Wisdom

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is the act of turning inwards to listen to a quiet voice, that part of us that is always connected to the universe and its eternal truths. It is listening to intuition. It is making that connection to the source of truth. When we listen to this inner voice of intuition, we will not be led astray.

Wisdom is also seeing patterns in life and predicting an action’s outcome based on these common patterns. Those who are wise see the effects, and also the effects of these effects, and so on and so forth.

While we may encounter snippets of wisdom in our lives through quotations and philosophies, it is not from these isolated strings of words that wisdom is made. Otherwise the whole world would be wise. What is the source of such quotations and philosophies? A person who quieted all else in order to hear truth. When we hear something wise for the first time, sometimes it hits our full being like lightning, changing us forever. We have heard others’ wisdom resonate within us, and it helps us find our own wisdom. The inner voice cries out in joy, for you have listened. Other times we don’t fully recognize wisdom when we hear it, and perhaps it attaches to us like a barbed seed, waiting for the day when conditions are right — when we are ready to recognize it — so that it may take root and grow.

A person acting wisely hears her intuition and gains a wider view of the world. She is not led to react with raw, unexamined emotions. She sees the situation and its influences, and seeks an action (or inaction) that will bring the most benefit to the world, not just herself.

The tragedy in this world is that we are too often inundated with an overflow of noise, deafening our ears to our intuition, our own internal source of wisdom. We react with passion with little reflection, potentially leaving a mess in our wake. If we benefit the world this way, it is a happy accident; if we expect to benefit the world this way, we are being naive and foolish.

The world needs listeners.

Red Oak Grove’s Samhain/Calan Gaeaf

This last Saturday I attended Red Oak Grove‘s Samhain / Calan Gaeaf ritual. This was my first ritual in attendance as an official friend of the grove (first level of membership). I also brought my husband to the event, and though he hadn’t planned to attend the ritual part of it at first, right before we processed off to the ritual site he asked to come along (with our little dog Rolo in tow).

This ritual was my first group ritual after dark, lit by a torch, the ritual fire, some jack o’ lanterns around the edge, and the occasional flashlight for the ritual leaders to see what they were doing or reading. A list of those who have died since last Calan Gaeaf was read, along with a phrase or two of their contributions. We were then invited to remember aloud a loved one who has passed on, and I remembered my mother’s mother. Her memory has always weighed heavily on my mind: in childhood for the stories my mom always told, and as an adult as I’ve seen the pain my mom experienced in her grief for her mother, which has only recently really healed enough for my mom to move on and live her life more fully.

The omens were perfectly tied to the time of year and the event of Halloween, which was pretty awesome.

I really appreciated the symbolism behind literally stumbling around in the dark, and how the light (electronic or fire-based) then illuminated the way. I also have rarely appreciated the warmth of a fire pit so much as this weekend, when nights dropped to freezing temperatures and when I was bundled in what never seemed like enough layers of clothing! I think it’s rare for humans in modern society to experience such a sharp desire and need for fire. During the day, our tent was warmed by the light of the sun that was trapped and insulated within, providing quite a snuggly retreat.

On the way to the event, I listened to the DruidCast podcast episode 76, in which Kristopher Hughes discussed being a medical examiner of the dead and his own views on death and dying. The process of grief for a loved one is something I have only recently understood, experiencing the death of a pet and my husband’s grandparents as an adult. That process helped me empathize with my mother enough to understand how she could cause such pain to her loved ones while suffering in grief. I would not have been able to rekindle our relationship without this deeper understanding. Death is a part of the human experience, but the grieving process does not receive a lot of real understanding and empathy by our society (except for some sympathy, turning to pity and then frustration when someone doesn’t just “get over it”).