Isle of Mull 2017 in pictures

Wonderous, luscious, wild land of Scottish islands

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Druid’s way

Druidry

Druidry is not something in isolation of the whole universal way of being, it is not a prescribed religion with rules and texts, it is a free-flowing way of being in touch with yourself and the world carried in every day through engagement with Awen inspiration. It is a spiritual practice, every day engagement with this world and the others, it is walking the earth in a way beneficial to the whole and the truth of nature.

These words summarise Druid’s way of living for me:

Honour, truth, integrity, listening and seeing, creativity, inspiration, healing, guiding, nature’s cycles, light and dark, seasons, stories, songs, rituals, everyday engagement, connection, involvement, wonder, enchantment, walking the land, magic in everything, leading, being with darkness, humanity, humility, authenticity, delight, spirit, community, joy, trees, nature deities, celebration, shamanic, otherworldly, sacred groves, ancestors, philosophy, seer, peaceful, humble, being with, voice, simple living, barefoot walking, tree talking, making a difference, understanding, seeing others, looking within, animist, standing stones, energy work, embodying, divine within and without, earthly living, participation, grounding

Having experienced some storms along the way this week I looked within for what was needed and once I picked up a book on Druidry I settled into a space of peace and comfort. Another’s words on pages spoke to a part of me that is peaceful, content and in touch with meaning. I felt myself relax and calmed into a way of seeing things for what they are with speaking my truth at the heart of it. I find often I need to continue reading the words of the wise to stay connected with the part of myself that knows, feels and understands the ways of Awen, the inspiration of life with all its joys and struggles. I fall down and rise up again every time even though it always feels impossible, but it comes about just like a rain stops and sunshine graces the land once again.

Last night I was pulled into the stunning rainy landscape. I kicked my shoes off and stepped onto wet grass soft and glorious. Walking the earth connects me to the very essence of myself and to the centre of the whole. It feels containing as if the land is there to listen, understand and be with me. I feel all tension seep through my toes into the earth and on the in-breath I bring a renewed, fresh energy up into my body again. Roses in this garden smell incredible. It reminds me of home, my mother, the land of my birth and for a moment I am lost in a space of spirit so present my heart begins to ache with joy once again.

I am continuing to learn and make a practice for myself that serves the purpose of for myself and the whole. A practice that is authentic and in connection with everything that has meaning to me. I feel grateful once again for being shown a way as my chest relaxes in an outer breath and releasing all tension.

 

I love it so much it hurts

I love it so much it hurts. The land welcomes me this time with open arms and I feel nothing but warmth and nurture. I feel at home and I instantly recognise that familiar smell of the land, which I know well. It is raining and I am in my element of gentle water standing on a lake shore watching gentle giants mountains hugging the shore. I touch the water, it is clear and crispy cold and through my body pure joy spreads. It is a dance of recognition, which I feel a lot stronger this time round. While my husband looks nostalgic for hot weather and home, I am home. I tell him that most of my happiest memories took place either in rain or snow and I acknowledge that link and it makes sense.

Isle of Mull – lush and green with landscape showing off its mountains, valleys, lochs, forests and sea. It is such a mixture of the elements that makes it so rich. It is incredibly peaceful here like nowhere else I had felt in Scotland so far; well, perhaps, only the first time in Perthshire where my love for the land first stuck me. We are staying in the middle of nowhere and it feels so safe to me here. It feels like no one and nothing would find me here and if I was to stay I would be happy for the rest of my days. My heart begins to ache along with joy I cry inside for wanting to merge with the land forever. It hurts in my chest and with each breath I can’t seem to get enough. That feeling of safety is a new one, as previously while in Scotland I have always felt conflicted and often anxious, even scared. Not this time. Here I have come into myself somehow and the land here is so gentle in comparison with Northern Highlands or the Isle of Skye, e.g. Those places activated my shadow material and threw me into an emotional turmoil amidst some deeply spiritual experiences. The land there is fierce, wild, unforgiving and untouchable in its stunning beauty. It is majestic and independent. Here I am held, firmly and I can hear the land speaking to me. It is gentle and soothing. Vibration is of softness and it touches on places within me much lighter and happier. This reflects in our relational dynamics between the boys and me. Our trip was very different this time round like we all tapped into a gentler way of being with one another, there is less conflict and more recognition and acknowledgment of needs all around.

Standing in the garden I witness deer coming in closer grazing on lush green vegetation surrounding the house. It is a beautiful sight and they stop and stare at me in silent pause. God it is so peaceful here! Even deer is different here compared to imposing huge stags of the Highlands. These deer are gentler and smaller and devoid of antler crowns. My response to them is also strikingly different, less of knee shaking awe and worship-like way of witnessing them, it is quieter, softer and more ‘homely’ somewhat. As I lie in bed looking out of the window with views to die for I feel my heart beating with such love. It is intense and aching, as I already know how hard it will be leaving this land in a few days.

