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Category Archives: Brythonic

A Question of Time

To move any original theory out of the realms of the speculative and into something more suitable for considered discussion, factual evidence (factual as being defined as factual according to current evidence) needs to be submitted to better define and backup the hypothesis. One of the reasons why I am part of the Brythonic community lies in it’s core values that bases it’s continuing developing spirituality primarily through documented and evidenced examples provided by some of the current scientific disciplines. It is this prerequisite that means that Brython, unlike a lot of other Pagan paths which are based primarily in personal gnosis, has it’s fledgling spirituality based in evidential material. To the best of my knowledge, this makes it somewhat unusual in the field of spirituality and more so the religious communities, which tend to place their core values through the interpretation of written works with, at best, questionable historical authenticity.

A major part of Brython’s core is the placing of it’s spirituality through the medium of the land. The land defines and creates the frames of reference and it is the understanding of this relationship and more specifically, how previous generations understood and defined this relationship, that drives us forward. These earlier generations had specific understandings about their place within the land and the life contained therein and it is our considered opinion that to understand this perspective accurately, it is necessary to base our understanding upon the artifacts and the context of their discoveries, as opposed to building our understanding upon a single source (even if that single source would appear to be somewhat “inspired” in both origin and understanding). Therefore it is my intention to develop further my Religion of the Soil hypothesis using this particular rigorous approach, submitting factual evidence to better define it.

The question of chronological progress therefore, is important if we are to better understand how the physical conditions and theological outlooks available to these earlier generations impacted upon their motivations. Correct sequencing is important as it provides us with a better tool with which to make informed choices about our understanding of this relationship and for those of us whose interactions are based upon a continuing relationship with these earlier generations, it gives us the means by which to structure interactions that hopefully, make themselves recognizable to these same ancestors in a form as near as we can make to their original rituals through our intentions and actions.

The first consideration therefore is to define the current thinking about the period of time that these actions originated in. As in my earlier post this article gives a general overview that is consistent with current understanding. It would appear from the archaeological records that inhabitation of what is now Britain before the last ice age was one that shows no stable population. Changing climatic conditions were probably responsible for this and some of the earliest artifacts found at such sites as Creswell Crags are strongly suggestive of a nomadic existence following the migratory paths of the available prey animals. The available evidence suggests that this hunter / gatherer existence was maintained to around 4000 BC in Britain when we enter the neolithic age.

It is interesting that technically the neolithic period started at around 9000 BC elsewhere in some other parts of the world and it took 5000 years to arrive here. This article, especially in the sections about the effects of the neolithic revolution and population growth makes some very valid points as to some of the possible reasons for this. The most convincing for me would be the assertion about the dramatic effect settlement would have had in fixed geographical areas and the proportional increase in food production that would have resulted in the reproductive periods of the female population being considerably extended. This settlement and the subsequent rise in population is not apparent in any official evidence and appears to be the subject for some disagreement especially noted here in the section about the Mesolithic / Neolithic period.

What I would therefore conclude would be that the rise of population may not have been as important as the establishment of fixed and relatively stable geographical populations and the concept of ownership, something not needed for a transitory existence evidenced previously, impacting upon social and cultural concepts. Expenditure of time interacting with and through the landscape would have created a different perspective, especially if the populations were experiencing all the seasons as opposed to just a season (or possibly 2) that the migratory animals would have been visiting for before withdrawing back to mainland Europe. Observation of the more pronounced seasonal changes evidenced here in Britain may have been the catalyst for the conceptual idea of a mechanism that placed ancestral influence into the physicality of the landscape and in particular, the soil substrata. As the progression of the neolithic period continued, the cultural and technological importance of the soil would have increased because of its impact upon food and domestic animal production. I would thus suggest that the inclusion of ancestral influence may have been viewed as a form of spiritual fertilization of the soil and that it’s effects may have been increasingly viewed as a central theme.

If this was the case, then the creation of earthen banks would fit my hypothesis that this was a primarily spiritual act, raising the ancestors from their base in the soil and creating a honoured and elevated position both to include them in any and all rituals and also placing upon them roles such as guardians to both peoples and locations. The earliest dated henge in Britain, Llandegai North is estimated to have been constructed around 3200BC some 800 years after our original date for the commencement of the neolithic period, a considerable amount of time with which to interact with and through the landscape and the majority of henge building was between 2800 to 2000 BC representing a total period of some 1200 years.

Burl in 1976 cited in The Stone Circles of the British Isles asserts that “Most henges never originally contained stone circles” which to the best of my knowledge, continues to be the case. The later inclusion of stone into these structures may have initially represented nothing more than an early pragmatic representation of the living populations using what was locally available, however I would suggest that this medium would be key in a transition that would see the establishment of a spiritual understanding that turned from collective ancestors and moved into the realms of the otherworld and a wider cosmological context.  I would contend therefore that using the current chronological sequence, the original building of earthen henges represents a physical representation of the original spiritual position of Britain’s first long term residential populations and that this spirituality was one based upon an understanding of the nature and inclusion of the ancestors through the medium of the soil.

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Posted by on August 4, 2010 in Brythonic

 

The Bones of Britain

The oldest recorded name associated with Britain is Albion. As can be seen, this is thought to refer to the chalk substrata particularly, though not exclusively, of the coast of Britain. The south of what is now England is made up of large areas of this substance with the world heritage site around Stonehenge being built upon this. So what role may the chalk have played in the understanding of the early Brythonic generations?

Well, using the framework of the Religion of the Soil, if we consider the reality of living in those times, I would suggest that the evidence of death would be common place in the environment. Carcases from wild and domesticated animals would have been present, no doubt in varying degrees of decomposition, along with human remains. Mike Pitts in his book Hengeworld proposes that there may have been a perceived two stage transformation involved with human death and the use of the  henges was one that facilitated this transformation from first the living to dead and  second from dead to ancestor.

The henges in Wessex use the chalk strata in their actual construction. Silbury hill was thought to have the chalk on the outside of it’s constructed banks and Mike Pitts again suggests that the banking in Durrington was similar although he also suggests it may have been present in the inside as well. The “new” henge at Marden is showing a chalk floor at one of it’s entrances. Therefore, apart from an entirely pragmatic approach that uses what is readily available in the environment for construction, could there be another understanding as to the properties of chalk?

Referring to the earlier assumption of the presence of decaying material in the environment and using the ideas associated with my proposed Brythonic religion of the soil, it occurs to me that bleached bones may have been thought of as examples of chalk. Or, more accurately, the chalk may have been thought of as being deposits of either a) processed ancestral bones or b) the bones of the land (Britain) containing the ancestors. This understanding, I would suggest, represents both a natural and easy position to hold and of course, we know now that chalk is actually the calcified remains of the skeletons of marine animals, so this idealogical viewpoint would actually have some basis in fact.

So the first stage of this transformation would have been the removal, either through natural or artificial means, of the flesh from the deceased. The timing of the rituals, predominately around solar or lunar events suggest that the individuals who were to be transported into the realms of the ancestors, would have had to have been dead for some time before hand so that the bones may have been viewed to be in a suitable physical state. This was not always the case though and there are examples of what appear to have been ritualistic killings in these sites though I suspect these actions would have been for specific causes, appeasement for example, as opposed to the honoured dead.

So, the first part of the journey of the dead may have been started in the henges with their chalk banking and their timber posts, possibly representing the land of the living being interacted with by the ancestors, using this medium of chalk present in the banks. Leaving these henges, the procession would have traveled up the ritualistic avenues, also constructed from chalk and thus representing transportation of the bones through the medium of the ancestors or the land, until entry into the henges of stone and into the realms of the dead and the final transformation of the bones. The subsequent discovery of bones under various examples of standing stones tends to suggest this to be the case, no doubt the positioning of the bones may have been understood to represent the individual leaving their earthly place and migrating into the medium of the ancestors.

Therefore, I would suggest that chalk may have been considered to be the facilitating substance that enabled the migration of the individual from human to ancestor.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2010 in Brythonic

 

The What and Why of Brython

To most people, Brython will not be a familiar concept. Borne from the continuing rise in popularity of neo-pagan perspectives witnessed in the last two decades, fueled by the accessibility and widespread access to the internet, the members of Brython arrived there by a variety of methods.

