Dear AODA Members and friends:
I know that many of us are feeling unbalanced from the rapid speed at which the Coronavirus has changed our daily lives—our family, work, community, economic, and spiritual lives. I’ve heard privately from numerous AODA members that are feeling anxious, lost, and ungrounded. I wanted to take a moment to share my own thoughts about how AODA Druidry can support us during this difficult time.
One of the few activities that is still being encouraged by officials is being outdoors (at a safe social distance). Spending time in nature, in observation, focus, and interaction, is a core part of who we are as AODA druids, and I think for those of us who can, getting outside every day will be central to stability and grounding. Spending time with a tree, plant, in a park, in your garden, etc. will offer grounding, stability, and peace. For those of us who cannot go outside, nature can be brought indoors through potted plants, starting seeds, or even sprouting greens on your counter. While so much has changed within the human landscape in the last few weeks, very little has changed in the natural landscape—it is still there, waiting for you. The powerful lesson of nature as a healer is important in these times.
I want to encourage you to continue your daily spiritual practices as part of your AODA Druidry. Challenging times like this are best faced by a grounding in our spiritual practices and routines—which is why now is absolutely the best time to commit to our daily spiritual work. The Sphere of Protection ritual will help balance your own energy and protect you from some of the collective intensity at present. Daily meditation will assist you in reducing anxiety, calming the mind, and lightening the spirit.
Stemming from this, Druidry is a path of peace. When we open up a grove in the AODA tradition, we begin by proclaiming peace in the quarters (and our most traditional method of doing this is actually sheathing a sword in each of the four directions to physically signify peace). When we proclaim peace, we are not only proclaiming it to the external world in the four directions, but also, to those different aspects of ourselves in each of the directions (one interpretation of this would be proclaiming it to the logical/rational mind in the east, the passionate mind of the south, the emotional mind of the west, and the physical body and home we inhabit in the north). Thus, as you proclaim peace, proclaim it not only to the world, but for yourself. A simple activity you can use that draws on this metaphor is to do the quarter calls for peace, and then take three deep breaths.
This upcoming weekend, as an order and as individuals, we are celebrating the Spring Equinox (Alban Eiler) in the Northern Hemisphere. The equinoxes are a time of balance between the light and dark halves of the year. As we move into this time of greater light, you might consider using the energy of this time to help bring balance. Even if your plans for something were cancelled, you might take some time to celebrate this sacred day and align yourself with the balance of light and dark in the world, and work to bring that balance within.
Finally, once social distancing, sheltering, and other measures become normalized, consider how this situation might be a blessing in its own way. “The problem is the solution” is a permaculture design principle that I think is very wise in this situation. So many of us are usually overworked, overcommitted, and exhausted—and now many of us are given an opportunity to have some quiet time, time where we don’t have to balance many social commitments. In most temperate ecosystems, nature herself has fallow times for recovery. And yet, our fast-paced culture does not. But now, due to the broader situation, many of us now have this valued fallow time. Recognize that this fallow time may allow you to do some things you always wanted to do but never had time to do before, such as learn something new, pick up a new bardic art, or read some good books. Or, simply enjoying being present in the moment and doing nothing at all.
Because social isolation can be challenging, I also encourage you to reach out to AODA’s community. Both our Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/AODADruidry/) and our Forums (forums.aoda.org) offer you numerous opportunities to connect with other people who are walking similar paths and to support each other. I encourage you to reach out in one or both of these groups to others, share, and learn as a community.
May the blessings of nature and of spirit be with with us all. If there is anything that AODA can do to support our community during this time, please share your ideas in this thread or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Grand Archdruid and Ollave Adept
Ancient Order of Druids in America