Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kill them with kindness

There's an article at http://www.bc.edu/publications/chronicle/TopstoriesNewFeatures/features/Dalton052710.html about someone who helps out those in need in a variety of ways, including growing out his hair and donating it to Locks of Love. 

It shows how an ordinary person can make a difference.

I like the motto he learned from his mother, "Kill them with kindness." 

I think often if faced with someone who is not being nice, if you treat them as if you assume they will be nice, they will try to live up to your expectation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Serving Others, Serving Yourself

They always say it should be about serving others, not about serving yourself.  Instead of trying to advance your career, you should try to help those in need.

But, you also have to take yourself into account.  If you have phobias of needles and blood, you probably should not serve others as an EMT or nurse.

I read Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer some months ago.  He said something along those lines.  He said that you shouldn't try to do what is most noble, instead, you should listen to hear what your calling is.

I am always asking myself what should I do with my life.  I think in terms of what would be a match for my skills and interests.  I never seem to find the answer.  Sometimes I think it is because I am framing the question wrong, that if my goal was to respond to what others need rather than to find the niche I match, maybe I would do better.  But I'm not looking selfishly for wealth and prestige.  I'm looking for a niche where there's a match between what I have to offer and what is needed, and I'm trying to figure out what I have to offer.

Maybe it's not that I am framing the question wrong.  I don't have to pathologize myself all the time.  It's okay to still be looking.  It's part of the cycle of life.  Sometimes we are at a phase of life that is right for us, and we throw ourselves into it.  Other times, we find ourselves in the wrong place, and keep looking for the right place.  People tell me I should stop looking for something and just be happy with what I have, like there's something wrong with me for looking too much.  But I have had times in my life when I was at the right place and could embrace what I had.  I know what being in the right place is, and where I am now is not it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pantheist Prayer

Why would pantheists pray? We don't believe there is a sentient entity listening who is capable of choosing to grant our wishes. 

Prayer opens my heart.   Normally, I go through the day trying to be functional and content.  In prayer, I open my heart to my yearnings, and realize what I truly wish for, that what I wish for is not to get through my to do list, but for health and family and peaceful moments.  In prayer, I wish well to people I care about, and to people unknown to me.  Doing so opens up my compassion.  I feel sadness for the hardships of others.  When I open myself up to feel that sadness, I hopefully will be moved to act more kindly toward others.  In prayer, I express my gratitude and joy for all the beauty that surrounds me, things that I otherwise might not pay attention to, things like friends, kindness, trees, and music.

My druid path

Druidry is different things to different people.  We must all find our own paths.  My druid path has three elements:
  1. Druids served their society as diplomats, judges, advisors, keepers of history, healers, and priests. A druid path is a path of service to humanity.  I seek to sow harmony rather than discord, and to inspire people to act with kindness, compassion, integrity, and wisdom. 
  2. Druidry is an earth-centered spirituality.   In addition to service to humanity, my druid path includes service to the earth.  The earth is our home and the source of all our sustenance.  I will try to live sustainably and be a caretaker to our habitat.
  3. In order to give the best to humanity and the earth, I must grow into the best person I can be.  I will seek to continually grow in knowledge, skill, wisdom, and compassion.  Although illness and injury are often unavoidable, I will try to live a healthy lifestyle.  I will try to act with integrity and kindness.  To aid my spiritual growth, I will engage in spiritual practices such as meditation, movement, music, ritual, and spending time outdoors.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trees as healers

I sit gazing upon a tree. It brings peace to my soul. In this way, the tree is a healer. The tree doesn't try to be a healer. Just by being, it heals.

I can be that kind of healer. By being true and kind and grounded, my presence can be healing to others. I don't have to try to change other people in order to heal them.

Druids as healers

Druids are healers.

I mean this in two ways.

Druids learn and share knowledge in service to their societies.  They cover many areas of knowledge. One of these areas is preventing and relieving physical ailments.  That is the narrower and more literal interpretation of my statement that druids are healers.

The broader and more abstract interpretation is that druids fix what is broken and heal what is hurt, and not only in the realm of physical ailments.  Following a druid path can mean approaching life with an attitude of helping and soothing. 

How are these two interpretations of druids as healers applicable to my own path? I view my own druid path as a path of service to humans, to the earth, and to myself.  (I have a draft of a blog about this, maybe it will be ready to publish before long.)  Thus, one way to look at it is that my purpose should be to serve in a healing capacity to humans, the earth, and myself.  For humans, I help those who are lost or in need to find their way.  For the earth, I try to live sustainably and heal the damage done by humans to our habitat.  And for myself, I try to grow spiritually so that I can live up to my potential, which will improve what I can give to the world.