The following, in conjunction with my Personal Brythonic Relationships sections, chart my arrival, interpretation and continuing perspective of my blossoming Brythonic relationship.

Arrival.

I have never been subject to strong religious interactions. My parents were C of E but not strongly. Therefore, my experience of religion was one through interactions with the church and was mainly related to the odd service, wedding or funeral with my religious education being sponsored through C of E schooling. This laid the foundations for my understanding of the theology of Christianity. The age of 16 saw me leaving school on the Friday and into paid employment in the form of an apprenticeship on the following Monday. Secondary education proved to be a disappointment and from passing what used to be known as the 11+ exams with the highest score in mathematics seen in a year sample of 80 in junior school, the resultant placement in a “higher” prestige school led to disillusion with both teaching methods, subjects and, to an extent, fellow pupils. It was therefore, with some relief I left the education system of the 70’s. It would be easy to place my failure at the feet of the secondary system of that period, especially when one considers the subsequent confirmation by MENSA of my well above average IQ, verified by independent testing at a later date. But that would be a somewhat simplistic attitude which would smack of the abdication of personal responsibility. When viewed now from a perspective of distance in time, it occurs to me that there were various interactions responsible for this outcome, and I must accept some of that responsibility. But as would prove to be the case in numerous examples in later life, the outcome would appear to be the over-riding necessity for the experience to occur and the subsequent changing of perspectives as life presented its challenges over the following decades.

Religion then “left the scene” so to speak as regular employment and personal relationships in the form of my now wife, took centre stage. And so it continued, with the arrival of my two kids and the responsibilities associated with the upbringing of those two, my experiences were probably restricted to one that was primarily one of a cultural aspect.

It wasn’t really until the youngest of my kids was about to enter secondary education that any form of interest emerged into the realms of the spiritual. It would be easy to speculate that this was merely a result of this change of circumstance with the immediate intense area of responsibility associated with young children being passed through. Therefore time and opportunity to consider personal perspectives thus presented themselves, but crucially, with the added benefit of that passing of time, I was equipped with more information and experiences with which to consider any and all implications.

Interpretation.

When I view my arrival at the neo-pagan scene, it occurs to me that my initial interest was sparked through my changing tastes in music. Music has always provided me with one constant in my life. My tastes were initialized by the albums of my parents and the likes of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and the general music of the late 50’s through to the early 70’s comprised my earliest experiences. The late 70’s through to the mid nineties were dominated by the Rock opera type genre with the works of Jim Steinman and the various interpretations by different musicians being a particular favourite.

The mid nineties to the early part of the millenium saw a gradual decline in the appreciation of popular music and this prompted me to use the facilities of the local library and to sample some albums that I had not seen or heard before. Of course the beauty of this was the rental charge of 50p per week meant that any poor albums would not constitute a financial outlay. It was such an album, which was a compilation album comprising of various artists in the English Folk genre that guided me seek out what I know to represent a pagan perspective.

Again making use of the local public libraries, I began reading the basic guides as to what constituted paganism and especially neo-paganism perspectives. My interest was heightened by the guides that related to both neo-shamanism and neo-druidry. The one book that probably gave me a perspective that I realized fired both my imagination and interest was this one which I was happy to lend to another member of Brython recently. The cosmological viewpoint presented intrigued me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the author originated in my immediate locality. Secondly, the material was based entirely in Britain and it was this realization, that the religions of the world held no connection for me because of their areas of origin, that led to a period of re-evaluation. I simply could not relate to the stories of life and deliverance in the context of other countries at different times in history. This did not mean that I couldn’t understand what they represented, but as mentioned in some of my other posts, I realized that the promise of salvation, the reward goal orientated religions, went against a lot of my beliefs built up through experience of both culture and interactions with the general public. I wasn’t interested in a reward, I was interested in how my actions may be directed to the greater good and this greater good could not be a greater good if the motivation behind it was one that ultimately was self-centred.

