The Grateful Dead, the Hippy Mentality, and Me

Tonight, I am sitting here at my computer – listening to the Deadpod, which is a Grateful Dead podcast. “The Professor” plays various bootleg concerts from the thirty year history of the Grateful Dead (1965-1995) and the particular episode I am listening to is the middle set for a 1973 concert. At the heyday of the Grateful Dead, I was far too young to be into their music. In fact, I was listening to the early aspects of disco music, coupled with the anti-disco thematics of the punk movement. I did not get into the Grateful Dead with any level of interest until I was in my late twenties. Just in time for the untimely death of Jerry Garcia.

I still remember that day. It was an early August day in 1995 – I was working as a Tape Librarian for the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. The word on the radio came down that Jerry had passed away. When I filtered down to my car after my day of work, I drove to a gathering in Lee Park that I had heard about on the radio. I spent the large part of that evening sitting around with other Grateful Dead fans. There was talk about the shows that some had been too, along with the mystical and spiritual aspect of jams such as “Drums” and “Space” had on some of us. We all mourned Jerry’s passing together. There were a massive amount of candles that had been lit. Some local company brought a truckload of bottled water and passed bottles out to the fans that were there. Folks brought musical instruments. We sang, talked, and cried into the night. For many of us, we had thought it was the end of our shared “long, strange trip”.

Last year, I had heard rumors about the Grateful Dead’s remaining four-core members coming back together as the Grateful Dead for a handful of shows. It was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the band. For some folks, myself among them, I felt that this would be the chapter where Jerry’s ghost would finally be laid to rest. I so wanted to go. However, I knew the tickets would sell fast, and that scalping would be way beyond my meager means. But I knew I would be there in spirit at least.

On the last night of the show, about an hour before the end of it, I realized that each of the concerts were being simulcast into local movie theaters, as well as online. I was completely shattered. I could have been there for the experience, and I had missed it. Until I found out that the entire set of concerts were going to be sold on DVD. I will be purchasing the set in the very near future on pre-order.

Now, I can understand when people read this and wonder how I could feel this way about a band – particularly a band of aging, doping hippies. Well, remove the doping part from that equation – and you have me. An aging hippy – born in the wrong generation. I grok what the hippy vibe is all about — equality, freedom, exploration, sharing…and to be completely honest, I believe that the world needs a lot more hippy within it. Sure, hippies are pretty grungy at times, they don’t really follow too much of the “polite” society rules…but there’s more to them than that.

Look beyond the jeans, the long hair, the beards, the aspects of free love that don’t quite fit into today’s society — you will find people who see past pigmentation, hair color, eye color, height, weight, sexual orientation, gender…they see people that should be treated equally. They see folks that need to be handed half the sandwich they are eating – because the other person is hungry. They see people that they can disagree with, without having to turn it into something more than that. Yeah, I’m idealizing some of this, and romanticizing other parts of it…but honestly, what’s wrong with that?

Watching the Grateful Dead put their band to rest, one last time, does bring a particular chapter of my life to a close. But its not like these guys are going to stop making music…they will continue to do so, in their own bands. And in their own way, they are striking out on their own trails, seeking their own discoveries…and that’s just what the music of the Grateful Dead is about — exploring for yourself, expanding your boundaries…even erasing those boundaries. And once we remove those boundaries…those things that make us all pre-packaged because of some aspect of our genetic makeup…then, we start to move forward on equal footing.

Say what you will…I sincerely believe there is nothing wrong with the hippy philosophy. I only wish the rest of the world could hurry up and catch on too…

Grateful Dead - Fare The Well - 05July2015

The Lost Art of Troubleshooting

Me - USAF - July 1992

Me – USAF – July 1992

Today is the fourth of July — recognized here in the United States as “Independence Day”. This is another of those “holidays” that make me cringe internally. There’s the obligatory flag-waving  and over-the-top displays of the United States flag, the parades with people praising military veterans with far too much gusto, and the incessant American need to blow things up. Yes, I am not fond of this time of the year.

