Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Warrior Shrine

Many ADF Druids participated in the recent Shrine a Day Challenge facilitated by Rev. Jan Avende. While I did not create a shrine every day, I did participate. I intend to post a gallery of the altars and shrines I submitted, but for now, I want to share one I forgot to upload previously. I’m not sure why I failed to add it to the official #shrineaday album, but here it is now. It’s not very fancy. I actually made it on my bedroom windowsill which has a dark curtain, so it’s a bit difficult to see.

I present my warrior shrine!  It’s actually very significant to me because, for the first time, I actually feel that I’m tapping into warrior energy.  Sometime last year, I started to think about what it would be like to take a martial arts class.  If you’re a longtime reader or friend, you know that I’m very interested in anime.  Some of my favorites involve martial arts, and I even started to cosplay a beloved ninja character last year.  I really admire the character.  In the process of transforming into her physically, I started to think about her personality and how she worked hard to transform herself into someone courageous and able to protect her loved ones.  I realized that I no longer wanted to feel weak and vulnerable myself.

This year I decided to stop wondering what it would be like, and I actually signed up for a martial arts class – Muay Thai kickboxing.

A year ago, if someone had told me I was going to enroll myself in a class full of punching and kicking, I would have laughed at that person.  Now here I am, learning how to block, how to do a roundhouse kick, and conditioning my body to some of the most intense physical activity I’ve ever experienced.  Some days, I don’t want to go to class, but I always feel amazing after.  As Imagine Dragons sing in their song, “‘Cause I love the adrenaline in my veins.”  It’s truly addictive, and I grow in confidence with myself each class.

I try to go into each session with an awareness and gratitude to my body, the Earth, and An Morrighan.  I strive to listen to my body and its needs.  I touch the ground and thank the Earth Mother for supporting me before we warm up.  When I feel my body starting to slow down, I imagine An Morrighan, her wings spread as she flies into battle.  Suddenly, I feel lighter, I feel stronger.

On my shrine, you’ll see a wooden dagger my dad made me when I was younger.  I used to read “Redwall” books, and was always inspired by the Redwall warrior.  The dagger was made in that spirit.  The cards represent An Morrighan, but also qualities of the warrior – an eagle for courage, and a boar for the fighting spirit.  I also included my fighting gloves and focus mitts (the later blend into the curtains).  I built this shrine, meditated on An Morrighan, and blessed them.  It was a meaningful experience, and it has encouraged me to go on.

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I’m on a mission.  My goal is to get in shape.  I’ve never been very athletic.  My favorite forms of exercise are kayaking and dancing but, unfortunately, I don’t do either of them nearly enough.  I love to take nature walks as well but running through the forest near my home is not safe.  My heart hardly gets a good workout; I consider that more exercise for the soul.  Now, I already have a pretty healthy diet.  I’m a strict vegetarian and I’m very careful about making balanced meals.  Sometimes I slip.  We have a “lazy vegetarian” night once a week which usually results in Quorn “chicken” patties.  We sometimes have french fries if we go out to eat and there aren’t any better sides.  I have an occasional soda (although it’s usually of the sort you’d find at the health food store…  But sugar is sugar…).  While my diet is pretty good, the lack of consistent exercise has resulted in my being out of shape.  I realize that, as I age, my metabolism is slowing.  I need to do more.  How can I motivate myself to exercise?

Probably the way I motivate myself to do most things – I start to associate it with my spiritual path.  Druidism is not just something I do eight times a year – it’s how I live my life.  Thus if I start to see exercise as an extension of my path, I will be more inclined to embrace it and exert a certain amount of discipline.  I must approach exercise as a ritual.

I’m not sure if the Druids of old had any sort of exercise program, but they came from an agricultural and warrior society.  The stories are full of labor, battle, and strength.  As with probably all pre-industrial cultures, exercise wasn’t usually something you had to plan out – it just happened!  All the same, Druids were known for being the intellectuals.  There’s some evidence of them going to battle, but did they labor?  Did they practice warrior skills regularly?  Who knows…  But I recently read Brain Rules by molecular biologist John Medina.  A whole chapter is dedicated to the importance of exercise and the impact it has on our brains. There’s research that shows exercise actually improves our memories and problem solving skills.  Knowing that the ancient Druids had to memorize lengthy histories and mythologies, it seems modern Druids like myself, who are so used to dog-earing books and relying on Google searches, could benefit from the mental boost of exercise.

The modern Druidic virtues don’t specifically say anything about health, but it’s arguably part of moderation.  The demands of grad school in addition to all other facets of my life meant that it was really easy for me to make excuses.  As a result, I became a bit of a couch potato!  My lazing about has far outweighed my scant efforts at exercise!  Where’s the balance there?  The Thirteen Goals of the Witch, while not something everyone follows, is more explicit: “Exercise the body.”  Those who adhere to these goals argue that the body is sacred to the God and Goddess.  To exercise is to honor their gift and them.  Although Celtic mythology isn’t very specific about where we, let alone our bodies, came from, considering myself as a priestess to specific deities means I should be as healthy as possible to continue to honor them and aid my tribe.  I want to live a long, healthy life!  I want to be that crone with long white/grey hair who still takes nature walks and dances around the fire.  I want a sharp brain that is still learning, and I want nimble fingers to sew and spin with.  I have to take care of myself now to get there.

With all this in mind, I hope you will indulge me as I occasionally share updates in my efforts to exercise and improve my health.  Starting today, my husband and I began the Couch to 5K running program.  Most of my blog entries will therefore revolve around running.  Some subjects I plan to tackle will be natural cures for runner’s rash, herbal drinks to boost energy or restock electrolytes, runners’ high, running as meditation, prayers before running, a “healthy me” altar,  and even mythology featuring running or other forms of exercise.  I also hope to have some interviews or guest blogs by other Druids or Pagans who exercise and feel it’s a part of their path.   I will try to keep them on the shorter side because this isn’t meant to be a fitness blog.  Everything will be from a Druidic or general Pagan standpoint.  So next Thursday, look for another Druid on the Run!

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I’ve been feeling under the weather for a few days now.  I hate when that happens.  Everything goes on hold.  Trance is difficult because I can’t breathe properly and thus I get out of practice.  Devotionals are shorter.  I want to do some exercise – yoga, pilates, belly dance, something – but my body is so not into it.  Normally it wouldn’t bother me.  Our bodies need to rest during such periods and I should not be guilty feeling.  Slightly annoyed, sure, but not guilty.  This time, I’m feeling ill right after the New Year.  I have goals and ambitions!  I need to work on things and here I am coughing and sniffling.

I’m trying to be positive.  After all, this is just one of those hurdles I talked about yesterday.  There are lessons in this.  I can use this time to really develop my tea and neti pot rituals.  I could crochet or sew something quietly…

Oh, another positive!  I sat in bed this morning and finished Tolkien’s The Two Towers finally.  I don’t have the third book yet, so I suppose I can spend more time reading about fly agaric and Celtic reconstructionism…  Ok.  Yes.  I’m being productive and that is good.

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