Thursday, February 12, 2009

Druidic Mystical Practice Pt 5: The Da Fein

This is the final phase of the large meditation pattern I've been developing, based on several complexes of Celtic symbolism. if you put all the exercises of these sections, 1 - 5 together you have the whole pattern. Coming soon I will give the whole spoken charm together, together with some comment on the overall mystical state I hope it will induce.

In a polytheistic spiritual system, it is possible to be bewildered by the crowd of spirits, of divine beings. If there is an advantage to monotheism, it might lie in its simplicity. Systems that posit a single deity make it easy, at least, to determine where to focus one’s worship. In system where the model of the divine more closely mirrors the patterns of nature, the forest of possibilities can seem daunting.

Practical Paganism addresses this problem by the creation, by individuals, of personal pantheons. Each land, each people, each village, each family hearth, even each individual has a constellation of Gods and Spirits that best suits the needs of their life and circumstances. For an ancient Pagan this process would have been a natural product of their upbringing. As modern Pagans, we work our way from our 20th century upbringings. This can make the process much more conscious and artificial, and perhaps, more difficult.

Pagans seek the divine in many places. We address the Gods and Spirits, we find the divine in a tree or a stone. However, modern Pagans may find it difficult to consider honoring the spirit of a living human as divine – including, of course, ourselves. Some religious and cultural traditions teach that humans are intrinsically unworthy, weak, even depraved or evil, requiring an external divine intervention. Even in secular discourse it seems common to devalue our human nature. Perhaps this is a reaction to the sort of recent western arrogance that considers humankind to be the ‘highest’ of all creatures. In any case, the concept of the divine present in our own human nature is not a common one in our culture.

It seems to me that traditional IE Paganism neither devalued nor overestimated humankind. When the divine can be immanently present in beasts and stones, we cannot think ourselves superior to our environment. Yet humans who do great deeds – or who simply win the love and reverence of their kin - can become objects of worship. Certainly this may happen after death, as ancestors, but it may happen even while alive. The Roman custom of deifying the ‘genius’ – the personal divine spirit – of their emperors after death has been frequently criticized by Christian historians, but it is only a state example of a custom that might extend into any village.

If we have such a divine spirit in ourselves as might be worthy of worship, then making ourselves aware of that spirit and its capacities, and working with it consciously, seems a fine goal for those inclined to spiritual work. Socrates spoke of his daimon – the spirit that advised him in his deeds. Later theurges from Hellenic nations, and various yogis and rishis of the Indic peoples developed detailed methods of approaching one’s internal divine power. We have no specific record of such things among the Pagan Celts – such practice would have reeked of ‘sorcery’ to the monkish chroniclers. It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that Druids, in the course of their searchings into the world, would have sought contact with their own Divine nature.

We must remember that in such a formula we offer worship to our own divine core or crown, not merely to the personality and flesh that we commonly identify as ‘me’. Just as when we offer to a tree we are not worshipping its cellulose and water, so we are not asking any being to worship our meat and mannerisms. It will be to our great advantage to recognize that in each of us there is a true Flame, a true Well of power and wisdom and love. Each of us contains, by right of birth, the divine.

As Druidic Pagans it is proper for us to honor the divine in every place that we find it. Thus it is reasonable for us to begin to learn how to worship out own divine nature, and those of the mortals around us. I cannot say, in this short musing, how such a doctrine may find expression in Our Paganism, but I have included a short poetic charm and exercise which could be added to personal devotions or ceremonies. I expect that the inspiration and genius of our folk will lead us to powerful expressions of the this core Pagan idea.
May we come to know the spark and flow of the divine power in us all!

A Charm for the Divine Self
I am a kinsman of the Fire
I am a child of the Waters
My flesh is holy, born of the holy union
My Spirit is a drop of the Cauldron of Wonder,
A spark of the Divine Fire.
(Place a hand on the forehead)
The Divine Presence is in my head
(Place hand on heart)
The Divine Presence is in my heart
(Place hand on the loins)
The Divine Presence is in my loins.
(Join hand at the heart)
I do honor to the God of my own soul
Shining spirit of my spirit
Font of Wisdom
Spring of Love
Source of Power
I offer to you the worship due to every God
(Open hands wide)
Honor to the holy being that is the Center of my Self
Shine bright and flow deep in me, I pray!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been attending a book discussion group, put on by Unity Church, with my mother (a UU) that has been exploring the concept of the divine self, holy spirit or "child of Godness" as they've called it.

We're reading Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and while he has gone a step farther then some in asserting that plants, animals and minerals can "evolve" in a spiritual sense, he still touts that our spiritual evolution is set to be the greatest.

His examples of non-human evolution are all rather superficial as well. The flower is the most "enlightened" form of the plants, for it's beauty that can evoke joy in the beholder. Birds are given for the animals as they have skipped the whole creeping and crawling business and sought the heavens. Diamonds and crystals are said to not be dull and dense like other rocks but reflect light and energy.

I understand the analogies, their rather clever in fact, yet I have felt more connection and energy from trees and grain and the most dense rocks that are the bones of the Earth. And who is to assume that all other living things aren't already in tune with "The One"? Perhaps we are the ones that have lost the connection, due to our evolved minds.

Anyway now that I've gotten all that out, I'm just so glad to hear a druidic perspective on the matter. The folks at the discussion group are all lovely, "mighty souls" (as the mediator puts it). They speak of both eastern and western teachings but I felt odd with my polytheistic animistic views. I will be sharing some of your thoughts with my mum.


IanC said...

I'd love to hear anything about how the discussion goes.
I'd say one of the big issues in our animism and polytheism is that we don't generally assume that everything exists in a tightly ordered 'divine will'. There's a whole discussion to be had about 'fatalism', the place of personal will in the web of wyrd, and the difference between 'providential will' and the Norns.
But I tend to view the spirits and their order as being a lot like nature - local systems in which one spirit may predominate over another.
Also, I don't think I hold to any specific kind of illumination as being the eye of any pyramid. There are lots of places that are good to end up, and no one Great Reality that is True in some way that makes other realities false.
Anyway, let me know how the discussion goes.