Wyrds of Wisdom

For as long as humanity has walked the earth, there have been stories. Stories ground us when the sky is storming and it seems like if we put one foot out of line, we’ll be the next place that lightning strikes. Stories lift us up when it feels like we’re alone, by reminding us that whatever we’ve been through, someone else has lived to tell the tale of it. Stories illuminate the darkness and put a loudspeaker to the mouth of culture and without stories, I can’t imagine where we would be as a people. And so for many people, storytelling is as much an act of faith as it is a way of life.

In this Root and Stem, Lee and Ada talk about the role that writing has in our lives, as well as how that ties into our religious and polytheistic beliefs.

Lee: I think the most obvious place to begin is with the ‘religious’ writing that we both have in common: awen. 

Ada: [chants AWEN in a booming voice] 

Lee: AWEN. AWEN. AWEN. Ahem. In all seriousness though, what does ‘awen’ mean to you? I know it’s something I was ‘tapped into’ before I joined OBOD; I just didn’t have a word for it.

Ada: As a Druid and someone who recently found out that I’ve been working pretty intensely with Dionysus for years without realizing it--god of masks, indeed!--awen is central to my spiritual life. To me, it’s creative inspiration. It’s an ecstatic thing. It’s the thing the Romantic poets waited around for. I always think of that scene in the movie Bright Star where Keats is lying on top of a tree staring at the sky. 

Lee: You’re lucky. My inspiration is more like Newton and his apple. No calm lying under the stars for me; just a piece of fruit to the face when I’m minding my own business...

Ada: That’s the problem with working with Odin. “Lie around waiting for inspiration” never seems to be part of his agenda.

But, seriously, though, I don’t really lie around waiting, either. In my spiritual practice, awen feels like it’s always there. I step outside, and it’s like I step through the veil. But with writing, the process usually feels a lot more mechanical. There are exceptions. When I write poetry, I definitely feel like I’ve tapped into the awen, but nonfiction? Even religious writing? Forget it. I feel like a musician playing arpeggios. 

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