White-lighter, Do-Gooder Me — Yeah, Right…

You read the news headlines often enough – you will see the quotations begin. Mostly in the comments section, but sometimes in the news stories themselves.

We need to worry about illegal immigration!

We need to worry about this candidate or that candidate because of their stance on this!

We should be very concerned over this piece of legislation that threatens this part of our environment.

..and so on and so forth. Now I am not disparaging or playing down whatever the cause may be or the reasoning for the concern. In fact, I’m setting that aside. Rather, I want to focus on the singular focus of these messages – that we need to constantly and continually worry.

In the military, soldiers are rotated out of the front lines from time to time to give them a break. Continual combat with no real degree of rest can wear a soldier down both physically and mentally. Enough that you can literally break an individual’s will to survive by continually placing them in a high stress environment like combat. We do the same thing in our daily work lives. From time to time, we take beaks from the work environment – usually called “vacations” – so that we can let go of the work stressors and experience a slower paced period of life. I sometimes wonder if we have ever thought the same about the manner in which we approach the various causes we support or the mix of politics that we ingest?

IMGP1084When I took my vacation to southern Colorado and visited Mesa Verde, I was constantly posting updates to Facebook. But I purposefully avoided the news web sites. In fact, I took my iPad with a portable keyboard as my version of a laptop computer. I did this, because the iPad is something I usually read on. And I don’t normally read the “news” there. I read books, and the various Pagan zines that I have purchased. In short my iPad serves as a way that I connect to the people I care about – the folks I have friended on Facebook – without being something that I will use to check online to see what the news is. In fact, if you keep going down in screen size — the less I use the device to read web sites with. I love my iPhone, but its primary purpose is to serve as a limited chat messenger, a handy on-the-spot camera, and an emergency method of communication. I love my electronic devices and the connectivity that they provide to me – but I really do crave face-to-face communications. But that’s a potential topic for another time…

When I see all these folks demanding that we need to worry about this or focus on that or drive all our energies into these… Literally, I find myself getting turned off to their messages. Even the ones I completely agree with. Even the ones I actively work for. Because worrying is such a negative and draining method of using my energy. The causes that I work for – I put effort, time, money, focus, and energy into these, but I rarely utilize a negative methodology to get there. Yeah, go ahead and accuse me of being a “white lighter” – you would be wrong – but go right ahead. I’m too tired and far too focused on keeping things moving in a positive manner to worry about what labels or stigma get attached to me. I worry about following through on issues that I promised to Crow, and what I am finding myself caught up in while working the Green Man. Worry is the last thing I need on my plate, much less worry borrowed from somewhere else.

But even from the work I maintain for the Gods that speak with me and ask for my assistance – after all, the Gods need more than just themselves to make their works happen – I find that I need to take a break from time to time. Essentially to recharge my batteries. Even the Gods know this, and back off when we need it. If we manage to figure all that out – and find time to recharge…should we not be a little more cognizant of the request we are making of others when we throw around requests for “worrying” or “focus”? We talk about how words can have specific meaning – can be charged in certain ways to be helpful or hurtful…perhaps, it might be a good idea to peek at the rhetoric that we slap up on our Facebook walls trying to cajole others to a particular perspective or political cause??

Yeah…me…a white-lighter….sure.  Whatever floats your boat, mate.

#ALL-Lives-Matter

Not that long ago, I got a fortune in a fortune-cookie that I have kept with me.

You are a deep thinker with a knack for problem solving.

I am not so sure about the “deep thinker” part. I would tend to believe I am just like anyone else on the planet. But problem solving? Now we’re talking. I have been working on Information Technology – specifically computer systems of one type or another – since 1986, when I joined the United States Air Force.One of the most important lessons I learned in my early career that it did not matter what something was designed to do, it mattered more what it really could do. During my time in the military, as well as my subsequent career as a computer technician afterwards – I gained a reputation for finding obscure and bizarre solutions to issues. I never made these repairs with the idea of it being a long-term solution. Instead it was meant as a short-term solution to get the people, who were dependent on that particular piece of non-working technology, back to doing their jobs – while I find a long-term, permanent solution to the problem.

