Bardic skills?

During my work with the druid order I never thought of myself as a bard. I always thought I was more aligned with the Ovate work, healing modalities, working with trees and plants. But looking back at what I have done and still do in my life I am beginning to think about my bardic skills.

I have always been a musician, I learned to play the piano at the age of seven and still play seventy years later. In the early years of my teaching career I composed the music for songs for children and remember being interviewed on the local radio while the children sang.

Since I was at school I have always sketched or painted and still do. But what is new over the last 20 years is the fact that I now also write. I have written several books, some of poetry and some about druidry while others are about local and family history.

Looking back at some of the poetry I wrote about twenty years ago I see that much of it also carries a message. Around the year 1999 and also in 2000 I set some of the poetry to music and made a CD. I have been looking at that recently and seeing that I can do better now where the music is concerned so I am busy re-arranging the songs so they have a piano accompaniment. I am also looking at setting other poems to music.

To me these are definitely bardic skills even though I never thought of them that way before. So here is a poem taken from one of my books and a photo taken early this morning.

The hope of Spring

Watching the new spring leaves unfurl
Gives me hope in a chaotic world;
New growth springs from the dark
Of the winter and makes its mark.

Signs of growth are everywhere,
The birds and trees all doing their share.
So in this dark material world
Is there light ready to be unfurled?

Can we look inside our hearts today
To find a better more spiritual way?
To live without such ugly greed
And only have what we truly need.

We do not need large houses and cars;
We do not need to travel to Mars;
Some clothes and food and a rainproof roof
Are really, truly, quite enough.

So watch the new spring growth today
And think about a spiritual way
To live your life with love and care
And cherish all, if you dare!

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Going back to the basics

I have spent some time this week thinking about the things I used to do, some of which I could still do if I put my mind to it. Our ancestors did lots of things for themselves, made clothes, grew food and so on. But how many of us do these things now. I was taught at an early age to knit and to sew. I can knit complicated patterns for sweaters and sew quite complicated patterns for clothes. When my children were very young I knitted all their jumpers and made many of their trousers, skirts and dresses. Even though I no longer do these things I can still sew a button on if it comes loose and I can still replace zips in skirts and trousers. I wonder how many of the young ones today can do that.

I also learned to bake cakes and pies and to cook nourishing meals from scratch, no ready meals were available when I was young. At least I knew what was in the cakes and pies I made and all meat was sourced locally. I still cook from scratch generally but occasionally have a ready made meal such as lasagne as it is a lot of trouble to make it just for one person. I used to be proud of the chilli pasta dishes I made in the past.

In the past there were Guilds for craftsman like silversmiths, cordwainers and so on. Many of those skills have been lost as machinery took over. Some are returning but they are seen as speciality items made with love and care and generally quite expensive to buy.

Is it lack of time that is the problem? Many of us work long hours and are tired when we get home so take the easy often where cooking is concerned. It is the same with sewing but that skill is returning due to TV programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee. I still sew small things such as cushion covers and occasionally make myself a pair of trousers as they will fit better than bought ones.

So what has this got to do with druidry? My way of living druidry is a simple way so I feel I must make the effort to live simply as well. To me that means I should try to grow my own food as much as I can. There is something very fulfilling about watching your vegetables grow in pots and produce lots of fresh food for you to eat. The taste is so much different that the veggies bought in shops! I can make my own bread if I want to and again the taste of that is so good and I know what ingredients are in it. As for making clothes maybe I should look at my stash of material and start sewing again. My mother used to make rag rugs and I have inherited her ideas for these too.

Doing these things will also help the planet as I will not be using plastic or manmade materials at all. To me this is a large part of who I am as a druid. The photo is of my mother and her mother, my grandmother to whom I owe my skills of cooking, baking, knitting and sewing

My kind of druidry

I am often asked what I do as a druid. Every druid will give you a different answer so here is mine. For me it is a way of establishing a connection with nature, of strengthening that connection and understanding how everything is connected.

