Once I was a man with a beard that was grizzled and gray, and grew so long that it touched my chest. I was a tall man but moved around with an unexpected grace and softness.
I was a carver by choice, not of trade, in which I would create animals from wood or clay taking upwards of six months to complete a single one. By taking the proper amount of time to connect with my subject, I learned how to become them, thereby being granted the honor of using their medicine and shapeshifting into their power.
I asked this former version of myself what advice he had to help me and my people now. Wordlessly, he grabbed a leather satchel from a nearby table and cast its contents upon a dirt floor, sending a dozen small animal bones sprawling across it.
"This is the problem of your people," he said, pointing to the chaos of their layout. "The world is conflict and your bones are scattered. Outward conflict will always happen in your life until the inward conflict is quieted."
He reached for a long staff propped up against the wooden stool on which he sat, and used its tip separate the vertebrae from the rest. Placing one above the other, he recreated a spine.
"How are you standing?" he asked me, "and what are you standing for? Your spine is a physical reflection of your soul. Each vertebrae represents a core principal in your being, a memory of absolute truth you have gathered from every life you have ever lived.
"If we were to look at your spine, really look at it with a clear mind, what pieces would be cracked or broken? Are the discs in which support them healthy? Or are they empty and eroded?
"Are some of your vertebrae out of alignment with others? Are the vertebrae even yours? Are you supporting your own self and souls path, or have just decided that another's will and way is better? If you question that, imagine what were to happen if that person decided to take that support away? Would you remain standing strong, or would you crumble when they took their strength away?
"Do you choose to be a reflection of honor to your truth, standing with substance? Be aware of the entrapment that comes with counting on nothing other than the days as they pass by you, lest you move through your precious gift of life as nothing more than aempty bag of bones."
This Druid watched me closely as I him. Both of us staring at our own reflection in what was, and is. I left him with a nod and my thanks, trying to stand a little taller than when I entered the journey, trying to decide how I was going to begin the arduous task of counting my bones.