Front and back of our new membership cards. More details on our membership page here
When people come to stay with us, they generally fall in to two categories of reactions. The first, and of course my favourite is when they are completely amazed at our lifestyle and become inspired to take on their own projects at home. The other, not so favourite reaction is one of complete and utter astonishment that we don't fit some pre-imagined picture or set of expectations usually along the lines of where's the castle or why don't you do this or that. These reactions are sometimes a little difficult to manage, and sometimes you just have to call it....you're projecting your idea of Druid on to us, this is who we are....take it or leave it.......
Anyway........within these two main reactions both generally agree that our home is very peaceful with an air of tranquility and deep calm. We work hard at making sure that this peace is always with us, and of course we as the humans in the equation don't always get it right, thankfully it's not just us, there's the rocks that the house is made from dotted with sparkling quartz, the living water circulating in our underfloor heating system, the hemp supplied by friends on the walls allowing the house to breath and the sheep's wool in the attic, our woolly hat in winter. We don't have many electrical appliances whizzing or buzzing constantly and at night time the silence grows much deeper. I've found that some people relax into this space immediately whilst others who live in cities, take awhile to tune in.
We have a deep respect for Nature, this means that we are conscious of our connection to Nature. At every moment with every breath we are interacting and connecting with Nature. If you look at a dictionary definition of Nature, you'll find something along the lines of "the physical world and everything in it (such as plants, animals, mountains, oceans, stars, etc.) that is not made by people" Fair enough, but the definition and mindset doesn't really allow for the full concept... that people are part of Nature, we are not above Nature, below Nature, in control of Nature or separate from Nature. Even when we're inside an apartment block on the 17th floor of a sprawling city- we are still with Nature, this is who we are. It's the over analyzing, categorizing, specializing and all the other iizings that encourage us to believe that we are separate from Nature, that it is something we must care for.....it is, but come at it from the view point that we are Nature, how does that change your understanding?
We can communicate with other parts of Nature quite easily. We share the same space, we share nutrients, water, minerals, we depend on each other and we communicate on such basic levels that it's way too simple for our categorized, segmented brains and egos to allow! I have often found plants by smell alone. Hidden in the long grass or thorny hedge the most delicate of flowers can call out to pollinators, and what a joy it is to locate these plants through their aromatic touch. If you're just saying hello, you don't need to know it's latin name and all it's properties, all you have to do is appreciate it and know that it has just spoken to you in it's language! When I forage for berries in the hedges my intuition tells me only to pick berries in the height or space from my knees to my shoulders.....to leave berries for the birds and smaller creatures. Most people who spend a lot of time outdoors with plants and trees have little rituals or understandings particular to them and their immediate environment, when Ard Druí Red John and his family visit the fairy tree on Tara, they respectfully check in from a distance to feel if the tree is open for a visit.....respect.
Culture, can be defined as shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialization. It can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group.
Apparently the the word "culture" derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin "colere," which means to tend to the earth and grow.
We also see the word used in a scientific sense to describe groups of bacteria and fungi, we know of beneficial cultures of bacteria and fungi everywhere; in the soil promoting growth, in fermented foods like cheese, krauts, kimchi, and all manner of condiments.
I have a great belief that even though we lost our Forest Culture in the 1600's the bacteria and fungi necessary for forest growth is still here in the soil. I also feel that our sense of separation from Nature comes from a decrease in beneficial culture in our diets and immediate environment.
I approach a solution to this this from a few different angles. I try my best not to intentionally destroy beneficial bacteria....cleaning products in our home are all natural. We have a reed bed system for our waste water so I can visibly see how I'm doing....strong growth of reeds, iris', willows in the reed beds means I'm not killing the good stuff.......bleach kills good bacteria...so no bleach. Similar when I'm outside, no weedkillers, no poisons, same with my own body....no poisons....refined white sugar, dextrose and similar manufactured products are the equivalent of bleach in my mind, sure they do a great job, in that they taste great but oh wow the consequences..
I plant and care for lots of trees and plants, I'm playing a conscious part in the growth of the native culture of our local ecosystem.
I make and eat lots of culture i.e.fermented food products from veg grown locally. And my favourite way of restoring culture is to make herbal mead elixirs.....(local honey, local flowers, local yeast) a recipe for delightful culture.
I came across this blog when looking for ideas for meads; I make my meads in quite a similar way to this blog post: http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/?page_id=1862
So, you are Nature, where ever you are, Nature is with you. You can feel more connected by becoming aware of your personal connections.....what products do you use, can you change any? Supporting the growth of one potted plant in your home changes your immediate ecosystem- you can practice conscious connection with this plant. Make fermented food- sourdough bread, sauerkraut, mead.....start looking around you. Even in the cities there are nooks and crannies of wonderful and vibrant culture.
Most importantly, have fun.....if you approach this from a guilt perspective, you've already changed your inner culture and guilt is not the approach you want to take........fun, love, exploration, adventure,gratitude and Love, did I say that one already.....Love, love yourself, love your world.....that's all you have to do. If you can't love yourself and consequently the world around you then decide to go on a fun filled adventure of change!
Niamh and Con are founding members of Celtic Druid Temple and walk the path of Celtic Druids in Roscommon, Eire.