From the Secretary – Lughnasadh 2013

by Eibhlean

Lughnasadh 2013

Photo of Secretary Eíbhlean

Secretary Eíbhlean

Employing MailChimp as our Henge Membership Database and Media Campaign management system is a success. We continue to document and refine our processes ensuring consistency and solid follow-up on all membership related tasks.

The Gathering of the Keltrian Tribe and Annual Meeting was a wonderful event! Much gratitude to Stewart of the Woods and Firefly for all the imagination and work they put into making this gathering in Colorado Rockies a reality.

Please let us hear from you!  The beauty of our spirituality lies in our amazing diversity of talents.  Don’t hesitate to offer stories, ideas, music, rituals and research to share.  We all grow and are enriched by everyone’s unique expression of Life.

Walk with Wisdom, Strength and Gratitude,

Eibhlean/Owl
Secretary, Henge of Keltria

The Bard’s Path: Poetry – Life is the Challenge

Life is the Challenge

by Aauriane Veleda

To be, to give
to sorrow and live
to move through to light
seeking solace in the flight

to wander to and fro
and see not what the mind body knows
to find more than reflected
to look deep introspective

first forward and then back
coming out without regret
returning the path once taken
discovering the new lanes awakened

looking forward and looking back
seeing newness in every crease and crack
gentle folds of pure delight
tickle the senses and encourage further flight

so where do we go
to find that we already know
deep within the inner core
seeing and ye shall find
all the more.

daylights is to darkness
as sun is to moon
so inner is to outer
and the fish to the lune

find your place of now
reconcile with yourself denial
come full circle, turn around
pick up your dropped pieces
consume them now

return to your whole
strike new ground in your being
explore this new land
like a lover, with freedom

for life is a passion
too desperate in glory to quit
seek the spice and the season
and revel, roll and rejoice in it
Life is the challenge
Live It!

[amazon_enhanced asin="B007R6KBMW" /]

Review: Ensouling Language

Ensouling Language: 
    On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life

by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Review by Karl Schlotterbeck

TEnsouling Language Book Coverhis is a marvelous that is remarkable in a number of ways. I was excited by the title when I first heard about it. When it arrived, I was dismayed at its heft (463 pages); amused at the irony of its cover illustration of a quill; and sorry when I came to the end of it. In the first pages, I was captured by the little story he told so well to demonstrate the affection and meaningfulness of words, books, and experience. My expectation had been of a formulaic how-to book of which we see so many, but it was itself a journey into the place of perception and creativity where words are as alive as we are, and reveal their sacredness as containers of soul and of meaning – and how to get to that place. Buhner pulled me deeper and deeper into the subject – stacking up meaning behind the words like water behind a dam, as he would say.

In fact, Ensouling Language called me back into myself, a reminder to write for what might be communicated about the interiority of my subject in its meaningfulness, and in the fact writer and readers’ communication occur well beyond (or deeply within) black text on white page, deeper than the dictionary definition of words. Rather, it occurs in the heart of the matter – where creation and some spirit of the nature of things seek to express themselves through the human heart and tongue and hand, and to result in something larger than either.

I struggle to find a descriptor for what he does. He nudges us out of a little ego’s perspective with its petty needs for common currency and approval, out of our humanocentric viewpoint, and out of any illusions of being objective. Perhaps it is this very difficulty in trying to “reduce” his effort to an easy few words that affirms the beauty and depth of his work.