I cannot over-emphasize how important this realization impacted in my thinking. Sit at the right hand of God in heaven? No thank you. Enter paradise to “enjoy” the company of 72 virgins? definitely not! Why should the motivations behind our actions have to be defined by this base denominator? This demonstrated to me why these religions ultimately held no appeal for me. I prefer to take responsibility for my own actions. I fully understood how these religions may have represented, in theory, a restraining influence upon a more basic society, but, as with the majority of life, the theory doesn’t match the reality. Instead of restraining the actions to create a fairer culture, the figures of power associated with these religions used these same interpretations to suppress the general populations for the benefit of their personal power base. They assumed the mantle of gate-keeper, determining by personal favours, the qualifying factors needed for them to turn the key and allow entry into salvation.

Continuing perspectives.

I had determined that for me, the realms of the spiritual started with a grounding in my locality. The cosmological viewpoint encountered previously resonated strongly with me. I then moved into the study of Druidry and it’s later incarnation, neo-druidry. Druidry represents a direct example of a religious worldview grounded in Britain and Northern Europe. This held out the promise of a frame of reference that held no goal as its ultimate outcome and was rooted in the fabric of my locality. And so I entered the world of the neo-pagan forum and website.My initial forays and my general lack of understanding in the etiquette of internet interactions resulted immediately in what I later understood to be a “neo-pagan flame war”, which basically is the hysterical rantings of the spiritually “precious”, challenging anyone who possessed the nerve ( or in my case, the naivety) to question their “hard-won” spiritual perspectives. They do not appreciate people questioning their taste in imaginary clothing!

I was eventually fortunate enough to be pointed in the direction of Caer Feddwyd ( may I take this opportunity to say thank you publically, you know who I am referring to Bwitch!). It became immediately obvious to me that the unsubstantiated beliefs that demanded “respect” born of personality evidenced elsewhere were challenged using the references of the modern scientific areas, specifically archaeology and it’s associated practices. Any unsubstantiated claims were met by referral to attested facts, where possible, thus leaving a basis from which to start to build a foundation for the understanding and possible reconnection with frames of reference our ancestors would have understood. A practical approach that did not rely upon a personality led practice, again evidenced elsewhere, but was in the process of being built using foundations grounded in the reality of today’s cultural and scientific perspectives. For any potential spirituality to have relevance in todays technological culture and the subsequent sceptical scrutiny afforded to the general population by the availability of the mass of information provided by the internet, this has proved to be (in my opinion) the best way with which to move forward in attempting to create a workable spiritual practice.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2010 in Brythonic

 

Personal Reflections

This is the final part of my Personal Brythonic Relationships series and represents my thoughts (at this time) in relation to all that I have posted before.

Personal Reflections

It is my contention that the adoption of a polytheistic approach when creating a Brythonic framework with which to nurture a relationship with both / either deity or landscape, is probably more conducive and more relative for the understanding of the of the earlier generations ideas and possible interactions, than a monotheistic approach which would place it’s emphasis upon the interactions with a single entity. This idea would not have been representative of the ideas of those earlier generations.

One may not actually have particularly strong polytheistic belief’s, but if the framework is as accurate as we can construct from current available information, this would then appear to offer the best potential from which constructive interactions could be based upon, and one would hope, create an acceptable and usable format for both parties.

If the basic premise of deity being present in the environment is accepted by the individual through either personal interactions or qualified through reasoned subjective discussion, then it would appear to be consistent to assume that using the model of life on Earth as one’s basis, there could be the potential for a multitude of life forms that could meet the criteria used to qualify those same life forms with earlier and modern definitions of deity.

The difficulty is that the mindset of the modern individual, I suspect, would be different in both it’s approach and understanding of what actually constitutes “life” from earlier generations. The reasoned rational approach would tend to disqualify a lot of interactions as nothing more than coincidence or chance, and indeed, that would probably be correct in a lot of instances. The recent approach that separate entities work independently of and from each other, is now being challenged through the framework of quantum physics and anomalies such as quantum entanglement seem to suggest that this premise is not correct. This would, therefore, not only provide a challenge for that same individual to understand and develop their own framework, but would also challenge how that relationship was to be structured from both parties.

