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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Finn's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, January 5th, 2008
6:38 pm
Moving On
I've been nonexistent. I know.

In a valiant attempt to revitalize my practice, I'm going back and revisiting all my essays and trying to beef them up and codify them further. Many things are different now, though some remain the same. All of these things do not remain unchanged.

In the spirit of freshening up, and cleaning things out (after all Imbolc is on the way), I'm going to move my spiritual writing over to this site: http://seanchasfior.wordpress.com/, which is my new spiritual blog. Please update accordingly.

I've decided to give Wordpress a shot because I feel like it has more options and more... uh... legitimacy than LJ. Not that I'm dissing LJ--I still keep my personal journal on it. I thought that the new change would help with all the new things going on in my spirituality though--you know, the whole spirit of change thing.

I may regret it since Wordpress is a little buggy with Safari, and unlike the rest of the world I'm not very happy with Firefox, but we'll see how it goes. Since I post so infrequently, it may not bother me so much.

Wish us luck, and please visit me over at my new site!

Sunday, August 19th, 2007
1:14 pm
Nine Principles, Four Beliefs
1) Story is the underlying principle of the multiverse: the multiverse is a great, big, divine Story.

Read on...Collapse )

This is the way I see the world. This is how I live my life as a Poet. This is the best way I can put it at the moment, and so, until I decide how to do it better, this is how it will stand.

Current Mood: thoughtful
1:10 pm
It's been a while, but I believe I am making some very good progress in my path again. Finally. I have been reworking several things, and I think I have cleared a large obstacle in terms of my calendrical system.

But firstly, I've redone my general "beliefs" part: though there may be a bit of repetition, it comes closer to what I really want stressed in this path. There are now nine principles (or at least nine bullet points) plus four beliefs concerning deity and cosmology. The others all concern the universe and our role in it.

My own admission...Collapse )

Current Mood: okay
Friday, July 6th, 2007
7:43 pm
A Long Foggy Day of the Soul
Not nearly so serious as a dark night of the soul, but puzzling nonetheless.

One of the reasons why I have been avoiding this blog is because I am at a kind of crossroads in my path, and I am perplexed as to where I need to go. What I need to do. In essence, I feel a little lost.

The UnknownCollapse )

Current Mood: weird
Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
10:25 pm
Upcoming Plans and The Three Forces
I am the first to admit that the Poet's Path is primarily of my own UPG--it takes its cues, and is informed and influenced by Celtic spirituality and religion, but I want to make it quite clear that the realm of my UPG--that is, Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis--will be getting wider and wider as we move into some of the beliefs and practices of poetdom.

In later essays, I will try and write more about the Celtic gods and goddesses. I have done so with Brighid, but I will try and be more scholarly about it with the others, and perhaps rewrite the one about Brighid as well. Since no other gods or goddesses have reached out to me like Brighid has, these essays will perhaps not have a great deal of personal experience behind them, though I am feeling "calls" from several of the gods, and hope to speak with them soon, and see what it is they want of me.

I will also go further into the filíd of Ireland, and the bards and awenyddion of Wales (less influential on this path, but still important), and their poetic techniques, and will try to present this information as objectively as possible, and will write of my own thoughts on how to incorporate these practices into your own, looking at them in the light of a modern-era, and of course, how I try to remain true to these things.

The main project I have on my plate is the calendar for this system: The Great Story, with three threads of Hero, Poet and Myth; Light, Wind and Word. It isn't exactly finalized yet, but it's getting there, and once I am satisfied with it, a number of posts will be dedicated to exploring these threads, the rituals (traditional and UPG) and the Poet's and Gods' Roles in this Story.

Along with this story comes up the idea of the Nine Roles of the Poet, a largely UPG-based, but Celtic-informed way of looking at the various parts of our lives, and how we can address issues in ourselves and outside of us within these Nine Roles for spiritual, physical, mental and emotional betterment, for ourselves and the world.

