Thursday, December 24, 2015

Good Evening, Fellow Nemyssoi!

Dear Druid Comrades:

It is with a sense of profound appreciation and humility that I accept on the gold and purple nemyss of office as the 8th Grand Archdruid of the AODA. I break with long-standing tradition in that I don’t have a beard, and were I to try, the results would not be pretty.

I wanted to mention a few projects I’ve had kicking around my head for some time that are finally getting wheels put under them.

The quest for the Grail in Sarras, the Desert wasteland has struck me as possibly the most important version of all the stories in the “Matter of Britain”, (expanded slightly to be the “Matter of Gaea”)  for our current global situation. i.e. "Why are we all in this really big woven hand basket, why is it headed off a cliff, and why is it getting VERY warm all of a sudden?" This first, earliest version of the quest for the grail by Chretien De Troyes is frustrating, incomplete, and badly in need of an editor. Since none of those were available to him, but I think it is a collection of a hell of a lot of good ideas and story fragments,
I am about to do start something considered very, very bad in academia: 

I am going to re-tell the story of the Grail Quest in Sarras from other perspectives, in a version that certainly would not have been accepted in any of the European or Near Eastern courts of the Middle Ages. I am plunging into uncharted (for me) waters in this Quest, and will be hitting the books very hard in the next year or so in order to provide as rich and accurate a background as possible. 

The Graal stories were said (by their first known written author, Chretien De Troyes) to have derived from a storyteller named Kyot who lived in Spain. Spain, particularly around Toledo was the Alexandria of its era. Moors, Jews, Christians, others, working together tolerably well in search of knowledge. Not just its preservation, but its dissemination and extension. A dynamic Venn Diagram logic machine was one of the major inventions of this era, along with critical work in medicinal texts, astronomy, cartography, etc.

Ross Nichols (Nuinn) believed that Druidry existed independent of time, while obviously manifesting within it, and the best was always to be. I hope to make some small contribution to this Eternal Arrival of the Sacred at our doorsteps, parks, and nearest potted plant. 

This re-visioning of the "Matter of Gaea" ties into another long time interest of mine, the field of Process Theology, or the recognition of the presence of an ever-changing humankind and the Sacred. And why not? The Cosmos we are a part of has never been static. Our identities are not static. Why then would incarnationally-challenged beings be static, unless they are ethereal robots rather than conscious beings?

I realize this is a lot to take in. The person we were a day ago is gone. Not forgotten, yet not entirely present.

These last few years have been very hard in my life-I have lost most of my inner circle of close friends, including one of my beloved Craft mentors and friend for decades, Judy Harrow. We met in very dark circumstances and Judy brought light and ethics into that situation to the degree possible, extended this into readily accepted codes of conduct in an organization riddled with graft and magical manipulation, and did so in a way that put honor, respect for others and ethics as the best litmus test for interpersonal dynamics and choices. That story has rarely been told, important though it has become for the extended Wiccan community in the past three decades.

What Kahlil Gibran said about the processes of life being fluid rather than static is worth looking up on line. (He was far more expressive than I could be.) Judy  grokked and shared this wisdom for decades-a dynamically lived spirituality is a practice, a process, a paradigm, a party, and a lot of scrubbing floors and toilets along the way.

A most remarkable member of the Northwet community Passed Over to Starlight recently. Corby Ingold, trained Northwest drummer, singer, storyteller, 1960‘s coven founder, lodge brother, etc. no longer graces us with his physical presence. We all must die-it is the one certainty of birth, save for some strains of bacteria a few kilometers deep in the earth’s crust. November was supposed to be the month that Corby was coming over to stay with me in Bremerton for a weekend, so we could talk, record bits of his history and stories he wanted to share, hear him sing a few songs and swap community gossip.
Sadly he died a few weeks before this happened. Most of those stories, teachings, and of greatest importantance, the synthesis that he had as a person who embodied druidry, Craft, a Ceremonialist, a trained Northwest tribal drummer without the ancestry, a folk singer, and all of his remarkable skill sets have passed out of reach for the most part.

