Travel & History -The Two Great Teachers of Space and of Time
In the previous post I pasted in a section from the latest Mt Haemus Award paper. The whole paper can now be read in the Mount Haemus section of the OBOD website. (Scroll down to the last paper listed ‘What is A Bard?’). Each year the Order is able to grant a substantial award for original research in Druidism. We have called this scholarship the Mount Haemus Award, after the apocryphal Druid grove of Mt Haemus that was said to have been established near Oxford in 1245. Here is an explanation for why we set it up at the beginning of the millennium:
Some people think history isn’t important. After all, why dwell on the past when it’s over and done with?
The future and the present seem much more exciting because they are happening or are about to happen. But the Druid, and the Bard in particular, knows that the pleasure of memory can be equal to that of anticipation.
In addition, history offers us not only the possibility of understanding the causes of present-day situations, but also a gift which at first may seem nebulous, but which is in fact essential for a truly satisfactory experience of being alive in the world: and that is a sense of context. Without context we are lost – doomed to misunderstanding and superficiality.
When we hear of the actions or decisions of a friend, a group or a country, we need to understand the context in which these decisions or actions were taken. Without knowing this we cannot hope to understand their significance. This is why gossip is so worthless when it is not harmful: without knowing a person’s history we stand ignorant and helpless before the facts presented to us. And so if we want a truly meaningful and deep relationship with another we need to learn their history, to understand the world that they live in, and how they came to be there. This is one of the most interesting experiences of being a psychotherapist: an individual about whom you have no knowledge, visits you once a week, say, for several months, and slowly tells their story, revealing their history as someone might show you their garden or their house. And slowly someone who was simply a body, a face, a voice, becomes multi-dimensional and leads you, like a storyteller, into the past and across the country, or the world.
Travel and history, then, become the two great teachers of Space and of Time, that give our lives context: breadth and depth, substance and roots.
And this explains why history is of such importance to Druids who seek to deepen their understanding of life. Recognising the vital part that history plays within Druidry, we have decided to establish an award for important historical research that relates to Druidism.
Still reading the lecture, but it did inspire me to offer this as a perfect example of what I think of when I think of the Bard – Leo Lionni’s classic children’s book, “Frederick.” For those who don’t know the book, your library probably has it; if not, this animation of the story lacks some of the charm of the book, but does get the point across.
History is important, to be sure, but there is a chunk of it that has been literally burned out of our culture. And this is the part that connects Druidry to the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Chaldeans, the Olmec, Maya, Inca and Aztec, the pre 4th century Romans, the Khmer….need I continue? The Christians were pretty good at burning or melting down anything they found that pertained to Sun worship. And what little history we do get comes from the blogs of the same priests who destroyed the culture and its records. We get a few snippets from hieroglyphs in Egypt but have no idea what was lost at the Library of Alexandria, or in the papyrus rolls of the 27 schools of the Mysteries and other torchings.
So I have made it my mission to bring this beautiful orb of life out of the closet that it’s been shoved in for far too many centuries. And in doing so, pointing out that Sun is the most traditional and widespread deity figure the planet has ever known; that it was not science, but a jealous Church that branded Sun worship and all things pagan as primitive and ignorant, as well as punishable.
I know you know all this Philip, and want you to know that I have written a book on the subject that is targeted at a much wider audience, a book that can change the culture when (and if) word of it gets out. This, because the Sun is an obvious candidate for recognition as a living being. The science backs it up, revealing the complexity of this 7-layered engine of light with an electromagnetic presence that embraces the entire solar system in its protective heliosphere. And so much else follows as a matter of logical course, once the Sun has been recognized.
We may have been at events together – I’ve been under Arthur’s sword, know Rollo, and go back 40 years with Susanna. I’m the guy in a wheelchair who created the world’s first VegeBurger back in 1982, and sold the first brown rice (in the UK) fifteen years before that, opened the chaos theory shop, Strange Attractions in 1991. And here I am, 60 years old, and can’t stop tinkering with the culture.
If you would like to have a squint at Sun of gOd, for that is the title, then I can ask my publishers to send you a copy. The VegeBurger brought millions of vegetarians out of the closet and I believe that Sun of gOd could do the same for Paganism. You can mail me at gregory-at-gregorysams-dot-com and see the ‘teaser’ webpage for the book at http://www.sunofgod.net.
I really enjoyed the paper – it has got me thinking about my own understanding of what a Bard actually is. Andy mentions at one point about who it is that stands behind us, passing on the story – how this might shape what Bardism becomes in the future. He goes on to say that he feels – musically and lyrically – that indigenous folk feels the more appropriate source for Bardism to grow from in the modern world. I can understand why he might say that but I think there is a danger in defining the form in too narrow a way and in doing so excluding something in the process. If folk moves your soul as a listener then you will embrace its form, style and tradition as a musician; you’ll feel at home there, able to take your skill/craft and inspiration and channel it through that form, and because you truly ‘feel’ it, you will stand a greater chance of touching others as you have been touched. What happens if your soul isn’t moved by folk? I feel uncomfortable about the Bard being claimed by, or identified with, any one style, form or tradition in any of the arts.
I think I have a very broad and loose definition of the Bard. I was drawn to Druidry because it honoured the arts as a sacred process; understood its true value to enrich and enlighten, to transform, teach and heal. The arts has the power to open us to the Divine, both within us and in the world around us; encouraging us to engage with a deeper understanding of the joys, sorrows, blessings and struggles of being human. I am touched by the Bard’s art when I read a Carol Anne Duffy poem; when I watch Lynn Seymour dance; listen to Maria Callas, Tim Buckley or Aretha Franklin; when I stand before a Hockney landscape…None of these folks would understand themselves as Bards in a Druid sense and yet with their skill and soulful expression, they open a channel to life and the Divine for me that I might access it more powerfully and meaningfully. For me, this is the most important bit, whether you work within or outside of Druidry. Druidry’s gift and strength is that it celebrates and encourages the opening of those channels. In a culture where the market judges value, Druidry is potentially a very healing force for those of us that long to reconnect with the sacred roots of our creativity.
I really love what you have written here about history Philip – it is so beautifully put. Thanks for the link to the paper – lots and lots to think about now.
Thank you also Erik for sharing the wonderful ‘Frederick’ animation.
Ha ha, practical Tina here watched the Frederick story and couldn’t help thinking that they wouldn’t have run out of food so soon if Frederick had helped them store more. 🙂