Home for a Wakeful World

Welcome.  Come in peace.  Bring a story or a song.

When people ask what I do, this is my simple answer:  I am devoted to restoring ecstatic awareness to normal human functioning.  In part, I am on the Board of Directors for the Cuyamungue Institute, an anthropological research center exploring indigenous artifacts, art and relationship to their spirituality.  As a descendant of indigenous peoples, this research considers my own blood lineage as well as the histories of others.

In more general terms:  I enjoy and am devoted to life, to its darkness and its light, to being an animist Druid.  Animism is the oldest extant religion on the planet, tracking across the landscapes of all our ancient ones; “Druid” is how I invoke and honor the threads of my own, animist ancestors of Britain and northern Europe.   I live in New York City, where I practice earth-centered rituals and healing (personal and communal), craft narratives rising out of the life force, work with the healing powers of trance induction and altered states of reality, and teach related philosophies of consciousness, ethics and behavior.

Like other animist paths, Druid awareness concerns how everything is related and sacred….how we can refuse the subject-object moral dictates of our culture and then move gracefully and honorably into subject-subject relationships….how everything is constantly emerging….how even dualisms are not stable concepts….how we can Wake Up.

A second awareness is that crafting sacred-soul relationship becomes a life-long weaving of consciousness, thoughtfulness, and responsiveness.  For Druids, this relational awareness can be characterized by brutal honesty–even if compassionately delivered–, as well as by simple directness and clarity of sight.   We remember a saying attributed to Druid perspective:  Truth against the world.

But perhaps the most important, on-going, fundamental skill we learn is how to listen–how to listen as a participant within an enchanted (that is, a “minded”) world.

For contemporary Druids, a primary goal, arising from those lessons, is the threefold discovery of our home on, and
our true devotion to, and
our responsive expressions of,
the land itself.  All of our stories arise from that.  Stories in poetry, song, dance, mask making, art, humming.  Stories of service, lust and compassion.  For we are the people of the mist, and our narratives flow in from the earth itself, and into the mist our stories will return us.

It takes a while to comprehend how to be a practicing Druid in this city, how to live with the wild here.  It is possible to conceive of the city as only a bewildering array of distractions, all vying for attention.  Attentive training, therefore, is required to experience how nature sculpts our skin into a city that is not only built on but is built OF the earth herself.  As we walk on the streets or ride the subways, we are plunged deeply into earth elements.

Here the chthonic gods of the land are absolutely everywhere.  We feel their stones, their mountain depths.  We are gripped by the gravity that binds us—with these bricks, concrete, glass and metal—to the land itself.  And everywhere we look, matters of soil and growth crack the façade of cement to expose the uncontainable wildness of nature.  The wind makes caverns;  rain and snow fall through; lightning and thunder shatter human complacency to bring in rolling lessons about the shifts and tides of life.  Streams of water are infrequent and sometimes irreverent:  we are constantly learning to adjust to and abide by the ways of Mother.

Because, no matter its seeming permanence, its seeming stable identity as The Big Apple, nature is in constant change:  it desires to dissolve, to dissemble, to rot, to become the seed of the next moment.  Maybe it is no mistake that “The Big Apple” is the metaphor for this city:  apples rot.  And therefore this city demands of its people that they keep it in good repair to forestall its normal progression.  Does the city serve the people; or, do the people serve the city?  Are we separate from it, or an aspect of it?

People are nonetheless only one aspect of nature, thread-wound as we are with every other aspect, and in continual interpretation of this relationship via our feelings, and via behaviours both personal and social. We engage in acts of justice, reactions of emotions and feelings, responses of compassion or disgust, working out our purposes in alignment with our intentions and learning from them.   In this sacred place we name “city,” we create ritual and craft a truly earth-centered home.

In other words, to the question sometimes asked of me, “How can you be a druid in New York City?” the only true answer is, “How can one not be?”

Here, with everything that might seem counterintuitive to many, we walk in raw awareness that the entire earth is the shaman’s table.  This website refers to this awareness and its practices.

If you wish to discuss or study Druidry or animism and what that might mean in New York City, the traditional way is to ask.  If you genuinely intend to study or become an apprentice, the traditional way is to hang out with the teacher.  If you are looking for reading material, a short, annotated reading list is on this website.

3 thoughts on “Home for a Wakeful World

  1. Dear James,
    Lucille and I love your website. We’ve started the James Fan Club . Lucille is the president and I am the Vice President and recording secretary.
    Love, Linda and Lucille

  2. It’s wonderful to know that the East Coast now gets to know the wonderful magic and beauty that we have enjoyed for years. Blessings on this new adventure, James!

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