Thirty Days of Druidry 8: Meaning

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“Your Guardian Angel is trying to tell you something,” reads a spam message that’s begun showing up in one of my accounts.

Not trying hard enough, are you? my inner imp mutters.

Everything I receive today is a message from Spirit, whispers my child-Druid, blissfully in love with existence.

Hold all things and wait for them to clarify, counsels the Stoic who from time to time inhabits my head and heart.

Anyone else have anything to add? OK, all aboard, I sigh. Let’s get this bus on the road.

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Mean. A funny word. As polysemy* goes, three core meanings is about par for the course. The meanings of some words like “jack” run into the double digits. And Chinese, with only a couple of hundred possible syllables to begin with, probably nears the practical limit of just how many meanings one word can bear.

So here we go with mean: “to signify or intend; cruel; average.” An unlikely triad, but such groupings can serve as one more potential tool for divination. You know: find the links and you’ve revealed another strand in the Web. Is ANYTHING really completely random? If it manifests at all, it’s automatically part of a community of other manifestations. Its voice mingles and blends with others; it both influences and is influenced by its surroundings. So here goes.

innovcartThe “average” or most common meaning of life in one Buddhist view is suffering. Indifferent natural processes give birth to, nourish, reproduce, wear down, destroy and recycle all physical things. Life is often cruel. But that’s one meaning among many.

Life, goes the cliche, is what you make it. No, not entirely. Existence, several traditions say, is a network. Life will indeed respond to our intention, but we cannot** fly at will, live forever, attract our dream lover, materialize vast wealth, or vanquish our enemies, in spite of all the small-print ads to the contrary in the back of those magazines. Whatever we mean to the cosmos, it means back to us. We’re not playing solitaire but catch — with a cast of billions. There: to signify, cruel, average. And a whole lot more.

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The quotation in my inbox this morning from the weekly OBOD “Inspiration for Life” email list reads: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” –Helen Keller

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Fluff-bunny Pagan driving you crazy? We’ve all performed that invaluable service for others at one time or another. A love affair with the universe is something to be cherished. That said, those of us less giddy or better acquainted in any way with the Morrigan or Arawn or Ereshkigal or Osiris or any of their peers can perform an equally invaluable service by modeling how to move gracefully through life. By the gift of the gods, we can encourage others (and ourselves) to let more life in and not be daunted by a full-spectrum existence that knows that alone, neither the light nor the dark tells the whole tale.

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The infinitely poignant beauty of creation is inseparable from its diabolic destructiveness. How to live in such a turbulent world with wisdom, tolerance, empathy, care and nonviolence is what saints and philosophers have struggled over the centuries to articulate. What is striking about the Buddhist approach is that rather than positing an immortal or transcendent self that is immune to the vicissitudes of the world, Buddha insisted that salvation lies in discarding such consoling fantasies and embracing the very stuff of life that will destroy you. (Stephen Batchelor. Living with the Devil, p. 10.)

I’ll examine some Druid approaches and some alternatives to “salvation” in the next post.

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*polysemy: having many meanings. The second root is related to semantic, semaphore, etc.

**cannot: the trick is to choose the plane most appropriate for doing what you want to achieve. What’s hard or next to impossible on one plane can be effortless on another. A little flexibility (and some lucid dreaming) go a long way to get most people flying: according to stats, some 90% of the population reports having at least one flying dream. Add falling dreams, which are often a kind of fearful version of the flying dream, and the percentage is nearly 100. And who hasn’t jerked awake when nearly asleep? Halfway out, we come back to the body sharply enough to shake it a little.

IMAGES: guardian angelinnovation

Bachelor, Stephen. Living with the Devil: A Meditation on Good and Evil. New York: Riverhead Books, 2004.

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