Thinking About – Mortality and the Magician

Thinking About – Mortality and the Magician

I’ve been asthmatic all of my life. As I’ve written about before here on the blog, when I first heard about the growing threat of Covid-19 I was quite frankly terrified. My mind went back to times as a child when my asthma was so bad I spent nights literally gasping for air at an open bedroom window. Diseases of the lungs are a huge fear trigger for me.

One of the things I’ve learned with my Druidry is to try to walk with death close by. Our culture has created an unreal space where we are very shielded from the visceral nature of death. Although it’s a part of everyone’s life it still comes as a deep shock when it happens. I think it was Carlos Castaneda who once wrote that by keeping the awareness of one’s death close, it helps us be more alive. I thought I did that. Until the lockdown happened. Suddenly it felt closer, more real, than ever.

Quite a distinct possibility even.

Those first few weeks made me deeply reflect on what was really important in my life. My relationships with my family, my connection to the passing of time, my life/work balance, and how actively I was maintaining and engaging with my Druid Path. Over that time I feel I’ve become closer than ever with Cerri, although I couldn’t go and see my children or my parents we made regular time to join together online, and I could see quite clearly that I had more work to do with my Druidry.

Before lockdown, my regular daily practice had slipped, as had my regular meditation time. Not much, but enough. It’s often the case that, when life becomes busy, the first things to go are the things that are best for us, and that had happened to me too. So I made a point to look again at my daily spiritual practice and to get back into regular meditation. You might have read here on the blog that my regular visits with Oscar to the river were replaced with a more local walk along the harbour bank. Gradually I’ve felt those dropped threads being re-woven, and it’s felt so good. It’s like I remember who I am once more on a very deep level. I wonder if this has happened to you also? Seeing those people on ventilators on the news each day brought that feeling of mortality very close, and with it the unimportant stuff, the things I thought were important but in reality weren’t, dropped away, leaving a very real sense of what life was really about for me.

Lockdown brought other unexpected realisations. I’ve spent the past 20 plus years working for and on behalf of the Pagan/Druid community. That community has certain needs. For instance the wish to make open rituals more inclusive. These are good things, and are constant and changing quests. And amongst all of that service the place where the community’s needs, and my own personal spiritual path overlap, had become blurred. I know it’s happened to lots of people who have given their time over the years in this way. But suddenly I wasn’t running regular open rituals, pub moots, conferences, etc. Suddenly I had space to really reflect on how I felt about my Path, my own personal Path.

It’s been a wonderful and exciting Journey.

To me, Druidry is a magical path – it always has been – and the magician within me has re-awoken. Not that he was completely asleep, but I realised he had been resting… It was magic that brought me to the Pagan path many years ago, in a kind of crooked route through ceremonial magic, and to me, magic is very much a part of being an Ovate, but some may look at what I do and believe and say I am actually ‘Witchcraft-Adjacent’. I’m good with that too. Folklore and Magic have always turned me on. My Altar has been thoroughly cleaned and repurposed, I’ve been out harvesting magical plants again, working with the Moon, Sun and the Elements, greeting the morning with ritual, giving of myself once more to Magic.

My dreams are deeper again, my vision has cleared, I can hear Old Horny’s cloven hooves beside me and the Goddess’ song in the air. Don’t get me wrong, I never turned away from any of this, but the noise of everyday life can sometimes draw our attention from the Song.

But the Song is still there.

It’s always there.

Long may the Path be so.

Blessed be.

15 responses to “Thinking About – Mortality and the Magician”

  1. Ah yes. Magick will always call us. And Persephone and her Lord walk with us from birth. Immortality and Magick were joined in Egypt and before. Blessed be.

  2. Thank you Damh for your words of wisdom. As usual, your monthly thoughts and podcasts are aligned with my thoughts and feelings. There’s so much sickness and madness in the world and you shine a light with your music and spirituality. May God and Goddess continue to guide us in the darkness of these times. Peace and love brother.

  3. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by ‘busy work’ and lose sight of the foundations, of the core. Despite all the uncertainty and worry I too am relishing this break from organising and facilitating, and re-connecting deeply with all that drew me into my Pagan path, the source and wild magic.

  4. Hi Damh,
    Thanks so much for sharing this. As a Meditation Teacher, and Expressive Arts Counsellor, I have been blown away with how much fear this has put into me. I have lived with PTSD since childhood and had thought that it was largely dealt with. Having to reinvent my daily practice because of restrictions was a challenging process, but I feel stronger and more adaptable for. It has really given me time to reflect and look back. I have been spending more time writing my book, art, my own meditations, and recording the ones I do to help myself to share with others. I realized that brushes with death, (drowning and choking) left me gasping for breath and seeing what was happening with Covid-19 was terrifying to me too. I started the Bardic grade for OBOD and I want to thank you so very much for your podcast Druidcast. It has been a lifeline, brings much joy into my life and makes me feel like I have community in our world. I am so glad there are so many of them. I am however burning through them at a ridiculous rate. Like a fantastic book they are hard to put down
    I hope you are safe and well,

  5. Thank you . . . it was comforting to read of your spiritual practice during these times. It is extremely difficult. I too have looked again at the 20 years of Tibetan Buddhist practice in which I have persevered . . . many changes need to be made to my altar to reflect what is left behind and what is up ahead

  6. Yep! Totally this. Well said I’m a fellow lifelong asthmatic and it definitely brought it all home for me too. I think, perhaps, that is one of the positives to take away from all of the mess. It has been a focused regrounding for many of us and we will no doubt progress as a result.

