The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Sunday, 20 July 2014
crossroads, shamanism and not writing of hares
But I've danced, and walked, and talked, and eaten rather well and, with B's help, dug the garden and planted flowers. Not, note, yet more brassicas or anything wonderful, worthy and swelling of our own currently-flourishing green food-larder, but pretty blue and purple and pink flowers and herbs, and at least half of them enticing to bees – the colony, that is, that we haven't yet acquired. But the many wild bees and bumbles and hoverflies are having A Good Time, and their pollen-pouches are plump and golden.
I have come to a crossroads, a little, in my work. Actually, it's not so much a crossroads as risking a deepening that will expose more of the aspects of my work by making the psychospiritual underpinnings of all that I do more visible.
I have realised lately that the 40 years' study that has gone into the holism behind all my work (and life) is in fact deeply private, but to work with real integrity I have to put it out there and stand in its light.
I find it easier to write about in a longer context where depth is required (am currently working on a book), but quite difficult to talk about, including in the more informal conversational way that a blog offers. I have a horror of seeming pretentious, or boastful, or too New Age–y.
A turning point was my Consciousness Café talk, where I stepped off the 'This is how I should present my talk in order to be taken seriously' wheel into the hub: 'I know this material inside out, it inspires and informs everything I do, and I'm deeply passionate about it. What's more, it's my path, and the ideas that form it have traction. If others don't like it – well, tough.'
(Actually, I realise I began the process on Iona, when I spoke to the group of the deeply pagan/druidic ancient mystical inheritance of the island that has been largely subsumed into the Christian overlay. I often gesture at it but I went further this time.
Or – no. I began making it visible when I created The Wild Ways programme.
Hah! No! I began it with my first book Riding the Dragon – myth and the inner journey in 1993! – and then shied away from it.)
But it feels like a risk nonetheless. There are aspects of my practice that are not widely understood in our culture, and that people have stereotyping prejudices against or reactions to. For instance, one thread is druidic teachings, the notion of which conjures for many a picture of people in white robes waving mistletoe and prancing around at Stonehenge at the summer solstice in a kind of romantic re-enactment that might be good as a spectacle for entertainment, but doesn't have any real heft.
Not so. What we now call druidic teachings actually have a very long and respectable lineage, admittedly much of it underground, as the wisdom and shamanic teachings of earlier and indigenous peoples of the British Isles.
Significantly, the central thesis is the interconnectedness of all life (which is, of course, or at least perhaps should be the central thesis of most if not all spiritual traditions), and how we might live this.
In any shamanic practice, you come to realise through years of work, awareness and discipline that while clearly you as practitioner are making conscious, if you like, your place and role in the web of life and all its participants, you might find special resonance with specific individual species of animals, birds, plants, trees etc; and further affinity with particular individual members, too.
Everything, and everyone, and every encounter in this world can be your teacher. Indeed, this idea is incorporated into Buddhist practice as well as into some mystical traditions. It's axiomatic for me.
In some native traditions, if an uncommon or notably shy animal appears to you three times in quick succession, either in waking or in dreaming life, it's worth examining what that animal might embody for you as student. The world is, of course, wholly and perfectly itself-as-is, and also, if we choose to see it in this light, full of symbolism. It may be that that animal is a symbolic 'totem' animal for you: that there is an affinity that may open a doorway into, if you like, the Otherworld.
So studying the habits of such an animal, and its established 'meaning' in myth and folklore, can offer insight.
This is not the same as superstition: if you don't say 'Good Morning Mrs Magpie' three times on seeing one something dreadful will happen.
It's also not the same as anthropomorphism which ascribes human characteristics to animals, and all too often (hobby horse alert!) dresses sweet little baa lambs up in bells and ribbons, and sees no contradiction between that emotional dimishment for our own gratification, and the plastic-wrapped lump of slaughterhouse suffering that is on offer on the supermarket shelf.
It's rooted in uttermost respect for the Otherness of the other species that share our beautiful planet, and a humble awareness that other kinds of consciousness than the human might also have something to offer us, if we listen with the right attitude, see with the correct vision.
So, soon, I'll talk about hares. And stuff.
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- walking the wild ways - ecopsychology course
- those damnable wormholes
- another q & a poem
- crossroads, shamanism and not writing of hares
- the cataclysm of catechism cycle (poem)
- the white room (another q&a poem)
- 'What stories do the ancient woodlands tell?'
- questions sacred & profane (poem)
- The Dharma of Beenleigh
- 'the meeting' (sheena odle)
- before the world was made
- ... and we're off...
- hmmm... addendum to yesterday
- poetry: q & a
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