The Arrow of Longing


From my book, Shamanic Druidry:


"I am about twenty-four or twenty-five and had already been looking for a job in the church for about a year, but cannot find it. I am a guest of the Franciscans in a neo-Gothic style priory hidden in the misty hills of North Wales. I don’t know exactly what I'm looking for, but soon feel I'm at the wrong address. One evening while sitting with other potential candidates in the chapel and feeling at the end of my rope, I mumble, "I don’t know… I give up." Many years later a meditation teacher was to say, “Stop hunting and it comes to you". Well, that’s what happened then: "It came to me." In that instant, something suddenly pierced my heart right through. Was I 'touched by God', as it is sometimes described in books on mysticism? Was the splinter of light, the arrow that flew towards me out of the monstrance on the altar the living flame of Love? I don’t know. But from that moment on, I knew myself wounded with an exquisite longing, and this inner wound became the compass on a path that I would never have chosen for myself."


I refer to the link between Cernunnos or Herne the Hunter's other associated names, notably Hesus (Jesus) on the page called the Merlin. This Celtic connection has helped me re-embrace the incident described above and many subsequent years of devotion as a monk, something I had put to one side after leaving the monastery and then Christianity in general. Love is indeed a hunter, and goes around looking for an open and willing heart to 'kill'. 



Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom ― quotes from John O'Donohue


“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”


“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.”


“All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities. When love comes in to your life, unrecognized dimensions of your destiny awaken and blossom and grow. Possibility is the secret heart of time.”


“The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Night-time is womb- time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.”


“The Celtic mind was not burdened by dualism. It did not separate what belongs together”


“All through your life your soul takes care of you...your soul is alive and awakened, gathering, sheltering and guiding your ways and days in the world. In effect, your soul is your secret shelter.”


“The heart of the matter: You should never belong fully to something that is outside yourself. It is very important to find a balance in your belonging. You should never belong totally to any cause or system. People frequently need to belong to an external system because they are afraid to belong to their own lives. If your soul is awakened, then you realize that this is the house of your real belonging. Your longing is safe there.”