TOWARDS A CONTEMPLATIVE NOTE: REFLECTIONS ON 3 OCTOBER
I sense that we are finding a contemplative note in Druidry. To an extent we have had it for a while, but it’s becoming more assured. Last Saturday we had an open contemplative day in Stroud for Druids and fellow travellers willing to join us. I worked with Elaine Knight and Nimue Brown as co-facilitators. Some of the participants travelled a considerable distance for the event. Many of those present were new to each other. Some were new to this kind of event.
Yet the day felt very cohesive. For me, the group note resonated strongly though also softly. The vibration was a subtle one, interwoven with silence and stillness, whilst also clear and distinct. Building community together, and working together, we were more than the sum of our parts. We created a group identity, and sounded our note. I understand this as our small contribution and offering to the Oran Mor, the great song of what is.
I’ve been reflecting on how this happened, and on lessons to take forward. The main single factor has to be that everyone in the group understood the offer, was open to the experience, and wanted it to work. This is such an obvious aspect of a success that it can go unrecognised, like the so-called ‘placebo’ effect in healing: people engage their good will, almost unconsciously, and it has a strong positive effect.
On the facilitator side, there are several things we got right and that I want to remember. Having a record will help that.
We made a good choice of venue for the occasion, and this was supplemented by the blessing of a golden autumn day. The programme relied on activities, which someone at another of our events named as “simple but profound”. This choice is definitely part of our note. The building of our ritual container, whist still ‘lean’, was just a little bit more elaborate than in our local group. It clearly marked our sacred space and our expectations about how we would work in it.
I also found myself casting our circle in ‘the contemplative grove of druids’. This time I was careful to avoid the term ‘grove of contemplative druids’. I have found naming ‘contemplative druidry’ to be a useful way of classifying a sub-set of interests within druidry. But I now believe that to think of people themselves as ‘contemplative druids’, a separate species within larger druid genus, is potentially divisive and doesn’t allow individuals to have inconveniently multiple interests. At the same time, when we join together in a contemplative event, we are indeed being intentional about contemplative practice. I have come to think of Contemplative Druid Events as a vehicle for a latent grove, a grove which constellates during our events and therefore deserves to be named. This grove provides space for our emerging note.
The note was considerably enriched when Nimue led a session that involved us in finding simple personal sounds and vocalising them over an extended period of time. After a while we could sense those diverse and discordant seeming sounds (our individual notes) come together as a collective sound where people spontaneously worked together. So the group note was worked for, discovered and explored in an absolutely literal way – and one which changed the atmosphere of the room. Later in the day, Elaine took the group through a version of an energy body exercise that went on to identify and reinforce the energetic connections between people, linking us as a group at subtle levels before moving into an animistic exercise. In my experience as a participant, these sections of the day were simple, profound and powerful too.
We made sure that we varied the pace of the day. Some of the work was relatively intense, but we had more leisurely and relaxed spaces as well, enjoyed time outside and made sure of an abundant supply of refreshments. For me, 3 October 2015 was a step forward in the evolution of our work. My heartfelt thanks to everyone involved.