So I have a connection with Mother Earth, the Moon, the Stars and planets, the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, the Seasons, animals, stones and plants and our Ancestors. In fact all that there is on our planet. This is a living system and so is my druidry, evolving and changing as needed.

I find druidry gives me a philosophy, a way of looking at things, a way which emphasises how everything is connected. It also helps me to look at ways of preserving our environment for those who come after us. Another aspect of my druidry is the way it allows me to get back in touch with Nature by working in special ways.

Life is a journey and being a druid helps me to understand that and each part of the journey as it comes along, the twists and turns of life, the challenges and the rewards. Each morning I open the door and breathe in the new day. I eat my breakfast while watching the birds, the trees and all of nature in my garden. I live my life each day as a druid, noticing the connections and how amazing our world really is.

I do not need to do ceremonies to celebrate the seasons or other things as they are part of my daily recognition of changes when I open the door. I don’t need to wear a robe to tell me I am a druid. I might wear one if I am officiating at a handfasting or other similar event but I feel I do not need one otherwise. I am a druid and I know that and live each day in a druid way so no robe is needed.

I am sure many of you will think differently to me but that is fine. We are all unique and no two persons are exactly alike. My photo was taken in my garden and show the amazing colours that nature give us.

Death and Loss

I wrote about dealing with loss in August last year but loss has been uppermost in my mind for several months now as people I know have passed over. Losing someone close to you is hard to deal with and I feel that we don’t talk enough as a nation about death and how it affects us all.

Death is something that happens to us all. After all, we are born, grow up if we are lucky and then die. The natural world around us shows us death on a regular basis as plants grow and bloom and then die. Birds and other small animals are often killed on the road or as prey so death is part of our natural way of living.

I am not afraid of dying although I am not ready to go yet. As a druid I know that there is life after death but somewhere else and on a different level. So my approach will be different from that of many others. I also have that feeling of when it is time to go I won’t have any other option. I remember my mother saying during the war, that if the bomb had her name on it then there was nothing she could do about it.

But how do we deal with it? Grief has many forms and my feelings are that we never get over a death of someone close but that we learn to manage it whatever we believe. I know from experience that each time someone I know dies, then the feelings of grief also bring back the feelings from my first experience of death. When my father died suddenly I had to deal with everything as my mother was unable to cope and this did not give me time to grieve. Time to grieve is important but you know that the spirit of the one who died will always be with you. The time between the bad days and the good days get longer as you learn to live with the loss and eventually you look back on the good memories that you have not the bad ones.

The words of Kahlil Gibran always come to mind when death appears and I will finish this blog with those words: ( you can replace the word ‘God’ with whatever word you wish such as ‘Spirit’)

‘For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.’

Some thoughts for today

It has been quite a sad and emotional week. Here in the UK we have been remembering all those who died in the First World War as today is 100 years since the Armistice was signed. It was meant to be the war that ended all wars but it was not long before another world war started. Since the end of that one there have been many other wars and conflicts and some are still ongoing. I sometimes wonder if we are ever going to learn that war means death for many and strong emotions for those left behind.

I wonder how much is remembered by our bodies about war. I was born during the Second World War . For many years I said that I remembered the bomb dropping on the houses not so far away but when I researched it I found that the bomb had dropped exactly one week before I was born. How could I remember it? I also do not like enclosed spaces. I suspect this is because my mother always hid under the stairs during bombing raids and I was with her in a small enclosed dark space.

So if I remember these things and know how it has affected me, how do others cope with what they have seen and experienced during a conflict. There were many atrocities which seem beyond the understanding of human beings but they still continue. Man’s inhumanity to man continues every day somewhere in the world. When will we understand that we are all equal whatever colour, race or creed and we all need to respect that and work together. If we can’t do this then there will never be a world wide peace.

So today as during the week, I am remembering all those affected by wars and conflicts as well as those affected by large natural disasters and any form of  terrorism or shooting events. The trauma left behind is not easily dealt with and can linger for ever.