I have a denim jacket that has a ton of patches on it – mostly my old squadron patches, and a few of the patches from my time in the Boy Scouts. On the jacket is an American Flag – put there because I did serve in the United States Air Force for eight years. Looking back, I served because there were no other options available to me. I failed my way out of college. I had trouble holding any kind of job. I bristled at any attempt to place me under authority. In short, I was a “bad-tempered, irresponsible little shit” — in the words of my late father. Eight years in the United States Air Force smashed all that out of me. I learned that authority was not necessarily a bad thing, and when applied appropriately – it could literally help place someone on the correct track in life. Please, don’t get me wrong – this did not happen overnight. The first two years of my career were littered with Letters of Counseling and Letters of Reprimand. But my work ethic was next to none. When I had a job placed in front of me, I did my best to complete the task as accurately as I could – and would only ask for further instruction when any other available option and resource available to me had been tried. I didn’t see it in that manner – I merely wanted to get the job finished, and show my superiors that I could be left alone to my own devices. I was still bristling at any type of Command Authority being placed upon me.

In my second year, I was working the late-night shift at the telephone switchboard. I spent a large portion of my nights reading and writing. In between, I answered calls from people around the base wanting to be connected to an off-base number. I rarely paid attention to the numbers – I just plugged the corresponding connection cord into the patch panel, dialed their numbers and released. I wound up in front of my section Chief one morning for placing “976” numbers over the course of a week. My Section Chief expected me to deny what happened. Instead, I walked in, quoted the section regulation that I was responsible for what happened during my shift and stated I was ready to take my punishment. That was the moment that I started to grow up. That was also the moment that my Section Chief believed in me enough to move me over to the Data Center. In six weeks time, I knew the operations of the UniSys mainframe nearly as well as the very experienced civilian UniSys maintenance crew that were there to keep the system running. Soon, I was made a shift leader, and giving more responsibilities, such as learning how to operate the newly installed digital backup power system that was installed in my second year there.

I still got in trouble from time-to-time. I had other issues with Command Authority, and did my level best to keep the starched career-military people away from my troops. I was deemed as “unconventional” and “odd” by folks like this — and honestly, promotions boards tend to view people with my attitude as “unreliable” because I did not follow rules. That is still true to this day. I do not worry about the rules, I stress over the results. As I told the individuals on my shift several times — “Let’s not worry about the way we are supposed to get it done, let’s make sure it works. We can work around whatever we do later, so that it ‘fits’ what Command Authority wants. Let’s make sure it works first.”

I left the Air Force in 1994. We did not part on great terms. There are a lot of people that I still view as being assholes because they could not see beyond the regulations to notice that the responsibility should come first. Or as mentioned in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on more than one occasion: “…they are not really rules, merely guidelines.”

Since leaving the military, I have made a semi-decent career of being an out-of-the-box trouble-shooter for computer systems. But people who think outside of the rules and regulations in order to obtain results are looked down upon even more so in corporate America. Its not really about solving problems, its more about following the rules. And yes, that meant that I got in more trouble as a result. At one job, I mentioned several times that the current computer systems that were in place would not handle an added VOIP service because of their age – I was told that I was not knowledgeable enough to know the difference. And when the VOIP service did not work out-of-the-box, I was cussed out by the company’s President in front of all the individuals working there, and told that I was the reason that the company was circling the drain. I had only been there eighty-eight days at that point. I quit ten seconds after the company President shut his mouth. I was their only Information Technology worker at that time.

When I hear people thank me for the time I spent in the service, I bristle inwardly. They may thank me for wearing the uniform, but that’s all they are thanking me for. It did not take a ton of resolve to stand there at the MEPS station, raise my right hand and recite my oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Its not a really tough oath to take.  I removed the last part of “So help me God” because I did not say that part. It doesn’t nullify the oath for me. If you think it does for you – then you say it. However, less than ten percent of the United States population will ever raise their right hand and take this oath. When I hear people thank me for my service – what I actually hear is a different statement:

Thank you for serving (so I or my kid or my spouse or my family members didn’t have to).

