PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
When we met in nineteen thirty-eight, it was November
When I said that I would be his mate, it was December
I reasoned he would be the greatest husband that a girl had ever found
That’s what I reasoned
That’s what I reasoned
Then April rolled around…
April has rolled around once again, and with it comes a tradition that has been part of the background of American life that stretches even farther back than 1938- it began almost the very day in 1845 when the Knickerbocker Club of New York City took on the New York Nine in the first organized game of “base ball” ever played. Since that day, as Meg laments in Damn Yankees, baseball has been a part of American life for “six months out of every year.”...
We’ve not long passed the equinox, that twice yearly point in the wheel where normal Paganism stops to talk about balance, and usually alongside this, peace. World Peace Day falls close to the autumn equinox and Earth day, and Earth Hour are around the spring one. Peace and balance are, without a doubt, good things to work for.
Some days my life has little of either. On the whole, I have a quiet, easy, privileged sort of life, free from many of the things that torment many of the world’s inhabitants. Even so, I find celebrating balance really difficult. Not least because I do not see much of the balance of nature as a comfortable harmony – all too often, balance is created by things in tension, pulling in opposite directions. Conflicting needs counterbalancing each other can create harmony very easily when you look at the whole effect. The experience of any part of the whole, is not of the harmony, but of the conflict....
At the moment I’m reading a biography of Tori Amos that she wrote with journalist Ann Powers, entitled Piece by Piece. Within the first few pages Tori mentions inner sovereignty, something that cannot be taken from her by anyone. They can do what they like, say what they like but she knows who she is, and is queen of her own self. I’ve been thinking about sovereignty, how we can come to an understanding of it and really see it manifest in our own lives.
I see sovereignty and peace as being inextricably entwined. We cannot have one without the other. When we know ourselves, when we understand why we do the things that we do, when we can control out thoughts and feelings, living lives of intention instead of reaction, then we are truly sovereign of our life. This comes from a deep well of peace, wherein we find that inner core of our selves that is silent and still, that sings our soulsong in its purest form. It is our personal truth. Neither sovereignty nor peace can be conferred from without – both must begin from within.
Peace is related to truth. We have to be willing to be open and honest with our selves, to see through our many layers of delusion, in order to understand our very being. We have to see the good and the bad, acknowledge all these within our selves and through this acknowledgment, gain some control, some sovereignty over our behaviour. Too often we run from the truth, whether it is the truth about ourselves or the truth about climate change. To face these truths requires us to change, to possibly suffer in order to bring about that change. We don’t like change. We don’t like suffering. Yet we cannot escape either of these things. To live means to live a life that has good and bad within it; let’s transcend those notions of good and bad and just live. When we do that, we move beyond suffering. We face our truth, and in facing our truth we find peace.
Peace is achieved when we manage to step beyond our selves, to switch off that inner chatter, that constant thinking instead of being. This does not mean that we become robots, with no thoughts, feelings or emotions. Rather, we do not attach to them, we do not spend so much time with them, entertaining them as they go round and round in our minds. We step outside of that, moving beyond our own story in order to see the story of the world around us as it unfolds in every moment. This peace can be achieved with discipline, with daily meditation, with time spent out in nature. There is no limit to our ability to learn each and every day what this means. Little by little, we come closer to joy. When we realise the world is more than just us, we find peace.
We cannot control how others behave. We only have control over how we behave in the world, how we act and react to others. We can lessen our reaction to others to a more intentional way of being, through mindfulness of our thoughts, our bodies, the world around us. When things like pride or anger are not getting in the way, we can see things for what they really are. We have no need to threaten others, to undermine others, to make them suffer. We realise that in doing so we are only doing that to ourselves, through the inter-relatedness of nature. Letting go of the ego’s need for validation, for constant chatter, for endless self-centred thinking we can dive into the still, calm pools of reflection where peace is found. We find that we can contemplate the self without recrimination or judgement. When we can do that with our selves, we are able to do that with others. In that doing is compassion and understanding.
It can be difficult when others deliberately try to shatter our peace, who try to shake our foundation and inner sovereignty. But we cannot control them, and can only have compassion for them as they are so caught up in their suffering that they feel it necessary to spread it out into the wider world. We can instead find our true sense of self worth, our inner sovereignty, and let that light shine out in the world. We are our actions as well as our words. Our deeds are what is lasting in an impermanent world.
We can be at peace even in world that seems to going to hell in a handbasket. We can be at peace when others are trying to cut us down. We can be at peace in a world that is so materialistic and consumer driven that it is making itself extinct. That peace is the core of our being. That peace is within each and every one of us, if we are willing to see it. Through the opening of the eyes and the soul, we find that still, deep pool of being and of knowing, and there we reign supreme.
To find out more about mindfulness, meditation and peace, see my first book, Zen Druidry: Living a Life of Natural Awareness. This book combines Easter and Western philosophies, techniques and spirituality to create a path that is focused on the here and now, awake to the beauty of the world and its rhythms of nature that flow through and around us each with each and every breath.
Still Pool Print by Jennifer Oakley-Delaplante
As we entered into March, a strange energy overtook me. Perhaps it was that, while the rest of the country remained captive of the snow and ice, the West coast has had a warm, early spring. Perhaps it was, as some astrologers suggest, the Pegasus energy surrounding the eclipse on Ostara.
Whatever the muse we attribute with providing motivation, I have felt an invigorating sense of determined purpose. After years of plodding through a collaborative project, my co-author and I are nearly finished with the revised manuscript. After years of a loss of mobility from a degenerative knee issue, I finally started taking my health seriously and used my new insurance to get physical therapy....
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
From The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell...