Thursday, May 8, 2008


An article from the New York Times titled Can You Become a Creature of New Habit addresses something that I think is very important in the practice of filidecht, and in spiritual practice generally. The article speaks of creating new habits as a method for cultivating and maintaining creativity, particularly as we get older, when our minds might begin to fall prey to Alzheimers and other diseases or problems that affect the memory.

In a quote from the article, author Dawna Markova states, "The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder." The mind of filidecht is about that fascination with wonder. It's a poetic need in the human soul, an identification with the ever-shifting, always miraculous kaleidoscope of the universe in its glory. 

Filidecht demands that we create habits of exploration. We explore language through poetry and meditation. We explore the world around us through wilderness vigil. We explore culture through song and storytelling and ritual. Imbas comes through openness and receptivity to change and it is cultivated through the development of new habits -- new rituals, new ways of thinking, new points of view based in the understandings of Gaelic language and culture. 

Daily ritual practices help open and set new patterns and new habits. Such things require both discipline and generosity to oneself. We're human and as we develop these new habits and patterns we'll inevitably muck things up from time to time. The key is, like riding a bicycle, to get back up and get back on when you've fallen off.

To many Pagans, discipline is a dirty word. Yet discipline is a part of magic. No one would expect a martial artist to develop perfection of form without discipline. A fili's poems take on beauty in shape and sound with the exercise of discipline. Staying at things, doing them again and again until a habit is grounded in the mind and body, is a necessary part of filidecht and of all deep spiritual practice. Habit is essential to creating ways of doing things that become effortless through knowledge and repetition.

When the basics of practice are felt in the body, the mind can be freed to explore new dimensions and new points of view, giving the fili a place to stand that can serve as the springboard for journeys of exploration within the Otherworlds or for doing serious work in this one. Ritual habits and knowledge of lore can be a buffer zone of safety when we encounter new things. They give us an understanding of the potential behavior and expectation of Otherworldly beings. They ensure that we'll do things properly even if we're distracted, because our bodies know what to do even if the mind is engaged elsewhere. The development of steady ritual habit and pattern in order to create freedom of action may sound paradoxical, yet even the freest improvisational jazz musician needs to know the basics of musical form and function. 

Cultivate new habits of ritual and beauty. Set yourself free.


  1. Such a wonderful post and message! I still struggle with daily routines and working them into my life, but like you said, the main point is that I haven't given up on it. I'm still sticking with it. Lovely post :)

  2. Thanks Chrissy. Discipline is good, but if you beat yourself up over it too much you tend to get discouraged and not do anything at all. We need to be balanced with our discipline and be gentle with ourselves.

  3. A wonderous sight, blog sight and vision you have. I am lucky to have found you. You inspire me - kind greetings to you, Tim McCabe, West Australia

  4. Thank you, Tim! Welcome to my madness!