Thinking About Music

Music has always been a driving force in my life. My earliest memories of life are associated with 1950s and 1960s country music, thanks to my father. My mother’s tastes were a bit more contemporary for the times, as evidenced by my memories of Abba and Gilbert O’Sullivan. In my high school years, I was introduced to bands such as Van Halen and the Eagles. In the last two years of high school, I found the indie labels such as Megaforce and Metal Blade records, and my introduction to an extremely harder edge of metal music was started.

I drove a two-speed Honda Civic in those days. That vehicle was a lot like driving a golf cart that could get up to 80 miles and hour. I bought a tape deck and a pair of speakers. Nearly every single day, you could hear the sounds of bands like Mercyful Fate, Black ‘N Blue, 45 Grave, Hurricane, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Richard Hell playing from my little sardine-can car. It took a few more years before I was introduced to the Grateful Dead, and much of the 1960s and 1970s rock scenes, which I spend a lot more time in these days.

When I am at work, I have a small Bose speaker that looks like a cube. Usually, I have some kind of music coming from that little speaker – playing on my phone. Especially when I have a difficult piece of code to work on. Music relaxes me – physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Some days, I need a shot of fast-paced music to let my brain travel in ways that I normally don’t think. For that, I either have Motorhead or Eloy coming through the speaker. But, in my very conservative office area, the vocalization of Lemmy Kilmister are not exactly a welcome form of music, so I have a pair of bluetooth speakers I will move to for this.

Now, its likely been noticed that I haven’t listed any Pagan musicians as my go-to choices. I have a handful of these artists in my collection, but rarely do I play any of these in the workplace or when I am looking for something to help me focus and concentrate. I didn’t grow up with any of these artists, so my brain isn’t wired to those sounds the way it is with the music I have described above. When I am looking to concentrate and focus, not even my beloved Grateful Dead is a go-to choice.

Photo by John Beckett

I have been reamed over saying that before. Yes, there are some folks who believe it to be a level of blasphemy that Pagan artists are not at the top of my choices for constant music listening. My typical response is to shrug and walk away. I honestly do not need to have that shoved into my face. Music is an art form that is appreciated by the listener. While I dearly love the vocal stylings of several Pagan musicians, their music touches a different part of me than the music that I listened to back in high school. I pick up Pagan music when I am feeling down and need something that picks up my mood. Something that reminds me of who I am as a Druid, such as Damh the Bard’s “Green and Grey”.

Such attitudes, which I find off-putting at the very least, remind me of the Southern Baptist, Christian ministers who shot me dirty looks when I pulled into the church parking lot with Stryper or Ressurection Band or Jerusalem playing on my speakers. Those bands are all Christian hard rock or heavy metal bands. But because their dress style was similar to that of the hard rock and metal bands of that time (early to mid 1980s), they were judged as being “Satanic”. When I play these albums out and listen to them today, I hear musicians playing a style of music and finding ways to explain the message of their faith. While I am not a Christian, I can appreciate their desire to sing about something that deeply resonates within their being. I find that to hold true with Pagan musicians, as well.

Overt dogmatic practices quickly turn me off. Truth is found in the individual and the manner in which they connect to the world around them. Music is one of the purest ways to relay this. When I hear Pagans tell me that Pagan artists should be at the top of my personal playlist, all I hear is the same tone I heard from Southern Baptist ministers who condemned Christian artists that accessed a style of music to relay their messages of how Christianity brought them hope and comfort in a confusing world.

As I noted overt dogmatic preaching of the Christian faith really turns me off. But nothing makes me feel more ill than a dogmatic Pagan trying to convert the masses to Paganism of one form or another. I have always viewed the Pagan Path as one where adherents come willing, seeking out of curiosity or a desire to find something that fits their understanding of the connectivity of the world. I certainly don’t want to see people come to the Path of Paganism out of fear of what will happen to their soul in the after-life (one of the few concepts that you will ever hear me bash Christianity over).

