“Eat, drink and be scary.” Anon

Yes it’s that time of year, where we celebrate… fear! Boo!

Fake plastic fear where money making entities prey on the fears of people to suck them of their money, creating fantasies that infect the minds of the common populace with “fun” fear just to make profit.

But as you wander around dressed as vampire, werewolf, ugly green witch or some other imaginary monster remember that there is real fear in the world, that somewhere out there there is someone hoping that today won’t be the day that a bullet or bomb takes their life, that somewhere out there a real monster lurks haunting (or abusing) the mind, heart and body of their victim. Yes, it’s true, there is such thing as real fear! Does that suprise you?

Are we so detached from our emotions and reality that we have to compensate with a synthetic fear?

I look at the Earth, at the changing season. I see Samhain, the ancient festival that honours ancestors gone from life and observes the life of the Earth begin to rest for the winter. That is the truth of the season, we’d do well to remember that.

Samhain blessings.

“When… Arthur loses the power to give, his court disintegrates and his kingdom hangs in the balance. Only the restoration of his ability to give makes him leader of the community again.”

“The kingdom of the Grail, for example, becomes the Gaste Pays, a barren wasteland, when the Fisher-King was wounded for transgressing a geis and could no longer govern properly.” Jean Markale King of the Celts: Arthurian Legends and Celtic Tradition

I have something brewing in my head, a stew of ideas; of Celtic Sovereignty, kingship and kings’ sacred marriages to the Goddess of the Land; of healthy kings, wounded kings, fisher kings and Grail Quests; of suffering people, suffering landscapes and abused Sovereignty; of Arthurian legends, Dragons, Knights in Shining Armour, Maidens in distress, yet also of Empowered Maiden-Warriors fed up of waiting for glorified tin-cans. Awen, the Spirit of Inspiration, shines forth from the cauldron and a vision is formed. Please enjoy.

Long ago, in the land of my ancestors, there once was a King who’d achieved the Quest of the Source of All Rivers, passed the test of the Servants of the Goddess, and partaken of the Spring Waters, endowing him with the powers of Kingship and Sovereignty. He was a very powerful, ambitious and clever King, bringing great fortunes to his People and the Land but he had little wisdom to bring balance with it. Though he and his People revelled in the glory of his reign, neither he nor his People saw where all of this success was heading or the great troubles that would arise from it.

One day, a bright sunny day, the King and his band of faithful Warriors were out on an excursion, expanding the boundaries of the kingdom and its wealth. They encountered at the foot of some mountains a wild forest, and so, eager to investigate, they cut a path through it, chopping many trees down until they reached the foot of the mountain. There they found a cave, which one by one they all entered, led by the King.

Inside it was so vast they could not see the walls or ceiling, but even if it was smaller they would not have noticed the walls or ceiling for it was filled with many treasures, enchanting the eyes of the King and of the men. They went outside, drunk with excitement and greed for what they had found. They went back to their People and told them about the treasures and organised a way to take them and make the People rich!

So it was done, they went and cut down more trees to make way for the many carts and carriages that would take away the riches and inside the cave it was alive with people inspecting the glittering pieces, and people filling sacks up and lugging them away. But no one had noticed the dark presence inside, though it certainly noticed them. It was a Dragon, black as coal, that had been sleeping there for so long that the People only remembered Her in their ancient legends, and even then in vague foggy references that no one quite believed, or even understood.

The Dragon had finally awakened, and She was not happy. Her mouth began to smoke and filled the cave, suffocating all those who were inside. The smoke poured out of the cave and formed a great pillar where once there had been a mountain. The King fell out from the cave, coughing and spluttering, into the arms of his Warriors. The King died, but before he died the King warned his People to stop what they were doing for it meant great catastrophe to them and to the Land. Few heard him, for they were enchanted by the treasures or panicking over the Dragon.  And even those that did deluded themselves into thinking that maybe, just maybe, the King could be brought back to life and restore the Kingdom. But they did not know the source of his power or had forgotten it.

