What are the gods? 

I was getting a lift home from rehearsal when my friend started asking about my beliefs.  He, himself is an atheist, but he showed a genuine curiosity in what I believed to be going on in the universe.

I have touched on this subject before, here

Obviously, I did not mention or bring up any of that.  That would have been way too much! 

Instead, I launched into a monologue of my latest hypothesis of the gods I believe in and what they are.  It went something like this: 

If we go with the idea that all there is through the universe is the Life Force.  And by that I mean the spark of life that is within you, is connected to the Life Force in all things: it is connected to the Life Force in others, in animals, the sea, plants, the wind, the rain, the Sun.  This Life Force permeates everything, it’s why some people can feel or even see the auras of other people and things.  It is the thing where our Life Force goes to when we die and is the reason why some people can claim to speak with the dead as their spark joins the pool, allowing echoes to be heard and remembered. 

You get the idea, right? 

So, what if….. What if this Life Force had a sentience to it? And it communicated with us, and these communications became manifest into beings our ancestors interpreted and called gods, or spirits even? 

In effect, the gods are the avatar of the Life Force. 

Of course, when talking about all this to someone who had already stated he was an atheist, he told me “The problem with anyone who believes in something, is that you’ll never convince me it is real.” 

And he’s right.  I can’t convince anyone of what I experience or believe to be true. Our experience is entirely subjective.  My beliefs are a mish-mash of what I have learned, experienced, encountered and found not to be true.  Yes, I resonate with the gods of a people whose culture has now gone.  I have had conversations in visualisation meditations with beings who claim to be these ‘gods’.  Are they in fact distant ancestors? a manifestation of the Life Force that uses images and names I would understand? A projection of my inner voice that I unconsciously make into a character (a bit like what happens when we dream, except this time I am more lucid)? 

What would make such encounters more interesting, is for one of these to appear and give you their name as one you don’t recognise.  Or better yet, a familiar deity comes forward and disagrees with you.  Saying why something won’t work or how something else is a bad idea.  Or even how some idea about them is wrong: although be sure to write notes upon coming to and do some research to back that one up! 

Question: How come all gods are not the same? 

Conjecture: Because they are relevant to the people they belong to. 

 I know these things, these conversations (revelations of insight?) , these beings are real in my perspective.  It’s like when I see balls of light at the Grove Hearth:  I physically see them with my own two eyes, even point out when they are there, but no one else does.  Except for one other.  Do I know what those balls of light are? No.  Can I show a team of scientists one of our ceremonies in the Grove and point out when the balls of light arrive? No, they don’t appear every time.

And so it is with gods, spirits, entities et al I can’t convince other people these things exist just because I encountered something.

And as I was explaining the Life Force hypothesis to my friend, I actually realised how ridiculous this sounds to someone who doesn’t believe.  You’ve got to admit, it does sound crazy.  Any of it, all of it! And people go to war over this?  People murder each other because they disagree? 

Thankfully there was no war in my friend’s car, we ended the chat on pleasant terms and I finished it by saying: 

“You’re right, I can’t convince you of what I believe.  My beliefs are my own.  But if I was to say if you were to believe in something, believe in you.” 

Image from independent.ie

“Twenty seconds of insane courage”

Back in 2015 I wrote this piece on exploring the concept of courage and bravery in a culture of fear.  It was strange reading it as I was becoming a different person back then.  I’ve grown since and become a lot more sure of myself.

I had taken the title quote so inspirational that it has actually become part of my being.  Back in that year, I was so sick of being scared that I leapt at every chance I was presented with, sometimes the courage paid off, other times…. I hurt people.  

Courage alone is of no use unless it is reflexive to do something in that moment.  Where there and then you can make a difference.  Courage sprung from lying to yourself and impatience is stupid; it ends up with other people being hurt and you being a dick! 

However, courage born from something to make a difference or to put right a situation where inaction and silence will lead to something worse is worth those twenty seconds of crazy! 

