Quick Share – Food for thought

freedom

To think differently is to live differently.

To live differently is to choose.

To choose is freedom.

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Spring

spring

It’s no surprise that as a practicing Druid my very favorite time of year is spring. I love everything about it, the sights, sounds, smells, and feel. I live in a small southern town with lots of trees, so spring here inevitably means the coming home of many birds. Many, many birds. As they fly in by the thousands, spring mornings are full of an amazing variety of bird calls, chirps, and whistles. I love the birds especially as the harbingers of the end of winter.

beltaneCelebrations
We all know spring is the time to shake off those winter blues, come outside, and bask in the awakening beauty around us. The landscape becomes that specific shade of green seen only in the new growth of trees and grasses, the air is fragrant with the perfume of blooming flowers, and the world begins to waken again from its long winter sleep. It’s more lovely than words can describe. Soon, those of us who follow the Wheel of Year will be celebrating Beltane with gratitude and reverence.

It’s my custom to welcome the seasons as they change in my own personal ceremonies. It gives me a feeling of familiarity to connect on a personal level with the spirits of the seasons and maybe learn a little something from them that I can apply to my own journey. In a recent personal ceremony to welcome Spring and connect with its spirit, I received a reminder that will go far to help me in my own life, and I’d like to share it. I think sometimes I forget the lessons of the seasons and tend to idealize them and their energies. This lesson pulled me back down to earth, and I’m grateful for its message.

bird warsA reminder
The lesson I received is that spring is a beautiful time, yes, but we shouldn’t forget the realities of it. It’s not simply joyful frolicking and basking in the sun. It’s a season of battles and struggle. New life does not flow into the world easily. It fights for place, it fights for dominance. The coming of the birds back to my town is wonderful to see, but it also brings the bird wars, as I call them. All during spring I see birds fighting to establish their mates and their nesting spots. For such beautiful and gentle creatures, they can be astonishingly determined. It’s that determination that leads to the bird wars, some raucous enough to make a person look out their window to find out what the heck is going on.

new lessonsThe lesson
The real lesson is that the essence of spring is new battling old, the unproven battling the established, and that’s a profound idea for everyone. We learn new things every day, especially those of us who have committed ourselves to a spiritual path. I learn within the OBOD Ovate program new ideas of self, of place, and of thinking. Everything I’m learning is battling for dominance over my old established ways of thinking. In my mind and in my life I’m seeing a renewal of spirit, but that renewal doesn’t slip in gently. I have to do my part and be mindful of the lessons and actively embed them in my daily routine. If I do this, my spirit will grow and renew as the spring brings growth and renewal to all things.

Blessing and light to all.

What spirituality means to me

SPIRITUALITY

Spirituality means different things to different people, all of them valid. I make no claim to know what spirituality should mean to everyone or suggest that I have the one true definition of spirituality. In fact, I’ve found that no matter how different people’s views may be, the one thing they share without exception is that when they believe, they do so with their whole heart and soul, just like me.

spirituality 2A definition of spirituality
Once, I read a definition of spirituality that I’ve never forgotten. I can’t remember the source, but it went like this: Spirituality is our emotional response to this world and our place in it. For me, that was a profound thought and one that brought into focus a couple of points. The first is why some people are so passionate about their spirituality. Second, why I feel incomplete without it.

When I thought about spirituality as part of my emotional self, it made a lot of sense. I always feel it when I haven’t made time for prayers, studies, or general gratitude. I feel like something is missing, as if part of me is empty. I also realized that for myself, a life without spirituality is a life half lived. Living only in the physical material world is not enough for me to feel like a complete being. I need to also live in spirit, taking the time to care for and develop what I believe is a very important part of my emotional self. When I do that, I not only feel complete, but I also feel more deeply connected to the world around me and to my fellow beings.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that people who aren’t spiritual are wrong or living incorrectly. Not at all. I’m just saying for myself, these ideas make a lot of sense. For me, it’s an important part of what makes me, me.

inside-eco-spirituality-417x280Spirituality and emotions
When looked at side by side, spirituality has a lot to do with emotions. The most common reason for people practicing spirituality is because it feels right, or it feels good. We can get emotional during devotions, and we are stirred during ceremony and ritual. I’ve seen people moved to tears in powerful moments. This may be the influence of the deity the individual believes in, but it may also be our connection with our world and our place in it on a deep emotional level not possible in the material world. It could be that when we acknowledge and feed our emotional beings with spirituality, we are becoming stronger, wiser, and more balanced within our own lives. Which is why I’ve reconnected to my spirituality. I needed that deeper sense of connection to existence and to all life. And with that connection comes a deeper appreciation and love. And really, isn’t that the aim of spirituality? To promote love and respect of all life? That’s what I like to believe.

