007 – Why Paganism? Why Druidry?

I spend some time discussing why I choose to be a Pagan, and why I use the framework of Druidry to hang my coat of Paganism, and hat of Polytheism on. I wax somewhat in-eloquently (what’s different about that than usual?) on my perspective of the Gods…along with a few left-turns into gender issues (not that far – I took one step in that direction), and a few other topical dead-ends. “If I Could Only Speak Crow…” is featured in the Spoken Word segment, and Wendy Rule’s “Dance of the Wild Faeries” from her 2011 album ‘Live at the Castle on the Hill’ is the featured music segment. You can find Wendy’s music at http://www.wendyrule.com/. Please support your Pagan musicians by buying their albums, so that they can continue to bring their magick to our ears!!

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/007_-_Why_Paganism_Why_Druidry.mp3

Too Much in My Job…Not Enough in My Spiritual Nature….

Its been a slow weekend.  Slower than the previous three. There’s been enough time for me to realize a lot of things about the past month-plus. I have gotten away from things that are the foundations of who I am, what I am… My new job has changed me from being someone who spends time helping others discover things about the world around them – helps others see that they have creative minds, and the ability to think critically about any subject that they desire…now I am something more like an archaeologist of data. I spend hours (literally) trying to coax meaning out of numbers, trying to find occult patterns within mounds of numbers, and then present them to others to assist them in making decisions. Previously, I had enough free time to spend outside anytime I wanted to. Now, I work in an office with no windows – no ability to freely look outside and see the changing pattern of the day. And I have felt cut off from my source because of the change.

Sure, I could take the opportunity to go to my boss and quit.  Spend time looking for another teaching position that would offer me the chance to be outdoors more often. Or I could force this job to change to fit what I want/need from it. I have a lunch break – and there is a pond nearby with a gazebo (just off the parking lot) where I could take my meal. Spend my time outside rather than inside. When I get stuck on a problem, I could step outside and take a walk outside on the campus grounds. Instead of getting stuck at my keyboard for eight-plus hours a day…I need to do these things to get my center back.

Yes, I truly believe in the concept of grounding and centering. As a Libra, the entire concept has great appeal for me. But I have also seen what happens to me when I do not follow the basic precepts of this. Its been happening to me for the last two months. I become more of a recluse than I normally am. Life begins to lose the little aspects of joy for me. This weekend, I have had the chance to be outside in the backyard, visiting my little rock circle. I spent a short amount of time sitting on the ground next to it – just feeling the deep strength of the towering backyard tree, as well as the growing strength of my two smaller trees. I watched the crows and grackles up in the branches above me – all watching me, as they usually do. I could feel their happiness when I retreated into the house and then returned with three huge plastic cups full of bird seed.

For the past few months, I have been trying to fit myself into my job – be cast in some mold that I imagined was there. No more.  I am who I am, this job will fit around me. I have certainly changed enough on my side of the equation. But now, its time the job changed a bit to fit me. And yes folks, this is what happens when you have been outside of the traditional work-force for more than five years. At least, that’s my current experience.  I am the rock, the river will bend around me….

I Know I Am Alive…

I sit here, listening to the occasional wind gust blow through the tree in the backyard – followed by the whoosh of a passing car in the street below. On the speakers, I have the Garcia Plays Dylan album wafting through the speakers of my iMac. I don’t really know why, but every year around the start of autumn, I tend to play a lot of Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan. Its just the type of music that I envision myself listening to while sitting on the porch in a rocking chair.

This is also the time of the year that I hear various Pagan folk commenting about the “dark” of the year. Perhaps its the associated imagery of All Hallow’s Eve that tend to bring that up. Maybe its something else – but for me, this is the time of year where everything starts to thrive. The harvest is coming in, and the preparations are being set into motion for the coming of winter (anyone hear a Stark there?). In my environment, my thoughts begin to turn inward. I start turning the previous year over in my mind, reading back on journal entries through that time, and looking forward to where my steps are about to take me.

Sure, the days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, the weather turns colder….that doesn’t mean that the world is getting meaner or that there is a reason to be scared. Darkness is nothing more than a point of existence, where light is not as prevalent. Its still a part of our environment, just a change from what we have been used to in the spring and summer. And to be completely honest, I do my best meditations during these longer nights of the winter.

