Every now and then, the Universe asks a question. An idea comes up, and then you see it pop up somewhere else, and then yet again somewhere else in seemingly unrelated areas. The Question of the Week for me this week is on literacy in Druidry – how important is it to read books relating to my spiritual path?
On the face of it the question seems ludicrous to me. Of course it’s important! It’s super-important! Books are wonderful, amazing, fabulous inventions! I don’t doubt this for a moment. And yet the question has popped up in (counts on fingers… ) five! seperate places in the past week or two. I’m paying attention.
I think the written word is my first language. I can type faster than I can speak and I find following the spoken word to be more difficult than reading. I sometimes catch myself thinking in prose (“She looked uncertainly at the soup options. Should she have the pea soup or the vegetable? she wondered. The pea soup would be more filling, but the vegetable was more appealing. Satisfied with her choice, she filled her bowl with vegetable soup and moved on.” I do this all the time. I don’t know why. I suspect I am the only person in the whole wide world to do this but I secretly hope not.) I do not remember ever having been unable to read.
I usually have at least three books going at once. Right now, it’s Gareth Knight’s “Faery Gates of Avalon,” the new Neal Stephenson, “Anathem,” and Sharon Astyk’s “Depletion and Abundance.” Waiting in the wings are Steven Blamire’s “Little Book of the Great Enchantment” (a biography of William Sharp) and Gail Woods’ “Shamanic Witch” (I am mildly embarrassed by the title but thought it sounded useful for a new project I have going on.) On order, eagerly awaited, are used copies of “Arianrhod’s Dance: A Druid Ritual Handbook” by Julie White and Graeme Talboys and “The Real Camelot: Paganism and the Arthurian Romance” by John Darrah. There will probably be some light fiction, Terry Pratchett or some such, mixed in with all that. That’s a pretty normal month of reading for me. I like it that way and have no real intention of changing my book habits.
The question of the importance of all this activity has presented itself strongly enough that even though I’m satisfied with my current mode of operation, I felt obliged to bring it along on my Full Moon journey last night. I asked my guide about it.
He said, “How do you know the value of air?”
I replied, “Because if I don’t breathe, I die.”
“But how do you know that? If you hold your breath, you don’t die.”
“Well, it gets pretty uncomfortable and I have to breathe eventually – I have no choice, it’s automatic.”
“So how do you know the value of books?”
“By all the benefits I get from them? Knowledge, understanding, inspiration, validation…”
“How do you know you wouldn’t get those anyway?”
“Well, it would be impossible – where would they come from?”
“How do you know that?”
“You want me to stop reading? That’s not going to happen.”
“Just for a little while? Until you are automatically forced to do so?”
I laughed. “I think that would be about the same amount of time as I can hold my breath.”
“Right. So how about some discipline? It’s a good time of year for giving things up, after all.”
“Um, I’m not Catholic, you know. Besides, I have this whole pile of books to read! Plus some of them are library books. I have to finish them because they’re due back.”
“How about this – no reading from Spring Equinox to Beltaine. That’s enough time for you to finish up your library books and read your new ones. Then – no more until Beltaine.”
“I can’t just not read for six weeks. I have to read for my job.”
We hammered out an agreement that I think will be workable. Ostara to Beltaine, no reading except what is needed for everyday life and for work. I’m allowed to look up references – cookbooks and knitting books and the like are OK as long as I’m looking up instructions, not reading The History of Knitting or such. I have to adhere to the spirit of the agreement but I don’t need to handicap myself. Email is fine but blogging isn’t – writing in a nonprofessional way or for other than purely social purposes is off limits. So is reading other people’s blogs. I need to shut down my Google reader and put my email lists on hold for the duration (personal email is fine but list-email is not.) This starts on March 20th, so you’ve got me until then.
I have no idea what the outcome of this will be, what I will learn from it – which I guess is the point of trying it.