It all sounds good in theory.  I'm a lot better with theory than with reality.  I'm standoffish.  I don't jump in to help.  Is this selfishness? Am I more interested in protecting myself than in healing others?

But on the other hand, we all have different natures, and we have to be true to our natures.  Some people are extraverted while others are introverted.  The world needs both types.  Different types of people make different types of contributions to the world.  What is my contribution? Well, that's where the part about growing spiritually comes in.  I'm still trying to find my place.

As for the other interpretation of healing, that which is specifically about physical ailments: I do not see myself as someone who would specialize in that area.  However, we all have bodies, and we all know people who have bodies, so in order to care for ourselves and our loved ones, there are some things we should know.  We should know about healthy living, including about nutrition, sleep, stress, toxins, and exercise.  We also should know when to seek help from medical professionals.  Those of us who suffer from chronic conditions, or who are close to people who suffer from a chronic condition, should understand those conditions.

And that is why I have chosen to study healing as part of my druid study: to learn about healthy living so that I can give good care to my body, to be able to help others with physical problems until they can get proper medical attention, and to develop a generally healing attitude in my approach to life.

Druid Pantheist or Pantheist Druid? Capitalized or not?

Some people capitalize Pantheist and Druid.  I think it is because they see these things as specific religions, so they capitalize them just as they capitalize Christian or Catholic.  I see pantheist as parallel to atheist, polytheist, and monotheist, which are not capitalized.  I see druid as a bit more complex.  I think that to say someone is a druid is like saying they are a vegetarian or an animal rights activist or a pacifist, so it is not capitalized.  However, I think it should be capitalized when used with a narrower meaning, such as to say someone has attained the rank of Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.

So, I call myself pantheist and druid without capitalization.  I will not criticize anyone who uses capitalization when applying those labels to themselves.  I think we all have the right to choose our own labels.

But am I a pantheist druid or a druid pantheist?  In such a phrase, the first word is an adjective describing an attribute or state, while the second word is a noun, identifying what a person is.  For example, a person may be described as a wise woman or a happy child.  By this reasoning, I label myself a druid pantheist.  A pantheist is what I am -- I cannot change on a whim my fundamental beliefs about the nature of the world.  Druidry is a practice in which I choose to engage, but which I could at some time choose to stop doing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Summer solstice.  It's a bittersweet time for me.  For me, summer solstice itself is a beautiful time.  But the fact that the sunlight has reached its peak means that now it will be declining.

The past few years, winters have been times of ill health, of fatigue and dreariness, of living with the constant tension of trying to ward off the cold.  Summers in contrast are joyful times of green leaves and bare feet and embracing fresh breezes as they waft across my skin. There is something about the sight of the lush green that opens my heart.  I think it has to do with it being a sight that was imprinted upon me when I was young.

This time of year, I enjoy soothing times working in my garden and sitting on my balcony.  This time of year, I go to festivals and fireworks and outdoor concerts.  This time of year, I see sunlight sparkle on the river.

Summer is a beautiful time for me.  Summer is when I can do things outside without being negatively affected by the weather.  But some people live in climates where summer is when you have to huddle in the air conditioning all the time, and lack of air conditioning can be fatal, while winter is the time of lovely weather when one can be outdoors.

Just as summer solstice has different meanings for different people, around the world at any given moment, people are in different states.  Some are joyous, some are grieving, some are lonely, some are overwhelmed, some are sick, some are strong, some are hopeful, some are hating, some are forgiving.

When we observe the holidays that mark the turning of the year, we are reminded of how things change.  I enjoy summer, but it will fade away and leave me cowering in the cold.  I cower in the cold, but the warmth will return once again.  In the same way, I will experience times full of family and friends, and times alone; times of health and times of illness; times of joy and times of depression; times of financial security and times of poverty.

But there is a difference.  The wheel of the year is predictable.  We know how long each season will last, and we know that each season that has passed will come again.  Life is not like that.  Sometimes people are never able to lift themselves out of poverty.  Some illnesses never go away.  And I don't believe in reincarnation.  We only get to go around once, and we don't know how long a ride it will be.  Tonight I listened to a CD by Woods Tea Company.  Two of their four members have died.  Tonight, someone I know witnessed a shooting.  I know several people with ongoing illnesses.

What do I want to do while I am blessed to have this limited time on this earth? I want to dance barefoot in the grass. I want to sing at the top of my lungs.  I want to laugh with my family and friends.  Every moment we can spend with family and friends is to be treasured.