Over the past year, I have watched as Coyote has moved a little further away from my circle of understanding. Crow has become a far greater influence in my daily meditations. I have also started to feel the pull of Lugh and some of the Celtic influences that speak towards my Druidry lessons. Perhaps not as strong as others have felt that same pull, but it is there. And now, I feel a slight pull from within the legends of the Celts through Fionn mac Cumhaill. Very odd directions for me, but I walk where my Path leads my feet.

I know there are those that see the winter as an oppressive spirit that brings darkness, and a lack of the sunlight. For me, its a little different time. I still spend time outdoors, even when it snows or rains. Just because the weather changes, my connection to my environment does not. There’s plenty for me to do…plenty for me to learn, plenty for me to experience. And that is how I know I am alive…I still feel that connection, to the environment around me, the plants, the animals, the Kami of the land, the Gods… Yes, I know I am alive…

Continuing My walk, My Discovery, My Path

Patterns, relationships, meaning – my professional life has moved from the world of teaching to one where I spend time trying to wrestle meaning from patterns and relationships from numeric values presented from various reporting methods and tools. As I dig through the material and try to be as neutral as I can with my meaning, other people that I present these findings to will make decisions based on that. Thus, I tread very carefully in the manner in which I try to represent my findings. After all, I want these folks to make up their own mind when deciding how to proceed with a choice.

Life, on the other hand is a little different. Every single day, I am presented with a choice of some sort.  Do I take a coat with me on my way out the door to work? Do I wear a tie to work today or just a polo shirt? What will I eat for lunch?  Dinner?  Which route do I drive to work?  Which route will get me to work on time? And there are a variety of choices for where I get the correlating data to make those choices. And through that data, I try to discern patterns for the rest of today, the rest of the week. Choices, choices, choices.

But one pattern I have noticed since I started working – is that I have found myself getting a little more distant from my own daily practices – and this was leaving me feeling off-balance. Over the last few weeks, I have started adjusting my sleep schedule – so I was up an hour earlier than normal – where I could put back into practice my morning grounding exercises, and find myself watching the morning sunrise again.  This has helped me tremendously, especially keeping me from feeling disconnected at my job.

I have a HUGE office. So large, my boss has started moving in filing cabinets that have been in storage into my office. I don’t really mind – it gets me into a place where I can start putting things into some kind of order – particularly material from the past. But I have no windows. In fact my office could be designated as a tornado shelter, since it is centrally located in the building, and concrete on all sides. Not a bad place to feel secure, but with no windows, I find myself continually yearning to see the outside at various times of the day. Luckily, when I get stuck on pieces of SQL code, I am free to wander the campus – and find myself spending time down around the gazebo that looks out over the campus duck pond (and we do have ducks).

Around this time last year, I was coming away from a highly energetic Pagan Pride Day. It was an amazing feeling to have spent time with so many other Pagans who were so happy. But eventually, I found myself in a position of doubting…who I was, what I was doing, and where I was going spiritually. Now, I find myself a bit cut-off from my practices because of the extreme altered aspect of my work schedule…and I found that all of this…this Paganism….this Druidry…is very much a part of me, more so than I ever thought before.

How does all of that speak to my choices?  My writing?  Yes, even my “professional” writing. Seeing patterns and relationships within data; digging deeper into the data to find the correlating story in the real world that helps explain one perspective or another; showing how one choice may affect another further down the line, or may influence the decision making process of the decision-maker(s). I have a vague understanding of how that takes place, and its an area of observation that I am more keenly aware of.

Perhaps I was a bit naive when I started down the road of Paganism – thinking that this Path was all the individual relationship one has with Nature. Way back when I was bright-eyed, novice Pagan…I saw the “Natural” world as that where the bushes, trees, and tall grasses started – not the area where concrete, asphalt and electrical wiring dotted the landscape in various sizes, shapes, and functions. Slowly, I have started to realize that there are so many more aspects – so many more relationships that I have yet to explore and determine.

As I wander through the patterns, relationships, and roads of what is the world around me – I find that my understand of my belief is so small now, and will be still quite small when I pass beyond the veil. But its about growing who I am – not gathering knowledge, or trying to understand all of it. I am only a single individual in this entire story…and as I raise my voice to tell my story – I join the chorus of the others around me. Just another thread in the pattern…related to all the threads around my in an intimate fashion that I could never begin to express in such a limited forum as this…

…and so I continue my walk, my discovery, my Path…

Loving Fall, Hating Halloween

I have to confess, I love Fall. The beautiful colors of the leaves as each ends its time within the birth-life-death cycle. The russet blanket that will eventually cover my backyard, forcing me to grumble as I set upon the task of raking all of the detritus up, and pack it away for a friend’s compost pile. But those grumbles are just my way of greeting a grueling task – in secret, I admire the beautiful colors, and the fact that I spend a short period of time outside. Then there is the cooler weather, which allows me the capability of getting outside, as Texas ceases to be an outdoor Easy-Bake oven. There is a lot to love about this time of the year.