After that, which in itself will take up a great deal of time, we will begin talking about spiritual journeying, a major part of the Poet's Path as it exists right now. We will discuss the Otherworld of Celtic myth, and visit the places there, as well as places I have discovered purely through exploration. Along with this, we will talk about spirit guides and animal guides, who also have an important role to play.

After all this mystical, mental stuff... I will go in to the more practical, mundane parts of the Poet's Path, which, I have to admit, is rather a new thing for me. I have been working on a set of daily prayers for waking and sleeping, inspired by the Carmina Gadelica, and have also been thinking about making a set of prayer beads and meditations. Because art and of course poetry is such an integral part of my path (it is all about creation, after all) I will be discussing the arts and the Poet's Path, along with other things that are very easily integrated and transformed into a spiritual practice.

Since we have touched on morality in the form of the Nine Virtues, I expect I could write some essays on morality, ethics and everyday life; the existence of evil and death, the family, the community, the environment and so on; the path of poetry as a philosophy, so to speak. But that is such a long way off, I can't even begin to think what it will be like to think about things like that.

So... this is mainly for my own reference; a kind of "to-do" list of what needs to be addressed. Since I'm writing these things in a manuscript on my hard drive as well, it'll be some time in between each essay.

But for now, we will move on into some more basic ideas, particularly the "elements" of the path of poetry. What are the forces that we work with, in a magical and a creative sense? What informs our work as poets, like the classical elements of Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Spirit inform and shape the work of many magical practitioners?

The answer is, the Three Forces.Collapse )

These forces are the three main tools in our toolbox, the ones that run through all the others and help them to perform better and make them work. Without these things, our poetic work would come to nothing.

Current Mood: busy
Saturday, April 21st, 2007
3:02 pm
"From Evereven's lofty hills
where softly silver fountains fall
his wings him bore, a wandering light,
beyond the mighty Mountain Wall.
From World's End then he turned away,
and yearned again to find afar
his homes through shadows journeying,
and burning as an island star
on high above the mists he came,
a distant flame before the Sun,
a wonder ere the waking dawn
where grey the Norland waters run.

And over Middle-earth he passed
and heard at last the weeping sore
of women and of elven-maids
in Elder Days, in years of yore.
But on him might doom was laid,
till Moon should fade, an orbéd star
to pass, and never tarry more
on Hither Shores where mortals are;
for ever still a herald on
an errand that should never rest
to bear his shining lamp afar,
the Flammifer of Westernesse."

--The Song of Eärendil, The Fellowship of the Ring

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
Na-chaered palan-díriel
o galadhremmin ennorath
Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, sí nef aearon!

--Song to Elbereth, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Realm of SkyCollapse )
Sunday, March 18th, 2007
7:41 pm
"In the willow-meads of Tasarinan I walked in the Spring.
Ah! The sight and smell of the Spring in Nantasarion!
And I said that was good.
I wandered in Summer in the elm-woods of Ossiriand.
Ah! The light and the music in the Summer by the Seven Rivers of Ossir!
And I thought that was best.
To the beeches of Neldoreth I came in the Autumn.
Ah! The gold and red and the sighing of leaves in the Autumn in Taur-na-neldor!
It was more than my desire.
To the pine-trees upon the highland of Dorthonion I climbed in Winter.
Ah! The wind and the whiteness and the black branches of Winter upon Orod-na-Thon!
My voice went up and sang in the sky.
And now all those lands lie under the wave,
And I walk in Ambarona, in Tauremorna, in Aldalome,
In my own land, in the country of Fangorn,
Where the roots are long,
And the years lie thicker than leaves
In Tauremornalome."

--Treebeard's Song of the Seasons

"There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,
The earth and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

It is not now as it had been of yore;
Turn whereso’er I may,
By night or day, the things which I have seen I now can see no more."

-- William Wordsworth

The Realm of The LandCollapse )

Current Mood: energetic
Monday, March 12th, 2007
9:28 pm
To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man may discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people forever!