The bigger issue, as I have come to eventually see it, is that we human beings have shifted from a culture where we once respected our Earth, and all the animals that inhabit this place with us – to one where we demand that all these aspects bow down to human beings and serve us. We over-hunt animals – sometimes hunting simply because of the way that the action makes us feel, instead of hunting just for whatever is necessary to fill our cooking pots and plates for a few days. We over-farm areas – sometimes planting the same crop over and over and rotating crops back in which utilize a different nutrient from the soil, while helping to replenish the nutrient that was there from the previous crop. Or giving that particular area a full season’s rest with no crops at all. No, we treat the land as a resource to be used – and plant the crops that will pay the highest monetary dividend. But all of that is a matter of education – something we can fix somewhat easier than anything else.

Animas River before the Chemical Spill

Animas River before the Chemical Spill

We dump toxins throughout our environment – chemical waste and sewage. Earlier this year, I visited the southern Colorado region. Had a very powerful experience when I went to Mesa Verde – one that is constantly on my mind. I took a train up to Durango, Colorado – one which rode next to a powerful river – the Animas. Powerful not in terms of the strength of its water flow, but powerful in the many Spirits of the Land that you could literally reach out and easily touch with your senses. A few months after I visited, the river was polluted with heavy metals from a gold mining operation that was next to the river. The issue was treated as an “oops!” moment, glossed over in the press. No mention was made of what has happened further downstream in the New Mexico area, because the Native peoples located there are still treated as “sub-human” in the thoughts of people (not everyone, but you get the general idea).

We have inner-city battles, where people of color are treated as if they don’t matter. It was enough of an issue, that the hashtag #blacklivesmatter was started on social media. Why? To help people understand that the race issues that we supposedly got past in the 1960s – the race issues that were supposedly mollified when a black man was elected President of the United States — those race issues continue with us today. Because we haven’t resolved the issues – we’ve merely placated enough of the anger to treat the issues as an “oops” moment. But a simple hashtag isn’t going to resolve anything – in fact I believe that it hurts matters more. Yes, black lives matter. So do Asian-Pacific, First Nations, Hispanic and Latino, and dare I say – white lives as well. All lives matter – and not just human. ALL LIVES MATTER.

We talk about solving problems such as what has happened in the Animas river earlier this year. We have hurricanes gaining strength out in the oceans – some may come and have come ashore and caused destruction, and killed humans and animals. We have compassion when issues like these happen, and we should do. But when do we have compassion when our neighbor’s dogs get out from the backyard fence and are wandering the busy streets of our neighborhood? I watched that on Monday of this week. I strapped on tennis shoes and herded the two dogs back to their owners’ home, and explained to the owners how the dogs were on this side of the fence with me in their front yard. It was fifteen minutes from the time I saw the dogs slip through the hole in the fence to the time I went out there. I watched car after car narrowly miss these dogs. No one stopped. We talk about solving complex issues like heavy metals in the Animas river, how to feed people that are suddenly homeless and hungry from a natural disaster. We’re ready to battle the complex issues of climate change, and yet we cannot even try and change our own collective societal problem of continuing to identify one another from race and ethnicity. And yes, its a problem — especially when we design hashtags to trumpet how one particular ethnicity seems to be singled out again and again. In reality, even the abusers – in many of these cases white people – are just as much a victim of this ethnic/racial identification as those that they abuse over it.

We are ALL humans. Once we acknowledge that, all the racial/ethnic classifications should be cast aside. But that’s going to take time. That’s going to take education. That’s going to take compassion. And I am not sure that compassion is something our society can handle, while we classify people over other issues. Political perspectives – a classification that gets so venomous, that I can see how the gulags of the Soviet Union came to be. I can understand how many turned a blind eye while the Nazis herded up all the “Undesirables” of society. I have to hold on to hope that neither would be the case in today’s “modern” society.

