He came into my life around 2012 when I started this blog and joined the strange world of the blogosphere. His presence was invisible at first and it took me a few years to perceive his influence. I started this blog to share inspiration and find and connect with like-minded people and I succeeded in those aims. Only I found that during that process ‘something’ had gained power over me. I was not only reading what inspired me and felt important but trying to keep up with every last thing on the blogosphere, on social media, not wanting to miss out or get left behind.
In 2015 when I was doing my best to fit the mould of being a politically-engaged Pagan there were days when I did nothing but scroll the internet for information to make the right replies on blogs and Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Around that time there were some really nasty arguments between right and left-wing polytheists that led to the breakdown of the polytheist movement. It was a horrible thing to see and this, on top of being burnt out from having forced myself into activism, led me to stop blogging and abandon social media.
I went to Wales. I had some experiences with Gods and giants. I came back.
Since then I have been more mindful of my internet use and how it uses me. After a couple of brief flirtations I have abandoned Facebook and Twitter. I follow only blogs that inspire me. I steer clear of arguments. I limit my engagements to old-fashioned forums at the Monastery of Annwn and The Cloister.
Yet still I’m distracted which I find to be a terrible irony for a nun of Annwn, one who is devoted to the Gods of the Deep, is writing a book called ‘in the Deep.’ When I need a break or when I get stuck I’m tempted to check my emails or look at a blog, then one thing leads to another and I’ve lost half an hour.
The problem of attention theft, of stolen focus, and the resulting atrophy of our deep work muscles is something we have been working with at the Way of the Buzzard Mystery School* and has been picked up on by fellow Polytheist Monastic Danica Swanson.**
Since then reclaiming my attention and retraining my deep work muscles has been a large part of my personal spiritual development as a nun of Annwn. But it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot of resistance to keeping my focus on one thing at a time, whether it is meditation, writing, gardening, running or a gym work out. I’ve had a lot of minor things go wrong recently from personal and family health issues to a stolen bike and a troublesome member at the monastery. I’ve used them as excuses for letting distractions have their way.
In spite of my best efforts I have been struggling to focus on one thing at a time to the point I have felt that ‘something’ is actively stealing my attention.
Returning to look at the Way of the Buzzard journey circle in January 2022 ‘Reclaim your Attention’ last night I noticed the intention was to journey on ‘what is getting in the way of your attention?’ I intended to do so this morning but instead woke up with the answer – ‘the King of Distractions.’
Having dreamt a couple of days ago about our house being burgled and linking this to the man of enormous stature with a huge hamper who stole food and drink from Lludd in Lludd ac Llefelys I realised I had found the culprit.
I then had the gnosis that the King of Distractions has been here, not only in my house, but in my very room since I started blogging. He has been sitting beside me, stealing my attention and focus away from the things that really matter, putting them into his huge hamper, filling it full, as my mind grows weak.
(‘And nothing amazed Lludd more than that so much could fit into that hamper!’)
He’s been following me about taking my mind from nature on a walk, bike ride, or run, from what I’m doing with my body at the gym. He’s been next to me when I sleep, waking me up with distractions, robbing me of my dreams.
It thus seems meaningful that Lludd/Nudd/Nodens, God of Dreams, defeats this man and that his identity has been revealed to me by sleeping and dreaming.
In Lludd ac Llefelys the man achieves his theft by sending everyone to sleep. As the King of Distractions he makes himself invisible by putting us into a sleep-like trance in which we are barely aware of what we’re doing as we flick onto our emails or onto the internet and begin scrolling from this to that.
On Nos Galan Mai Lludd manages to defeat the man by immersing himself in a tub of cold water every time sleep comes upon him. He then confronts him in a violent battle in which sparks fly from their weapons, throws him to the ground, and demands that all his losses are restored and the man becomes his vassal.
Whilst immersing myself in a tub of cold water every time I’m distracted isn’t very practical it could serve as a good visualisation aid against the King of Distractions. As could visualising beating him off, sparks flying, forcing him to give back what is in his hamper and putting him in his place.
An additional tactic is to put up some defences. Thus I’ve drawn up a schedule in which I’ve restricted my internet usage to checking emails once a day in the late afternoon when my other work is complete and limiting catching up on blogs and reading articles online to Saturdays.
I’m hoping this will help me reclaim my focus and strengthen my deep work muscles so I can make better progress with ‘In the Deep’ and my spiritual practices.
*Nicola at the Way of the Buzzard blogs about stolen focus in her post ‘Attention’ HERE.
****Danica Swanson proposes ‘Creative Incubation’ as a remedy for stolen focus and the atrophy of deep work muscles HERE.