The Warriors rode away to the castle to see if they could bring the King back to life. Behind them, as they rode away, the smoke formed a wall that spread across the land, poisoning it. There were too few trees to hold the black wall back for they had all been cut down. The Land became poisoned, the crops failed and the Dragon’s hot breath melted away the ice-caps upon the mountain tops melted into water flooding the Land and destroying many people’s homes. The riches from the Dragon’s cave began turning to dust, leaving many People poor and at war with one another (though they had really been at war for quite some time). The Source of All Rivers dried up and the Servants of the Goddess withered in strength, and wailed and weeped for this great misfortune. The People suffered, the Land suffered. They needed healing.

Back at the castle the Warriors brought the King’s body and took it to the Queen’s sanctuary, where she stood guard over the Healing Chalice that the King recieved on his coronation. But upon entering the room a great horror met the eyes of the Warriors, for the Queen lay on the floor, dead, and the Healing Chalice had disapeared from its place. Court was held to decide what to do, but a further blow was struck for it was there that the People realised that the Princess, one and only daughter to the King and Queen, had disappeared, and with her the Royal Lineage. Some remembered the last words of the dead King and, taking it to heart, they set out to stop the catastrophe, though some people dispaired and could not bring themselves to do anything and others scoffed, still enchanted by the Dragon’s treasures, deluded by an ephemeral wealth.

Here is where I should tell you about a Great Quest, undertaken by only the best of the Warriors, to seek and slay the Dragon, to free the Princess, restore the Healing Chalice to its rightful place and for a new King to take the old one’s place, marry the Princess who becomes the new Queen and brings a new era of wealth and health, though this time a bit more wiser and a little less greedy. And so Happily Ever After and all that jazz.

I would that I could, but I can’t so I won’t.

This story has not really finished yet. In fact right now, the land is only just feeling the effects of the People’s greed and the King has only just left the cave, warning his People. But he will die, he has to. The old Patriarchal order has to go and make way for a new order if the land is to be restored to something like its previous state and the People freed from their suffering. But the scar will linger for some while, carried by many future generations.

Will the Dragon ever be slayed? I think not, the Dragon can never be killed for She is the raw power of the Land itself provoked into a destructive mode against the People that disturbed it and abused its generosity. There is no hope to slay this Dragon, because if we did we’d just be provoking more of the same. We can but hope that we don’t provoke Her any more than we have, so that She might once again go down to the Land and rest deep within it again. Perhaps by not cutting down any more of the Wild Forest and planting and growing more trees we could entice the Dragon back to the Land because She likes that luscious greenery and when she knows there are enough trees (and Ents?) standing guard over the Land She can rest at ease, supporting life’s energies in the continuous breaths of her peaceful dreaming sleep; the unconscious evolution of the living Earth that has been going on long before humanity appeared.

And we cannot expect a single champion to put all things right by his own efforts alone. Even the Princess, though she is trapped in the Dragon’s lair, cannot rely on a Knight in Shining Armour to save her. She is not a passive or weak victim and must prepare herself to be free, with or without the help of a hero. And her Queenship is innate, not determined by her social status or something to be supplanted by a King’s reign whilst she stands by, supporting him as a passive symbol of Sovereignty. She is empowered, she is power and has a little of the Dragon in her too. A lesson for all women.

The King is dead, long live the King; so the saying goes. But there is no new King to replace the old one. The old King was Patriarchy that supplanted the power of the Queen and led the People into imbalance within themselves and with the Land. This is what killed the Queen, the passive female supporter of the Patriarchy. The old King can no longer lead us when he has gone past his use-by-date. Replacing him with another King would  be repeating more of the same, just with new packaging.

It is the Healing Chalice we need. Where is the Healing Chalice? Where can we find it to heal all that is ill and poisoned? Can we restore the King back to life? Or the Queen? The Healing Chalice, like the Holy Grail, is spiritual. As Jesus said “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, and people will not say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Each of us has the Healing Chalice within us. It has not disappeared; it has simply become entrusted to each of us so that we can all help heal the People and the Land. It is up to each of us to engage with our own spiritual journey within, to access our own inner resources of healing and wisdom and to use that in the service of Land and People.

It is in the power of every man to be a King. It is in the power of every woman to be a Queen. The Sovereign is one who keeps the balance within their People and between People and Land, making sure that justice is maintained and that true and noble Sovereignty is kept constant. Though one person cannot lead the People without the help of the People. The People themselves must commit themselves to the restoration of Sovereignty within and without and the healing of Land and People, with or without a leader.

