Tag Archives: goals

Life goals and spiritual goals

We live in a goal-orientated society. Success is understood in terms of achievement, goals and markers. Qualifications, promotions, pay increases, a bigger house, a more expensive car… we set up goals and chase them and then, when we’re done, we head for the next goal. There’s no space here to feel happy or fulfilled, and this is part of what keeps us locked into consumerism. People who feel unfulfilled can be persuaded that products will answer this need.

Now, in some ways, moving goalposts are unavoidable. If you have any investment in improving yourself, you’ll always see ways in which you can improve. One of the signs of knowing more, or deepening a skill is that your scope to see what else you could achieve always increases too. However, this is a constant process, and it doesn’t create goals that you can easily brag about.

Paganism does offer us ‘levels’, titles, certificates, and all the things that help us live a goal-orientated life. What does it mean to be a successful Pagan? How many books and articles must you have published? How many followers must you have? How much must you be able to charge for courses? And what does it do to your spiritual path if your path becomes all about the number of moots you can run, and students you can sign up? The more goal-focused we are, the more the spiritual things may slip from our grasp.

For me, spiritual growth has proved to be a lot like growing as a creator. I can’t tell you what exactly it is that makes me a better colourist than I was a few years ago, but I know I am. Many tiny things have changed day to day as I’ve worked on comics pages. There are things I know because I’ve done them a lot. There’s the consequence of showing up to the table and doing the work. I know I’ve improved and I can see it.

On the Druid side it gets even harder to explain. There’s the same process of showing up. At the moment I am showing up for the land as much as I can. I know things that I did not know before but as much of it is body knowledge I’m still struggling to put it into words. It doesn’t make me a better druid than any other druid, but I feel it as growth and I feel I’m a better druid than I used to be. I am not trying to compete with anyone else, any more than it makes sense for me to try and compete as a colourist with other colourists who have totally different styles and intentions.

My success is a process. It’s a day to day thing with no real goals; only to deepen and widen and become more. I see very similar things happening in my relationships, in my writing and thinking. I have no specific ambitions, which I’m finding liberating. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone else any more, which is a great relief. This success process allows me to celebrate small things all the time. It allows me to feel sufficiently satisfied with my life not to be miserable. It also keeps me on my toes enough not to feel bored or stagnant. I can enjoy what I have because I’m not focused on the next goal. At the same time, I can develop and grow. I don’t have to look at anyone else’s version of success and compare mine in order to feel validated.

 

(thank you Tommy Elf for the inspiration to write this – https://tommyelf22.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/looking-for-advancedpagan-practices-roll-for-initiative/ )

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Life Goals for Druids

In western culture, we are supposed to be ambitious about getting rich, owning a bigger house, more cars, maybe a private jet. Affluence and possessions are the focal points of the aims we’re expected to have. Power and affluence are part of the mix. Those of us who fail to be super-rich are to stay envious and striving. Alongside this we tend to prioritise romance and child rearing – and if you aren’t inclined to parenting, that tends not to be treated with respect. The majority of us are set up to fail, and will, if we go along with this, spend our lives chasing after ever more money, never able to be satisfied by what we have.

One of the reasons for following a spiritual path is that it allows a different set of priorities. You don’t have to be rich to be spiritual – many traditions suggest that an obsession with worldly wealth will only get in your way. Many religions are focused on what you have to do to get to a better life after this one – codes of behaviour and service to deity tend to define this. We don’t have that in Druidry, so what kind of life goals should, or could a Druid be interested in?

Life long learning seems an obvious one to me. Not the absorption of sterile facts, but a quest for deeper understanding. A desire to know, to experience and to cultivate deeper empathy is something you can explore in any circumstances, and the rewards are many. Learning adds interest to life, and allows us to see more than the surfaces in front of us. The kind of learning that cultivates wisdom and encourages flexible, rather than rigid ways of thinking, is, I would suggest, an ongoing, satisfying and happily infinite thing for a Druid to pursue. Learning creative and practical skills, and bardic learning would also be part of this.

Cultivating virtues. Paganism tends towards virtue-led ethics. It’s an interesting process figuring out what you see as virtue, and then deciding how to actively cultivate those virtues in your life. At the moment I’d list patience, persistence, generosity and laziness as the virtues I most wish to work with. I think in our over busy, over worked, over acquisitive culture, laziness can be a very powerful virtue indeed. This list will change over time.

Cultivating relationships – with people, with the land, and sky, with the history in the landscape, with the wildlife and the spirits of place, with the ancestors… the list is vast. To know, to care, to be engaged… again these things confer ongoing benefits and you’ll never run out of things to explore.

Seeking happiness and the good life. Making time to figure out what a good life is from your perspective, having the scope to live life on your own terms, setting out to enjoy life day to day rather than always striving after distant goals. One of the great strengths of the life goals I’ve offered is that they bring delight and richness from the moment you start. There’s no pouring energy unhappily into effort for years in the hopes it pays off in the end – which is at the heart of your standard western practice of making affluence a life goal. You aren’t waiting to start living, you’re living already if you’re inclined to live a good life right now with what you have.

What are your requirements for a good life? What kind of goals do you have at the moment?