Before I step off the trail of this post and head down a rabbit hole I did not intend to go, let me pull this back together. Music means a lot of things to me. Its the background of my day. Certain music touches my soul in certain ways. But regardless of all of that, music is an ecstatic piece of freedom contained within the storytelling mode. The lyrics provide wonderful stories combined with musical aspects for punctuating. Done well, those stories stay with us forever. How many of you can “Witchy Woman” with the Eagles when you hear it on the radio? How many of you can sing the lyrics by memory? Think about that for a moment. Those lyrics are memorized and a part of your unconscious thoughts, and that story is easily recalled when you hear the first strains of guitar in the song.

Music is a part of us, provided by very talented people. They have a message or story that they are trying to tell you. Some delivery methods do not lend themselves to being well received by the listener. For instance, I do not like rap music. Nothing presented to me in that format is memorable for me. For others, its quite a different story. The same can hold true for Acid Jazz, a music form that evokes strong emotions for me, but can be described as “noise” by others.

So, crank up your speakers, put something on that brings you joy. Don’t worry about what others might say. The music is for you. Its there to calm your soul. Its there to place you into a particular frame of mind. And who cares whether its something associated with your Spirituality or not. This is about you, your emotions, the way you feel…that’s what matters.

When Life Gets UnConnected

Its the middle of the week, which is the middle of a rough week at work. But its only been rough in terms of the volume of work, and that ain’t all bad. So I’m sitting here at the laptop, enjoying a glass of Rattlesnake IPA from the Big Texan Steakhouse, listening to 80s rock on the headphones, and trying to figure out what to tap on the keyboard for tonight’s post.

I run into moments like this, where the well seemingly runs dry. I’m not completely sure what type. The blog is about how I approach my Druidry on a daily basis, and here I am – drawing a blank. I could write about the American political scene (boooring!), or about the state of baseball with the new trading deadline rules that went into effect for this season (even more booooring!), or I could fall back into talking about SQL code which I find fun, but I don’t think many people would care about.

Well, since I’m in a dry period of material – let’s talk about that for a bit, shall we? I am sure everyone has gone through these particular moments, where the Awen just does not want to flow, and you feel cut off from everything you enjoy from the creative perspective. For me, its a particularly difficult part of dealing with life. You just don’t feel inspired in what you’re doing. Rituals feel stale and rote. Everything creative just feels two-dimensional and uninspired. What in the Nine Hells can you do?

Well, there’s always board games. A good game of solo monopoly can show you a level of monotony that you never dreamed could be had. Or you could play a solo game of the board game Risk. If you ever thought that the game went on forever, you ain’t tried this yet. Or you could drag out a manual on how to repair and maintain the upkeep on your vehicle’s engine. Absolutely stimulating reading. Seriously, you will sink to depths you never previously realized.

The reality that I have found, is to just wait it out. Take a walk through the neighborhood, or if you are lucky enough to be near a nicely wooded park – go there. If you area runner, do that instead. If you ride a bike, try that. Just pedal and steer. No thought (aside from being a safe rider out on the roads) is necessary. Just do. If you read, pick up a book, curl up on the couch with your pet (or pets, if you have more than one furry child at home) or if you prefer your significant other. Let the words drag you into an alternate reality in your mind (unless you are choosing to read some technical manual). Just relax. Try not to fall into binge-watching tv or binge-eating. Too much food is unhealthy, and too much sitting is even more unhealthy. Get the blood flowing, and just turn off the mind for a short bit. Once you have finished all of that, take a shower and go to bed. Get more sleep than you did the night before. When you get up, see if you can recharge that dilithium crystal chamber of your mind and get the starship back up to warp speed.

I believe that the point of all of that is to break up the routine that you have developed. I have find continually routines to be killers for me in the creative aspect. If I can change the routine, find something different to set the focus on or even turn the focus completely off, I have found that it helps resettle the brain-meats and restart the idea of creativity.

