Sunday, July 4, 2010

Longing

Maybe I should add Celtic spirituality to the list of things this blog is about for I am particularly drawn to the Celtic spiritual path.  I have long considered myself pagan but also found myself uncomfortable with the broad scope of traditions and cultures that neo-paganism draws from..sometimes without stating the source or cultural roots.  What concerned me was the notion of inappropriate cultural appropriation.  I wanted a spiritual path that felt authentic to me, to who I am in the world, a white, educated, queer woman with Irish, Portuguese, a bit of German and a bit of Welsh roots who is a 3rd generation American from my paternal great-grandfather (he immigrated from the Azores, Portugal) and many more generations from the rest of my family.  So I found myself wanting to combine my desire to understand my Irish roots more deeply with a pagan path...hence the Celtic Spiritual path.

One of the books that I have read and I am now re-reading is Frank MacEowen's book The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers and Seekers.  I was re-reading his chapter on longing last night and he talks about a longing for homeland that many people of Celtic ancestry experience. He writes, "Many of these people who report a deep longing for the homeland, a longing for the ways of our ancestors, have never been to Ireland, Scotland, Wales or other parts of the Celtic world. Yet something very ancient, very deep and almost mournful exists for many modern Celtic descendants whose families have been separated from their ancestral lands by several generations." (54)  I would put myself in this category.  I do not know much about my Irish roots, my family didn't really stress our Irish heritage (I don't think corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day counts!)  I really hope to learn more about Irish ancestry and roots and to visit Ireland.  Also this path, this Celtic spiritual path speaks to me for it allows me to hold the best of my Catholic background and my Unitarian Universalism.

What really struck me about this section on longing is wondering if what I have been labeling regret is really longing...my soul's longing.  It is longing not just for a spiritual path that makes sense to me intellectually but one that is truly embodied.  It is a longing to be more fully embodied, less in my head.  I am good at living in my head, not so good in being touch with and living within my body.  It is about ritual, music, the senses..not just hearing and listening.  It is longing to let go of the ego's strict control and to lose myself in the experience of the moment; to let go of being self-conscious and wondering what others will think. Yet after a lifetime of learning to be in control, how do I learn to let-go?  Yet how do I not, since my soul's longing is for surrender and letting go of control.

MacEowen says this about Celtic spirituality and longing:  "Our focus becomes caring for the spirit: spirit of the clan, spirit of the hearth, spirit of the earth, spirit of the open heart, spirit of the purpose of our work, spirit of service and healing.  Ultimately it takes great courage to face the spirit of longing.  Longing is a powerful force, similair to hunger and need for warmth and shelter;..."(58)  This is what draws me to this path, beckons me and will not let me go.