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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "

Coleridge

Travel & History -The Two Great Teachers of Space and of Time

August 5th, 2009

In the previous post I pasted in a section from the latest Mt Haemus Award paper. The whole paper can now be read in the Mount Haemus section of the OBOD website. (Scroll down to the last paper listed ‘What is A Bard?’). Each year the Order is able to grant a substantial award for original research in Druidism. We have called this scholarship the Mount Haemus Award, after the apocryphal Druid grove of Mt Haemus that was said to have been established near Oxford in 1245. Here is an explanation for why we set it up at the beginning of the millennium:

Some people think history isn’t important. After all, why dwell on the past when it’s over and done with?
The future and the present seem much more exciting because they are happening or are about to happen. But the Druid, and the Bard in particular, knows that the pleasure of memory can be equal to that of anticipation.
In addition, history offers us not only the possibility of understanding the causes of present-day situations, but also a gift which at first may seem nebulous, but which is in fact essential for a truly satisfactory experience of being alive in the world: and that is a sense of context. Without context we are lost – doomed to misunderstanding and superficiality.
When we hear of the actions or decisions of a friend, a group or a country, we need to understand the context in which these decisions or actions were taken. Without knowing this we cannot hope to understand their significance. This is why gossip is so worthless when it is not harmful: without knowing a person’s history we stand ignorant and helpless before the facts presented to us. And so if we want a truly meaningful and deep relationship with another we need to learn their history, to understand the world that they live in, and how they came to be there. This is one of the most interesting experiences of being a psychotherapist: an individual about whom you have no knowledge, visits you once a week, say, for several months, and slowly tells their story, revealing their history as someone might show you their garden or their house. And slowly someone who was simply a body, a face, a voice, becomes multi-dimensional and leads you, like a storyteller, into the past and across the country, or the world.
Travel and history, then, become the two great teachers of Space and of Time, that give our lives context: breadth and depth, substance and roots.
And this explains why history is of such importance to Druids who seek to deepen their understanding of life. Recognising the vital part that history plays within Druidry, we have decided to establish an award for important historical research that relates to Druidism.