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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in solitary

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ardane

When I was taking my first steps on the Old Way, the books all said: don't try this alone; that way lies danger.

Well, they were right about the danger, but, as for the rest, there were no other options.

So I'd go down to the woods by myself at night, light the fire, and make the magic.

And it was the real thing.

That's how we all started off in those days: by breaking the rules. It's not a bad way to start. If you survive, you can't get better training than that.

In time, I found my tribe, and Witch Hazel was right: together we're stronger.

But still I'd go down to the woods by myself at night, light the fire, and make the magic.

And it was still the real thing.

One of Wicca's great weaknesses is that it's all about the group; it makes no provision for individual practice. 'Thou mayest not be a witch alone,' says the Book of Shadows.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hugging Your Introvert


There used to be a time when identifying as an introvert might be akin to admitting you had a social disease. Since there is such a thing as geeky-cool now, and others fly their nerd flags high and proud, there is no shame in freely admitting that some of us recharge our batteries best solo, rather than surrounded by others. The world can be overwhelming, with non-stop cell phone tunes and Twitter tweets closing in on all sides. For one's mental and emotional health (which eventually effects the physical by the by), give yourself permission to turn off and drop out once in awhile. This is especially essential, if giving sidelong glares to strangers who sit too close on public transport is becoming the norm. And why is it in an otherwise deserted cafe, chatty Cathy always plops down right next you? Here are some kind suggestions to deal:

Learn to say, "no." It's been a crazy week and you've worked your last day of it. All you want to do is curl up with your latest SK tome or a good movie, under the covers, preferably with a mug of cocoa or tea. But your buddy who you haven't seen in many moons sends you a cheery text. "Having a last-minute party! Are you in?" Let me answer for you, fellow introvert. No. No you are not. You are not there in that frame of mind, and you will not get there, just because you force yourself to go. If all you want to do is hide from the planet, the last thing you want to do is plant yourself in an over-stimulating party scene. Likewise, cramming into an over-crowded bar to see a band is a bad idea. Because if you go, you will be resentful. You will be uncomfortable. Even if you are able to distract yourself for awhile, ultimately you are going to be wishing you were snug at home with your original plans. So that is your plan. When people invite you out, you say you have them already. It isn't necessary to go into great detail as to what they are. Take a raincheck and meet your friend for a one-on-one coffee chat, where you can really catch up the following week.

Unplug. Turn off the computer. Shut off the phone. Stop scrolling! The world won't stop spinning, I promise. There used to be a time when if you weren't immediately available, people would patiently wait for you to get back to them. Remember that? When you wanted to know how someone else was doing in your life, you would ask them in person when you saw them. Doing this for 24-48 hours can be sheer heaven. Lose yourself in a project that you've been putting off. Take a long walk. If you're camping, you sure the heck better do this, or I will come after you and scold you.

Listen to the sounds of silence. Taking a retreat where you observe an internal mute button can be therapeutic, as well. Sometimes it's good to give your vocal chords a rest. This can be done in an actual retreat center where silence is observed after dinner, or perhaps an imposed one on your own. If you live with someone, they've got to respect it, though. Check yourself into a reasonably-priced hotel if necessary. The interesting side effect here, is that thoughts will come to you – often with clear insight and clarity. Clear the cobwebs and have a revelation. Write it down in a journal, if you don't want to forget. See, being on your lonesome isn't so bad now, is it? Happy Imbolc, introvert.

 

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WHAT DOES INDEPENDENCE MEAN TO YOU?

The term "independence" conjures up different images for different individuals. For patriotic types, if you tack "day" on to the end of the word, their eyes might glaze over with star-spangled flags – the drumbeats of parades immediately filling their ears. That's all well and good. However, for some of us introverts, going solo is sheer heaven. For the most important aspect of independence, it would seem to me, would be the act of not being dependent on another person. In fact, the direct opposite of it. Not to say that we don't all need a little help occasionally. As much as one would like to strive for total freedom, we are dependent on other human beings for our survival. Plus, some of them aren't bad company.