I found him sometimes speaking as a shaman, sometimes as an analytical psychologist, sometimes as a prophet or Druid – and this is the work’s most direct relevance for us. For Buhner, words are not just things to be used to fill the space around us, nor are they something we use to avoid our fears by yakking about superficial things. Nor are they a tool to try to bridge our loneliness as human beings; but they have the capacity to take us to a place of discovery, where our fears are created, where our loneliness is rewarded and relationship is intimate – whether that be with a tree, a dolphin, another person’s experience or our own. As he says:

These moments of touch with the nonhuman world are what the ancient Greeks – the Athenians – called aisthesis. The get to aisthesis, those moments when we are touched in return, our nonphysical touching must go deeper than merely feeling the world. It must go to the place where touching travels both ways. And this, very definitely extends awareness a great deal further than our society wants it to go. It involves a living exchange between the human and the nonhuman world, eventually, with the world itself. By engaging in that exchange, we break a very powerful cultural injunction that is present in many Western cultures. We abandon the view of life that does not allow us to extend interiority to dolphins or trees or stones. (p. 143)

His writing was, in many ways, watching a deft psychoanalyst pay attention to a person’s utterances and what they reveal about the speaker, how they may fall short of their purpose and thereby shows the hidden baggage of the writer. He notes how one’s unresolved and unreflected upon personal issues become revealed and how hiding those issues flatten the work. Facing then directly gives depth and richness. It’s like my own work as a psychologist: not just listening to what people say, but how they say it in terms of the words they use, the tone of voice, facial expression, body language and context.

Something in me found a home in this book or, perhaps I should say, several aspects of me found a common heart through his writing: Druid, shaman, psychologist, writer, poet.

This is an easy book to recommend for its meaningfulness, its intelligence, depth, and genuineness in practicing what it is prescribing. He challenges the readers’ ways of perceiving and relating to the world, meanings put into words, framing of propositions and need to beware of the inevitable hidden baggage. But it’s not directly about a philosophy of genuineness, depth and presence: it’s a how-to manual (as he reminds us). He addresses the tension between “proper” grammar and writing for impact, dealing with editors, publishers and contracts; getting help and the whole business of delivering one’s words to the readers who hunger for them.

This is a book I can highly recommend, not only for aspiring writers, but for anyone who wants to engage the world deeply and recognizes the value of words in the exchange.

Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Inner Traditions

Kindle Edition available!
File Size: 754 KB
ASIN: B00462RVFK

[amazon_enhanced asin="1594773823" /]

All Life is Sacred

Photo of Tony Taylor with deer staff

Tony Taylor

From the President

I recently received a question regarding Keltrian beliefs, in particular our stated belief: “We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.” The questioner wondered if members practice vegetarianism/veganism.

We often receive this question, so this is an opportunity to remind everyone that interpretation of this belief is really up to you.  It identifies the basis for your individual practice and it isn’t something that the Henge dictates as dogma.

Certainly, there are members who choose the vegetarian or vegan path. It is their own decision, which may be strengthened by their interpretation of this belief.  We, as the Henge, respect that interpretation and do our best to include a vegetarian option at gatherings sponsored by the Henge. However, the vast majority of Keltrian Druids are omnivore.

To me, the spirit of this belief reminds us that shooting an animal to eat may be a necessity to provide meat for a family. However, it must be taken with regard for the animal. On the other hand, shooting rabbits for “fun” from the back of a pickup is not honorable.  Likewise, I won’t squash a bug just because it was in the house; rather I  capture it, move it to the outside, and release it.  If there is a chance that I will be stung and go into anaphylactic shock, I may reconsider that plan. The point is that my actions are based upon regard.

The story of a remarkable young lady comes to mind. She was fourteen years old at the time.

We cherish children, however, kids can often get antsy and disrupt the concentration of the adults. This was not the case with this particular youngster. Not only did she contribute to the lesson discussions, she volunteered for ritual parts and did a better job than most of the adults.

Her family depended upon the fall deer kill to stock the freezer with meat for the winter. Her grandfather had already bagged his deer, so he took our little friend hunting to see what luck she would have. The night before the big hunt she called to ask me which goddess she should pray to for a successful hunt. I gave her a suggestion for which she thanked me and we hung up leaving me surprised and pleased that she thought of that detail.

