Nathalie to participate in Alex Shalman's Gotta Get Goals meme. This actually ties into the gwers that I'm currently working on in the OBOD Bardic course, so I figured I'd list a few of my spiritual goals (this being a spiritual blog and all).
Esablish a self-sufficient, eco-friendly, spiritually-rich community. Nathalie actually mentioned in her goals that she would like to one day live in an eco-friendly, energy-efficient house, where she could grow much of her own food and raise her own livestock, closer to the wild outdoors. I've actually had similar yearnings ever since I was little, but over the past few years, I've started to understand how much value I place on community and interrelationship. I live a rather solitary and largely self-sufficient (if not ideally eco-friendly) life right now, and sometimes I find the isolation frustrating or even detrimental to my spiritual growth. I would like to be a part of a real-life community built on the notion that by working together on mundane tasks to provide for simple, daily needs, we also free up enough time to pursue more esoteric intellectual, artistic and spiritual studies, either individually or as a group. The community (or "tribe," if you will) wouldn't have to be specifically Druidic or even Pagan--in fact, there are a few people in my life right now who are neither but whom I'd very much like to include. I imagine it as a collective of individuals and families, sharing the care of land and animals as well as other tasks, all committed to living a life of respect for and low-impact to the earth, while pursuing the advancement and enrichment of the arts, philosophies, sciences and politics of the larger world. Think "hippie commune" meets "Buddhist monastery" meets "home-schooling" meets "college campus"... sort of.
Become an ordained priestess in either AODA or OBOD (or both?), and actively participate in a local Grove and/or study-group. Ever since I was old enough to ask my dad, "Who's the old man in the funny dress talking at the front of the church?" I've wished that the Catholic tradition allowed for the ordination of women. Since then I've become almost wholly disenchanted with the Church as a social and political institution, steeped in hypocrisy and clinging to rather bull-headed and narrow definitions of what it means to be "life-affirming" and spiritually loving. However, I still feel that call to step into the role of priest(ess), even though I no longer conceive of it as that of the sole arbiter between an individual and the Divine. In the end, I suppose it's just that most of my passions, talents and skills are not "practical" or useful in the modern, capitalist sense, and being able to turn those passions towards the service of others within a supportive spiritual community has always seemed like the ideal option. There is a part of me that wants to share and teach, but insists on doing so in my own unique way, not as a part of an institution focused primarily on indoctrination and practical-skills training (i.e. almost every high school or college in the country). Ideally, I would like to run study-groups and workshops focused on things like poetry as a spiritual practice, eco-living, nature study and hillwalking as meditative techniques, etc.; I would also like to continue to write about such subjects, and be involved regularly in community spiritual acts of ritual or worship.
Continue to improve on my meditative skills and intuitive relationship with nature and its spirits/Spirit. Meditation has always been difficult for me, simply because my mind is so active most of the time--"monkey-mind" always hopping from one thing to another. On the one hand, projects that allow me to indulge in this way of thinking are the most fulfilling (poetry, with its leaps in metaphor and imagery; political philosophy and spiritual theology, which allow me to pull diverse examples and synthesize them into coherent patterns of meaning, etc.), but on the other hand, meditation is a struggle because it asks me to stay still and quiet, mentally as well as physically. Working with the AODA idea of "discursive meditation" as well as techniques of "active" meditation involved in hillwalking and the martial arts (not that I do martial arts, but I do stretch and exercise as a spiritual practice) has proven fruitful, but I need to develop the self-discipline to stick with such methods as a matter of principle, and not merely when I desire some immediate benefit. The same goes for my interactions with nature--I need to make a concerted effort to get back into the "flow" of nature by seeking it out and attending to it on a daily basis. I remember when I was little, being able to smell a storm coming, or calling whole flocks of birds to me, or sitting down to "talk" with rabbits without them skittering away. Reading Abram's book, The Spell of the Sensuous a few months ago reminded me that a harmonious and integrated relationship with nature is very much possible, but it's something I need to immerse myself and work towards. Ideally, my goal is to be centered and peaceful throughout my daily life, and to find community in nature as readily as I find it in other human beings.
