November 25, 2012

Karma Yoga: How to Care Without Caring

"Though the unwise cling to their actions, watching for results, the wise are free of attachments, and act for the well-being of the whole world." Bhagavad Gita, Stanza 3.25, Stephen Mitchell Translation

Be unattached to the fruits of your actions.


What in the hell does that even mean?

This is a concept I've been struggling with lately, and I think everyone struggles with. It is the source of a lot of suffering, or dukkha, in all of our lives. It's hard to do something and not want it to turn out the way you bloody well want it to. I feel like it is definitely a Western societal issue: anxiety is so rampant, people talk about panic attacks like it's an okay thing to have; like everyone has them as a part of their normal functioning. I recently found an ad for Ativan in an old National Geographic magazine. Uh... what??

The Buddhist tradition describes viparinama-dukkha, or dukkha produced as a result of change, as "the anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing" (Wikipedia, "Dukkha"). What if we could be free of this anxiety... if change was something we could welcome? What if we could learn to truly embrace the unexpected, regardless of our actions? What if we could abandon the illusion of control completely?

According to the Bhagavad Gita, action is preferable to inaction.

"Do any actions you must do, since action is better than inaction; even the existence of your body depends on necessary actions". - Stanza 3.8
If you choose not to act, you have still made a choice. So why not do something? Okay. So, all things being equal, you might as well get off your duff and do something great. But what do I do? And what happens then?
"Self posessed, resolute, act without any thought of results, open to success or failure. This equanimity is yoga". - Stanza 2.48
Karma Yoga is all about this action/inaction thing, and attachment to the products of these. I think of it as being the concept of doing your best, and letting the cards fall where they may. It's a hard thing to not worry about whether you passed that test, whether your friend really forgives you, or whether you should have broken up with so and so. This next passage speaks directly to it:
"You have a right to your actions, but never to your actions' fruits. Act for the action's sake, and do not be attached to inaction." - Stanza 2.47
You have a right to do what you will, but the results of what you do will probably have nothing to do with you. There are bigger things at play, and probably a lot more people involved as well that are just doing what it is that they need to do. Maybe some great failure will end up teaching you some great life lesson. Who knows? As well, if we could all drop the worry piece from our lives, can you imagine the relief? Imagine what would happen if we could just do whatever we knew best to do in the moment, and weren't hoping for a certain outcome. Our past worries wouldn't bother us, because we could know we did our best right from the seat of our soul. We could live in the "now"... and also be free of our future worries.
"So do not be concerned with the fruit of your action - just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord. This is a powerful spiritual practice. In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of "consecrated action."
         When the compulsive striving away from the Now ceases, the joy of Being flows into everything you do. The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction - you don't look to it for salvation. Therefore, you are not attached to the results. Neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of Being. You have found the life underneath your life situation." - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
It's not that I don't care about what happens. I do care. It's my life. I care very much how things turn out. It's that I trust that things will work out. Krishna's got my back, yo.
"Listen, Arjuna: I will tell you how you can know me beyond doubt by practising nonattachment and surrending yourself to me." - Stanza 7.1
The Big Goal, the end of dukkha, is, after all, the attainment of enlightenment. Down with dukkha, up with enlightenment! I feel like, at least for me, not being in control is a great source of worry, despite the fact that control is completely illusory. All we have in this life is what happens to us and how we choose to react. I act in accordance with what I want to produce in my life, and I totally freak out about whether it will actually pan out that way. But when has the Universe ever let me down? 
"Abandoning all desires, acting without craving, free from all thoughts of "I" and "mine", that [person] finds utter peace." - Stanza 2.17
Let's hope.

November 21, 2012

Druid Homework, Week 1.

My thoughts on posting this are as follows:

- I'm hoping someone, some day, will find my writing and be like OH SHIT! She went through the same stuff! I don't feel like such a dork now!

- Gives me a place to look back on to see how far I've come

- Gives other people an opportunity to read my thoughts and share their own with me (hopefully) :D

Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?