Blessings and light to all.

My Journey Book

journal

On every journey, it’s a good idea to keep an accurate record of where you go and what you experience. Call it a journal, a book of days, or a diary, it is a valuable tool in tracking one’s progress across a continent or a spiritual plane. For my journey, I’ve created a book that I hope will help me keep track of my journey down the Ovate path.

A physical record
I’m the kind of person who always does better when I can see where I’ve been. Pictures, letters, and momentoes have special meaning for me because they are a physical, tangible record of my life. Because of this, I’ve made a book, a journal of sorts, for my Ovate studies. I call it The Book of the Ovate. In it I have several sections representing the different types of work I’m doing, much like a Wiccan’s Book of Shadows. It’s a combination of printed pages of reference material from the Internet and my own handwritten accounts of lessons, revelations, and meaningful experiences. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

Book of the OvateThe process was pretty simple. I created a cover in an art program on the laptop and printed it on card stock. Then, I punched holes with a hole punch to add those little brass fasteners for paper. That makes it easy to add or remove sheets as I need. The shine is from wide shipping tape I used to protect and sort of laminate the front and the back. Inside is a mixture of written and printed material in four sections. The sections are separated by card stock with the section title and a nice picture to represent it. I have a section for my Ovate work, a place for my rituals and related recipes, a dream and meditation section, and a section for herbal information. It’s getting kind of fat by this time, but that also represents the amount of work I’ve done already.

my penSpecial tools
One thing I did, and I’m very glad of, is I bought a special pen for use with my journal. It makes each entry a little more meaningful. I bought it from an Etsy shop called JDHomeGallery. This seller creates handcrafted pens and other beautiful items. I requested a custom pen made from white oak (top) and deer antler (bottom). Those materials have special meaning to me as a practicing Druid. Oak represents the sacred groves Druids used in training and teaching their craft. To me, it represents both sacredness and knowledge. The deer antler represents new beginnings and purification, as explained in the Druid Animal Oracle. Deer were also seen as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds, as Celtic mythology believed this animal could move easily between them. When put together, this pen represents all that Druidry means to me, sacredness, spirituality, knowledge, wisdom, and new beginnings.

My book and pen have become an important part of my practice, and I’m very grateful to have them both. Together, they help me remember a few things about this journey I’ve chosen to undertake. First, that what I’m doing is important enough to have a special and specific place to record it. Second, I’m exploring something not everyone has the ability or temperament to, the spiritual realm. And lastly, it’s my very own with my specific stamp on it. No one else has these things, and that makes me very unique. I’m happy with that.

Getting back in touch with Druidry

01 buddhas-enlightenment

As I’ve mentioned before, I was pulled pretty strongly away from regular spiritual practice by the healing and creativity that resulted of my Druidry work, which is pretty ironic. Once I realized I could actually be a successful and valued person in this world, it was kind of like a damn breaking. All the things I wished I could be were suddenly right before me, waiting to be realized, with nothing to hold me back. For the past year I’ve been completely out of balance with my business and self expression projects dominating my life. Don’t get me wrong. It’s been great. I’ve learned there is absolutely nothing I can’t accomplish if I really want it. I feel so blessed because that’s a belief I don’t think many people have about themselves.

magicBut now the tide is ebbing, and it’s time to make spirituality part of my daily and weekly life again. I’ve reestablished a weekly ceremony that honors and connects with the elements, the ancestors, and the realms of this earth (plant, mineral, animal, and human). I’ve resumed my monthly Ovate lessons, which I’m particularly excited about, and I’ve decided to renew my commitment to Druidry in a special ceremony that will be somewhat like my initiation. The important thing here to clearly state my intent and declare it to the universe, to bring my desires into the physical world with ceremony and ritual, thereby manifesting it into reality.

