Author Archives: Tommy Elf

About Tommy Elf

Voice of the Pagan podcast "Upon a Pagan Path", blogger at "Life With Trickster Gods, Priest of Crow, and a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (currently in my Ovate Grade studies).

Gathering at the Fire – I want to Hear What they Say

What is it about hanging around a fire, singing songs, telling tales, and having long discussions into the dark hours of the morning? Nearly every Pagan gathering I have been to has its own version of this. Sometimes, the gathering even changes the time frame of an event like this….other times, there’s no fire (aside from one in a fireplace in the hosting hotel in San Jose, California) – regardless, there is that moment, that location where folks gather to be with one another. And those particular moments, are often some of the most powerful, most intense events of the entirety of the gathering.

This year, two community fires provided strong, powerful, and odd moments for me. In the morning lobby of a hotel, later in the Summer, another of those moments arose. Granted, I am not the most social animal there is in the world. My first year at Pantheacon….now two Pantheacons ago….I spent the majority of my time in the back area of the hotel, where many of the crowds were not. I was connected with work a few times, trying to sort out issues long-distance, but I still managed to connect with a few people. At one point, there were ten of us there – none of us knew any of the others, and here we were, spontaneously discussing our own perspectives of our individual spirituality. We lamented issues that we all felt were common to Pagan communities from the various places we came from (me, in north-central Texas, was the furthest eastern member of the contingent). The act of gathering together, and discussing our common threads just seemed – well, natural. Even for a classic introvert such as myself.

With each gathering that I attended since then, no matter how large or small – I have found myself gravitating to areas where discussions are had. And each successive moment, I find myself stepping forward and sharing part of my own story, part of my own perspective, part of my own understanding. And again, I must note – it feels natural.

ECG-FireThe photo above – and the “featured image” for this blog post – comes from the 2015 OBOD East Coast Gathering. The moment in this photo is as close as I got to an evening fire the entire time I was there. Instead, I chose to be closer to the main house, and have discussions in the dark with the few that managed to discover where I was. But mostly, I sit in the dark and listened. Because it felt right and natural. Yes, that is Damh the Bard serenading the folks with his music. And later, I got to meet him and get an awesome hug from him. But this was also my first time at East Coast Gathering, so I was in hermit crab mode too. I still managed to sit and talk with people about beliefs, how we approach our Spiritual practices – the similarities, the differences, the ideas that we had never considered previously.

IMG_0216But at each of these gatherings, I have known someone there. I was never truly a stranger. Until I attended Many Gods West this year. I knew three people there – and all three of them, I only knew from online. Yet, I came away from this event with lots of great discussions under my belt. In the panels, we all talked about our own approaches to polytheism, how we dealt with some of the obstacles of worshipping non-Judeo-Christian Gods and Goddesses, and just about any other topic under the sun. One particular evening, I had an awesome baseball conversation in the lobby with one person. I came home with blog posts to write…my journal was full of newly written topics and concepts. That social aspect had been satisfied, mostly, in the lobby of the hotel. No fire to gather around, just a coffee pot in the corner that was drained nearly every afternoon. I was tired by the time I made it back to SeaTac airport and boarded my flight home.

Interestingly enough, each time I have managed to make a gathering, and have these talks – the time before I feel a deep need to make another is shorter than before. Perhaps, all the talking is pulling me out of my introverted reasoning…maybe. What I do understand is that all the talking has helped me to understand one fundamental aspect of who I am – I learn best from talking about issues, concepts, and ideas with others. There is still a part of me that deals with the horrible aspects of being an introvert…such as not showing up at some places or gatherings. Certainly, a personal character flaw that I will need to repair….and at the moment, I am not sure how. But, I will need to get beyond it, so that I can make those gatherings that are closer to me. So that I can make those connections there. So I can participate in those discussions. So I can learn. Because I do need those discussions to learn, to grow, to help evolve myself into the person I need to be, and the Priest I am being asked to become.

Time to find those fires, and talk with those people. Because they have stories and tales to regale into the dark hours of the morning too. And I would like to hear them….

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Staring Through the Window

So, the turn of the Wheel is nearly upon us. For many Pagans, including myself, this is the change from one year to the next. As the season changes to the dark of Winter, the veil between this world and the OtherWorld is said to thin – allowing easier visits from one to the other. I personally don’t hold to that concept; for me, the shift from this world and the OtherWorld just happens. I honestly cannot explain all of it because I honestly have no words that adequately do so. Plus, it is not the focus of what I am writing about.¬† ūüôā¬† That’s one of those¬†deer trods that lead off into the forest from the trail I am walking in this post.

The changeover from one year to the next is marked by Samhain or as the popular culture of our day calls it “Halloween”. For a lot of Pagans, it is a time of reflection, a moment of celebration, or even a downright raucous¬†party. For me, it is a time frame where I draw back from the world around me, particularly people. I do this at Beltane as well, another big “party” and “celebrate” time for most within the Pagan community. And over the last five years, I have pulled back from the Pagan community so much, that few people ever notice my disappearance. Like I said….few people.

