Today is the first Sunday of the month when we share guest posts from people living and teaching the Contemplative and/or Celtic Christian way around the world. One of the beautiful things about the internet is that people doing amazing things in isolated parts of the world can learn from one another and grow together. We hope this article inspires you to dive a little deeper into what it means to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors while looking forward to what kind of world we will leave for our grandchildren.
This article is from Caroline Gorka who is a member of our online community. In it she reflects on her spiritual path which has taken her from a non-theistic upbringing into the world of modern druidry and finally found its place in Celtic Christianity and the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Perhaps you will find something familiar in her meandering path in search of truth.
I’m now in middle age and have been walking a spiritual journey towards God, though that hasn’t always been obvious. My path has wavered and looped around and there have been times when I’ve asked myself where I am and why. Reading about other people’s experiences, it appears to be opposite to what many people experience – i.e. being raised as a traditional (for want of a better word) Christian, then perhaps moving away from that or towards another expression of their spirituality.
I however doubted my own thoughts, my own truth, because I’d been raised with a view of definite non-theism. I’m still getting my head around the simple fact that after being raised in an atheist family, finding a place in Celtic Druidry as a root to express my spiritual love of the earth and its inhabitants, to realising that the Celtic Parthenon of Gods and Goddesses aren’t ‘calling’ me after all, however I tried to find a fit with that ethos.
Instead, my journey has led me here…to a religion that is new to me, yet very familiar; something I can finally allow myself to acknowledge and be part of. I grew up in Britain, spending my time playing in the fields, surrounded by the myths of Wales and the border country. My family was and is strictly atheist, but this didn’t fit with my own sensibilities and I think animistic beliefs and the lure of the mythology of the Celtic deities found a place in my being which was more acceptable than the dogma of Christianity in my parents eyes and so in mine.
During a former, controlling relationship, my faith in any form of Spirituality was quashed and buried and with it, my self confidence. It was at the end of this period I became a Psychiatric Nurse where I rediscovered my confidence and found my niche in being a counsellor and advocate while nursing acutely mentally ill people. Again and again, I have encountered people who carried the ‘baggage’ – a description often used to describe how they felt – of their negative experience with elements of Christianity and how it has impacted their life. Some had good reason for their grievances sadly. So much which tests your spiritual life, so much to strive for.
Move forward a while and I’ve now been a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) for a few years now. It’s a deep Earth Centered spirituality that sits deep inside me – celebrating the change of the seasons, the interconnection of life, and the goals of Love, Wisdom and Creativity. I now live in rural Australia where the rhythm of the land dances to a very different beat to that of Britain, but that interconnection embraces all.
As I said, my journey brought me here, with a new understanding of what and who I’ve been searching for. I feel that at last I can speak my truth. I am still continuing with my OBOD studies as it has a lot to offer and is open to everyone; it informs well of the ever revolving, evolving path of birth, death and rebirth, echoing that which Jesus experienced. Over the years, I have been a ‘Flame Keeper’ for Brighid – known by many names as a Christian Saint and a Celtic Goddess of creativity, healing and inspiration. She is said to have united the Tuatha de Dannan and their rivals, the Formarians, who united the Celtic tribes across Britain and into Europe.
She is also known as St Brigit, whose Nuns in Kildare, it is said took over the Flamekeeping duties from the nineteen Druidesses with the coming of Christianity in Ireland. This perpetual flame continues to this day, now with 19 nuns alongside devotees worldwide, keeping St Brigit’s fire alight (with Brigit herself tending her flame on the 20th day) She is also an Anamcara to many over the ages – the Soul friend which is such an important aspect of Celtic Spirituality – again, another bridge, along with her title as Foster Mother of Christ – fosterage being a loved tradition in Ireland.
Actually, this is far from simple, and is momentous & awe inspiring in itself. Standing on a beach or in a forest and letting myself become empty, and allowing Christ’s love and energy to fill me and nurture me is amazing, but so are those quiet, small moments in day to day life, when you notice that it’s all a bit safer, your heart is a little fuller and no longer is there anything to force your mind to accept.
Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Spirit dances on the light Which plays through the trees She is the wind that caresses your face Or blows your fears away. Spirit is the surge of joy, the filling of your heart, the sensual touch in the night. She is the quickening in your womb. Spirit is the thrumming beat of the Earth. She is the energy of mountains and the running waters. She is the smell of snowmelt and pine. She is life.
Each day, I think it’s good to remember why we are here, how God’s creation and re-creation of this land benefits us and other sentient beings, and how we have the responsibility of guardianship of this planet and so like to spend a few moments in communion with the Earth – whether that be spending a few moments listening to birdsong in my garden or soaking up the gentle light of the moon. Feeling that love and the aching heartbeat of the sacred land, our home, spurs on the effort to do right and the encouragement of others to follow. Regularly, I like to go to a protected forest near me.
It’s classed as a ‘Cool Temperate Rainforest’ it’s trees are a mix of different gum trees and native Blackwood trees and Tree Ferns. I’ve known of this forest and walked regularly through it for the last three years. Because of that, I know this forest well. I know the verges, and what grows on them at different times of the year – Curry Plant and Yarrow in the Spring, moving to wild Forget-Me-Nots as summer takes hold. I know how the nearby fields change colour throughout the year – a bright emerald green in the winter and spring, yellowing, or turning to brown with the scorching summer heat.
I then enter the forest itself, twisting down hairpin bends into the valley where I walk. Being a cool rainforest, there is life throughout the year. From mid Autumn and throughout the Winter, I find fungi and mosses galore, growing on both live and fallen trees…some seem to prefer the latter. The air is cool, even cold, but being in a valley I’m usually protected from harsh winds. As many native trees are Evergreens, the main body of the forest doesn’t change that much; however, there are big changes in the small details. One of my hobbies is photography and I like to use it in my spiritual life. Photography is like a meditation when you stop and place all your concentration into seeing, really seeing, that moss spore, the smallest flower or the huge tree. Too often, it’s easy to see with unfocused, or distracted eyes and you’re not even aware of it. Looking through the lens of a camera stills your mind, focuses your eye and allows you to see things as they really are. Then put your camera away and look again with awakened eyes. Here is some of my photography.
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