Exploring Awen: seeking connection

If you have read my previous posts, then hopefully you have tried the suggested exercise and tried to connect to your deep self through writing. In this post I would like to explore that method a bit more.

We are all familiar with our conscience, probably most strongly with that nagging feeling of unease you get when you ignore it, when you neglect to do something, or push through with a plan of action, even though deep down you know that it probably isn’t such a good idea. We all cry out for guidance at least occasionally, and so it is worth entertaining the notion that that guidance is there, that it is somehow a built-in feature of being human. For no matter how often we ignore it, most of the time that gut feeling actually turns out to be right.

There’s a lot we humans disagree on, especially relating to spirituality. But I have never ever heard anyone, even the staunchest atheist, deny the existence of the inner voice of our conscience. And so a question that is worth asking, is: can we teach ourselves to listen better? If we were to pay more attention to it, would that voice have more to teach us? And of course, by asking that question, a second one arises: who is speaking? Is it our higher self? Our inner guides? Maybe the gods? Or possibly all of the above?

I am not going to tell anyone what to believe. My personal opinion is that it is probably all of the above, but if you are not comfortable with that, then just see this as a method of connecting to your subconscious. The technique is the same. Use it as it speaks to you.

Meditation – seeking guidance and inspiration

  • Close your eyes and relax. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly.
  • when you are ready, open your inner eyes.
  • You find yourself on a vast, empty, moonlit plane. Focus on the moon shining above you. 
  • Who do you want to connect to? Whisper their name. Continue whispering until the whole plane around you reverberates with that name (if you don’t have a specific connection in mind here, chant the awen instead)
  • State your intention. What is the project that you need help with, what question do you need advice on? Both state your question, and commit to honouring the inspiration that you may receive.
  • When you are done, see how a pathway opens before you. As you walk along it, you come to a pool of water, that looks somewhat like a giant cauldron. Step into the water, and immerse yourself in it. As you do that, feel how you become one with the liquid. Feel the spirit of the power you called to merging with yours.
  • Then, take a notebook. For the next ten minutes, let go of all preconceptions, and simply write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about coherence. Don’t worry about relevance. Simply write, and keep writing. Give spirit a chance to speak to you. You are the cauldron carrying it, now allow it to flow.
  • When you are ready, climb back out of the pool, and walk back to your starting point. Give thanks, and end the meditation. In the coming days, continue to keep an eye out for signs. It might be good to carry a notebook, and write down any further inspiration that may arise. Especially be aware of little, stray thoughts and sudden unexpected urges. 

As you do this more often, you will find that it gets easier after a while. Personally, I find it to be a great method to connect to deity (or when I need inspiration for topics to write on the blog!)

awen1

The druid notion that fits here is ‘awen’. Inspiration, flowing spirit, … whatever you call it. Experiencing awen is being ‘in the zone’, having a moment of peak consciousness, where it feels, almost literally, as if something flows through us and it seems that, as if by magic, we can suddenly find the perfect words, we suddenly ‘just know’ how best to approach our art project, and so on.

I suspect that this mystery works on the same principle as our conscience, and that we can train ourself to be more susceptible to it. Once again, opinions may vary as to what this mysterious awen is, exactly. Do we just happen to pick up on ideas that are floating around, is someone maybe whispering something in our ears, or is it just that magic happens when we stop trying to hard?

The keyword here is learning to be open.

How do you capture wind or water? Try to grab it and you will find that it eludes you. But, having a cauldron ready (and remembering to take the lid off, and you might just be able to catch the drops of this precious liquid when they fall.

