There is a tradition in some Christian monastic sects to keep a daily office of prayers, recited four times daily, to keep one connected to and mindful of one’s god. The times are regular by the clock, corresponding generally with sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, which usually translates as when one rises, lunchtime, early evening, and when one retires. They are special set-aside times, around 30 minutes in length, for prayer, contemplation, and reflection. Lay-persons can join such Orders by committing to both live the Rule the Order lives by, sort of like its motto, and keep the daily office of prayer.
Although Penny Billington does not specifically to into this history in her book The Way of Druidry, she does make a suggestion towards regular practice which is very much in this spirit. I have been taking it up for myself. She describes Druidry as a celebration of the everyday sacred, fitting into our everyday lives, and so not requiring it to be set aside in any way. I admit I resonate with this seamlessness, since I don’t really have the option of setting aside 30 minutes four times a day. I have been drawn to such a practice over the years in different venues, but find I cannot make it work for me due to circumstances. So I really liked Penny’s interpretation of the practice, because I find it so accessible and doable, and I have been getting wonderful results with it.
Penny’s suggestion is to take a few moments at each of these time stations to step outdoors and connect with the magical current running through the land, and engage with it in some meaningful way. Then one records the moment in brief notes kept in a journal for each day, to track experiences. So simple, so easy, so discreet- I love this.
What I find works best for me is taking these moments casually, when I rise, sometime in the afternoon, at sunset, then just before I retire. They are quiet personal moments in which to breathe deeply and tune in to nature’s energy, grounding and vitalizing all at once. I take a grounding breath and then greet what is around me- morning, sunshine, trees, birds, etc. I find the formal vocalized greeting helps me more easily connect with Neart, the magical energy which runs through all things. The greeting opens the door. Then I close my eyes and focus on the words, ‘magical current in the land,’ the phrase that Penny uses in her book. The words are quite evocative for me, and I basically use them as a mantra, until I begin to feel “plugged in.” I feel this usually through a tingling that runs through my body, and sometimes begins in my feet and moves up my legs, as though the neart of the land were flowing right up through my body. Then I open my eyes and soften my vision, with the feeling that I can visualize the neart flowing over and through everything, connecting us.
Once I am strongly feeling the neart, which comes in a moment or two, I connect with Imbas, through my Cauldron of Knowledge, feeling its energy pour in through the top of my head, and this inspires me to offer a prayer of engagement in some fashion. During one session I asked the blowing breeze to refresh my thoughts; during another I prayed that the shining sun would vitalize and bless all whom it shined upon. I was even able to connect for my afternoon office while driving, when I realized I had forgotten to do so at home before I’d left, and prayed for the falling rain to wash away my frustrations, and felt immediately relieved and refreshed, which was nice while driving. One evening at sunset I asked the sun to take my frustrations with it as it set into the underworld, as an offering to the land, to be used and composted by her. It was a lovely thought that I actually had the opportunity to do this every day at sunset, with any lingering worries.
I finish each session by breathing in the magical current’s energy, and breathing out gratitude, to all of life, and to those powers upon which I’d called. All of this takes but a few moments, and so much is gotten from it. Then I take one more moment to make note of the event, to record how Imbas inspired me in each session, and how I engaged with the powers.
This is a different process from setting aside time to read through pre-written prayers and psalms and sermons. I never know when I step outside how Imbas will inspire me, what I will pray, how I will engage with the powers. It very much keeps me in the moment, open to all the energetic currents present, and moves me, with the purpose of meaningful engagement. Already I am feeling peaks and valleys in my ability to easily or readily connect with neart and imbas, but when the connection doesn’t quite come, I can quietly breathe in the energy of trees, land, rain, and sun, and breathe out gratitude for them, and that exchange alone is meaningful, even if not any more inspired than that. It is still an opportunity to stay connected to the land, our power source, at regular intervals, and keep mindful of it, and of my relationship with her. This also creates a loose structure which both carries me though my day and offers me flexibility in maintaining it, which I appreciate. I love rhythms, and praying through the daily rhythm is a lovely way move through linear time.
This practice creates pockets of timelessness, when time stops and there is only the moment of connection, and how it inspires me. This has become my daily druidic office, and along with my Celtic Mandala prayer and contemplative walk, is becoming the foundation of my daily druidic practice.