That said, there is a certain liberty in doing things for yourself and going your own way from time to time. If you can this Fourth of July weekend – why not slip away from the crowd – even for but a little while? Strike out on your own and define what independence means to you. Here are some creative ideas to try out, and possibly spur a few of your own:

A HIKE (EARTH)
Travel to a path that you've always wanted to get your feet dirty on and commence. Breathe in the greenery and decompress. This could include a solo camp, as well. If you happen to be female, just be sure to pitch your tent far away from the sleazies who see your being alone as an open invitation to visit your site and hit on you.

A LONG DRIVE (AIR)
If you have a reliable vehicle and your life has been making you a bit batty as of late, just get in and go. Roll down the windows, blast the tunes that speak to you, and let your hair get messy in the wind. Drive until you can't anymore, with no destination in mind. Then check yourself into a nice hotel. Granted, this is a splurge, but stick with me here. Stock up on munchies and drinkables. Pretend you're a character in a movie making your great escape from something or someone. Treat yourself to bad cable movies and/or naughty ones. Pop a bottle of champagne and bounce on the bed. You are free! (Just don't trash the room, OK)? Ask for a late checkout time.

EXPLORING A NEW LOCALE (FIRE)
This could be a small town, or a large one. Although the independence theme would more likely lend itself to the former. Let yourself wander. Peruse some shops and let your mind wander, too. Buy an ice cream with a flavor you've always wanted to try. The key to utilizing your inner fire is to be bold in your choices, and wait to see where your inspiration takes you.

A BOATING EXPEDITION (WATER)
If you consider yourself a strong swimmer and have experience under your belt, find a place to rent a small craft and get out on the H20. Sailing offers a mentally and physically challenging combination, which can be infinitely satisfying. If you're looking for something more mellow, launch in a canoe, kayak, or rowboat. Row yourself out to the middle and drift awhile. See how good that feels? Sigh.

VISIT A BUDDHIST TEMPLE OR OLD UNFENCED GRAVEYARD (SPIRIT)
The key here is to find one that is secluded and that you have never been to before. Plant yourself and meditate. My favorite spot in an old cemetery is under a friendly tree. Discover where your mind takes you. Happy Independence Day.


Photo by AJ Page

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Solitary Path

Some people find comfort and deep learning in solitude. Others find inspiration and wisdom in the interaction with others, where the edges of our souls meet. I find a good balance between the two in my life, needing solitary reflective contemplation and the shared words, laughter and brilliance of my friends to encourage and nourish creativity. I have a strong circle of female friends with whom I share ritual practice, dance, creative crafts and good food, alongside weekends away, sometimes as "girly" weekends, sometimes as spiritual pilgrimages.

I have found ritual with these ladies deeply inspiring, and the bond that it creates reminds me of the sanctity within all our relationships.  However, I mostly practice my Druidry on a solitary level, literally walking the wild paths of the heath or deep into the heart of the forest alone.  In those moments I feel a deep connection to the world around me, whereas in ritual with others I feel a deep connection to them.

I think a balance is definitely required, in working both alone and with others. But here I shall speak of working alone, and the benefits that can be obtained from following a spiritual path with your own wits, instinct and inspiration to guide you.

I think that more of us need to spend quality time alone. I realise that in our society many people already feel alienated and isolated, but I wonder how much of that stems from not really being able to properly be with your self. I worry about the next generation, who have phones and tablets and a constant barrage of virtual communication that they can resort to anytime they are left alone. I remember a time when my husband was away for a work conference, and feeling the need for human company I went down to the local pub to chat with others from the village at the bar. There was conversation between the customers and the publican, but as soon as she left to go to the kitchen conversation died, and people went straight to their phones rather than talk to each other. I sat there, wondering what on earth has gone wrong with our society in that we cannot talk to each other anymore, but I digress.