I get a slap of feathers to the back of my head, an occasional paw swipe against my nose, and even a sharp beak to the back of the head. My ancestors don’t play much of a role in my life…I have so little in common with my DNA relations….but I am reminded by those that I consider being family….those not related to me by blood, but are¬†my¬†family of choice….¬† Pulling back is not a proper thing to do. And yet, year after year….I find myself doing just that. Because it is an ingrained habit.

I am a solitaire Pagan by choice, and somewhat out of necessity. I choose to follow my Path alone because it feels natural for me to do so. I also live a very long way from any Pagan in any direction. The closest group of Pagans are about 45 minutes to my south – via interstate driving. Getting there is no easy chore. Remembering to leave on-time to get down there for their open rituals and gatherings….even more so. One of the greatest joys of being a solitaire Pagan is that I handle things on my own time, at my own speed, at my own pace. But being alone…sucks. There are no Pagan friends to talk with. Most of my discourse with other Pagans happens online…and that only carries you so far.

But being alone…sucks. There are no Pagan friends to talk with. Most of my discourse with other Pagans happens online…and that only carries you so far. I enjoy the gatherings of Pagans that I have made it to….and consider a great many of those folks as my family¬†which is not an adequate description for what they mean to me.

My two Trickster Gods – Coyote and Crow – continually push me out of my safe boundaries. I attended Many Gods West in the northwest US….by myself. And that was extremely outside of me being comfortable. But I met a lot of people I enjoyed interacting with, discussed things of a Pagan and Polytheist nature that I don’t normally get the chance to do so (outside of online conversations). And I left that gathering of like-minded folks remembering why I follow the Path I do – and realizing how important such discussion and discourse can be…

So, here I am. Approaching a new year. Coming towards the dark of the seasons, where much work is down internally. And I see myself in my usual place:¬† outside – looking in. Its such a familiar place for me. And oddly enough, there’s a comfort level to it. Like someone standing just outside of a restaurant, peering in at all the nicely dressed people. Just watching them. Wondering how their lives place them where they are. Why the food choices and drink choices they have made. Knowing that I could walk through the door and join them…and just¬†trying not to feel ill at ease for putting myself somewhere that I would be out of place. And then hearing those two familiar Voices in my mind, insisting that it is time to be uncomfortable.

I remember once reading a post by John Beckett, which talked about the need to have others within your spiritual practice. I remember nodding to myself, and pointing out that coming to the various gatherings and conferences was what was needed. And I joined him in going to an ADF Imbolc Retreat, and a few weeks later to Pantheacon. And I did the same the next year, except I went to Pantheacon on my own (this year). At the ADF Imbolc Retreat, I came a little further out of my shell. At Pantheacon, I met people I had talked with online. I interacted with people. Later, I attended the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering – my Spring-time Spiritual home and family (this is such a poor word to describe what these people are to me). I once again came out of my shell a little further. I did something I had never done before – I told a story out at the nightly fire. As I noted, I went to Many Gods West – knowing not a soul there. And I here I sit….looking at another Samhain on my own.

Because why? Because my inner Nature claims me to be an introvert….when I am not completely so.

Many Pagans (and others) will tell you that there is only so much Spiritual growth that you can do. I have to throw the Bullshit flag and call them for a fifteen-yard penalty. I am 52-years old. I have been on a Pagan path since 1986. I am still learning and relearning the puzzle that is me. I still have obstacles to overcome, such as forcing myself to be a completely solitaire Pagan. Like many other humans, I am a social creature. I need interaction with other like-minded humans. Not online interaction, face-to-face eating a meal at a local Cracker Barrel and discussing whatever comes to mind.

Sting noted in one of his songs that people can build fortresses around their hearts. Sure, I get that. But people also build barriers between themselves and the outside world for similar reasons too. I have slowly torn down my fifty-foot high walls until I have a two-foot wall left. But it is still a wall. It is still a barrier. And I still have to remove it. Even at two feet, it will not come down overnight. But it has to come down. And I have to make that effort…because I can be a solitaire, polytheist, Pagan Druid, but I still need others in my life more often than three to five times a year for just a few days.

The Silent Exodus? Or Did Someone Shout “Fire” at the Ritual?

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the lowered attendance at various Pagan gatherings. For instance, a multi-day Pagan music festival, CalderaFest, canceled approximately a month before the scheduled date because of lower than expected ticket sales. At a fairly expensive price point, cost certainly seemed to be a major factor. Another Pagan gathering, WitchFest International in the United Kingdom, has significant worries over the potential of putting another gathering on next year. A quick perusal of Pagan Pride Day events around the United States sees a smaller number of events taking place. could this be pointing towards¬†a downturn in the Pagan revival of the past few years? Or is it something deeper than that? Political? Economic?

