February 1 marks the Celtic festival of Imbolc. That’s according to our Gregorian calendar, at least. In the days of the ancient Celts, the druids would decide when Imbolc actually arrived. They would take into account the onset of the first signs of milk in the ewes and the arrival of the first lambs of spring. They would note the snowdrops popping up through the snow to greet the now-returning sun. But most of all, they would feel the energy of the Earth change.
I was initiated into the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids at Imbolc, 15 years ago. Imbolc was the perfect time for initiation, as it marked the very first stirring of new growth deep in the ground, as well as the stirrings of a new life for myself. For about ten years, I was an ardent follower of my druid path. At the peak of my practice, I could tell you the exact day that Imbolc came, as well as the arrival of Lughnasadh, six months later. I could feel the change in the Earth’s energy. The other two “cross-quarter” festivals (those that fell between the solstices and equinoxes), Beltaine and Samhain, I could better anticipate because of the thinning of the veil between the worlds.
A Mystic is Born
In the druid path, I had found myself and my bliss. But my druid practice eventually came to a standstill. After several unanticipated painful events, mostly involving friends and family, I lost my passion for Druidry. I pretty much lost my passion for everything, for that matter. I wanted to continue, but it seemed too distressing. Feeling lost and abandoned, I fumbled around in the dark until I could stand still no longer (an insufferable situation for an Aquarian). I sought some kind of spiritual direction that would inspire me once again. I explored the philosophy of Yoga with Anand Mehrotra, a brilliant and fascinating teacher, and it shattered the earth-bound, cosmic bubble I had lived in most of my life. At the same time, I was invited to some online gatherings presented by the individuals who would become my mystic teachers. And so, the mystic leg of my spiritual journey began.
I soaked up everything I could for the next three years. It was a pretty intense time for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the learning curve I was on spiritually. Druidry is kind of a “bottom-up” perspective – from an earthly point of view looking at the ethereal – while the mystic studies were presented as a “top-down” view; from the perspective of the Universe as it looks at the physical. For me it was a natural extension of my druid path, because after all, it is all connected, and it is only a matter of how you look at the Universe that determines what you see. I was invigorated by what I was learning. The mystic path offered me a bigger picture of this world than I had ever seen, and I’m a big-picture kind of person. I need that kind of overview in order to understand. I could feel the energies of the Universe, much like I had learned through Druidry to feel the energies of the Earth – although perhaps not yet as profoundly. I felt that passion for the spiritual inspire me once more, and again I had found my bliss.
The Fork in the Road
After a few years, however, my motivation began to sputter once again. If I am honest, it was again partly due to hurts delivered by individuals I had held in high regard, although smaller wounds this time. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying I was a “victim.” I truly believe that we draw to us the experiences we need to force us to grow. And I also believe that it is our own perception of those experiences that makes them pleasant or painful. Finally understanding that dealing with these emotional traumas were one of my life lessons, I tried to press on, while working to overcome the hurt I had felt. But the joy, the passion, the bliss – it was gone.
I pressed on, knowing that what was truly of value to me was what I was learning. But the classes were becoming more and more etheric, and I began to feel like a waterlogged sponge. Dealing with a number of health-related issues, my brain was foggy any my body was exhausted. I had soaked up as much as I could, it seemed, at least for the time being.
It is not like me to let go of something when I know it is valuable, and that there is so much more that I haven’t yet discovered. But with a compromised emotional capacity and reduced intellectual and physical capabilities, I found that there was no place in the mystic path I was on in which I could rest and regenerate. At least, not for me.
I suppose that’s about the time the dreams began again. Dreams about druids and ceremonies; about a spiritual path rooted in the Earth. Reminders of the deep comfort and restoration Nature the Earth herself offers. Reminders of my initiation vow: To experience all the pain and the joy of being alive; to live fully as a human upon this Earth.
I had come to a fork in the road. Which direction would I take? Would I continue on a primarily intellectual (although experiential) spiritual path, or would I return to the comfort of Nature? It really came down to a matter of the heart. I longed to be held in the healing arms of the Goddess.
I can’t forget what I have learned, and continue to learn, from the mystic teachings. I know I won’t abandon entirely the perspective that can only be gained by a “top-down” view. I know unquestionably that I am Spirit, incarnated upon this earth as a Human in this lifetime. But as I was told at the very beginning of the mystic undertaking: Sooner or later, most people choose one path or the other. I think it’s becoming clear to me that while the heavens are a nice place to visit, this Earth is still my home.