All throughout my (ahem) professional career, I have seen a literally alphabet soup thrown at me. MBA, DBA, MCSA, MCSE, MCP, PhDE, and even more – all usually appended to the end of a signature block in an Email. In my Spiritual life, I have seen similar notations. 3rd Degree this, Certified instructor of that, yadda-yadda-yadda. Now, its easy to be dismissive of this stuff. After all, not everyone is financially capable of chasing these little scraps of alphabet – all of which have meaning. These credentials speak of who these people are, and what they (supposedly) know. But I do know individuals who have not played the Alphabet Chase game, and are as intelligent (and sometimes more so) as the individuals gathering the titles. So, do are these non-titled individuals an anomaly, or are they indicators of the poor quality of results from the institutions that bestow these alphabetized, encrypted descriptors?
Let’s open this with a bit of honest. I have credentials after my name as well. BSIT, MMIS, MBA. All this means is that I hold a (BSIT) Bachelors of Science in Information Technology, a (MMIS) Masters in Management of Information Systems, and a (MBA) Masters of Business Administration. Here in the outside world, the MBA tends to carry more weight. More “oooh!” factor. Its the one degree I care the least about, and the one that has the least amount of meaning towards what I do for a living. It was a door prize to a failed attempt at a Doctorate degree. Essentially, I amassed a pile of credits trying to get to the Doctorate degree, and when the pressure finally forced me to capitulate, I was offered two more Masters level classes to attain my MBA. Sure. Why not? I did quite a bit of work…I should get something for my effort, right? Most people are in awe when they hear I have an MBA. The concentration is in Information Security. Think about that for a minute. I have a Masters of Business Administration in Information Security. If that doesn’t sound silly to you…it should. But if I had said nothing more than I had an MBA, there’s a greater potential of you being in awe. But I honestly did not achieve my degrees to place people in awe of my credentials. I wanted the knowledge that supposedly backs up those credentials. And in all honesty, I could have (and probably have) gleaned most of that knowledge through my workplace experience.
See, credentials from colleges, universities and such state that you have knowledge of the theory of how to do things. The same goes for programs such as the training within OBOD, ADF, or any other spiritual organization. And knowledge is a good thing to have…but without using that knowledge to grow your experience, its just knowledge. Which is why I am not impressed with Alphabet Soup credentials. Knowing things is good. Using what you know to get things done, is even better. And sometimes, you didn’t need to go through an entire study program or college degree to get the knowledge that you needed to make things go.
Earlier this year, I attended Pantheacon – my first ever Spirituality convention. I honestly had nu clue what to expect. What I experienced was something somewhere between a giant meet-and-greet, an Anime convention, and a professional organization’s convention where training gets dispensed. Its the latter part of this that I want to address. The panels were far and away, the most intriguing moments for me. Certainly, other parts of the convention were great: being startled by the Krampus Walk and the total amount of noise that they made coming down the hall to the lobby; meeting Shauna Aura Knight and spending time talking with her face-to-face; getting to watch the lovely silliness of Kristopher Hughes; and two lovely morning breakfasts with my roomie for the event, John Beckett, and fellow OBOD member Frank Martinez. All of that made for a great time, but it was the panels were I was able to listen to how other people approached the themed topic, and write notes of how I could incorporate some of their approaches into my own.
For a couple of year running, my local area had Pagan Pride Days events. The last two years, we have had Pagan Unity events – which have had a similar feel and vibe. Each of these events have had panel discussions available to the folks, as well as rituals done by various local groups. I have been party to more than one super awesome conversation at these events, and have been able to take away something from each one that I have incorporated into my own daily life. So, Spiritual conventions are not the only place where such information can be gathered, and such discussions can be had. And social media platforms allow us to branch out in further with blogs, such as this one, and podcasts, and online radio shows, and Facebook groups, and Google Hangouts, and Twitter feeds, and Instagram accounts, and Email – oh my!