When pain finds a home within your soul

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In psychological circles this is referred to as pain addiction. This is real, lived experience for many. It is a state of being where separating pain from anything that we encounter in life becomes impossible. It merges with our being in a way that becomes familiar, safe, even sweet and impossible to imagine not feeling it. It becomes one of the personal signature of an individual, which brings all sorts of distortions with it. The process of unravelling is needed, deep diving into dark places, but mostly reintroduction of the light into a personal experience, as the light often goes into a personal shadow.

This is what it looks like when I tap into that part of myself still present although it no longer affects my life in ways it used to. It is now fully in my awareness and I know this character well, hence able to communicate with it and meet its needs if and when.

Ugly, dripping poison from its finger tips, so wrapped in its own pain it is second nature. This creature outgrown the most excruciating suffering that it feels at home with it, it’s learnt not just to be with it, it is inseparable from her being. It is very old, with bent and crooked limbs, long nails and grey hair or is it fur – both. It is animal-like with human eyes and deep intelligence. There is kindness somewhere there, but it is not apparent. It wants to be bad, it thinks it is a good thing, as it will fill up the cup of pain even more. It seeks the ritual and any opportunity to refill it. Like an addict it is constantly in search of the next fix.

Grown into my flesh it wears deer-skins and smells of wet mud and berries. Like an animal it claws into me holding on with a scowl scary and disturbing. 

I know it well and these days all that is needed of me is the acknowledgement it is there when I begin to feel its warm breath on the back of my neck. It is often present around my shoulder/neck area. It is very warm, sometimes feeling like a burn, but it also shows me some compassion these days and often sweeps away mud and moss pieces when it feels it made a mess. It is a child and an old creature all at the same time. It is deeply broken, but not unlovable and it likes to spread itself on rocks (I love rocks) and roll off them into a wet grass.

I often work with clients in ways of looking at different parts of them. I would ask when they begin to describe an energy that takes over them and affects their life. I seek to bring it to life with my client in a way of seeing what it looks like, what it sounds like and what is its behaviour before moving to what that part of us need. Many find this very useful and become curious about what else is within them that affects their everyday behaviour. When we make those characters real it is easier to relate whether we choose an object representing it, or we do a drawing or find a drawing that most reminds us of them or we relate to them through colours, sounds. However we connect with parts of ourselves it is about becoming conscious/aware of what takes place within our psyches and why.

Stay present with what you DO have

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When focusing on what we don’t have rather than what we do have it can be pretty hard to differentiate between our wants and needs. Time to evaluate!
Is that something that you want is really what you need? If you think you really want something ask yourself why? How specifically it will make your life better? What is it in your current life that can’t make your
life better? Does what you want have a foundation that stems from a real need and contains a potential beneficial change or is it an illusion?

These questions are super useful to consider when stuck in a ‘I really want to do or have this right now’. Why, why, why is the key. Sit down and really break it down, answer those questions and pretty soon you will know whether what you want is really what you need.

I have an example, which relates to a locality of where I am and my belief that somehow if only I was somewhere else geographically my spiritual needs would be met and I would somehow grow into something that will transform my life. The question is why can’t I do it where I am right now and what’s wrong with the place I am currently at? The answer is nothing is wrong with my place (what I do have already) and yes I can do it here and now without having to be somewhere else. There are levels to this, the first being ‘running away from something’, avoiding certain feelings or situations or not tapping into resources available to me here and now in the place that I am in.

The universe always drives us in a direction most beneficial for us, it wants the best for us all. It is up to us to decode messages that come into our realities daily. It is up to us to notice and hear those messages. Sometimes it comes in and slaps you in the face literary and pretty quick you realise that what you thought you were struggling with was wasted energy and nothing else. We realise illusions got created out of fear.
All that we need to do is tap into here and now and look at our life as it currently is.

I am seeking to move, escape, run away, detach, separate and all of those things and I had one place associated with it all and that place was the answer to all my struggles. Well, question really is what it is that I am running away from? Through reflection and therapy sessions we can work out motivations behind our behaviours and feelings that come up in our lives. Invaluable.
I remember my therapist asking me a clear question once ‘ok, you want to move to this country?’ Notice she didn’t ask me why or what for. She said ‘which area would you move to, which county attracts you the most’. I had NO answer, none and it got me thinking. There is something in that not knowing, so if I don’t know that, what else don’t I know. I couldn’t back anything up. It felt empty, pointless and had no foundation. Sometimes demystifying something really helps by drilling down into what we think we want and seek. Often it is all in our heads and when bringing stuff into our bodies it answers questions judging by feelings it brings up or shows a clear lack of feeling. We take it from there. Often our ideas and thoughts are popped like balloons and we are able to move with our lives just as they are. Not only that we begin to enjoy and appreciate what we do have more.