I do a lot of trouble-shooting of code in my job. Sometimes, I get so focused on one thing that I miss the little stuff. When that happens, I find I need to take a break to resettle my thought processes and climb out of the routine I have set in troubleshooting. Part of the entire process of finding errors in logical, technical structures is to see things from a different viewpoint. Being too focused in one paradigm can allow pattern-fixation to set in – where you only look for certain keywords or structures. When you are fixated on one style, you miss out on the little details that usually matter. That, I have found, is a mode destroyer in trying to find logic and syntax errors in code. In looking at how to approach my everyday Druidry, I have found this to be an excellent way to help reset the way I see connectivity in the world around me when I have hit pattern-fixation.

Maybe some of this will work for you and kick you out of the creative rut you can find yourself in. Maybe it doesn’t. Perhaps, the creative rut is something a little deeper, a little more complex – such as depressive state. I’m no expert on depression, but I do have my own bouts with this entire thought-pattern. It is a hard one to break through. And even when you manage to break through, you can find yourself right back in it shortly afterwards. For this, I can’t really provide anything beyond my own personal experiences. Sometimes, finding my way out of this paradigm is as easy as a cup of tea and some music. Sometimes, nothing I try works and I find myself breaking down to tears and an inability to make myself move. The only advice I have is to continue trying to fight your way through it.

I can; however, recommend a particular book that has helped me in the past. Cat Treadwell‘s book Facing the Darkness has a lot of helpful scenarios and methodologies to try. None are a guarantee of success, but each helps develop a personal toolkit to at least try when you find yourself trying to break through to your own personal light in the darkness.

Whatever methodology you decide to use to assist you in getting things back into normal motion; whether you are fighting a dry creative time frame, a barren period of feeling connected to the world around or trying to make your way through a personal period of darkness, remember that your friends are there. You know who you can talk to about what is happening without getting any kind of judgment. Treasure those people, for they are important – even when all they can do is listen. Listening without judgment is sometimes the very best medicine you can find. Even when all you have is a block on your creativity. No one makes it through this journey of Life alone. We all make it to together.

Promises at the Beginning of the Harvest

Sheep near the Giant’s Causeway in the UK

Typically, I do not write very much about how I go through celebrating the various aspects of the Wheel of the Year. So I thought I would try my hand at doing so. For the next turn of the Wheel – from Luhnasadh to Lughnasadh – I’ll be writing about how I went through each celebratory turn of the year. Hopefully, someone will get something out of all of these coming posts, and find inspiration in their own Path.

I don’t normally do the celebrations of the Wheel with others, except Imbolc and Spring Equinox. Imbolc is through a gathering of ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) folks down near Mountain Home, Texas. Spring Equinox is done with some OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) members at the Gulf Coast Gathering down in a very nicely wooded park near Mandeville, Louisiana. Both groups of folks are like family to me, though I have done both my Bardic and Ovate initiations in Louisiana (I am not a member of the ADF). The rest of the Wheel of the Year is spent on my own, though I am looking into changing aspects of that going forward (provided my life kinda settles down where health issues are concerned).

Lughnasadh tends to be conflated with Lammas by a lot of folks. The reality is that while both celebrate the same thing – the start of the harvest – and around the same time frame – the beginning of August – these are two different holidays from two different cultures. Lammas comes from English and Scottish cultures, while Lughnasadh comes from Celtic roots, specifically. For me, I don’t really draw that fine of a distinction between the two. Same time frame, same celebratory reason, similar name…for me, I’m not too picky, they’re the same. There are many folks that will disagree with me on this point, and frankly, I’m perfectly fine with that.

As this is the start of the harvest, I tend to watch for signs in my local community to see how close the local farmers follow to this period of time. A few days ago, August 5th to be precise, I noticed that the corn farmers in the area were already harvesting their crops. Noting this in my journal, I started the preparations that I needed for my own following of this time frame. Now I do not have garden on my backyard, so there is not much for me to harvest. But, there are ways I can work off of this concept from a symbolic perspective, none of which is really all that much of a ritual.