We have a long, long way to go to resolving many issues. As a Pagan, I take my guidance from the Gods and Goddesses. I’m not here to debate whether what I believe is superior to what someone else believes. I have my own footsteps to walk within. I can only hope others can take their guidance from their own beliefs, walk in the footsteps that they must, and find compassion for their fellow human beings, and the other citizens of this planet as well. Plant, Animal, Insect, etc. I have to hold on to that hope – even if hope is all I have…

Dealing With Life…Through Common Courtesy

My way of working with my own Druidry is something similar to motorcycle maintenance. Every so often, I have to park it in the driveway, pop off the wires, and check the engine. One of the things I start with is how well I am looking into, and interacting with the connections to my own environments. Environments, plural.

Imbolc Retreat 2015 - photo by Amanda Godwin

Imbolc Retreat 2015 – photo by Amanda Godwin

There are many environments that we all work with. Personal, interpersonal, spiritual, ecological, and a few others. But let’s start with personal and interpersonal. In this particular area, I am looking at how I interact with other people, as well as how I interact with myself. Others may have a different definition for these – but these terms work for me in the manner I define them. I know there are problems here when I am not giving a rat’s hang about others or myself. The second place to look is in my manner of dealing with the ecological issues around me – a connection I am always having to work on. If I find that I am not worried about how my daily life impacts the environment around me – its a fairly good indicator that I have something to work on here. The last component is that of the Spiritual connections – my connections to the Gods, the Goddesses, the Spirits of Place, the Spirits of Time, my Ancestors…typically, this is struck out of balance when I neglect to do my meditation work. In mechanical maintenance, this is similar to checking the oil level and gas filter. This works fine for one or two issues – but what if everything seems to be out of balance.  What then?

And its here that I find myself. Right now. Or put far better by George Harrison in his “Just For Today

Just for today
I could try to live through this day only
Not deal with all life’s problems
Just for today

But, things get interesting as the day moved on – and became another day. Dreams and meditations are a large part of my daily Path. In my dreams lately, I have caught glimpses of a face looking out at me – from inside the hedges, from within the forest’s edge, from behind the thick foliage of a tree. Always smiling. Fo me, an obvious nudge towards something that I need. What it is exactly, I have no idea – but so far its been fun trying to figure it out.

But through it all, I caught another angle of what has been bothering me – lack of common courtesy. The manner in which we – the collective we here – attack and belittle one another. Why?  To win a fucking point in a discussion that we’ve managed to turn into a heated argument. Over what?  A disagreement over what a particular statement says or doesn’t say? We then make assumptions of what someone has meant in what they’ve said – without taking the common courtesy of the moment to consult them? And then we come out guns blazing, looking to eviscerate that individual within the medium of the internet?  Shit, perhaps this could have happened face-to-face in a local coffee-shop too?? All over the idea of looking good to people who may happen across our posting? Have we really lost our hold on common decency and good conversation that much?  I certainly hope not.

I’ve never really explored the idea that I have a stronger degree of empathy than I thought I might. But perhaps that may be the reason that I feel “unhinged” and “unconnected” from time to time. A while back, I stopped reading political news – simply because I felt so angry all the time when reading it. I still pick up drips and drabs here and there…but for the most part, I have been ignoring the political news. And I have felt better over that. I really have. I’m not angry and feeling off-balance all the time. Am I going to have to do the same thing in the Pagan blogosphere as well?  I certainly hope not. But it does leave me with one particular thought…

When are we going to stop bickering over concepts, definitions, and issues – and focus on what is necessary to get our world back in balance? Get to where we can start solving some of the world’s issues (fossil fuel reliance; fighting wars over religious, political and social issues; treating one another as humans, not as blacks, whites, asians, lgbt, straight, bi, what have you) and helping to make our society a better place to live? I’ll be honest, I really see the Pagan community as being part of the vanguard towards these types of solutions – but we’ll never get there if we’re more concerned with throwing people under the bus over misunderstood definitions. In my opinion – we seriously need to rework our focus…I know I do, and currently am. I can’t lead people with words – I do better by being the example.

