All art by Lana Sham
“Stars are always dancing. Sometimes they dance twinkling away with the rhythm of your joyful heart and sometimes they dance without movement to embrace your heartache as if frozen sculptures of open-armed sadness.”Munia Khan
Something the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids taught me was how to be more wholehearted and open hearted – the two very much go together. Druidry is a world-embracing, life-celebrating sort of path, and to do that, it is necessary to be emotionally open.
That doesn’t mean being obliged to go through life with your heart on your sleeve, totally vulnerable to everything and everyone. Boundaries can be good, helpful, needful things.
That said, as a younger human I was decidedly full on, and unboundaried. As a consequence, I was desperately vulnerable and took a lot of damage, to the point of becoming unable to meet the world in an open hearted, wholehearted sort of way.
I have missed that version of me. I have missed my own courage and ridiculousness. I like me better when I’m throwing myself wholeheartedly into things, without fear of the consequences. This year I’ve started doing that again, I think in wiser ways.
The world is a big place, there are many souls in it, unthinkable amounts of possibility and more options than you can throw your ogham sticks at. Open hearted and wholehearted still gets a vote in where to direct that. It doesn’t have to mean being buffeted endlessly in any and all directions. It doesn’t mean having to welcome everyone who seems to be moving towards me. There are, after all, only so many hours in a day so it makes sense to pick the directions I’m going to hurl myself in.
I’m picking my directions, and I’m hurling myself. I’m open hearted enough at the moment to be able to love the brightening blue skies of spring and the abundance of wildflowers out there. I’m back to being able to take giddy joy in a song and to get excited about the idea of doing things. Having spent far too long feeling empty, I’m finding there is a capacity to pour something of myself into the world again. It no longer feels like bleeding out. It feels like becoming a spring, or a well and having a flow within me that I do not need to protect.
The experience of flow is vital when it comes to being a spiritual person in the world. You can’t pour endlessly out of yourself with nothing coming back in. The quality of what you’re experiencing is, over the longer term, going to inform what you can do. None of us exist in isolation, and that web of connection Druids like to talk about is extremely relevant when it comes to us as individuals. You can’t be a meaningful part of that web if you can’t show up and be open to it.
When we’re lifted, supported and nourished we can do more. When what’s around us is grim and exhausting, our own resources will be depleted by this. It’s worth looking at the kinds of psychological and emotional ecosystems we’re operating in. Where is it possible to build virtue cycles, so that good things can be built on top of each other? Where is it impossible to make any meaningful change?
Increasingly, I’m looking for the spaces and relationships where it’s all about lifting each other. I’m identifying places where turning up wholehearted gets something done. Rather than hurling myself at situations that are like brick walls and rows of spikes, I’m hurling myself at spaces where if I play a tune, someone else might feel inspired to dance.
Nimue Brown is an author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. She has her own blog as well as patreon. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. She has published many renowned books on Druidry including Druidry and the Ancestors: Finding our place in our own history and Druidry and Meditation.