Take my example. Looking at where I am right now. I love where I live. I am connected to the land and the signature of the place. I created a few sacred spots for myself and all elements are around me. I have space, fresh air, freedom to grow my vegetables and a lovely house. It is no more or less beautiful than the place I think I want to escape to. I am pretty sure if I was to test my ‘want’ theory without answering all the questions above once I have done it then it would be the case of ‘now what?’ I previously did this with a job and that was exactly the outcome. I recently recognised I am doing it again with another thing. I am doing two things. Not drilling into my motivation behind the desire and not taking what I do have already into account.

Through every experience involving dreams and desires I can summarise it in one sentence.

With every dream we must have a clear answer as to ‘why’

We must feel it with every fibre of our being. It simply must feel like ‘home’ deep in the soul. A lack of feeling should be an indication of another process in operation whether it is an illusion, an escape from something, resistance to staying where you are or any other historical pattern of behaviour.

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Transformation after a dark night of the soul

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My experience has always been that transformation, upgrade, growth comes after a period of darkness of the soul. The darker and deeper the drop the more profound the transformation. It is, however, not easy to realise or get to the other side and comes with practice. There are often steps to follow.

The first one is awareness of light and dark within you, a true connection to both energies within your psyche. Both need to be known intimately, accepted, befriended and experienced. I frequently say that the best awareness comes from repeat lived experience and real life examples. Think of yourself in your ‘dark’ cloak. What does that look and feel like? Is there a clear image of yourself, in what voice and language that side speaks, what does it usually do, what its preferred or default way of behaving. Get to know it, notice, befriend and learn from it. The same goes for your light side of the psyche. What are you like when you are wearing your ‘light’ cloak. What’s the vibration and presentation of that energy within you? When you know both and can easily identify, recognise and connect with both you can navigate both your transformation and your dark nights better.

Another step in the process is to fully stay in the process and yes, natural reaction is to try to get out of it, change it, do something when we are in a dark place. It feels uncomfortable and painful. We resist, reject and want to strip ourselves of all that it brings with it, but even though it is natural to want to do that what if we allowed it to be? After all it is within us, it is part of us and it is there for a reason in any given moment.

Darkness and pain can also be comforting and safe to some of us and it is familiar to a point we get lost and settled into it. To me it feels like a dark cave where no one can find me. It can be soothing and reassuring. If it is so for you recognise it, explore your relationship and history with pain and dark places in general. Is there more to it?

Another opportunity when ‘in darkness’ is your unconscious will be showing itself through dreams more vividly. For me I begin to have profound, vivid, dark and nightmarish dreams. I always find those fascinating and even when unpleasant I find they keep my energies going. It is like stirring a caldron, a process of ‘cooking’ taking place in my unconscious. I get very involved with its content and open up to messages. This part of the process is valuable as much can be extracted from the dreams when in a state of darkness.

I find at this point in my practice that I know when darkness comes there will be light post-pain, post-anxiety and depression. One might say I learnt to keep the faith. In simple terms the only way is up. What’s needed here is trust and again it is another difficult point where we either give up (on ourselves) or manage to override our dark state somehow for the fear of never being able to come out. Never is a strong word, it deletes all possibility for change and it is an illusion. We all know that nothing ever stays the same and change touches absolutely everything. I strongly believe in the ‘Phoenix rising from the ashes’ transformation.

To reach the light we must be patient with the darkness. Not only we need to be with in it, allow feelings to do their thing in their own time, be graceful, soft amidst anger and desperation, be kind to yourself and your darkness. Needs that come up when you are in a dark place will be your usual needs, but amplified a lot and we need to meet those needs. Give yourself what you need in those moments through really listening to the voice of your pain and despair.

Light comes in gradually. First you begin to notice coming back into life through small things, wanting to connect again. You will feel your isolation state stretching into a need to relate. It is like a process of remembering your ‘whole’ self, the way you had been before going into darkness. You remember belonging to a group, family, your usual dynamic. You begin to want to get involved again in small ways, your voice will start coming back, healthy, balanced one. You begin to feel different, lighter, more grounded and less scared. Darkness has done its thing. It’s been and gone and by allowing it to be we allowed ourselves to feel what needed to be felt, worked through and acknowledged whatever that is for you.

I recently have gone through such period of darkness and all of the above was true for me again and when one morning I saw a big beautiful butterfly land on a bench next to me I knew the light was near. Transformation followed slowly with big insights, a strong desire for change and implementing things in a different way, adjusting behaviour and interactions. I also remained strongly aware of my needs, which through being amplified in the dark showed up more clearly in life. Through my voice returning I was able to communicate them to others more effectively. What followed was a sense of renewal, rebirth and upgrade into new ways.

Darkness is a great teacher. It not only puts things in perspective, it brings us literally back to life, more fully engaged in the present. I also find there’s a serene period of contemplation and a silent observation that accompanies the process of coming back to light. That is always very pleasant and incredibly needed.

We all potentially seek light and all leads to it whatever we go through in life and the most profound ‘come backs’ are through deep darkness.