Judgment through discernment
Within our traditions and culture � it is the most experienced and educated who sit to hear the facts and judge the truth of a situation; much training and examination is expected to perform this role.
However, we all make judgements every day. Within our daily lives, we are treated to many streams of information; verbal and personal interaction, broadcast and recorded visual and audio media as well as the world wide web and its many formats. We react, analyse and make enquiries into facts and information, discerning and making sense and truth from the multitude of inputs.
A friend of mine was called upon to perform her Duty as a juror not so long ago. Not having had the responsibility myself, I enquired as to what she made of the experience. Without revealing any
details, she made the point that witnesses reported incidents with differences; sometimes wide ranging. This reveals a curious situation: who is telling the truth? In a scenario where unconnected bystanders bear witness to an event, and each one reports differing facts, they are all telling their truth. Their truth forms as a result of their experience. Each of us differs, each of us sees the world through our own lens. If we look for darkness we will find it � often in our own shadow. If we look for light we will find it, shining down and illuminating our path. Yet one cannot exist without the other.
Each moment of our lives is influenced by our previous experience and knowledge. Each moment is lensed through our preferences and often we look back at moments and apply analysis, discerning and delving into detail for conclusion. It perhaps comes at little surprise that each person will relate any given moment with subtle and sometime wider differences.
Within the supermarket of news and information feeds that we can access, it seems that discernment and judgement are ever more important skills to develop, practice and expand. Many people say many things, and in our modern world, sometimes it seems as though the information comes at us � with one-directional information, how can we always judge the trustworthiness or accuracy of someone or something? Face to face communication often offers us more indicators and opportunities to inform our experience which in turn plays a useful part in helping us make judgements.
Judgement through language
That said, we are familiar with gossip culture and those that manipulate information with an agenda. Many of us will and can probably remember an incident where we feel that others or ourselves have suffered inaccuracy or even malice.
As the practices of psychologists is understood and disseminated through the population, we can also find situations where techniques such as NLP (neuro linguistic programming) might
condition us to react or act in ways predetermined by the speaker. Within the economically competitive world, some will use all techniques available. Truth of experience can sometimes be hard to find, and often truth seems more and more hidden.
Internally, and out loud, we use language to describe and relate our experiences. And to find truth, we must try to retain accuracy and detail. Within the English speaking communities (and other
languages, I am told) many speakers make use of the verb 'to be' - the 'is' of identity. Using this verb construct can lead to a loss of detail and maybe truth. If we say �the plant is green� � do we
mean that a complex living organism is a colour? Obviously not. And we might not baulk at this shortcut to description.
When we use the verb �to be� we increase our risk of inaccuracy. I feel we can live without this verb after some practice. The consequences may seem a little stale at first: instead of the
observation that �the leaf is green� we may attempt to qualify our interpretation of what we see as our observation along the lines of: �the leaf seems green to me�. But when we look a little closer
at our reasons the colour of the leaf draws our attention, we reveal our interaction with it: the colour of the leaf reminds me of something, or it makes me feel a certain way.
The scientific language structure called E-prime gives us one strategy to attempt to rid our voice of this verb form. Using E- prime we might say: �the plants cells reflect the green wavelength
of light.� While accurate, the language seems unappealing. We might say that the plant reflects a vibrant and lush green colour. This statement retains the information, but creates a more
evocative image in the mind�s eye. We have the possibility of gaining a richer understanding of
ourselves, and our environments through employing more accurate language without the verb �to be�.
My very basic examples serve to highlight the loss of detail that can occur by using the infinitive �to be�. If we say that something is something else � then we imply that one thing has become another. This has a transformative impact and speaks of a strong metaphorical process. �I am cold� can seem to imply that I have become Cold � that is some powerful magic: invocation of
temperature no less! �I feel the cold� could serve as more accurate and truthful statement. In the first instance � our sense of self has changed. In the second we are reporting our experience.
I highlight this verb form as one example of how our language can lack resolution and perhaps lead to less truth, or at least obfuscate truth. In the context of the everyday bard, we can improve our linguistic accuracy in small ways and reveal our truth.
Judgement through experience
As we progress through life, we accumulate years of experience. Our elders provide us with their insights and wisdom. They have seen many summers and have experienced many successes at their endeavours, as well as overcome and rebounded from failures. Age certainly brings wisdom. But age alone need not inform wisdom (although it certainly plays a large role): instead experience brings wisdom. Naturally, the more summers we have seen, then the more experience we have gained.
However, it seems that what we do with our experience makes the difference. Carefully trodden paths make easier following. Those of us that step out on the overgrown paths must find our way by trial and error. Sometimes we may meander down a sidetrack, run parallel to or divert from our way. Sometimes we find a seemingly completely new route � after all landscapes change and develop, as do we.
Within our personal and group development we must seek and speak the truth as we find it. And as we have seen, language can play a large role. As we go about our work, we must build the truth, for the truth can stand against the world.
In the Tale of the Ordeals And the Decision on Cuchulain's Sword, Cormac gains a cup that Mananan promised him. The bearer tells Cormac �Let three words of falsehood be spoken under it, and it will break into three: Then let three true declarations be under it, and it unites again as it was before.'
This tale, which may form an early grail legend, demonstrates the power of the Truth. For truth spoken can set the cup whole again bringing balance and justice. Each inaccuracy and falsehood met with truth.
In our mundane lives, we must develop our experience naturally and with truth. As children we play and experiment, learning the necessary lessons as we go; and so too with our spirit and magic.
We must experiment and test: we cannot discern our way forward unless we experience its opposite or shadow. Our experiences are filled with mistakes and misadventure. We can all get it wrong, or wander off on the wrong track. Sometimes we must struggle through life�s tests � only to emerge stronger and sharper, to shake off the mistakes and press ahead. But within those wanderings we must stay vigilant, true to our experience and maintain our honour.
In his book, 'Advanced Magick for Beginners' Alan Chapman describes magic as �the art, science and culture of experiencing truth�. I like this description because it resonates with my own
understanding and work. With respect to the author, we can also discover Truth as the result of practicing the art, science and culture of Magic.
For it is in our practices that we gain experience � experience in skills and trades, as well as interaction and friendship. In our pursuit of druidry � as we learn to Love Life, Honour the Gods, Do no Evil, Practice Bravery and Seek Wisdom, we find our own wisdom.
Our language serves us internally and externally in our ritual, in honour of the gods and the ancestors, in help and healing of others and ourselves. We use language to invoke, to evoke, to enchant, to illuminate and to divine. Thus we find Truth in Magic and Magic in Truth.
Math Drui Dalta Samhain 09