I always seem to feel a need to be somehow in a recognized path where people WILL judge me. Sounds counterintuitive, but I seem to want that kind of structure. That and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing such a thing. It probably comes from having grown up in a church, but I don't really want to write my own rules when it comes to this Druidry thing. I'd like to be shown what to do a little. At least at this point. I'm sure there'll come a time where I do my own thing, but not yet.

Is this a step on your path, or will this become the path itself?

For now, along with OBOD's Bardic Path stuff, this is the path. I'm sure it will evolve eventually if it needs to, but for now, this is it.

What do you expect to learn?

Lots of things :D I expect to learn lots of neat stuff and become much more confident as a result.

What would you like to get out of this journey?

Fulfilment. I haven't felt connected to spiritual things for a very, very, very long time. It's felt like a piece of me that was missing. I'm hoping to rectify this.

Do you know where this path will take you?

Nope. Isn't that kind of the point?

If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?

No time like the present! And I'm also not new to the concept of Druidry, having been a member of OBOD for a few years.

Does it look hard or easy?

Not hard (at least since I found this document by Rev. Dangler), but probably a lot of good work. I've never found the scholastic part very difficult... it'll be the experiential stuff that's more of a hurdle for me, I think.

Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?

I have some health issues that are really impairing my ability to be my usual brainy self, so reading and writing and being able to concentrate (or even remembering what I was talking about in the first place) can be a struggle. Some days it's harder than hell, some days it's easy. I think sticking to the meditation journal will be the toughest for me.

Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?

Nope. Short answer. LOL

November 20, 2012

I take it back.

Apparently there's a 134 page document outlining where to start and what to do for your Dedicant Path that I somehow missed.

Problem SOLVED.

November 19, 2012

OH Crap.

I had a bit of a moment of clarity on Saturday.

Druid group meeting. I was watching people talk about their Gods, and I was like... holy shit. Is my adherence to the whole idea of "archetypes" going to preclude me from ever having a relationship with the "Powers That Be" like this?

I don't consider myself to be a close(d?) minded person... in fact, I'd consider myself to be one of the more open minded people I know. It just occurred to me that being into the archetype model might be completely shutting off any potential communications from the gods. If I think they're not real in the forms that they're presented in, and just another aspect of source...

Well, I don't want to shut that door. I've had personal relationships with other religious figures before. I don't know why I didn't feel called to explore that more with this new religious stuff. I just didn't. Made me feel kind of lonely though when I considered that I was making that a non-possibility for myself.
Like I don't feel lonely enough without that kind of help.

I'm also like really, really frustrated with myself. I am having a really, really super hard time digesting this stuff. I dunno if it's inertia or what, but having to figure out what a religious practice looks like in my life has been really SUPER FUCKING HARD. You read so many opinions on what it should look like, but I hate the word should. I feel like I need to do it my own way. But what do I do?! I'm good at spending a lot of time reading books and stuff, because I a) love reading, and b) find this stuff fascinating. But as far as giving any love to the Kindreds? I have no idea what I'm doing. Correction: I have a good idea of what to do in theory. But I have no idea what would feel good and right to me. I know I just need to keep trying, and fall into some sort of rhythm that feels right. But I have no idea where to start :S Why is this such a stumbling block for me!?!?! I've read LOTS on the subject. I've got all kinds of stuff on rituals. #*$(&*#(*@&#@(&^#(@*&#

The harder I force it, the harder it's going to come, I know that. I am just not accustomed to not being able to intellectualize my way through something. Not that I'm not used to being intuitive... I rely on my intuition a lot. It's usually when I don't go with my gut that I screw things up. This is just beyond my ability, and it's making me want to give up. I figure something that is this difficult must be one of two things... either really worth doing, or not right for me in the first place. But if this isn't right, what the hell is?!?!?!?