Everyone assumes there shall always be more time.

While I wish to alarm and disturb no one, the truth is that, as we say in Spiritualism, “Stuff Happens”.

Consider this: If today were to be the last day you had access to the Internet, to libraries, to study groups, manuals and books, where might your druidry flow from and towards, given whatever you learn, encounter or are moved by today? Today, only counting events and circumstances manifested within the last 24 hours.

Try this as a practice-just sit quietly with the knowings of simply this day, and see how far those thoughts can take you, or you can take them.

The first, the oldest, the primary tool that distinguishes us (so far as we now know) from other sentient beings is our ability to construct narratives and tell stories with powers of explanation and prediction.

So-share stories. Try to look at your own personal mythologies, histories, and legends as a storyteller, journalist, painter, whatever. As well as that of your friends, your community, your world. Then get good at sharing it out. Just remember that there will always be more than one story, more than one way to tell the same story. 

Music and mathematics are important if generally unrecognized tool sets within the broad area of storytelling. 

Storytelling allows us to relate what happens when a one stone watermelon is dropped off of a 500 ell tall building through the elegance of mathematics rather than always needing to drop a few hundred gross of watermelons whenever someone wonders what could happen.

Gallagher Stage shows notwithstanding, a very  few demonstrations allow a fairly good story to be told of what generally happens next. Stories allow us to model events, evaluate predictions, and communicate these perspectives to others. Of course it isn’t and can’t be perfect. Communication is not perfect. No two sentient beings hold the same sets of experiences and meanings when “unlocking the word-horde” as the Anglo Saxons would have described it. And isn’t it marvelous in potential?

We lose one of these priceless tool kits every year. Approximately every calendar year a culture, group, and its language go extinct. All of those songs, jokes, tales, the unique stories about the land, and how those people lived, what was safe to eat, how to prepare and share food, how and why to live, die, solve problems and be loved is irretrievably lost. 

In short, most of the options we have-even the options of how we can conceptually grasp our options-are going away. At the same time, the main discourse of one billion people worldwide is being reduced to either a “like” button comment or nothing at all. This is the ultimate in reductionist thinking, and our species unfortunately tends to  manifest binary thought in politics and philosophy through larger than life busts and posters of a Strong Man Leader, the wearing of leather jackboots by an army of chosen followers carrying little notebooks, looking for a lack of conformity, loud and cruel marching music and the enforced quest for an impossible Purity.

This is a big Cosmos, and we small ones, half way between the unknowns smaller than the shortest possible measured thing and the vast size of our seemingly probabilistic bubble of space and time in which we, mobile membranes, squishy, more or less room temperature collections of water, salts and minerals comprise a vanishingly small fraction of that whole by mass, space and time. All we as individual sentients have is something half the size of a coconut to use to grasp that which is, was, or may come to be. What can a small frog in a well understand of astronomy? Possibly not as much as we hope. But maybe more than we can imagine.

Within this seemingly random, short dance of life that we are permitted, at least as some of the time crisp experiences of a direct consciousness of Others, some shared flashes of dream, sound, or similar is found to bind us together via small, ordinary miracles.

I do not speak of belief or doctrine, but of sparks of experiences and insights flowing from places we cannot really define, receiving knowledge and sometimes comfort, compassion and belonging along the way. Enough to know we are real, we are in a Cosmos where we do not need to be ever alone in Spirit, and that the Little Mysteries can help to enfold us in forever moments. There can be good dreams, and these can often be given form and voices.
Thank all of you, my tasawuuf dindashlar (fellow robed travelers at my side/back on the road of Mysteries)! May it be a good day!
Gordon Cooper


Jamie McMillin said...

Congratulations on your promotion to Grand Archdruid! And thank you for taking the time to post this introduction. It sounds like you have all sorts of interesting research and projects underway.

I look forward to hearing more!

All the best to you,
Jamie McMillin

nwlorax said...

Thank you for that, Jamie! You might want to look at my previous posts in this series. I promise that they shall be written and posted on a more regular schedule now.