As I am writing this, I am watching and listening to the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) “Online Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan Ceremony“. As Eimear Burke, the Order’s Chosen Chief, noted – an online ceremony is not what anyone would have envisioned for this time of year. Certainly, an online ceremony is not exactly the type of connection that I felt I may be having with the other members of my Order. The feeling I have in all of this is that of being a touch disconnected. A feeling of everything not being what I have had previously, during the celebrations I have attended in the past.
Many people would assume that this has a lot to do with my current state of depression and dropping mental health. Certainly some of that has played a part in my feelings of being disconnected. But only a small part. Whether I want to truly admit it or not, I’m a social creature. I need face-to-face connection to feel that deeper connectivity. The last time I saw any members of my Order was in March of this year, at Austin WitchFest, when I happened to cross paths with John Beckett. The last event of the Order that I attended was back in March of the previous year, as this year’s Gulf Coast Gathering was cancelled due to concerns over COVID. Prior to the cancellation, I had debated whether I would attend, knowing the dangerous aspects of contracting the virus, given my health conditions.
The lack of connection with the members of my Order has taken its toll on me. Not so much as a Druid though. Other factors in my life have done that for me. However, I’m in no danger of leaving Druidry behind. Rather, I am in the process of redefining its purpose within my daily life. A process that will take a good bit of time. What I miss the most is the interaction with the members of my Order. This is what 2020 and Covid have essentially robbed me of. However, kicking my feet and wailing to the wind won’t make things different. Certainly, I might feel good after doing such things but none of that solves a single thing.
The Order’s Winter Solstice celebration is a nice moment for me to take in. However, it is a difficult reminder of what I do not have within my Spirituality at this moment. It is also a reminder of how many people are always there by my side. In the upper right corner of the screen in the OBOD video, is Kristoffer Hughes, someone who has always known how to bring a smile to my face one minute, and a shocked look to my face the next minute as he picks me up and squeezes the air out of me with his big bear hugs. And there are so many others that my mind brings forth. Papa Bear, Kathleen, Gabby, Wanda, Frank, the two Jacobs, Wendy, and everyone else that have made the Gulf Coast Gatherings into an expression of family. As well as putting up with my ridiculous shenanigans during camp. These online celebrations are always moments that remind me of what is missing within my own Spiritual life.
I am also reminded that life changes every single day. That what has happened yesterday is not likely to happen in the exact same way today or even tomorrow. That what happened an hour ago can be diametrically different than what happens right now. That what is happening now in this time of darkness, both COVID and my own depression, is not likely to continue. Each step we take is different than the footfall we just left behind. Somehow, some way, it is a matter of groping in the dark until we can find something to hold on to, something to gain strength and balance from.
We have reached another Winter Solstice in our lives. This one looks and feels different from any of the ones we have known, though it really is not. Our disconnected lives here in 2020 only provide an unfamiliar backdrop.
The central and essential thought of Alban Arthan is renewal. We let the past behind us and greet the new. The world is undergoing constant change and we must change and adjust, too, in order to be able to survive. Change is inevitable. The German poet Heinrich Heine said: “Nothing is so permanent as change”. In this knowledge, humankind celebrates festivals since times unknown, giving people the opportunity to let go of the old and to embrace the new things which life would certainly hold in store.https://druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-festivals/winter-solstice-alban-arthan
Things may feel different. The times may make us feel disconnected or out of sorts. But even in an online ritual, we can find even small bits of comfort and serenity. If your Druidry is like mine, rooted more in the people you are with than in the period of the Wheel of the Year that you are in – you have likely felt much of the same disconnected nature that I have. Try to remember, and this goes for myself as well, that all of this is only for the moment. It is the here and the now. Not the future. It may take time, but we will eventually get back to a time where we can gather together without the fear of inadvertently infecting those we love and cherish with a virus with such deadly consequences. We just have to be a little more patient than we anticipated. We have to remain safe, protecting ourselves, and in so doing – protecting others as well.
This is the time of the year to let go of things in our past. This is a time when the days are short, and the dark of the night is a little longer – until the Solstice. Then the reverse holds true. In a manner of speaking, I am starting to see where my current bout of depression is a time frame leading to a Winter Solstice in my own life. Where darkness will have a shorter reign. Where light, and hope can be seen on the distant horizon. All I need to do is what our ancestors did during this time of the physical year – endure. For me, its difficult because I have no hand to hold. I endure the darkness on my own. But we can envision holding one another’s hands…being the unseen support for one another. Because together, we not only endure, but we will flourish. All we need is patience, and our own self-understanding.
A long while back, I used to hold a morning and evening vigil for the Sun. I would get up before the sunrise, and greet its sudden arrival over the horizon with a cup of coffee in my hand, and wonder in my eyes. In the evenings, I would say my good night, as it slipped over the horizon, allowing the Darkness to have its turn in my world. But I always asked the Sun as it set for a promise that it would rise again in the East. The Sun has never failed in keeping that promise. Perhaps, I need to take the time to re-establish this little vigil. The same promise from the Sun holds true at the time of Winter Solstice. The Sun has promised to make the days longer from this point on. Every year, that promise has been kept. I see nothing to suggest that it will be different going into 2021, or even in my own life. It takes patience, time, and faith. I do my best with the first one. I have no control over the second one. The third one is completely up to me.