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.

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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”).

A Lapse

Sometimes I go through long periods of posting on my spirituality blog even though I’m pondering a lot about my own spiritual path and keeping up regular devotional prayers. I just don’t get around to the written reflection part.

Lately has not been that sort of time.

Lately I have not been really practicing.  Other than the Samhain stand, I’ve done very little, and I’ve felt spiritually empty.  It is weird going through this sort of phase. I start asking the big questions about life: What is this all for? Is this it? Is there a point? Am I making a difference? Am I a part of something greater?  Am I connected to something greater?  Is there something greater?

Work has been hard. Getting by day to day has been hard. Nothing “big and bad” has happened, it’s been just one tired sigh after another.

Time to get meditating again. Time to light a candle for Brighid.

Samhain Greetings!

I always feel a little overwhelmed with the holidays, and thus haven’t always gone through with any sort of celebration. So instead of planning a ritual, I want to start with little traditions that are inclusive for all the non-Pagans in my life, like my husband and the rest of my family.

Here’s something I started this year and plan to continue in future years. I made and wrote little notes to those I’ve known who have passed away, or in some cases, grandparents I didn’t know but have heard so much about that I wish I had.

When I began, I asked my husband if he wanted to write anything. He declined, but then saw me preparing the final product, and said, “Well, I didn’t know you were going to light candles and do that!” Then he promptly got some paper and did the same, and said he looked forward to doing it with kids and possibly having extended family come for an evening to celebrate the same way. “I really like this,” he kept repeating.

I love beginnings.

Seemingly scarce, and looking forward to children

I’ve been rather absent from my blog, much more than I had intended, but it is not because of a lack of interest in Druidry or Neo-Paganism. I’ve spent this spring thinking and pondering. I’ve been considering my connection to this path, feeling my growing internal resolution — or rather, realization — that this is indeed the right path for me, at least in the here and now. I’ve spoken with my significant other about wanting to raise our children in Neo-Pagan traditions, and had an explicit conversation with a close older relative to let her know of this decision and encouraged her to always ask any questions that she might have.

I think more and more in this frame of mind: what can I do today to prepare for a family with kids in the future? I am not currently ready for a child in my life, but that day is coming soon and I’m really looking forward to it. This is partially sparked by my older sister recently having her first child. Seeing that shift in her life makes me think of that not-so-distant shift in my own. Holding her month-old daughter on a recent visit to Idaho was simply wonderful. It felt completely right; it was grounding, an experience that makes you stop and realize what’s really important as all else in the world falls away.

The experience also made me consider a future change in career. I’m currently a public school teacher, and overall I do enjoy my job, but I’m unsure if I will enjoy it for a lifelong career. All job-specific concerns aside, I’m not sure if I was made to have a single lifelong career. I am a Gemini through and through; I have a million interests and I always like to learn about and try new things. However, the only alternatives I had previously thought of sounded nice but didn’t seem like they would be satisfying enough for me.

Lately, though, I’ve been looking into being a nurse midwife. There is a 2-year certification program not far from where we plan on moving. The only aspect of practicing medicine that’s ever appealed to me is women’s health, but lately this idea has really struck a chord in me. It is not just a wistful thought, but rather I can see myself doing it, and being happy and balanced, too. I wonder if my slowly growing relationship with Brighid has a bit to do with it?

It’s not something I plan on doing immediately, but after having my own kids I will need to seriously consider my options.

In Idaho

I’m currently visiting my family in Idaho. Just a few minutes down the road from my aunt’s house is a huge public free range field for cattle, filled with golden grasses and sagebrush and shy cattle. I stepped out into the field into a clump of sagebrush, crushed and smelled a leaf of it in my fingers, and looked out onto the valley in which I was born.

Then I shouted my morning devotional prayer. I called it out into the wind, out across the fields, knowing that none but the Kindreds and the cattle could hear me.

Usually my morning devotional prayer is said in a quiet or normal voice in the morning, the first words I speak through a scratchy throat, not too loud so I don’t wake my fiancé or disturb the neighbors. I say it to an indoor prayer, hoping the heater or A/C won’t turn on and disturb the candles.

I had no candles in Idaho. I had no symbols for the Well, Tree & Fire other than the landscape around me. When it came time in my devotional to “bathe my face” from water from the well, I had to pantomime it. And yet I have never felt so alive, so connected after my devotional. It was a most exhilarating and liberating experience!

Pictures of the cattle on the private land on the other side of the road:

 

Feeling Alive Again

I should begin with a brief explanation: recently, I’ve been dealing with a significant amount of anxiety, centering around work but affecting all aspects of my life.  (For those who are familiar with these sorts of terms, it’s likely an adjustment disorder, which can present itself like a temporary general anxiety disorder.)  Looking back, I can see it really started presenting symptoms around a year ago, perhaps even a year and a half, though it took I while for me to recognize something was wrong.  I started seeing a therapist in August, and in addition, I was continuing with daily meditation and a short devotional … until around Samhain, that is.  November was rough. I kept feeling worse and worse, and inside I felt deader and deader.  November saw the breaking points.  I finally decided to try medication.

Since then it’s been like the slow but sure signs of spring.  Before this, it was a struggle just to feel okay.  I had felt like I was doing all I could: exercise, meditation, therapy, self pep-talks, building firmer boundaries between work (the “trigger” for a lot of this) and home … but I still felt like I was falling apart and trapped in a life I couldn’t deal with.  Each weekend was spent just trying to recuperate and pick myself up again in time for Monday morning.  But then, in December, the medication started kicking in (much sooner than it does for many.)  I started feeling more optimistic.  I started wanting to play guitar.  I started laughing more, at home and at work.  I started tending my houseplants more regularly, which had all been sorely neglected and many on the verge of keeling over.

Last week I felt like I had rediscovered my faith in the gods.  I suddenly feel like my life has some great, exciting purpose to it.  I know I’ve felt this way before, but it has honestly been so long that I forgot.

This week I started cooking again.  Not just preparing quick meals, but cooking from scratch.  (I’m waiting for a lovely chickpea curry to finish simmering as I write this.)  As I sauteed the onions and spices, a distinct feeling of peace washed over me.  At that very moment, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

Words cannot express my joy.  Though nothing external has changed in my life, I am in a fount of blessings, and “grateful” doesn’t even begin to do these feelings justice.

Thanks be to the gods!