Meditation – dancing with the awen

  • Close your eyes and relax. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly.
  • When you feel ready, open your inner eyes.
  • You find yourself on a vast empty plane, under a moonlit sky. You are sitting cross-legged on the floor, holding an empty cauldron. Notice how, the more you focus on filling the cauldron, the more you become aware of its emptiness.
  • Instead, decide to BE the cauldron. As you make that decision, feel how it merges with you, how the area around your gut becomes the cauldron. 

cauldron

  • Start singing. Chant the Awen, or whatever music feels right. Look around you, and see how a wind starts to blow around you. It is not just air, but a whirlwind of colour and sound. As it swirls around you, it invites you to a dance.
  • Take the invitation, get up and dance. Dance with the awen until you forget why you came here, until all that is left is just you, being at one with this dance of colour and light. In this moment, there is no distinction. You are the awen.

You may either stop here, or you can take it one step further (if you do this, it might be good to have some writing and/or craft materials ready):

  • Open your eyes, and focus on your breathing again. With every breath you take, feel how it is not just air, but the awen that you breathe. 
  • Continue breathing the awen until you start to feel how, in fact, it breathes you. The awen is what moves you, and you are simply the vessel that happens to contain it, to give it physical form. Allow it to control you. Give in to any creative ideas that come to you at this moment (write, draw, paint, dance, do whatever feels right. )

Probably the most important thing to remember when you do this exercise, is to get out of your own way. If you go in with the thought of I want to write a fabulous poem now/ create the best art in my life, then it is unlikely that this is going to work. Let go of all thoughts of results, and simply decide to enjoy.

Repeat as often as you like.

Sometimes, however, you will have a specific goal, a specific question, maybe even a specific power or spirit that you want to connect to. In that case, you may want to try the following version of this exercise:

 

 

Exploring our soul forest

Mankind has always been afraid of darkness. For good reason, as this is indeed a place where danger may hide. And yet…

There are other animals that prefer the dark of night, precisely because it offers them safety and allows them to hide from their predators. Or sometimes because they are the predator, and they like to hide in shadows when they stalk their prey.

This post is about darkness of a different type. The type that we find within our very soul. And which we all fear. Or do we? Maybe sometimes we like to hide there, contemplate irrational fears so as not to have to confront the very real challenges that life offers.

My posts are usually about trees, and how they have helpful messages for us. This one is no different, only the protagonist this time will be the forest itself rather than a particular tree. If the woods could speak, what would they have to say about this? Listen then, and hear what they have to say:

I am forest. I am made up of many separate beings, all individuals, but together, they are me. That makes me not so different from you… For who are you, really? Made up from so many different aspects of your psyche, with sad thoughts stalking happy thoughts and trying to eat them…

2013-11-03-19.39.31.000

Now I would like you to try this little experiment.

Start a meditation. Close your eyes. Take some time first to relax, then open your inner eyes.

You find yourself in the middle of a woodland. Look around you. What do you see? Is it dry or wet forest? How close together are the trees? Deciduous or coniferous? What about the wildlife? Do you see any? Mostly birds or mostly ground animals? Or is your focus more on worms and insects?

This is your inner forest. Walk around in it. Greet the trees, connect with the animals. Is this a place where you would like to live? Why?

Now, sit down. Concentrate on your own feelings. Notice how changing your focus changes the forest around you. Not just in obvious ways. For your forest is an ecosystem that constantly tries to restore its balance.

Think an unhappy thought. Focus, just for a moment, on something you worry about. How does the wildlife in your forest react? Do the seasons change? Anything about the vegetation?

Try to see this as a method of divination, a way to speak the language of your soul.

How is this helpful? The forest is a representation of you, your subconscious self, but is more than that: it is you, in a way that is disconnected from your everyday self. That makes it more neutral. You may notice that for some negative thoughts, the forest barely reacts. This can tell you which of your worries are illusionary, while others may actually threaten the survival of the forest, even as you downplay them.

Learn to speak your inner language. Use it to connect to your roots. And may it help you remember that the nonhuman world is so very closely connected to you. And as you learn to connect to your inner forest, do not forget that the ones growing on this planet need your attention as well. And maybe, just maybe, your newfound communication skills will serve you out there as well?