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Day 18 Inspirations – Storytelling and Myth – 30 days of Druidry

Terry Pratchett says in his book series, The Science of Discworld, that man really should be called pan narrans (the storytelling ape) not homo sapiens (the wise man). Humans tell stories, we tell lies, we make up worlds and ways of being and doing things and wisdom seldom comes into the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world. We don’t know if other animals can tell stories but I know we do.

One of the main functions of Druidry has always been the telling of tales, the recording of a view of history, listing of laws and genealogies. These were seldom written down. They were memorized and kept for the next generation to do the same.

We, who are Bards, tell stories. We make new myths and we interpret old ones in ways that hopefully, entertain and educate our audiences. And the stories aren’t just fictional ones but ones about the world we live in and the one we hope to live in, in the future.

I love to tell stories that the Littlest Druid tells me or the ones that BunniHoTep or the Heart Town Witch tell me but I got my degree as a Naturalist Interpreter to tell other stories. I love to explain why things on Gaia happen the way they do. Why do flowers bloom and who they choose to flirt with. Why fires are sometimes beneficial to a forest. Why is the sky blue? How owls hunt at night so silently? All the WHY? questions we asked as children and were told too often to be quiet about and so we shut up about the wonders that surround us every day.

One of my earliest memories was getting found at the dining room table at dawn by my mom and having to explain that I got up to write a poem about autumn leaves because I couldn’t sleep until I finished it. I have no idea how old I was but since I learned to read at three and writing took longer, I may have been 5 at the time.

I grew up listening to my Grandmother’s stories of our family history, stories of faeries, stories from Scottish history. I listened to my Dad’s tales of the Depression and WWII, about having to be a hobo because home wasn’t where he wanted to be. Stories of his family and where they had come from in Scotland. Stories of life on an Illinois farm and losing his mom when he was little.

When I worked at camps we told stories every night and we sang all day long and at campfires at night. We sang songs that told of a world that wasn’t perfect but could come closer to the world we wanted where everyone was equal and treated fairly. Where the Earth was taken care of and appreciated. A world that was free. We told Tajar tales and Pooh stories. We told stories of the camp guardians. We wrote songs and stories about our life. I guess I just never grew out of that.

Telling stories is what humans do to explain things to themselves and their children. I’m still telling stories and I always will.

WRONG!

Just saw the world’s dumbest meme picture which I am not going to share from some well intentioned but scientifically illterate person on FB. “A flower is a prayer”. People, a flower is not a prayer. It’s advertising for sex, period. Flowers are nature’s whores. Some are expensive call girls but they are still blatant floozies putting themselves out there for some creature be it, bees, butterflies, birds, flies, moths or any other animal that comes along to please, please, please pollinate me. Sometimes they even pay for the sex in honey or nectar. And then when they get pollinated they find all kinds of ways to spread themselves out all over to do it again. The hitchhike in socks, they fling themselves across long distances. They travel in birds and animals alimentary canals to be self fertilized, They float on water, they stick in fur. Some times they travel on the wind.

A Flower is a prayer, my aunt Fanny!

Day 17 Inspirations – Prayer and Meditation – 30 Days of Druidry

Meditation:

I don’t agree with the Eastern variety meditation. I don’t think you need stillness to reach a meditative state. I think we have forgotten how our ancestors would have reached that state and it wasn’t by sitting still in one place, there would have been too much work that needed doing. Most people in a farming/herding culture such as existed in the British Isles or on the continent would have thought modern meditation pretty stupid. They would have known there are other ways to reach a relaxed and clear mind and it’s very simple. It’s just that most of us can’t or won’t learn to do the things that can get there.

You want to learn to meditate as our ancestors did? Learn to knit, weave, embroider, card wool or spin, weed a garden, hoe a plot of land, plane or sand wood, string beads in patterns, in short, do something that takes your mind off you. Meditation in the Eastern model is too self-centered and quite selfish in a way. It’s all about you. Do something that’s repetitive and not about you. Create something for a friend or someone in need that takes a focus off you. Grind herbs for a tea or a poultice, make a healing salve, doing something that gets the focus off you, you, you. That doesn’t do you or anyone else any good. Make bread or something that has to beaten or worked into submission. Think about the good people will get from eating your food. Volunteer to stuff envelopes for a cause you believe in.

I think any of those things will easily put you into a relaxed state of mind and do more than sitting in stillness waiting for the bluebird of happiness to take a crap on your head.