The next evening she called again barely able to contain her excitement. She had indeed shot a doe. She went on to say that when she and her grandfather field dressed the deer, she insisted that the heart be buried where it fell. Grandfather grumbled because that was his favorite part, but he did as she asked. She offered a prayer of thanks to the deer’s spirit and the Goddess who guided her hand. She did this on her own with no adult prompting.

It’s our custom in the Grove to draw names for the Yule gift exchange. To my surprise and pleasure, she had my name and created a beautiful staff with one of the deer’s hooves on the top. Not only was the meat going to feed the family, but no part of that creature of nature went to waste.

This belief is really all about paying attention to what you are doing and not taking a life without thinking about it.

Walk with wisdom,
/|\ Tony

Druidism: The Druid and the Littlest Unitarian

By Tony Taylor & Wren Taylor

Photo of Wren & Tony Taylor

Wren & Tony Taylor

The small, dark haired girl eyed me owlishly. Her mother stood directly behind her with her hands resting lightly on the child’s shoulders. She explained that her daughter’s classmates told her that Druids were evil, and if she ever met one, surely she would be sacrificed to Satan in an instant. This is the reason that she brought the child to my presentation. The woman wanted her daughter to see for herself that people who follow a different religious path are nice, normal people, with jobs and kids.

I received an invitation to speak at a Unitarian church in suburban Minneapolis. The congregation was interested in learning more about paganism in general and more specifically Druidism. Dressed in a sport coat and tie, I focused on our similarities rather than our differences, and continued that theme into the question and answer period. The queries were intelligent and pointed.

As the end of the session neared, a gentleman said that I made my point regarding similarities; however, he was more interested in the differences. In a space that was just more than a heartbeat, I blurted out, “Dominion over the Earth.”  That’s when the fun began.

Relationship to Nature.

Druids of all types develop a personal relationship with the Earth. Understanding the three Celtic Worlds of Earth, Sea, and Sky is fundamental to Keltrian Druidism.  Also, developing a close relationship with all creatures, seen and unseen is important to many Druids. Within Druidism, nature is not separate from man nor was it given to man for his domination nor even stewardship. Nature is not something to be subdued nor overcome; people are a part of nature and need to live in harmony with it.

Archdruid Karl summarized it extremely well.  “One of the essential differences between mainstream Christianity and Druidry is traditional Christianity’s vision of self-fulfilling alienation: in alienating itself from the world, it also alienates humankind not only from direct contact with Divinity, but also from the natural world and from themselves as well. In that unnecessary chasm, “redemption” occurs only within a narrowly defined relationship with their nominally singular god and that god’s exclusive chosen people (or church). Thus, mainstream Christianity lives out a mythos of exile along with hope for only a partial redemption. It can never be whole because the wholeness of each human being is not admissible. It is a distortion of an ancient myth of incarnation that should result in ever-widening circles of soul-expansion that lead not only to a higher state, but a deeper one as well – roots growing not only into the heavens, but deeply into the earth as well.”

The connection that Druids have with the earth and all its creatures is a defining characteristic of Druidism.

Relationship to Divinity

Christians and Keltrian Druids have complex views of divinity.  Many Christians believe in one God; however, polytheism underlies much of Christian thought when describing the Trinity.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are often viewed and treated as individual entities. Druids embrace a wide range of perceptions regarding deity from monotheism to polytheism and even panpolytheism. Others hold the concept that individual gods and goddesses are aspects of or manifestations of a single, unifying, unmanifest deity.

One key difference is Keltrian Druids are not told what they must believe; rather, if they follow the ritual formula, they are practicing Keltrian Ritual. In Keltrian Druid practice, the individual is free to experience the gods and goddesses in a way that suits his or her sensibilities. The idea is that deity is flexible.  We do not dictate dogma.

Relationship to Life

Keltrian Druid belief #4 states, “We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.”  Druid practice encourages us to live life in its fullness and develop our spiritual relationships with this world, the Otherworld, and everything in our universe.  Animals and plants are not resources to be exploited nor dominated.  Rather, we seek cooperation with them.

