Tag Archives: reflection

Druidry and the New Year

New years create an obvious focal point for reflecting on where we’ve been and thinking about where we are going. Life is full of such opportunities – birthdays are another, and we could equally do it at full moons, dark moons or simply at the end of each day. For me, reflection is an important part of Druidry. This is the path of a life lived consciously. It’s why I get grumpy when people instead advocate for living purely in the moment. I think we need to be engaged with our immediate lives, but that we need to balance this with reflection and time spent deliberately looking back and looking forward. A life lived only in the moment is an unconsidered life, and to me that’s not Druidry.

I usually take the turning of the year as an opportunity to reflect and plan. 2020 has been so strange that I’m not sure I can do that. Hugely important things happened to me around my sense of self, possibilities of enchantment, rediscovering magic, love, heartbreak, and confusion. All of it feels too raw and immediate and I still don’t know how I feel about this year. It will take time. Equally, with the world so unstable and uncertain, and the virus still rampaging in the UK, it is hard to make plans or set goals. But, here’s what I’ve got…

I need to focus on my mental and physical health and whatever the coming year throws at me, I’m going to try and make that the most important thing.

I’ve learned this year that intellectual stimulation is super-important for me, and that lack of brain workouts have been contributing to my depression. In answer to this I’ve started learning Japanese, and I mean to carry that forward in a dedicated way.

I’m going to be rethinking lots of things around how I work and what I do, how I organise my life, and a lot is changing in at least one of my key relationships and that’s all good. I can’t draw a map at this point, because the way forward will require experiment and co-operation and it makes no sense to try and set specific intentions this early in the process. My dedication is to the process and being open to wherever the journey takes me.

Life has always been unpredictable, 2020 just made that a good deal more obvious. Whatever else there is going forwards, we all need more kindness, more hope, and a more sustainable way of life.

Pausing to reflect

It’s my birthday today. I find birthdays are a good time to pause and take stock of things. Quite a lot has changed for me over the last year – I’ve become more involved with Transition Stroud, which has brought a whole host of new people into my life. I’ve had a lot of upheaval around work, which has given me a better sense of my limits and possibilities. I’ve coloured an entire Hopeless Maine graphic novel. I’ve written and performed a lot of poetry, and I’ve started dabbling in storytelling.

Birthdays inevitably have me reflecting on how this day has played out in other years. Some have been memorably good. Some were deeply unhappy. It’s a day that highlights what’s best in a person’s relationships but that will also flag up insufficiency in a way that’s hard to miss. This is a good year in terms of people.

On the whole, I like how my life is going at the moment. My ambitions are on the small side and I’ve become much more focused on the details of daily life than on big schemes. The things I most want are fairly feasible. The changes I want to make moving forward aren’t very dramatic, but might improve my day to day standard of living a bit. I’m getting better at deciding when to say no, so as to protect my time and energy. I do a lot of saying yes, and I remain willing to offer help, support, volunteer work, and the such – I’m just being a bit more picky about who gets what of that. I’m working out how to step back as well as how to step forward.

The state of the world worries me immensely. I reflect a lot on what can be surmised about people living at the ends of empires and civilizations. I think about my radical ancestry – the many people who fought, and sometimes died to try and advance the causes of equality and fairness, many of whom never saw that get results in their own lifetimes. I keep reminding myself of all this because it is important perspective. Life is not like a movie, and I may not get a coherent narrative arc. The important thing is to do what I can and to stay hopeful and active, and to help as many other people do that as possible. Giving up is one sure fire way of being defeated, and while there is life, there is some sort of hope, however frail that may seem some days.

Birthdays are a reminder of how finite our lives are. None of us will live forever. If we keep on with the unsustainable choices, many of us will shorten our own lives, and the lives of others. Life, and time are the most precious things we have and the question of how to spend that well is one to keep asking.

Meditations on time and space

Normally I am more organised about the blog, setting up posts in advance when I know I have a mad day ahead, writing early so they go up before they show up. Time management is utterly key for me – as it is for most self employed folk and people who work from home. There is no one else to supply the discipline and structure, working out what has to be done when and in what order, how to get the most mileage out of resources, be efficient and get some breaks.