Unfortunately, the rationalist approach sometimes lends itself to a blanket approach to all interactions, with rationality taking precedence in the thought processes and therefore placing before the individual, several alternative explanations.

The resultant increase in options may lead to a sense of further egoic isolation as the individual struggles to create a coherent structure with which to base all these differing inputs. The result often leads to the abandonment of any frames of reference in which the individual considers interactions of a “supernatural” context to be present and that same individual may then may actively restrict their terms of reference to actual biological processes both qualified and quantifiable by the present scientific processes.

However, the numbers of people now actively engaged in trying to work in different frames of reference through the myriad of alternative concepts, would tend to lend itself to the suggestion that, indeed, the terms of reference are in the process of being changed, possibly by both parties.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Brythonic

 

Relationship with Polytheism

This is another part of my Personal Brythonic Relationships series and builds upon my Relationship with Landscape piece.

Relationship with Polytheism.

We have many examples of the belief’s of earlier generations in the British isles. For the majority of that history, it clear from the archaeological evidence that there was a common belief in the existence of multiple deities. Inscriptions can give us clues as to the identity of those deities, although the inscriptions are sometimes the interpretations of non-native occupying forces translated into a form that may not accurately represent the true meaning from the original language.

The nature of this polytheistic relationship, I suspect, would be one of a practical nature involving the invoking of various deities to favour the outcomes of everyday living. For peoples whose circumstances meant that a large part of the outcomes of everyday living lay outside their own spheres of influence, one of the means by which lay a possible avenue to influence these events would have been a “working” knowledge of the various deities associated with their localities.

Because we know that literacy was not generally present amongst the indigenous populations, this knowledge would have taken the form of an oral tradition. To the local populations, this oral tradition may have presented some perceived advantages over the non-native written traditions.

Through the myriad of local traditions present throughout the tribal societies for the majority of prehistory in Britain, the idea of committing specific information (power) to the written form may have represented anathema.

Therefore, oral traditions probably offered the most practical method of knowledge, handed down from generation to generation. Of course that may have meant that the power of these deities could have been kept with the local populations, as the identity and attributes of these deities would not have been committed to a medium resulting in the potential for other populations gaining access to these localized deities. With the natural evolving of language over time, the identities of those deities were kept “current” with continual usage, as opposed to remaining static on a medium. This idea of repressing deity by means of a physical medium may also possibly have been viewed as having a restricting action upon those deities influence and interactions. This oral tradition may also have been perceived as returning some part of the interacting persons life force back to those deities by means of active participation through living communication. Therefore, interactions with deities would have been actualized by constant interactions, a more dynamic relationship based upon everyday activities.

Some of these deities may have taken the shape of what we may now consider to be localized spirits, for example, local to rivers or valleys. As such, it is probable that their identity may never be known again, and that certainly applies to those from pre-Christian societies. One suspects that it is possible that their identities may have actually have been known up to comparatively recent times.

The adoption of a monotheistic culture in later times suggests that the relationship between people and their deities broke down. The new religion would appear to have held out the prospect of better living conditions and possibly, for the first time, a common framework usable by large sections of the population under common terms of reference (even if some of these may have been applied under duress to some localized populations).

It is possible that the goal being offered by the new religion, as opposed to being just a localized outcome for the person invoking, represented a larger long term goal (plus of course, the materialistic advantages of working for the new religion, possibly the most influential player around at the time). The goal would be larger because the perceived sphere of influence would be proportionally larger, as opposed to the localized sphere of influence evidenced by the earlier tribal societies.

So the new religion’s aspired outcome influenced the local populations by the scale of the perceived goal. Why would you work for the benefit of a localized deity, for whom the sphere of influence was proportional to the area, when you could work for a deity whose influence was said to permeate the whole of the earth and the rewards would therefore be proportionally greater?

And so we witness the influence of a materialistic goal oriented reward system upon a general population. To some, this still represents a preferable route, giving direction to the actions of the many, with a perceived benefit to the majority choosing to live their lives through the teachings and directions of the framework of the controlling religion.

