Hildegard starring Patricia Routledge
The Antinoan Doctor surprised me this morning with a post about an actress who became a nun in the only traditionally cloistered Benedictine women’s community in the United States. He had stumbled across a short documentary on her conversion engagingly entitled God Is The Bigger Elvis. At once I went looking for it on Amazon, and from there I segued to looking for another film I knew I had heard of about Hildegard of Bingen.
Amazon Instant Video did not fail me: I have just watched Hildegard, the 1994 film starring Patricia Routledge as the twelfth century’s most famous nun. Routledge is, of course, best known for playing Hyacinth Bucket (“It’s pronounced ‘Bouquet’!”), but she is as capable a dramatic actress as a comedienne; this is not Hyacinth-playing-Hildegard, but a solid and sober performance.
The film wisely concentrates on a few crucial moments and relationships in Hildegard’s life: Her friendship with the younger nun Ricardis; her conflict with the abbot of her community at Disibodenberg over the burial of a Crusader who may be excommunicate; her decision, supported by the nuns’ priest Volmar, to leave Disibodenberg and found an independent abbey at Bingen. Quotations from Scripture and from Hildegard’s profuse writings interweave with her justly famous music and tableaux of her visions to create a lovely taste of Hildegard’s personality, life, and work. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in her.
Despite no longer being a Christian, I remain deeply connected to a few saints and notables of the tradition who have meant a great deal to me. Julian of Norwich is foremost, but Hildegard is a close second, and I’d have to include the poet Dante and some of the English poets–Donne, Herbert, Hopkins–and Nicholas Ferrar, who founded the lay religious community at Little Gidding that inspired Eliot’s poem of that name. Hildegard, so very German in some ways, is also deeply Celtic; her Rhineland home had been evangelized by monks from Ireland and Scotland, and her persistent themes of nature and its goodness, the spiritual value of music and of the natural sciences, medicine and healing, and viriditas, literally “greenness”, her metaphor for spiritual life and health (chi? prana? awen?) seem not only Celtic but Druidic (for Revival values of that word, at least). I am happy to discover I am still interested in her work and spirit.
Posted in Christianity, Druidry, Film and Pop Culture, Music and Musicians | Tagged Benedictine, Christianity, Disibodenberg, film, Hildegard, hildegard of bingen, Nicholas Ferrar, Patricia Routledge | 2 Comments »
Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan. Yule. Mothernights. Christmas. Dies Natalist Solis Invicti.
The shortest day and the longest night. The moment when the sun crosses the celestial equator at a particular point. For three days, the sun rises and sets at the same point on the horizon, at its southernmost position: Sol-stitia. It will do so again at the summer solstice in its northernmost position. Following the solstice, the days will get longer, the sun will rise and set more northerly, and the weather will get colder and more vicious even as the light lengthens, until Imbolc comes and it is officially spring.
A lot of things are going on at this season of the year. All of them are caused by a bit of a wobble in the earth’s rotation combined with the endless dance of its revolution. It is a wonderful thing to contemplate.
May we all have food, song, warmth, and fellowship this season. May we remember and reach out to those who are lacking. May our gods bless us. May we go forth into a good new year.
Posted in Feasts and Seasons, Wheel of the Year | Tagged alban arthuan, christmas, mothernights, solstice, winter solstice, yule | Leave a Comment »
My OBOD materials are on their way, travelling by air mail from Lewes in Sussex. Huzzah!
Meanwhile, I have The Dedicant Path through the Wheel of the Year, by Michael J. Dangler of ADF, and I’m realizing I can telescope the first few weeks of the program. Tomorrow is the start of Week Two by my current count; by the end of this calendar week, I should have performed my first High Day ritual using the liturgy of the Solitary Druid Fellowship and made my First Oath, a commitment to the path of Neopagan Druidry, as a part of that ritual.