I will be honest, the typical perspective of what a ritual is does not really fit into my aspect of daily practice. I m unlikely to spend a lot of time calling quarters or acknowledging the Gods, the Spirits of the Land, or even the Spirits of Ancestor. For me, personal, individual practice is a lot shorter and quieter in terms of ritual. I find less pull and interaction from the Gods and the Spirits during ritual, and a ton more from being out and about in my day and evening. Formal ritual is a wonderful, bonding moment and emotion when with other people. The creation and enactment of those particulars brings a bond of emotion that is incredible, but rarely do I get the tug of the Gods and Spirits in those moments.

Lughnasadh was spent indoors for me this year. The temperatures outdoors are fairly hot during this time of the year in Texas, and this year is no exception. After my pneumonia from the end of last year, and my recent diabetic seizure, I am careful with where and when I place myself outdoors these past few months. I might be a bit too cautious with extreme weather conditions at this time, but I am trying to take care of myself a bit better.

Anyways, I held my observation of this turn of the Wheel indoors, in my office. As I noted, I am not a farmer, I am without a garden in my yard, and do not really have much to harvest. A trip to the grocery store had netted from fresh vegetables and fruit, and I pulled an apple and an orange into the office with me. I gave my nod to the four directions, sat and held each piece of fruit in my hand. I contemplated where it might have come from, the trip that it took to get to the grocery store, before I bought it and brought it home. Certainly, neither had grown in the wild, but rather were more likely to have been on trees in large farms. Then there were the people who had picked/harvested the fruit from those trees, some were probably migrants here in the United States – potentially having crossed the border, illegally. Forgetting the politics of their plight, I focused on the idea of what brought them here, the desire for a new life for themselves and their families. Yes, even they are mixed into the harvest aspect that we should give thanks for. Thanks that these folks are taking a chance to find a better life, to find freedom. There is so much that goes into the concept of the harvest.

Strange as it may seem, I look to Lughnasadh to be something akin to the American tradition of Thanksgiving. This is time to thank the Land for providing for us, to thank the Ancestors for providing their guidance, and thanking the Gods for Their presence in our lives. Once I reached this point, I took a knife and carved the apple and the orange into slices. The first full slices to come from both were set off to the side, and I ate my fill of the rest. The leftovers, minus the first pieces, were placed in a container that I took to work. These would be my snacks over that Monday upon my return to work. The first slices, I took out to the eastern circle (my stone circle is currently dismantled for cleaning) and I set these on a smaller stone from the circle as an offering to the Land, a reminder that we give back to the Land that which we take. This to complete the cycle of sustenance that we receive.

In my view, Lughnasadh is a time of giving thanks to our Gods, the Spirits of the Land, and our Ancestors who have come before. We are starting the time of harvest. Life has the promise of plenty, the promise of being alive, the promise of survival for the coming Winter. And where we have plenty, we can provide to others. Show the kindness that makes us who we are. For in the actions of kindness, we can show outwardly to the rest of the world that there is a part of the world that cares for others. To me, this is part of the reminder of how we are all connected to one another…and to me, that is the promise for the future. The promise from Lughnasadh.

More Aspects of My Druidry

My Druidry is more than a lifestyle, it is who I am, what I do, and what I experience. Druidry is not just a Spiritual framework through which I practice rituals, work magick (when necessary), or what not. Druidry is a part of who I am, the lens through which I see the world, and the manner in which I approach all aspects of my life. There are Druid authors and individuals to whom I look to for inspiration and guidance. Their approach to their own Druidry matters to me because it shows me different experiences and reactions to the world around me, which lets me grow in my own knowledge and experiences.

How about we start with what I consider to be the most obvious perspective, but others may not readily notice. I am no holy-man. My approach to Druidry is my own. I openly express it so that others might see a different approach that they can borrow or steal from as they need to. After all that borrow/steal approach is how I have slowly built my own approach over the last thirty years.

I’m not a re-constructionist in any manner of the word. My idea of how I approach my Spirituality is not about trying to re-create what has come before. Nor am I trying to build something for others. I am flattered when others see something that I do in my approach and adopt/steal/borrow/adapt it for themselves, but my intention was never to create that for others. Its merely a matter of what I do.