But the key isn’t just reading, and listening. Its about having the conversations through comments. I am envious of John Beckett’s blog over on Patheos – its located here, if you want to check it out. His posts gather all kinds of comments which turn into some really awesome conversations. Quite a bit of the time, I feel out of my depth with the people that post there, but I have dipped my toe into the conversations from time to time. But whether these folks realize it or not, I learn something from their comments. Yes, John posts excellent stuff, but many times, his comment threads yield very rich, enticing, and complex conversations that take deer trails in so many different directions from his original post. We also have books. And music. And rich podcasts such as “The Celtic Myth Podshow” which literally bring the myths and legends to life right before our very ears!
Literally, we have the equivalence of college material at our fingertips, where our Spirituality is concerned. We can learn any direction and style we want. We can expand on that knowledge with conversations – physical and electronic. We can petition the writers of the blog posts, the creators of the podcasts, the authors of the blog posts for more clarification on topics. We can meet with our fellow travelers on our various Paths both face-to-face, and in online environments. In the end, its not about how much knowledge we glean, or what credential we can place after our name – its about how we take that knowledge, the methods we have discussed with others – its about taking that and putting it to use.
For me, as a polytheist, its how I utilize that knowledge to move forward in how I honor my Three, and how I handle the work and tasks provided to me by Them. Because, to be honest, Crow doesn’t care that I have an MBA. Crow doesn’t care that my MBA was a door prize to a failed run at a Doctorate degree. Crow cares about how I utilize that knowledge. Its not about the credentials, its not about the degrees, its not about the certifications, and to a point its not about the knowledge. Its about how I use that knowledge.
So, in the last post, I was making some notations about Pagan leadership, but as was pointed out to me by one of my three loyal readers – I never really discussed much of what I felt made a leader. That’s fair. So let’s start with defining what a Pagan leader looks like. Wait…I have a picture.
Ok, ok. I’m kidding. I am definitely not what I would consider a Pagan leader. I wouldn’t even say I was a person of any notable status. But. There are aspects of what I do that fall into what I consider to be the arena of a Pagan leader.
See, I am not talking about people that just “do” things, or write books and articles, or even those that sing songs. Those people have some of the aspects of being a leader, in that they get things done, or write their thoughts out and place those where people can read or experience that. Leaders, in my mind, are a lot more than that, and are generally not as out in the public eye. Though, I would suggest that they should be.
For me, leaders are inspiring. They don’t have all the answers, nor do they pretend to. They do know where to start to find the answers, and typically, they are not seeking the answers for themselves. Most leaders shun the spotlight. They place their community and group before themselves. They are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work – even when they are not asked or when they are a guest.
For me, leaders don’t prod people along a path. There’s no need to herd cats. That’s not what being a leader is about. In my opinion, leaders are mentors. They are not trying to create a hierarchy. They are not gathering people to themselves so that there will be someone to hear their words. They are there to help others on the Path. Willing to listen, and offer advice when asked, a leader is a communicator that speaks when necessary.
With that said, I will offer a bit more observation and opinion. I have been in the Pagan community; both as a semi-active member and as an “edge of the circle” observer. I have been a Solo Adherent, and a member of a coven or two. I have seen “group leaders” in social environments, as well as private. Sadly, the Pagan community, by and large, has very few leaders. There are a lot of loud Generals, and not nearly as many of the leaders that I think would be ideal. But perhaps, that’s because these people are so low-key, that its hard to discern who they are with just casual observation?? Perhaps.
On the flip side of all of that, I have met quite a few people that I would consider to be leaders. They are low-key. They are nurturers. They are teachers. They tend to shun the spotlight. Rather, they want their fellow travelers to step up and become the right individuals in charge. These folks lead their church congregations. They serve in positions on national organizations. They nurture individuals that are in their immediate circles when there is confusion on a topic. They write blog posts. They write articles. They write books. They make music. They take time out of their lives to travel, meet others, and teach the values of being a kind, nurturing leader to others. They hope. They dream. They are no different than any of the rest of us. And that is what is most important.
There is no need to name these people. They are easily found. They are easily approached. They will talk with you like any other person. They will laugh with you. They give the most wonderful hugs. They look just like anyone else. And its not the spotlight that they seek. Its not the notoriety. They have no desire to become the Big Name Pagan. They merely want the Pagan community to grow, mature, and nurture itself. If being a leader is about getting your name recognized by others…your priority is way off-base.