--Legolas' Song of the Sea

Yet no man in the world's so proud of heart,
So generous of gifts, so bold in youth,
In deeds so brave, or with so loyal lord,
That he can ever venture on the sea
Without great fears of what the Lord may bring.
His mind dwells not on the harmonious harp,
On ring-receiving, or the joy of woman,
Or worldly hopes, or anything at all
But the relentless rolling of the waves;
But he who goes to sea must ever yearn.

--The Seafarer

The Realm of the SeaCollapse )

Current Mood: full
Thursday, March 1st, 2007
9:05 pm
The Universe
Nice small subject. :) For the sake of understanding, I use the word "universe" to encapsulate creation. I personally believe in a "multiverse" in which there are many universes and dimensions subject to experience, but it is not really a term familiar to all.

The Path of the Poet believes in the power of science, mathematics and reason to discover, explain and explore much of the universe. Just because we believe in gods does not mean we do not believe in evolution, black holes, or gravity, or, for that matter, relativity.

The universe however, is so infinitely complex, and we ourselves are as mind-boggling as the world around us. As such, though we have discovered a great deal of the nature of the cosmos around us, we have to admit that we have a great deal to learn.

The Poet also understands that the world cannot be understood nor experienced solely through reason and science, and the universe itself is more than the simple sum of its parts.

Think of it like a forest: If you look at it one way, a forest is a bunch of trees, each observable, unique, understandable. But, the forest is also a whole entity, complete within itself. We do not say, "She has entered a bunch of trees." We say, "She has entered the forest." The forest has its own spirit, and each tree can have its own spirit. Together, they are, at one and the same time, one and many. Also, the forest can play different roles, such as in story. The forest can be a place of horror, of beauty, of stagnancy, of timelessness and eternity or of transformation and change. It can be horror, change, eternity. The forest is this also, as well as being the one and the many. The Poet learns to understand how to look at the universe, at the one, the many, and all the stories that the one and the many are, all at the same time.

Doing so requires looking at the world with the soul and the heart as well as the mind.Collapse )

Current Mood: tired
Saturday, February 3rd, 2007
3:02 pm
I hope everyone had a lovely Imbolc, Calan Fair (as I call it), St. Brigid's Day or Candlemas! Sorry I haven't updated in a while, and sorry for not updating on Imbolc itself. Brigid's Day after all is probably one of the most special days in my path, as I am devoted to the Lady.

I had a quiet day at home; in accordance with the cleaning theme, I had undertaken a sort of mental and emotional cleaning of myself by going to a counselor for the first time on my own for my depression. I found it strangely appropriate for my first appointment to fall on Feb. 2. Needless to say, it left me feeling rather vulnerable and unstable all day and as such, I stayed at home, kept the Flame with my fellow cill members and did a spiritual working/ritual in meditation in order to get myself back together again.

I think it's appropriate for Imbolc to be a quiet thing: after all, in the deep dark of winter, the ancient Celts didn't really want to go out and celebrate like they do at all the other fire-festivals. Rather than being about the fire of the community, Imbolc is about the fire of the hearth, the home and the self.

Here are the poems I wrote for this day: they sort of "summon" the powers of wave, flame and wind to cleanse and heal the soul. Since Brigid is the patron of poets and bards, I always try to commemorate her Day (and most holidays) with poems and words. And since Words are the source of the Poet's power, any kind of ritual I do involves them.

Powers of Wave, Flame and WindsCollapse )

I tried to invoke all parts of the wave, the flame and the winds, their gentle and sweet aspects as well as their fierce and terrifying aspects. After all, to get things really clean, sometimes you have to blast them!

I also tied my brat from last year to the window and wore it during my ritual. I felt a wonderful sense of peace and, dare I say, power in myself as I wore it, and I have no doubt that Brigid gave me these things as her blessing. I usually don't ask Brigid to specifically grant me things in the brat; I just tie it and leave it for her to give what she thinks I need. She's usually right. :)

All in all, a successful ritual and a great sense of peace after an emotionally trying (but purifying) day made this Calan Fair a truly blessed one.

