The Rule of Awen
One of the central concepts of the contemporary Druid movement is “Awen,” the spirit of inspiration. Each soul has its own unique Awen — its own purpose in existence, which differs from that of every other soul — and the unique challenge of human existence is to come to know, understand, and fulfill this unique purpose. Thus, the rule of life that the clergy of the Gnostic Celtic Church are asked to embrace may be defined simply by these words: find and follow your own Awen.
Taken as seriously as it should be, this is as demanding a rule as the strictest of traditional monastic vows. Following it requires close attention to the highest and deepest dimensions of the inner life, and a willingness to ignore all the pressures of the ego and the world when those come into conflict, as they will, with the ripening personal knowledge of the path that Awen reveals.
It also requires a willingness to renounce any conviction that having some particular set of beliefs makes one better, wiser, more honest, more realistic, more sophisticated, or more of some other praiseworthy quality than those who have different beliefs. Each person’s Awen is unique. A method for understanding the cosmos and the spiritual powers that shape it that is perfectly appropriate for one person, may be hopelessly misguided and misguiding for others. Thus, a respect for individual differences in belief and practice is mandated by the Rule of Awen.
Receiving holy orders in the GCC is not a conferral of authority over others in matters of faith and morals, or in any other context, but an acceptance of responsibility for oneself and one’s own life and work. The clergy of the GCC are encouraged to teach by example, and to offer advice and instruction in spiritual and other matters to those who may request such services, but it is not their duty to tell other people how to live their lives.
If, upon reflection, a candidate for holy orders comes to believe that it is essential to his or her Awen to claim religious or moral authority over others as part of the priestly role he or she seeks, he or she will be asked to seek ordination from some other source, or to leave the GCC and pursue another path.
The Hermitage of the Heart
A way of life as individual as that defined by the Rule of Awen must resemble that of the independent hermit. There is the same sense of standing apart from the outer world, the same embrace of a freely chosen discipline, the same need for a place of solitude. That said, the traditional solitude of the hermit is neither easy to attain in today’s crowded world nor appropriate for the needs–and the Awen–of many people otherwise well suited to the work of the GCC. So, in place of the outward trappings of the hermit’s life, the GCC proposes an inner orientation: the Hermitage of the Heart.
The practice of the Hermitage of the Heart embraces the whole of life; it calls on the priest or priestess to maintain the inner clarity and the spiritual orientation of a hermit in a hermitage all through his or her daily acts. The specific practices that are recommended to the priestesses and priests of the Gnostic Celtic Church include:
- the maintenance of a home altar, morning prayer, and evening lection, to enrich and orient the inner life;
- the Communion ritual to provide the central practice around which the rest of the inner Hermitage is built;
- the solitary Grove ritual to provide symbolic structure to that Hermitage;
- and the Sphere of Protection ritual to define and maintain the boundaries of the Hermitage against the pressures of a far from supportive world.
Those who feel called to explore or embrace these possibilities are welcome to apply for acceptance as novitiates according to the forms and requirements outlined on our Ordination Requirements page.