And there’s actually some aspects that I dislike about the oncoming blitz of Fall….but one stands out above a lot of the others:  Halloween. When I was much, much younger – I enjoyed the childhood ritual of trick-or-treating….for about three years. Somehow, when I turned nine – I just was never really enamored with Halloween any longer. And now, forty years further down the line….it remains the case with me.

The costume side of things is “ok” — I have been known to don a costume or two in the past few years for office parties — and I have spent more than my share of evenings handing out candies to some of the cutest ghosties, goblins, and their equally cute mothers. But I really believe that’s about the end of what Halloween is. Just a time of the year to hand out candy to small children, and smile at their parents. Anything beyond that is truly wasted on me.

Yes, this even goes for the horror and shock movies. Honestly, I do like a good campy horror movie – the Bride of Frankenstein, the Three Stooges Meet the Wolfman, An American Werewolf in London, and The Fog are typically something I can sit and watch. But the newer films seem to be all about spraying blood and body parts everywhere, while Tara Reid or Rose McGowan scream endlessly throughout the film. Just not my cup of tea for an evening.  No thanks, I’ll stick with Blade Runner, one of the first two Alien movies or Prometheus.

Sure, there’s also the schlocky “adult” parties that are bandied about in the office. But that feels more like a need to drink for the sake of drinking – or to find some bed partner for the evening, where you stretch your fogged brain to remember what the other person’s name is and/or what happened last night. Damn, I’m pushing fifty years of age here…I don’t quite have the ability to be a racing machine anymore.  Think more along the lines of an El Camino with a camper wedged into the bed.

It took quite a few years before I began to realize what it was about Halloween that I disliked – the manner in which the dead were portrayed. The dead were made out to be evil, mindless, driven with a desire to do harm. But I see those that have passed beyond the veil in a different light. They have transcended this existence and moved on to another. What happens beyond the veil – I don’t know, nor do I suspect I will until I pass from this existence – but those that have moved on are not evil or mindless or bent on destruction of those that are in this existence.

I do “get” the idea of Halloween – the ‘spirit’ of it all, if you will – its a time geared towards the children – allowing their fertile minds to create and focus thoughts onto the noises made by the ‘unseen’ forces. But I will be honest, I prefer the aspects of Samhain that I have encountered in my walks throughout Paganism. A night to honor the ancestors that have passed beyond the veil. A time when the veil is thinnest, allowing for prolonged communication between the two existences.

Yes, there are those that love a good horror film, and those that enjoy a good haunted house where they are scared/excited over an innocent “threat”. And there are those that enjoy being in the company of others, gathered around a bonfire and toasting the memories of those that have passed away in the last year – and those ancestors that slipped from this mortal coil even further back. For me, I prefer a quiet night in the backyard (if the weather permits), a cool glass of iced tea, and a lawn chair – where I can watch the moon move across the sky against the backdrop of the stars. Where I can marvel at how wide, great, and unknown the world around me is – and how I can find connection to nearly everything there – in one form or another.

Yeah…I’m a party pooper….

 

Weekend Thoughts….

MoonlightFor the past two weekends, I have felt like I have been running at full speed the moment I left work, right up to now – late on a Sunday night…and felt like I had accomplished very little. of course, each weekend has held a little something that has set my entire weekend a little off kilter. This weekend, for example, started off with the reminder that Saturday was Pagan Pride Day over in Arlington, TX. Having resigned a scant few weeks prior from the Organizing Committee, I braced myself for a piece of the unknown – and found myself able to partake in things I had not the prior year. I spent more time talking with people I had not seen in quite some time…and even got the chance to catch three workshops.

All of that; however, was over-shadowed by what had happened Friday evening. The college that I work for has a few athletics teams – and one that we are all very proud of is our Ladies Softball team. On the way back from a scrimmage in Oklahoma, their bus was demolished by an 18-wheeler that crossed the media from the north-bound lanes and smashed into the bus (in the south-bound lanes) and careened into the woods. Four talented, young ladies lost their lives. Tonight, Sunday, there was a candle-light vigil at the school’s campus, which I attended.