What is a leader? Its not the cowboy wrangling a herd of cats across a river. That is a cute commercial, but nowhere near the ideal image of a leader (and it should be noted that the commercial is meant to be absurd, not taken seriously). Your Pagan leadership is around you. Those folks are generally not trying to locate the nearest tv camera crew, nor are they trying to find the nearest beat writer to drop a story. They work tirelessly behind the scenes at your conventions, and gatherings…and if they are good at it, they are unseen by most people attending these gatherings. And like so many people that I have met in these conventions and gathering over the past year, they are no different than any of us. Those that are polytheists are trying to honor their Gods with what they do. Those that are doing other things within their belief systems, are focused on those as well.
Earlier this year, I attended Pantheacon for the first time. I met many new faces. Some of whom I had only conversed with online. Some I had never met before. And being the people watcher that I am – I sat on the sidelines and observed. I saw many Pagans, happy to be who they were. And I saw leaders. Quietly being who they were. None of them walked the hallways near the meeting rooms with an entourage walking before them to announce their entrance to the area. Many of them were approachable by anyone…and easily entered into conversations with strangers. Even the strange hippy with the Grateful Dead t-shirts and the thinning long-hair. They were nurturing to others. They were there with helpful suggestions. They listened intently to total strangers that approached them with a story or a suggestion or a question.
When I talk about leaders, I don’t mean people who bark orders at others – and direct people to get things done. Anyone can do that. Leaders are those who look to be the anchor for those that need a momentary harbor from the raging river of Life. Leaders are those who help others to grow. Leaders are those that are there. Sure, decisions can be made by those that show up, but Leaders are derived from those that show interest in others. Leaders are derived from those that try and help a Community grow, not try to gather followers like a friending contest on Facebook.
So, to answer the question – how do I know what a leader is? I know a leader when I see them. Pinning down an exact definition is like trying to nail jello to the wall. But I do know them when I see them. Even if they don’t believe that they are really leaders.
Leadership scares the shit out of me. Seriously. I have noted this a few times: some folks look at me as a “natural” leader. I maintain that I am not. But my reasoning, while gathered from a fictional character in a movie, is weak at best.
In a scene from the Sylvester Stallone movie “The Demolition Man”, the character of Edgar Friendly makes the statement: “I’m no leader. I do what I have to. Sometimes people come with me.” It is a snarky line, but it is also an issue of pushing the leadership off into space.
See, there are leadership qualities that people have – the ability to think quickly on your feet. The ability to break problems into workable tasks. The ability to delegate those workable tasks to people who have the ability to get those done. And the ability to motivate people to get things done. For some strange reason, I have some of the ability to motivate people. I know that I have the ability to break problems down into workable tasks. I do that every day in my job. I also have the ability to stay calm when things come apart at the seams. But I have to be honest and give the United States Air Force the credit for some of this as well. All of that is delineated into a particular skillset. Its called troubleshooting.
In my opinion, troubleshooting is not a skillset of leadership. It is a skillset of the Troubleshooter, which is something I do consider myself to be. I enjoy taking situations that are in chaos, sorting things out, prioritizing what needs to be done, and rolling up my sleeves and getting arm deep in the issues. I can be problematic when I am in this mode. I can push those that are in a position of leadership out of the way. Essentially picking them up, setting them to one side, and saying: “Stay right there until I solve this. Then you can have the steering wheel again.” In my military career, I have told Commissioned Officers to “get the fuck out of the way” while trying to resolve mainframe systems issues. It never made me popular with the Officers, but the enlisted folks (of which I was) loved me for it.
But let’s be clear on something. I never shoved people out of the way, unless I was sure that I could resolve the problem. In the Air Force, I knew my systems inside and out. In two locations, only the Field Engineers were more knowledgeable than the 23-year old me on how the system operated. Older non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers learned to get out of the way when I was called in to repair things. But I had to earn that kind of respect, by showing that I could resolve problems that were set in front of me. That’s not a skill of leadership. Rather that’s a skillset of technical ability. And that technical ability masked on arrogance that I had.