It’s an oath I have made before, the last time I took a stab at the Dedicant work. I think that while I have not upheld the oath, the Powers have held me to it: Here I am again, more certain than ever that Druidry is where I belong, and finally undertaking some structured training. I’m an INFJ, and I need a good deal of structure; AODA has a fine curriculum, but I think it proved a little too seat-of-your-pants for my needs, or I proved a little too much in need of specific direction for the program. In any case, if I carry out my plans for the next few days, I’ll have covered the first three weeks of Dangler’s schedule and can then sit back and recap using the SDF liturgy and observing the Antinoan holidays of the season as well.
And then, of course, I’ll be celebrating Christmas with my family. It’s all good.
Posted in Current Practice, Druidry | Tagged adf, alban arthuan, Antinous, dedicant path, obod, sdf, solitary druid fellowship, winter solstice, yule | Leave a Comment »
The above video is the record of an extraordinary project. One young woman, a fan of the BBC radio show Cabin Pressure, took a gag from one episode and made of it a book that included contributions from fans all over the world and raised a substantial amount of money for charity. Then she contacted the show’s producers and arranged to present the show’s writer and creator, John Finnemore, with a copy of the book, at a recording of the show in front of an audience.
Finnemore, the writer of this extraordinarily funny and touching show, says in the video that he feels all this acclaim is “unearned, because I was just doing something that I really wanted to do!” That doing something he wanted to do would bring together talents on the order of Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole, and Benedict Cumberbatch; that it would inspire a shy, socially awkward fangirl to collect photos from around the world and assemble them into a book; that she would involve people in multiple countries, raise money for charity, and get to present the book to the man who inspired her (and then hug some very attractive famous people!)–all this is testimony, I think, to how very powerful it can be, and how beneficial to other people, to do the thing that you like and really want to do. That is the power of Awen.
Posted in Film and Pop Culture | Tagged Arts and Entertainment, awen, benedict cumberbatch, cabin pressure, john finnemore, Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole | Leave a Comment »
I’ve renewed my membership with Ar nDraiocht Fein and am looking again at the Dedicant Path program. I have Michael Dangler’s helpful book that lays out the requirements over a full year.
I’ve enrolled in the Bardic grade of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’ve only wanted to do their study course, which is how one becomes a member, for about twenty years. I stopped telling myself I couldn’t afford it.
Today I took the three pictures of Antinous that I printed off from the ‘net weeks ago and mounted them neatly on a piece of cardboard to form a triptych. An artist friend of mine took me shopping yesterday for appropriate materials and gave me some tips on how to safely cut heavy cardboard with a knife.
And, not least, I purchased a nice fleece robe to wear around the house and a bottle of Mrs. Stuart’s Bluing for Whiteness so I can rehabilitate the white robe that I originally bought for druid work and have something else suitable to wear when I’m chilly. I hope the bluing works on the tea stains.
Wish me luck.
Posted in Current Practice, Druidry | Tagged Antinous, Bardic, druid, Pagan, Religion and Spirituality | 1 Comment »
Today on Twitter the Druid Network asked, “Do you think Druids are taken seriously? Why or why not?” Not many people seem to have replied, which might indicate that no one took the question very seriously. But I’ve been thinking about the question all day, and along the way it shapeshifted into other questions: Do I take myself seriously, as a Druid? Do I take *my* Druidry seriously? Do I take seriously a path which has called to me persistently for the last twenty-odd years?
I think the answers to those questions, unfortunately, must be “No.” I have not taken Druidry, or myself, or my druid practice, anywhere near seriously. If I had, I doubt I would have vacillated so much over the years, looking for alternatives.
What would it look like for me to take Druidry seriously? to take myself seriously, as a Druid? What would it look like and feel like to live as a druid in a 21st-century, urban, North American environment, on the east coast of the continent, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed? What would it be like to do everything I could to contact the wisdom of the Druid tradition and apply it to the life I am living right now?
I don’t know–but I’m going to find out.
Posted in Current Practice, Druidry | 1 Comment »
Sometimes I feel like a druid. Sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I feel like a witch. Sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I feel like a Buddhist. Sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I feel like a magician. Sometimes I don’t.
And sometimes… I just feel old.
Posted in Current Practice, Film and Pop Culture | Tagged commercials, pop culture references, sometimes you don't, sometimes you feel like a nut | Leave a Comment »