Well, I finally did a restart on my Ovate grade studies. Back in late March or early April, I had essentially brought myself to a stop with my studies. Not because I really wanted to, though it could easily be surmised that it was in the back of my mind. Rather, it, and a lot of other things that I had been doing, were brought to a stop because of all the issues with COVID-19. From that point, all the way through December, I lamented the loss of some of the more social aspects of my Druidry. Sure, there were online gatherings, Zoom calls that could be made, and a lot of solo work that I could do; however, much of my Druidry is based on being social. Sort of a weird perspective for a solo Druid to have, huh? At the end of December, I made the decision to take a step back and restart.
Restarting my studies is nothing new for me. I think I did this at least five times during my Bardic grade studies. Some of that was beneficial for me, it allowed me to provide a better perspective on what I was doing. Some of it was detrimental to my studies, as I started to feel bored with rehashing the same material once again. So, when I started my Ovate studies, I had promised myself that I wouldn’t do a restart. If I got stuck, I might back up a Gwers or two, but I would not restart from the beginning. That was before I started pulling my approach to Druidry apart and refastening things again. This time; however, I decided to take a more methodical approach to my restart – a process I had never done with all the restarts in my Bardic grade.
In all my Bardic grade restarts, I would get stuck at various points in my studies. To try and remedy this, I would take a backward step of a few Gwers and go through where I had been in the hopes that it would restart my thinking process. Hopefully, this would allow me to move past my block. Sometimes that worked. Other times, it made my block even worse. When things would be worse, I would start all the way back at the beginning. When you do multiple restarts in that fashion, constantly going over the same ground you have already covered more than once….yeah, it gets monotonous very easily. Plus, that monotony can easily grow into frustration, and that frustration can be fed back on to yourself – starting a rather vicious cycle of self-doubt.
This time around, the restart comes as a result of me looking into my own approach to Druidry, removing things that were silly romantic notions, and then putting everything back together. One piece at a time. Now that I have a clearer focus of my approach to Druidry, a restart of the grade’s lessons seemed appropriate as well. I am not ditching the observations that I have made along the way. Rather, I am augmenting those observations with what I know now. Some of it will have changed. Some of it may not have. What has changed will be noted. What hasn’t will also be noted with how I found my original notation to continue to be true.
Now with that said, let me explain how difficult this can become. Starting over means coming back to the beginning and walking in the same footsteps that you did before. On the one hand, you take the exact same steps, finding nothing new, and continually berating yourself for kicking off such an exercise in futility. That can result in a bit of negativity towards yourself and short-circuiting a solid, fresh, positive approach to what you were trying to do in the first place. Or, you find that you don’t quite “get” what those first steps were, finding a completely different approach to what you had already done, which makes you begin to doubt everything that you have done – essentially eroding your self-confidence. This second point is the little down-the-drain cycle that I found myself in with all my restarts in the Bardic grade. In the end, I trashed all my previous notes, restarted my Bardic grade from scratch, and pushed my way through all the blocks. It wound up being the best approach that I had, and my persistence in making things go wound up being what I really needed. In my case, every restart – including the one that worked – could be recanted as me over-thinking things.
My restart with the Ovate grade has been one of necessity, especially since I had spent time rebuilding the basis of what my Druidry is to me. That rebuild has forced me to see things from a much different perspective, and that very different approach really mandated a restart. And that brings me to where I am now.
To be open and honest, I don’t believe that the process of working through the Gwers materials is really meant to follow the constant start and stop process that I have been going through. Yet, here I am. With my habitual over-thinking, every stop can be an invite to over-analyze the “why” of things. My challenge at this point is to bring that to an end. To not start analyzing why I came to a stop, and just find a way to get things going again. For me, that can sometimes be quite a formidable task. But I do the very best that I can. Sometimes I will manage to get things going again, sometimes I won’t. The key, for me, is not to beat myself up over the feeling of a “lack of progress,” while also trying not to compare my progress to others. My studies are my own, at my own pace. For me, these are the ghosts that I spend most of my time fighting while moving through the Gwers.
In the end, that’s the truest key. Moving at the pace that is most comfortable for you, while not comparing yourself to others. These studies are the same for every individual, but what you squeeze out of these studies is very much your own. I know it can be tough to see it from a position of individualization, but it certainly is. The kind of Druid that you become through these studies is completely up to you. For me, that’s the primary key to everything – you will become the kind of Druid that you need to become. Nothing more. Nothing less.