Leadership is not about shoving people out of the way and proclaiming yourself the expert. A better version of me – now nearly thirty years down the line and full of life experiences – would counsel the twenty-three year old me to not shove people out of the way, but counsel them on how to resolve the problem, looking over their shoulders, and explaining why this particular issue was resolved in this particular way. Leadership is not about pointing and directing. That’s a task for ego-maniacs. And I have seen plenty of my share of these in the Pagan community. A Leader teaches others how to resolve the problems, allowing their hands to be the ones that turn the wrenches and use the tools, while explaining the reasoning behind each process.
Leadership is a status that is earned. Rightly or wrongly. The individual(s) empowering you into a position of leadership have confidence in your ability to resolve issues, and put things into motion. Sometimes, you have this bit of respect thrust upon you. For example, a newcomer to Paganism or Polytheism will look to you as their example of what it means to be [x] within Paganism or Polytheism. Whether you wanted that role or not, it is given to you. Even after you explain that you’re no leader, in your best Edgar Friendly impersonation. And if you think about it…it is a weak explanation, as well.
See, I am nearly fifty-one years old this year. I have been in Paganism in one capacity or another since 1987. That’s twenty-nine years of being a Pagan. I was a doe-eyed newbie at one time too. Anyone who had been in Paganism for any length of time, regardless of Path, was an incredible person to me. Until I met Pattalee. She ran one of the few local Pagan bookstores in the area with her (then) husband. I would go down there, and tentatively sit one a bar stool next to the jewelry counter. And I would ask questions, and listen to the answers – hanging on her every word. I guess she humored me at first. But after a while, instead of answering my questions, she would prompt me to answer my own questions. Then, she would have a long, prolonged discussion of where my logic was incorrect, and where I made assumptions that had no factual basis. Instead of puzzling things out for me, she quietly prompted me to learn from myself. Sadly, she passed away quite some time back, and her ex-husband eventually closed the store. But I always remembered those talks, and how she dealt with the doe-eyed newbie sitting in front of her.
After her passing beyond the veil, it took nearly another decade before I realized that she talked with me through a position of leadership. The authority of leadership had been given to her by me. She most likely didn’t want it, but she accepted it – and led me gently towards the habit of puzzling things out for myself. She gently showed me how to look inside myself and find the answers that I was needing. And pointed out how the “truths” as I found them applied to me, and not necessarily to others. Leadership is not about molding people forcibly, but showing them the potential that is inside of themselves.
Newbies may hand you a mantle of leadership, simply because you have been around longer than they have. Throwing that mantle back in their faces and saying that you’re no leader is not the way to handle things. Folding that mantle up, and setting it to the side, with care and reverence respects the responsibility that you have been handed. And eventually, you will be able to gently, and with respect, hand that mantle back to those newbies – pointing out that they have always been able to fend for themselves. In my opinion, this is how we grow our Pagan community. We don’t grow leaders in this process. Some of those newbies will become leaders in their own right. We grow self-sufficient Pagans and Polytheists, able to handle themselves as Solitary practitioners of their own connectivity with the Gods, and able to work within the wider ranging Pagan and Polytheist communities as individual parts of the whole. Able to be Priests/Priestesses and Leaders without becoming tyrants. Able to teach others how to grow, without delineating debilitating and crippling dogma that creates a belief structure that is too rigid to be flexible with the changing world around us. We grow Pagans and Polytheists that learn to cultivate their relationships with others, the Gods, the Spirits of Place, and Spirits of Ancestors, while expanding their understanding of those connections and their own position within those sacred relationships.
Yeah, I can claim to not be a leader. That I just do things, and sometimes people come along. But in the end, that statement – while playful – is disrespectful. It is disrespectful to the people that come along. It is a wise-ass dismissal of the authority that they hand to me. It is slapping the respect that they have for me as an elder in the wider Pagan community, while laughing in their face with my flippant comment. And to be honest, it is long past time for me to ditch the attitude. I’m a podcaster and a blogger in the Pagan community. I make commentary on how I feel about Paganism and Polytheism from both platforms. And whether I want to agree with it or not, I set myself out there for my opinions to be read. And people respect me for that. Yes, some of them hand me their respect as an authority., as an elder. And I need to return that respect as well. I need to follow Pattalee’s example, and fold up that mantle and set it to the side. And listen.