  7. As always great prose with personal insights and great reflection. I have found the lockdown a time of reflection too and have done more meditation these past four months than in the last 4 years with great insights. I have also taken part in many online rituals and connected with more people than I would have. My astrology club has been meeting online with 25 or more people attending rather than the usual 15 or so and we have joined in other clubs meetings. It has really brought spiritual communities together. Best of all Ive written another book when they usually take me years to do! Love and peace and blessed be and keep them home concerts going!

  8. Death and I have become close acquaintances of late.
    We have many similarities, I too came to the path in via a virtually identical route. I too have been a chronic asthmatic for 50 years.
    Death paid, a visit to us last year and my wife now awaits me in the Summer Lands. Eight months later, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so it looks like she won’t have to wait overlong.
    You’re right Damh.
    Please stay safe and Blessed Be.

  9. I do so enjoy your music and the glimpses we get into your thinking here. Thank you for sharing with us!

    Dana Corby
    HPS, Mohsian Wicca
    Bard, RDNA
    Companion, AODA

  10. Even a long life is all too brief! As I age, I see the seasons flying by and childhood friends and acquaintances passing on to the nether world. Many others are growing older at an alarming rate. Events that happened decades ago seem like only Yesterday.

    I find I have little time for unimportant turmoil. Books that are not fulfilling are set aside. Favorite films are revisited. Music is given more of a priority.

    Covid is respected and kept in perspective. It’s toll on my community is noted daily. Stay well!

  11. I’ve had a few cancer issues that had me thinking about mortality and quality of life. I decided I was OK with death. I’ve had a good life, and I’m at peace in my Soul. But at the same time, I am fine with life. I’m at the “so comfortable it’s ingrained in my Soul and behavior” phase of my Druidry, and I know that I am the magic. I’ve been a Pagan for a Very Long Time, and it is condensed down to its simplest form to me-just being is my Druidry. I am kind and compassionate by nature, as well as empathic. My connection with Nature helps me not be crazy and gives me strength. I’m lucky to live on family land, and Nature is all around me.
    But I so get that you get triggered by seeing respirators. My friend’s son, not quite 30, died from a severe asthma attack. Bless you. But you have lots more Work to do, so you don’t get to die yet 😉 I’ll do my best to cover you with healthy Light!

  12. “The noise of everyday life can sometimes draw our attention from the song”
    That so much sums up where I am now. My meditation has flagged, I’m struggling to continue with the Bardic course.
    The song has faded from my ears.
    I’ll keep on keeping on, and hopefully one day soon I won’t have to force myself.

  13. Thank you so much for your eloquent piece which sums up exactly how many of us feel. It’s so true that in these busy times, the first thing to disappear is our self care, whether that be spiritual, physical or both.
    May the spirits of the woods watch over you and yours.
    Blessed be

  14. Greetings Damh, Thank you for the heartfelt sharing. Brightest of Blessings of Health to you & your family. Yes, I find that I & many others have returned even more, to insightful, discerning, focused practices of our true Spirituality/purposeful work (+ more visits in nature) during this time. Connecting with our True Selves & releasing anything that is not best for us & the Planet, has been critical. The challenging circumstances (personal & global) have brought us to this point; and in the end, we will be the all the better for it; as will Gaia. Hopefully, as the Old is released, the New can be Created in a way that is better for All Beings.

    Working in a “Locked Down” Rehabilitation facility in Music/Recreation Therapy, has been both challenging & rewarding. The fear of contracting the Covid virus has run through the minds of staff, patients & their families. I’ve found that Music has been the Most powerful Blessing & is extremely helpful in getting us all through this time. The Nursing Staff sometimes join in.

    We still experience many challenges, & are required to wear masks, get daily Temperature checks, have very uncomfortable covid tests, etc, But I have felt Blessed & Grateful to be able to give joy, comfort, inspiration & healing through music, the arts, etc., to those who are alone, in a sterile/medical environment. Luckily we do have a garden, & can take a few out to visit it. We still aren’t allowed guest visits, except limited to family with masks, 6ft away, only @ windows.

    I feel So Blessed to be able to come home to my Own sacred space of rejuvination/peace, & to be free to visit the amazing, healing trees, mountains & lakes. The patients I serve are unable to do so, and I do my best to bring health & healing to them. My Goddessence/Druidry work flows through my heart, body & soul, as I share love & music with the patients. Many Blessings of Health & Well Being to All, as we journey towards Lughnasadh. /|\

  15. Hi Damh, Although I do not have a chronic illness I do care for an elderly woman of 91 years. We have survived this first wave of the Corona virus and I continue to administer love and caring. I believe my roots to Druidry have helped guide us beyond the fear. Stay Safe! Blessed be,

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