Current Mood: content
Thursday, January 18th, 2007
5:00 pm
Creativity is the last on our list of virtues, and it is probably the most important out of the lot.

If all of these virtues are related somehow to the very first, that is, Truth, and to its discovery, then Creativity is the virtue that is closest to the actual Truth itself. Creativity, especially in that uniquely Celtic inspiration awen, comes from the gods, and it is literally the very fabric of the universe.

After all, God spoke, "Let there be light." The Word is the heart and soul of creation, and without it, we can't express ourselves, or our ideas. To create is to make life, to live life, and thus, as poets, creativity is the essence of our existence, and the thing that we call upon more than anything else.

Everyone, everyone is creative. Some know how to access it better than others, and in different ways. Painters light the sky with life, musicians fill the wind with their life, and poets, and writers, create worlds and imbibe them with life.

Creativity is also the virtue that is probably the most uncontrollable in our lives. Many people have said that creativity is more like a channel to the gods than a well within themselves. I think that both are true, and with practice, both sources are easily tapped and caught in our hands to do with what we will.

It is our duty as poets to call upon our own creativity, in any of the ways you find, not just writing. For by creating, we come closer and closer to Truth; in fact, through our creation, we express and proclaim the Truth though we may not even know what it is we're saying. Does it matter? Probably not--for by finding and giving life to Truth, any Truth, we bring it into our lives, and into the world, and that is the meaning of poetry.

Again, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, as well as her Vein of Gold.

How do you harness your creativity? How can you improve creativity in your life?

Personal thoughtsCollapse )

Current Mood: groggy
Thursday, January 11th, 2007
1:36 pm
Discipline is our penultimate virtue, though it is actually key to keeping up the rest of the virtues. Discipline can be seen as the backbone to the rest of these virtues, for it is through discipline that we come to bring all of the other virtues to light. Through Discipline, we are able to practice all of the virtues and are able to better ourselves.

Discipline is probably the hardest virtue to truly master. Our society does not teach discipline as it used to; just look at today's youth, who sometimes go off to college not knowing how to do laundry or even make anything to eat besides a bowl of cereal.

Discipline is probably most related to Self-Reliance, because in order to discipline yourself, you have to trust in yourself. Self-discipline is one of the most important things to practice because without it, we cannot hope to better ourselves. Without self-discipline, we do not cook for ourselves a nutritious meal, we do not sit down with a good book; we only sit down in front of the TV and zone out until the day comes.

We must not wait for the day; we must go out and greet it. As poets, we have to sit down and create, no matter what happens, for creating is our very life-blood, and without it we are nothing. It is difficult sometimes to make ourselves do something, perhaps out of fear or distaste, but with discipline, we come to understand that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing, and we understand that we could not be happier doing anything else.

Recommended Reading:
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Wild Mind and Writing the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The latter are of a writing bent, but all of these books emphasize the mighty power and the mighty necessity of sitting down, showing up to create every single day. No matter what.

Do you feel like you have enough discipline? What can you do to increase your discipline?
Do you find it hard to discipline yourself to do the things you need to do? How might you lessen the burden?

Personal thoughtsCollapse )

Current Mood: groggy
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007
3:04 pm
Compassion is perhaps one of the most important virtues any one can hope to gain and aspire to, for it is compassion that makes us truly human. True, there are stories abounding about mother bears tenderly nursing human babies, which betrays a certain level of compassion in the animal kingdom, but compassion is consistently the very fabric of the Divine power that we are made of. It is the fuel to the Fire, the sheen of the Pearl.

Compassion is made, literally, of two components: "com", meaning with, and "passion," which in its old usage means literally, "to suffer." So, to have compassion for another person is, literally, to suffer with that person. Not just to feel sympathy, which is only understanding of emotions. Compassion means to actually experience the emotions, and understand them as well.