The need for other human companionship can be strong, and it's not a need that we should ignore, being a social species. However, what I would posit is that we certainly do need to learn how to be alone, to listen to ourselves, to become attuned to our thoughts and behaviour in order to better understand ourselves. I strongly feel that when we understand ourselves, we understand others and can be in the world with more empathy and compassion. Often I have taken time out away from the world in order to better understand it - in this I feel a very strong connection with monastic traditions. By removal from the world and the thoughts of others I can better hear the gods, the ancestors and the spirits of place all around me. By spending time alone with my thoughts I learn the cycles that they go through, paying attention to them and really noting them.  With a little Zen, when we actually pay attention to our thoughts they don't control us as much as they might otherwise, offering us an opportunity to live with real intention instead of leading reactive lives.  

Spending time in meditation alone, learning how the mind works we can then begin to hear the songs of others as naturally our thoughts quiet down.  We have paid them attention, and now that our thoughts have received the attention they desired, they no longer crave more.  We hear the birdsong, we feel the sunlight on our skin, the wind in our hair where otherwise we might have been distracted by thoughts, feelings, emotions and situations.  The world opens up, and we are once again reminded that the world is more than just us - that we are a part of a beautiful living, breathing system where everything is inter-related. It is an exquisite gift.

Spend more time with yourself. If you can, spend half an hour, an hour or a couple of hours each day alone, perhaps going for a walk or meditating. If at all possible, go on a weekend solo retreat, or a week-long solo retreat in a place that inspires you, where you can really connect with what is important and with your own beautiful self. Learn to love that self for what she is, for who she is and connect with her, giving her as much time as you would your dearest friends.

When we learn to love our own self, that love will then spill out into the wider world, nourishing and sustaining others. 

For more on the solitary path, see my latest book The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid, available now through Moon Books.

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Big Ritual for Solitaries

The ancient Minoans had a lot of opportunities for what I like to call Big Ritual. The priesthood of the temples at Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakro put on Mystery plays for the public, enacting stories from Minoan mythology at the solstice and equinoxes as well as at other festival dates. The cave shrines and peak sanctuaries were staffed by priestesses and priests who provided ceremonies for the public at the sacred times throughout the year. The more important inhabitants of the towns even had the prospect of attending large rituals within the temples themselves. But we modern folks don’t generally have access to that sort of event.

Sure, we have our altars and shrines at home, just as the Minoans and other ancient peoples did. But sitting in meditation with an altar is its own special kind of activity and doesn’t push the same buttons, if you see what I mean, as Big Ritual does.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
When 2 are 1

The beauty of nature can be found in the most unusual places and teach us the most unexpected lessons.  A few days ago I was returning to work from a lunch (half) hour spent going through the neighborhood thrift store.  I pulled into traffic and then had to wait at a long light.  While sitting there, I looked up and saw an amazing and unexpected sight.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    I thought that might be the case but the dang light changed and I had to go back to work! It was, indeed, a case of 2 becoming 1.
  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    What you describe sounds like part of the mating dance of eagles - eventually they would have clasped together and free fallen tow

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Being Solitary Can Be Dangerous

Pagan activities with a group of people can draw strange looks and even the occasional nutter who wants to “save” everyone.  I have discovered that, sometimes, practicing your spirituality alone can lead others to think you are actually insane.  I suppose I should add this to the list of differences between Traditional Pagans and Solitaries.  It isn’t that we are crazier than Traditional Pagans (at least I don’t think so), it’s just that Solitaries seem to be more suspect than groups.

Perhaps when someone sees a group of people doing something out of the ordinary it is viewed as strange but nothing more than “a bunch of wackos”?  Perhaps when the same behavior is practiced by an individual it crosses the line into “crazy”?  Let me give an example.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Witch Nikki Porras
    Witch Nikki Porras says #
    REALLY? I have been Solitary for too many years now, I do not feel safe in GROUPS....which might contain some negative people....(
  • aought
    aought says #
    Always the conundrum, I think that those of us on solitary paths realize that there is danger in being isolated. But, it's difficu
  • Neda Marin
    Neda Marin says #
    Haha I absolutely loved this post! I am still very new in terms of self acceptance and awareness in regards to my own path. While
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Honestly, my biggest concern in this situation was that they would drop their child as they fled from me! I heard no screams of p
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    Nice to run into another one of your posts. From this one I noted another one "Solitary does not mean Isolated" June 30, 2013 on w

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