English people are uptight. There’s no getting away from this. The hardest thing for us to do is loosen up, express ourselves directly, and have fun. We still think we have to run an empire…the collective psyche lags behind real events by centuries.
If you’ve had this upbringing and you’re interested in spirituality then you’re likely to have a double dose of this characteristic. And if you lead a spiritual group and write serious books then forget loosening up…
This was the quandary I found myself in until I discovered the arcane art of blogging. Just as the spiritual path can be characterised as the ongoing attempt to both remember yourself and forget yourself, so blogging can be seen as a challenge to both be more personal, more open, more sharing of the riches of a life and at the same time to take yourself less seriously, to let go of the concern about what other people might think about you, and to reveal rather than conceal your curiosity and amazement at the often crazy world you find yourself in.
I spend much of my days writing ‘serious’ material that must fit into particular structures: books, articles, and workshop schedules. So to balance this, I am using this blog as a play-space: a place to relax and have fun – to share some of the strange, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious material that comes my way. And it’s also a place to share ideas…
The main focus of the blog is spirituality in its widest sense, and I believe one of the most important tasks for us today is to infuse our spiritual questing with humour and joy. Without humour we lose our humility, without joy a spiritual path becomes dry with the dead hand of piousness.
For me, a spirituality needs the glorious world of Nature and the joy of laughter in plentiful supply. If these qualities appeal to you, I hope some of this blog will be interesting and entertaining for you!
With very best wishes,
P.S. The banner on this blog used to feature a photo of a local sacred site – The Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex. This great chalk figure evokes three central ideas for me: the idea of our need for balance – and in the context of this blog this involves balancing serious, and thought-provoking material with humorous and entertaining material. The other idea is that of ‘Gateways’ which is central to a spiritual path. Each tradition will speak about this in different ways – as an example, in the Jain tradition the 24 great teachers are known as Tirthankaras, which means ‘Ford-makers’ – suggesting they help create a bridge/ford/gateway between this and the Otherworld, between normal consciousness and a spiritualised consciousness. The founder of the Baha’i religion was known as ‘the Bab’ which means ‘gate’. In Druidry, natural features or deliberately placed stones or trees form magical gateways that can help us access other realities, and here in the Sussex landscape is a figure who seems to be creating a gateway for us, reminding us of Novalis’ statement that ‘Visible and invisible, two worlds meet in man.’ I write about this in some detail in The Druid Way.
The third idea this image evokes is that it is important now for us to become aware of our local sacred sites, rather than falling into the ‘spiritual consumerist’ trap of flying off to sacred sites around the world regularly. When I was researching a book called Sacred Places, I discovered that spiritual tourism is now a huge industry, and that we need to address the issues this involves.