Statistically speaking, most members of the military come from very poor origins. They go here so that they can accrue monies to go to college — and thus be able to compete within the marketplace for a job. And to be completely honest, an individual with a military background gets a far greater consideration from me when applying for a job. Not because they served, but because I know what serving did to change them into the individual that they are today.

Yes, today – we here in the United States celebrate the birth of this nation. Its an interesting experiment in Democracy. Lately, we seem to disagree far more vehemently than we ever have before. My oath of enlistment states that I will obey the orders of the President…I don’t get to add to that. When I hear people say that the current President is not “their” President – and thus they do not have to respect him, I only hope they never put on a uniform and go to a front-line combat area, where they may pick and choose which fellow soldier they would protect and work with based on that individual’s politics.

In a a manner of speaking, I am digressing a bit…rambling if you will. Of course, those of you that read me are aware that I do that. So let me drag this back to where I was headed…

We spend a ton of time with “country-oriented” holidays here in the United States. And yes, I like the freedoms that I enjoy here as a citizen. There are other aspects that I do not care one bit for — the political and social divide that exists throughout the United States; the knee-jerk social reactions that gets far too much amplification from “social” media; the way we marginalize people based on what they believe, the pigmentation of their skin or who they choose to love. What I hate more is the manner in which none of this will be solved in regulatory passage, Supreme Court rulings, or in loud, over-the-top protestations. Its only going to change when we start to treat one another as equals – regardless of our differences.

I looked beyond the rules and regulations to find solutions that kept information flowing into my command structure. Troubleshooting is not about following the rules….perhaps we need more troubleshooters….

Maintaining Your Daily Rituals in the Face of Travel

Here I am, sitting in a hotel room AGAIN. This year has been full of me being on the road. And there’s more time and adventures to be spent from that spent in the very near future as well. I still have OBOD’s East Coast Gathering coming up, as well as a nearly two-week long trip to Scotland, England, and France at the very end of this year and the beginning of the next. But I am sure I am not the only Pagan who has ever found himself or herself on the road – in a hotel or other location – where handling your daily rituals can be problematic or even intrusive to the other people around them. What’s a Pagan to do???

Before we even travel into this topic, let’s have a short discussion of what this post really is – my own personal daily rituals, modified in a manner that works for me. Some folks may read this and think “who the eff cares? I’ll just do what I normally do, and to the Nine Hells with the people around me!” I get that perspective. Its not who I am, but I can relate to the feeling somewhat. Other people may read this and think “I like that method, but its not something I would/can do in this moment where I am. Can I adapt it to my needs?” Definitely. Anything I relate in this blog is merely my opinion or the manner in which I take care of what I do. By no means am I advocating that mine is the only way. I am merely pointing out exactly what works for me. Now, with all that said….

  

My typical daily morning ritual is a simple one. I wake up, head downstairs, make a cup of coffee, and watch the sunrise. However, this cannot always happen – particularly when I am on the road. Take this morning for example. I woke up about an hour and a half AFTER the sun rose in the sky. So I went downstairs to the common room, got a cup of coffee, and stepped out into the parking lot to silently greet the sun. I also brought a piece of toast with me, to feed the local birds. It wasn’t my home kitchen, nor was it my backyard next to my beloved stone circle. It was a parking lot, in the middle of a very corporate area of Kansas City, Missouri. Not really conducive to my usual daily perspective. But its enough to honor the Sun, and the toast is merely my manner of honoring the “wildlife” around here. Most of the birds are typically dependent on the scraps that they can find from the fast food locations — a sad fact of what happens when mankind enters an area — so my contribution may be miniscule, but I find it to be a somewhat appropriate touch.

