Celebrancy - the art of being a practical Druid
Celebrant - My Spiritual Practice – Spiritual Unfoldment through Shamanism, Rosicrucianism & Druidry
A Life’s Journey – Crowsfoot Drinkwater
To begin this paper on ‘my personal spiritual practice’ I shall quote from my Bardic review:
“I came to OBOD via a very long journey spanning a few decades. My spiritual quest has taken me through many schools of thought & practice – Christianity-Shamanic-Rosicrucian; Alchemy, Hermetic Qabalah – the occult. This very eclectic approach left me with a lot of ‘knowledge’ & very little practical & direct personal experiences, which was strained even further when I started my own business. Then this all began to merge & evolve with my introduction to Druidry & OBOD in particular…”
This has been a journey over three decades with the last seven or so years with OBOD, which became the catalyst for giving me my stabilised forms & practice. I had already worked out a personal spiritual practice prior to joining OBOD (this included two years’ work with the Llama Khemsar Rinpoche). OBOD has greatly influenced & changed some of the directions I was working on.
My daily practice was far too dense, I was trying to cram in far too much & beating myself up when I ‘failed’ to achieve what I wanted. Through OBOD I have learned to lighten up somewhat concerning it, I am hoping I still have decades ahead of me to work on the deeper refining of my spiritual practice, & for now I am so grateful for the insights & opportunities that OBOD has introduced me to.
I have been told that whenever you feel good about yourself & your life, you are in a higher vibrational state. The more you feel happy, joyful, loving, ecstatic, blissful - the more you will be living in a higher vibration, & the more moments you will have of feeling wonderful & in a state of love for yourself & others. You will easily attract more good things & people into your life. ‘Like attracts like’ in the spiritual realms, opposites attract in the physical realm - as you raise your vibration you will attract others of the same vibration!
So the big question for me was ‘how do you do this?’ Based on my original personal empirical evidence there was more than a kernel of truth in these statements. I believe most of us can easily recall moments when we experienced this directly. So how to make these ‘moments - states’ of doing ones best to lead a spiritual life become permanent ‘stages’???
I now believe that turning a ‘spiritual state’ into a ‘spiritual stage’ is through the art & form of a daily ‘personal spiritual practice’. This is developed by us through the experimentation & practice of the many 1000’s upon 1000’s of varying philosophies, techniques & personal experiences of others from around the world (free from set spiritual texts, dogma, policy & doctrine). I believe that it is our personal direct experiences that allow us to formulate a daily spiritual practice that works & supports us in our ever continuing individual & personal evolution.
As I engage with my spiritual practice I feel more in the flow of life & more connected to the Universe (Origin-Source – God-It) & everything around us. Life has a more magickal quality about it when we add more practices in on a daily basis (I now realise when it is appropriate to do so), I notice that the levels of synchronicity increases, & subsequently it has become a ‘red flag’ for me when I notice their decrease, I know something is off balance.
To excel in anything in life discipline is required. This is true for athletes, musicians, plumbers, accountants, & practitioners of any spiritual practice. Self-discipline can be considered a type of selective training, creating new habits of
thought, action, & speech toward improving yourself & reaching goals.
Self-discipline can also be task oriented & selective. A discipline is something we can do that enables us to do what we haven’t yet been able to do by our own direct effort or rather lack of effort & consistency. This is where the immense value of working within a group or an organisation comes into its own, ones who have the same values, philosophy & principles, or ones that we can resonate with, like OBOD, they become a great support with developing discipline. Trying is not enough, trying is just a noisy way of doing nothing - “Don’t try — train!”, & training means practice!!!
I saw a movie recently on the TV, it came about quite by accident, but a line the old grandmother said in the film struck a chord with me, “Your childhood are not the best days of your life but rather what you spend the rest of your life getting over.” This line resonated with me because with my search for esoteric knowledge over the past decades has led me to believe that ‘magick’ is a spiritual path, an ancient Western way to enlightenment & that magick is largely, but not solely, a psychological tool box.
When we are dealing with old emotions that come up to be released, or dealing with something that we used to react to ‘badly’ when we were in “victim consciousness – blame others mode”, we can now more easily accept the situation without adverse or incorrect choices, our reaction can be positively directed. The more feathers one has in their cap, the more choices one has, I have been taught that - pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is always the result of ‘poor choices’ - build your own tool box.
Our training –‘Spiritual Practice’ is connecting us with a power much greater than our own — the Spirit of the Universe/God/It. Discipline works because we are developing new & healthy habits, a permanent stage rather than a state. I wish to live with honesty, integrity, humility & a clear conscience before the Universe, our planet & man, to reveal my philosophy & spiritual practice, through actions that are guided by well contemplated intent. Everyone is entitled to find their unique approach, I am not interested in conversion & salivation through a ‘set’ & inflexible text & doctrine, I don’t want that inflicted on me, therefore I have to develop my personal spiritual practice that reflects this.