Very recently, I dared to ask a complete stranger out for a date. 

I was looking at a food menu through the glass window of a sandwich shop when, in my peripheral vision, a customer walked in then a few moments later stuck her head out of the door telling me to “Come in, it’s lovely!” Invitation by a cute blonde wearing hipster glasses? How could I resist? So I went in and placed my order.  Blonde Hipster Girl turned around and flashed me a smile (she was very cute) and I started conversation by asking if this was her regular place to go.  She told me she used to come here all the time until she got fat.  She wasn’t fat at all, curvy, sure- I love curves on a woman! And so I laughed along with her, thanked her for her advice, collected my order (hers was taking longer to prepare) and went for the bus to get me to work.  It wasn’t until I reached the bus stop and was halfway through eating my sandwich I thought to myself: “You idiot! You should have said ‘Fat? No way, you’re as cute as hell and I want to ask you out for dinner.’  So I kicked myself over that Friday morning encounter as a missed opportunity. 

Over the weekend, I made a plan. 

On Monday I went back. 

With a letter in an envelope labelled “To The Cute Blonde With Glasses.” In it, I explained that I was thankful for her giving me the push to go into the shop, that I wanted to ask her out for a date and that her next meal at the shop was on me (I paid for it in advance) and signed it with my name and mobile number.  This I passed on to the ladies behind the counter.  Job done, and like a spell once cast….. I let it be.  It’ll either work or it won’t. 

She replied the next day! 

Through the medium of Whatsapp, I received a message from the ‘Cute Blonde With Glasses’ kindly explaining she had just started seeing someone.  She also told me the letter was cute and that things like this only ever happened in movies, and I should keep doing what I do as it made her year.  Oh, and that she gave the money back for the lunch I bought her as she felt guilty. 

And you know what?  I was fine with that.  Totally and truly.  It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping, but I knew it would be one of the few that came to mind.  I’m still glad I took the chance and feel the better for it.  What happens now?  Simple, I let it go and should I come across another opportunity, you can be damn sure I’ll give in to those crazy 20 seconds.  It all comes down to the fact if you don’t ask, you don’t know.  Would I rather have left it and wondered what would have happened if I never did something about it?  I’ve wasted far too much of my life making that mistake.

Go out there step out of your comfort zone and do something amazing and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel great for daring to take a shot! 

Image from pinterest.com

Love yourself!

I’ve deleted drafts of posts that never saw the light of the internet day, but never have I deleted an actual post…. Especially the morning after a night of drinking with friends and finding I wrote an entire post whilst being drunk! 

I had even given it the phrase “Will regret this in the morning.”  Boy, was I right. I was not proud of it at all, embarrassed would be more accurate.

It wasn’t an insightful piece, it was one of those drunken rants you get that only makes sense when you are surrounded by other drunks ranting in a similar fashion.

Basically, a friend of mine told me I was ‘distrustful of women’ and the whole flavour of the post was about how this was THE TRUTH and went on about broken hearts, gathering pieces of that heart and other self wallowing crap my inebriated mind came up with.  To my credit, I built my self up in the post and argued my case about how actually awesome and amazing I am. 

One reader even commented in prose about how we all get knocked, so let’s get up and have fun.  Thanks LittleWolf! And yes, my head was sore! And guess what, I don’t distrust women at all.  

So, this got me thinking: 

We punish ourselves a lot, don’t we?  At least, I do anyway.  We are quick to saying how we can’t do this, that or the other.  How easy is it for us to rail against the world instead of doing something about it? 

Yes, we do get knocked, yes, bad things happen, yes we get our hearts broken.  But if we let these things consume us, we become bitter, angry and resentful.  I don’t know about you, but I think life is too short for that shit.  However, it is long enough for us to enjoy, to share and to love, whatever the form takes. 