Yesterday, I watched my neighbor’s (across the very busy street here in the neighborhood) dogs squeeze their way through a hole in his fence, and start wandering the street. My first thought was “fuck it – they are his dogs, his problem.” It took me a few more moments to think about what I would hope for if those dogs were my cats instead. I strapped on my tennis shoes, crossed the street, and called the dogs to follow me. I brought them to his front door, rang the doorbell and explained why his dogs were in the front yard with me, rather than in the backyard where he had left them. Instead of turning my back on an individual I have never talked to in the nine years I have lived here – I went out and helped solve a problem so that his dogs would not be hurt – or picked up by the local pound. My first thought was to be an isolated individual. My second thought was to be a helpful individual and keep a pair of dogs from harm’s way. Common courtesy.

We can certainly place our Gods and Goddesses first and foremost in our spiritual practice (and we should – in my opinion). However, we also need to place some common courtesy back into our daily lives, so we can help combat the simple apathy that unfortunately permeates our environment…and believe me – a kind word, a simple action, a smile — all of that goes a long, long way to changing the way other people feel.

That’s my two pence, spend it how you wish…

Grateful Dead - Fare The Well - 05July2015

The feeling we have here — remember it, take it home and do some good with it. I’ll leave you with this, please, be kind.  –Mickey Hart

Time to Salute General Ization

Many of you know that I am not really into debate or philosophy. In a way, this sets me firmly outside of where many of my Pagan friends dwell. The Pagan blogosphere is completely covered in debates of what this term means or whether this group of people are “Pagan enough” or whether this particular practice is “correct or not”. When I hear/read such things – it doesn’t take long for me to click a different link, or to even close the browser altogether. In the not so distant past, I was challenged over this – being charged that I wasn’t dealing with growing my own Path. As with most confrontational posts, responses, and Emails that I get – I spent a few moments removing my emotion from the equation, and then deciding whether it was worthwhile to attempt a conversation (as opposed to an argument or debate). The result of that, is the post you are reading now. A general response.

I can grok what was being said. Reading articles and books, listening to the material that many of the other Pagan podcasters put out, and even talking with my friends that want a discussion — such as the lovely conversation I had with Lisa in her backyard while I was in Atlanta — these allow me to see, hear, read, and sometimes even experience a differing perspective of my own. And from those particular experiences, I take particular pieces and match these up against my own perspective. And where these make more sense to me – I assimilate them, or even a part of them, into my own thinking and understanding.

But, if I am doing something in a manner that someone else thinks is not “appropriate” or “correct” – and then attempts to confront me over it… Well, its one of the fastest ways to get me to not pay attention to what you are trying to articulate. Its a psychological response on my part – one I am very well aware of – but its also a manner of having the confrontation removed as quickly as possible. I have never identified as any kind of an empathic individual before; however, I do tend to pick up on emotional states of people very easily. Perhaps I am, and I either don’t completely realize it, or block off part of that as a defense mechanism. I’m not sure – and frankly, at this moment in time, I am not prepared to explore down that particular pathway yet.

I am, on the other hand, extremely sensitive to people assuming something about me (or even others). That’s a “nature” thing for me – I hate hearing people speak in generalizations. I am guilty of that as much as the next person, and when I catch myself doing it, I cringe inside. I walk my daily Path as an individual, and stand before the Gods as an individual. When I get in front of the podcast microphone, I am an individual. I cannot represent other people, I can only represent who I am. There are those who identify with me – have similar feelings, similar experiences, similar beliefs — but they are individuals as well. Generalizations, in my mind, marginalize the beauty and wonder that comes from individual experience – and that is a theft of what makes our daily Paths so unique. Not all Wiccans feel [x] – not all Pagans identify with Wiccans – not all people experience the wonder of being before the Gods – not all Pagans have a desire to find the Spirits of Place, the Spirits of Time, or wish to commune with their Ancestors. And none of that should belittle what is their own individual Path in their spirituality.

