My heart is heavy yet also relieved of a burden I have carried for three years as today I have closed Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. Over the years I have had many people tell me it was a great idea. Many have encouraged me in the dream of a druid college. However, my health is getting no better. I continue to suffer from sleep deprivation, dust mite allergy, and digestive intolerance to gluten and dairy products. These three illnesses seem to have no cure and what treatments I have undergone have made only slight improvement.
One puts one’s journaling out on the Internet for strangers to read. My friend Philip has asked himself “why?” and I often wonder the same thing. Partly, it is a crie de coeur, reaching out through this odd new medium in the hopes of meeting new friends, people who think and feel like we do. But there is more to it than that. Putting a journal on line invites not just sympathy, but makes it possible for anyone on the Internet to know what is going on with me. It is a place where friends can check to see if I am still alive and well. Or, in my case perhaps it isn’t a matter of wellness but of what is today’s answer to the Grail Question: “What Ails Thee?”
I still have more obligations and duties that my energy may permit me to fulfill. My life may still need to be scaled back further, as they say. But putting Avalon Center to rest will free up a good deal of my energy. It has been a worthy experiment and we gave it the old college try (pun intended).
I’m still taking my Scottish Rite degrees. The discussion directors and the class members are exchanging e-mail comments on how we might improve the discussions after each degree. I am not terribly concerned. The discussions, while hardly satisfying, are always interesting. Essentially they are simply too brief. The Scottish Rite is an odd organization and I look forward to studying its history further. As it is structured, it seems as if the degrees ought to have some substance to them. They require serious and weighty vows to pursue virtue and behave as a good fellow. But my academic breeding makes me feel that each of the 33 degrees really ought to have some particular work attached to it and each person entering a degree be allowed to do that work for a time before moving on to the next degree. Requiring us to watch a ritual drama and engage in 15 minutes of discussion about it, with optional outside reading, is not sufficient work to make the degrees very meaningful.
Some of the degrees do mean a lot to me. For example, I wear my 14° ring of the Perfect and Sublime Master Mason with pride and deep feeling. Seeing it on my hand, and seeing one on the hand of another brother, inspires me to remember that the Great Architect of the Universe is with me always and that my spirit guides do care about me as a person, even in my darkest hours of melancholy. The Rose Croix degree also is very meaningful to me. Receiving that rose meant so much to me and the title itself, which one is entitled to use in one’s signature, is the knighthood I have wanted since I was a boy reading the stories of King Arthur and the Table Round. We are asked to take on a particular virtue to which we are dedicated and append that beneath our signature in Latin. I chose “Eques ab Ivsticia et Veritas” Knight of Justice and Truth, though in Latin it means more than is connoted in English. Ivsticia means “fairness and fair-dealng” and Veritas means “seeking the truth and being truthfull” not some abstract notion of “universal truth” much less “God’s Truth.”
As a Druid I am not required to profess belief in any gods. My order does not require it. Yet, it is implied that one believes in something beyond the material world, even if that something is conceived of as the human psyche or the anima mundi. As a Mason, I am require to profess a belief in God, but the nature of that deity is not stipulated except that it be an entity who has the power to enforce one’s oaths and vows. Christians may believe in a God who doles out punishments to us puny creatures on Earth. I do not. Rather, I belief in the God within us.
Some people have a god and some do not. I use the lower case “g” to indicate that I am not using the word as a proper noun but simply as a common noun. A god (or goddess if you like) is an indwelling entity that some of us have and some of us, perhaps, lack. Maybe atheists do not have a god. It might be something like musical talent, or artistic talent, or ambition. Some people have it and some people don’t. Maybe everyone has a little god, or maybe not. Some people definitely seem to have a very big god in them. They have unshakable faith in themselves, believe that the universe itself loves them and guides what they do.
I’ve believed in the direction of my gods for years. I’ve thought that they were telling me what to do, inspiring me and calling me to achieve certain goals. Now, I’m less sure. Well, I never was very sure. I always doubted to some degree. I suppose people who achieve great things and accomplish much that will outlast their own life span are people with strong inner gods, a strong sense of Self, a strong ego too. I seem to lack those things and no longer expect to produce anything that will outlast me, except the wands I have made. Who knows how long they will last? So have I fulfilled my vow of the 19th degree of the Scottich Rite to ” endeavor to do something for the benefit of my country and the world that shall live after I am dead”? Making art doesn’t seem quite grand enough for that statement. Benefit one’s country and the world? Wow! That’s a tall order.
It might be that I can dedicate myself to finishing some of the books I’ve planned over the years. I’ve always wanted to just write books, but have never gotten anything finished to the point where I wanted to give it to a publisher. But leaving behind a book hardly seems like it is of much benefit to country and world. It is at best of benefit to a few readers who get something out of the book.
God-willing I shall leave behind a daughter, but one can hardly count that as an achievement. It would be unfair to her to expect her to change the world or benefit the country for me. One gets the feeling that Albert Pike meant serving one’s country in some official capacity, politically, or perhaps starting an institution or endowing some organization or school. Well, I tried for three years to dedicate myself to Avalon Center; three years that seem like three decades. And I cannot keep up the pace. I’ve never been an athlete, but it is fairly obvious that those who want to build something to leave behind them when they are dead, need to work at it patiently for many, many years. Three years is not enough to expect anything to last. What I have built is purely ephemeral and will dissolve away to dreams as soon as I let go of the organizational structure. It is like a house of cards, or even less stable than that, just a house of relationships and words. If the relationships had grown into something lasting and solid, then the organization might have outlived me, but as it is, this was not the case.
Well better luck next time to whoever takes up the calling next.
I will continue to work to get to know and understand these inner gods. They are beautiful and I love them, but they seem weak and ineffectual. Perhaps the Jewish scriptures teach us to expect too much of our gods. But one cannot judge. Others evidently think that a god helps them achieve success, love, wealth, happiness, contentment, friendship, etc. They are content to know that God love them as a Father. But that is not much comfort to me. The metaphor is likely to be more comforting to a child who has a loving father who takes care of him or her, providing food, shelter, love, and affection. Now that I am a father and no longer have a father of my own, the metaphor seems more worrisome than reassuring.
God is the perfect father we wish we had or we wish we could be. An ideal. A dream. Do I have such a perfect father (or mother) within me? That is the question and the quest, I suppose. Those atheists who can confidently say, there is no such thing as ghosts and gods, do not have to expend energy on that question. But for those of us who cannot shake off the inner voices calling us and conversing with us, and who cannot have faith in atheism any more than we can have faith in theism, the question becomes a part of life.
Undoubtedly, there are friends and relatives of mine who would say I just don’t have enough to do and spend too much time thinking and brooding. They might be right. But remember that brooding is the only way to hatch an egg.
In Love and Light,
OWL /|\ 18°
Eques ab Ivsticia et Veritas Rose Croix