Back in my earlier days on my Pagan path – I always wondered how other Pagans would perceive me. Was I doing the right things? Was I doing the rituals correctly? Was I following the steps that I should be? Then, I was sent overseas by the United States Air Force and essentially cut off completely from everyone I knew that was Pagan. I quickly found I had to do for myself.
One of the practices I started early on in that “exile” was to take walks in the woods. It wasn’t that big of a stretch for me. Being stationed in Germany, where the locals spent a lot of their free time walking through the woods – it was a manner of assimilating myself. Plus, I had grown up there in my youth – Volksmarching was a weekend event that was always looked forward to. In a manner of speaking, I was reliving my childhood, while combining that with my love of being outdoors, as well as my Pagan aspects of being in Nature. It felt “right” then – and still does today. Granted, with my new job – I am having to rearrange the way I approach my walks – including walking in less than ideal weather. But I find ways to get that together.
But lately I have wondered…do I do things because they are expected of me as a Pagan? Or do I do the things that I do because its what I expect of me as a Pagan? Perhaps, the two easiest places to look into are ritual and magick.
I have made no secret that I am not into scripted, formal type of rituals. My idea of ritual is far more spontaneous and typically takes place somewhere that I would never have imagined myself doing so – such as the parking lot at work. Some folks would not even call it ritual – but it works for me. I’m not walking in a circle, but rather calling to the quarterly directions – albeit sometimes softly or using my inner voice – and then reaching out to see if there are any local spirits around. Sometimes there are, sometimes there aren’t. I always leave a small amount of whatever food I have (typically crackers) for the creatures in the area, and tip some of my water out (usually at the base of a tree, bush or flower) to give back to the land. Like I said, fairly informal.
Magick – well let’s just say that I have no strong connection to the concept of magickal workings. Perhaps the closest I come to this is the idea of prayer – and even then, I am extremely careful what I put into my focus. I don’t look to help out my favorite sports team, or for something that I want to be gifted to me at the next Yule or Solar Return (birthday). Instead I focus on things far more important to me – such as the healing of areas of the earth that humans have carelessly done harm to (and I know that I cannot make the necessary changes by myself – and that it takes actions to do this. Its the actions going into motion that I am trying to put my energy towards). or even towards people finding peaceful intentions to their fellow human beings. Yes, I served in the US military for eight years – that doesn’t mean that I like the idea of war or conflict. I honestly would like to see a day where people treat one another with respect and dignity – regardless of whatever distinction or difference you can dream up or point out. I am extremely reluctant to perform direct magickal workings – simply because I do not want my intentions to become something I had not anticipated.
So, I know that much of what I do and practice is likely different from other Pagans. Nine Hells, we’re all distinct human beings with our own manner of perceiving and working with the world around us. But I also realize that I do not practice my style of belief through a step-by-step process or a paint-by-numbers scene. If that works for someone else, so be it. I am quite happy for them. I still – and likely always will – make my way through my spiritual life through a system of trying. If it does not work for me, I let it go and find something that does. Essentially thievery, if you will. Or borrowing. Or whatever descriptive you want to add to it. Makes no difference to me. I know what works for me.
In the end, I am reminded – I follow this Path because it works for me. I take the steps that I do, because they work for me. I am not that interested in how others may perceive my beliefs and practices. Nor am I worried about how they approach their own – provided its something that works for them….