When we say we are spiritually isolated, different meanings emerge such as being unable to worship and pray together, or not having a spiritual relationship with the sacred presence, or fearing death, or ritual isolation. There are two books I have found helpful in understanding this: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and The Celtic Book of Dying, Watching, Travelling with the Dead.
As I wrote this blog, I deeply considered my own spiritual practice. Even though the interfaith movement shares in the worship and ritual of other religions, individuals fundamentally align themselves to their own sacred practices. Having partaken in other forms of worship, I follow The Way of Knowledge and also remain true to the Western Celtic Traditions, honouring the movement of nature’s cycles and the interrelatedness of all life. Both have been largely forgotten and misinterpreted through the centuries.
The Celtic traditions usually labeled Pagan and Wiccan blur druidism among them. However, there is a distinction between Paganism and Druidism. Riley Winters provides a brief insight into the origins of paganism in his article “The true meaning of Paganism.” Jean Markale, a controversial former specialist on Celtic Studies at the Sorbonne, explains in his work The Druids: Celtic Priests of Nature what I see as the key nature of Druidism: “Before Christianization, Celtic was also a philosophical, judicial, metaphysical, and religious system common to all Celts, without exception. It is this system that today we call ‘druidism’.”
I should point out that it took 20 years of training for anyone to become a Druid, and druids were known as men of learning who held Knowledge. As nature faces destruction, ancient wisdom can help us face natural pandemics, climate change, and the fear of death. The pre-Christian religions, Indigenous, Druidic, and Stone Age rituals of 9000 years ago held a different view of death and the afterlife, as did the Egyptians. They honoured the light, dark and transition of worlds with sacred festivals. These usually coincided with cycles of nature such as, the astronomical events of the Equinoxes and Solstices, which affect the seasons. The Druids flowed with the lunar cycles, so the beginning of winter is October 31st – November 5th where we enter the long dark nights. The festival of Samhain is the Celtic New Years Eve where the souls of ancestors between the physical and spiritual worlds are honoured. The beginning of summer is Beltane celebrated as a fire festival when the sun fully returns. You can read more from me on these festivals here. Interestingly the ancient Hindu religion holds the five-day Festival of Lights called Diwali at the same time as Samhain. Both festivals celebrate darkness and light from different perspectives. All Religious festivals are listed here: Interfaith.org and Celtic worldwide here: List of Celtic Festivals worldwide.
Rituals and festivals throughout most religions honour the light and dark, usually through the representation of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Often there is a common theme of light – the lighting of a candle, lamp or flame to represent eternal light to dispel the darkness. Yet true spiritual isolation requires the darkness to exist as a friend in order to help a person to return to the individual relationship with the sacred presence within. Like many others, I light a candle for a loved one to celebrate life or honour death, for reflection, for the world and I may burn incense when honouring the seasons. Samhain and the Winter Solstice are times for going into the depths of the soul to listen to what has gone and what must germinate into the light of spring. This means I move with the cycles of life and death in a greater cosmology and do not feel spiritual isolation in the dark. I experience relationship with the sacred presence in everything. My daily practice in stillness with the sacred teachings of The Steps to Knowledge strengthens my individual spiritual relationship with all of life, here and beyond earth. I don’t consider it a ritual, but a way of being where simply I practise alone; I do not feel alone or fear death but feel loved and supported because I am in relationship communicating with all who practise with me, seen and unseen.
The pandemic has highlighted how poorly most religious teachings have prepared people for spiritual isolation and death. Remember Christ alone in the wilderness coming to terms with his spirituality with God? We all become stronger when we strengthen the sacred presence within us. People are dying every day from Covid and many more illnesses gaining little attention. I cared for my mother dying of lung cancer, dealt with a grandmother suffering from 17 strokes, sat with my grandfather in his final hours and witnessed my father’s suffering from crippling rheumatoid arthritis, yet at their time of passing I was not with any of them. Many families are currently in similar situations. Upon receiving her cancer diagnosis my mum said, “I have had a good life its ok.” She coped and died 4 months later. Covid has bred hysterical fear. We need compassion, love, and strength for the dying and bereaved; spiritual guidance for the dark times of the soul which we can gain through love in individual spiritual relationship with the sacred in our lives. This removes feelings of isolation.
Sentient beings are in a dynamic interplay with the energy of the cosmos and without an individual relationship with the sacred, we feel isolated, no matter our community religious rituals and traditions. Most religions teach solitude in order to “Know God or the Sacred Presence.” This is the solitude that focuses on the sacred relationship within, what we call Knowledge, God’s guiding light within us. Spiritual solitude can support us through these dark times and Deepak Chopra offers advice on meditation for coping during the corona virus here.
In the collective consciousness, where we are all affected by each other’s thoughts and emotions, fear spreads between us which fuels the feeling of isolation. Yet this same environment, when love and faith and strength are applied, creates fearlessness and togetherness. We are being pushed further and further towards technology as the answer to connecting with each other. This is the very opposite of how human beings love each other and feel connected. Machines with moving images do not carry the resonant energy of those we love to fully connect with. Having our loved ones or spiritual leaders connect through a digital voice and graphic image for a moment may feel nice but that moment is quickly gone. Just like the news or your last TV programme you watched. Before modern tech we used an analogue dial telephone or wrote a letter if we could not see someone, and our emotional communication was in the energy of the words and SPACES between the words, this is love on the paper and from the vibration of the voice. Our digitalised and social media consumed world has lost this. UCLA studied the affect of young people’s ability to read emotions with and without tech see here and The Harvard Divinity School has studied using tech and Buddhist techniques for Chaplaincy at a Distance in hospitals here.
There are some good things about technology, but it is dangerous to think it is our whole way forward as more and more censorship and data control is being levied, which will ultimately oppress our spirituality. Spiritual isolation will become increasingly real unless people learn to go within themselves again, reconnect with nature, and dig deep into the core of our worship practices to adapt rituals for igniting the essence of the individual sacred relationship within the greater whole. Then families and colleagues can feel loved and gain strength through the energy that comes from the sacred spiritual community of collective loving hearts and minds.
Thoughts to Ponder: Add your comments below!
1. What in your religion makes you feel isolated and how can you remedy this?
2. How can you include a relationship with the sacred presence for those you love which will strengthen your togetherness at a distance?
3. How can you create space in isolation at home for your sacred relationship within your busy family which can support your togetherness as one unit?
Hilary Canto is a Spiritual Teacher, Emissary of Knowledge, and a member of The World Congress of Faiths. She writes on spiritual topics. Initially a singer and musician, she later became one of the top 3 UK recruiters in the creative advertising, media, marketing and design industry, then went on to qualify, practise and teach Sound Healing culminating as a peer respected voice coach and spiritual teacher. ‘Knowledge’ and the power of ‘Divine Love’ stirred within and she became a Love Ambassador for The Love Foundation (TLF). Then discovering the New Message From God (NMG) with over 9000 sacred texts on Knowledge confirmed her inner experiences to become an active voice for ‘Knowledge’ buried within all religious teachings.