When I hear/read/see people being confrontational with others (including myself) over what is “right”, “correct” or “enough” for another’s individual “Spiritual Path” – I remember, I used to be that Pagan as well.If you are walking a Path with a particular tradition, there are established manners in which rituals are to be done. My Path is entwined with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. There are certainly aspects that I follow in public ritual that are part of the Order’s process, and there are more aspects that I have yet to learn. However, I am a solo Pagan, by choice. What I do in ritual is my choice to work with, as an individual. There’s a difference between what I do as a member of the Order, and what I do as a solo Pagan. And honestly, both aspects can live within me at the same time – without contradiction.

Perhaps some of this has to do with the manner I grew up. I listened to heavy metal quite a lot. I had very few friends growing up. The ones that I did have were – and still are – very special individuals in my life. Like most Pagans, I started my steps within Paganism as a Wiccan. That no longer fits who I am, but I do not discard it as “useless” or “tired” or “unnecessary”. To do so would be to treat a valid Path for others as something that wasn’t valid for anyone. Its just not a Path that works for me any longer.

And perhaps…through my rambling here…this really boils down to something else I have noticed in today’s society at large – a lack of respect for things that match one’s internal judgments? But I cringe as a type this…for there is my generalization again….

Leaving the Meat on the Bone

Its been almost two weeks since I wrote the last time in this blog. And its not been because I have not had the time. I have had plenty of time, and many open chances to do so. No, I have purposefully avoided writing in the blog, and turned my focus in a different way — towards doing instead of writing.

Part of that doing, has been looking at what is and is not important to me in my daily spiritual path. I am well aware that I am far more eclectic than many Pagans out there. Meditational workings are very important to me, as is personal observance of the world around me. I am very much an animist, and work with Spirits of Place (I actually prefer the japanese term ‘kami’ but I certainly believe that the terminology is not really as important as the concept) when I can get their acknowledgement of my existence. I also believe that the Gods and Goddesses are very real, and very present in our lives. But I also believe that they are not nearly as meddlesome as some might believe. I know that formal ritual plays an extremely minute role in my daily practice, just as I have come to realize that informal, spontaneous ritual means far more to me. Take all of that, roll into a ball, and cover the exterior with hundreds of rubber bands to hold it together – and you have a fair representation of a part of me. A part of me.

Spirituality is important, but its only a singular part of what makes a human being who and what they are. The trick, it seems is finding a balance between all those parts. Sort of like trying to balance three spinning plates on the end of a stick for each, while standing on one leg. And as such there is certainly far more to me than what I write here in the blog. Many of those parts of me are probably better experienced face to face – rather than via the internet. Its hard to describe how much the strategies of baseball and soccer affect my daily life…unless you understand what a fanatic I am (particularly where soccer is concerned).

Trust me, writing more to what I am is far more difficult than explaining what I am not. I believe it is far easier to compare and contrast against a backdrop of something else than it is to place your beliefs or perspective front and center and avoid making the comparisons. For instance, I could compare and contrast my perspective on working with the Earth, against the treatise that the Pope has made. But in doing so – I would highlight the Pope’s perspective rather than my own. Its far better to reach for my own perspective, than it is to reach for an opposing (or nearly similar) perspective.

No, I could easily slide into a compare/contrast perspective, but what would it accomplish? I don’t need to think for anyone else – it defeats the purpose of living a life full of curiosity, learning and imagination. To show someone where all the mysteries are – where all the answers can be found during your own exploration…that leaves very little meat on the bone for their search. Plus they love the exhilaration of discovery on their own…and I wouldn’t want to take that away from anyone.

Two pence…spend it how you wish, if at all…

Trying to Start With “Why?”