Frankly today is not going to plan. But there is a blog post (of sorts) and I have now dismantled my old bed and am drawing breath before it leaves and the new one turns up. This is part of an epic plan to maximise space (by most people’s standards, this is a VERY small flat for three people). It’s also the first time in our married life that Tom and I have a bed we both picked and that is specifically for us. Given both the practical and symbolic role of the bed, this is a bit of a moment.

Time management… space management… there’s not as much of either as would be optimal, but both raise similar questions about how to get best use, how not to be cluttered up with needless things. Knowing what’s important, what’s needed, what’s negotiable and what isn’t. Getting to that knowledge as a couple, exchanging ideas and finding out who we are individually and collectively in this space, in this time.

Arguably this is a dull, mundane day full of housework things. It would be so easy to let this be sheer grind, and to let it all pass by without reflection or consideration. Everything is an opportunity to grow. Everything is an opportunity to let go of something, to be lighter and more liberated. In this case we’re letting go of bed size, because we don’t use it. There’s self knowledge in the letting go. Everything is an opportunity to ponder and contemplate.

Why Druids ponder

Pondering, reflection, meditation and contemplation are frequent features of the Druid path. There are many ways of doing it. We might sit in silence and see what floats up. We might focus our minds on a certain topic, explore a visualisation or undertake a pathworking. We might meditate through movement, or take a meditative approach to our ritual work.

Thinking is a big part of Druidry. For some, Druidry is better described as philosophy than as religion, but this is not in the sense of adopting wholesale a way of thinking about the world. Druid philosophy is not something you study, take onboard and then manifest in your life. It is something that you do. Philosophy for Druids is always a work in progress. There is always more to learn and understand. Deeper insights are always available, more connections can be contemplated. Some of this can be developed through study and debate, and by life-experiments and experience.

To go from those raw moments of experience to developing philosophy you have to process what has happened. Therefore, it is in thinking about our feelings and beliefs, reflecting on our experiences, contemplating our lives and meditating on our aspirations that we create, from one day to the next, a process of personal philosophy that has no end point.

I find it helps to put some time aside each day for thinking. How I do this has varied a lot through my life. When I started, I used the time before sleeping as my main pondering space. My dysfunctional first marriage coupled with the challenges of a young child made it harder to have a regular practice, and I took to snatching what quiet time I could for a few years. Mediation groups have given me productive spaces to work in, and the structure of the OBOD course helped me reclaim some life, time and space for my path.

Currently I have two periods, reliably, in each day that I can use for my indoors Druidry. I use the time before sleep for prayer, and reflection. I’ve arranged my life so that I spend a lot of time in bed (by modern standards) and am not so overtired that I fall asleep at once. There’s a lovely, warm, relaxed space available to me as a consequence. I wake long before I need to get up, and generally I wake when my body wants to, and am able to spend the first half an hour or so of the day reflecting on what I need to be doing, working through ideas, contemplating life, self, and matters arising. It means I step out to face the day clear headed, knowing what I’m doing and ready to start. This blog post was sketched out in such a way, alongside the two others I need to write before lunch. Last night I was reflecting on images from Gordon MacLellan’s inspiring poetry.

Modern life encourages us to keep running, and to exist in over-stimulated environments. It is easy to be bombarded by an excess of information and never have time to reflect on it, derive meaning or consider implications. This reduces both the benefit and the joy to be derived from any experience. Taking time to ponder, also means getting to savour what has happened to us. In having time to reflect, we integrate experiences into the stories of our lives, and we re-create sense of self. In stepping away from hectic-lifestyle culture, and adopting a slower, more thoughtful pace, we become active participants in our lives, rather than passive recipients, pushed round by whatever forces hit us.

There are many ways of meditating, many reasons to meditate and many effects of making it part of your life. If all you can find are ten minutes to spare in a day, find them, because those ten minutes will help you transform everything else.

(Druidry and Meditation, on sale over at amazon kindle at time of posting…)