Nor am I looking to appropriate something from another culture. I work directly with two First Nations’ Gods, but I do not utilize any ritual aspect of the People in what I do. As I have noted before, the Gods call who They call. Taking from the cultural and ritual aspects of the People was never a part of the bargain I struck.

My Druidry is not about magick and spell-casting. I have never been good at that, and would prefer to leave that to those who are. I use magick and spells only when I have no other recourse available to me. My Druidry is about connectivity – with the land, with my neighbors, with the Gods, with my Ancestors. My Druidry focuses on exploring those connections, finding the wisdom that I can from all of that, and adding it, where suitable, to what I do.

An amazing view from Grand Teton National Park

I see my Druidry in nearly every aspect of my daily life. I experience the connectivity to the Wheel of the Year in the local farmers’ fields. I see the birthing cycles of the cows in the pastures I drive past on my way to work. I see the seasons of the year in the trees and fields all around, and in the people I communicate with. The changes in the color of the foliage. The way that people dress. I can feel the changes in their moods throughout their day. I can feel their tense moments, their joys, their difficult moments in life, and yes, even their anger. I always try to make myself available to listen to them, to share in their triumphs, and be there, as needed, for the sad and angry moments. My Druidry is about connections and exploring that.

My Druidry is also about my Ancestors, both the people that have come before, and those that are here. My relationship with my family is not the strongest. I am very different from them. Most are consumed by the politics of the day, and prefer to argue and bicker over such things. Most are ultra-conservative in their perspective, and a few will even utilize that perspective in anger. I have slowly taken the time to listen, ask questions where I can, and let their derision flow past the conversation at hand, and try to focus on the underlying topic. That aspect of finding the focus in a river of anger, mockery, and stubbornness is becoming a part of my Druidry. How can help to heal when I focus on the trigger words that are utilized to cover their wounds? My Ancestors of the Past are easier to work with, though there are the questions on why I stepped away from their Christian faith.

Many people see what has become to be called “the Storm.” I see the swing of the pendulum to an opposite extreme. My Druidry is also about balance. Much like the swing of the clock’s pendulum, the world has a balance between many different sides. Understanding those invisible tides can always be a challenge, but it has become a part of my Druidry. I stand at the edges, ready to defend those that need defense, and to counsel, console, and listen for those that need it. My Druidry is about showing the compassion for those that are seeking it. I am not seeking to change others, but am available to help when they require a steadying hand. My desire for change is within myself, and from that, I can only hope that others will seek change as well.

As I noted in the start of this post, these are aspects of my Druidry. This is definitely not the totality of what comprises my beliefs or my approach. This is just a small part of that entire perspective. In this blog, I have spent a lot of time relating to other parts. I will start focusing on the Wheel of the Year and how I approach that aspect of my Druidry. I’ll start with the most recent stop on the Wheel – Lughnasa and Lammas – in the next blog post.

Health – a Reminder

As I wrote earlier, July 3rd was a rough day for me. At approximately 5pm on that day, I collapsed in my office suite in front of a few of my coworkers. From the accounts I have gotten from those who were there, I had stopped breathing for almost a full minute before I came to. After that, the paramedics arrived and whisked me to the Emergency Room at the nearby hospital. After a few hours, I was moved to the Intensive Care Unit, where I did not come to until around 7pm on July 4th. I had a high blood glucose reading of over 1100, insanely high from where I should be normally (120-160). I had suffered a diabetic seizure. As I have read up on this, i have come to realize that it was not my heart that had stopped, but my brain. I could have suffered brain damage. I could have died. I was lucky.

Many people go through very intense experiences through events such as this. Mine did not happen until after the fact. On July 6th, I was released from ICU and sent home. That night, my first at home since the seizure, I came face-to-face in a dream-state with Crow.