There seems to be a lot of debate throughout the Pagan realms these days. And lately it seems that nearly any/every aspect of Paganism is up for some kind of kerfluffle wherever you glance. What makes a “good” Polytheist – how to define what is or is not a Pagan – should Pagans be involved in political/social causes – and if a Pagan is not involved in such, does this make them a “bad” Pagan – and on and on and on. There comes a point where my brain just turns off whenever I see/read/hear such arguments. And these are mostly arguments or debates. Rarely does there seem to be anything even dressed up to look like a discussion. Its just folks digging the trenches for their perspective positions and readying the Molotov cocktails from their lexicons for the coming verbal/textual battles.

Start With Why

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. -Simon Sinek, TEDTalk, 2009, Puget Sound, WA

In his TEDTalk in 2009, “Start With Why“, Simon Sinek discussed a concept called “The Golden Circle” which had at its center the word “Why”. Two outer rings from that point were the words “how” and “what”. His position was that effective communication about your product starts with telling people why you do what you do – rather than the typical advertising mantra of telling you what the company does, and how they differentiate themselves from the competition. In a large way, this entire perspective drives why I do not participate much in the theology debates/arguments that seemingly parade endlessly through the Pagan blogosphere.

For the most part, the perspective tends to start out with a re-telling of “what” an individual is standing for in their own perspective, followed quickly with a “how” they are different/better than the other perspective(s). Rarely is there a follow on to that as to “why” they believe what they believe. The focus tends to remain squarely on the matter of “how” their differences stand-out from the others. And I would posit that this is where the entire discussion derails into the area of an argument or debate – and in my opinion, turns so many people off. The discussion moves away from “why” people believe as they believe and steps firmly into the territories of “what” they believe and “how” they are different — fertile territories for nothing more than point v. counter-point banter. So in the spirit of stepping into what I believe to be the far more rich ground of “why” – I decided to write this particular blog post. Hopefully, I’m somewhat articulate.

The Territory of WHY

Why Paganism? Why Druidry? Why Polytheism? Why Animism? Each and every one of these have been valid questions over the years. And I do mean years. I started down my path of Paganism back in the mid- to late- 1980s. After reading “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler, and “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk – I realized that I had stumbled upon a way of living that allowed me to combine my love of being outdoors (even in the easy-bake oven environment of Texas in the Summer), my connection with various animals, and my strong sense of spiritual nature. It was real. It had a name: “Paganism.” And it was nothing like I thought it was. It turned out to be a lot of hard work, a lot of thinking, a lot of trying to shape my own understanding of the world around me, a lot of examination of connections and connectivity that I had never been aware of before. And as odd, foreign, weird, and strange as it seemed – it “fit”. Many other Pagans I have talked with about this described it as a sense of “coming home”, which I could understand. For me, it was a bit different. It was like taking a blindfold off and taking in the wide-ranging view of a prairie landscape stretching out before you with large mountain ranges far off in the distance. Small enough to be distant, but near enough to display their immense size as well. And then being handed the freedom to explore where and how you liked – so long as you learned, and did not become a nuisance to the others around you. Respectful exploration.

Druidry, on the other hand, was much further down the line. I explored all sorts of nooks and crannies until I stumbled upon Druidry. At first, there was that feeling of a wrong turn. It was foreign enough to many of the other Pagan paths I had walked to not have a familiar enough feel. Eventually, I stepped onto that Path and found out more of the wonders of connectivity to my environment – and eventually the connectivity to the Gods and Goddesses as individual entities. Druidry was the focal point of bringing more in line with my own Spiritual nature. Much like putting glasses on to adjust your eyesight – Druidry provided that focus then, and continues to do so now. Druidry provides a stable framework within Paganism for me to work with. That may not be the case for anyone else – but it certainly is for me. Through the lens of Druidry, I understood the meditation techniques that help me to commune with Gods and Goddesses. I am no expert by any means, but its a focal lens that helps me in my own studies.

