On solitude, regular spiritual practice, and making do.
May I an island be at sea
May I a rock be on land
- The Carmina Gadelica
I'm the kind of person who longs for a regular schedule, but as soon as I come close to achieving one, rebels against it. Living in the country with animals, and at the mercy of weather and changing seasonal chores, I'm probably in little danger of ever achieving that regularity - particularly since I have so many competing interests. Can you sense the rush of thoughts there? What will I do first? What chores have I forgotten? Why don't I have more time to have fun?
It's very tempting to say "Well, everything I do is part of my spiritual practice, so it'll all be fine". It's a great theory, but I generally notice things going a bit sour within about 36 hours of me abandoning the practices that hold me in "soul-itude". Daily mediation, prayer, looking after my physical self, ritual, conscious kindness to others -- that stuff really holds me together, if I allow it.
I've been participating in the new Solitary Druid Fellowship, or SDF*, for a few months, and I've been trying to come to a more positive attitude toward solitude. I confess I've struggled a bit. I'm a little tired of solitude these days, if I'm honest. However, today's daily card draw from my oracle deck finally brought me some clarity. The card I pulled for meditation this morning was the Island - which I define as "The need for simplicity. Valuing what you have at hand. The frustration of shortage."
The frustration of shortage.
There is an acknowledgement here of the frustration I'm sure others feel, too. I feel the shortage of fellowship keenly at times, whether in ritual or during the flatness of a Sabbat day spent without companions. One of the lessons that has to be accepted from Island life is that shortages are real, and if the Island's only shop is out of butter, no amount of money or complaints can change it, and all must equally go without until the next boat brings more. Some of us may be on this island by choice, others only by circumstance, and others are just visitors to the solitary path.
The need for simplicity.
I have found that ritual, far from adding another "chore" to my list, seems to simplify things. I know what is required, and I can get on with it. Rituals, like recipes, are best carefully chosen, tested and adjusted - but then they become second nature. It's how I learned to bake bread. What initially seemed like a lot of trouble to go through to eat healthier bread is now a straightforward and enjoyable process. This was something of a revelation to me. It happened when I decided to learn a couple of prayers. They were fairly short prayers, and the hard part wasn't learning them, it was remembering to say them. I ended up printing them out, sticking them onto pictures I liked, and putting them on my bedroom walls. It worked, and now these are a comforting and uplifting moment in my day. As I've shared before, this was the origin of my meditation and prayer cards.
Valuing what you have at hand.
I can see myself doing something similar with the SDF daily devotions. I will value them, and no doubt personalise them, and enjoy knowing that perhaps others are doing something similar. I hope that I may gain a little extra strength to value and use the other gifts I have at hand as a result, and learn to spend a little more time in true "soul-itude."
*edit 2021: The SDF no longer exists.
Blessing the Hearth
Charm for the Protection of Horses
Dreams of Peace
You can see more about the individual cards here.