Sunday, June 29, 2014

This is my life

This is my life. I don't know how long it will be.  At best, it's probably nearly half done.  Even if it lasts, I could lose something -- my vision, my mobility, anything.  This is my life, this moment right here.  How do I want to spend it?  I think by sitting on my balcony on this beautiful day, gazing at blue sky and at green leaves fluttering in the breeze.

Tai chi

I took tai chi early in my druid studies, July 2010-April 2011.  I took it to fulfill a requirement for the AODA curriculum.  At that we had to choose one from a list of areas of study.  One area of study was healing, and one of the requirements was to study a healing art.  I chose tai chi as my healing art.  In December 2010, the AODA curriculum changed, and allowed greater freedom for choosing an area of study.   It  required that we spend at least 20 hours studying our chosen area.  I had already spent more than 20 hours on tai chi.  I did continue with tai chi at that time, but that when we got to the end of the 24 forms, I chose to quit.  I think one of the things that bothered me was that the teacher seemed annoyed at me for not being better at it.  I didn't really feeling paying someone to act annoyed at me.

This summer, they started offering tai chi on lunch hour at my workplace.  I have been to two classes so far.  So far, so good.  I have also been feeling very healthy the past few weeks.  It is possible that the tai chi is the reason, but it seems unlikely that such a small amount of tai chi would have sudden and dramatic effects, especially since it did not have that effect when I was doing it before.

The renewal of my tai chi practice inspired me to take another look at a book I bought when I started tai chi a few years ago, Tai Chi for Beginners and the 24 Forms by Paul Lam and Nancy Kaye.  Much of what I see in the book is like druidry, but there are also places where I feel a sense of cultural incompatibility.  The stories that don't resonate with me culturally:
Chen Fa-ke was sickly and weak as a child....Chen was supposed to be learning too, but he didn't.  He was either too lazy or just not interested...Chen's physical weakness had become an embarrassment to him....Chen used every available minute to practise....Chen had done all the hard work on his own.
Chen style was not taught to outsiders.  But Yang was so eager to learn that he pretended to be a starving beggar and....was then taken in and accepted as a servant in the Chen household....Yang would peer through a crack in the wall to watch Chen-style tai chi practice, and then practise in secret....In those days, Yang could have been legally executed for such and act....Yang Lu-chan remains an extreme example of how one can become so addicted to tai chi that one is willing to risk one's life.
What bothers me in these stories is that they are trying to teach the lesson that you can do anything if you are really dedicated and work really hard at it.  To me, these particular stories have a distinctly Chinese flavor to them.  In American culture, we have a similar idea, it just has a different flavor.  In Chinese culture, it seems there is more of an emphasis on dedicated study, while in American culture, there is more emphasis on bold risk-taking, but either way, I don't like it when cultures perpetuate the idea that you can do anything you want if you try hard enough.  That's demeaning for the people who actually can't do something.

Now, what are the things I did like in the book, things that sounded to me much like druidry?  Meditation is part of druidry, and tai chi is a form of meditation.  Both tai chi and meditation include consciousness of breathing and being present in the moment.  The section in the book on qigong breathing reminded me of druidry's Sphere of Protection.  Both are about standing, doing some basic movements, and feeling the life force within and around you.  The concept of yin and yang in tai chi is like the concept of giamos and samos from The Apple Branch.  Druidry is about seeing the world in a cyclical way, the way the year turns from season to season.  The tai chi book says on page 106:
Nature goes in circles.  Fast complements slow.  Full moon alternates with no moon.  It's in our nature to be stressed and relaxed, depressed and happy, moving fast and slow -- as long as appropriate balance is achieved.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Watched TV. Got depressed. I should know better.  It's just after working hard all the time, I just want to sink into a fictional world. It's so tempting. But it always makes me depressed.

When I say I watched TV, what I mean is I watched Buffy DVDs. I'm finishing off season 6.  I think this may be only the second time I've watched these episodes.  There are others that I've watched more times.

What I did not remember, what I may have missed the first time, was how Buffy was over-protective of Dawn throughout season 5 and 6, and how that fueled Dawn's rebellious behavior, but in the finale of season 6, Buffy finally sees her way to support Dawn's empowerment.