However, if we accept the premise suggested in the previous section about the effects of interactions upon the landscape and the possibility of these interactions actually taking on some form of physicality, one reaches the inescapable conclusion that interactions made in the locality of sites important to the controlling religion must also have contributed some layers to that same locality. It must represent some part of the signature of the environment.

In some areas, such as designated buildings of worship, it may represent the majority of that localities signature. In others it may have no, or minimal, influence. The positioning of some of those buildings, directly upon the sites of earlier generation’s places of reverence, suggest a directed intention to alter the focus of these localized areas to the benefit of the emerging controlling religion. So, although the assertions were that there was but one controlling deity, the actions suggest implied recognition of the influence of other external entities.

Explicit wording forbidding interaction with other deities / idols etc made in the writings of other religions, back up the implied recognition. The only question remaining would appear to be whether the individual accepts the existence of external, as yet unquantified, independent entities. To a large extent, this is probably dependent upon the subjective experiences of the individual at this moment in time.

If one does accept the potential existence of these external entities, through direct or indirect experiences, how could the nature of that relationship be structured?

In earlier times under the influence of the monotheistic religions, the emphasis was based upon theological or divinatory interpretation. To a large extent, the majority of the followers were expected to follow the decrees of those in a position of authority. This was not different from the earlier generations and earlier religions as such, but the difference now was that the actions of the individual were structured more rigorously in larger numbers reflecting the larger aspirations of the religion.

One major difference however, was the size of the sphere of influence accredited to the mainly, localized deities of the earlier generations. This perceived localized sphere placed those same deities more on an equal footing with the inhabitants of the time, in terms of influence and qualities. The new religion’s deity was placed exclusively in a supernatural or other world context, outside of the local environment and therefore out of reach for the majority and as such, reflected the global aspirations of the new religion.

One may reasonably suspect that the nature of that earlier relationship was more of one that acknowledged the different qualities of any one deity without necessarily accrediting them with major supernatural qualities. For the newer religions, it was important that the goal on offer was proportionally larger, because of the accreditation of the one deity having control over all creation would place that deity in a position to grant reward on a larger scale than previously available.

Whereas it is not my intention to suggest that relationship with the land through the framework of Christianity or any other monotheistic religion cannot be achieved, it is my contention that the adoption of a polytheistic approach in the context of a Brythonic frame of reference, favouring a more localized connection, would be in keeping with the aspirations of the individual to explore relationship with the British landscape through a framework that may represent a form recognizable to previous generations.

With the advent of the culture of the individual in recent times, many now reject the “authority” of the major religions, preferring instead to cultivate a relationship in context more in keeping with modern structures of living. More people are now accepting the responsibility of creating their own frames of reference to use to cultivate their understanding of the realm of spirit.

For some, this is represented by a solitary path, which best provides them with the majority of their spiritual needs and also provides for them the method by which to experience the divine nature of existence.

For others however, the relationship may be enhanced by a joining of like minded individuals whose experiences may be similar, with enough common terms of reference to advance and enhance their continuing developing understanding of their shared terms of reference.

What has changed though, is the moving away from a subservient style of interaction, to one that requires more of an equal or even proactive basis from both parties. This implies recognition from spirit that the nature of the interaction is changing, or maybe humanity is creating a change in consciousness which is resulting in a change of context in the nature and method of these interactions.

One further impact is represented by the means of communication available through the medium of modern technology that now gives individuals access to a wider section of the global society with which to share perspectives. Earlier generations were more restricted by the physical limitations of their locality and the opportunity of discovering different perspectives was restricted by this physicality. The technological age has provided the means by which to explore shared terms of reference between people who may not share a common physical location.

Why then, could polytheism be seen as a preferable means by which to explore their potential spirituality? Well, personal experiences may demonstrate to them that the communication they experience as a result of their interactions with deity and / or landscape, emanates from more than one source. Of course, this is purely subjective at this time and relies upon the individual’s reasoning to qualify this position. But, if it is demonstrated to work, and the modern approach would place emphasis upon the analysis of results, it would then seem logical to adopt this framework.