Joseph Campbell explores this theme and this meaning of compassion in several of his works, to which he attributes the true meaning and blessing of so many religions out there including, especially Christianity.

To the poet, Compassion is what informs our work toward finding the truth. It probably is closer to the truth, that which we are trying to express, than any other virtue. For in order to speak, we must listen first to our fellow man, who is no less part of the Fire than we are. In order to heal and relieve suffering, we must first suffer with that which we are trying to heal. We must understand and know, in order to gain knowledge, and truth.

And most importantly, in order to experience the love of the Divine, the love of the world, we must love it, and ourselves.

But compassion has another side. Buddhists seek and understand this part of compassion probably more than anyone else. As the ultimate expression of love, it is also the ultimate expression of unattachment, and participation in this world. Paradoxically, when you love the entire world just as much as yourself, and vice versa, you suddenly realize that losing either one would make no difference to that love. In fact, it may just increase it, for, as in The Seven Songs of Merlin by TA Barron, the young wizard learns, "In order to truly protect something you love, you must set it free."

To feel compassion is to love, to lose, and to gain everything. To poets, compassion is the key to life's experiences--its joys, its pains, and its strange and beautiful ways. To poets, compassion is at the heart of the truth we are constantly seeking.

How can you develop your own sense of compassion? Do you know what it means to suffer with someone? How did that make you feel?

Personal thoughtsCollapse )

Current Mood: accomplished
Friday, December 22nd, 2006
2:42 pm
Alban Arthan
As promised, the results of my ritual.

First off, let me say that the best-laid plans oft go astray: I had planned to start this ritual much earlier than I actually did, and unfortunately, the all-night vigil was not a viable option. Since I live in a Christian home, and I am still "in-the-closet," as it were, it is not easy for me to practice a full out-and-out ritual like this one is (and honestly, it's not as crazy as some rituals I've seen!). This is the biggest reason why I don't really go much in for rituals anyway.

But being home is the best place I can think of doing ritual, mainly because I have my own bedroom with a door that closes, and no roommates to peer strangely at you as you waltz around lighting your robe sleeves on fire by dipping too close to the candles. :-)

I've decided to go with the Welsh names for the eight "great holidays" of the pagan year--at least for this yearly cycle (more on that later, when I actually figure it out!). I may still stick with the Irish for the fire festivals, but for the solstices and equinoxes at least, the Welsh will be used.

Calling The Sun Back HomeCollapse )

I hope everyone had a blessed holiday, no matter what name you like to give it. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Merry Yule, Happy Solstice, Happy Festivus (!) and a blessed Alban Arthan to everyone!

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, December 13th, 2006
5:05 pm
Just a note...
Just a little reminder that the solstice is coming up on the 21st, and my first ritual of the Echtrae Year will be held--I have discovered that this time of year is the New Year in my system, and so it will be appropriate to initiate this cycle with the first "holiday" of the year, as it were.

I will be posting the results of that ritual here afterwards, probably at a very early hour. I will also try and elaborate on just what my year system looks like, which is evolving to something rather... different.

Current Mood: thoughtful
4:11 pm
In The Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck, Strength, VIII, is depicted as the White Tree of Gondor, that bridges earth and sky. It is one of my very favourite cards, because Strength is a constant and powerful but gentle source from which we can all tap, and thus fits the image of a tree very well.

Strength is that which is required to uphold the other virtues: Truth, Honor, Justice, but especially Courage and Self-Reliance.

You might say that Courage and Strength are really too similar to be truly different virtues, but I disagree: unlike Courage, Strength comes from a the divine source within you. Courage seems to be much more of a personal expression, and also seems to be more fleeting and momentary, whereas Strength is a constant flow of energy that is drawn up from within, in the deepest part of your soul that is connected to the divine: the Pearl, and the Fire it contains.

Strength is necessary to the poet because it reminds us of where we came from and where we are. It reminds us that it is from within that our true powers come from, and that the divine source is the source of all of our work and being. As a tree that perhaps remembers the seed from whence it came, so we too, the poets, must stand, full of Strength for other seeds to fall from, and grow into strong trees on their own.

