Sunday, 28 February 2010

Celebrating Difference

This post is something of a divergence from the main theme of this blog, yet at the same time it is also central to it as this post contains, I guess, what in many ways is the essence of me. In making a post such as this public I am, in many ways, making myself vulnerable (yet again!) to criticism and ridicule, but as this blog is all about my spiritual journey, with all its highs and lows, vulnerability is an absolute necessity, because without it, there is no change, there is no development and consequently there is no growth. Risk is demanded, stepping out of comfort zones a prerequisite, and daring to move into the unknown, hand in hand with and trusting The One Divine Life central to any kind of progression.

I’ve been quiet for the past few weeks and for no other reason than, once again, my professional life has been demanding more of my time and energy. I’ve been caught up in one of those periods where I’ve been finding it really difficult to ‘switch off’ at the end of the working day and time for personal meditation, reflection and spiritual practice has been really difficult because of this. I am never happy with this type of situation and I am always conscious of the shift this causes within me. I become uneasy with myself and become restless. I feel disconnected and separate and I really don’t like that feeling. It’s like I lose sense and connection with who I am and as a result I don’t relate well with all that’s happening around and within me because I am not reacting as me. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it does to me! Also, I find that I become overly reactive and I firmly believe that people of Spirit create, we contain the Creative force and therefore being pushed around by circumstance isn’t right and it isn’t comfortable.

Within all this there has been a personal challenge, and this challenge is all about who it is I take into my working day. Do I take my true self, the person I am, the person who is continually in this place of ‘becoming’ or do I take the person who is little more than the professional caricature? The person I am expected to be who wears the corporate uniform, speaks the corporate language and walks the corporate path? Whilst it is the latter that is seemingly demanded, it is the latter I am finding it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to conform with. I am more aware that ever I have been of the pure anger that this continual demand causes to rise within me and I am not sure how to handle or what to do with that reaction at the moment. It’s something that scares me in a way because at times the anger feels so real and so powerful that it feels like if I expressed it, everything around me would combust into flames! I know that sounds really strange and dramatic, but that’s how it feels.

The root of all of this is the celebration of diversity, or perhaps I should say, the lack of it. A key aspect of my professional role, and one that has been very recently reaffirmed; is to manage equality and diversity, both in terms of service delivery and staff management. I guess I have been given this role because it is something to which I am totally committed, both personally and professionally. Some assume my commitment comes from the fact that I am a gay man, with a disability, who walks a minority spiritual path, but people who think that actually miss the point. My commitment to equality and diversity comes from nothing other than a firm and passionate belief that each and every human being on this planet has the absolute right to reach their full potential without imposed restriction of any kind. We, all of us, have a right to be who we are and we have a right to become who we are called to be. No one has a right to stand in the way of that, be they family, peer, neighbour, politician, manager or institution. Difference, that wonderful thing each of us brings because of who we intrinsically are, should not be ignored, should not be tolerated, should not be whitewashed in some kind of banal, powerless, ineffectual thing, but should be recognised, celebrated, trumpeted, enjoyed and revelled in. Difference is what makes us real, makes us vital, makes us powerful, and when we bring this difference together, when we link arms, utilise all the skills, attributes, differences and unique experiences each of us have, then anything is possible and anything can happen. This is the hub of creativity, the more richly diverse any group of people the more effective and productive it will be, no matter what the objective. Restrict this, in any way, and that creativity is not only stifled, but the human casualties will soon begin to mount up.

I don’t want to have a professional me and private me. I want to be me wherever I am at any given time. For years I fought what often feels like a terrible battle to be accepted as an openly gay man. The consequences of this were immense and have involved losing family (thankfully temporarily), security, jobs and promotion, but I refused, on any level, to deny who I am.

My visual disability has also caused me difficulties, especially in terms of my professional working life, and this has bought me into conflict with managers and departments as I have asserted my rights under disability legislation when actually I should have had no need to do so – the support should have been there, but it wasn’t. ‘Best Practice’ can be decidedly lacking when you least expect it, and the shock of that can be disabling in itself.

And spirituality I have endured ridicule as my deeply held convictions inform the way I think, feel, act, interact, experience and contribute to people, life and the world generally.

I guess all of these factors work together to develop within me a real empathy with people who experience less than they deserve at the hands of individuals and corporations. I think what I need to learn to manage within me, and it’s something that I don’t always find easy, is the emotional reaction this brings. My power and ability to empathise can be somewhat overwhelming at times, and it is this that I need to learn to channel in a productive way which ultimately results in positive outcomes for all concerned.