If the kingdom lies within then we should strive to learn to be good Kings and Queens individually and maintain the balance within ourselves, within our own psyches. And that this inner balance be balanced with the surrounding environment. With the inner balance of each individual established and that in balance with the environment, then the balance of Land and People, of Earth and Humanity, naturally follows on from there.

Each of us is a King, each of us is a Queen, each of us is a Princess, each of us is a Warrior, each of us is the People, each of us is the Land, each of us is a Dragon and each of us is a Healing Chalice. Blessings on your Quest and upon mine also.  Let us seek out and restore the balance in the ways that we can, remembering this vow wherever the journey takes us.

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius

 

“Politics has less to do with where you live than where your heart is.” Margaret Cho

 

“The new vision senses the Earth as a complex system, Gaia, and recognizes that our globalized social world is reliant on the natural world: when there’s trouble in nature, there’s trouble in society.”  Susan Canney

 

The Druids were lawmakers, counsellors to kings, guardians of sovereignty, peacemakers, and probably warmakers too. They would resolve differences between tribes and probably even resolve differences with people within a tribe. For this they had to be very aware of the social balance of things and used their knowledge to guide this balance. Some were probably corrupt, following their own selfish schemes or that of their tribe and some may even have had a noble idea about a common good for all people. I like the common good idea, but realistically human nature is what it is and has the habit of doing all sorts of things, even within such positions of power and responsibility. Despite this not too rosy image of human nature, in the image of a Druid we have a figure that is powerful in social and political fields of activity, and that is what I lean on here.

 

For me, my political work as a Druid isn’t about walking into warzones or gang fights to resolve the conflicts there. It isn’t about me signing petitions, lobbying new legislation, attending a political march in protest about some issue, social work, standing for election or “making my vote count.” Politics, at its root, is about how humans relate to each other, it’s about our relationships. Political discord stems from the social ills we have, so all political work fundamentally starts here. It’s about the relationship between offspring and parents, men and women, young and old etc. Before we heroically face the problems of the world, we should heroically face our own personal problems, and from that foundation all other problems of the world; economical, ecological, national, international etc can be legitimately dealt without skipping personal problems; an essential experience if we are to tackle anything else. Before we take our issues to Monarchs, Prime Ministers or Presidents we should face and resolve the issues we have with our parents, children and all our relationships.

“’Yes I am,’ agreed Arthur. Of course he was a Druid. It was perfectly clear. But he wasn’t just talking Druidry. It wasn’t an academic exercise for him. He was living it, every day of his life. This was a new kind of Druidry. Warrior Druidry. Druidry with energy and verve. Druidry with a mission, not to pontificate about the meaning of Stonehenge, but to fight for it. So he set about turning the Warband into a Druid Order.” Arthur Pendragon and Christopher James Stone, The Trial of Arthur: The Life and Times of a Modern-Day King

 

“We have to bring about a psychological transformation in our relationship with the society in which we live. Therefore, there is no escape from it into the Himalayas, into becoming a monk or a nun, and taking up social service, and all the rest of such juvenile business. We have to live in this world, we have to bring about a radical transformation in our relationship with each other; not in some distant future, but now.” Krishnamurti

 

“The transformation of the world is brought about by the transformation of oneself.” Krishnamurti

 

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” Moshe Dayan

 

Here is a little something I wrote a while back. I was considering how the whole spiritual, educational and political system of the ancient Druids could have been created from a fragmented nation of warrior tribes. I imagined a council of individuals from different tribes with spiritual, education and political roles working together to direct the conflictive energies of their tribes. For me, this image is THE most relevant image for modern Druidry’s mission in the world today.

 

Long ago, there were many different people, many different tribes, all spreading across the Land. They’d come from one source, but then they separated and their ways diverged from each other. They prospered and developed many tools and skills to live and survive. But as the tribes grew and grew in number, they stopped spreading across the Land for there was nowhere else to go, but instead became crowded in it. The warrior lodges grew more volatile, desperately fighting against each other, trying to gain power for their own tribes.

But the Land suffered and as the Land suffered the tribes suffered, making the warrior lodges fight even more intensely. The blood ran and formed pools, and heads and other trophies were piled high. The life of the Land’s fabric began to fray and unravel, and the tribes’ lives deteriorated in turn.

