Peace in the Time of Towers

The subject of peace is a tricky one.  Peace, or frith as the Heathens call it, is foundational to Revival Druidry, born out of the conflict between Welsh and English.  In Iolo Morganwg’s “Call for Peace”, peace becomes a verb.

The Truth against the world,
Will you bring peace?
Your heart with my heart,
Will you bring peace?
Shout above resounding shout,
Will you bring peace?

Peace is not just something that you say, but something that you do (to paraphrase the words of the fabulously epic Kristoffer Hughes).  This call challenges us as Druids to bring peace in the face of a world which denies truth.  This call challenges us to stand heart to heart with one another, despite any arguments.  And this call challenges us to hold fast to peace, no matter the cacophony that surrounds us.

Ideals of peace cannot be an excuse for cowardice or avoidance.  The call to peace also does not abdicate one of responsibility to defend the helpless.  Listening to victims, believing their stories, letting them be vulnerable in their pain–these are all acts of peace and compassion even if they feel almost violent in the moment.  Understand that anger and fear are not antithetical to peace, but must be worked through and acknowledged before healing can begin.  Hold peace, preserve the space where conflict and disagreement can be aired and solutions can be woven from the ashes of difference.

Peace is not the easy road, and it does not mean a life free of aggression.  It does not mean avoidance of conflict or withdrawal from the world.  Indeed, an intimate knowledge of physical violence is helpful to understanding peace, and just how dear its price can be.  I practice a style of northern mantis Kung Fu.  It is a martial art, an art of war, an art of harming others no matter how much some might want to pretty it up as “self-defense”.  The notion that I would allow family to be harmed in the face of a physical attack is ludicrous.  If I have the means to keep them safe, I will.  I value their lives above my own ideals of non-violence.  If I’m brutally honest, I value my own life above that of an attacker.

Yet it is not a choice to be made lightly.  Every time we stand in front of the altar in the training hall, we repeat an oath: patience and control. It is quite literally the Chinese character for fire flipped upside down.  A fire banked and fully mastered is a useful tool that we control rather than the other way around.  What could be more fundamental to the fostering of peace than complete agency over one’s own violence?

As a Druid, I pray for peace.  I pray for peace daily.  In these Tower Times, I pray for peace, and prepare for conflict.  For “those without swords can still die upon them.

 

12 Nights of Yule: Feast Night

7294830668_6ac2134bab_kYule’s emphasis (for me at any rate) is on family and community. The coming together, the sharing of food—it all strengthens the bonds between individuals as we move into the harsh winter months.

Gods know that 2016 has been harsh.  We need celebration and family (chosen or otherwise) desperately.

I have mixed feelings about gifts. By and large, I decided not to do gifts, and have been greatly enjoying the freedom from giving up the practice. The exception to this is my mother, whom I want to spoil just a bit this year. But releasing oneself from the obligation of hitting the mall in search of things that we don’t really need is tremendous.

Grandparents do, however, delight in giving things to the kids. I think they would be sad if they couldn’t express themselves that way. And my son, well, this is certainly a holiday for children, and he’ll doubtless be enjoying the spoils, as it were!

It’s been wonderful to see our family traditions change, making space for the things we like, weeding through the things we don’t. And it’s even more wonderful to realize that we can continue to evolve our practices as we grow. This is what tradition should be: repeated activities which strengthen and inspire the people who perpetuate them.

Merry Yule to all, and to all a good night!