Season 6 resonates with me.  It's about being stuck being a grownup, there are things that you just have to do, like go to a sucky job, because you have to do it and there's no one to take care of you.  It's about feeling detached from the people around you.  It's about wanting to escape from the hard dreariness of reality.  One time, Buffy is shifting between two realities.  Sometimes she's in her regular world.  Other times she is in a mental hospital, being told that she has schizophrenia, and all that we have seen in the 6 seasons of the show has been part of her delusion.  In that reality, her mother did not die and her parents did not get divorced.  Her parents tell her that they love her and want to take her home and take care of her.  She longs for that reality to be the real one.  That's what I long for too, to have all the bad things go away, to just be loved and taken care of.

When I get lost in a fictional world, whether it's a DVD or a novel, it triggers depression, and what I feel in the depression is that I'm always working so hard, and people are always saying it's not enough.  People always want me to be different.  I long for someone to just say that I'm okay as I am, that I don't have to try to be something else.  That's not as straightforward as it sounds.  I mean, if I am bustling around trying to organize things, I don't want someone to say, "stop working so hard.  I like you anyway."  I want someone to say, "I see you bustling around organizing things, and I like you that way."  I don't want people telling me to cheer up. I want people who can live with my darkness.  That's why I liked Buffy's relationship with Spike.  Because he's not going to tell her to cheer up.

I need another way to cope.  Escaping reality with fiction just makes me miserable.  I need a way to unwind that doesn't make me worse.  I know things that work: music, dance, being outdoors, connecting with other people, being mentally engaged in a task.  But when the time comes when I need something, I have this strong feeling that I don't want to do those things.  But maybe I can have a strong will and do the things that I know will help me even when I don't feel like it.

I found a video on Facebook the other day of a kid singing "My Roots Go Down," a song written by Sarah Pirtle.  I could learn that song and sing it when I'm feeling down.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding pantheism

Looking back at old blog posts.  October 4, 2008, I wrote a post called, "What is My Religion?"  I described a pantheist theology, but I did not know there was a word for it.  My first post that mentions pantheism is October 31, 2008.

Around that time, I read a book about paganism.  It mentioned druidry, but not in such a way that I knew druidry was what I was looking for.  It talked like paganism was all about Wicca.  Later, when I started to think that druidry might be my thing, I found some information on druid groups, but the one I ended up joining, AODA was not listed on all the lists.

It takes time sometimes, to find out the name of what you are so you can find others with the same interest.  But now that we have the internet, we can find it so much faster than people could in the past.

More names to meditate on

It is June now.  Before that it was May.  May, June, and April are considered women's names.  They are the only months that are commonly used as human names.  Nearly a year ago, June 15, 2013, I made a list of names to meditate on.  I did meditate on a few, but not many.  I don't regularly meditate any more, but I'm trying to get back to meditation and other druid practices.  As I get back to meditation, I can get back to that list of names to meditate on from last year.  And I can add the names that are months.  At least June and May.  Some how April as a name does not speak to me.  It's just a sense that I could be named May or June, but I would not be named April.  And the other name to also meditate on is Skydancer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's a parade

Parade: people the community wish to honor walk down the street, while people cheer for them.

They have the mayor, city council members, soldiers, veterans, police, firefighters, marching bands, baton twirlers, and flag twirlers.

I think they should have nurses, teachers, social workers, and farmers.  They should have the people who take away our waste for recycling or composting.  They should have the people who teach our kids how to garden and how to fix bicycles.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


A video posted on Facebook.  A group of friends at a place that looks like some sort of exercise room, like a yoga studio.  Everyone is shoeless and dressed for exercise, generally in a t-shirt and sweatpants.  Three of the friends are crouched on the ground, side by side.  The other friends are in a line, taking turns.  Each one runs up to the crouched friends and leaps over them.  They land on their hands and then somersault forward.  At least that's what the first four people do.

The fifth person hesitates.  The person taking the video urges him on.  Finally he takes his turn.