When you are next feeling down, or in a situation where you feel powerless, I have some suggestions which may help: 

  1. As Xena Warrior Princess once said: Act don’t react. 
  2. If you are in a situation that gets you down, what can you do to change it? 
  3. Remember all your victories, however grand or small, you’ve come this far.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and use them to bring out more of your best self. 
  5. Accept responsibility for your actions, you make and made your choices, own them, don’t let them own you!*
  6. Love yourself, do something just for you, you do indeed deserve it. 
  7. Keep being awesome. 
  8. Trust your gut, if it feels bad, stay the hell away. 
  9. Use the powers of “Yes” and “No” respectively. 
  10. See number 7.  Always number 7. 
  11. Don’t lose your cool.  Don’t let those assholes let you lose your shit.

    And my new lesson:  when drunk stay AWAY from using your WordPress account! 

    *And yet, by deleting the drunken post I am contradicting this with the suggestion of number 2…… Not sure how I feel about that. 


     

    Why perform ritual? 

    “Do you perform it for their glory, or for yours?” Was the question that popped into my head as I poured the water from Monday’s ceremony into the kitchen plant. 

      A slight rewording from the question posed to Dr. Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but an effective one nonetheless. 

      That previous night had me perform a personal meditation in order to find an answer to something I was thinking through.  Well, more accurately, the meditation was the middle bit of my ceremony (to my fellow members of the Grove who wanted to know how it is I can recall the words by rote….. This is how).  And to perform the meditations and visualisations I use without the ceremonial bits feels…. Naked.

      This is how I do it: 

      1. Peace to the quarters.
      2. Cast the circle.
      3. Bless the circle with fire and water.
      4. Prayer to deity or deities.
      5. Awens.
      6. Middle bit.
      7. ‘Hour of recall….’
      8. Thanks to Deity.
      9. Uncast the circle.
      10. Declaration of the end of ceremony. 

          It’s mainly based on the general OBOD ceremonies, but I have found the form that works for me.  No flowers though.  Can’t be doing with taking from the plant realm for the sake of aesthetics!

            The Order encourages members to try things out and see how things work for them, even saying to stop something if it doesn’t work for you.  I have kept the above as it works for me.  Some of the wording is different and the words I say to deity are my own. 

          The ritual water I give to the household plants, a way of giving back and not wasting what was taken.

          There was a time I would perform this every day, and even though it did calm my being, I became stifled with the repetition.  So now, I like to do it with meaning, the ritual bringing calm and satisfaction to myself as well as honour and communication to those that are listening.  

          Do I do it for their glory?  Not really, as I have other personal rituals for giving thanks and honour.

          Do I do it for my glory?  Perhaps.  But when I perform the ceremony it isn’t for glory, it is a series of repetitious actions that allow me to enter a certain level of consciousness that allows me to find a stillness.  This stillness can be used to calm my fiery temperament, to gain insight or inspiration.  

          And even if there is no one in the ether, the ceremony still serves it’s purpose. 

          “There are FOUR lights!” Pic by Locksley2010.

          Owl-right, my son? 

          This would have been written New Years Day were it not for the extreme hangover I had suffered.  Regardless, I consulted the Druid Animal Oracle for my yearly focus.

          Of dragons and potential

          Last year’s card signified 2016 as being a year for discovering my inner potential power, it was not wrong!  Last year I had: 

          • Successfully auditioned for the part of Watson in a comedy version of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. 
          • Performed two theatre plays back to back.
          • Provided the voice for the ‘Where Witchcraft Lives’ exhibit in Brighton.
          • Learned a great deal of my strengths and weaknesses.
          • Found my place in my day-job and I’m fine with it! 
          • Became a member of a brand new theatrical events group.
          • Completed my Bardic course and review. 
          • Completed my Ovate initiation just in time for Yuletide. 
          • Learned what my acting type is.
          • Discovered where I went wrong in my marriage.  
          • Cut my long hair off in the name of charity.

          So yes, quite a lot, really! 