Sometimes, you will find yourself in a position that does not allow for a moment like this. Such as an airplane flight. I will be in this position later in this year – when I wing my way across the Atlantic ocean. At this present moment, I am not sure exactly how I will accomplish my morning ritual, but I am sure I will find some manner of doing so. It may not be the best solution, but I do know that its the effort that’s really going to count.

And that’s really yhe crux of the entire matter. You have to put forth the effort to maintain your daily practices. You may not always succeed in doing what you normally would at home, where your immediate environment is yours. As my previous example notes, an airplane flight is not in your control. The airline holds all the cards there. You will need to make due – find something else that can substitute. I have a friend who does Yoga in her early morning routine. She flies regularly, so I thought she would be the perfect person to ask. Her response was that she merely changed up parts of her Yoga routine so that she could do them in her seat. Most airlines really frown on the idea of you doing your Yoga routine in the aisle, or even in the back area of the plane near the restrooms. So, she adapted a part of her routine to fight the environment she was in – an environment she couldn’t control in a manner that allowed her morning routine to work.

Which brings up the other point. Its not just making the effort to do your normal daily practices. You need to be flexible to what can and cannot be done. Pitching a royal fit simply because the environment is not setup in a manner that accomodates you… Well, I find that to be rather selfish, especially on a plane. There are a couple of hundred people (on a a crowded flight) that are just as uncomfortable in the same environment that is just as unaccomodating to them as well. Somehow, they are managing to change their routines to fit where they are without too much complaint.

The last side to all of this is to be as unobtrusive as you can. Yes, I am saying to respect the space of those around you. Even when they don’t respect your own space. As an example, this morning, as I was crumbling up my three pieces of toast to give to an already large crowd of birds that were gathering, I wound up with a group of children around me as well. All trying to “pet” the little “birdies”. Twice, I had to remind the children that the birds were not pets, but wildlife that needed to be respected as they ate their “breakfast” — but I did so without scolding. These were not my children – and most likely were not taught to respect wildlife by their parents. But I certainly would have preferred to feed my winged friends without any additional assistance. The fact that I did not have that “respect” for my privacy was definitely not a reason for me to lose my cool and respond angrily. I merely kept that inside, and continued doing what I was doing in a manner that was as respectufl as I could. In the next few days, I will go a little further than the hotel parking lot to try and gain a bit more solitude when feeding my feathered brethren.

Travel rarely brings about the best conditions to continue to maintain one’s daily practices. You will find that your environment is not quite what you are used. There will be other people in the way – some of which may not respect your privacy as much as you would prefer. And sometimes your travel may not place you at the right moment for what you normally do. Be flexible. Remember, the Gods are not going to freak out if you cannot be there to say the Druidic Prayer for Peace exactly at the moment you normally do. For me, its the effort that counts the most – rather than the timing.

–Tommy  /|\

Episode 012 — Two Brendans

Well, the title is a play on the song “The Two Magicians” — and in a way it fits.  The first part of the show is a talk that Brendan Myers gave at this year’s OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering in Mandeville, Louisiana, titled “Highlights in the History of Pagan Philosophy”. The second Brendan is Brendan Howlin reading an excerpt from his book “The Handbook of Urban Druidry”. I have to be honest, I have yet to purchase this book (its on my lengthy ‘to-buy’ list), but am certainly looking forward to reading it now!! The show finishes with a lovely duet by Kellianna and Wendy Rule signing “The Ash Grove” from Kellianna’s “Traditions” album.

The direct download link for this episode is:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/UponaPaganPath012.mp3

As always, you can contact me at elfster@gmail.com.