“What did you think you were doing?” I had been trying to figure out which of my numerous medications were making my feet swell. Since my doctor’s nurse practitioner had stated that the swelling would “eventually go away”, I had taken matters into my own hands. I used the only method I could think of – stop all my medications and take only one for three days and check my feet during that time. Not a wise move on my part, but it was the only method I could think of. “I have need for you that I cannot get elsewhere. But I can only stop certain things from happening, so often.” It was quite clear that my Patron God was unhappy with my actions.I was given an ultimatum of sorts…either follow through with what was asked or be on my own.

I enjoy a very strong relationship with Crow. But to be scolded like a five-year-old child has never been part of that. I promised to do better, and the response came back to prove it. That meant a re-dedication to Crow, which I prepared myself for, and did a few nights later at the stone circle in the backyard.

Now, there will be those who claim all this to be my imagination getting away with me. Frankly, I do not care what is said. I know what I have experienced, and continue to experience. Their opinions mean nothing to me. They can say what they want to. Hurled insults and ridicule mean little to me. Sure, their words have a sting, but my life is not about trying to please them. My life is about my own experiences, what I learn, what I see, the people I met and connect with…that’s what matters more than anything else. I control what matters to me, and I control how much or little the opinions of others fit into all of that.

I have always inwardly scoffed at the perspective of near-death experiences. Those have always felt so phony to me. Until now. From 5pm on July 3rd to 7pm July 4th, I remember nothing. My brain had shut down because my blood was too thick to be utilized properly. So, if that what death was like, then it was a removal of the aspect of experience that can best describe it. Is that death? I am not sure but it certainly describes an aspect of what I would seriously consider to be death. Its an environment that I hope to never experience again – though I do know that there will come a point where my body will completely fail me. What lies beyond that, I am not completely sure, as I have noted.

My relationship with Crow has been renewed. But with that comes the need to follow through on various things that were asked. Some of these have long range implications and are a little complicated. I have worked on these in smaller pieces, which is the speed I need to continue. Smaller, shorter range items, require a bit more speed and urgency behind those. This experience has lit a small fire of urgency under those. My “spanking” from Crow impressed on me the need to complete things that were asked.

Yes, I have gotten lazy in aspects of my Spirituality. I have also gotten lazy in aspects of my friendships. I moved up here near the Oklahoma/Texas border to be closer to my job, and to have a slower lifestyle than living in the city. I have lived more as a recluse than anything else. It is long past time to no longer be that recluse. That means changes, opportunities that are elsewhere, and making decisions that I didn’t think I would have to make. Now, I have to seriously put consideration into those.

The only piece of advice I can really hand out is this: do not put other things in front of your health. If your charge is to help others, you cannot help them when you cannot function yourself. If your charge is something else, you cannot have the experiences you should have when your health is poor or failing. You have to take care of yourself.

The below picture is from the afternoon before a lunar eclipse. The location is near Dolores, Colorado. Not taking care of my health means that I will not be able to fully experience places and sights such as this.

The Future Looks Here for Inspiration and Understanding, Whether We Are Ready or Not

Every once in a while, I hit one of those moments where I look at my Druidry and wonder what the Nine Hells I am doing. I carry a small book where I have quotes written…and today, I dug in and found this quote from a talk by Kristoffer Hughes at Pantheacon a few years back: “Druids are not defined by who they are. They are defined by what they do.” As well as this one from the same talk: “Stand up, be the Druid that you are. Be the Priest that you are. BE YOU.”

Those two quotes are reminders to me that I cannot measure myself against anyone else. We all function, to some degree, in congruent circles. Our characteristics, values, and functions can overlap to any degree, but in the end, we are all unique individuals at this moment in time. What we offer up to the world around us is not just a set of skills, but also a unique analysis of the experiences that we all have. Kristoffer also commented “…the Druids of the Future will look to the Druids of Today for reference when it comes to rituals…”, and I will add, a great many other aspects of Druidry as well.

What in the Nine Hells am I doing? Existing. When I write in my journals, I am documenting that existence. Not just for myself, but for whoever uncovers those journals and reads them. Then, my words will become part of their existence as well. Our Druidry of Today is a single marker in the time-line of Druidry, but it lives on in our collective experiences – documented in blogs, journals, books, articles, videos, and podcasts for those Druids of the Future. Think about that, not in terms of immortality or what it means for you, but for the awesome responsibility that it really means…just a thought under the watchful eyes of our Gods.