          Eyes in the night

          And where does my focus lie for 2017?  The card drawn for this year is Owl, or Cailleach Oidhche . The card for detachment, wisdom and change.  It speaks of turning a disadvantage into an advantage, also it signifies a call to explain the Otherworld with studying esoteric lore and clairvoyancy.  Not sure about speaking with the dead, but seeming as I will be beginning my journey into the world of the Ovate (mystic, seer, healer) this is apt indeed.

          I am aware of the Owl being named as one of the oldest creatures of the Earth, according to one of the tales of the Mabinogion.  In another tale, it is the final form inflicted upon Blodeuedd by the sorcerer Gwydion.  Owl is also associated with the Cailleach, although which specific one, I am not sure.  Either way, both Owl, the Cailleach and studying esoteric lore are to be treated with respect. 

          Art by Bill Worthington.

          Learning from the past

          You can look back on your life at all the things that went wrong.  Think of all the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s.  Fact is that choices were made and what was done is done.  

          Whatever our choices were, they have led us to now and who we are presently.

          When dealing with the past, it is healthy to learn from our mistakes and make changes for the better in ourselves or our environment- wherever and whatever that may be. 

          Nostalgia is great for taking a trip down Memory Lane, however we must remember not to stay there and become trapped by what was, whether good or bad. 

          We are the product of our own experiences, not just in life, we also learn from the characters we read in books or see in movies or television.  Even a song lyric can touch us and inspire our take on the world.

          When dealing with events from the past, it is important for us to go forward and learn from our mistakes, lest we wallow in dispair and do nothing, or worse: deny everything and blame everyone else. 

          Our choices make us who we are, but it is our actions that define us. 

          Memories flow into the pool of time, on the surface they may have gone, but we always remember. Photo by locksley2010.

          Realignment

          June.  That was the last month I wrote something in depth. I have managed to write something every month or so, albeit in the form of a poem, a saying, or even a prayer. 

          Actually, I don’t feel the need to write anything in depth.  No examinations of what those legends may actually mean, no breaking down of Pagan concepts (Classical or Modern), no questioning of the values or ethics around us.  In fact there are so many people reeling from the political victory of Brexit and Donald Trump, there are plenty already questioning the world around them…. 

           Whereas my investigative flair has faded to nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Diddley-Squat.  

          During August, I feared I might have severed the link between myself and my spirituality.  Since the end of June, I dedicated myself to learning my lines for a theatrical performance.  In August, I did the same with another, both of them are now finished and performed.  Having embraced my acting self as my Bardic self, I have sought to regain and discover new skills for being the actor I want to be.  As well as discovering the actor I am turning into.  

          It would be wrong of me to say I ‘put my life on hold’ because of the two plays.  Sure, I became less socially active and my days off were dedicated to line learning as were my evenings after work and then there were rehearsals.  

          Performance is a discipline. It is hours of line learning, practicing the mannerisms of another person, working with the energy levels of your colleagues so the show does not lag.  Remembering where to be in the right place at the right time, thinking within a split second of a replacement word if you end up forgetting the correct one and doing all of this with a huge adrenaline rush once you are doing it.  To do that and more requires focus and discipline in yourself. 

          And so, I threw myself into this creative path.  To me, it feels so right to do so.  It has stoked my inner fires and is my main focus. Where I may not be performing my Bardic Rituals everyday (the last was before I moved house in June) I have come to understand this, at the moment, is not what I need in my life right now.  

          I still light my candles to my deities, ancestors and the spirits around me.  I still honour the seasons that pass and celebrate them; I still give offerings and have even done a little research into Japanese Fox spirits.  I have discovered my spirituality is in who I am, not just what I do.  This has also allowed me to view my spirituality, my beliefs and my self objectively.  And in this I have learned much, including belief in myself. 

          But for the time being, I will post when I can with what I can give.  

          After all, if one’s spirituality is only defined by one’s work with ritual, then what is ritual if not a performance? 

          Photo by Locksley2010

          A blog about Druidry and Weirdry