Today is the Winter Solstice. Where am I celebrating it? In my usual location for most major events on the Wheel – at home. Why home? Well, there’s a handful of reasons, but primary among those is familiarity and the feeling of “safe”.
See, as much as I enjoy getting out and about, I am not a super social animal. Anyone who saw me at Pantheacon earlier this year could easily attest to that. I spent a lot of time smacking away on my portable keyboard bluetooth’d into my iPad. And while I got off quite a few nice blog posts, as well as managed some good personal journaling – I only managed to connect face-to-face with a handful of people….most of whom I knew prior to coming out to Pantheacon. As a further attestment to my non-social skills, anyone who has seen me at a Pagan Pride Day knows how I wander around on my own – or that I sit in some far off location to people watch.
A lot of that works from how I grew up. I had very few friends. Those that I did manage a connection with were people I would be very, very tight with. Today, even with the ability of the Internet to expand some of my social skills, I still have only a few folks that I could count as very close friends. And of that group, there are even fewer that I know face-to-face.
I am what most Pagans refer to as a “Solitary Practitioner”. I actually hate that term. The mental description that hits my mind is playing the card game of Solitaire over and over again with Crow, Coyote and Fliodhas hanging over my shoulder – all making suggestions on what place to move a stack of cards to. I actually prefer the term “Solo Pagan”. Its a precise description of who and what I am…all wrapped up nicely in a ribbon and bow through just two words. Short, concise, to the point. But I am far too long-winded to have anything beyond short directly apply to me. Just ask some of my former college students. ::big grin::
I handle major rituals here at home because I am familiar with the terrain – both physically and on a more psychic aspect. I know the energies of the stones that make up my little stone circle. I know how to approach Crow, Coyote and Fliodhas here, and ask Them to join me for my ritual. Sometimes They show up. Most of the time, not so much. I don’t worry about that, because I am not the center of Their world. I am just a small part of it. They love and respect me for what I do, but I am still a human being. They have other things to do, at times. But it is definitely the familiar aspect that has me working major turns of the wheel at home.
Sometimes, I attend major turns of the Wheel with groups. And here is where the “safe” part of things comes into the equation. With the East Coast and Gulf Coast Gatherings that the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids holds, I have come to know many of the folks there. They are friends to varying degrees. And there are always new people to meet. I remember being the “new” person at these Gatherings, and how intimidating it can be. With those folks, I am friendly, and reassuring – I want them to feel “safe” as well. Attending these two Gatherings i not a problem for me. I know these people. They are my tribe. They are friends. The same goes for the Texas Imbolc Retreat that I have attended. Chris and Amanda are awesome people. I have met so many other awesome people there as well. While they are a different Druid order (ADF), they are still very much my tribe of people. I can be comfortable there.
Other gatherings? Well, when I feel uncomfortable, I split off from the main group and do my own thing. I have done this at professional conventions that I have attended. Much to the chagrin of my fellow coworkers, including my boss. But then, none of these people have really had to understand how difficult it is for someone to assimilate into a group of strangers. Why? Because they socialize easily. They are not making connections when they socialize. They are chatting up with small talk. None of it has any meaning. But I don’t operate that way. And when the talk is meaningless, I find elsewhere to be. That’s how I am built.
So, this morning, I saw the gathering of folks at Stonehenge for the sunrise. I marveled at how easy it was for them to relax and celebrate the rising of the sun on the shortest day amongst what I assume are strangers. For me, I would likely shrink off to the far edges, as far away from the stones as I could get without seeming to be too far out of the crowd. Out to the edges, where I could find calm, and quiet. Out where I could ground, center, and reach out to the Spirits of Place. Even if only to let Them know that not all humans are this loud. No matter strange that may sounds to others…because what others think has never mattered to me. Unless they are my tribe. And if they truly are of my tribe, I don’t need to explain. Not even once.