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.

 

Thoughts from Meditation #1

A quiet mind, like the surface of a still lake.

 

*The more clear something is, the harder it is to perceive the thing itself. Think absolutely clear water, or a spotless window, or the air on top of a mountain. The only way we can perceive a perfectly clear thing, is by how well we can see the things beyond or within it.

*Meditating during the Hour of Jupiter led to esoteric Mind Monkeys.

*Meditating during the Hour of Mars led to Mind Monkeys of previous conflicts.

*Maybe the reason we don’t focus on our bodies is because we want to ignore the pain we’ve stored and refuse to let go.

Strategic Sorcery Homework #3

Druid Bugout Bag and Mobile Working Altar

The planetary power exercise took a cleansing ritual of our old property to a whole new level. The following took place on the 5th of April 2012, Day of Jupiter, Hour of Mercury.

Tools: smudge bundle (white sage, common sage, and lavender, the last two being grown on the property), dagger, hurricane water, salt, talisman (upright pentacle, seal of Mars in the center, Jupiter to the left, Mercury to the right–on a post-it note).

The working altar was set up in the kitchen, as it was the center of the house.

Divination as to the outcome: Four of Pentacles, Ace of Pentacles, High Priestess.

Process: First, cleansed the hose/drove out the critters, working from basement to attic (counter-clockwise on each room and level), by Fire and Air with smudge bundle, saying:

I cast you out by Fire and Air,
I cast you out by the steel of my blade,
I cast you out by the force of my will.
You cannot hide from me,
You are not welcome here.
Flee before me!
The grasping tendrils of smoke drag you away, far from this place.
By the storm of my heart, the flames of my will and the strength of my arm, I cast you out!

Then, purify and bless with Water and Earth, using hurricane water (from Sandy) and salt, again working up from basement to attic, but moving clockwise.

I bless and purify this place, by Water and Earth, of any stain of sorrow or pain.
May this home be blessed by the love of Water.
May this home be blessed by the gifts of Earth.
Pain turns to strength and sorrow becomes wisdom.
Shine, that the light of this place may join the greater Light.

The results were immediate. Both my (ex-)husband and I have been able to work in the house without anxiety. We also had a rash of new interest in the listing; this does coincide with the usual spring real estate boom, but it was waaaay more than we had last year.

Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)

We’re up to week 40 of the PBP posts. I’m sorry to say that for the moment, these are just going to be photograph posts. Maybe I’ll get to adding semi-meaningful text, but this is the last big push on this project.

Without further ado, poison ivy…so prominent, and so often ignored magically speaking:

Raspberry

Week 36 of the PBP.

I love, love, love this plant! It’s one of the most gregarious of the hedge-dwellers, and provides bounty for all who would dare to dance through its thorns. Raspberries make the August heat bearable, a reward for the long hot days.

Raspberry was the first plant that I learned to identify as safe to eat. I like to fancy that I have a good understanding with the thorny brambles—I rarely get scratched, and my small stature comes in handy for reaching into the depths of the stand to get at the berries that the birds ignore as too difficult.

This is a Firey, Martian plant if ever there was one. I always feel safe within its thorns.

Nettle

Nettle hanging out in a Portugese castle.

Week 29 of the PBP.

The whole plant is downy, and also covered with stinging hairs. Each sting is a very sharp, polished spine, which is hollow and arises from a swollen base. In this base, which is composed of small cells, is contained the venom, an acrid fluid, the active principle of which is said to be bicarbonate of ammonia. When, in consequence of pressure, the sting pierces the skin, the venom is instantly expressed, causing the resultant irritation and inflammation.  —Grieve 1931

It’s an interesting bit of timing that this is the week of the nettle as one of my son’s playmates had her first encounter with one down in the conservation land on Tuesday. When I first got stung bicycling along a dirt road in the French countryside, the woman who was watching me grabbed a handful of road dust and rubbed it furiously over the sting. She said in very broken English that this removed the stingers and made the pain fade faster. I did the same for my son’s friend, now 25 years later, and it seemed to do the trick!

On the one hand, I felt terribly that she had been stung, on the other hand, I was excited to find them on our land as I hadn’t discovered a source for them yet. People complain about nettles, but frankly, I’d take a nettle sting over poison ivy any day—nettles may hurt a bit more in the short term, but they don’t leave you itching for weeks.

Nettles have a long history with humankind. Grieve details some of this:

The common name of the Nettle, or rather its Anglo-Saxon and also Dutch equivalent, Netel, is said to have been derived from Noedl (a needle), possibly from the sharp sting, or, as Dr. Prior suggests, in reference to the fact that it was this plant that supplied the thread used in former times by the Germanic and Scandinavian nations before the general introduction of flax, Net being the passive participle of ne, a verb common to most of the Indo-European languages in the sense of ‘spin’ and ‘sew’ (Latin nere, German na-hen, Sanskrit nah, bind). Nettle would seem, he considers, to have meant primarily that with which one sews.

Nettle is also one of the plants mentioned in the 9 Herbs Charm:

Nettle it is called, it attacks against poison,
it expels malignant things, casts out poison.
This is the herb that fought against the serpent,
this avails against poison, it avails against contagion,
it avails against the loathsome one who travels through the land.

Magically speaking, I associate nettle with Fire and Mars; Cunningham does as well, and cites it as being an herb of protection/curse removal, purification, and healing (2003, 183).  Nettle along with ginger, holly, mistletoe, pimpernel and wolfsbane can be used in the consecration of ritual knives (Beyerl 1984).  The Carr-Gomms view nettle as being an herb of transmutation, its irritating quality concealing its valuable gifts (2007, 84).