The first four people leaped over the 3 crouched friends and landed beyond them on their hands.  The fifth person lands lying down on top of the 3 crouched friends.

Sometimes I feel bad that I'm so bad at morris dancing.  But you know what, I'm in good company.  That fifth person in the video was my brother.  Being a klutz is in my genes.

And it's not just my relatives who are klutzes.  Some other very fine people are also klutzes.  In fact, the people I like include a disproportionate number of klutzes.  What I like is people who are sincere rather than slick, and that's why I like klutzes.

I'm very fond of my morris dance teacher as a friend, but she's not a great teacher.  I wish I had a different teacher.  But you know what? She's a klutz too! I think that's one reason it's hard to learn from her.  When I watch her movements, it's hard to follow them, because they are klutzy.

But she's the morris dance teacher because she has mastered the dances.  She is a klutz and she has mastered the dances.  That means I can master the dances too.

Plain speaking

I tend to tune out messages meant to manipulate me.  There are a lot of the things on the internet that try to manipulate people into clicking, liking, or sharing by saying things like:

  • What your doctor won't tell you
  • What Obama doesn't want you to know
  • 95% of people can't solve this puzzle.  Share if you can figure it out.
  • Like this post if you care about people with cancer.  Most of my friends won't bother.  
Another type of manipulation is companies that try to get you to buy things by telling you that you are getting a discount.  For example, "The real price of this item is $14.95, but we'll give it to you for $12.95."

No, the real price is $12.95, because that's what you're selling it for.  

Sellers, if you tell me how much you are charging for something, I'll decide if I want to buy it or not.  But if you try to manipulate me into buying it, I'll walk away on principle. If you try to manipulate me into buying something, that tells me that your interest is not in providing me a quality product at a fair price, but rather in manipulating me into buying something, whether I want it or not.

And, people who write things on the internet, if I see something that seems interesting and honest, I'll read it, and if I like what I read, maybe I'll re-post it.  But if I see something that tries to manipulate me into clicking, liking, or sharing, then I will not read it.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why fret

You worry too much. You think too much.

Yes, sometimes I do. But the reason why I do is because something is not right.  I don't always know exactly what is not right, or how to fix it, but I know something is not right, so I grapple with it.  I try to figure out what is wrong. I try to figure out what is the solution.  Maybe a lot of the things I come up with are wrong.  Maybe some things that I identify with problems really are okay, so I should stop worrying about them. 

Yes, I know you think I should just appreciate what I have.  But something is not right.  I don't have the diagnosis or the solution, but I need you to trust my instinct that something is not right.

Cats in windows

House with windows close to sidewalks
Blinds closed
Prying eyes must not peep in

Cats don't care about prying eyes
Cat sits between window and blinds
From her throne upon the windowsill
She inspects all who pass along the sidewalk

Pedestrians dare not transgress
For the cat is watching every step

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I think and I write about my thoughts and I try to figure out what to do with my life and I make a plan and I make a list.

Then I go out morris dancing on a summer evening, and none of that matters.  It's just pure enjoyment.  Life is to be enjoyed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Seeking a spiritual community from which to change the world

Changing the world sounds all grand and stuff, but the implementation tends to involve a lot of meetings and paperwork and washing of dishes and other not so glamorous stuff.

I understand that.  I don't expect changing the world to be all glamorous.  I can actually be good with meetings and paperwork.

But I do feel there is something missing from some efforts to change the world, and that's a spiritual center.

I mean, it's missing for me.  Some people prefer to change the world in a non-spiritual way.

The college I attended had a spiritual center.  I didn't like it in all ways. The things I didn't like about  my college were mostly ways that individuals didn't all share that spiritual core that was integral to the institution.  I didn't like that some people seemed to just want to go to a reputable college so they could get a high status job afterwards.  I didn't like that some people thought the spiritual core was just about politics, the way that they were outraged about their liberal causes, rather than realizing seeking to see that spark of divinity in all people, even those they disagreed with.

So not everyone shared the values.  And I didn't always like it.  In fact, in recent years, I mostly think my life might have been better if I had chosen a different college.  But what I did like was being part of a community that had a spiritual core.

