It seems lately – particularly in a lot of the blog posts, associated comments and some of the forums I have been a part of – I see a lot of people laying down hard-lines over what is or isn’t this/that in relation to a Spiritual Path or Belief System. I remember this type of environment rising in the DFW Pagan Community back around the mid 1990s. Frankly, it turned me off to being around a lot of folks for a long, long time. About 95% of their adamant hard-line stance didn’t apply to me – since I was considered to be on their “right/correct” side of things. But I watched several friends be devastated by a community that they (and myself) had considered to be accepting of them and their differences. Eventually, the overly-moral stance turned my stomach enough to push me into a total position of Solitude. Not Solitaire. Solitude. I was already a Solitaire – my spiritual practices were (and continue to be) my own. At that time, I associated with a handful of folks, and occasionally made my way out to public gathering here or there – or even a private gathering that I was invited to. But the hard-core rhetoric drove me to not accepting invitations – and I was eventually a very covert member of my local community.
Lately, I’ve read a lot about whether this particular perspective is “appropriate” for a Path of Druidry – particularly by a single individual in a public forum. To be perfectly honest, none of it matters to me that much to me. Any person can say that I’m not on a Path of Druidry because I don’t do (x) or (y). I don’t need their validation to know what Path I am on. I only need to validate what I am doing for myself. That’s a slight tangent from the point – but its important to the overall perspective, in my opinion.
I used to follow a Wiccan Path – two different traditions, to be precise. Each tradition had specific ways that they wanted their members to do certain things – and their initiates were taught those methods. I learned those methods. And some of what I was taught under those two traditions, I still use in my own daily spiritual practice. Am I Wiccan? Hardly. The term and the associated methodologies don’t fit who I am. I took the few things that worked for me – and moved on to other Paths. If I choose to utilize the few methods that I learned while I was in those two Traditions while in my training on the Druid Path – does that invalidate me as an individual traveling down a Path of Druidry? Hardly.
Here’s my rub in the entire mess (or actually several messes) for me: I have no standing to validate or invalidate anyone else’s personal Path. I validate or invalidate as necessary for myself. There’s no way in the Nine Hells that I would point at someone and say “they aren’t (x) because they are doing (y) instead of (z).” What another person practices is their personal Path. They ask for advice, I can tell them what *I* would do if I were in their place, but I would also let them know that its just *my* opinion. Nothing more. Nothing less. But to get downright judgmental over any difference…sorry, I’m not built or wired that way. And I refuse to be around people who choose to look at other people in that manner.
Hopefully, I’m not watching a Pagan community developing a system of rigid and uncompromising dogma. That would truly be a shame, in my eyes.