Discover an area of specialization to focus on. At the moment, I'm still fairly new to the Pagan community (I always find it amusing when I find my blog listed among the "Pagan Writers" links on people's webpages, since I still consider myself Christian for the most part), and I haven't really begun to specialize in anything in particular. I know certain Pagans who have specialized in or concentrated on healing, divination, herbal lore, particular crafts or arts, historic, language or archeological academic studies, working with the spirits of ancestors or the recently deceased, etc. etc. etc. I haven't really felt a pull to specialize in anything in particular, but my interests and passions in general have always focused primarily on the art of poetry, and a philosophical approach to politics, culture and social theory. It is difficult to claim a specialization in poetry within the Druid/Pagan community, since it seems almost everyone writes and reads it (at least as part of self-designed or improvised personal ritual). It's equally difficult to bring my interest in politics and social theory to bear on a spiritual community that is admittedly atomized and somewhat fragmented, due to patterns of social organization and the omnipresence of communication technology common to modernity. I've always had vivid and sometimes premonitory dreams, but I haven't yet figured out a way to utilize them consistently. (The other night, I had a dream that somehow, someone had gotten hold of an early copy of the last Harry Potter book and was threatening to tell everyone the ending; the very next evening, Stephen Colbert teased the audience with just such a threat, waving his advanced copy of the book in front the camera--but tell me, exactly how useful or practical can such a silly premonition be?) Ideally, I'd like to find my "niche" within the Druid community, to be able to offer a unique talent or skill to a local Grove or group, even if that skill is the mundane task of efficiently organizing meetings or writing poetry to be used in ritual and meditation.
Study a few key areas of interest more in-depth, specifically: Qabalah, sacred geometry and pythagorean music theory, and phenomenology as it relates to and informs Druidry. There's not much more to say about this goal, except that it fulfills my nerdy, scholarly side. As usual, I have an urge to take Druidry seriously in an academic sense, and to study it as a religion or spiritual tradition with as much legitimacy as Christianity, Shinto, Buddhism, Islam, or any other religion. I'm intrigued as much by its more dusty-tomes aspects as by its green, solar-powered, intuitive aspects. I want to learn more, and I intend to. (If only I could go to grad school for such study!)
Pilgrimage to ancient sites in Ireland and England. I consider this a "must" along my spiritual path. I've always wanted to visit Ireland, since my family roots are largely Celtic, and I've also become fascinated by the ancient sites of power along St. Michael's Leyline in England (as well as the crop-circle phenomenon that occurs along it in the summer). I'd very much like to go on a pilgrimage with the express purpose of personal meditation and exploration, perhaps also writing a book of poetry or creative non-fiction based on my experiences.
Find a way of living peacefully and lovingly with my best friend, even if we never do get back together as a romantic couple. This is more of a personal goal, but it involves a certain amount of spiritual growth on my part. Although I hate using the term "soul mate," in some ways I do feel as though we bonded on a very intimate, even spiritual level while we were dating, although it has taken a long time of being "just friends" to truly appreciate it. Although petty insecurities about dying a virginal "old maid" who never succeeded in "winning him back" sometimes haunt me, I am committed to maintaining a friendship of unconditional love and support, even if it only ever remains a friendship from now on. I am also committed to a spiritual and emotional integrity that keeps me from pursuing other relationships based mostly on physical attraction or my own loneliness. Ideally, I want to really, truly mean it when I say that I just want him to be happy and to have a fulfilling life (and I want to be able to forgive myself for still wanting to be an integral part of it). ::deep breath:: Okay... that's going to be the hardest goal, I can tell.
Oops--almost forgot to tag a few people:
- Mam Adar
- Benn (aka "ColoradoCelt")