Pagan leadership is about helping the community. Troubleshooting issues. Listening. Growing Pagans that are new to this Path. Leadership is about being the appropriate example to our community. And we are all leaders, in one capacity or another.
Two pence…. –T /|\
Over the past couple of weeks, there has been an interesting bit of momentum taking place in a subset of the Pagan Blogosphere. There have been posts from folks about what their own aspect of Polytheism was. What made it interesting was that a vast majority of the statements went along the lines of “this is what my polytheism is. Its different than yours. I only ask that you honor my vision of polytheism as I am honoring yours.” There were no accusations of this person or that thought being out of line with what “polytheism is”. No one played Gatekeeper and shoved folks out into the digital alleyways for not adhering to some singular mindset of what they believed polytheism was or wasn’t. Some of the statements have culminated in some very interesting, well thought out conversations on the differences between folks’ visions. Calm, reasoned, intelligent discourse with respect for individual viewpoints. It has been a joy to (a) read, and (b) take part in some of that.
I was a little floored when a statement I made was compared to someone’s (seemingly) favorite caffeinated coffee ice beverage. As I stated in my reply, I have never had something I stated compared to a food product before, but damnit, I’ll take it. :) My statement, for the record, was a touch of a monologue off of someone else’s comment. I’ll copy and paste it here….
…you (not you specifically, the generic “you”) can realize that the Gods you work with want something specifically from you…not from everyone else. But let me add on – your point about narrowing who can be a polytheist…in my opinion, that’s a power trip issue. Folks who want to be “gatekeepers” as to what is or who isn’t a polytheist are looking to make an exclusive “club” rather than letting the Gods determine what They need from individual folks, and to whom They will manifest Themselves to. In my view (which is worth less than a Starbucks Grande coffee), that’s limiting who the Gods are, by placing the Gods into a containerized view. If a polytheist is “putting the Gods first”, then they (the polytheist) should be open to the perspective that the Gods will seek those that They wish to work with – even if those that are sought are not in the polytheist’s definition of “who is and who isn’t”. That’s my two pence worth….
The overarching points that were made in this particular thread (its part of a Facebook conversation), was essentially that polytheism has certain hallmarks to it – many Gods and Goddesses – but the underlying aspect of what makes one a polytheist is defined by their own unique, personal relationship(s) to the Gods and Goddesses that call to them. No one gets to define that relationship, other than the adherent and Those that they are connecting with.
But that’s just the background to it all. What was interesting, compelling, and exciting was the degree of respect everyone provided to one another throughout the wide-ranging comments and discussion. I have known for a long time that the wider Pagan community can have conversations and discussions like this – even when there are wide and deep chasms of difference between the participants. I cannot put my finger on the exact reasoning behind the courteous manners utilized, but if I had to lay a potential direction for it – I would point to the recent Many Gods West conference. (which I didn’t get to attend because I had no vacation days left – Boo!)
I am not sure how long this little truce and kindness will last within the Pagan Blogosphere and in the online social media platforms. Not long, I would guess. But damned if I am not going to bask in it, and hope it comes around a whole lot more often than it seems to.
There has been a lot going on this week. Work-related stuff. Home-related stuff. Friends going through job issues. Other friends and family members in the middle of the Louisiana floods in Baton Rouge. All of it is enough to push one off kilter, and create a wobbly orbit. I know there have been times where I have walked out to the stone circle, looked up at the clouds in the sky, and wanted to shout “Why?”.
Two things have kept me on track, despite the shaky and bumpy ground all around me. First, has been my grounding exercises. Without these momentary points in time, where I stop, calm myself, find my center of balance, and reflect…I would likely have run down my street screaming to the skies above. Naked. Smeared in green jello. Reading a Playboy magazine. Ok. I took that cue from Edgar Friendly. But you understand what I mean. Doing grounding meditations helped keep me in a mindset where I was able to find solutions, and work the problem. Rather than letting my emotions work me.