So what was it I wanted?
What did I believe a spiritual practice was?
How did magick fit in with a spiritual path?
With these questions in mind & many, many more I began to search out the answers, I now realise that this is a lifelong task - the more you learn the more you realise you don't know. This led me to begin to formalise an esoteric order I had in mind – ASKS, Alternative Spiritual Knowledge Society, a title I came up which was inspired by some biblical texts, ‘Ask & you shall receive….knock & the door shall be opened’. I wanted to create an Order (my personal body of work – my Opus Magnus) without the accretions of centuries of nonsense, misdirection & control of the masses.
To shift out the nuggets of ‘truths’, for I believe there is no ‘one truth’, but rather a series of ‘individual truths’ relevant to your current spiritual stage, & that all the surviving religions don’t have ‘the truth’, but I do believe they all have insights into ‘truth’. That the many held differing views & practical techniques concerning magick & spirituality can be made more readily accessible by removing the smoke & mirrors, the elitism of past traditions. I truly believe knowledge & especially spiritual knowledge should be available to all who ‘ask’, & more so without a fee or charge, that it would be freely available to all those interested.
I have currently spent 16 years working on this project & with no apparent end in sight but I have built up a very large body of work. This all came to a holt when I started to work with OBOD, it shone light into corners I had not dreamed of & gave me the courage to simplify even more. My desire & passion is still to produce this body of work, my ASKS project, but no longer as an Order, OBOD & others fulfill this role admirably, so I am filtering it off through its spin off project ‘The Community of the Druids Nemeton’, but I realise now that it will take many more years.
The purpose of this paper is to put together in what I hope is a sensible & practical way, my personal philosophy, practical exercises & spiritual beliefs into a co-ordinated system that I personally work (I certainly don’t practice everything but I have outlined it for my own personal goals to achieve over this life time, learning to work with it one step at a time) & I hope it may help others find their unique & individual way to a personal spiritual practice that is rich with tradition & insights from the mystics who have gone before us but not their dogma, doctrine, policy & set of religious texts, free from temporality & its inevitable corruption.
So what did I want? I wanted a magickal spiritual path.
When I started this part of my personal journey I saw the two as separate things, but later came to realise that ‘magick’ is a spiritual path, the Western way. This was a great ‘ahh ha’ moment for me, & freed me from the mental bonds of temporal Christianity & the monkish approach of the East (remember they don’t have ‘the truth’ but they certainly have insights). I was truly allowed to pursue & form my own unique approach to spirituality but this still needed some sort of map, one needs to know where they are going, guides, sign posts, to allow me this freedom, after all I did not want to get lost.
So I had to clarify for myself what a spiritual path was. I have put together a paper on this, you can find it in the Blog section of this site - What is a 'Spiritual Path'?
More recently I have come to see that a fantastic way of using one's knowledge & spiritual experience to to become a 'Practical Celebrant', the art of being a practical Druid in service to one's community.
Here for me is encapsulated the essence of what I personally have been working towards…I wish to become the doer & knower, the Magus & the Mystic. Rosicrucianism does encapsulate both these spiritual paths but for me there was still something lacking. I believe I have found the answer to this through my work with the OBOD grades so far, here I am slowly integrating my previously gained esoteric knowledge with that of OBOD’s. Here a personal spiritual practice is emerging that is enlivened with the majesty of the Celts & their Druidry, I shall attempt to demonstrate this presently but I am conscious that with future knowledge & insights this spiritual practice of mine shall still surely evolve.
Druidry & Magick
Extracted from one of my projects related to my ASKS project…(of course this community only exists in my head, a dream, a vision so to speak BUT it is a reflection of my current beliefs & practices as they stand today & subject to constant change & adjustment as I personally evolve, so for ‘community’ read Wayne – Crowsfoot Drinkwater)
…Druids Vision II
Philosophy, Principles, Ethics & Obligations to the Community of the Druids Nemeton
Philosophy of the Community
The Irish word for magick is ‘Draoicht’, which literally means ‘what Druids do’.
“Druids … said that it was they that made heaven and the earth and the sea – and the sun and moon.”
From Senchus Mor, i. 23
The general current worldview of the industrial West, its philosophy & that presented by the temporal monotheistic faiths - Judeo-Christian-Muslim traditions, holds that creation was a one-off event, the Universe in an instance appeared fully formed & stable, taking place at the beginning of time, initiated & controlled by a single, all-powerful creator god. If this is accepted, it leaves humans & all other life forms as little more than puppets of this great creator. It becomes easy, therefore, to give up all idea of controlling one’s own destiny & hand over all responsibility to this all-encompassing dictator of a deity, in contrast to the belief that God is Love & Unconditional Love at that.