You have no idea the sense of peace I felt when I found somewhere to fit in spiritually. I've felt nothing but disowned for the longest time... I don't know what I would do if I had to feel that way again. This is so hard. I NEED THIS. SERIOUSLY.

November 15, 2012

My Ideas.

We were talking about what we believe in the Druid Group, so I thought I'd blog about my "ideas" a little... mostly because I don't think I've ever organized them anywhere but inside my head.

Panentheism/Pantheism: I think that the divine penetrates everything, but that there's a part of it that is the "hive mind" and officially organizes things. Everything has a role in it, but I think there's a central processor.

Archetypes: I think that gods and goddesses of all types from all pantheons are sort of like mantras. We pray to, say, Ganesh, because we want some obstacle or another moved. The universe is familiar with the idea and energy of Ganesh, and thus is more easily able to guess at what we're asking for. They're like an intermediary between us and the universal "central processor".

Reincarnation: I definitely think that reincarnation is real. I've often felt really in touch with something that I have never (in this life, anyways) had contact with. Yoga, for example. I took to that like a fish to water, and I'd never been exposed to it otherwise. It felt like a homecoming. I can't help but think that something that feels that familiar must have been in another time and space.

I also think that we make agreements with people before we reincarnate. Ever have a problem with someone that just keeps coming up again and again and again? I feel like we've made agreements before birth with these people to experience certain things, work out karma, etc. We've made agreements so that we can feel every aspect of what it means to be human... even the brutal ones.

It All Balances: I think there exists some balance between the idea of karma and the first law of thermodynamics. All things in the universe must balance out eventually. That being said, if all you put out is negative energy, you're probably going to get negative things back to you. Not as punishment as much as the idea that "like attracts like".

Differences of Opinion: Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus, Zoroaster... I think that these people all were real, and all were bodhisattvas. I don't think there's one true way to God, but that it's more important that you just have a path to begin with. I don't think that God really cares either. Something along these thoughts from Ramakrishna:

It's enough to have faith in one aspect of God. You have faith in God without form. That is very good. But never get into your head that your faith alone is true and every other is false. Know for certain that God without form is real and that God with form is also real. Then hold fast to whichever faith appeals to you. 
Many are the names of God, and infinite the forms that lead us to know Him. In whatsoever name or form you desire to call Him, in that very form and name you will see Him.

I also try to, whenever I think to, use the word "idea" instead of "belief". I think ideas are easier to change than beliefs, and are inherently more malleable. Semantic-y? A little, maybe. I'm like water to dogma's oil, though.

That's all I can think of right now. We'll see what else bubbles up later :P

November 14, 2012

How to be Happy Even When You Don't Feel Like Trying and are Quite Alright Being Miserable, Thank You Very Much.

Feeling like a heaping bag of shit? Exhausted to the point where you're too tired to sleep? Feel like moving to Baffin Island and creating a rewarding social community with the polar bears?

You're not alone.

In my new blog post, "How to be Happy Even When You Don't Feel Like Trying and are Quite Alright Being Miserable, Thank You Very Much", I'll outline ways in which you can make your seemingly shitty existence seem, well, at least... less shitty.

Rule Number One: Find pleasure in small things.

Small things are universal. Everyone has those small things that make their lives a little easier. Maybe it's keeping your pens in a perfectly neat row on your desk, maybe it's ensuring your neon purple socks are clean to wear for that appointment you're dreading. Maybe finding the nearest stone and kicking it as hard as you possibly can to find any modicum of stress relief. Whatever works! Enjoying small things leads to small happiness successes. And we all know you need to build on small successes before you can have bigger ones.

Rule Number Two: Say FUCK when you need to.

Fuck is a great word. It can be a noun, verb, adverb and adjective, sometimes all in the same sentence.

As in: "Fuck the fucking fuckers." "Who fucking gives a flying fuck?" "I know fuck's a bad word, but you're fucking making me say it."

