Posts Tagged ‘Nimue Brown’

Nimue Brown guest post: Community and conflict

July 16, 2018

https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/community-and-conflict/  

These are Nimue’s paragraphs, but I have put them in a different order.  For the original, use the link to her Druid blog, above.

I’ve been in communities that shrug shoulders over conflict. I’ve watched people leave those spaces in all kinds of states of distress and discomfort. I’ve been the person who leaves. I’ve also been in spaces with people who take responsibility for the wellbeing of the community as a whole, and who wade in when things get difficult. I’ve seen problems solved, and people challenged in good ways, to do better. I’ve seen vulnerable people supported, and socially awkward people helped. I’ve seen confidence built, and boundaries fostered. I’ve seen wellbeing improved, and the communities in question grow stronger for making the choice to act in these ways.

If someone bullies, exploits, abuses, controls or otherwise mistreats a person, it is not because of something inherent in the victim. It is because the abusive person is an abusive person. They can and will do that again. If a person lacks the experience, empathy or insight to navigate relationships well, they will keep having the same problems – either because they don’t hold the boundaries they need, or because they don’t deal well with others. Either way, it helps when the people around them respond to this and take on some responsibility for fixing it.

It’s easy to see conflict in personal terms, and understand it purely as being about those directly involved. Two people appear to fall out, and so we take the moral high ground by not getting involved, not taking sides, not asking what happened. If one of the people involved pulls away and leaves, we shrug, and say it’s a shame, and carry on with life. We all bear the losses quietly, because this is normal. We all bear the impact of the original problem, directly or indirectly.

One of the things this does is to tacitly support bullying and abuse. If one person mistreats another and we all nobly sit on the fence and refuse to pass judgement, we enable misbehaviour. It is the victim who will be pushed out. The person who was acting out will do it again, and probably get away with it again. This is not in anyone’s interests and does not make for a good community.

If we recognise that all relationships are held in a wider community context, we can look at them differently. It does not seem so acceptable for a community as a whole to react to a conflict by shrugging its shoulders. It becomes necessary for the community to find out what’s going on, make judgements and take action. These may be small measures to smooth over troubles and build bridges. There may be larger moves called for to challenge unacceptable behaviour. It may be necessary to identify what is intolerable.

Most of us in English speaking countries do not live in tight knit communities where people depend on each other to survive. As a consequence, unlike most of our ancestors we can afford not to be too invested in the idea of community. When things go wrong, we can just move on to another space. What this overlooks of course is the deep feeling of unrootedness and un-belonging that comes from changing your social context to deal with conflict. We might not need our communities to survive the winter, but we do need them for emotional wellbeing.

And for all these reasons, please do not be a fence-sitter.  Let Awen inform your voice as well as your actions. 

Happy Equinox

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Truth and Stories

June 6, 2018

flame

There is an expression for communicating among humans– ‘breaking news’.   It refers to very fresh, not old, information that is sufficiently significant that the old reality, the older news, will be changed by it.  Like a newborn emerging from its eggshell it presents a fresh perspective upon our shared world.

Often our view of the world is a bit stale and habitual. Habits are a source of comfort , as old friends.  However, since things constantly change with the passage of time, it may be necessary to freshen up our grasp of reality, of truth itself, if our position isn’t comfy anymore, if our rear ends sag too near the road upon the life path.

What do you take as a ‘given’ that might not be so?  Is there anything that simply won’t ‘come true’ no matter how hard you believe it?  Have you begun to no longer trust your own thoughts, your own feelings, maybe your own senses?  Danger, danger!  No matter how the New Agers sell the power of ‘manifesting your perfect life’.  it has to be do-able here upon the Earth-Mother. 

It may be time to still yourself, ground yourself, reconnect with your own heart and soul, where in truth we are already part of perfection.  Make certain that the news you pass along is truth.

There is also a Druid slogan, ‘Truth against the world.’  That truth is known as Awen,  insight into the eternal and immutable.  All things that manifest can only do so to the extent that they are part of that Truth.  Check it against inner Awen, if you have come across it out in the World.

 

Salman Rushdie has written things that ring true, even presented as fiction, enough to perturb many people whose perspectives are a bit rigid.  He wrote recently about the dilemma of #fakenews  that can get its readers or listeners confused about how our world actually is.  Those who shout loudest that something is #fakenews may actually want us to instead stop thinking and trust the brand of expertise or authority they are touting at the moment.

