CONTEMPLATIVE DRUID PRACTICE: SIMPLE AND PROFOUND?
People of like intent working together. That was an early principle of our Druid contemplative retreat days, when we started in July 2012. We didn’t have to be like-minded, in the sense of having a common doctrine, or even of entering a common spiritual trance. That’s one reason for choosing plain, open and simple practices.
We have carried on in that spirit ever since, and it means that people who have otherwise diverse practices and views can comfortably share our contemplative space. My sense over the years has been that, essentially, this way of working has a restorative and regenerative role for people who live with the pressures of busy and/or challenging lives. That would include most of us, Druids or not.
Then there is the thought of being ‘simple and profound’. The ‘simple’ is easy to describe. We are very sparse in our use of ritual or mythic narrative. Rather, we enter into more conscious relationship with the space we are in and with each other. We are attentive to where we stand in the wheel of the year, what the actual conditions are like, what we notice around us and the effects on us. On retreat days we make sure of including time outdoors. We spend time side by side in solo meditative silence, turning within. We also spend time in a more outwardly attuned collective silence (Awen space), from within which we may speak or sing out. Sometimes we have specific activities like toning, chanting, meditative exercises, or contemplative drawing.
What about the ‘profound’? In Moon Book’s recently published Pagan Planet (1) I wrote a short piece called Living Presence in a Field of Living Presence: Practicing Contemplative Druidry. For me, being ‘living presence within a field of living presence’, and living this presence more consciously, is the key to any deepening that we may find in our simplicity. It enables both the transformative potential of ‘knowing’ ourselves a little more, and does so within a context of interconnectedness.
I find that when I cut to the chase, and get to this experiential level, I need have no worries about working the Headless Way or how it fits with Druidry. My solo practices and meaning-making have indeed undergone a shift, yet Druid contemplative sessions and retreat days remain a highly appropriate and nourishing vehicle for practice and community.
(1) Nimue Brown (ed.) Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21st. Century Winchester, UK & Washington, USA: Moon Books, 2016