Low Church Druidry

It’s a no frills Druidry, a “my whole life is a ritual” Druidry. It’s “hold the bells and whistles” Druidry (sort of).

It’s like the Low Church rather than the High Church, more like Protestantism than Catholicism, or more like philosophical Taoism than religious Taoism – if I’m to name any precedents.

It’s not that I don’t do ritual, I do, but I see the whole of life as a living, breathing ritual, which makes formal, scripted ritual a bit superfluous. Although, I must say, sometimes it’s fun to suspend disbelief and just let imagination mingle with the world through symbolic actions and objects. But that’s art, something I can do through writing stories and drawing pictures.

Okay, sometimes I do indulge in “bells and whistles” Druidry, I can’t deny it has its fun and creative side, but the symbols are just symbols, signposts to something else, that’s all. There’s a living, breathing reality that they represent, where my druidry is getting to grips with the grit of life.

Jane’s Journey

The other day I saw Jane’s Story on DVD (El viaje de Jane).

Of course I’ve heard of Jane Goodall, of course I know that she has worked with chimpanzees, but I didn’t know the activist side of her work, which extends to more than just protecting chimps and their habitats. Through projects like Roots and Shoots she’s working to educate and give people a way to take initiative.

The only reason we need to “save the chimps/whales/planet” is because we aren’t saving ourselves. If we would “save ourselves” the planet wouldn’t have so many problems. And in a way that’s what Jane Goodall has been doing, giving people the opportunity to “save themselves”, and not become another cause of problems on this beautiful planet.

After Life

There are two ways to interpret this: will I still exist after I die? or in what sort of state will I be leaving the world in?

Both concern continuity, but one is continuity of an ego, whilst the other is continuity of world and my actions in it. When I think of dying, am I thinking of myself or of the world? Which is more important?

My priorities have changed, and now my concerns have become far less “unworldly” and now I look more to what is happening in the world and how I leave it behind. The afterlife can wait, if there is one. I am “incarnated”, and I will not dishonour this incarnation by seeking something has no relevance to my living, breathing, bodily existence.

So when I ask myself “what next” it is always about the after-life that lives beyond my mortal limit, the continuity that transcends me. I am living a life and from this living arise consequences that will affect those that live after me; I don’t live in a bubble where I don’t affect the world and the world doesn’t affect me.

Continuity is found in the living breathe embodiments that live beyond and after me; it is a flame that passes down through time, and it my honour to carry this flame for a while and then pass it to others.

Sorry for my English, I’m English

I got a few books on grammar recently and have realised just how much I knew and how much I don’t know. It’s very good. It’s appalling.

I thought I had a good grasp on apostrophes, but I seem to have got confused on a point. When a name or noun ends in an s then there’s no need to put an s after the possesive apostrophe. I’d developed a little quirk from this misinterpretation, so instead of saying James’s I would say James’. Although maybe I’m right, and what I hear and read is wrong. Oh dear, I’m confused now.

And now I’ve discovered a little bit more of what to do with colons, semi-colons, dashes and hyphens I don’t know what to do with them I’ve been relying on commas, full stops and brackets in their place. I didn’t even know the difference between dashes and hyphens so all hyphens have been called dashes. And now I’m not sure if I’m constructing my sentences okay. What did they learn me in school? I ask you!

I often encounter people (non-English) that apologise for not speaking English well, which makes me laugh because, at times, I’d have to apologise about the same thing! Or even describe to their unbelieving ears that I know plenty of English people that speak and write worse. If you’ve learnt English as a second language you’re probably more familiar with Standard English than I am.

Never mind about Spanish or French, I should be ironing the kinks out of my English. I think I need to go back to school, so I can learn me to talk proper.

Background or Story?

That is the question!

What’s more important in fiction writing, the background or the story?

I have to confess that I find it much more interesting to build up a whole world, inventing places, peoples, religions, creatures and societies than I do writing the actual story, which can often seem laborious. So whilst writing a story I could easily get sidetracked into explaining the world which my characters are moving around in.

But that’s the challenge if I am to write a novel: how do I keep the story flowing and yet also introduce the context without interrupting the flow? The trick is to do it in little bits so that the reader can build up a fairly comprehensive picture and just keep the characters doing stuff and talking.

And if there’s so much information about the world that I can’t share it all in a novel I can always add it as an appendix a la Tolkein, or even write a special encyclopedia for it! lol

Erewhon

I was interested by this book. I went into the library and found the English section (mostly novels) and saw Erewhon. It had some very interesting ideas, two of which I shared recently in quotes. A man from England finds himself in an unknown land with an unknown civilisation: Erewhon (an anagram of Nowhere). But it doesn’t really follow his story; it’s more of a reflection on Erewhonian society, and underneath this is Samuel Butler’s satire of Victorian society.