#JustAThought

I wrote the above as a Facebook status back on July 17th. However, there is more to say, and more to add. So I am adding on to this via a blog post. I wrote this with a mind towards the future. My focus there came from a very recent event in my life. On July 3rd, about a half hour from the end of my workday, I had a serious diabetic seizure in my office. Luckily, there were quite a few people in the office at that time, and some of them immediately rushed to my side. I stopped breathing for a little more than a minute. When the paramedics arrived, I was taken to the local hospital, where my condition was stabilized over time. I woke up at 7pm on July 4th, very disoriented and confused as to how I came to be in the hospital. On July 6th, I was discharged and sent home. My doctor refused to release me back to work for the following week, and I had a lot of time to think about how poorly I had been dealing with my health condition. I also had time to think about some of the various projects that I had been thinking of doing, but had not started. One of which is a book that will be about my experiences as a Pagan of some thirty-plus years.

As I started back into that paused project, I began to wonder why in the Nine Hells I would do such a thing. That led to me thinking about why I write my experiences in journals. That dropped down into why I write blog posts, why I write articles (none of which have been published by the magazines I submit to, yet), why did I run two podcasts? What was I trying to accomplish with all of this? I have never wanted to be “famous” or “well known”. When I thumbed through my book of quotes, I came across Kristoffer Hughes’ statement about how the Druids of the Future will take their inspiration from the Druids of the Present. Where would they get their inspiration and information? From all the media formats, we have taken the time to create, curate, and disseminate. The articles, blogs, books, podcasts, interviews, music that we create, the photos we take, the documentaries that we create and participate in – all of that provides a record for the future. All of that shows how we are, what we did, how we did it – even how we had fun with one another at public celebrations. All of that becomes a record of who we are, set aside for the future generations to take the inspiration for their own model of Druidry, for how and what they want to build onto our model, and yes, even what they want to reject from our model as they aim towards their own iteration of Druidry.

This is how our Druidry will grow – one foot in the Past, another foot in the Present, and our eyes towards the Future. I have no idea what the Future will hold for Druidry, Paganism or even the human race. But I can already see the younger generations of Druids, Pagans, and humans already seeking for ways to place their own imprint onto what will be their Present, and how much of that will provide the beacon for where the Future will move from their coming Present.

As I have said, I have no desire to be some muckity-muck, well-known Pagan. I write the blog to present my own ideas and thoughts, as they stand right now. Not for the gratification of my ego, but for the hope that what I write will provide the inspiration for others to continue seeking on their own individual Paths, and then share their knowledge and experiences for others to be inspired by as well. Moreover, I have come to realize what an awesome responsibility that is. I am sure there is a level of seduction for authors, musicians and podcasters when the public begins to treat them differently than they were before becoming successful in the public eye. In my opinion, the focus should be on the message, not the messenger. However, that may be a thought process for another time.

Our time in this incarnation is limited for a time that we do not know. My desire is to leave this incarnation having done something to add to the overall knowledge of today’s Paganism. Not for a name, not for a title, not for the recognition, but for the inspiration of others to come.

Seeking Baggage in Percentages and Stereotypes or Someone Call a Porter For Me

There are not that many folks who grew up as Pagans (though that number keeps getting bigger and bigger as time goes on). Thus, many of us have come from other backgrounds and theologies from when we were growing up. Not many folks got the chance to experiment and check out other belief systems. Usually, we all tagged along with our parents to whatever church or belief system that they were into. Me? Well, my family were Methodists, but my parents wanted me to have the ideology and beliefs of the Catholic church instilled into me. Thus, I was put into Catholic schools from the sixth grade on. When the sisters or the priests would ask me how I believed, I would always respond that I was Methodist. They would point out that I understood when to stand, sit, and genuflect better than the Catholic children did. I guess I took the concept of understanding the theology that was presented to me better than others. Or maybe I just didn’t want to look so obviously different by merely sitting quietly (the option provided to the non-Catholics that had to come to the mandatory service). Whatever the case, a lot of those posturing movements stuck with me over the years, just as much of what we learned from our various previous theological aspects have stuck with us over the years. Some folks call this our “Christian baggage”.