Where can you call on more strength in your life?
Who or what is your greatest source of strength?

Personal thoughtsCollapse )

Current Mood: satisfied
Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
11:00 pm
Justice is an elusive thing. We are constantly trying to deal it out, but are also constantly grappling with the question of whether we even have the right to do so.

So what is justice?

Justice is humanity's way of trying to establish order. It is our system of right and wrong, good and evil. Justice is also closely related to Judgement, but there is a big difference.

Is Justice, then, a natural part of the universe? After all, we are taught from when we are very small that the world isn't fair, or just. It just is.

But we are also taught about right and wrong (to be dealt with a little more in depth later), and some households define these things as good and evil, as commonly perceived by God and Satan, respectively. In a good and evil world, justice belongs to God, and God alone. Who then is man to try and make judgement?

The poet, I think, believes in justice, and believes in humanity's ability to at least try and grapple with it. The poet believes in right and wrong, but also believes in man's ability to assess them, and to deal with them. In essence, the poet believes in humanity's order.

The poet, however, in her strange paradox of living, also acknowledges that the world is more complicated than human laws can perceive and judge. The poet believes in natural justice, even though she may not understand it. The poet trusts not only in humanity, but in the universe. She believes that what will be, will be, and believes that it should be.

It is a delicate thing to live between these two viewpoints--for to give Justice is to live by man's law, and to receive natural justice is to live by natural law. But the poet somehow manages to keep faith and trust.

Judgement is not on the list of virtues (though perhaps it really should be instead of Justice, which is far more complicated than I thought it was). Judgement is that which lies in the poet's own law, her own sense of justice and order. To discern and discard, to view and value is essential to the poet's work and to the poet's nature. In this sense, Judgement is related to Self-Reliance and to Truth and Honor, all of which tie in to the judgments that the poet makes.

By trusting in the Justice of humanity, the Justice of the universe and the justice within oneself, a poet can make his way in the world.

Have you ever felt that justice was not dealt? How?
Do you think you live in a just way?
Have you ever made judgments that you felt unconfident about, or regretted? What about those you made rightly?

Personal thoughtsCollapse )

Current Mood: relaxed
Wednesday, November 29th, 2006
10:43 pm
We interrupt your scheduled programming...
... for something a little more current.

Instead of continuing on with the Virtues, and with Justice (which... erm... I am trying to find something significant to say about still)... I decided to write a wee bit on the upcoming winter solstice.

First of all, I have to say that this is my very favourite time of year. I was born in winter, so I suppose that may have something to do with it, but I love cold, snow, and curling up in front of a fire with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa.

And I love, love, love Christmas.

As someone who was raised in a Christian home (and who still returns there for winter break), Christmas, obviously, was extremely important to me growing up. And it still is because it is so important to my family. I never feel so close to my family as I do at Christmas time--which is a big deal for me because I've long had some acceptance issues with myself and my family.

There's just something about it. The lights, the decorations, the excitement, the general cheerfulness I get, the presents and celebration... all of this is the essence of celebrating a festival of lights in the coldest, darkest part of the year. It is the return of the Sun (or Son) we celebrate, and all the gifts She gives us.

Christmas is obviously more pagan than you might think--most of the traditions come from the midwinter traditions of the Saxons after all, and they were the last to become Christian. And pagans today celebrate Yule and the midwinter (at least a good deal of them do) and sometimes Christmas too, without any real difference in the results or rituals planned.

This year, it is scheduled to occur on December 21st at 7:22--though that is not really important to me. What is important is the night.

Last year, I wrote a ritual for bringing the sun home, that was achieved at the end of an all night vigil with the rising of the sun. To keep myself awake, I watched The Return of the King, read Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (another book in which PTerry proves his knowledge of paganism) and wrote poetry all morning long. I remember feeling the sun coming, literally, with my words.