All fucking kidding aside, the point I'm trying to make here is sometimes to be happy, you have to freak the fuck out. You need nothing but unadulterated, unedited, shameless, noisy, and un-cute catharsis in its most raw and uncensored form. People may think you're nuts, and you probably temporarily could be considered as such. Short term pain leads to long term gain here: if you don't become insane in the moment, you will assuredly be driven insane in the long term by keeping things bottled up. But lemme tell ya, one potty mouthed compatriot to another: it's fucking worth it.

Rule Number Three: GODDAMNIT, I SAID NO

There's a lot of people that have demands on your attention and time, am I wrong? What these people may or may not understand is that their right to your energy is actually a privilege. It's hard to shift paradigms when someone may have been used to calling on you when they needed... whatever it is they needed. But things can change. Maybe you need some time to take care of some of your own stuff? Whatever that "stuff" may be, you need to assert your right to take care of yourself absolutely. People may not like it, but there it is. If they don't get it, refer to Rule Number Two and tell 'em where to go.

The other thing that falls under this category is conforming to others' ideals. No. Just, no. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. To thine own self be true, etc. "You" might seem ugly at the moment, but gawshdarnit, you're the only you you've got. The only you the entire world has, actually. And that's pretty special.

Rule Number Four: There's always a silver lining.

Also known as: it could always be worse. I'm a firm believer in that God/Goddess Source/Universe/Flying Spaghetti Monster will only give you as much as you can handle. Even when you feel like going postal and sacrificing the blood of the innocent, remember this. It's important. Despite the fact that your dog ran away, your truck is broke, and your woman left you for the strong (and much handsomer) arms of another, at least you're alive to be shit upon in the first place, am I right? I know this thought pisses you off, but I'm right. Deal with it.

Rule Number Five: Don't Apologize

If you could have known better, you would have done better, right? Never in this life are we ever prepared for the challenges that will face us. We only live on average 70 or so years. How is that ever going to be enough time for you to prepare yourself to appropriately and effectively deal with every possible situation ever? Do the best you can. That's it. And never apologize for falling short of someone's expectations. Guilt and shame are very dirty words... even dirtier than "fuck".

Rule Number Six: Let it go.

There's lots of books on this. All the important spiritual writers speak of the importance of not allowing yourself to get caught up in the illusion of control. We control nothing. The best we can do is try to control our reactions to things that happen, and even that is really bloody difficult. Do the best you can do, and let go of the results of your actions. The cards will fall where they will. Holding on to the fruits of those actions will only cause you pain when they don't meet your expectations.

For example, I was in a really miserable mood before I started writing this blog post. I thought it might cheer me up to get some of these thoughts on (virtual) paper. Nope. I'm still miserable. So I can either make myself more miserable by focusing on my lack-of-happy or I can just be how I need to (apparently) be at this very moment. It'll pass, and a lot faster if I let go of my attachments.

So try to live a clean life, but not so clean you can't say "FUCK" when you need to. Don't apologize for needing to say "FUCK" in the first place. Find the simple pleasure of cursing your ass off enjoyable when you need to, because behind every angry moment of cathartic rage, lies the silver lining of shedding said rage in the first place. When people try to tell you their needs are more important than yours, feel free to politely tell them that your new priority is YOU. That's not selfish or narcissistic. It's self preservation. You can't give of you if there's no you to give in the first place. Maybe in 100 years we'll have ourselves all figured out, but I doubt it. So we do the best we can, no?

November 10, 2012

Abundance, Abundance Everywhere and Not a Dime to Blow on Retail Therapy.

It's hard, in our culture, to associate the concept of "abundance" with anything other than material wealth. That's what we're pretty much programmed to associate with the word. Everyone would like to be more "abundant" in their bank account, but is that what it really means?

I've had trouble with the concept myself. The last few years I've been unable to work (long story), and times have been lean, shall we say. There's been a few times where I wasn't sure how we were going to buy food. It was pretty scary, and most certainly did not help to lessen my stress level. I thought for sure my four critters, my husband and I were going to literally end up in a van down by the river. I was not a believer in life, the universe, or anything. The answer was most certainly not 42, unless you mean $42,000, and then, BY ALL MEANS! I really thought I was being left high and dry by my concept of God at the time, and was absolutely positive I was being punished for being something undesirable. Uncool.