As mentioned previously, man is not separate from the world.  Keltrian Druids interact with the divine and its endless aspects and manifestations in the natural world. We are not dependent upon external redemption nor a Messiah for salvation.  Each individual must cultivate their own growth and evolution through the development of personal, social, and spiritual relationships with all life and with all spiritual entities. Life is a wonderful thing.  It should not be filled with terror, pain, and suffering.

Wisdom

 

Photo of Wren Taylor

Wren Taylor

One of the key goals of Druid life is the mastery of wisdom. A Christian approach to viewing the world usually limits perception to two options such as yes/no, good/bad, black/white.  To gain wisdom, Keltrian Druidism encourages practitioners to employ triads in problem solving.  The Druid looks for alternate ways to understand the Earth, her inhabitants and the universe.  There is always a third perspective to consider and understand; sometimes there are more.  Certainly there are some techniques that can be used to simplify the process. For example, how does a particular issue affect Mind, Body, and Spirit?  Employing the specialized disciplines of the Bard, Seer, and Druid, how do these perspectives enhance the understanding of a particular issue?  A dualistic view of a situation or question creates argument and righteousness.  A triadic view creates discussion. compromise and creative solutions.

As an exercise, try to balance a playing card on the tips of two fingers extended in a peace sign. It can be done, but it is unstable.  Now add a third so that your fingers resemble the legs of a three-legged stool. The card is now stable.  This demonstrates thinking in triads. Referring to the black/white example of dualistic thinking, the third leg of the stool - the triad - is not grey.  Grey merely continues on the same line, the same path.  The triad is pink, or sunset. Perhaps it’s a coffee pot. It needs to be a totally different perspective.  This is difficult to master; however, you will succeed with practice.

Religion Evolves

Druidic religion changes; the beliefs, practices, and relationships of modern Keltrian Druids would be unfamiliar to Druids of a hundred years ago and alien to the Druids of the ancient past.  Druids adapt to a changing environment as the relationships between them and the spirits around them evolve.  Codifying beliefs into creeds in response to millennia-old heresies is not in the Druidic playbook.

Texts are not sacred because they were handed down by the divine; rather, they are sacred if they produce the effect of making our spiritual relationships with others stronger. Likewise, a place becomes sacred when its effect is to foster stronger or better-defined spiritual relationships with others.

For example, although my relationship with trees is significantly different from  an ancient Druid’s, we both would have a profound experience encountering a giant sequoia for the first time.  The way in which we experience such an encounter may be very different, but the importance and the impact of the experience would significant for both of us.

The Henge and Keltrian Druids adapt to new discoveries and scholarship. If recognized experts agree on an aspect of a new discovery, which affects our practice, we embrace it.

Cyclical Time

Most Druids see time as cyclical. It is a world without end; there is no “end of days” nor a linear creation of all. Was there a “big bang” which started it all? Probably. Could it have been the aftermath of another universe, which collapsed into a singularity to start the cycle of our universe? Quite possibly. All things come into existence, have a life, and then cease to exist only to nourish the birth (and become part of) of something new.

Three Foundations in Keltrian Druidism

Keltrian Druidism is a complex set of beliefs and practices. Individuals are free to interpret the information gleened from the required reading and come to their own conclusions as long as they are in direct support of the three foundations of Keltrian Druidism:

  • Honor the Ancestors.
  • Revere the Nature Spirits
  • Worship the Gods and Goddesses of our Tribe.

In my preparation to speak with the Unitarians so many years ago, I focused upon the similarities of our traditions. How were Druids the same as other traditions the Unitarians would know and understand? Persecution exists today, but twenty years ago the atmosphere was extremely hostile. We wanted to demonstrate that we were not all that different. We merely had a different perception of the universe and our relationship to it.

During my visit I grew in my understanding of the differences between Druids and other religions and learned much of what makes those differences important.  And the little Unitarian learned that Druids may be a little different, but they don’t have two heads and really aren’t very scary.