Excellence Reporter: Penny, what is the meaning of life?
Penny Billington: As a Druid, I see myself as a part of the natural world, and I view it as my window to spirit: I look to it for meaning and my guidelines for life. Observation of the world, with its glorious multiplicity of species, climates and terrains, teaches me that difference and diversity is good. I learn that every aspect of the world goes in cycles; that there is a time for growth, fertility, the wisdom of age and the withdrawal into hibernation; that life and death are followed each season by rebirth. Druids learn from this by consciously trying to connect to and make relationships with an enspirited, sentient world, whose teachers are the tree, the rock, the river people…
So what is our role in this harmonious, flowing world of change? Druids dance with two understandings: that life is a journey (made obvious by linear time) and that we can exist only in the now. To relate to the underlying meaning of life, we concentrate on the being, for the external world continuously insists that we focus on the doing and travelling – to the new job, relationship, kids, mortgage… a whole consumer ethos that Druids have to live with, but want to hold lightly, and at a distance.
The most magical way of concentrating on the now is through gratitude in the moment; by frequent stopping and saying ‘thank you’ now, not rushing through life unheeding, to look back with regret. The other way is to embrace the fact that we are, at a deep level, creative beings, and only through being creative can we live with fullness and joy. Creativity takes many forms and the traditional Druidic skills are bardic – of music and poetry and art – but we cannot all be so gifted! So, cake-baking, carving, gardening, flower arranging, storytelling to the grandchildren – if the thought of an activity makes our hearts sing, if engaging in it takes us into enchanted space, then we are taking our place as a tiny creative part of an expansive universe that might be expressing itself through us. And fulfilling that magical duty could possibly be the meaning of life.
~Penny Billington is a Druid author, speaker and retreat leader who has been active in The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids for over 20 years. She has edited ‘Touchstone’ for over 15 years and currently teaches their Inner Journeying workshops. Her other sphere of interest is the magical work of Dion Fortune and writing magical fiction. The foundation of her Druidry is living life lightly, in the head, heart and mind, as well as in ecological terms.
Her published work includes the best-selling ’The Path of Druidry’, ‘The wisdom of Birch, Oak and Yew’ and (with Ian Rees) ‘The Keys to the Temple: unlocking Dion Fortune’s Mystical Qabalah through her occult novels’ (all pub. Llewellyn Worldwide). She has contributed to the OBOD Druid Grade course and their 50th anniversary book, to ‘The English book of Magic’ by Carr Gomm & Heygate and to ‘Druidry and Ancestral Connections’ and ‘Contemplative Druidry’.
Excellence Reporter 2018 Copyright © Penny Billington