 What it boils down to, less poetically, is the same list that I've made many times before: what I want in my life are time spent with the people I like, doing things outdoors, music, and dance/movement (the "/movement" is to include things like Nia, tai chi, and yoga in addition to dance).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spiritual paths

It is as if there is a great forest, with many different paths through it.  Some paths are called druidry, some pantheism, some paganism, some Quakerism, some atheism, some humanism, some Catholicism, some Presbyterianism, some -- what's the -ism for Baptists? It's not Baptism, is it? --, some Buddhism, some Taoism, some Hinduism, etc.  Each of us has to find the path that is true for us.  Sometimes we will spend some time on one of these predetermined paths, and some time on a different one.  Sometimes we will forge our own paths.

For me, finding a path that is already formed helps me see things more clearly.  It is not that I must follow every step of that path exactly as the path was originally formed.  It's more like opening a window.  When I am not on a forged path, I have an idea of what I am looking for, but it is rather amorphous.  When I step onto a path that has been tread before, I can see more clearly the shape of the thing which I am seeking.  It also becomes clear to me which parts of this path are for me to tread on, and which parts of this forged path do not fit my own personal path.

I was drawn to paganism because I was seeking an earth-centered spirituality.  Paganism seemed to be in the vicinity of the path I was looking for, but it was not itself the path for me.  After wandering the forest in the vicinity of paganism, I came across first pantheism and then druidry.  Those are my paths.

The druid path is a wide one.  Not all parts are for me.  There are many different druid orders and groups.  Maybe I will walk a time with one or more of those orders or groups.  But they do not define me.  Each druid seeks his or her individual path.  Groups can help us to find our way, but they cannot entirely define our individual paths.  My commitment as a druid is not to meet the requirements of a particular group.  My commitment as a druid is to continually seek to learn and grow within myself, and to bring healing to the world -- healing to humans and healing to the environment.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Druid books

There are so many books out there to read. Here are the ones I'm planning to start with.  Some are specifically about druidry, while others are just about things I would do while following a druid path.

  • Carr-Gomm, Philip.  The Druid Way. (OBOD)
  • Carr-Gomm, Philip.  What Do Druids Believe? (OBOD)
  • Ellison, Robert.  The Solitary Druid. (ADF)
  • Greer, John Michael. The Druidry Handbook. (AODA)
  • Orr, Emma Restall.  Druid Priestess.  First published as Spirits of the Sacred Grove. (BDO, TDN) 
  • Orr, Emma Restall.  Druidry.  (BDO, TDN) 
  •  Orr, Emma Restall.  Living Druidry: Magical Spirituality for the Wild Soul.  (BDO, TDN) 
  • Talboys, Graeme K.  Way of the Druid: Renaissance of a Celtic Religion and its Renaissance. (Hedge Druid Network)
  • White, Julie, and Talboys, Graeme K.  The Path Through the Forest: A Druid Guidebook.
Holidays, rituals, etc.:
  • Eddy, Steve, and Hamilton, Claire.  Timeless Wisdom of the Celts: A Beginner's
  • Hutton, Ronald.  Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain.
  • King, John Robert. The Celtic Druids' Year: Seasonal Cycles of the Ancient Celts.
  • Kondratiev, Alexei.  The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. 
  • LaChapelle, Dolores.  Earth Festivals: Seasonal Celebrations for Everyone Young and Old. 
  • Montley, Patricia.  In Nature's Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth.
  • Starhawk, and Nightmare, M. Macha. The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Meditations, and Blessings on Crossing Over.
  • White, Julie, and Talboys, Graeme K.  Arianrhod's Dance: A Druid Ritual Handbook.
Sustainable living:
  • Bach, David. Go Green Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying. 
  • Gow McDilda, Diane. 365 Ways to Live Green: Your Everyday Guide to Saving the Environment.
  •  Hayes, Shannon.  Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture.
  • Horn, Greg. Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainability.
  • Kellogg, Scott, and Pettigrew, Stacy.  Toolbox for Sustainable City Living.
  • Scott, Nicky. Composting: An Easy Household Guide.
  • Scott, Nicky. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Easy Household Guide.
  • Trask, Crissy, It's Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth Friendly Living.
  • Kornfield, Jack.  After the Ecstasy, The Laundry. 
  • Steindl-Rast, David. Common Sense Spirituality.
  • Kornfield, Jack.  Meditation for Beginners.
  • Lang, Diane.  Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach.
  • Sadhu, Mouni.  Concentration: A Guide to Mental Mastery.
  • Wood, Ernest.  Concentration:  An Approach to Meditation.
Healing and Movement
  • Cohen, Ken.  The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing
  • Cowan, Thomas S., Fallon, Sally, and McMillan, Jaimen.  The Fourfold Path to Healing: Working with the Laws of Nutrition, Therapeutics, Movement, and Meditation in the Art of Medicine.
  • Davis, Deborah.  Women's Qigong for Health and Longevity: A Practical Guide for Women Over Forty.
  • Frantzis, Bruce. Tai Chi: Health for Life. This is a theoretical book, not a how to manual, but something to put it all in perspective.
  • Friedman, Suzanne.  Heal Yourself With Qigong: Gentle Practices to Increase Energy, Restore Health, and Relax the Mind.
  • Lam, Paul.  Tai Chi for Beginners and the 24 Forms.  
  • Roth, Gabrielle. Maps to Ecstasy: The Healing Power of Movement.
  • Roth, Gabrielle.  Sweat Your Prayers.
  • Fergus, Charles.  Trees of New England: A Natural History.
  • McKenney, Margaret, and Peterson, Roger Tory.  A Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North Central North America.
  • Petrides, George A., and Peterson, Roger Tory.  A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs: Northeastern and North-Central United States and Southeastern and South-Central Canada.
  • Sendak, Paul E.  Native and Naturalized Trees of New England and Adjacent Canada: A Field Guide.
  • Symonds, George W., and Chelminski, Stephen V.  Tree Identification Book: A New Method for the Practical Identification and Recognition of Trees.
  • Uva, Richard H., Neal, Joseph C., and Ditomaso, Joseph M.  Weeds of the Northeast.

