in the spring and needing to retreat and rest a while. I lived for a while with a predictable six to eight week pattern of work and burn out, which didn’t relate to anything but me.

The tides of life do not respect our inner seasons. We might want to be resting in darkness, but other calls may be made on our energy. Reality won’t wait until a springtime of the soul to make demands on our selves and invention. We could be trying to die back quietly, only to find some other current has grabbed us and requires us to evolve into swimmers.

Celebrating what we have and honouring the sacred time that is now, is not just about recognising where the solar seasons are and trying to attune to them. It is good to be aware of what’s going on out there, but it’s also important to recognise that what goes on within us might not neatly correspond. It’s even possible to find that your thoughts pull one way and your emotions another, that there is no coherent narrative about where you are in your life and what any of it means. And that’s ok too. Sometimes it’s enough to draw breath, write ‘I am here’ as spirit graffiti in the air, and let it go.