Over the past few weeks I have been pondering what the element of Fire means to me. This is for two reasons and both are a part of my Druidic journey. One is that I have finally (after nine years of trying) managed to finish the Air element part of the OBOD bardic coursework. I got stuck on the lesson that asks you to follow you intellectual goals. I needed to write a book, and well, these things take time! The other reason is that we are coming into the time of Imbolc and the awakening of the solar year. This is Flower festival in many places as the native wildflowers come into exuberant bloom and particularly the wattles with their lovely inspiring, joyful energy full of the promise of the solar increase to come. And so, I am pondering the meaning of Fire and how I will be working with this element in the months to come.
We have had a tumultuous few weeks over winter. We have realised that we need to make some big changes to our lives in order to help our son negotiate what is expected of him in a school environment. We have generally been a pretty relaxed family with few rules and have always sought to encourage our son to learn to think for himself, to be creative, to think outside of the box, and to be excited about the natural world. We tried to base what we taught him on our own beliefs about peace, compassion and nature, but as it turns out we missed a few things and it’s been quite a struggle to work it all out so that we can help him better.
It’s a long process, but I am feeling this burning determination to work it all out, both for him and for us, because when we see that he is doing well, it’s usually when we are too. We have a lot to learn, but what has been most important so far has been creating structure in our lives – rules, routines, schedules, clear expectations, clear boundaries, and clear consequences for both good and bad behaviour.
Now I can’t begin to tell you how difficult this has been for me! Rules, structure and schedules all seem a bit dogmatic to me and are things I physically recoil from. Emma Restall Orr and Philip Shallcrass of the British Druid Order often talk about a preference for “catmas” rather than dogmas as a more flexible way of understanding how things should be done in Druidry, and this is an idea I have a lot of respect for. However, I am coming to understand there is real value in rules and structures in so far as they are a solid foundation from which we can grow from and learn to be more flexible once they are understood. They are a part of my own way of life that has been neglected and finding positive ways to incorporate them into our life as a family, and my own life as a result is perhaps going to be the way I will be working with this Fire element.
Earth and Water are the elements that guide us to understand the feminine qualities of intuition, gentleness, slowness, peace, nurturing and emotion. Fire and Air in contrast are masculine and working with them we nurture intellectual pursuits, find our passion and the drive within us. For me, this drive is proving to be one that has me creating to-do lists, making and sticking to schedules, organising meal plans, being more confident in my role as a parent, setting house rules and making expectations clear, knowing the value of greater experience and trusting in my own judgement. It’s a very different way of being than I have ever known, but the benefits we are seeing from it as a family have been wonderful. We are doing a little better every day.
Working with this idea of creating rules and structure has had us as questions like: What are our priorities as a family? What is our vision of a good person? Are there rules that we should follow reflect that? What should we do every morning? What should we do every evening? What is our identity as a family and as individuals? What are we working towards achieving? What is good behaviour? What is bad behaviour? What should the consequences be for these? These all need clear answers. Often answers that are not negotiable. Creating these rules has been hard for us, but it has been working for us in a way we never could have expected, and it has created a fire within us all to be the best we can be. That’s the Fire I am hoping to explore more in the months to come.
Journeying with the wheel of the year and with a course in Druidry can be a life changing experience. Seeing the changes in nature around us and learning how we can interpret those changes to make reflective changes in our own lives is healing and helps with our personal growth. If you would like to learn more about Druidry you might consider one of the courses available with one of the Druid orders. Here are some:
The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) http://www.druidry.org
The British Druid Order (BDO) http://www.druidry.co.uk
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) http://www.adf.org
<< If you would like to learn more about Austalian Druidry and working with the seasonal changes in Australia, you can buy my book Australian Druidry: Connecting with the Sacred Landscape.