Tag Archives: walk

Druidry, walking, and not walking

Walking is my primary mode of transport and is also how I engage with the natural world and the seasons. It’s a major part of how I exercise, and a key strategy for managing my mental health. As a consequence, not being able to walk is a bit of a disaster. There’s been a lot of that this year, and in the last six weeks or so it has been a massive problem.

Usually the limits on my walking come from pain, stiffness and lack of energy. I’m used to having days when I can’t do much, and fitting what I need to do around what’s possible. However, I’ve had a bout of very low blood pressure (for reasons) and it’s made walking really hard. I haven’t been able to get up hills, I’ve been able to manage twenty minutes at most, and I’ve felt awful. I’m aware that for a lot of people, twenty minutes would be a good amount of walking, but with the role walking plays in my life, not being able to walk for a few hours at a time is a real problem.

It’s meant I’ve had very little access to the landscape. Places I find spiritually nourishing – especially the hilltops – have been unavailable to me. If I had a garden, I could develop a spiritually nourishing outdoors space closer to home – but currently I can’t do that.

I’m lucky in that the underlying causes of this problem have been dealt with, and I should be able to recover and rebuild my strength and stamina. Not everyone who has a bodily crisis gets to do that afterwards. Many people live with sorely limiting conditions.

This experience has taught me that there is nothing I can do inside my flat that does for me what getting outside for long hours at a time does for me. My Druidry is so very much about my relationship with my immediate landscape. Much of the time that’s quite an understated presence – I do think about my connection with land and spirits of place whenever I am out, but that’s often so normal to me that in some ways I don’t notice it. Absence is a great teacher, and what I’ve not been able to do has taught me about what I need to do.

There’s an interesting balance around internalising things and losing sight of them. With any spiritual practice, you want to embed it so deeply in your life that it is your life. But when you do that you can stop noticing that it’s there, which is problematic. This in turn brings me to consider the usefulness of deliberate spiritual action for reminding us of our spiritual lives, and how necessary it may be to have things that aren’t so deeply embedded that they become invisible. This might mean I need to make a labyrinth once I’m back in shape. That’s a good jolt out of everydayness.

I certainly need to look at what I can do with my Druidry that is real and immediate to me, and soul satisfying, and not so dependent on being able to walk for a couple of hours. Alongside this, I have a lot of practical work to do rebuilding body strength and stamina, getting my heart fitter again, and getting back up the hills. I’ve come to understand in recent years that taking care of my body is a necessary consideration for how I do my Druidry – my body is where I experience everything else, and if I don’t keep it well and fit, I can’t get out there and do anything else. I’m very glad to have at least some options around improving wellness and fitness.


The joys of walking for transport

I’ve never driven a car, and I’ve not lived in a household with a car since my mid twenties. I’ve walked to shop, and carried groceries home. I’ve used trains and buses, and occasionally I get lifts, but mostly I’ve walked, or cycled. I don’t really enjoy cycling so these days I mostly get places by walking to them. Where I live was picked out with that in mind.

Most of the time, walking for transport is a joy. I get outside, I get exercise, I see wildlife, I meet people. While I’m walking, I get time to process ideas and feelings and come up with ideas. If I’m walking to work or to meetings, I get time to ready myself. I arrive calm and mentally prepared and I am never held up by traffic. At the end, I get to do my digesting on the way home, and I usually arrive home calm and on top of things.

I do not have to do radical things to feel adventurous. Every now and then I end up having to walk in adverse weather conditions – in snow, and ice and heavy rain. I have the kit for this, although as downpours increase in violence, I get soaked through more often. I do not need to seek out mountains to feel a bit heroic. Some weeks, all I have to do is handle the regular shopping in the conditions around me. I do not have to challenge myself with grand gestures to feel alive. I feel alive every time I’m going somewhere.

Often, the green answers are presented as losses. Could you give up your car? Could you do without it? As though the car makes us better off, and poverty is what we get in its absence. I’ve spent enough mornings walking past lines of traffic, seeing the faces of people stuck in their cars. None of them are smiling. I’ve got stress free easy movement, peace of mind, lower expenses and a healthier body because I walk. Every time I walk past a traffic queue I am reminded of the riches inherent in my choices.

There is so much freedom and independence to be had if you can set of from your own door and head out into the world on your own two feet. We could leave the roads for those who need them – for those who do not have the privilege of being able to walk, for the emergency services, for the movement of stuff too heavy to carry about on shoulders. We could empty our roads and fill our pavements, and put calmer human interactions into our days. We could improve our air quality and our personal health. It remains a mystery to me why more people don’t see the freedom and wealth inherent in walking as more desirable than the cost and stress of being in traffic.


Guest Blog: Walking your talk

Mark put this out as an email, and I asked if I could reblog it because I think it’s a great example of doing your druidry, and quite literally walking the talk. So, with his permission, here we go…

 

By Mark Lindsey Earley

Well, I just about did it! I had foot problems leading up to the walk, so A/ wasn’t able to train very well, and B/ started the walk with very sore feet, which didn’t bode well!

Towards the end it made sense to stow my boots and I did about six miles (where the route was over soft grass) barefoot.

This made it feel even more like a pilgrimage (which in many ways it was, to me). Arriving at the Avebury stone avenue felt very numinous, and being barefoot,  walking at a very sedate and measured pace, holding two staffs, I felt like a bronze age high-priest making a very dignified entrance (and for a while, a bit less like a fat, middle-aged bloke stumbling along like a slowed-down Ozzy Osbourne).

As I approached the Avebury henge I came over all unnccesary. This was probably a combination of relief & achievement; the poignancy of my 300- odd comrades, who were nearly all walking in memory of someone they had lost to dementia, and the sheer magic of having physically linked two of Wiltshire’s (and the world’s) most magical places.

The walk was stunningly well organised and the route was fantastic. I would have expected a few dull bits, or maybe a few short spells trudging alongside busy roads, but we had none of that. The route led through the wild, martial expanses of Salisbury Plain, past barrows, ancient earthworks and target zones (!), down into the vale of Pewsey, through water meadows, parkland and picture-postcard villages, along the Kennet and Avon Canal and then up the huge and dramatic escarpment onto the wonderful Marlborough Downs. We passed  Adam’s Grave, a chalk White Horse, walked along the amazing Wansdyke (the West’s answer to Hadrian’s wall) and past West Kennet Longbarrow. I absolutely love this part of the world.

A huge thank you to all who sponsored me, spread the word, dog-sitted etc. and to John for the loan of two trecking sticks which saved my life.

Anyone who still wishes to donate has until Halloween. I’m 48 % of the way to my target, so please keep the sponsorship coming in. Thank you.

Lots of love

M