With an apple for renewal and mistletoe for sacredness, I will recommit myself to the study and practice of the Ovate grade. Candles, incense, meditation music, and prayer will all play a big part in my renewal ceremony, and I will try and reconnect with my spirit Ovate guide, Arrol, who first introduced himself last year during my initiation ceremony into the Ovate grade. I’ll write my mentor about it to let her know how it went.

I feel a very strong urge to do this ceremony but the urge is also to do it right. I’m taking my time, gathering my supplies, and waiting for the right moment to perform it because I feel this will be a very important moment on my journey. For me, it’s not about reaching the end. It’s about experiencing the journey itself, what happens, what I learn, how I feel, and what insights I can gain. It’s about learning what makes me tick, how I can be a better me, and how I can make the world better with my unique talents and abilities. I think I’m ready for that.

spiritual-journeys

Blessings to all who are on the same journey. I hope you find what you’re looking for, and I hope I do, too.

My First Steps with OBOD

Stonehenge Wiltshire Lighting

I’ve been on a long journey for years, a journey of self-exploration and spirituality. Initially, I undertook my journey alone. I read and explored alternative and traditional spiritualities. I worked through self help books to get past the scars of a traumatic childhood lived in fear and pain. Then, in 2012 I discovered Druidry. I was enchanted. Not only did Druidry give me a spiritual outlet that actually expressed how I felt inside, but it was a self-development spirituality, as well. With Druidry I could express my spiritual side and my love of nature and all living things and do the inner work that still needed to be worked out.

The healing was well under way thanks to self help books and therapy, but something was missing. Since I couldn’t evolve normally from childhood to adulthood, all those lessons and experiences were not there. I had to go back and create myself again, the me I was intended to be. Amazingly, Druidry is helping me do just that. I found OBOD, a wonderful organization dedicated to acceptance of all, dogma of none, and reverence for all life. Not only that, but they have structured courses in three levels for those who wish to develop their inner creativity, deepen their love of the natural world, and seek wisdom as a life goal. It’s an all-in-one package that I was extremely fortunate to find and take advantage of.

Druidry
what Druidry means to me.

I enrolled in the first of their three tiered coursed, the Bardic course in 2012. I worked on it for a little over a year and finished with the title of Bard. Then I enrolled in the Ovate course, the second tier of courses, and that’s where I am now. What I didn’t realize is all the healing and learning creativity created in me a desire to start my own business, something I would never have even dreamed of years ago. Starting a small online business from scratch with nothing but an idea and a hundred bucks eventually led to a livable income in only three years. I give a lot of credit for my creativity to OBOD and their Bardic course. Unfortunately, as my business grows, I find myself frequently pulled off balance, I think mainly because this is all so new to me. I’ve never felt so confident, so able, and so successful. The conflict is frustrating. Now that I’m in this amazing place and doing amazing things, I want to pour all my energy into it. But that leaves me feeling drained, and the only thing that eases that feeling is carrying on with my lessons. It’s been very hard to keep all this new energy for my business under control. But I’m reaching a point now that the surge is finally easing. I’ve been back to my spiritual practice for weeks now, and I feel pretty confident that the great tsunami of creativity and energy for my business is finally ebbing, and hopefully I will be able to continue a steady practice of Druidry.

I’ve begun taking stock of what I learned in the Bardic course, I’ve added to my tools and items I find essential to my practice, and I’ve gathered my course together to begin again. It’s been a year and a half, maybe closer to two years, since I’ve felt calm enough to dedicate myself to a weekly course, and I’m not entirely sure I will be able to continue uninterrupted, but I do feel more calm and secure about my business. That’s a good place to start.

And my new found creativity has benefited me spiritually, too. I made an elemental rosary which I use to pray to the elements and focus my mind. It’s made of aventurine, coral, fresh water pearl, and turquoise. I can’t believe how well it works for me.

Element Roseary
Pagan rosary beads for the elements earth, air, fire, and water made by me.

I’ve also made prayer cards to help me remember prayers to the ancestors and the elements. They come in handy.

I’m excited to be back on my way. Over the past several weeks, I’ve felt cleaner inside, more balanced, and definitely more in touch with the world as a whole. I continue to collect information, not just on Druidry, but on my ancestors as a whole, the Celts of southern Germany. I’m determined to finish my journey toward a well-balanced, confident, stable, and grateful life.