The second thing that kept me on track is the Goddess and Gods that I have cultivated a strong relationship. Yes, one of the calming influences for my daily Path are Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote. Now, none of these three literally place a hand, claw or foot on me and whisper in my ear to “take it easy”. But for me, They are always there. Times may get rough (and they certainly will), times may get lean (and they certainly might), but this trio are always right there. An assuring presence that everything will eventually work out, provided I do the hard work to get it there.
See, the Gods and Goddesses can intervene, and They more than likely do in some other folks’ lives. In mine, this Trio provides me with the calm I need to find a solution, and do the work. This is how these three manifest Themselves in my life. And its a reciprocal relationship. When They have need of me to do something on Their behalf, They ask. I can always refuse. I haven’t, but I can if I wish to. And its not like They ask for something every five minutes. They don’t. They ask when They have need. Not when I feel like They have need. My relationship with Them is unique and individual. How Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote work me is not necessarily the same as They would work with someone else. Nor should it be. When They ask me for something, its because it is something that I can do, not because its something They are asking everyone else to do as well.
For me, grounding, centering, meditation, and my individual connections with Fliodhas, Crow, and Coyote are the cornerstones to keeping my sanity in a world that gets turned upside down. There is no way that I am going to tell you that utilizing any of this will get the same results that I have. It took me a long time of experimenting with various techniques and concepts to get the meditation, grounding, and centering into something that works for me. But, I will say, its that kind of “hard work” — trying things, finding what works, removing what doesn’t — that’s what made it all eventually “click” for me. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to step outside the “normal” – particularly when the “normal” is no longer working for you.
Two pence. Ya’ll have a good afternoon…. –T /|\
Someone’s got to step up to the podium, and grab the reigns of leadership. We need a person that can be the spokesperson for the wider aspect of the Pagan community. Someone we can all point to and say “that’s who you talk to when you want to know what’s what in Paganism.” We need that one individual that steps to the forefront every single time and asserts their position of autho….wha?
Ok…you got me. What I just spouted off on is completely antithetical to what I believe about Paganism in general. No, the Pagan community, as a wider arching body, has no need of an authoritarian figure. And before anyone suggest it…even if the Pagan community had need of such a thing, its definitely not me. Yeah, I have this blog…with the five people that read it. Yeah, I have the podcast with its three dedicated listeners. But if I wanted to utilize either platform as a bull pulpit and try to make my idea of Paganism into the be-all, end-all….honestly, I would have gotten into Talk Radio and tried to give Rush Limbaugh a run for his money. But that’s not what I want. At least not for Paganism, and definitely not for me.
What do I want for the Pagan community? For people to respect one another’s differences, and be kind to one another. Yeah, that’s a definite theme of mine – being kind to one another. And if you disagree with others, be respectful about it. Of course, I am more likely to get a goose that shits solid gold eggs given to me by a kid with magic beans that grow huge beanstalks that could feed every third-world country for years, then any of that respect hogwash. But I can dream, can’t I?
Essentially, we have made it back to the “They aren’t ____ enough” arguments that have been prevalent for the last decade or more. Seriously folks, it was attitudes like that which ran me out of the Christian belief systems. People proclaiming that you weren’t Christian enough because you didn’t fork over 15% of your take-home pay into the offering plate on Sundays. People claiming that you weren’t Christian enough because you acted on the natural urge to have sex…even when you weren’t married. People saying you weren’t Christian enough because you didn’t read the “right” version of the Bible. Give me a fucking break! If you follow what’s in your heart…then you are doing what’s right. Even as a Pagan.