So I feel as though I am at some kind of watershed. In some ways if feels terrifying, in other ways it feels exciting, but I am consciousness of a huge amount of strength that resides within me at the moment. It’s like I am at a crossroads and this crossroads is about me asserting the true principles of equality and diversity, both individually and corporately, not only through usual working practice, but through truly bringing my complete self into the working arena. I want people to have a sense of the spiritual me as they encounter me. I don’t want people to view me as someone described me the other day; his words were that I was “the conscience of the service”. I want to be more than that. I want to be able to affect positive change for people through positively changing the way people are managed, bringing real cultural change and positive outcomes for the service. Sounds lofty and worthy, doesn’t it? I don’t want it to sound like that, I want it so sound real! And I want this to come from who I am, the true me, the real me, the spiritually connected me, the me who knows where he sits in connection with the Universe and who brings that power and reality into every aspect of his life.

I don’t want to be some kind of corporate robot who is little more than part of a huge machine. I want to bring the wonder and richness of true humanity into everything that I do through my appreciation of my own divinity and that of each person I work with, support, manage and encounter each day.

It’s an impossibly tall order . . . or is it? I just need to know where and how I take it from here!

Sunday, 7 February 2010


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

This famous quote made by Charles Darwin and the theme of change has been resonating with me for some time. It seems that on every level of my life, both internally and externally, change is afoot, and what is also interesting is that it is happening almost irrespectively of my engagement with it. It is happening, regardless, and the call to me is to move and allow the change to work what it needs to work within me.

And as change happens in the ‘mundane’ (although I don’t like to use that term) so it happens, and has to happen, on the spiritual plane. My path is a path of transformation, one of the evolution of my soul, In order to grow in the understanding of the dynamic of my own True Will so I have to open myself to change, to powerful transformation . . . to growth.

And this growth can be painful, as can all change. The transformative path I am walking is leading me deeper into appreciating that the call is to know the Will of my Soul, and to lay down the will of the ego. The clash and the battle at the centre of this can be immense. In some ways this internal tension is being played out at all levels around me at the moment, from structural and organisational changes at work, to changes with my own health, health struggles being experienced by my dearest friend, to changes in family dynamics and relationships through to changes in other interpersonal relationships. It’s everywhere and the changes I see externally simply work to mirror those that are taking place – or demanding to take place, within. If I am to listen to the quote above by Darwin, my response to this internal change is significant.

So what is my own true will? I’ve asked this question again and again on this blog, but I see that this is a question that I will continually ask because my own true will is dynamic and changing and not static. It has to be dynamic because change is constant in that it is constantly working to bring me nearer to fully understanding and appreciating the nature of my true will.

As I understand my own true will today it is to fully know and experience my true connection with The All. That sounds very simplistic, but then it has to be simplistic if I am to summarise it one sentence. For me my own true will is about really stepping into that place where I take up my role as a cog in the Universe that supports true interconnection and that draws the power and energy of that connection into my core and thus see it radiated into the Earth and into the lives of others. Being one with The One Divine Life. Being one with the Universe, the Cosmos. Simply being part of Source.

So the path of transformation for me at the moment is about removing those ties that bind, that hold me back, that restrict and hinder my move forward. These may be physical things, things are ‘out there’ on this plane, and they may be internal things, things of the ego, things of the past, perhaps even things of past lives, things that need more than to be released, they need to be divested of their power and part of that is about me stopping acting and thinking in such ways that actually gives these restrictive binds their power.

And this is why connection with spirit of place and with ancestors is important for me at the moment, because I see what is happening is like a paring back to the simple – back to that which really matters, that which is of value, is of meaning and that will forward the work of truly knowing and achieving the nature of my own true will.

Even more simply own true will is to know my Gods and be as one and at one with them. To take up my part in the Dance of Life and dance my steps at the right time and in time. To hear the beat and the rhythm and to dance accordingly no matter who or what is watching. To do this I need to do more than listen to the music, I need to become part of the music.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Imbolc Celebrations

I was up at 0630 this morning as I dearly wanted to climb Glastonbury Tor. I’ve mentioned many times that I love the Tor, it really is one of my most special places, and because it’s local to me (about 45 minutes away) getting there is not difficult. It’s such a great ‘high place’ and one of those places where ‘the spirit of place’ is just so tangible. Modern day historians cast doubt on whether Glastonbury Tor really was a place of pagan worship, and I recognise the validity of their arguments, but for me, the fact that many modern day pilgrims climb this place, with their intentions set, and the fact that so many rituals and ceremonies take place here ensures that the Tor is imbued with spiritual energy. The most spiritually resistant of people could not fail to sense the energy that radiates from this place.

