Archive for 29 April 2018

Tracing the Divine


Serpent Mound, OH — learning and growth, like insight and practice, often curve


I’m reading and re-reading an obviously older poem I found in my parents’ papers, hand-copied into a notebook in my mother’s careful but aging secretarial script, with no title or author. (If you know anything about it, I’d appreciate a reference or citation!)

Of the poem’s two stanzas, this couplet in particular caught my attention:

Through worlds unnumber’d though the god be known,
‘Tis ours to trace him only in our own.

The times don’t stand still, and neither do our habits of speech. Older poetic diction can throw us off. So, for that matter, can the assumption of a male deity — or deity of any kind. But if I work with it, squeeze it for what I can get out of it, I can often find useful material for contemplation in older literature. Springs of Druidry flow in the most remarkable places.

Of course such literature and writings may run rife with sexism, racism, other isms — take your pick. That’s almost a given. Our words today are no less weighted with assumptions that will no doubt seem quaint, distracting, or deeply objectionable in a few decades or centuries. Our wise descendants will know how to sift and choose the silver from our dross. If I’m to rank their equal, I can learn to do the same today with the small portion of our ancestral planetary inheritance that comes within my purview.


We’ve known we dwell in a poly-verse for some time. Include our inner worlds and the number of realms increases exponentially. Whatever anybody else says, our lives hand us each a unique set of specifics. So many deities ready for discovery, service, respectful exclusion, whether they’re given name and form through a tradition by the experiences and insights of many, or called by other names and shaped by the imperatives of hunger, sex, fear, desire, or drives for wealth and power nearly as strong.

Part of our challenge is that we’re such fluid and supple movers-between-realms, so that in any one moment we can forget where we’ve been and where we’re headed, even in just a single 24-hour cycle.

Dream, waking, trance, listening-to-music, buzzing on caffeine, focused on a computer game or craft or sport, praying, daydreaming, balancing our checkbooks — every day we slip in and out of a dozen or more states of consciousness — worlds all their own — and, most days, never pay it much mind at all.

I needn’t attempt to track down such a force, power, god or instinct in every world, or insist that because I find it in my world that it must exist in yours, too. Ideally, many-ness can induce in me an endless wonder at variety, along with a humility to learn from yet another manifestation of this immense cosmos we inhabit.

Through a paradox that seems to root quite deeply in our cosmos, in at least this world and a few others I know of, if I tend to my own truth deeply enough, it awakens echoes for others. And the same holds true for them. We know this when we’re open enough to recognize in another’s experience an analog of our own. The god, the cosmos, our individuality, the Singularity, intelligent protoplasm, whatever your current favorite label, finds itself in sameness-within-difference, much as my breakfast eggs each contain a yolk, but each egg is different. The Cosmos seems to adore individuality.

We know the dangers of inbreeding. First the thoroughbred, refined for a specific trait (or whole basketful of them), but the ideal pursued too far runs toward the genetic multiplication of undesirable traits.

Cosmos seems to say, OK, you exist, mostly the same as others of your kind. Now — get different!

Or to put it in terms of finding ourselves, clone not, lest thou be owned. It’s that quest to find the happy medium between copycat-dom and a Frank Sinatra-insistence on doing it “your way” in all things.


‘Tis ours to trace him only in our own.

Dropped squarely in our individuality are both legacy and goal. We look backward and forward, too. Those two form the third thing of a self. I keep noticing that the most creatively alive and spiritually limber people aren’t those who cherish the mantra What’s the point? or How can I even ___ ? They manage to find something interesting enough to them that, at least while we’re in their orbit, they often infect us with that same enthusiasm and delight.

That’s simply more fun that judging and condemning others. It just takes a while to wean our human selves from the high of fear and substitute other and healthier highs. Or to put it in other words, reptile brain is useful, but needn’t call all the shots.

Like you, I’m the sum total of everything I’ve been, regardless of whether you count just this life or a thousand previous ones. Looking just genetically, I’m the end result of all my ancestral DNA, and if those mitochondrial strands hold nothing more of the genetically marvelous than we’ve so far discovered, I can make the most of my present here and now because all my ancestors did the same in theirs. Otherwise I simply wouldn’t be here. I’m their evidence, if they need it. Just a little late for use during their lifetime, or explanation or defense for what they were up to.

In many ways, the divine is at its most alive in the physical world. Make of my existence an object for contemplation, a laboratory for experiment and discovery, and an opportunity to participate in what the universe is doing all around us — transforming — and I never again need to wonder or worry What’s the point?

So among my strategies are mining our cultural wisdom for its value and insight, granting older assumptions and states of consciousness the same respect I try to grant my parents and grandparents, even if my way is different, has shifted from theirs. It’s the same freedom from criticism and censure I try to grant myself. Not out of any softness or over-generous assessment or misplaced loyalty, but simply because it accomplishes nothing. It’s an energy sink, a pothole on the way. Here is wisdom; take from the hoard what you can use and put it to work.

(If it needs a new handle, or the edge needs sharpening, well, what tool doesn’t benefit from loving care?)

The form of things is part of their value and identity. A limit is a tool like anything else. To the extent I see the facets of my personality, my partner, my situation, my perspective, even my “problems” in this liberating light, I make good use of my inheritance, and begin to fulfill my mission in ways that delight and build and expand.

As Greer observes in his Mystery Teachings from the Sacred Earth,

Everything in existence exists and functions on one of several planes of being or is composed of things from more than one plane acting together as a whole system.  These planes are discrete, not continuous, and the passage of influence from one plane to another can take place only under conditions defined by the relationship of the planes involved.

These conditions are part of our learning, practice and mastery.

To be continued.

/|\ /|\ /|\

Greer, J. M. Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. Weiser Books, 2012.

Image: Serpent Mound, Ohio, USA.

Posted 29 April 2018 by adruidway in Druidry, earth spirituality

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