 

“I have argued, for much of my life as a writer, that the breakdown in the old agreements about reality is now the most significant reality, and that the world can perhaps best be explained in terms of conflicting and often incompatible narratives. In Kashmir and in the Middle East, and in the battle between progressive America and Trumpistan, we see examples of such incompatibilities. I have also maintained that the consequences of this new, argumentative, even polemical attitude to the real has profound implications for literature—that we can’t, or ought not to, pretend it isn’t there. I believe that the influence on public discourse of more, and more varied, voices has been a good thing, enriching our literatures and making more complex our understanding of the world.

“And yet I now face, as we all do, a genuine conundrum. How can we argue, on the one hand, that modern reality has become necessarily multidimensional, fractured and fragmented, and, on the other hand, that reality is a very particular thing, an unarguable series of things that are so, which needs to be defended against the attacks of, to be frank, the things that are not so, which are being promulgated by, let’s say, the Modi Administration in India, the Brexit crew in the U.K., and the President of the United States? How to combat the worst aspects of the Internet, that parallel universe in which important information and total garbage coexist, side by side, with, apparently, the same levels of authority, making it harder than ever for people to tell them apart? How to resist the erosion in the public acceptance of “basic facts,” scientific facts, evidence-supported facts about, say, climate change or inoculations for children? How to combat the political demagoguery that seeks to do what authoritarians have always wanted—to undermine the public’s belief in evidence, and to say to their electorates, in effect, “Believe nothing except me, for I am the truth”? What do we do about that? And what, specifically, might be the role of art, and the role of the literary arts in particular?”

Salman Rushdie

We tell a story of ourselves by the very act of living our lives each day.  Nimue Brown has written about that recently, too.  Because we live with other humans, and in fact need to do it that way,  there is always a balancing act between their realities and ours.  Sometimes, they conflict badly enough that one story will try to over-write another.  Danger, Danger again!  How much of your own truth are you willing to amend just to keep the peace?

“People will fight and kill to protect their stories and their take on reality, even when those stories are clearly harming them. As the person breaking the story, you are perhaps more likely to be seen as the destructive oppressor, and not the rescuing angel you may imagine yourself to be. Those still in the story may simply recast you so that they can keep the story going. “You used to be such a nice little girl. I don’t know what went wrong.”

“Sometimes, the only way out of a story is to break away from the people whose story it is. Sometimes, the only option is to play the role consciously and then escape into spaces where you can properly be yourself. Sometimes to do that, a safe house is required, a new identity, police protection. Sometimes you have to ask difficult questions about the price of your relationships, and the implications of leaving them. People can die as a consequence of misjudging this.

“If you call out a story as a lie, even if you can evidence it, people may fight you. They may fire you, take you to court, lie about you, attack you on social media. They may deprive you of key resources. If you refuse to play your allotted role you may be harassed, ridiculed, threatened or abandoned. You have no control over how other people respond when you stop acting in line with their story.

“But you have the right to live your own life, and you have the right to be safe. So, if you’re wrecking a story, plan your escape routes first – more or less literally as required. Do some risk assessment. Consider the consequences. Try to break the story as calmly as you can, with minimal drama. There is nothing like drama to keep a story moving, because even as you think you’re resisting it, you can find the energy of it being sucked in and used to reinforce the existing story. You were always a useless child. Now you’re upsetting everyone with this stupid idea that you can do something. It’s all your fault… These are the outcomes to avoid.

“It’s natural to want justice, to want recognition. It’s reasonable to want the people who have miscast you to realise their mistakes. It’s also very likely that you won’t get that. If you choose to stay and fight, you may be pulled back into the old story. Sometimes, it is better to go quietly and start a new story of your own somewhere else.”

Nimue Brown  

Sometimes another person is so afraid of your view that they insist upon calling you wrong, or a ‘bad guy’, even insisting that what you see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, is not so.  Danger, Danger yet again.   If your own senses cannot be relied upon you are severely crippled for handling living. Best to stay true to them, and to yourself, and get far away from one who can only thwart you.  They are ‘gas-lighting’. If you remain with this person,  soon everything will be labeled as your fault.  It never helps to feel that way;  the person who constantly refuses to take responsibility for their own truth will try to get another to do it for them.

