It’s a pity, a gentleman in refined retirement composing poetry:
He models his work on the classic verse of China,
And his poems are elegant, full of fine phrases.
But if you don’t write of things deep inside your own heart,
What’s the use of churning out so many words?
–-Ryoukan, translated by John Stevens
I’ve always been a good writer. I wrote my first short story in first grade, in red and purple crayon on landscape-oriented writing paper. I wrote my first poems a few years later and made a little book of them. Teachers and other grown-ups told me I was a good writer; by the time I was sixteen or seventeen, writing stories steadily and keeping a journal, I knew for myself that I was a good writer. I knew writing was a gift that had been given me which I wanted to give back to the world.
A gift like writing, however, comes with a condition, a price tag. The requirement is a simple one: If you want to be a writer, you have to tell the truth. Greed, fraud, and theft are terrible things that cause far more destruction than they get credit for; anger, violence, murder, war are also terrible things. But terrible in a different way, like pissing down a well, like polluting one’s own food or water, is using one’s art to lie. A writer, a painter, a musician, an actor, a dancer–whatever the medium, the condition of being an artist is that one must tell the truth.
I could not come here and post again until I was ready to face and tell the truth.
The truth is that Druidry is not the path for me. Since early 2005, almost four years, I have explored that path through the Ancient Order of Druids in America, where I have attained the First Degree. At various times I have called myself a Christian Druid, a Pagan Druid, and even a Buddhist Druid. But despite my admiration for AODA’s training program, I have not been able to make it work for me. Despite my respect and affection for the Grand ArchDruid and the other members of the Order, I cannot escape the realization that their path is not mine, and my contribution to the Great Work is of a different sort than theirs.
This does not mean that I will renounce my First Degree and shun my Druid friends! It does mean that I’ve changed my blog title to reflect my shift in understanding. It does mean that I have to tell the truth and say I will no longer be writing about specifically “druid” topics.
So what will I be writing about? Further explorations into Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, in the Tibetan and Japanese Zen traditions, in practice and in reading. My magical practice, the New Hermetics, although there I have to be ruled by the Four Powers of the Magician and Keep Silent about a lot of what I do. What I’m reading, what I’m listening to, and what I’m watching (chiefly, right now, Babylon 5–I am close to the end of the second season). Stuff that comes up on other folks’ blogs. Birds, trees, earth, sky, as before. The life of an urban hermit, a married woman living in the city who has a strong streak of the solitary monastic as well as a love for birds.
I found myself on Christmas Day at Breathe Books, which was open for a few hours with potluck foods and a movie showing. I bought a copy of Dew Drops on a Lotus Leaf, Zen poems of the solitary monk Ryoukan, translated by John Stevens. After reading the volume through in two days and starting on it again, entranced by the discovery of a kindred spirit, I wrote the following sort-of haiku:
A grass hut beneath the pines
A cell leaning against the church–
I, too, long for such solitude!
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