Some of the hills around the Red Rocks amphitheater, which sits about 9,500, compared to the estimated 30,000 Druids in the US

Recently on Facebook, Morgan Daimler brought up this aspect of “Christian baggage” that is apparently strewn throughout our cultural society. As an example, when you first meet a person, most folks will assume that this individual is a Christian of some kind. As if the auto-default for folks in America is Christian. That default setting seems to imply a bias of sorts towards Christianity, but is this bias because of baggage, a leftover set of internal programming from our days as younger folks?

Leaning on the Wikipedia page titled “Religion in the United States”, 73.7% of the total population in the United States is Christian of some sort. The statement goes further to include Protestants (48.9%), Catholics (23.0%), and Mormons (1.8%) into the Christian classification. Judaism is the second largest population at 2.1% and Islam drops in at 0.8%. Calculating this all together, this makes a total of 76.6%, meaning that Paganism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and dozens upon dozens of other beliefs make a total of 23.4%. With a nearly three to one ratio, it certainly seems to imply that the programming is correct to one degree. What about the Pagan groups?

In the same Wikipedia article, it cites a study by the American Religious Identification Survey that estimates that there are approximately 30,000 Druids in the United States. It also states that Wicca is the far more populous group within the Neo-Pagan (their words not mine) grouping. I’d estimate that the difference between Wicca and Druidry could be as high as a four-to-one ratio. Hardly anything to challenge even the lowest percentage of less than a percent for the followers of Islam. So I would, again, make the assumption that the default setting being Christianity in most aspects of assumption would be correct. Annoying as fuck, but correct.

So, the better question is whether we should be pissed off when people assume that we are Christian, particularly if they do not ask the question. Well, I would suggest that assuming things about people is not the nicest thing to do. Assumptions tend to lean into aspects of stereotyping, which takes us down paths towards racism, ageism, gender discrimination, and spending time beating up on Gingers (red-heads).

I, for one, am not a fan of stereotypes whatsoever. As an example, when I went to the convention in San Diego for one of my college’s vendors, after my presentation I was asked by folks from another college up near Minneapolis if I helped herd cows in the pasture after I got off of work. Now, these folks were trying to be light-hearted and break the conversational “ice” but its a stereotype that grates on my nerves. Yes. I live in Texas. Yes. I drive down Farm-to-Market roads that bisect six different cow pastures. Yes. I understand where I am in the season by the size of the calves in the fields. And yes, I have helped herd a cow from off the road back into the pasture. It is, after all, a neighborly thing to lend a hand where it is needed and necessary, even if my cow herding skills are non-existent (which they are). I did not fire off a retort nor did I chide them for their statement. I laughed lightly, and moved the conversation elsewhere. Pick your fights wisely.

So, as I continue to pick through all of this – trying to find an obvious aspect of Christian influence within secular US culture, I just cannot find it. Certainly, there are some aspects where people will use the default assumption that *everyone* is Christian and bring something Christian to the forefront (prayers at football games, before meals, when things go haywire – everyone seems to default to praying to a Christian-inspired aspect of God, for instance). However, as I noted in the statistics, at three-to-one ratio of Christian to everything else, the assumption is a fairly safe one to make.

Again, I have to wonder if this is even a fight worth picking. Paganism is a growing religion, but I sincerely doubt that we will see it rise to any kind of percentage growth to rival Judaism at a little more than two percent of the total population. At least not in the near generations. Personally, I think combating the constant default to stereotypical understanding of those who are not like you, would be a far better aspect to strive for. That; however, is me dreaming of a world where people have a much higher degree of respect for others. At this point in our collective societal atmosphere, I fear I am spitting into the wind.