I love the idea that the Tor is home to Gwyn ap Nudd and this is often the energy I connect with when I’m standing atop the Tor. I appreciate that this is the stuff of myth and legend, but it’s something that works for me. I find the Tor a place of real and deep grounding, and as my roots travel deep into the Tor I know I am in the place of the Dark womb, the place of transformation. In that sense I often experience the Tor as the key to the Underworld, and Gwyn ap Nudd is there as its keeper. As I said yesterday, it’s impossible to avoid this crucial aspect, we have to tarry in the Dark if we are ever to know the reality of Light.

However, a clear message spoke directly to my heart this morning, and that was to truly walk into the Light. It was a clear message and I felt something of a prod from Gwyn ap Nudd. It was almost as if he was saying that he was fed up with me hanging around in his territory and that he was booting me out! Yes, I’ll return, but a clear, resounding message that I had spent too long in the Dark and now it was time to embrace the Light trumpeted in my ears and soul. Gwyn ap Nudd is not to be messed with, and I felt his foot making contact with my backside and out into the Light went I!

It’s interesting that I find this a challenge, but I do. Some may shy from the Dark, but this aspect for me feels more comfortable that believing I have a right and a place in the Light. Believing that I am worthy is a huge challenge, and that I have a place and a right to stand as a Light of the World provides an even greater challenge. The kick out of the Underworld came as no surprise and now the challenge is to explore my place in this new world as Imbolc turns to Equinox.

Why is it a challenge? I think the challenge is on many fronts. It is, as I say above, a thing of appreciating my value, my worth, my will and my place, but it is also a thing of dedication. The Light is not a ‘love and light’ fluffy thing, but a challenge to growth. It is a test of dedication, of commitment and a challenge to throw ones hat in the ring and truly be who I was called to be before name and form. There is no place to hide in the Light, no dark corner, for the Light pervades all. It’s about being prepared to stand, to be counted, to rise up and be who I truly am. And I feel this challenge most acutely.

After breakfast I moved on the ceremony at White Spring. What a fantastic place, and what a marvellous job people have done in the redesign of the White Spring. The energy in this place is fantastic and the energetic fusion is palpable.

As we welcomed the Light, carried by Brighid, back into the world and into our lives, you can imagine, appreciating all that had gone before, my internal dialogue with the One Divine Life! As people spoke of Brighid I also connected with my own Patron Goddess, Sulis, Mother of Water and Fire, both so evident in this sacred place. As Fire and Water come together change is the only result, and I felt the calling and challenge for change within me.

Yet as people honoured Deity I was only too aware of the message and challenge to embrace my own Divinity. I have spoken of this before on these pages, yet there is something here that I have not truly entered into as yet. The challenge to an ex-Christian to even contemplate that I may be part of the One Divine Life is incredible – but that is because the Christian does not understand this reality. Poems were read, from such lovely people, and many spoke of this truth . . . know you not that you are part of Source. The Divine being that we celebrate, that we love, and that we call too and honour is not only within you but IS you!

A chap sang a most moving song at the White Spring. What is odd is that I couldn’t tell you thing about the content of this song now, but what shone through for me as he sang, beyond the words, was the wonder of connection. Oh how trite that word has become, but how powerful it is when one truly takes time to actually consider what it truly means! I was beaming at him as he sang, I couldn’t help it and I couldn’t stop it!

The power and strength of this reality hit home to me as we walked through the door from the White Spring into Chalice Well. If moving into the Light is about embracing our true Divine heritage, our true Divine Self, then the power of that is immense. It’s not a lightweight thing, how can it be? To say that we are all connected, not just with each other, but with The All, and not just like some kind of genealogical thing, but in the sense of being part of . . . being AS the Divine Life, then this is really powerful stuff. Yet I know and sense this to be true. Within my very being is part of the One Divine Life. My body will fail and crumble, but just as surely as nothing ever dies, that which is Divine within will also never die. I want this truth to shift from knowledge to living reality within me.

The time spent around the Wellhead was special for me only because of part of a poem spoken by a guy who was truly channelling the Divine. I was caught up in the excitement and wonder of the words that flowed from him as they underlined and magnified all that I write of above. It’s time to honour my true Divinity and to move in the power of that.

Do I sound arrogant? I can see how I may come across that way, but I do not write in arrogance. If anything, I write almost in fear at what this really means. I am also painfully aware that what I speak of is probably akin to that which Dion Fortune called Initiation, that moment where it is the Higher Self, the God Self, that radiates from one’s eyes. I am well aware that I am not at that point, as yet. I am a Seeker, a person who seeks Initiation, but at the same time I am more than aware of the road that I need to travel before I reach that point. In that sense the words I write speak as much of aspiration as they do revelation.

Together with this today was special because I connected with friends, both old and new, and loved the fact that a glance exchanged could communicate a thousand words.

A special day indeed!