If you want to read the book online then go here: Erewhon.

Another Erewhonian Quote

““There was a time when the earth was to all appearance utterly destitute both of animal and vegetable life, and when according to the opinion of our best philosophers it was simply a hot round ball with a crust gradually cooling. Now if a human being had existed while the earth was in this state and had been allowed to see it as though it were some other world with which he had no concern, and if at the same time he were entirely ignorant of all physical science, would he not have pronounced it impossible that creatures possessed of anything like consciousness should be evolved from the seeming cinder which he was beholding? Would he not have denied that it contained any potentiality of consciousness? Yet in the course of time consciousness came. Is it not possible then that there may be even yet new channels dug out for consciousness, though we can detect no signs of them at present?

“Again. Consciousness, in anything like the present acceptation of the term, having been once a new thing—a thing, as far as we can see, subsequent even to an individual center of action and to a reproductive system (which we see existing in plants without apparent consciousness)—why may not there arise some new phase of mind which shall be as different from all present known phases, as the mind of animals is from that of vegetables?

“It would be absurd to attempt to define such a mental state (or whatever it may be called), inasmuch as it must be something so foreign to man that his experience can give him no help towards conceiving its nature; but surely when we reflect upon the manifold phases of life and consciousness which have been evolved already, it would be rash to say that no others can be developed, and that animal life is the end of all things. There was a time when fire was the end of all things: another when rocks and water were so.”

Samuel Butler, Erewhon

Quote from Erewhon

“They say at other times that the future and the past are as a panorama upon two rollers; that which is on the roller of the future unwraps itself on to the roller of the past; we cannot hasten it, and we may not stay it; we must see all that is unfolded to us whether it be good or ill; and what we have seen once we may see again no more. It is ever unwinding and being wound; we catch it in transition for a moment, and call it present; our flustered senses gather what impression they can, and we guess at what is coming by the tenor of that which we have seen. The same hand has painted the whole picture, and the incidents vary little—rivers, woods, plains, mountains, towns and peoples, love, sorrow, and death: yet the interest never flags, and we look hopefully for some good fortune, or fearfully lest our own faces be shown us as figuring in something terrible. When the scene is past we think we know it, though there is so much to see, and so little time to see it, that our conceit of knowledge as regards the past is for the most part poorly founded; neither do we care about it greatly, save insofar as it may affect the future, wherein our interest mainly lies.” Samuel Butler, Erewhon

Comics in Spanish

Sometimes the best places to start reading are kids books and comics, anything with pictures and images so that you can see what’s going on as well as read what’s going on. The other day I picked up an old copy of the Uncanny X-Men from the library in Spanish – La imposible Patrulla-X. I’ve been able to read some Spanish for a while now, and have already read through two books, but usually I have to think about what I am reading. However, the other day I got to the bottom of one page and realised… I hadn’t thought about what language I was reading! I just understood what I was reading without thinking about it.

Being able to read Spanish I realise that I can also understand other Latin-based languages to a lesser or greater degree like Catalan, French, Portuguese and Italian. If I can learn Spanish, why not expand on my repertoire! I already understand some French since I hear it each and every day as well as Spanish. After that Catalan is just a step away.

The other day I managed to get into a short conversation with a Catalan plumber in Spanish about the weather and dogs – so it’s not just English then. I could understand him and I could make myself understood too, which is always a pleasant suprise. Makes me wonder just how much my brain has changed in learning Spanish and some French.

Firewood Meditation

There’s something deeply satifying about chopping wood, it’s almost a meditation. With each chop I felt “at one” with axe and wood; the axe head just fell and met in exactly the spot needed to cut the wood, and the wood just fell apart. It’s a very Zen moment, or even a Jedi moment: you just “feel the Force”, let it guide you and the wood is split. I’m reminded of Chang Tzu’s Carving Up an Ox.

Even if it didn’t go as perfectly as that all the time there’s still a sense of being centred in what you’re doing, so as to cut the wood well, so as not to damage the axe and also to not cause injury to yourself or anyone around you. It is an activity that needs more care and precision than brute strength.

But even more than the activity, today I felt meditative because the seasons are changing very visibly now. After months of hot sun, clouds are returning and the days are getting shorter and colder. We’ll need firewood before long. But today I wasn’t just chopping wood, I was preparing myself for the changing seasons and honouring this change too.