—-

Brendan Myers books can be purchased via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Brendan-Myers/e/B001JRZNF0/

Brendan Howlin’s book can be purchased via his website:  http://www.urbandruidry.com/

Kellianna’s lovely music can be purchased via her website at:  http://www.kellianna.com/

Wendy Rule’s awesome music can be purchased via her website at:  http://www.wendyrule.com/

Just Because

A little more than a week ago, Summer Solstice moved on through. I read a few posts on Facebook from friends that were celebrating the turn of the Wheel. I had even been invited to a few celebrations that were taking place at various points during that weekend. But I opted for a quiet moment: standing in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee; while watching the sun peek over the horizon. Yes, for those of you that read me on a semi-regular basis (all three of you), this sounds familiar. Its my daily (mostly) ritual for the start of my day. In short, I followed my usual routine for Summer Solstice.

There’s a lot to be said for specific rituals for specific times. Summer Solstice is no exception to that. There are many gorgeous rituals that one can do. One of my favorites is the Summer Solstice Meditation that John Beckett posted a short time ago on Patheos. However, there is also a bit to be said for just handling the day like any other.

My Stone Circle (28Feb2015)

My Stone Circle (28Feb2015)

A few years back, I was struggling to find a way to put organized rituals into my life — specifically those that are meant for specific times in the Wheel of the Year. I had difficulty locating time in the specified day to do a ritual. Sometimes it was because there were competing needs in the course of the day. Other times, it was because I was totally drained of energy to manage a ritual of any sort. One cold evening during the early months of the year, I remember looking outside at the falling snow and thinking it would be really interesting to try a ritual in this weather. I was home alone, so I pulled my boots on, grabbed a coat and headed outside to do just that. It wasn’t much of a ritual, at least I didn’t think so. I walked around the big tree in my backyard, faced each direction, and spoke the words to the Druid’s Prayer. I then beat the accumulated snow off my boats and coat and headed back inside.

I was completely energized by what I had done. It had come about at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way. Except that it wasn’t at any prescribed point in the Wheel. It didn’t have the purpose that any of those particular rituals had. But it had tons more energy! It took a while for me to realize, it was the spur of the moment that really drove me forward. It was that spark of the moment that kindled the fire deep within me. So I spent time thinking about this entire experience. Why did it work for me? What should I do going into the future? And I eventually realized that this was the way that my Paganism was going to have deeper meaning for me.

I still manage to hold some form of ritual at the major spokes in the Wheel of the Year — just not all the time. Its not because it isn’t right for me – not at all. Its merely because its not the right timing for me. There are some rituals that I do follow on with at the appropriate time. There’s honestly not a lot of spark to those moments, and sometimes I feel like I am doing things from rote memory, “just because”. However, giving over to the moment, when everything feels “right” about the here and the now…just letting go and allow myself the self-prescribed permission to do so…that’s the difference.

“Look! Over There!” — Experiencing the World Around Me…

How do you view the world around you?

What are some of the things you look for each day?

Where is the Sacred for you, and how can you define it?

I don’t often spend time reflecting on questions posed to me – particularly those in a face-to-face manner. A short time back, I was asked the above by a stranger who had puzzled out who I am in my online environment. As a podcaster (or podcatser as my mis-spelled business card states), I tend to field all kinds of questions from people wondering how I do this or do that in relation to my spiritual life. And to be completely honest, these are the hardest questions to field. I can handle questions about how and why I came to be on this Pagan Path, where I had been before, and the correlation between the two. But when folks start asking about techniques, spell-work, aspects of ritual — the answers don’t come nearly as quick or easily.

Much of what I do and practice as a Pagan is done impromptu. I have referred to my form of practice as “free-style Jazz Paganism” in the past, and its probably the most on-target descriptive of who I am. At work, I have stepped outside to the little gazebo by the duck-pond more than once — just to sit and watch the ducks, and to quietly speak my moments of reverence to Crow. I have also been known to mutter to myself in the hallways, but that’s just me puzzling out a way to get to data. Its a manner of three dimensional thinking – and a topic for another time.

