I went to yoga on Wednesday and had the best class yet. We worked through chakras - learning about their real 'history' and what they are - mixing hatha, kundalini and dru yoga. By the end I felt as if every muscle in my body had been massaged.
Lying on the mat, under a cosy blanket, I found that my mind's eye instantly filled with things I hadn't been thinking about. It was like accidental journeying. A stag, majestic and powerful, with huge ornate antlers like antennae into the other world. I felt my own antlers appear on my (still human) head.
I've only been visited by Stag once before, during a deep guided meditation some years ago, when again there were ornate antlers but also a small, beautiful crown. This stag was female. I know, but she was and she was not a reindeer (female reindeer have antlers). She gifted me a wooden box that contained the letter A. I'm still working on that one.
I've been obsessing about antlers ever since. What a surprise. And gazing at the artwork above that was created by my friend - and supremely talented artist - Tracie Noles-Ross.
Walking to the woods to find connection and ask for strength, and finding deer trods that lead from the gate, across the field and into the woods where I usually jump the fence. I was on the right path.
Looking up from the earth to see a buzzard(hawk) - one of my close ones - flying just above my head, seemingly in one spot, against the buffeting winds. Showing me how to ride the push and pull before she dipped to one side and disappeared.
Roe deer at the side of the lane, just watching me as I drove slowly past in the dark. Three sisters.
The return of the jackdaws to our home.
The piece of ivy wood that appeared at my feet and fits so perfectly into my palm that it could have been moulded for it. I took it home as a reminder of my connection to everything. The ivy that adorns and holds all the trees in the woods. The sinews and veins of the Spirit of The Place.
Without this; without these constant reminders that I am of just one more species among many other equals, all of whom will stand as family (alongside my beloved people) and support me if I just acknowledge them and ask, I'm not sure how this month would have been. As it is, I feel surrounded by life, love and trust.
I've always taken a harsher line with myself than I have with others - I think most of us do - and my spirituality doesn't escape this fate. I've never believed that one religion or institutionalised spirituality or philosophy is going to be The Right One, more that they're all (at least in origin) different expressions of the same thing. However, I did used to think that I personally needed to align myself with a single school and devote myself to it. I've dabbled in a few. From a brief - like, two-weeks-when-I-was-17 brief - investigation of Catholicism while exploring my Hanlon Irish roots, to flitting back and forth on Buddhism and various other belief systems, I kept looking for The One. Eventually, some years ago, I realised that I needed to go to the source. To simply connect with the spirit that infuses and inspires them all. No middle wo/man required.
Since I was a child I've believed that everything is 'alive' in some way. From toys to shopping trolleys, I've had meaningful conversations with them all (I still always say thank you to my trolley when I park it back in the bay). So animism is kind of where I am and where I've always been.
At this time last year that had led me - in a backwards step - to studying shamanic practice in the belief that I'd found The Thing that truly was a method for connecting with the source. I was a few modules in. Enjoying it. And then not. There was the feeling I was in the wrong place again because I couldn't buy in 100%. My extracurricular reading had included Emma Restall Orr's Living Druidry - still a favourite - and I remember sending an email to a group of friends, saying,'Oh feck. I'm a sodding druid.'
Which, to me, screams Non-Historical Re-enactment Society . I know. #harsh #buthonest. So I wasn't happy about this revelation. The upshot was I emailed my tutor and asked if I could take a break (I could, did, am) and then I got ill.
I physically hit bottom, then mentally and emotionally. Spiritually I just numbed out everything but my personal experience on a daily basis. I stuck with what worked and healed and what has always worked and healed me is the earth...nature. And slowly but surely that led me back to Druidry. Minus the outfits.
Druidry as it is now is not the ancient religion of these isles because we don't really know what that was. It's believed that teachings were passed down verbally so very little remains of the Celtic animism/shamanism that came before Christianity. However, modern, neopagan Druidry is probably as close as we're ever going to get.
The thing is, I've softened on myself and no longer feel I have to devote myself to a particular 'club' and its rules. These days I weave together my own, ever-evolving, tapestry of beliefs. Most of it does align with Druidry - as an Anglo-Celt it just feels right to me - and Shamanism but not all. I love a bit of Hinduism. Shinto too. I know the truth of Mitakuye Oyasin. It is all animist.
I attempted to explain it to Evie and I said, 'If you think of the life force that creates and animates everything as music, then every single thing in the universe(s) is a different song. I have a song, so do you. So does that stone, that tree, the wood in our kitchen table, that horse, that postman, our home, this place.' That's as close as I've ever come to really explaining how life feels to me.
I think our sacred task, our path to spiritual fulfilment, is to learn our song and to sing it out loud. And when we do, those whose songs harmonise with our own will hear and join in, creating an even more powerful melody. An even more powerful expression of the 'music'. The beauty!
Learning how to do this: to tune into my song, learn it and sing it, to share it. That's why I'm here. That's my purpose. I think it's a purpose for all of us. So that's what this blog is about now. Finding and singing my own wildsong and sharing the ways I find to do that. Hoods optional.