The Land cried out… Enough!

But the tribes could not hear, so immersed in their own suffering and violence they were.

ENOUGH!

Yet some did hear, women and men, those who knew the Land as soul mate, those whose bodies and souls were intimately in tune with the life of the Land. These Wise Souls knew what was happening, they listened to the Land, very carefully, to what it had to tell them, and they were led by its wisdom together. They gathered in a secret meeting, deep in a cavernous womb of the Land, and here, with their voices weaving across one another, their thoughts and ideas brewing together into one idea; to keep the Land in balance, the tribes must be in balance with it, and for the tribes to be in balance with it they must be in balance with each other. A vision formed of one diverse tribe as part of that Land, but which required much work to forge, much collaboration to manifest that vision.

They vowed to work together, for the Greater Good of Land and tribes, to pool together their knowledge and wisdom from which all of the tribes could draw upon as a common resource so that the tribes could grow in understanding of each other and relate to each other without resorting to war. Their energies could be channeled together for a common goal of peaceful creativity. And so the Druids were born, learned and spiritual people, networking among the tribes, giving council under the guidance of their vision for the Greater Good, coordinating and collaborating through the magnificent diversity of their tribes and speaking across their boundaries in a spirit of understanding.

There is One Earth and it is crying ENOUGH! It is asking for collaboration, it is asking for humanity to channel it diverse ways together into a common vision of a truly global humanity, at one with the Earth, not ripping apart the fabric of its existence.

And it asks for a new Druidry to guide this task, or at least women and men in tune with the Land, with the Earth, with Gaia, working together to pool their diverse wisdom and knowledge into a common vision, to speak across the boundaries of humanity and affirm that we can work together, becoming a contributing aspect of the Land’s creativity and evolution, to carry on the work of weaving its fabric, to become Artists, Teachers, Workers and Guides for the Land and its tribes.

 “Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will, Sympathy, Justice, Imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism.” Dorothy Thompson

“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.” Dorothy Thompson

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” Martin Luther King, jr

“Bad s**t makes good fertilizer.” By yours truly!

“Often on the battlefields, at the very moment when the armies approach each other with swords raised and lances thrust forwards, these bards will advance into the midst of their adversaries and tame them, as though having cast a spell over wild beasts.” Diodorous Siculus

Imagine a war between two noble Celtic tribes, standing on opposite sides of a valley shouting and raging at each other, waving big shiny implements in the air and wearing outlandish body paint and little else. From a nearby woodland, in the valley, steps a group of unarmed people dressed in white robes and carrying strong staffs. They are Druids, come to bring peace to the warring tribes.  The most senior amongst them ceremoniously raises her arms, with staff in hand, and proclaims at the top of her lungs “Oi, you lot PACK IT IN! Right, I want your bosses to get down here right now! I don’t care if this takes the rest of the century, we’re going to sort this out once and for all, got it?! We’ve got serious talking to do that’ll make your sword wielding antics look like an after-dinner toothpick wielding session!”

There is a difference between conflict and violence; violence is incompatible with peace, conflict is not. Violence is useless and destructive, conflict is potentially creative. Violence is smashing two heads together like pumpkins, conflict is more like two stones being struck together to make a spark; in a word, friction.

Conflict (friction) is energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, we can only redirect it. Conflict is an everyday and unavoidable part of our lives, therefore we cannot avoid it. If we do avoid or ignore that energy and don’t express it, it will invert itself, build up and explode, probably hurting someone that doesn’t deserve it (been there, done that). Or sometimes it implodes, which is where people hurt themselves (almost been there too).

So there’s no way around it, unresolved conflict becomes violence, externally or internally.  You can sugar coat it and avoid conflict in the name of “peace and serenity,” which only helps to reinforce (even create!) the problem of violence, not resolve it. But if any conflict in life is treated as spark-producing friction, then that “spark” can be used to start creative “fires” that can Inspire, Heal and Transform.

This concept of Inspiration, Healing and Transformation I derived from the roles of the Celtic fire goddess Brigit; as a patroness of poets her fire inspires, as a patroness of healers her fire heats the cauldron that brews the herbs that heal, and as a patroness of blacksmiths her fire melts the raw material that is transformed. Conflict, I believe, can be directed to light fires that Inspire, Heal and Transform, and many peacemakers (Druids and non-Druids alike) would do well to remember that peace is not the “absence of conflict” but an active endeavor, requiring effort.