The World Around Me – As Viewed From My Own Porthole

ArgumentI see my environment as a living, breathing entity: where everything is inter-connected to create this unique moment in time and space. A moment that I cherish as unique, beautiful, and very fleeting. Each entity – animal, human, tree, rock – is its own creation, capable of thought and life on levels that I am likely to never comprehend fully. And as such, each entity deserves respect and honor for who they are. I have a bird bath in my backyard that provides a constant source of entertainment for my cats. For me, the cool water I place in the bird bath, along with the seeds and bread I scatter around it on the ground, is a way of giving to my feathered and furry companions (the neighborhood squirrels) that live around me. I watch their interactions and actions – amazed at the communication skills that they manage between one another.

I do the same thing at the local mall (when I go), sans the bird bath and the scattered food. I watch the verbal and non-verbal communication that people manage with one another. The lack of eye contact with people considered to be total strangers, the determined eye contact and ease of touch between friends and companions. The differences between the intimacy of two people versus the measured distance between those who know one another but do not seem to have that same level of intimacy. Those tiny threads of connection that most of us take for granted, until something happens to reinforce or completely sever them.

Its the manner in which we treat one another that I believe is at the core of the problems we face as the collective human race. Its a lack of understanding or even noticing these threads of connection that keep us from treating one another the same. We focus on skin pigmentation, hair color, height, weight, eye color, ideology — thing that truly do not matter when considering a fellow human being. And as we focus on these particular factors in determining who is a “stranger” and who is “close” to us, we lose sight of who we are:  human beings. Yes, there are some human beings who care not about their fellow human beings – focusing on power, the collection of things, the collection of money – and then use those focal points to determine the value and worth of their fellow human beings. Not enough of these particular things – places you in one category. Having large quantities of these things, places you in another. Or we focus on how people differ from ourselves based on their religious beliefs, who we choose to love, or how many. And we condemn people based on these differences, when in the end we are all merely the same people. Or as Poximo states in the movie Gladiator:  “We mortals are but shadows and dust. Shadows and dust, Maximus!”

Throughout the Day – I Spy With My Little Eye….

Crow in Trinidad, CO

Crow in Trinidad, CO

As strange as this sounds, I see black birds of a variety of types. Over the last six years, no matter where I go – I find black birds flocking near me. There are two Crows at work that sit on the light stanchions at the edge of the parking lot and wait for me. Whenever I get out of my Forester in the morning, they caw at me. I have asked other folks at work if they have noticed the Crows, and they have stated that they do not. “Perhaps, its because they don’t caw?” I usually reply to them with a “good morning” as I walk to my building from the parking lot. And yes, I say that out loud – regardless of who is around. I am quite sure they believe me to be slightly tetched in the head, but I honestly don’t care. Grackles are the noisier of the black birds I tend to see — and usually when they come around in large numbers, I know that I am not following something I should be doing for Crow. Then its time to get back into meditation and figure out what I missed.

But the black birds are not the only thing I see throughout the day. As I mentioned before, I view the connections, the relationships that make things go. I watch how others treat one another. I will typically go through my day trying to seek out the one person that needs a word of encouragement, a smile, a touch of the shoulder — anything to remind them that there are people in the world that are kind, and do care. And to let them know that I have walked a mile or more in those moccasins too.

I sometimes really believe that our modern-day society needs to yank the plug on our computers, tablets, laptops, and phones — and just observe the world around them in silence. I’ll let this video scene from Babylon 5 explain why that is necessary, in my opinion.

The Sacred is All Around

I have had this particular question asked of me before. Where do I find the Sacred, how can I define that? There is simplicity in this answer, cloaked by complexity. The Sacred is all around us, all within us. The Universe is Sacred. Wherever we look, we can find the Scared. But defining it…. I only have one question for that in return:  why would we want to define it?  Once we place it into a little box, bounded by a strict definition, I have to wonder if what is being defined as Sacred can no longer adhere to that definition. To aid my final response, I again turn to J. Michael Stryzinski’s masterful Science Fiction TV show “Babylon 5″ and the warrior/mystic G’kar for support.