You know what though? It seemed like every time I was just about to completely lose my shit and try to sell my crappy car (which is worth considerably less than my MacBook Pro), a check would come in the mail for some unknown tax rebate, or some pension thing I had no idea existed. Just when we were about to have to downgrade to no-name Kraft Dinner, we'd receive a couple hundred extra bucks. The timing was truly impeccable. The Universe, it turns out, has been completely supporting me all along. (Thanks, buddy!)

All kidding aside, this made a believer out of me. Any problems I had with God before that, pretty much vanished when I clued in to the pattern. It's also made me rethink my concept of abundance. I have a house over my head, I have my dogs and cats, I have (most) of my bills paid, and I have food in the fridge. Most importantly, I have love. There are far too many people in this world, and even in this country, that don't have even half of what we westerners would think of as the basic necessities of life (and I'm not even including ketchup). 

I may not be nearly as wealthy as I was when I was working, but what I have lost in material worth, I have gained in wisdom a hundredfold. All the "things" I thought I needed were just adding to my suffering, really. 

Abundance? Yes. It is absolutely something I can tap into.


I'm really having a hard time lately. I'm trying to find a format for being a practicing druid every day, but it's hard to move from complete religious stagnation to daily devotionals. I try to at least spend a brief minute or two just being grateful, even if I don't meditate or something. There's no book to tell me what to do, and at this point in my life, I kind of need directions. My "figuring stuff out" brain is too tied up with other problems... I just need autopilot. But to get to autopilot, I have to do some stuff to make some new samskaras as well.

I've already been told that, if this is the case, I should "see what my Druidry can do for me, and not what [I] can do for my Druidry". True. But I feel like figuring this stuff out is a key piece to me figuring my own junk out. I've felt spiritually bereft for years, and am now very excited to find things I am genuinely interested in, especially that there are other people out there that think like me! And this isn't exactly "new"... I've been practising Druidry for a few years now. It's just reached a point where I really feel like I can grab on with both hands. It's literally like the blind leading the blind inside my head.

I gotta admit that I have some definite hurdles right now that I've been trying to ignore instead of improve (in true Tara fashion), so now I need to focus on improving some situations. Not sure how yet, but... we'll see. (Side note: you forget how hard you are on yourself. If I were talking to someone in a similar situation, I would probably say to them "Dude. Just do what you can, y'know? You're doing great just with what you've been doing!" But to myself, it always ends up being "Not enough. Never enough! Try harder!" SUCH BULLSHIT).

Anywho... that's where I am. I hope I'm not getting too personal for some people who are reading this. I've reached a point in my life where I need to be absolutely authentic, and probably too much so. But it's better than my former modus operandi of being who everyone else wants me to be, even if it destroys every ounce of who I am. Please be patient. I'll figure out where the line is eventually ;) But for now, I'm erring on the side of TMI honesty!

November 5, 2012


Not very often I find the exact thing I'm looking for!!!

A visual representation of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga :D And a nice one too! From

November 1, 2012


Man, I am having a hard time starting with the OBOD stuff (again). I'm trying to rid it of its negative feel post-OBODocalypse, but it's really hanging on. And I'm really dragging my feet. I don't feel like dropping it would be the right thing to do, but it's hard to want to keep going with so much resistance. And if you're resisting something, isn't that a sign you might be doing the wrong thing?

How do you force yourself to not force yourself to do something when your whole life you've been forcing yourself to force yourself? By forcing yourself?

I need to force a baseball bat on something very dent-able.

Right vs. Left

Why is it that I, as a left-wing, liberal Pagan am the exact opposite of a right-wing conservative Christian?

Why is it that in Canada, being a Conservative means you're actually liberal?