The world is our teacher.  Sometimes it is our culture that presents itself, other times we can go right to the Source, to Nature.  Nature has no bias.  No matter what direction a culture may sway us, Nature will not care.  The better a culture harmonizes with Nature, the more successful it proves.  But too often cultures are ossified and losing touch with Nature; they are the ones that are most concerned with the obedience of individuals.

It is one thing to observe and to learn, and another to be a mere follower who depends on the views of another.  If your world has become a prison of fears and prejudices,  it’s time for an open door policy and a good sweeping out.

The Third Reich built its powers by scapegoating minorities and poisoning the public opinion to allow for atrocities against ‘lesser’ populations. Secrecy shielded the worst of the genocide from ordinary citizens. Lies of omission were very common.

Truth is not meant to be hidden.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  If you have anything in your story that you think you need to hide, please heal it.  If someone else in your world gives you shame for a thing,  do not accept that present.  Or if you find it has been delivered, put it in the compost.

“In Germany, after the Second World War, the authors of what was called Trümmerliteratur, or “rubble literature,” felt the need to rebuild their language, poisoned by Nazism, as well as their country, which lay in ruins. They understood that reality, truth, needed to be reconstructed from the ground up, with new language, just as the bombed cities needed to be rebuilt. I think we can learn from their example. We stand once again, though for different reasons, in the midst of the rubble of the truth. And it is for us—writers, thinkers, journalists, philosophers—to undertake the task of rebuilding our readers’ belief in reality, their faith in the truth. And to do it with new language, from the ground up.”

Salman Rushdie

If you find yourself unsure about a story which is not presented as fiction, but as truth,  be careful of it.  Even the people you trust can be fooled.  Try tossing it all against the wall and see what sticks.

adfsigil

peace, peace, peace

Becoming a Druid by doing other things guest post by Nimue Brown

March 20, 2018

I got to proselytize today, to a pair of young Mormons who knocked on my door. It’s part of the slippery slidy nature of an Equinox for things to flip suddenly. They came to preach to me and instead graciously listened as I explained that I had no need for holy texts beyond ‘Nature is good’. Also they got warm because it’s pretty undecided here about whether to be winter or spring. (Down in Australia it would be autumn)

Then I found Nimue Brown’s posting for the day, about walking our talk, about learning to be in harmony with Nature by living, and I would think her insight is quite complementary.

“Living as close to nature as you can, will change you. Working with the seasons as you experience them will change you. Forming a relationship with your landscape, learning about what lives on it and making connections, will change you.”

Druid Life

I think it’s good to have a framework, and the time I’ve spent studying Druidry itself has given me some useful points of reference. However, I have a growing feeling that what makes a person a Druid is not the study of Druidry, but doing a whole host of other things. Increasingly, I see Druidry as an emergent property from approaching a whole array of subjects and practices with an open heart and mind, willing to be changed by them.

Living as close to nature as you can, will change you. Working with the seasons as you experience them will change you. Forming a relationship with your landscape, learning about what lives on it and making connections, will change you.

We can practice disciplines of the mind – philosophy, meditation, contemplation, gratitude, activism, prayer, and these experiences will impact on us. I think any study, any learning has a place…

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When you can choose to disbelieve By Nimue Brown –guest post

December 30, 2017

Most times when I re-post my fellow Druid author’s blogging, I give you only a taste of the whole here.  This time it’s the entire thing. She’s put it very succinctly and thoroughly.  The medicine for disbelief is TRUTH (awen).  The cure is to combine truth with BELIEF.  

BELIEVE  in the experiences of others.  Believe in your own true experience.  Believe in the future as it comes.  The future is woven not from disbelief but from belief.  Disbelief is a way of not facing what unfolds, and also disables our ability to deal with things.

When you can choose to disbelieve By Nimue Brown

There are a great many things that are subject to disbelief. Racial hatred, abuse and harassment, sexual hatred abuse and harassment, the practical and social difficulties grinding down the disabled, and the relentless misery of being poor. If I’m online any day, the odds are I’ll see someone questioning that these things happen, disbelieving victims and sufferers and offering alternative explanations.

The option to disbelieve comes from not being affected personally. So many people are so easily persuaded that if they haven’t seen it, it doesn’t happen. This means that when others try and tell them what happens, they ignore the evidence in favour of their belief, and so they still don’t see it happening.

