Wisdom, like the Awen, is all around us and within us. It is the flow of knowledge we have learned from experience, and from the teachings of others, gained from every aspect of our life. It comes from our schooling, our personal choices and decisions, and from our experiences of others, our interaction with them, and how they react to our actions and our words.
Wisdom reflects the way we share such knowledge, not preaching our personal interpretation from a pulpit, but gently answering the questions of an enquiring mind. Perhaps giving a public talk on our beliefs and experiences to a group who have shown an interest and invited us to do so, answering questions at the end without ending in heated arguments.
We could also share our thoughts and experiences on our own websites, or on public media, but we must be prepared for ridicule from others who are not open to alternative points of view, beliefs or opinions beyond their own. When this happens we must accept everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even so, they should respect our right to the same – for this is wise.
We can also share our knowledge and wisdom with others through rituals and ceremonies, whether public rites similar to the Cor Gawr Solstice events, or more private ceremonies for Rites of Passage – Handfasting, Naming, Funerals etc. Or even by giving instruction or courses, like the various Bardic, Ovate and Druid courses from groups such as the British Druid Order, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and the New Order of Druids.
The question then arises, should we seek financial recompense for sharing our found wisdom and knowledge?
Obviously we wouldn’t ask a child for its sweets to receive an answer to a question, or insist a “reveller” at Stonehenge open access give us beer in return for our company (however, if it is offered freely I’m not suggesting it should be pointedly refused, as refusal could give offence, and that is not wise). The child should be given their answer freely, but perhaps in such a way that prompts them to think deeper about the original question, leading to another question and a deeper interest in the subject.
When it comes to structured courses the question is more difficult to answer. All the groups mentioned above offer courses with varying levels of fee. The NOD courses are free, work is posted to a group forum for discussion and general feedback, however if you want personal tuition and advice from a mentor you have to become a paid member of NOD. This is a relatively small cost, and it gives further benefits within the group beyond the services of a mentor. Both the BDO and OBOD charge course fees, but in my personal experience the BDO course offers far more than the NOD course does (I have no personal experience of the OBOD courses, but have heard they also are very good). Courses like these take a lot of time to prepare and monitor, so some costs are justifiable and in my experience you get what you pay for!
Lastly, should we charge for performing Rituals and Ceremonies?
In ancient times, under common rules of hospitality, a celebrant would have been given lodging, food and entertainment for the duration of their stay, possibly even food for their onward journey. So in modern times of financial costs it seems fair that expenses for travel and accommodation would be covered by those seeking the service of the celebrant (at least as far as they can afford it). Beyond this, should a celebrant charge a fee for their services as a Christian priest does? (Priests of other religions may also charge fees, but I have no personal experience of them).
The answer to this is entirely personal choice. However, as we share our wisdom perhaps we should consider the following:
Can those who require the service of a celebrant afford to pay for it? If they can, wouldn’t they offer anyway? And if a fee were refused would they not offer a donation to the celebrant’s chosen charity instead?
Are those requesting the Ceremony/Ritual doing so just to be “trendy”? Or, does it fit their true personal beliefs? Perhaps a celebrant may charge a couple who want to be married by a Druid because they perceive it to be cool, or are just showing off to their peers, whereas a couple from a Druids’ grove may be Handfasted by the head Druid of the grove without charge?
Should the naming of a child to the spirits not be a basic right of passage? Or should the deceased’s journey to the Summerlands be hindered by the want of financial reward?
There are as many arguments for seeking financial reward for sharing our wisdom as there are against it. At the end of the day it is for the individual to decide for themselves. I ask only that thought is given to the question each time a service is requested.
Remember, knowledge should always be free – for this is WISE!