Druid Heart: Living a Druid Life

Living life from a Druid's perspective

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Joanna van der Hoeven

Joanna van der Hoeven

Author, poet, singer, dancer, blogger and activist, Joanna van der Hoeven (Autumn Song) is a Druid and Animist who honours the natural world around her and seeks to live with awareness and compassion. She has released five books, including Zen Druidry, Dancing With Nemetona and her latest - The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid.
www.joannavanderhoeven.com
https://twitter.com/JoannavanderH
Prayer - it's not a one-way street...

A television show that I enjoyed, which originally aired in the late 90’s through to 2002, is Dharma and Greg. It is about a free-spirited woman with two hippy parents who is very spiritual, very loving and very funny. She marries a conservative born and bred lawyer, and the exchange, dynamic and growth between the two is what makes this such a great show.

At one point Dharma is praying in a hospital chapel, and her spirit guide, a Native American named George whom she connected with personally before he died, comes to her aid and offers advice in her time of need. He hears her praying, trying to have a conversation with whatever deity will listen in the multifaith chapel, and offers these very poignant words which I remember to this very day.

Dharma is feeling remorse because of harsh words she had about her mother, and now her mother is in danger of losing the child that she is carrying.

"George, my Mom might lose the baby."

"And you feel like you made this happen."

"It feels like it."

"Well if you did, they should put your picture up here on the spinning God Wheel", he says, indicating the multifaith prayer icon on the altar.

"Whether I did it or not, I was thinking it."

"Because you were angry."

"So what should I do now? Do you think I should stay here and pray?"

"What do you mean by praying?"

"I don't know - talk to the universe, to God, the Great Spirit, whatever It is."

“Huh. So, you’re having a conversation with the Great Spirit, the Maker of All Things, and you’re doing the talking?”

"Oh, right."

This, indeed defines for me the nature of what prayer is seen as today. Even if we are not asking for anything, a lot of prayer in our culture and society consists of a one-way conversation between the individual and the deity/spirit in question. Prayer is a relationship, for me, and as such necessitates a give and take in everything, including both spoken and unspoken words. Too often in prayer, we forget to listen. When we speak and then listen, then we are communing. Otherwise, we are just talking.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Great reminder, Joanna. We love Dharma and Greg, too, and George is a genius character. There are direct parallels between Nativ
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I think all earth-based traditions will have many similarities I do love that saying as well. So very true. x
  • Kim Campbell
    Kim Campbell says #
    Thank you for this post. You make an excellent point that we all seem to forget.
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thanks, Kim! x

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Basic Meditation

Here is a 13 minute basic mindfulness meditation that I created which can be incorporated into your daily practice. I also use it before prayer and ritual, to ground and center myself, preparing for the work.

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How Altars can Alter our Practice

 

Altars can have a very significant role in daily practice and worship, providing a focal point in establishing relationship. I try to highlight this importance with my students, explaining the benefits of have a focus within an area in which to open up communication with the spirits of place (or land, sea and sky), the ancestors, and the gods.  Communication is essential to good relationship, and finding a spot to come back to again and again helps us to not only strengthen the bond between the person and the place, but also gives it a ritual context within which to commune. Often this ritual context is held within a temple, whether it is a building or creation of stone and/or timber, or a sacred circle cast with energy around the practitioner. The importance of the altar and the temple should not be taken for granted, though neither are exactly essential.  

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The Uncomfortable Zone

Pushing out of your comfort zones, getting out of your depth, might just be the best thing for you to evolve creatively, mentally, physically and more. This is the time of year when New Year's resolutions are put to the test, and they either triumph or fail spectacularly over the next few weeks. Many, many people no longer even bother, but I say what the hell, go for it, at least try. Trying to change one's own behaviour is singularly the most difficult thing a person can try to do, as we human beings are such habitual creatures and are able to use our reasoning minds to justify just about any decision we make. We are masters of delusion and illusion, but we are also able to break through those barriers to create wonderful masterpieces of artwork, of living life well, perpetuating creativity to its full potential.

When I'm working and I'm feeling safe, comfortable, secure, then for the most part I am not doing my best work. Only when I'm trying something new, or pushing myself to explore something deeper, not running over the same material again and again does something remarkable happen.  That something is either a wonderful achievement or a brilliant failure, but either way it wasn't boring. When I wrote my first book and had it published (a medieval fantasy called Falconwing, now out of print but may be coming back in the near future) I simply gave it my all. I had been working on it since I was fifteen years old, and it was only published in my 30's.  I then tried my hand at non-fiction with Zen Druidry, and then began a triplet of introductory books for the Moon Books Pagan Portals Series, with The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid  still an Amazon No.1 Bestseller in the category of Druidism well after a year from its release date in 2014. 

I enjoyed dance, and one day thought I'd give belly dancing a go. I had a talent for it, and after five years decided to try my hand at teaching it and coming up with my own dance company. I didn't know anything about having a business, but I gave it a go with all that I had. It turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done, and I have met some of the most wonderful people who have become lifelong friends.

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Druidry as a religion and spirituality for modern life.

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Darkness and the Winter Solstice

The solstice season is upon us, and it’s only a couple of weeks before the longest night of the year here in the northern hemisphere. It’s a season of darkness and cold, where we are given the opportunity to find the gifts that darkness brings. It can be hard, when the rest of the world seems to be doing their best to stave off their fear with bright lights, noise and extended shopping hours, but if we are able to push beyond that we can see the sacredness of this holy time, and the exquisite power that it brings.

I am mostly a diurnal creature myself. I prefer to go to bed early and rise early, rather than staying up late. However, at this time of year the darkness catches up with me, and by 4pm it is pitch black out there. My usual sunshine nature turns inwards, and time for reflection and contemplation kick in. But that is not all there is to the darkness that pervades my life at this time of year.  The sweet relief of darkness beckons me to release into its embrace, when edges are abandoned and we are allowed to float free in space and time.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • John Reder
    John Reder says #
    What “impressed” me with what (or how) Joanna wrote is that it triggered the memory of the original Fleetwood Macs song “Bare Tres
  • steven rice
    steven rice says #
    Love it. For many years I was a second shift worker and the shift usually lasted to the early morning hours. Many times I would a
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Hello Steven, Oh, how I miss the snow! Living on the edge of the North Sea, the water keeps the temperature too high for snow most

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Relationship

Druidry is all about relationship, and you cannot have relationship without some form of communication. It may not always be in words, human to human, but opening those lines of communication helps us to perceive that the world is more than just our own sense of self. When we begin to see that there are other perspectives, other points of view we also come to an awareness that the world is being experienced by each being individually, in a collective state of unity dictated by space and time.

Events around the world this year have shone a spotlight on discordance, in human to human relationship, and in human to other-than-human relationships. Violent attacks, disregard for the environment, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor and more can be attributed to an "Us" and "Them" mentality. When we remove this dualist point of view, and encompass a more holistic approach, we see that what we do to others, we do to ourselves. In Buddhism, it is acknowledged that suffering exists in the world, and that this suffering is caused by the illusion of separation. If we look deeply enough scientifically, anthropologically, and even spiritually we can see that there is more that binds us together than tears us apart.

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