Disbelief is most often followed by shaming and blaming. The feckless poor with their cigarettes and alcohol. The women who bring it upon themselves by having bodies and clothes and going outside. The disabled people who aren’t trying hard enough to magic themselves well. I think the worst of this is what comes up over race to try and explain away brutality, oppression and a rigged game designed to be unwinnable if you’re from the ‘wrong’ group. Often this is the worst of it because poverty is usually in there too, and the other things on the list can and do feature.

Disbelief means taking no responsibility. It means there’s no pressure to look either at your own behaviour or about the way you participate in a culture that allows this. Disbelief affirms the feeling that all your good things come from your hard work and virtue. You’re too clever to be raped, to get sick, to become poor. The illusion of safety and of being in control are comforting things.

Disbelief is also another form of misery to heap onto those already in trouble. Not only are you dealing with some vile thing, but you’re doing it surrounded by people who tell you it does not exist, is not happening, does not happen. You’ve made it up to get attention (because there’s so much glory, wealth and power to be obtained by admitting you were abused, right?). You’re lying. You’re trying to get out of something or get something for nothing or get special treatment. You’re a snowflake. You’re to blame. And when you’ve already been knocked down by something, dealing with people who refuse to believe it even exists is ghastly.

If people around you deny your reality, say your experience doesn’t exist or is your fault, that way lies madness. Being told you are the cause of the abuse you have suffered crushes your sense of self, takes away your self esteem, may make you question your own experience and your right to feel about it as you do. And of course if all you ever see is people denying that your problem is a real problem, you’ll be less likely to call it out in the first place.

If you’ve been there, it isn’t a belief issue. If you’ve seen it, you know it happens. You don’t have to question why someone would say something like that. You don’t try to figure out how it was their fault, because you know what happens. Disbelief is a luxury available only to those who do not know.

Druid Thoughts: Plastic Pagan Gurus

December 5, 2013

Druid Thoughts: Plastic Pagan Gurus.

This  column by my British Druid friend Nimue Brown was widely recommended by the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and also by a number of my fellow Pagan authors.  It’s a good and common-sense view on avoiding charlatans who happen to latch onto the Druid ‘brand’.

Psychological violence

April 15, 2013

This is Nimue Brown, novelist and Druid, getting to the heart of a problem. It does not take fisticuffs or weapons to injure another human. It only takes denigration.

art by annabrixthomsen-- Shame

Druid Life

The brain is a physical structure which is shaped by what we do with it – learning, practice, habit, life experience, memory – this is all part of the mix. Our minds are not amorphous things separate from our bodies but real, tangible structures that respond to what happens to them. Hit someone in the leg with a hammer and you will get nasty bruises, and possibly a broken bone. As a culture we take that kind of thing seriously. However, we seem to assume the mind is a whole other thing. Violent assaults on the psyche are not assumed to cause breakages in the same way. Now, when it comes to considering criminal damage, it will always be hard to produce evidence of psychological trauma, but I see no reason why that should make it culturally acceptable. I find myself wondering if depression and anxiety are to psychological damage…

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In a poo economy « Druid Life

December 13, 2012

In a poo economy « Druid Life.

Hope Evolves

November 29, 2012

The Importance of Hope

Constructing an enemy « Druid Life

August 9, 2012

Constructing an enemy « Druid Life.

This is by my British Druid friend Nimue Brown.

“However, most of us use concepts of opposition to help develop a sense of self. We know who we are, in part by being able to point at what we are not. To do this in any meaningful way, it is necessary to know the ‘other’ or we may just be indulging our prejudices. Sometimes what we hate most in others, is a reflection of the things we do not like about ourselves, so looking deeply is important or we can easily miss something…”

The day I discovered I am a Woman after all, by Nimue Brown

June 30, 2012

The day I discovered I am female after all, by Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown is a British Druid who lives with her family on a canal boat. She also is chief editor of a division of LoveYou Divine Alterotica under the name Bryn Colvin and a fine folk musician. Here she says what I have maintained for years upon realizing it– the reason i don’t act ‘womanly’ is because the idea of ‘womanly we are held to is not in harmony with our actual female Nature. It is an invention of males, and the best exemplars of it are transexual males.