I want to be part of a community that is trying to make the world better, but I don't want to be part of a community that is trying to make the world better for no reason, or for some secular reason.  I want to work with others who share a spiritual core with me.

Making the world better is a team effort.  Different people focus on different causes.  Different people working on the same cause approach that cause in different ways.  We need everyone working together in order to make it happen.  But everyone working together is not just a bunch of individuals.  It is people who have formed into teams with like-minded people.  And I am seeking to be part of a team that shares some spiritual core with me.

Response to critics

I've been seeing another blogger defending herself against critics, and something about it troubles me.  I think my preference is to ignore critics.  I'm not sure that's right.  I do believe that we humans grow as a result of engaging with others.  If someone criticizes us, perhaps in refusing to engage, we limit our learning and growth.  But in my life, there have been times when listening to others took me away from my own path.  Sometimes certain pieces of advice didn't resonate with me, but I gave the person the benefit of the doubt and explored the path to which they directed me.  It seems to me that those explorations were to my detriment, because they took me away from my own path.  As I have grown older, I have come to believe that I need to give more trust to my own intuition.  I have come to understand that in most cases, I am really the best judge of what is right for me.

When we put ourselves out there, when we post things to the internet or publish books or whatever, we expose ourselves to all sorts of people, people who have no understanding of our values.  When someone puts themselves out there, others tend to take that as an invitation to engage, to debate, to criticize.

I do believe that it's valuable to exchange ideas with others, but sometimes people just argue and criticize without taking any time to understand where you are coming from.  It's not my job to educate those people.  It's my job to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and compassion.

Some people enjoy debate.  I don't.  Not like that.  I do enjoy a mutual engagement in search of ideas, but not debate that is based on attacking people.

So I leave.  I have quit internet discussions that became too argumentative.  I haven't really had negative comments, but if someone left a negative comment on my blog or Facebook page, I would delete it.

Some people would say that it's censorship.  It's not.  You can write whatever you want on your blog or your Facebook page, but mine is my own creation.  If Leonardo da Vinci was painting a painting and someone came along and painted across it, wanting to remove that intrusive paint stroke is not censorship.  You make your painting and I make my painting.  It's only censorship if you paint over someone else's painting.

Walking with nature

The sound that surrounds me: The Beatles:
love is old, love is new
love is all, love is you

The sight that surrounds met: Leaves on trees:

This season of leave on trees soothes my soul.

The touch that surrounds me:
Summer breezes wafting over my skin

Druids, pantheists find the sacred in nature.

No, nature is not all kitten and puppy sweet.

If we think that, it's because we spend the harsh weather indoors, with heat in winter and air conditioning in summer.  Walls keep out mosquitoes and bears.  Roofs keep off rain, snow, hail.  We walk in cultivated gardens.  Mowed lawns.  Trimmed hedges.  Planted flowers bloom with beauty.  It is only those who think they have tamed nature who see nature all sweet and beauty.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes.  Floods. Mudslides.  Those are nature too.

As druids and pantheists, it is our responsibility to fully see nature.  In seeing it, we still find sacredness there.

Our life comes from nature -- our food, our clothing, our shelter.  We have this high-tech consumer society that teaches us to forget where things come from.

Being a spiritual person means seeing our connectedness with the world around us -- with humans, with animals, with plants, with the soil, with the air, with the sky.

Humans have evolved such that certain things stimulate their sense of spirituality, and being in nature is one of them.  Others include singing, dancing, chanting, and art.

I live here in this world.  I'm trying to find my way.  I see the leaves. They soothe my soul.

Trees swayed by storms.  Sometimes sway is all the do.  Sometimes big branches crash to the ground.  Sometimes the entire tree crashes to the ground.

But as long as the live, they live as trees, persevering as they can.  I do not believe that a maple longs to be a sycamore.  A grace I do not have.  I see other humans and I think I'm not as good.

Let me live as a tree, standing as myself, not trying to be another.

Anything that provides healing, inspiration, awareness can be a guide.

I pray that I find my way.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Walking around the house barefoot in tank top and shorts
Freedom of movement
I think my body moves differently in summer.
More loose
More free