October 6th, 2009

surya

The second of three lessons: Center

I learned three lessons during my journey as my mettle was tested as an ADF Initiate. These lessons were not the lessons I expected, nor are they specifically private to me alone: these are guiding lessons that I must take forward, that must draw me along as I go forth as an ADF Initiate, and by my oath I will use them in service to others. The lessons offered to each Initiate will be different for each individual Initiate, based on that individual's needs and the work they must do.

The second lesson of my initiation is Center.

The middle of my journey was about the center of all things, and finding that center within oneself. It sounds odd to me that I should say that the lesson is "center" rather than "centering" or "being centered". . . but truly, that is the lesson here, for it encompasses much.

There is a place that we go, the Center of Worlds, that is inhabited by a crane. Here, the land, sea, and sky all meet, and here we can access the cosmic waters and the heavens above.

It is said that a lone crane lives on the isle of Inishkea near Erris, Co. Mayo, and will remain there until the end of time. This crane is at the edge of the world, not the center, but I often think of this crane as being very much like Garanus: both cranes clearly inhabit a place, keeping watch and reliable in their singular locality to those who seek them out. They were there before us, and they will be there long after we are gone.

What stands out to me is this notion of the water-skate in Zuni myth; it can easily be translated into the notion of the Crane:

At the center of the worlds, there stands a crane: one foot is on the land, one foot is in the waters, his eye is raised to the heavens. It is in his heart that the Three Realms are joined, and this marks the "center place," the heart of the Realms and the Worlds.

The heart of this crane is directly above the heart of the Earth Mother, and directly below the pole star of the heavens. When those who honour the Crane come together to form a Grove, they align themselves with this center: each one standing firmly upon the bosom of the Earth Mother, directly above her heart and directly below their own pole star, with this centered ritual place located both about them in physical form and spiritually within their heart.

Any shrine upon which a fire is lit and Garanus is honoured is a center as well: a permanent home for the heart of the Crane.

This is the lesson of centering I carry forth: each of our hearts are the heart of the crane, each of us is centered in the world, and each of us can work from that place and bring change to all things as we change ourselves. We must be the change we wish to see in the world, and we must transform ourselves, with the aid of the Crane, in order to transform others around us. My work is now to learn to explain this better, to bring others to the center of worlds.

So these are the ways, visible to the community, that I will work to fulfill the second charge the Kindreds placed upon me during my initiation.
surya

The third of three lessons: Joy

I learned three lessons during my journey as my mettle was tested as an ADF Initiate. These lessons were not the lessons I expected, nor are they specifically private to me alone: these are guiding lessons that I must take forward, that must draw me along as I go forth as an ADF Initiate, and by my oath I will use them in service to others. The lessons offered to each Initiate will be different for each individual Initiate, based on that individual's needs and the work they must do.

The third lesson of my initiation is Joy.

Where I went to learn this lesson, I cannot say; this was a place reserved for initiates alone, as I understand it: I believe druidkirk and I are the only ones who have been there, and we both visited this place (though we came from different directions and found different things) in our journeys, even though no guidance was given to us by our initiators. This lesson is also virtually ineffable, so please bear with me as I seek to explain it.

I had traveled far, and this was my last stop. I had traveled through fear, through solitude, and through specific lessons that I must learn and teach others. I wondered what this last place have in store.

In this place, though, there was a garden, something I did not expect to find.

It was a beautiful garden, much like those lavish and architectural gardens of Europe, typified by the gardens at Versallies, Chateau de Villandry, or even an English garden. Within it, there was a grove of trees, and this is where I was drawn to.

Some trees in the grove were older, some were younger, and a few were simply saplings. Some were oaks, some ashes, and some were yews or hawthorns or willows. Each had been touched by the gardener in some way: nudged to grow straighter, trimmed to remove dead wood, replanted from another grove to flourish here, or supported while the roots deepened and the branches reached for sunlight. What I found was that I was standing in the midst of my Grove, and that each tree was an individual: member, friend, or brand-new-shiny Druid. I could identify trees by name, I was so certain of each one. I could also see that they were each others' strength in the storm.

I never met the keeper of this garden, nor did I meet any other figure there, but what I knew, simply from standing in this garden and this grove, was the simple joy of the gardener. It was present everywhere, permeating all things: a joy borne of love, time, and care for every detail and every individual plant and tree and animal within. This is not a garden meant to feed the body, but one meant to feed the soul.

The gardener gardens because it is right to do so, and his work brings out the artfulness of the cosmos. Each plant is placed in relation to others "just so," while others are righted when they begin to grow wrong. This maintains that artful universe, that rta or *xartus where all things have their place, and are in their place. Small changes have large impacts, and a gentle nudge has deep effects on the path the garden takes.

Here is the lesson: the gardener who gardens for food and sustenance may find health and a reduction in hunger; but the gardener who tends his garden with love will see the fruits of his labour not in the things that garden produces to sustain the body, but in the simple joy of the work that sustains the soul. That is what this Grove is for me: simple, complete joy. The work that we do must not be for advancement or position, but for joy in the garden that we tend. The personal growth of our members is what drives us on, what brings us pleasure, not increases in status or stature on our own. It is, then, up to us to seek that joy, to bring it forth, and to draw others to it so that they may have their soul nourished with this joy as well.

So these are the ways, visible to the community, that I will work to fulfill the third charge the Kindreds placed upon me during my initiation.