Guided by Elen, Brighid and the Green Man, the members of Hazelwood Grove of the Druid Clan of Dana are called to honour the Earth in all her many guises; to walk her paths lightly, wherever they may lead; and to hail the light in all. Just as there is no one way to honour the gods and goddesses and wild spirits of place, there is no one path for us; we gather in a circle of cooperative leadership, friendship, music, art, ritual, meditation and healing. We follow the spiraling in and out of life’s paths and we heed the call to the wilds, the mystery, and we echo that call to all like-minded beings.
Got distracted and read Graeme Tallboys The Druid Way Made Easy. Still processing. I liked most of but have some questions about the last chapter.
The Ancient Druids had a gift that we don’t have. I wrote about living with your senses yesterday. The Ancient Druids had no choice in the matter. You couldn’t ignore day to day needs in ancient times like we do. The only real need we deal with is eating and the eventual need that comes after eating and even that is sanitized.
They had to deal with their food in a much more present way even if it was someone else’s job to take care of the cows or pigs or go hunting. They still would be confronted with the consequences of living with animals and since cows were a main currency of wealth for the Gaels I bet most at least knew how to milk a cow and the consequences of what happens when you don’t milk a cow on time. It isn’t pretty. It hurts the cow, (your wealth) and if it hurts her it probably is going to hurt you when she kicks you because she has sore teats. They had to deal with human and animal waste or pay the consequence of getting ill.
I’m sure when it was harvest time, every one able and available was going to be pressed into service. It’s hard to say “no” when you are going to expect to be fed.
They would have known how to fill a lamp or make a candle and would have been aware of the smell of tallow versus the smell of a more expensive beeswax candle and would have been aware of the danger in gathering that beeswax and the honey that comes in the comb. They probably knew where the nearest bee tree was if they didn’t keep bees in woven straw hives.
We take so much for granted because we can go to the supermarket to purchase an apple in any season and not worry that because it’s almost spring there may be no apples left in the root cellar and the preserved ones in the jars are running low. That having a fresh apple off the tree only was going to happen in fall.
We go to the store to buy candles and usually don’t make our own and even then we are using different candles from our ancestors who would not have known what paraffin or soy candles were. And we go to the store even then to buy beeswax to make a candle all nice and in blocks with no danger to us. We don’t have to render fat to make a tallow candle.
If you wanted to go somewhere and weren’t using shanks mare you would have been riding a horse or a donkey or mule and would have known how to take care of your beast. That you had to take care of its hooves and brush it and feed it things that would be good for it and to make share you carried its food as well as yours with you. We would have know what the dropping of a healthy animal smelled like versus one that was not. When was the last time you smelled horse poop in most cities? Or smelled cow manure any place but a lawn?
So what’s my point? It is so much easier for us to live in our heads. We are confronted with the information of our senses in a way that makes us pay attention to it. We can sit in a hermetically sealed house with central air and we didn’t have to split a log or dig some peat to heat it. We get in a car and close the windows and ride sealed away from the outside and then we go into our place of employment with sealed windows and circulating stale air that has been breathed by many other people before it got to us and went back through the air filtration system and we repeat it day after day with little change and from this we get trapped away from the world and how it really should work and then we get trapped in our head.
I will be eternally grateful to my grandmother and my parents believed it was important to know I was part of the natural world and not separate from it. My grandmother used to take me around the neighborhood and introduce me to the trees. I can remember a particularly gnarled old carob tree that always seemed to send me home with enormous carob pods that were bigger than the other carob tree’s on the block. She is also the one that taught me to talk to the whales at Marineland and on a trip to the San Diego Zoo got the keeper of the aviary to let me hold and feed a toucan. I still remember being in close proximity to the beautiful blue eye and huge colourful beak.
Mom and her best friend took us to Descanso Gardens and by the time I was 6 I was taking classes there in natural history and being part of their indentured service corps. (I still hate dividing Iris. I remember looking over the bed and thinking it was never going to end.) We went to the LA Arboretum, the old and the new LA Zoo. The family went to the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden every Easter vacation. And family vacations were to Yosemite and the Gold Country or the Redwoods or on one memorable one to Luther Burbank’s house. Dad took us to farms and the dairy that was at the end of the street for many years to see how cows lived and where our milk came from.
We were expected to play outdoors. When we were living in the valley my favourite perch was reading in the apricot tree or under the grape arbor or I was tending my small garden. (I should have been arrested for radish abuse.) When we got to Glendale it was on the swing set under the redwood or by the pond or up in the tree house in our huge old carob tree complete with rope and pulley and trap door ladder. It was one of the few places I wasn’t afraid of heights and I should have been because it was equal in height to the top of the second story.
But working at camps was where I learned the most about living as part of the land. The first camp that I was employed at had a barnyard so that kids learned where their food came from. We had goats, chickens, bunnies, sheep, mules, horses and pigs that all had to be cared for daily. It’s hard not to involve all your sense when you taking care of animals. You know what they smell like. You know what their skin and fur feel like. You know the sounds they make. You make eye contact. You learn if they are in pain or feeling good. You even learn to love or hate some of them. (I freely admit I hate, loathe and despise banty roosters and I have no problem whatsoever in eating a chicken. It’s just revenge and retribution for the pain inflicted on me.) I eat animals but I know what I am eating and whose life was taken and that it didn’t simply appear nicely packaged in cellophane. That there was a cost to that life and I am thankful for that life. We learned what happened when coyotes attacked and about losing animals. (Not sorry when it got the banty rooster.)
We lived outside. At one camp we were totally outside 24 hours a day. We knew there were bears and coyotes and mountain lions and rattlesnakes around and we were just one piece of the ecosystem that was camp. You don’t have that awareness many times if you haven’t lived like that at least for awhile.
Recent studies have shown plants and trees have shown decision making abilities and protection responses that protect the other plants and trees around them when threatened so as far as I’m concerned vegans and vegetarians are being speciesist or animal chauvinists.
Anyway back to my point. We focus on what the ancient Druids might have been thinking but forget that they were never divorced from their environment like we often choose to be. We can’t compare ourselves to them unless we replicate also their care for the world around them. We have to “be” outside in the world. We, 1st world people have to make a choice to go outside, to be part of the environment and ecosystem and not be head heavy indoor beings. We need to stop thinking about it and do, be and live.