Living life from a Druid's perspective
The Druid Approach to Ageing
Coming up to my fortieth year, I’ve been doing quite a bit of meditation upon the concept of ageing, and what it means to a woman in modern Western society.
As you all know, we have such a skewed view of aging in our culture and society – young equals beautiful when it comes to the homo sapiens. We do not judge the beauty of trees, flowers, cats or clouds, mountains or rivers by their age – why on earth do we do it for our own species?
Obvious reasons come down to one thing – money. Beauty is big business, and what better way than to create a marketing campaign that cannot fail – for everyone will get older. There’s no denying it. Feed upon our Western fear of ageing and death, and make big bucks while doing it. For the Druid, it is saddening, filling us with despair at times.
Beauty comes in all shapes and forms. For the animist Druid even more so. Value has no age limit – each thing has its own inherent value, its own inherent beauty. It is spirit given form. That spirit cannot be anything but beautiful. Truth is beauty, beauty truth. Living one’s truth is living beautifully. (See my previous post for Moon Books’ blog, on Truth, Honour and Service - http://moon-books.net/blogs/moonbooks/truth-honour-service/).
Why do we separate ourselves from our own truth when it comes to physical appearance? Because of the incessant marketing campaign mentioned above, to make us feel constantly dissatisfied with our appearance. No one can avoid ageing, but we can make everyone paranoid about it. What if we just stopped listening to Them, and just started listening to Us, the gods, the ancestors and the natural world around us?
I have worn makeup for most of my teenage and adult life. Not a lot, as I always hated that look. When you can see the makeup is becomes less appealing, in my eyes. However, I always used a little powder to take down the shine, a little eyeliner in the upper corners, a little mascara on the top lashes, a little blusher. Years upon years of this slight alteration to my face, to my appearance, to my truth.
Lately I have been reconnecting with that truth, with my appearance. Of course, I know what I look like first thing in the morning, makeup-free. But what about the rest of the day? I have spent years not really knowing what the truth of my face was, what I really looked like throughout the day. The little bit of makeup that I used hid that.
If I was tired, it was covered slightly by the eye makeup and blusher. If I was ill, again I used a tiny bit to make myself look healthier. I hated looking in the mirror and seeing myself pale, tired, ill. I avoided it. I despaired at my pale lips – a little touch of gloss or colour and my face seemed to come alive. What I didn’t realise what how much I was denying my own personal truth.
Now, I’m not saying that makeup is wrong, and that I never wear it. Far from it – as a belly dancer, when performing on stage or other venues, makeup is essential for others to be able to make out the facial features. As well, some days I just want to wear makeup, and I should allow myself that. What I need to watch out for is falling into a disconnected relationship with what I really look like.
And so, some days I go makeup-free. I go out of the house, to the shops, to work, without makeup. At work, when I go without make-up people often tell me that I look tired. Sometimes, I am. Sometimes I’m not. However, I also need to remind myself that they also don’t know what my face really looks like, as I have changed it so subtly for so long.
If I am ill, or tired, or bleeding my monthly courses, I will look different. Perhaps hiding that isn’t really doing me any favours. If I’m tired at work, hiding it with makeup means that perhaps people won’t go a little easier on me. If I’m ill and I fool myself with a bit of blusher, I might push myself to do things when I really should be resting. Above all, I need to learn to love my face as it is.
A dear friend of mine has recently decided to stop colouring her hair. In her early forties, her hair is turning silver from its previous dark brown shade. The other night, with her head bent as she was looking at her papers, the light that shone on her silver and copper tumble of hair took my breath away – it was absolutely beautiful. When I told her so, she looked up, her eyes shining, a great grin on her face. She has made the decision to look her age, and she is stunning.
It is true – the less makeup we wear as we get older, the better it looks. I’m sure you’ve all seen the little old ladies with painted faces – it’s almost a parody of youth. It’s difficult to get makeup to look “right” inside all the cracks and crevices our face will take on with the years. We have to learn to redefine what beauty means, and see beauty in the wrinkles and sags, in the aged skin and in the mischievous eyes, in the silver or white hair, in the age spots on the hands. Beauty is entirely subjective – let’s change it. The great thing about learned behaviour is that it can be unlearned.
All throughout my thirties I feared ageing, to an extent. I noticed lines, droops, changes in body size and shape. I thought negatively of each change – it was all downhill from here, or so I percieved. Inspired by the strong women around me, looking to nature, the gods and the ancestors, my perception has greatly changed as I have grown older. My husband told me the other week how he loved how I looked without makeup. I no longer fear to go without it. After exercise, my skin glows – it’s not hidden behind the thin veil. When tired, my eyes have less sparkle – but not less beauty. I am what I am – I can do no other. The illusion has fallen away.
I am very much looking forward to my fortieth birthday this August. I will be spending it alone, in a yurt, meditating and communing (make-up free). I will honour my body and my soul through all the changes it has seen through these last forty years of my life. I will wear false eyelashes and glitter when I want to, but I will equally know my own face in its natural state as it changes over time. I will no longer be disconnected from my ageing body. Instead, I will love it, appreciate it, and live it fully and aware. Therein, I am sure, lies true beauty.
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