Here is the Druid prayer for peace. I welcome you to use it whatever creed you have.

Deep within the still centre of my being
May I find peace.
Silently within the quiet of the Grove
May I share peace.
Gently (or powerfully) within the greater circle of humankind
May I radiate peace.

May we remember all those who died and the reason why.

 

End of November ramblings

We had the first snow of the coming winter the other day. I woke up to a covering of white but it soon disappeared although there were flurries of snow during the day. There has been a lot of rain too and everywhere is wet underfoot which makes walking difficult for me where there are lots of wet leaves. Today I walked with a friend to Ford Green Hall a beautiful old mansion. There was a Christmas Craft Fair there today and it was very busy. We walked both ways and enjoyed the damp trees and misty landscape.

Outside my window the trees are almost bare of leaves and I can now see the many different birds sitting on the branches before using the bird feeder. This is giving me an opportunity to take photos of the birds again as I could not see them before because of the leaves. I love to see the trees now when you see their shape better and the way the branches grow out from the trunk. There is something special about them now and when the frosty days and nights are here too. On the nature reserve there are many different birds now as well as those that have been hidden amongst the leaves. There is always something to see and notice when you take a walk however short the walk. I walked back from the hospital the other day and the sky was clear. It is downhill most of the way but quite steep in places but is less than a mile to walk. I stopped and admired the view over lots of houses where there used to be fields but in the distance the moorland beckoned.

The approach to Christmas seems to start earlier every year. As a druid I should not really celebrate this festival but celebrate the Winter Solstice and Yule instead. However I like to celebrate them all but more of that to come in a blog next month. The photo is of Ford Green Hall taken in the rain this morning. I could not avoid the tree as the grass was too wet to walk on.

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Moving on

The weather this week has been stormy. Dark clouds rushing along in the sky and heavy rain showers. The leaves are being blown off the trees like magic carpets rushing along. But there are still many beautiful coloured leaves around and of course the weather is making the fungi grow.

But like the storm moving onwards, my thoughts have been doing just the same. I have been going deeper in Reiki seeing it more as a spiritual path than as a system of healing. I find myself drawn to the Buddhist aspect of this but know that Buddhism is not for me. I know others who manage to meld together various different spiritual paths and make it one of their own. In some ways I have done this, taking a lot of knowledge from the Native American paths and mixing it with druidry. Now I am adding the spiritual aspect of Reiki to the mix.

If you ask 100 druids what druidry is you will get 100 different answers and I feel this is the same with Reiki and other paths. We are all individual and we are all unique and therefore our spiritual paths are unique to us too. I find that I take from each path what I feel is right for me and then I have this mix of different beliefs and paths. Is this something that you do as well or do you follow a specific path?

I am also moving on into the darker months of the year as many of us are, when I feel I want to create more, to journal more and to be restful. Somewhere deep inside me, is the germ of another book but it has yet to grow big enough to do something about it. Maybe the darker nights will encourage it to grow. But life is a journey and it goes on every day bringing more experiences, more joy and often more sadness as you get older. I have reached an age where many of my friends have passed on. I have to dig deep and continue to do what I need to do and also what I want to do and progress even more on my path. Moving on is a continuous process. How do you feel about this process?

fungi2 Continue reading

For the highest good and more

This week has been a week of deep thought and a week of asking questions. Thank you to all those who responded. My first question was what do you think  healing for the highest good actually means. Aristotle stated this ‘Men generally agree that the highest good attainable by action is happiness,’.. Your responses were different from this because healing was part of what I asked. I don’t like to use the word ‘healer’ because if I am ‘giving’ Reiki healing energy to someone I am only the channel for the energy which does the healing together with the person receiving it. I don’t necessarily ‘send’ the energy either. I ask that it be sent to the person who has requested it for their highest good. Only they and their Higher Self know what that is and we have to trust that the healing energy goes where it is really needed.

This brings me to other thoughts. How is healing different from curing? One definition I found was this one ‘Curing means “eliminating all evidence of disease,” while healing means “becoming whole’. I like this quote because it helps me to explain to others why I still have my various diseases but I feel I am healed.

