You might have thought I had been abducted into the Other World.
It has been nearly a year since I posted here. You could well think I have been abducted by fairies. For I have indeed been inhabiting a liminal space....
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2017 is going to be the year where hopefully the words “voluntary simplicity” will be embraced by a wider range of people. I know that I have been incorporating voluntary simplicity in my own life for many years now, and that there is still many more ways in which I can follow a simpler, more efficient and ecologically sustainable way of being in the world. To do so, I am constantly informing myself, being conscious and mindful, trying to look at the bigger picture and taking personal responsibility for the world that I am leaving to our ancestors of the future. Now more than ever, we are at the crucial tipping point where we have to look beyond our own self-interest and look to the whole, to be more holistic in everything that we do.
I have incorporated Zen and Buddhism into my life for many years. For me, this brings a wisdom from both Eastern and Western philosophies that can blend together to form a holistic worldview and way of life. I feel that East and West need each other in order to understand the whole. Only when we understand the material as well as the spiritual can we bring them together to live fully in the here and now.
It’s important that simplicity, in terms of reducing consumerism, resources and living a better, cleaner more sustainable life, is voluntarily chosen. When it is not, we come across such suffering as poverty. Many people in the world do not have a choice to reduce, reuse, to choose. Here in the West, many of us can make choices, however small, in our daily lives that strive towards a more sustainable future for everyone. Where we can, we should voluntarily make that choice, in order to preserve a future for humanity. In doing so, we will also achieve a higher quality of life, and be able to truly flourish as a species. We are at that balance point, if we haven’t already gone too far, to either evolve into a higher consciousness and have that reflected in our actions, to come together as we realise that there is more to bind us together than tear us apart, or we can fall into divisiveness, fighting each other over the few differences and destroying not only ourselves, but a large portion of life on this planet in our downfall.
But what is simplicity? It is living in harmony with the world. Druidry is all about relationship, and this is also at the heart of simplicity. It is egalitarian. It sees through the illusions created by modern-day culture and society, the need to consume, the distractions of the media. It is about seeing what is really important in life: your family, your friends, your local environment. It is about living sustainably, so that our children and their children, as well as all the planet’s children, both human and non-human, have a good quality of life. It is about learning what is enough, rather than striving for more.
The grey skies and the angle of the sun in a British January often conspire to wash the colour out of the landscape. Whatever colour remains, that is, after the leaves come down, and the grass dies back. Sometimes we get frost and snow – pretty at first but rapidly greying as well. Our winters tend to lack visual drama. What we get instead is drab, and demoralising. This is why celebrating colour in January is so very important.
There are of course brighter days, when the lower angle of the sun can produce surprising effects. Intensely bright blue skies are always possible. I walked on Christmas day this year, and the combination of cloud and low light conspired to create soft light, filling the woods with unexpectedly warm tones. When there’s any kind of decent daylight, it is important to get out there and experience it, especially if you are someone prone to winter blues....
On New Year’s Day we walked our local labyrinth. It was raining. We took our clothes off in the carpark, to keep them dry and walked, wrapped in a sarong, a towel across the small footbridge and along the avenue of apples, in full leaf by now and with discarded baby green apples, half eaten by the birds crunching under our feet over the bark mulch covering the path. The rain was light, gentle, not warm exactly but not fiercely cold either, it’s high summer here though most of the time you wouldn’t know it. When we arrive the labyrinth looks washed clean, its coloured mosaic tiles gleaming and small puddles across the surface of it.
“Beginnings and endings are so very sacred, to give honor to all that has transpired, every experience, every joy, every pain, is a doorway to the magical. Hold your entire year between your hands, every day, every thought, every breath. Now bless it with gratitude, love and humility. You have done more to transform this new year than a thousand resolutions.”...
Yule this year passed in a blur of work and school. We sent the little boys off to school Tuesday, giving ourselves one final day to finish holiday preparations: breads and cookies baked, packages wrapped and decorated, the sunfire collected by my husband and the Hestia candle on the stove top lit, ready for the rush of children and the Mystery of the longest night.
As each year passes faster and faster, it seems, I am continually caught unaware, needlessly so, I feel. I know in January when the Solstice will occur: all I need to do is flip to the back of the calendar and look. In fact, I already know that next Yule will be December 21, 2017, and that the solstice will occur at 11:28 in the morning. This knowledge should prepare me, but the reality is that I will be so caught up in the day to day details of secular living that spiritual observances are often pushed aside until the last minute. I often feel I am shortchanging myself.
Emily Kell (Savannah, GA) I am a visionary artist whose work takes root in ideals of divine feminine and a return to the energy of the primordial goddess. I created a language to write secret poems and messages that I include in my female empowerment series that honors women in their many unique manifestations of beauty.
Bethroot Gwynn (Myrtle Creek, OR) marks her 21st year as WeMoon's Special Editor and her 41st at Fly Away Home women's land, where she grows food, theater and ritual. For more info about spiritual gatherings or working visits send a SASE to POB 593, Myrtle Creek, OR 97457).