There is something about the urgency that comes at a certain point with the onset of advancing in years, more particularly its affect on my ability to give a f**k about things that, at one time, seemed so important in life. I am now attempting to keep my balance as the spin on the Wheel of the Year seems to be rapidly increasing. I turned fifty seven this year, where the hell did all that time go?! I now have significantly less life in front of me than has gone behind and this is now altering how I view some of my long held fears, inhibitions and my ability to put up with shite, not that I have ever been one to put up with much of that. This past six months I have felt a shift in me like no other, there has been a steady rise out of a fairly long and somewhat reclusive phase beset by an all pervading confusion about my purpose in the world.
This past weekend at the OBOD German Gathering has been another in a series of deeply magical experiences this year and yet another gentle kick to revive my flagging druid spirit and enthusiasm. It was time spent with more marvellously magical people. I was part of a team running workshops exploring the Culhwch and Olwen story from the Mabinogi, in particular the part about the five oldest animals and the search for the Mabon. For me this story not only echoes ancient lore about the solstice, but it also speaks about people actively seeking and fulfilling their destiny. Culhwch is a rather brash child that demands his cousin, King Arthur, help him achieve an impossible task, there then ensues a lengthy and demanding adventure chock full of ancient mysteries and hidden magics.
This latest trip to Germany included several pertinent spiritual aspects for me personally and combined with the amazing trips to Australia and the U.S a few weeks back and a beautiful full moon ritual on the beach with our grove (one of many we have had so far this year) just before travelling to Germany, means I can no longer ignore that distinct shift in my energy and I have come home with a renewed sense of commitment to both my inner and outward facing druidic journey.
At the gathering I attended a workshop on the Four Treasures of the Tuatha de Dannan were I was also given several ‘gifts’ from a meditative journey we took to the four cities and one from a laminated card I was asked to picked from the many scattered on the floor. Pick quotes that appealed to me was the instruction, so I picked this; “It is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” It made me laugh as I totally agreed, but it also got me thinking a little deeper on the whole idea of being foolish. If I don’t at least try to open my mouth and utter some of my foolish words, questions or thoughts, how will I ever engage the world and learn new ways of thinking. It is only through active listening to and engaging in kind, open dialog with things that challenge my world view that I both learn and have the chance to change hearts and minds. Also I have the chance to expand my own empathy and understanding in the process, I have not always been good at this. However as a consequence of age and experience I have found meeting any challenge with listening first and holding on the judgement until later often opens me to new ideas, solutions and new horizons to explore.
There is a phenomenal power in challenging oneself far beyond the bounds of comfort. To live in the safe havens of a comfort zone is all well and good but what does it teach me? How do I discover what I am capable of if I never push the boundaries of my emotional or physical self?
Everyday I am reminded that life is essentially a short intense ride that generally consists of ducking and diving to avoid the massive curve balls of one kind or another the universe directs at me, more often than not when I least expect them. They can send me spiralling or leave me feeling in a massive slump with no energy to push myself forward. It’s how I recover from the times when destiny seems veiled and I wander lost in the fog of my own mind, or when I am spinning out of control in a wash of emotion, or feel abandoned in the doldrums with no drive or enthusiasm, that’s what’s really important.
I have been in the doldrums for a while now with little enthusiasm for pushing myself anywhere, other than over to the allotment. I have seriously thought about the idea of withdrawing from everything to spend the rest of my life pottering around on the Lottie, never to leave the boundaries of my personal comfort zone again. And yet, in my head there are a myriad projects shouting, waving and jumping up and down trying to attract my attention. They have languished for far too long in an ivory tower, remote and untouchable, I feel their frustration gnawing at my bones. These are projects I have paid lip service to yet have consistently failed to fully invest in or even acknowledge, I certainly have not given them my full and undivided attention.
Why is that?
I can tell you truthfully it’s because I’m afraid. I have been afraid to give these projects the chance to see the light of day, to put them in front of people and say look I did this. I have been afraid to give them the love and commitment they need. Most of all I have been afraid I will fail them if I do. So there it is in a nutshell, fear of failure. It’s been a recurring theme throughout my life. I’ve been afraid to commit to myself in case I fail to be worthy of it or live up to the impossibly grand standards I set in my own head. I’ll make any excuse: I don’t have the time to focus, life is so full of stuff, etc. Aaha! Really, is that so? Yup, mhmm, definitely, honest gov far too busy to commit!
Of course I fully blame the solar system and astrology in particular! What can I do? I’m an Aries sun sign with Pisces rising and a Virgo moon. I’m fairly sure that makes me a confused, neurotic, perfectionist and conflicted introvert that wants to hide at the back and dance at the front of the line simultaneously. Essentially I have always believed that I am pretty average at everything and bound to fail at anything I try, so what’s the point of putting myself out there and going through it all? and yet, since I can remember my maxim for life has always been ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’
Over the past few years I have felt a bit like John Cleese as Lancelot in the Holy Grail attempting to storm the castle. I think I am finally about to, metaphorically, storm my own castle and release my ideas from their ivory tower, I might even let them sing! (Honestly watch the film if you haven’t already, it’s completely ridiculous and hilarious in equal measure and this analogy makes absolutely no sense otherwise.)
I have made a promise to myself, to be honest I have made several over the years, but somehow it seems more urgent now, after all I have less and less time to play with. I will no longer let fear of failure or being average rule my creative life! Honestly, what’s the worst that can happen? People might look at what I produce and say “meh!” Oh well! at least I will have followed the dream and not have to die with ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ as the last words on my lips.
They say that wisdom comes with age, I’m not sure about that, I think wisdom comes from meeting the challenges of life and helping others do the same. Age is a relative thing, some people may be alive for a hundred years but did they actually live? What constitutes a real life anyway? Life for me is a journey of the soul, it is more akin to a flower opening to the light of the world, allowing the busy bees into its heart to fertilise and set new seeds. There is something of a gradual liberation of the soul in the process of ageing, all the things that seemed to matter before have lessened their grip. I may have five minutes or another thirty years left to me, but one thing is for sure, life is for living to its fullest, I want to fill it with laughter, love, communicating, experimenting, challenging and growing. None of us get out of this gig alive so all we can do is show our best flower faces, soak up the sun, dance with the bees and leave the best part of ourselves as seeds for the future and hope it makes a positive difference in the world.
This weekend was another call from the deep, a call from the Cauldron of the Annwfn who will not boil the food of a coward nor one forsworn, it is not destined to do so. So let the breath of the Nine kindle the cauldron with in me and I will respond without hesitation this time. I have nothing to lose and who knows what I might gain from the challenges I will encounter.
Farewell sweet Concorde! (again watch the film or this it means nothing!)