We should strive not to respond to conflict with violence, but also we should not ignore or deny any conflict its necessary expression. As a Druid-in-training my work is to learn how to face and creatively deal with conflict, not in bullet riddled warzones, but in the personal relationships of everyday life.

 It’s hard work. It’s difficult to maintain. But ultimately, it’s rewarding.

Peace! (but let’s work on it)

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” Bertrand Russell

“A great war leaves the country with three armies – an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.” German Proverb

“There is something ineluctably male about coalitional aggression – men bonding with men to engage in aggression against other men.” Rose McDermott

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” Ernest Hemingway

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” José Narosky

“To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man.” Michael Servetus

There were so many quotes to choose from I could do nothing except leave this; http://www.quotegarden.com/war.html

This blog’s a bit more personal than some, but at the same time it’s all to do with a universal theme, something that many people can and do recognise. When I was a child, I played “war games” with friends, we’d pretend we were soldiers or fighter pilots and we’d be fighting against each other, running around the school playground, “shooting” each other. We thought it was “cool” and we sensationalise war, thinking it was “cool” and somehow “fun.” Another friend of mine didn’t want to play because he felt it was wrong, his granddad fought in World War II. I just thought “but it’s not real war,” and “my granddad was in the army too. So what?” Well, as I reveled in the “fun” of it all I told my granddad, something along the lines of, “You were in the army right? With tanks and guns and stuff. Wow, cool!”

My granddad was a stretcher bearer in WWII serving with the Gordon Highlanders. He was too old to take part in the fighting but young enough to go out to war and help in some way. This means he saw some of the worst parts of war, all of what comes after the killing. He saw dead people, dying people, insane people and other things that don’t need to be gone into, you can probably imagine. He even took a bit of shrapnel in his leg that he had embedded in him for the rest of his life. But I don’t know exactly what he saw, because he never spoke of his war experiences to anyone. No, not because it was so gobsmackingly “cool” and “fun”, very much the opposite! The psychological trauma of his experience made him shut up about it, as has happened with many others that have experiences war first hand. Unsurprisingly he didn’t want to relive the experience nor allow anyone else to be exposed to it.

But that didn’t help me much, at least not back then. I can’t imagine what was going through his head when an innocent little know-nothing-about-war boy, his own grandson, used words like “cool” and “fun” alongside war. And he didn’t even react! He sat in his chair silently not even able to bring himself to set me straight, just to talk to me and share a little bit of his wisdom. But now I’m older, and hopefully wiser, his silence has more of an impact on me than if he’d said anything. No pleasant reasoning, no angry shouting, not even an ashamed or mournful tear. His inability to speak speaks volumes that I can only understand now in my adulthood.

Recently I cried. I was watching a film that was showing some of the results of war. It showed inexperienced nurses being faced with all sorts of injuries, and one of them hid herself away to cry. It included old historical footage of soldiers waiting by a train, smiling at the camaraderie of it all, but completely ignorant about what will happen. Some of them just spotty boys that won’t even pull their trigger once before they’re shot. I imagined my granddad there with them, and I cried. His silent lesson really hit me then. I cried for him and the lesson of his hidden suffering behind his silence and for other people with less innocent experiences of war.

What I understand is that, when all is said and done, war is not about winners or losers, attack or defense, proud patriotic duty, little boys and their real or imagined toy guns, nor the sensationalisation of war and guns that is so prevalent in the media. At one end of the scale, if no one had fought the Nazi’s we’d be looking at a Nazi world. At the other, no matter how we may “justifiy” it or think it “necessary” war happens because all other options have failed. And here I must repeat Ernest Hemingway’s quote, “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

Ultimately it’s about death and suffering. It’s about innocent youths getting killed before they’ve lived, it’s about never seeing friends and family ever again and it’s about seeing people so physically or psychologically damaged they’re never fully human again. Maybe if war was seen along these lines we’d try harder to find other, more creative, solutions to resolving conflictive situations, instead of sending soldeirs to kill or be killed. As Dorothy Thompson says about Peace; “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.”

I felt bad for what I’d said as a kid, but more importantly I have learnt better since then.