Look, I’m the last person to hand out a commandment to anyone regarding how they live, who they are having sex with, what you eat (or who), or how you offer up prayers and devotions (or not) to the Gods and Goddesses. I do what I feel is correct – for me. I post about it here on the blog and talk about on the podcast – because I feel its a good place to talk about things. To re-examine (or not) what each of us is doing in regards to our Spiritual lives. I’m not here to condemn you if you do things differently than I do. That’s what makes us who we are – individual, unique, human beings. All I ever lay down as a commandment of any sort — that you examine things as each pertains to you. Adopt it if it works, reject it if it doesn’t. In other words, think for yourself!
I know there’s going to be people that disagree with me. There always will be. And frankly, I am perfectly fine with that. So long as those detractors and disagree-ers (is that even a word?) just take the time to think for themselves, rather than just parrot what they are hearing – for the sake of going along with the crowd. And have enough respect for others, to allow those differences to be what they are – unique differences between us that can be acknowledged and respected.
I have slacked off on my morning rituals for a few months. Its been rough to get back into the swing of things, especially with moving up here near the Oklahoma/Texas border. It didn’t help that my cast-iron crows were missing after the move. But they have been found, and placed back into their locations in the stone circle with Kokopelli.
About two weeks back, I decided to spend some time out at the stone circle one night, and do a re-dedication of my Spiritual Path. The idea was to bring the stone circle back into focus within my Daily Path, as well as re-sharpen my focus on some of the things that matter to me in my Spiritual Life. I also had the “dreamy” idea of doing a video of the entire ritual and placing it online as a start to doing short, infrequent video clips on YouTube. Well, I found out that I am horrible at making video work…so that’s still a work in progress. But I did manage to make it through my entire ritual.
Interestingly enough, I had this semi-scripted out. Most of my rituals are very informal, very impromptu. When you are the sole member of your ritual gathering, impromptu works very well. But for this little ritual, I needed a bit more structure.
The idea was to stick to basic concepts, and allow my method to be impromptu. The initial start was to greet the Directions, and then in the center I greeted Fliodhas, the Irish Goddess of the forests. To the North, I greeted my ever-present companion Crow, and to the West I greeted Coyote. In the East, I greeted my Spirits of Ancestor, and to the south I greeted the Spirits of Place. Once I made my way through this initial set, I finished the start of my ceremony by utilizing the call for Peace to each Direction.
Then started my moment for dedication – placing myself into the hands and guidance of Fliodhas. I brought several small cups of bird seed, and two glass bottles of tap-water into the circle. For the dedication to Fliodhas, I stated that I was Hers to guide, and that I would be Her instrument whenever she felt it necessary. I further promised to bring another offering and repeat my dedication to her when I travel to Ireland this coming winter. I then re-dedicated myself in a similar manner to Crow, and I left two offerings of the bird seed in the center of the circle, as well as pouring a healthy dose of water for both of Them.
Then I sat, and meditated on the stones that I have in this circle. None of these stones come from here in Texas. A few come from the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas, some from the Rocky mountains near Colorado Springs, one from the area near Mesa Verda, one from near Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, and a few from Glacier National Park. Each of those areas resonate deeply within me, and thus the reason I have some stones from there. For me, these stones are sacred. For me, the area between them resonates as sacred space. I remembered how each of these stones came to me, and why each of them are special to me.
When I finished with the meditation, I thanked the Gods and Goddess who had joined me. I thanked the Spirits of Ancestor, Place, and Direction for their attention and time, and once again pronounced my desire for peace to each of the directions, along with a final desire for peace throughout the whole world. Then I gathered a few of the cups of birdseed and began leaving small piles of seed just to the outside of each stone, until I had no more birdseed available. Then I opened the second bottle of water, and wet each of the stones in the circle, remembering again how each came to me. When I was finished, I gathered up the cups and the bottles and went into the house to clean up.
Each morning since, I have walked outside before I have had my breakfast and poured a small offering of water, along with a handful of birdseed which I scatter just to the east of the circle in the grass. Each evening since, I have visited the circle again, and performed a grounding/centering exercise. Whenever possible, I have tried to be barefoot when I have done this. All of this has been meant to re-focus myself back on to being who I am, and allowing some of the stress of my workday to be left behind.
I am not sure “appropriate” this may seem to another polytheist, or another Pagan, or another Druid. It works for me. And honestly, that’s what matters most.