Prayer:

Yes, I believe on prayer but not the ways of prayer I learned in Sunday School. I tend to follow the Celtic practice of threes and nines and asking what I need to do of nature. I ask it of the things around me not some god on a cloud far away. I ask it of the liminal places and times. When I pray to deity I pray to ones I know well and have a relationship with like Brighid or the Green Man and even then it’s usually for healing for someone else or protection for someone I love.

I also do spells since I firmly believe spells are just one form of prayer. Ask any Catholic what they are doing when they light a novena candle. They will tell you they are praying, any pagan will say when they light that candle they are doing a spell. Spells are just a form of prayer with a physical focus like a candle or a sachet or mojo bag. Intent -> will -> object of focus or intent = prayer for something you want to happen. I laugh when pagans tell me they don’t pray and I ask them if they practice spells or candle magic. Nooooo, they aren’t praying – pull the other one.

So yes, Druids pray and do meditation but most of the ones I know are pretty common sense and grounded about it, We are people of the Earth for the most part after all.

Day 16 Inspirations: Awen and Creativity

In the Welsh tradition, awen is the inspiration of the poet bards; or, in its personification, Awen is the inspirational muse of creative artists in general: the inspired individual (often, but not limited to being, a poet or a soothsayer) is described as an awenydd.

Awen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’m not sure why whoever made the meme said “and” when discussing the topic since awen would seem to be the essence of creativity especially since being creative is inextricably linked to inspiration. No inspiration and whatever you are doing sinks like a hot rock.

Creativity can be a rare and elusive beastie and sometimes just out of the corner of your eye or just out of reach and other times it possesses you to the point you can’t think of doing anything else. I find if I don’t act on an idea immediately it will disappear like a wraith that had never been.

My most creative time of day is right after I wake up because I have often dreamed an idea for a story or a piece of art or jewelry or even a song. I’m someone who likes to create with no one around so writing was a lot easier when I was off work. Now I have to try to focus and do it anyway but that doesn’t always work.

Patricia McKillip has said on her blog that she feels like her characters biographer and I know it’s that way for me. I tell what my characters want to say not the other way around. If I don’t they tend to shut up.

I’m at my most creative when I’m surrounded by nature. When I can hear birds singing and see trees and animals. It’s one of things I’ve loved about visiting my friends in Oregon. Their beautiful house is situated in a forest far from a town and deer come to visit morning and evening. They have birds visiting the feeders and owls in the woods. I have yet to figure out who it is, I know it’s not a Great Horned like I’m used to in the California mountains because the hoot is different from the Great Horned. Not nearly as deep or haunting on the night air.

I guess I’m not far off the ancient Druids who wrapped themselves in skins in caves to compose. I think they were doing the same thing I do, dreaming their composition. It’s when the brain is busy doing something else the creative part sometimes comes out to play. Doing menial tasks like housework or busy monotonous work can free the muse to roam around and bring a new thought.

Creativity can come at the sight of butterfly or at the sight of light coming through a leaf like green stained glass. It can come in the looping flight of a goldfinch or in what a silly mocking bird is mocking. It can come from looking at clouds stream like mare’s tails or in the smell of rain on a hot summer afternoon. It can come from a phrase of music or a line of poetry or story. It can come from trauma, a friend’s illness or a pet’s death. The key is to be open to the will of the wisp. I know I can’t command it to come. It just comes and sits lightly on my shoulder and I am in awe when it does. My heart and hands know what to do when she comes and I let them do their thing.

But most of all I think my creativity is created by love, things or people I love make me creative.

Because it’s already that kind of day

“Ladies First” by Shel Silverstein

Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first,”

Pushing in front of the ice cream line.

Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first,”

Grabbing the ketchup at dinnertime.

Climbing on the morning bus

She’d shove right by all of us

And there’d be a tiff or a fight or a fuss

When Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first.”

Pamela Purse screamed, “Ladies first,”

When we went off on our jungle trip.

Pamela Purse said her thirst was worse

And guzzled our water, every sip.

And when we got grabbed by that wild savage band,

Who tied us together and made us all stand

In a long line in front of the King of the land-

A cannibal known as Fry-’Em-Up Dan,

Who sat on his throne in a bib so grand

With a lick of his lips and a fork in his hand,

As he tried to decide who’d be first in the pan-

From back of the line, in that shrill voice of hers,

Pamela Purse yelled, “Ladies first.”