In the initial steps of my Pagan path, I came to understand the combined aspect of God and Goddess. The gods and goddesses of mythology were merely psychological archetypes that assisted in understanding the Lord and Lady in a more magnified manner. This was helpful for me to get beyond the Christian theology of my upbringing. When I stepped onto the Path of Druidry, and began my exploration of the concepts of Animism – I found that there was far more to the Lord and Lady then I had envisioned. Beyond that simple two-fold layer were the Gods and Goddesses within mythology. They were there to be experienced, to commune with, and eventually to work directly with. For me, it was that understanding which made me realize that I am a polytheistic Pagan. The Gods and Goddesses were real! And to this day, its a feeling I marvel in every step of every day. And while I was starting to experience this concept, I managed to find another fold that opened my world — Animism.

Animism helped me to understand and realize the connections and connectivity to everything within the web of Life. Everything is alive – yes, even the rocks and stones. They merely exist in a different fashion of time than humans, and animals do. Trees also exist in a different fashion of time than humans and animals. For these particular spirits…time is far slower and longer lasting. And each aspect has a connection to everything – the rocks are connected to the trees which are connected to the animals which are connected to the humans who are connected to the land which is connected to the water, which is connected to the sky. Everything is alive – which is dependent on how you define life. Furthermore, we all form a balance here within this ecosphere, which human beings have not been respectful of nor caring about how we maintain our position within that balance. And that ecosphere is alive, and constantly striving to make things rebalance whenever there is a change. But I am getting into the “what” aspect of all this now.  :)

Why do I believe as I believe? Because I feel the connections to everything. I may not understand the large majority of these connections, but I do feel and experience these connections. The hard part is explaining the connections to those who do not want to even see that existence. Rather, there is always the discussion of why these connections are not discussed in the Bible. Perhaps, I would counter – its because the Bible speaks of having dominion over the Earth – rather than seeking communion with the Earth and all its creatures – human, animal and otherwise. But that turns towards debate…and its an area I am not really wanting to traverse into. Honestly, I’d rather agree to disagree — and move on with doing the things that make me the Pagan that I am:  learning and experiencing….

Taking a Step Forward – the Pull of Gods, Goddesses, and Place…

I have always been drawn to certain things – certain ideas – certain places. Oddly enough, many of these things are not related. Crow, Kokopelli, Borrum, Artemis…all Gods and Goddesses that have approached me in one form or another. Glastonbury Tor, Externsteine, Mesa Verde, the northern Rocky Mountains and Tai Chan — each a location, nothing like any of the others.

Medicine Wheel in Wyoming...one of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.

Medicine Wheel in Wyoming…one of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.

Taken altogether, they seem strange placed together – and yet they all make up a part of my own personal Paganism to one extent or another. Each features prominently on my bookshelf – except for Artemis, which is a new approach for me as of a few weeks ago – and I have actually designed more then one vacation around a few as well. But what is the common thread?

That really is a tough one to bring about for me. Each is very different, unique in their own right within my mind. A friend of mine suggested that the common thread was me, which I nearly dismissed immediately. Why would someone like me be the central focus? After all, I am just myself – nobody extraordinary. However, the point has some merit, particularly if I remove the idea of individual celebrity and focus instead on each particular topical point providing a needed focus on what makes me who I am.

Which brings me back to something I have been thinking about for quite some time — as a solitary Pagan, how do I go about doing all of this? Where do I get a mentor or do I even need a mentor? If no mentor, where do I find people walking along a similar Path to what I am studying at that moment? Would they be willing to advise me? This is a particular concern when it comes to First Nations information here in the United States. It can be a very touchy moment when trying to query a First Nations Shaman about their own practices.

In the end though – I realize what pitfalls may arise in my study of these varying perspectives, and working with different Gods and Goddesses. But the draw is there – its not anything I can place my finger on — and its not really anything that seems to be “cool” — let’s face it, Kokopelli is a very, very strange God to deal with in the first place. I have to work towards each one, a step at a time. Listen, watch, learn…and where I can find someone to discuss these things with, there’s that avenue as well. And despite some of the potential pitfalls, I have to wander these Paths. I am not completely sure of “why” — though the pitfalls that I incur may actually be the “why” — but I’ll never know, so long as I stand at the crossroads of each Path and contemplate the whys and why-nots.

Sometimes, you just have to take a step forward…