Why do we have to define ourselves in terms that segregate ourselves from other people?

From now on, I am choosing more inclusive terms.

I am now...



Another Small Thought on Samhain

I very, very much desired the presence of a quartz crystal necklace yesterday that was given to me by a dear friend when I was a kid. I haven't worn the thing in years, but it felt very good to wear... like the crystal equivalent of a big poofy comforter.

At the time she told me that crystals who are given away as gifts with love will always have greater benefit to the recipient. It still feels like the most powerful one I own, even with all the different kinds of energy work I've done with my others.

How Good are You at Keeping a Secret?

Lately I've been thinking about the whole "secrecy" thing that can surround some Druidry. I belong to two different groups, which are of two very different minds on this. I can see both points of view. Please be advised that I do not mean to criticize either group here... just exploring the effects of their different viewpoints. :)

OBOD is more secretive (first rule of OBOD is you don't talk about OBOD), which I understand. They believe that their information in the wrong hands is like "casting pearls before swine", and the knowledge and teachings lose some of their magic if treated any less than venerably. They are also of the mindset (at least in my opinion) that those who are truly called to be part of their Order will be called regardless of the mystery surrounding them. Possibly, it could even be intriguing. I happened into OBOD by picking up a copy of the Druid Animal Oracle, and was shocked to find out that Druidry was "a thing". There will be people who read a little and absolutely hunger for more, and there will be those that get a foul smell from the secrecy and be turned off completely. Maybe they're not ready yet? Maybe OBOD should be a little more forthcoming? I'm not sure.

OBOD does have a less rigid structure than does ADF. For example, a "Chosen Chief" instead of an "Archdruid". I've read that some people prefer this as it does not inspire a sense of autocracy or despotism. I've yet to see someone attempt to form the "Druids for Mussolini", and I think the very heart of Druidry would be very anti-"that", but I guess you never know.

OBOD also primarily focuses on Celtic culture. While others are definitely discussed, and no interest in other cultures is ever discouraged, they definitely do not offer them as paths within OBOD. If you want to do your own thing, that's okay, but they're only interested in all things Celtic. ADF is pretty much an all-you-can-eat buffet of Paganism. You can have a nice slice of Hellenism, a side of Asatru, and some Vedic culture for dessert. It's all good! OBOD's focus on Celtic culture works for me primarily because that's where (and why) I was first drawn to Druidry. Although I've now integrated Vedic culture (officially... it's always had influence on/with me), OBOD doesn't seek to support that. But I digress. This was supposed to be about secrecy, wasn't it?

ADF is more interested in transparency. I get the distinct impression that, although it may not be a main goal of their organization, they intend to remove some of the secrecy behind Druidry, which can end up being misconstrued as myriad other, more negative things. Sort of a "Come one, come all! We have nothing to hide!" kind of attitude. I can respect this as well, and I think it is important to be willing to share our spirituality to those who are interested (and at least respectful), to try to dispel myths. I really wish I felt more comfortable in admitting to people that, you know, in MY religion, Hallowe'en is a HOLY day, without being thought a devil-worshipper. ADF will probably be more effectual in making this a possibility in the future than OBOD will. ADF doesn't proselytize either, by any means, but they probably have a more open vision than does OBOD.

Both groups have their pros and cons concerning this issue, and many others. For me, at least, the meshing of the two groups has helped satisfy two needs: the need for a mentor or teacher in helping to find my path (the more OBOD way), and the need to be able to "make the rules up as I go" (very ADF). I continue to respect the secrecy that OBOD desires, although I do question it. But honestly it wouldn't matter anyways. I'm not about to go spouting off about any of this to just anyone. It's similar to Reiki, I guess. Reiki's unspoken demand is that it not be shared with anyone, specifically the sacred symbols and their mantras. Although I don't share them with people just for the hell of it, I will certainly not deny anyone who earnestly asks me a response. I guess the same should go for Druidry of any persuasion.