The Web of Life

“Earth as a biospiritual planet must become for us the basic referent in identifying our own future.” Berry, Thomas (The Great Work, 1999)

I have long considered myself an Animist with the view that everything is conscious, connected and everything is made from the same stuff. I can see no boundary between myself and Nature and by Nature, I mean everything including the laptop I’m typing on or the desk that I’m sitting at.

The world is a web of connection, mirroring the statement by Thomas Berry. It is how I interpret the world based on the think of others such as Lanza, Shopenhauer, and Emma Restal Orr.

It is a world that recognises that our actions have consequences and that what we do to the world around us, we do to ourselves and to those who exist in the future.

In my world there is a need to restore the damage that we have done, a need to minimise our negative impacts and to become increasingly in tune with others, human and non-human.

But the Earth has around 7 billion humans, many of whom think quite differently and are not aware of the real damage being done. I wonder what can be done to reach out to people, to help them connect with the world and Nature, to help them start to work on a new way of living. But I don’t know how.

Even as I type this I question whether I should even ask that question. Should I interfere? Do I have a right to? Am I not just building a privileged clique? What about the vast majority who struggle from day to day?

Huge questions on a life time of journey! I’d be happy to get some answers.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Belated Samhain Blessings

Perhaps the darkest part of the darkest year, despite a couple of rays of hope this week.

Covid has begun, once again, to end lives around the globe; the second wave in the UK in full flow and the lockdown about to complete its first week. We had a ray of hope yesterday with the announcement that a vaccine is progressing well.

The second ray of hope was the defeat of Trump. I say defeat, but it was just a marginal one as he continues to have a huge amount of support and his replacement may be better but he’s a very long way from what we need. More worrying is what comes next. Trump was a chaotic nasty leader yet still manages to have support for his hatred, whoever steps into the space that he is leaving may well be more organised and more authoritarian.

But let us hope that these rays are not the final points of light before we hit a dark winter but that they continue to glow throughout.

A belated and blessed Samhain to you all.

Photo by Josh Garcia on Unsplash

Intolerance to intolerance

To hear some fellow Druids say that they don’t do politics and just want to be at one with Nature fills me with both shame and fear. For not only is politics is simply a non-religious expression of values, to say one isn’t interested in politics suggests that one has values that are in conflict with others around them. It also suggests a poor understanding of Nature and shows that they feel separate from her.

Let me be specific. When I hear someone say ‘all lives matter’, what they are saying is either a statement that sounds nice but is repeated out of ignorance or they are promoting racism. All lives do not matter. Of course they should but until, for example, Black Lives Matter, all lives simply do not matter. It’s like saying that all animals matter in response to someone campaigning to save the rhinos – it deliberately detracts from a message designed to focus attention on the most disadvantaged and most threatened.

We must not forget that human people are part of Nature. All human people need to feel equal but until we resolve the systemic, conscious and unconscious racism in our society, all human people can’t have equity. As Druids we should not be turning a blind eye to beech trees being felled while chaining ourselves to oaks who are not at risk.

Let’s just consider the Druid Prayer:

Grant, O Great Spirit, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of Great Spirit.

Justice is at the centre just before the love of all existences. Can we love all while there is no justice? Can we have justice without understanding, knowledge and strength?

And what of the Druid ‘grades’ of Bard, Ovate and Druid? I see the Druid grade as one that builds on the expression of Bards and knowledge of Ovates to focus on leadership, on justice and on love.

So I ask, are Druid orders doing enough to oppose racism and if not, what else should they (we) be doing? How do we listen to, understand and amplify the voices of those without white male privilege?

How do we do “confrontation and reconciliation” as Philip Carr-Gomm suggested and if so how / where is this done?

If we had been meant to fly then Nature would have given us wings.

Who would have thought as we headed toward Samhain last year that we would be spending most of 2020 locked down, unable to socialise and many millions of people would lose their jobs while others worked excessive hours.

As Covid 2 begins its crashing wave from the north of England towards the south, the mood of many is dropping rapidly. A few weeks of semi freedom in late summer isn’t enough for most people. The thought of not being able to celebrate Yule / Winter Solstice / Christmas with family and friends is not a happy thought (although I guess some may welcome it!)

The rapidity with which Covid is spread is a symptom of our unsustainable lives. Humans have faced plagues regularly over the millennia of our existence but it is only in these times that the spread could have been so quick. We have the ability to travel the globe like no other generation and the impact of doing so is felt in many ways including the spreading of disease.

Don’t get me wrong. It would have still arrived on our shores in the 14th century / without air travel but it would have taken a little longer to arrive and we could have prepared ourselves better for it.

Part of the prevention that I had dearly hoped to see was the continued reduction in air travel which remains one of the most ecologically damaging ways to travel and really sits as the shining example of our disassociation with Nature. If we had been meant to fly then Nature would have given us wings.

Our unsustainable lives help drive the Covid pandemic just as they continue to wreak destruction on Nature. We fail to honour Nature at our peril.

But many of us will have time on our hands in the second inevitable lockdown so we need to make the most of it. Make changes to our lives. Campaign for a better way of living. Honour our gods, goddesses and Nature. Plan better lives for the future. And work out how to have a break from work without flying away.