It would also appear to be logical to suggest that by rigorously sourcing as much current information as is available at this time, backed up by the modern scientific areas of expertise that can give guidance to the probable accuracy of that information, we can strive to construct a working model in a modern context. This approach in following all available sources may help create a framework that would have it’s foundations built upon credible evidence, thus helping to construct a form that may be recognizable to earlier generations, enabling us to pay them proper respect and affording them the opportunity to further interact with us.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in Brythonic

 

Relationship with the Land

What follows is part of a series that I have done broadly entitled Personal Brythonic Relationships. This series is around 4000 words so i have decided to post these in sections. I have posted earlier versions of these elsewhere, but this is the final version . It is always difficult to try to describe something so personally subjective as connection and relationship and earlier attempts to post this have not resulted in much discussions, I suspect the reason being my useage of both subjective, historical and scientific perspectives creating a perspective difficult to comprehend in it’s entireity. However, I post here and invite comments from interested parties.

Relationship with the Land.

One of the main thrusts of mainstream religions is the potential for the redemption of the individual through the adoption of the teachings of the (usually) divines representative(s). Some of these teachings could be viewed as profound for their ability to transcend time with a universal truth and as such are valid as metaphor for various experiences. However, the adoption of these religions by the individual may involve a (sometimes) unconscious admission of previous inherent fault by that individual, with the teachings leading that same individual to a reward system qualified by subsequent actions that determine the quality of the reward.

Some of the great thinkers in the field of spirituality, and indeed some of those same appointed prophets from those very religions, convey the concept that the accumulation of materials is illusionary, and that part of humanities real goal is to achieve a form of connection with the spiritual aspect of life that needs no physical limitations for interaction. For example Jesus is quoted as saying his kingdom was of a spiritual nature and not a material one, the inference being that materialistic gains were illusionary and of secondary importance.

These mainstream religions offer differing frameworks by which to experience the spiritual aspect of life, but it is usual for the individual to have to make cultural and behavioural changes to initiate this aspect.

It would initially appear therefore, that the premise imposes upon the individual some implied admission of intentional / unintentional fault qualified by the previous methods and processes of living, and it therefore gains a psychological advantage rendering the relationship unequal at the outset. To achieve the desired outcome, the individual has to first admit to the implied fault, thus handing personal power over to the religion’s representative in the understanding that the other party has the tools, through the teachings of the nominated religion, to change the faulty perceptions, actions and thoughts of the individual, leading to redemption in the form of the reward used as the goal.

Whilst this approach may lead to a system favoured by many, increasingly many others are now looking for a different approach based upon a more equal relationship between spiritual and physical realms.

Living conditions for earlier generations meant that they were more exposed to the whims of nature for their existence. Weather patterns could, for example, lead to the deaths of civilizations through floods, famines etc.

Therefore, relationship with deity would have been of a more directly “intense” nature with the reality that your life could be ended on the altar dedicated to a particular deity / deities if it was considered, through a form of divination, to be appropriate for appeasement. We have many examples of this throughout the world including, of course, the British Isles.

This type of interaction was largely based upon the physicality of the times. Natural weather conditions, because they were not subject to human whims, were placed in the realms of the Gods. Therefore those same Gods had to be placated to insure favourable living and growing conditions.

Throughout written history, the individual is furnished with the locations of various sites that were the setting for specific acts. Some locations have acquired this status through subsequent archaeological finds, usually, though not exclusively, more so if that archaeology backed up the “historical” data on offer.

These sacred sites around the world have long been said to possess an “atmosphere”. Of course, this may not represent anything apart from the pre-conceived expectation of the individual, a psychological predetermination of what may be present. However, it is being increasingly speculated, through some current scientific approaches, that a framework may exist that furnishes a hypothesis that suggests that previous interactions made at a site may have left some residual traces of (emotional) interactions, not currently quantifiable, but no less possible.

