Beginnings, beginnings, how to get started?
Although I am now with the Order of the Sacred Nemeton (OSN), a contemplative Druid monastic Order, I had been working on my own, developing a Druid monastic practice, for some years prior to that. I became a novice with the OSN in 2010 and took my full vows in 2012, but I had been studying monastic practice, mostly Christian monastic practice, since the 1990’s.
I looked at various Christian monastic Orders, mainly the Benedictines, Cistercians, and Carthusians, looking at their daily timetables and forms of prayer, as well as other aspects of their lives. I noticed that often their prayer times did seem to be linked to events like Dawn and Dusk, Midday, and Midnight, and I realised that these daily events are also relevant to Druid practice.
The Dawn, Dusk, Midday, and Midnight, structure then became the framework to build on. But what should I be doing at those times? I didn’t have a set of Druid ‘psalms’ to use, and the Triads weren’t a suitable substitute for the psalms, so I had a framework but wondered what to put on it.
At this point, around 1995, I was studying the course run by the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD). I was in the Ovate Grade and one of the practical exercises suggested was something called ‘In the Eye of the Sun’. From what I remember, it suggested sitting facing the relevant direction at the relevant time of day, (Midnight – North; Dawn-East; Midday-South; Dusk-West) and simply keeping the attention on a focus such as one’s breath. If the attention wandered, then just notice this and bring it back to the focus. I don’t think the expectation was that people should do four meditations a day, rather to pick one which was convenient and persevere with that. However, for me, the four meditation times each day was a perfect structure to develop my Druid monastic practice on. So, perhaps appropriately, my monastic practice grew from silence. I was on my way!
My prayer times, which I called ‘Observances’ at that time, did develop further to use spoken prayers and invocations of various sorts.
More to follow.