The Universe most certainly, according to current modern physics, appeared in the ‘Big Bang’, this aligns in principle with many ancient faiths & traditions; however, it as a living entity must go through all stages of life. It has a birth, a toddler stage, a youth stage, an adult stage, an elder stage, & of course finally a death - rebirth.
Like a giant tree sprouting new branches, which in turn go through the stages of life, various parts of the Universe are at different stages – an ancient center, with ever younger parts branching out to its circumference. Some of these parts may bloom, whither & die long before the root of the tree.
The Universe like a giant lung is expanding with an intake of breath, which is the divine spark of the ‘Big Bang’, once fully inflated there is a pause in breath, & then it begins to exhale, the Universe collapsing in upon itself, back into the void, where it pauses between breaths, & so it goes on & on – it has purpose.
The quotation above implies a belief among Druids akin to one of the key aspects of Hindu Tantric philosophy; the idea that within each of us is the spirit that continually creates our universe.
To the Druid, by contrast to the western temporal monotheistic faiths, we are each our own deity, each responsible for every aspect of our world. As Druids, our ultimate aim is to attain oneness with all things, to encompass infinity, becoming as gods (a heavily loaded word now a-days but here it simple means co-creators through the power of our imaginations & ability to do), able to take our full role within the great dance of creation.
“I have been in many shapes
Before I took this congenial form;
I have been a sword, narrow in shape;
I believe, since it is apparent,
I have been a tear-drop in the sky,
I have been a glittering star,
I have been a word in a letter,
I have been a book in my origin,
I have been a gleaming ray of light,
A year and a half,
I have been a stable bridge
Over confluences of compassion,
I have been a pathway, I have been an eagle,
I have been a coracle on the brink,
I have been the direction of a staff,
I have been a stack in an open enclosure,
I have been a sword in a yielding cleft,
I have been a shield in open conflict,
I have been a string on a harp,
Shape-shifting nine years,
In water, in foam,
I have been consumed in fire,
I have been passion in a covert.
Am I not he who will sing
Of beauty in what is small;
Beauty in the Battle of the Tree-tops
Against the country of Prydein.”
Excerpt from ‘The Battle of the Trees,’ attributed to the bard, Taliesin…
So as stated above is the link to my past esoteric studies & pursuits, my strong attraction to the Western Magick tradition (a spiritual practice), encapsulated in the ancient philosophy & magickal practices of the Celtic peoples & in particular the Druids – the Serpent Priests (of the Sun). I looked at the rites that I had been exposed to & the methods of the Druids & the influence of OBOD & began the process of reforming them into something simple (reforming) that I resonated with & could work with.
Purpose of My Spiritual Practice-Discipline:
To respect all sentient life – Nature & all her marvels.
To love one another.
To share resources, work for what you ‘need’ (apparently through research it takes only 4 hours a day to meet your needs, WOW!), make by your own hands, wherever possible, what you ‘want’, without waste or inflicting suffering & destruction of the natural world.
To serve one another.
To create unity & make peace.
To share one another’s burdens.
To enhance worship (again now a-days another heavily loaded word), by this I mean improving my personal connection with the Universe/God/It – the techniques used on a daily bases.
To perfect humility in myself.
To achieve unity with the Divine - unit = one, divine = All, to be alone is to be All-One.
Every day, once per day (reminder to myself, not to beat myself up if I cannot – to work at a healthy pace):
Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable vocalising. Get physically comfortable, & take a few deep cleansing breaths – fourfold-breath, inhaling deeply – stomach up/out, & exhaling fully – lungs down. Clear your mind & emotions, & become fully present to the moment – Mediate in Silence/Enter Silence (at least 10 minutes a day, more with practice).
Center yourself & use your Imagick – the 7 Directions (must be visualised in 3D) - East, South, West, & North, Below, Above & finally Within. All with ‘intoning’ the sacred names or sacred vowels - the powerful use of sound.
Declare to the universe your conceptualised ‘intent’, e.g. “I believe in remote energy rebalancing – everything is connected, all is one. I permit energy alignment; I resolve personal issues through active self-examination & self-awareness. I want & engage in energy rebalancing/alignment, taking practical steps to achieve this. I receive energy rebalancing now, through a conscious connection to & the grace of the Universe.” Say each of your personal conceptualised intentions out loud & with power, you are boldly addressing the entire Universe. There is extra metaphysical power in active physical vocalisation – intoning-vibrating.
The practice of ‘practical techniques’, perform your chosen set of exercises designed to enhance your physical & psychic capabilities – physical-mental-emotional-spiritual.
Treat others as you wish to be treated – ‘right action’.
Study & research of the esoteric arts, building up your personal philosophy, esoteric & spiritual knowledge.
Follow a ‘ceremonial calendar’ that suits your belief & practice. This for me breaks into 3 subgroups – personal work, group work, & collective work.
