I completely missed writing about anything related to the perennial druidry course in the last moon. So, I thought I would be a bit more active in the Field Poppy Moon.
Today, I want to take a moment to focus on just one of the points in Emma Restall Orr’s list of questions for this month. Under the heading ‘Element,’ she focuses on energy this month. Here’s what she writes:
At this time, let the focus be fire as the energy of life. Nature is heavy with it all around us, fat with growth, petals falling and the fruit now beginning to swell that will be the harvest to come. Can you perceive that energy of life in all [that is] around you? Don’t try to see some ethereal spirit; begin simply by acnowledging and accpetiong something to be alive.
In animism, many speak of everything in nature having its own spirit, but what do you mean by ‘spirit’? Most theologies consider human beings to have a soul, but what does that mean? Does a cat have a spirit or soul? Does a beetle, a slug, a river, a tree the earth, the wind, a bacterium? Where is the cutoff point, if it exists at all?
There’s more, but that certainly seems to be enough for me to start with, don’t you think?
First, for me, I admit the challenge of thinking of things as alive. Even things that patently are alive. From the tiny spiders that often drop onto me in the yard — clearly alive, but so ‘insignificant’ and ‘other’ that it’s hard for me to think of it as more than dust, though I try — to flowers and weeds. Moving forward, it’s a challenge for me to appreciate the obvious life that is surrounding me.
Further, I’d like to confront my own sense of ethics where life is concerned. It seems that “thou shalt not kill” has so invaded our consciousness, that we prefer to think of the things we kill as being somehow ‘not alive’ rather than of ourselves as killing them. I’d rahter begin to appreciate that my life — like all life — requires the death of other living things, and to find my place in this circle of life and death with grace and grattitude. But, it’s a challenge.
And, ‘finding my place,’ I sense, is going to mean minimizing the death required by my own life. I’d like to start by strengthening a commitment I made to myself before: to stop throwing away food.
Lastly, the question of everything having a spirit comes at an appropriate time in my life. Because I tend to anthropocentrism in my thinking about spirits, which doesn’t make me much different than any other human being alive, I don’t think. I think it’s important to acknowledge that another being can have a spirit, without experiencing the world in the same way that humans do. For me, it’s hard to understand, because I like to imagine I can put myself into someone else’s shoes.
It took a tarot reading for me to come to understand that Hofgaard does not have the same range of emotions and feelings that I have, not only because he has different sensory input and a different range of experience, but because my emotions and feelings are the product of a complicated chemical soup which courses through my blood and tissues. Obviously he doesn’t have those feelings, and, obviously, I can’t begin to appreciate the feelings that he does have.
Viewed this way, it’s a bit surprising that druidry doesn’t focus more on cross-cultural communication. That’s probably because we don’t have a lot of input from the beings we interact with. I don’t know.
I will say this, though, these reflections have increased my interest in shamanism, as it intuitively seems like a route towards learning these things that can’t be directly experienced.