Another thought was about the belief that disease starts in our auric bodies before it manifests in the physical body, therefore healing energy may go to these auric bodies not the physical body first. So someone receiving healing energy for a physical complaint may not feel any better and if they don’t have the right understanding they may feel disappointed.

My last thought was about healing lists of which I am a member. We often ask for healing for a specific thing such as depression, anxiety, fractures, and other physical ailments.I am guilty of this yet I know that the healing energy will go where it is needed most and not necessarily where we expect it to go.

So there has been a lot of deep thinking and I hope this blog is not too complicated to read. I would love to read your comments on all of this. Many druids become interested and work with healing energies during their Ovate studies and there are many different ways of  using healing energy for yourself and others. This blog is a brief summary of my own thoughts on this and I know I have missed a lot of my thoughts out as I didn’t want the blog to be too long.

Doing too much

Last week I visited a friend staying for a few days. It was a busy but wonderful time. Other friends came to visit and we caught up with each others news as well as having deep discussions about everything spiritual and otherwise. London Midland rail staff were very helpful and I really appreciated this and told them so. The less said about East Midlands trains the better. I enjoyed visits to the local park where I was able to take some good photos, eat good meals and snacks in good cafes and the purchase of a lonely teddy bear in the charity shop who is now used for Reiki sessions.

I was rather tired when I returned home but happy and excited about plans I had made while away. My dark cold flat soon took the edge off the happiness and I found that the following day I was ill with vertigo. This often happens when I do too much. I keep going until my body makes sure I have to stop so stop I did. I am now recovering but not yet 100% but then again it is hard for me to ever be 100%. I do try to listen to my body and try to slow down when I feel the need to do so but sometimes it is much easier to keep going until I do have to stop. The excitement of writing new books for example keeps me going at a rapid rate until forced to stop. Looking back over the last three months I can see that the move to this flat was stressful, then the bathroom work was also stressful and travelling is stressful for me as well.

Maybe in the future I should learn to slow down a bit but I feel I still have so much to do, new books to write and Reiki to teach as well as other ongoing projects. Pacing myself should be easy enough but I do tend to go with the flow especially where words are concerned and writing. Do these kind of things happen to you? Does your body let you know when it is time to rest or take a break? Or is it just me?

A different heron photo from a different park taken while I was away. He was extremely well camouflaged in the willow tree but I waited patiently and did catch him when he put his head out!

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Ups and downs and dreams

There seems to be a lot of ups and downs in my world at the moment. Some say that this is the energy from the recent eclipses affecting my life and causing lots of chaos and rethinking of things. Whatever, it has definitely been one of those weeks. Even though I had good photo shots when out, the euphoria from those did not seem to last long and I was often plunged down into the depths of depression within hours and then suddenly, I felt OK again.

It is said that eclipses stir up things and that those of us who are on a spiritual path feel  this kind of energy more strongly and deeply. I know that my dreams have been quite vivid and only fragments remained in the morning. Last night I dreamed I was somewhere in France for example but there were buses and lots of people and a lovely town. I was also speaking in French too, and french is a language I do speak so nothing strange in that. Another dream involved a friend who died a few years ago.

Years ago I used to keep a dream diary so I could look back and try to interpret them. Maybe it is time to do this again. Keeping a notepad by the bed is good and a pen of course. I was told also not to move when you waken from a dream but to lie still and go over the dream until it was clear in your head, then you could move and write it down. I am a believer in dreams giving you messages and often foretelling future events and I have had one or two of those.

Another up is the publishing of my new book ‘ Me, myself and I – a spiritual journey’ and I hope it will be available soon on lulu, amazon and other sites. It is a very personal book so if you get round to buying it I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Now I am looking for other projects and I do have two books half written from several years ago so maybe these will be my next projects. So the ups and downs continue and as usual I will just go with the flow!

Do you have ups and downs like mine and if so how do you deal with them?

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