Stick with it. Take action – do something physical that promotes your intent, practice your chosen techniques. I have built up a rather comprehensive set of ‘exercises’ over the years but have selected what I feel are the most appropriate ones to work on at this time, the goal being to simplify a daily spiritual practice that is enjoyable without becoming a burden or turning into something that is done by rote, losing its essential spiritual essence.
Exercises (my initial core exercises):
Visualisation – Imagick
Meditation, both silent & guided
Personal Empowerment Ritual (varies according to stage of work, includes the grade work of OBOD)
Aligning Earth Pentagram
Calling the Quarters – the 7 Directions Imagick, the ‘inner work’. I believe this is crucial, one must have the deepest & fullest understanding of what they are doing & why.
The seven psychic sacred vowels (Rosicrucian), done one per day of the last 7 days leading up to a full moon.
The elemental mirror of self – self-awareness work
Elemental body work – physical-mental-emotional-spiritual – aligning of the body preparing it to take ‘higher currents’, increasing one’s sensitivity in all aspects of spiritual work.
The Celtic Cross/The Light Body, with all its variations - Middle Pillar, Rising the Earth Light, Circulating the Light, the Tower of Alchemy etc.
The entire above are designed to be expanded upon as one gains confidence, familiarity & a deeper understanding of their principles through study but chiefly ‘practical application’. The exercises ‘advance’ as additional new exercises are added as you master the core exercises.
Raising Your Vibration:
The above certainly raises your personal vibration alongside these suggestions:
Cleansing yourself, your home, your work space, & of course your ‘sacred circle’ with sage, sweet grass, cedar, or the appropriate incense for the work being carried out.
Being in nature: Walking barefoot - at the beach, in your yard, in the woods, anywhere! Connect with the energy of the earth! I start this process using the ‘Rising the Earth Light’ (R.J. Stewart) light Body exercise(s).
Gardening, working to enhance nature in our private space not sterilise it.
Being grateful - write down a list of people, things & circumstances that you are grateful for. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude!
Looking into your friends & partner's eyes (even strangers, which is something I find very hard to do, but at least I can manage compassion & at the very least recognition of them as another human being) - so magickal, so deep - connect with each other's soul & your inner self.
Listening to uplifting music, technically I am not musical, apparently ‘tone deaf’ as well, I prefer to be in silence when home alone or studying but I do use music in my work as a Hot Stone Clinical Massage Therapist & with Reiki.
Exercising - go for a walk, do some yoga...stretching is vital…movement within sacred work.
Drinking spring water from a spring - hydrate your cells with living water.
Eating or drinking something nutritious & delicious.
Reading an uplifting book – watching a moving film etc. Stories can be great.
Smiling at a stranger & silently sending them blessings.
Sending love, gratitude & compassion to someone who is “pushing your buttons”, thanking them for being a ‘pig’ so teaching me how not to behave with others.
De-cluttering of your home - this lightens your space & lightens your heart & mind.
Finding & working alongside a small group of likeminded individuals goes a very long way in aiding ones spiritual development. This of course comes with some challenges: making it safe for yourself & those you are working alongside with, respecting boundaries, finding our common ground, keeping the work private from outsiders – being open & tolerant of others views. When this works it greatly speeds up your spiritual development – I personally believe because of working like this these past 4 years I have achieved more than the previous 20 odd years I had been working at my spiritual practice.
For group work I have designed a ‘Main Rite’, originally it was my ‘spiritual practice neutralised’ but as I now work with the course work of OBOD & the small group I work with are also members of OBOD, the text & forms of the ‘Main Rite’ now has a distinct Druidic feel & poetry to it. It uses all the exercises & techniques I use as a solo practitioner but greatly expanded & held in a semi-formal framework, so we are all on the same page but is easily adapted for one’s personal preferences when working solo.
The Main Rite I like to perform once a week (once again synchronicity increases with regular practice, & decreases when I allow the mundane to take up too much of my time), within its structure is the section of the rite that is given over to what we call the ‘main work’, which can be anything from poetry, healing, course work practicums – ‘journeying to the Underworld’ etc. As it uses the forms of one’s core spiritual practice there is of course the raising of one’s personal vibrations if I have not been successful in following a daily exercise at least, personally not ideal for me but something I am working on.
In the past this I did following the Rosicrucian calendar which has now evolved into the Druidic concept of the ‘Eight Fire Festivals’ alongside the material & insights from OBOD.
My Ancestors Rite
My Ovate Tree Rite
My Ovate Healing Rite – includes reiki, crystal & ogham work
My Ovate Water Healing Rite – a once a year Spring Rite
The Manifestation Rite
I decided that I would use the ‘Wheel of the Year’, to which I would attach the other rites that I have developed from my OBOD work, to give me a framework for the year. They are either performed before or after the Fire Festival, which I perform on or the nearest weekend to them.