Finding a Muse or Two
I feel so much clarity beginning to happen in my work right now. Yes Mercury has been in Retrograde, with all of the well publicized communication shit-storm that entails…but for me, right now, it feels like hearing a clear piercing voice singing out a single note in the midst of a squalling storm. Emma Restall Orr is that voice.
Emma Restall Orr came into Druidry at a time when it was more white male dominant than it is now. Much more. And according to a few of her talks, she shook things up a bit when she showed up. I’m very glad she did. She’s not much for public or internet presence these days, she specifically is not looking for that cult of personality, and although I’m not usually one for that sort of thing, I kind of wish she was-because I’d be right there.
I like her spirit, her spunkiness-well maybe that’s not the right word-I like her passion, her raw sort of ‘tell it like it is’ and ‘no compromises’ way of getting her message across. Raw I think. Raw passion. And she doesn’t like to define things, at least not in her book Spirits of the Sacred Grove. I think she likes them messy, and maybe even undefinable.
So Emma is my muse these days. I’m reading and listening to everything I can get my hands on from her, which is rare for me. I’ve been at this Druid thing for over two years now, and I have read little of any of the “official” or unofficial Druid writings, either modern or older. It might seem kind of odd, and I know a lot of people who have read absolutely EVERYTHING, every author and blogger, but I feel like I want to go through this with my own experience-not someone else’s pre-planned idea of what these courses should look like.
I almost feel like there’s something to discover and if I read other writings I will be thinking their thoughts, not my own. I’ve always said, there are two levels going on within these courses. One is in the booklets that teaches you a set bit of information, based in Welsh and British culture, and one is all of the other “stuff” that happens concurrently. The stuff that kicks your butt, challenges you and informs you on exactly the right level, in exactly the way you will hear, and “get it.” The juicy stuff. And I think Emma gets the juicy stuff.
Bumps and Hurdles to Get to the River
Back when I decided to join the UK based Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, I did my research on different druid groups, and then joined. I took the Bardic Grade class from Beltane 2015-Alban Hefin 2016. Then I took some time to breathe and listen to other sources. And now I have started the Ovate grade.
Where the Bardic grade seemed quick, crisp, informative and “get ‘er done”-something to tick off weekly-the Ovate grade feels like an expansive meadow that I would like to get to know well, explore the nooks and crannies, dance with my skin kissed by the sun, meet the creatures, feel the rain, taste the soil and the water, spend some time.
Where the Bardic grade shined a light on a lot of personal internal resistance (not the content but just the structure of doing it), not the least of which is I am NOT a Bard by nature, the Ovate grade feels like something I’m running towards, like someone plugged in my cord and I’m now getting a daily “charge”!
With the Ovate grade, I want to embody it, to literally feel it physically, almost to dance it (and I’m not a dancer). Where with the Bardic grade, I just wanted to read it, ponder it for five minutes and get on with my day. I had SUCH resistance (all my own old stuff) but now, it’s like being in a flow….the Awen, definitely. It’s getting juicy, and I’ve gone swimming in the flow.
Struggling to Get Wet
One thing I struggled with in the Bardic grade, and still do somewhat, is the whole idea of can an American actually BE a Druid, or NOT. In a way it seems kind of silly that an American would want to be something deeply British. I know some folks in the UK would tell you that, no, you really can’t because you aren’t here, and being a Druid is about being on the soil of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, where the Druids were.
I think this is a very valid point. If we are connecting to the spirits of a tradition and a land that’s far away, are we physically connecting? Or does it, as Emma Restall Orr said risk “becoming an intellectual exercise”. It risks becoming something we just make up in our heads or think about, but it may never become part of who we are or what we do and where we live, what we eat, breathe, drink, etc. And that part is vital, I think, to actually BEing a Druid. That it becomes about what we ARE, not what we DO.
In my own opinion, to really even attempt to BE a Druid, you have to understand that you may have to change your life, maybe even drastically-change your habits, your living situation, your job. I’m sticking with it because I believe that, and because I made those big changes a long time ago. I’m sticking with it, American or no, because I’ve always been a Druid, and I have something to say. Becoming a Druid seems like it can only come out of that position-living it, being it. I know I live a certain way that others don’t so I am continuing on the journey. If I thought this course was only about being British, or Celtic, I would have quit long ago. I feel that I made most of the necessary shifts, and the last piece of the puzzle is to take the course, and to open to the flow. I’m just now getting to the flow, getting wet, because I don’t open to anything, or anyone easily.