The ceremony was quiet, many people holding candles. I found a spot under one of the large trees that adorn our front lawn on the campus, and silently watched, and listened to everyone talk. but during one of the lengthy (!!) prayers by one of the Christian ministers, I heard a voice telling me to turn around. And there I saw the yellowish gaze of the crescent moon.

Now, ya’ll, the moon holds a special place in my heart. Its one of the objects that can literally give me a moment’s pause at any moment I catch a glimpse of it. During the day-time, when I can see its shape in the bright sky, I will take a moment or five to just stare. This particular moment was no different.

Considering that the moon was to my back, I had to pointedly look away from the candle-light vigil that was underway. I am sure someone around me may have thought me to be rude for doing so, but I have never been one to care much of what people think of me. But looking up at the yellow crescent shape, I started to understand something that had quietly been sniping at the back of my mind. Passing beyond the veil….

Yes, the manner in which these young ladies passed beyond the veil was quite tragic, and honestly, their time here was far too short. But they have moved beyond this rough, sometimes tragic, and beautiful aspect of life. Just as the moon changes and transcends across the night-time skies…so have they. I mourn for their loss within the lives of the students, faculty, friends, family, and even those of us in the college administration. But I also rejoice in having known them, and how their small interactions in my immediate surroundings provided a special backdrop for myself and many, many others that can never be repaired, or replaced. Yes, this particular event pulled a dark shroud over Pagan Pride Day for me. The college I work at is small enough that nearly everyone knows everyone else. And the students are there, in our lives daily.

But Pagan Pride Day was a bright, festive moment on the weekend as well. I dragged my hand-held recorder out there with me – and recorded no one. It never felt “right” to pull the recorder out and shove it into someone’s face and ask them about their feelings on the entire event. Plenty of people were smiling, laughing, and talking. Oh there was a lot of talking going on!  Like I said, I was able to make three workshops, where I got listen to serious talks on working with one’s Daily Spiritual practice (Hi John!), as well as another workshop on practicing safety within the Pagan community (Hi Mary!). However, it was another short workshop that I walked away from just completely enthralled about the topic – Indian lore and storytelling (Hi Sakeeta!). I am already inspired by this one workshop, that I am looking for myths and stories to add to the podcast. I know I have done that before…but not as a particular segment that continues.

Yes, more changes are coming to the podcast. I will still be seeking interviews out – as well as continuing with the Spoken Word segment (Poetry, folks). I will add a short legend or story into the mix as well, and if everything goes as hoped – I will be adding another presence to the podcast, who will get 10-15 minutes to talk about any subject he desires.  (crossing fingers)

Anyways, I have rambled enough here….

 

–Tommy /|\

 

A Little Off Kilter – But Closer to Center….

Its been a little while since I wrote a post here.  Figured it would be a good idea to kick back in….  If you have been reading the blog, you know about all the changes that have taken place in my life over the last three weeks.  A new job, a parent passing beyond the veil….it definitely can put you off-balance.

However, I have learned to adapt to my new schedule – finding new times to get into my meditations and writing lessons. I’m still trying to figure out where I am going to get my walks in at – but that’s something to be added back to the routine in a short while. As for the passing of my parent – that will be a daily exercise of remembering, but another one I can adapt to.

But that leads me back to the blog and the podcast. Both have been fairly directionless as of late – something I need to find a manner of correction for.  No, I am not going to stop writing in the blog or putting out podcast episodes.  Instead, I am going to work a little harder on some topic-based posts – as well as scouting out more interview fodder for the podcast. (No Scott, I haven’t forgotten what we talked about previously)

Samhain is right around the corner – and many (including myself) consider this moment in the Turning of the Wheel to be the start of a new year. And there’s plenty of topics to tackle in that area — which I am going to try and do.  Much sooner on the calendar is DFW Pagan Pride Day — which is this weekend. There will be plenty of Pagans at the event, and many of them I will be trying to talk with on the hand-held recorder or the iPhone (depending on which one gives out in the battery department). The idea is to let folks have their own words out there on the podcast…after all, the whole idea of the podcast back at the start was it to be a gift back to my wider Pagan community. What better gift could there be than the community’s own voices??

So, the whole idea is to get some focus back into all of this…the blog will remain my voice…the podcast will remain the platform for the voices of others. And the whole point — to give you the chance to think and make up your own mind.  :)