This post is about small things. It's about moments that we take for granted. There is no big revelation here. I took a bunch of pictures of my cat and put them on the internet. I write this post in defiance of the expectation that only big revelations matter. I write in homage to the repetition of small rituals, in honor of grounding and self-care. This post is about the simple companionship of ordinary objects and creatures and beings, and the way their presence shapes our lives even when we think we're not paying attention. A part of us is always paying attention.
It all started this past winter solstice when Jeff's youngest daughter told us that she was going to be a dentist. Actually, what she said was that she guessed she'd have to be a dentist, because everybody knows you can't make a living as an artist. Our heads kind of exploded at that point, so what happened next was a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember sitting her down at the kitchen table and asking her why this sudden about-face -- she'd been talking about wanting to be an artist for the last several years which, for a nine-year-old, is almost a lifetime. I remember treading carefully, lest I inadvertently suggest that being a dentist wasn't perfectly okay, too, if that's what she really wanted. The world needs good dentists, after all. But what the world doesn't need is a grumpy, jaded dentist who's secretly always wanted to be an artist instead. That doesn't end well for anyone.
"One day I am sweet, another day I am sour," says the Irish trickster god Manannan mac Lir in his guise as the disheveled traveling buffoon whose hat is full of holes and whose shoes squish with puddle water when he walks. Manannan appears in folktales sometimes as a buffoon and sometimes as a richly dressed bard of talent and renown. When he is a buffoon, his words are sweet and his music sweeter; when he is a master of his craft, he comes off as a fake and an ass. When he is at home, he is a king whose otherworldly castle is thatched with white birds' wings. But the half-thatched homes of the mortal bards will never be complete. While the poets are away gathering their feathers, the winds have already swept away the last day's work. Which is the real god? The king, the poet, or the wandering buffoon? Which is the real writer? Which is the real me?
When we see nature itself as a constantly-unfolding story about the deepest, most sacred truths of life and death, we can adapt the practice of Lectio Divina as a creative approach to meditation that can strengthen our relationship with the earth. Here are just a few ideas about how to use the practice of Lectio Divina to engage with the stories of nature. Although we can approach each of the four stages of Lectio Divina as distinct activities that we can do one at a time on their own, we experience the most benefit from this kind of spiritual work when we bring them together into a single coherent, continuous practice.
Sometimes I get sick of the flat, bright rectangles of computer screens and book pages. When that happens, I go on crafting binges. My latest was inspired by the steampunk aesthetic and my recent spiritual work with the local flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. This little guy was the result.
My last post has generated some fantastic conversation both in the Meadowsweet Commons and elsewhere online. I'm still sweltering at my parents' house and will be traveling home again this weekend, so although I'm in the middle of composing a response exploring some of the ideas readers and commenters have shared, that post probably won't be up for another few days at least. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight some of the many insightful comments my last post has inspired. There is so much more to say on this topic, and it's one that I think lies at the very heart of not just Pagan leadership, but also Pagan spirituality in general. What do we emphasize in our rituals and spiritual work, and why? How do different forms of ritual shape our approach to these questions? How do we choose our leaders, and just as importantly, how do we support them in ways that allow them to continue to grow, explore and take risks? What are your thoughts on the relationship between sincerity, competence, and integrity?
I'm a few days late with this announcement, but... exciting news everyone! The equinox issue of Aontacht Magazine is out, and it's available free on the Druidic Dawn website. This issue focuses on sacred spaces and sacred places, exploring this theme from a variety of perspectives. In the spirit of connecting to those lesser known and often overlooked spaces, my Wild Earth feature article revisits the practice of Lectio Divina as an opportunity to connect to the story of place in the natural world around us, engaging more deeply with its beings and spirits through observation, meditation, prayer and silent contemplation.
I expect an eclipse of moon to be a kind of dilation, corona blaze of blue iris flaring out from the pupil- depths of midnight sky cast, in its center, suddenly to shadow by coy sunlight. I expect a god, his gaze past the austerity of bare trees, sharp eyelashes against the pale cheek of hill, and the thrill...
She sleeps with fists clenched and wakes with bruises in her palms. She is reversible. She folds colored paper along creases that could break open the skyline, then quietly she unfolds it again. The moon rises.
So what exactly do I believe? To answer that question, I have to go back to basics. And in going back to basics, I have to face my fear of being forever shrugged off as a newbie fluff bunny who can't be taken seriously. It's easy to say, "So what? What do you care if people take you seriously?" But as a member of a scattered, small community, a minority religion in a predominantly Christian culture, it can feel pretty devastating to be shrugged off or shuffled aside even by those you thought would welcome you with open arms. But that's the risk you have to face if you want to cultivate an open and free relationship with spirit and the sacred world. The world is far stranger and wilder than the books and experts would have you believe.