Of course, you're probably asking yourself, "Does she really think that the sun won't rise unless you do this ritual?" I tell you this: I know that the Earth spins around the sun, and that the "rising" of the sun is really a misnomer. But I also know that the Sun is also something else, and that we are part of more than a spinning globe of rock in the middle of space. Without us, the Sun won't rise, and that makes all the difference in the world.

So, I'll probably post a little more once the real season descends on us, and once I get done with all my final projects (yikes!), but this is just to put a bug in your ears, and encourage you to start thinking about what you like to do at this time of the year, if anything. Maybe you will start thinking about the Sun a little bit differently, and will join pagans everywhere as they celebrate its return on the solstice.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Sunday, November 26th, 2006
7:08 pm
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. ... Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to be yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."

Ralph Waldo Emerson has a lot to say about Self-Reliance in the essay of the same name--his most famous, and probably his lengthiest. His words are very inspiring, and very thought-provoking, and thus our attention turns towards self-reliance and the poet.

Emerson also has an essay on poets, which is well worth the time spent reading.

But we are talking about Self-Reliance here!

Self-Reliance is that which must be cultivated in order to express those other virtues we have already touched upon: Truth, Honor and Courage. Self-Reliance is the ability to trust in one's own mind and heart. Self-Reliance is the ability to distinguish one's own feelings and thoughts from everyone else's, and the ability to judge what it is you shall do and think and believe.

Without Self-Reliance, men become as sheep. It is easy to see that society today has very few men and women willing and able to cultivate the virtue of Self-Reliance. Society is structured to homogenize humanity, to make everyone follow the same values, believe the same things, think about and want the same things--all the better to market for and consume products. The more everyone is the same, the easier it is to make a profit, and the easier it is to control.

This could be spreading into another conversation (called "The Evils of Capitalistic Society"), but it is clear to see that without Self-Reliance, the world would never have made any of the advances it has made, and without Self-Reliance, change and betterment will never come.

A poet is, by definition, self-reliant--without his conviction in a higher truth, and his determination to explore that truth fully and honestly, and without his desire to live, truly live as a poet fully immersed in his world and in his soul, there is no poetry, and without poetry, there are no words with which to change the world.

Self-Reliance--"a new respect for the divinity in man"--is essential for living the poet's life, fearless, whole, and honest. Trust yourself, judge everything that comes your way, and strive to live the life you wish.

Do you feel like you are self-reliant, in the way Emerson describes?
Have you ever felt like you can't be self-reliant?

"Self-Reliance", Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Monday, November 20th, 2006
3:23 pm
Courage is the third of the virtues. Note that the order I listed these virtues in is not necessarily the order of importance or meaning. It just happens to be the order I wrote them in.

When we think of courage, you might think immediately of the Cowardly Lion of The Wizard of Oz, and his wish for the wizard to grant him the courage to be King of the Forest. In his case, it is both funny and ironic that he should lack the courage to be the King, being a creature far more dangerous than many in the forest where he lived.

So what does courage mean for humanity, and how is it a virtue? Somewhere once I read this definition of courage: "Being afraid but taking action anyway." The Path of the Poet generally follows this definition. For it is when we are afraid that we show our weaknesses, but it is in our action through fear that we show our true strength and honor.

Courage is not only necessary for ruling the forest, but also living in the urban jungle (like so many of us Poets do nowadays). Courage means walking into that interview with a smile, even though you're quaking in those hopefully-impressive-looking heels you spent hundreds of dollars on. Courage means speaking to your professors when you need help. Courage is saying, "I don't understand." Courage is leaving an abusive relationship. Courage is approaching someone honestly and telling them the truth, even if it means they will hurt. Courage is signing up for that weaving class even though you're sure no one else you know is going to.

Courage is yet another expression of Truth and Honor, a more dynamic way of enacting Truth, and enabling and upholding Honor. It is through Courage that we find Truth and Honor, and thus, without it, we never can hope to live.

Have you ever done anything courageous?
Have you ever wished you had more courage than you do now?

The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum.

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