Honestly, I have no “truth” for anyone else. I have my desire to explore the environment around me. This includes finding connections between myself and the Gods. I hold no animosity towards the Christian, Muslim, or Judaic faiths. In fact, when the followers of these faiths disagree with me, I accept the disagreement for what it is – a difference in perceiving the world around us, and realize that it comes from each of us being a unique individual that occupies a specific position in time and space. We are who we are, and we perceive and experience phenomenon differently. In turn, we interpret each experience differently as well. Its when we choose to impose our own understanding and experiences on to others – through “conversion”, “unwanted witnessing”, and just sheer force of violence – that’s when we break the trust we all hold in communication. Its when we create the walls of division – and find reasons to treat those who are different as “unworthy” or “incorrect” in experiences that are so uniquely individual. And its at this point, where we cease to treat one another with kindness. For me, this is the crucible where our social problems of today is born.

–Tommy /|\

Informally Clothing Myself

This past week, I have sat and watched as the news exploded with issues related to the Charleston shooting — mostly about tearing down Confederate memorials and removing the flag that flies at some of those locations. If you are looking for a post related to that topic, please move along. I am only setting some of my frame of mind here. After a few days of watching the back and forth on the topic – I decided that this paragraph would be all that I do to address the issue. The anger and over-zealousness of the topic on various social media platforms helped me to realize that its not worth my effort of a discussion. So let’s move on towards something a little more interesting….

—-

In a few short months, I will be taking a trip to the northeast for the OBOD East Coast Gathering. This will be my first time there, and I am excited about meeting Damh the Bard, Kristoffer Hughes, and be reacquainted with quite a few of my fellow attendees from the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering from earlier this year. I have had a few private discussions with some of the folks going, and a similar question kept popping up:  what ritual clothing will you be bringing?

MeThis is a somewhat odd question to ask me. I have no robes – and honestly have no real desire to have a set. My ritual garments tend to be whatever I have on my body at the time. A real example of this is the photo you see here. This was taken at the Imbolc Retreat in south Texas earlier this year. I am not sure of who took the photo, otherwise I would have their name attributed here for credit. But this picture was taken during one of the three rituals that I was part of. My ritual wardrobe consists of a pair of jeans, a tshirt, (in this instance) an MLB cap, and a pair of tennis shoes. Seriously. This is about as “formal” as I get dressed up to do most things. I have no need for a ritual robe made specifically for this or that. The Gods accept me for who I am, and that includes the manner in which I am dressed at that moment.

In my mode of thinking, I am an extremely informal individual.  This does not just include ritual, but nearly every facet of my life. At work, I tend towards polo shirts versus button-downs. When I can get away with it, I wear dark jeans rather than dress slacks. I have attended a few weddings of friends, not wearing a tie. And I have caught plenty of flak over the way that I dress. However, my point is always the same:  I would rather dress comfortably and have appropriate personal bearing, than dress uncomfortably and fidget throughout the entire event. I do understand that my informal mannerisms tend to make me unpopular with some folks. Why can I not just follow everyone else’s lead and dress similar to them? Because I would rather be the authentic “me” than try and dress me up in a manner in which I am not. To put it in another way — I would rather be myself, than try to be something I am not.

So, in a few short months, I will be getting on-board a flight to the northeastern United States. And I will be carrying no robes or ritual garments with me. I will have a few shirts with hoods on them, but nothing made or purchased specifically for a ritual. There may be a few who shake their heads because I approach ritual settings from such a lax point of view. Maybe. My experience has been that most people don’t care. Its more about the frame of mind you bring to the ritual, rather than what you have on your body in terms of clothing (or lack thereof in some settings). To be quite open about it — I would rather be my genuine self with what I practice in my spiritual beliefs, than be something I am not. This is why everything I do in that sense – clothing, the ritual itself, the setting it is placed within – is informal. And for me….it works.