    Druid groups

    I've been looking at the various druid groups to see which ones may be a match for me.  I think that I'm looking for a group which 1) offers a structured curriculum, 2) is open to people of all religions, rather than being specifically pagan, and 3) is not focused on the supernatural, and has something to offer for naturalistic druids.  The criteria lead me to:
     As a supplement to joining one of these groups, I may be interested in discussion forums, such as:
    There are also some smaller groups that sound appealing:
    I think that I am not interested in

      Pagan groups
      Avalon groups
     or these groups

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Druid blogs

    In my search to figure out whether druidry is the right path form me, I'm looking at some druid blogs. Here is what I've found:

    Clas Myrddin
    Druid Journal
    Earth Notes
    Karen-Ashley's Thoughts
    Meadowsweet and Myrrh
    PanIdaho's Grove
    Philip Carr-Gomm's Weblog
    The Sleeping Giant
    Snowhawke's Druidry Blog
    The Archdruid Report
    The Way Through the Forest
    Tools for Druid Comrades

    I was especially interested in the post on the Earth Notes blog titled A Druid Order for the 21st Century.


    One aspect of this blog has been a religious journey. Two years ago, I wrote describing my religious beliefs, struggling to figure out if I fit any known category. It turned out that I didn't fit any known category, because at that time, pantheism was not known to me. Some months later, I found pantheism, and then I knew what label to put on myself.

    But in time, I realized I was still looking for something. I have no doubt that I am a pantheist through and through, but pantheism is a theology. I still want a practice. I want to be part of a community. I want to work toward a better world with people who share my values. I want to get spiritual inspiration from rituals, lectures, readings, retreats, etc.

    A couple weeks ago, I found druidry. Perhaps it is what I am looking for. I am still exploring.

    There are many different druid groups. They are all different. Any statement I make about druidry will be true of some, but not true of others. I'll be focusing on the parts of druidry which I am thinking of embracing.

    Some things I like about druidry:
    • Druidry is open to monotheists, polytheists, pantheists, and atheists. It includes Christians, Pagans, Buddhists, and others.
    • Druidry is an earth-centered spirituality.
    • Druidry has roots in Celtic cultures. I value being able to do something that is in line with my own cultural heritage, rather than just borrowing other people's cultural heritages.
    • Druidry provides a spiritual core which links my interests in music, sustainable living, being outdoors, and treating all people with respect.
    • Druids were scholars, judges, diplomats, and healers. They were keepers of knowledge and wisdom. It is important to me to be part of a religion which is not just internally focused, but which seeks to heal the world.
    • Druidry emphasizes sustainable living.
    • Druidry encourages learning and reasoning.
    • Druidry encourages a hands-on approach to life.
    • Druidry celebrates music.
    I still have some doubts. Which of the many druid groups are right for me? Some are more unstructured than what I'm looking for, while others seem more authoritarian than what I'm looking for. Some are more oriented toward the supernatural than I am. Some are more pagan than I am.

    True, it's possible to be a druid in your own way, without connecting to any organization. But what I'm seeking is something more structured than what I've found in pantheism.