One possible useful analogy to use here, would be in the formation, transmission and storage of information. This has it’s origins, it’s method of transmission and it’s destination. The origin could be represented by human or non human interactions. The method of transmission would be through the biological or psychological processes of the originator (if known) and the result would be present in the environment at it’s destination but changed by the interactions (processes). The action of transmission into the environment may leave that information present in that same environment but not necessarily perceptible or quantifiable without the correct “equipment”. Therefore, there may a multitude of physical information left in the environment and that information may be present for an indeterminate amount of time, accessible only by the right “equipment”. Norbert Weiner and Claude Shannon, primarily in the late 1940’s, set out the position that all information has a physical reality and from this came the actualization of the computer, the “right equipment” borne from this physical reality.

Using the computer to refine our analogy, we may consider the environment as the hard-drive, the medium used to store the information in a physical form. The human or non human processes may represent the operating system, used to both deposit and retrieve information into or from the environmental hard drive and the original interactions represent the input creating the “raw” information.

Sacred sites could, therefore, be candidates for greater concentrations of these interactions, resulting in an environment that may contain a multitude of different layers of interactions. These layers may be both positive and negative in nature and the balance could affect the perception of the individual experiencing the physicality of the environment.

If we accept this premise, then the subjective senses of the individual may be receptive to some areas and its interactions and not others. The biology of the individual may determine how the experiences are perceived, and a certain combination of interactions and / or biological processes could be responsible for how a person interacts with the physicality of their environment.

Logically, following on from this, the description of what represents a sacred environment may be open to a more subjective interpretation, as opposed to it being based primarily upon a historical context. A certain combination of these interactions, coupled with the “tuning” of the individual’s biological and mental processes, sometimes achieved through training from different various sources, could result in what may be described as a sympathetic resonance with the environment. This could give some limited explanation as to the basis of one aspect of an individuals potential spiritual relationship with the landscape.

For those of us who believe that their relationship with the British Isles maybe experienced somewhat differently to some other cultures from other areas of the world, this may give us some clues as to why. The environment of the British Isles and the history of inter-tribal hostilities, attested through, for example, the coinage finds made, represent a large period of prehistory through to early mediaeval times, indicating changing and shifting populations. Even in the relatively “stable” years of Christianity, feuding and hostilities continued with greater numbers of people constantly engaged in warfare, thus adding the potential for more interactions to be layered into the environment.

This doesn’t lead us to assume there were greater numbers of people around to create these interactions, but the enclosed nature of island living and smaller land mass, give us an idea as to the potential volume of these emotional interactions.

Earlier British generations considered places where the elements of Earth, Water and Air met to be special places where one could potentially experience connection with deity. The geology of the British Isles lends itself to provide an abundance of such places which meet the aforementioned criteria.

For areas of the world with a long history of stable inhabitation by native populations, we observe very specific and powerful rituals. Ceremonies and interactions based upon many lifetimes of nurturing from both sides use many elements from their local environment as a common denominator by which a means of exchange can be arrived at.

From a British point of view, our history is one that has seen many changes of populations, both genetically and culturally. This has led to a mixing of spiritual belief systems, contributing to the layers previously discussed, each distinct in it’s effects and yet contributing to the bigger picture of the environmental landscape.

Thus we have the potential available that is not dependent upon a single or relatively small number of sources for a “perceived complete answer”, but a vast database, the land, with which to use to create one’s own spiritual framework. It is my contention that to develop a relationship with the land, a nurturing process be built around rituals and ceremonies (personal or otherwise) specific to that landscape. It is possible that because of the volume of interactions created through the myriad of different belief systems throughout the history of the British Isles, there lies the potential for these to be experienced in many forms.

The amount of potential information also available through the current technological advances mean that we should, through a reasoned, logical and methodical approach, be in a position to better structure these into a form appropriate for our intentions.

If the individual has now rejected a goal orientated reward system that promises gain through servitude, then relationship with the land may offer that same individual an experience that is not dependent upon the outcome but is based more around the experience.

Relationship with the land offers the opportunity to experience interaction without the expectation of material gain as a consequence and may, in fact, offer the individual the opportunity to contribute some of their own influence / experiences into the layers of their locality. This, I would suggest, may provide a route which could represent the opportunity to widen one’s own experiences of living and also experience the act of connection in a structured subjective level based through a local environmental context.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2010 in Brythonic