Truth be told, my suspicion is that it can be any combination of these points – along with a few others that I just cannot figure into my thinking at the moment. And then there’s the human nature thing….the lemming factor.

Politics

In terms of potential issues that are keeping Pagans from attending public events, I find this to be the least likely. There are plenty of non-Pagans that are ticked off at the various gyrations of a moron President, here in America, that I do not really see this one being a huge factor. However, I do believe it is a factor to a much less significant degree. In fact, I would point to this as a possible tipping point in some folks stepping away from public events and the such. Just not the be-all, end-all one. I am not sure about issues elsewhere in the world so this might be a bigger point elsewhere. With much of the political world pushing to factor in a “Christian America” to be held¬†over all over faiths, it certainly is a concerning point to watch. In a day and age where compartmentalization of other people by gender, skin pigmentation, politics, and creed, this has the potential to be an even bigger issue before the end of this calendar year – all dependent on the whims of an angry, orange nit-twit.

Economic

The world economies are facing another downturn, and this one may be sharper than ever before. So, there’s a touch of an explanation there concerning people wanting to hang on to earned monies far more than before. But it also begs the question – where are all the rich Pagans? Yes, this is not only a facetious¬†point that gets made from time to time but is usually done so with a raucous¬†bit of humor attached to it as well. But seriously, where are all the rich Pagans?? Seemingly, most Pagan families are rather poor in terms of personal income and overall wealth. Though I would be hard-pressed to call that a statistical fact. More like a personal perspective. And considering that my range of friends within the wider-arching Pagan community are about as well off as I am – I would call it misleading at best. I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly have a good paying job that allows me the time off to travel to places like San Jose, California, and Olympia, Washington to attend gatherings. With that noted, I believe that a potential economic downturn is on nearly everyone’s mind – and likely a more significant factor than most people would seem to think. And that’s personal conjecture on my part.

Maybe Paganism Is Not for Them

Maybe I should call this the “Trendy” part of the reasoning. After all, Paganism has been a “hot” place to be – at least faith-wise. And for a lot of folks looking for a Spiritual Home, the host of choices under the Pagan umbrella are certainly enticing. You can believe as you want. You can worship as you want. You can fashion the Gods and Goddesses in your own manner, even if Tom Hiddleston is the favored template of choice for Loki. You get to hang out by a fire with other people – sing, drink, make noise, and there is even a chance you might get laid. You cannot beat that with a stick, for sure! But then, when you finally start to get serious about your beliefs, or when the other folks start expecting you to get serious about learning to be [x] — there is that stuff that had you high-tailing it out of Catholicism¬†or Buddhism or the southern-Baptist beliefs that you were part of before.

That’s right, the hard work. The learning. The lessons. The following of the traditional ceremonial processes. Becoming a more active member of your group. Taking on a role within that group, and the responsibilities that come with it. Yep. Suddenly, there’s work that goes with all the fun you had on Saturday night out by the fire. All that shared whiskey and beer, and now, those other folks expect you to be part of the folks that do the work.

I would posit that this is the primary reason that we are seeing folks disappearing – what I call the “silent exodus”. When the work gets hard, a lot of people get gone. When there’s more to the beliefs than hanging out in the woods, drinking good whiskey, wine, and beer out by the fire…that is where a lot of folks draw the line and find the exit to the ride. And this, I would submit – is the prime reason we are seeing folks disappear. Because shit got real.

None of this even approaches those where the shit got VERY real. Where they did encounter Something they didn’t expect. And instead of coming to the next Grove or Circle, they are at home washing their underwear to get the stains out. Nor does it approach the folks who just happened to think that what they experienced with the group in a ritual was just plain “nuts”. They like the alcohol, the vibe of the group….but holding incense in a cardinal direction, and invoking the Spirits of the Wind, Air, Sea, and Earth — that just puts them in Scooby-Doo land. And this just ain’t for them.

So where are the Pagans going?¬† Why are we not seeing Pagans at that many gatherings these days? Why are we seeing long-running – and just starting – festivals beginning to shutter their doors?? I think its a composite of all these reasons, and many, many more. Perhaps, Paganism is finally seeing the back-end of the current revival, which includes some of the folks re-thinking how they view their Paganism. In my mundane job, which is statistical research for a small college, this is typically referred to as the “leveling-off” of the numbers. Nothing continues to grow at massive rates year after year. There will come a time when that upward climb slows and even drops. Perhaps, this is that time. This silent exodus is certainly happening

This silent exodus is certainly happening at an intersection of what many call “interesting times”. Is this intersection just happenstance, an anomaly, or a harbinger of even more harrowing times? Definitely food for further thought….

Divided We Fall…and Falling We Are

The time of Samhain is a time of change, at least for me. The colors of the foliage turn from green to golds, reds, and browns…the temperatures¬†begin to grow colder (supposedly – it is nearly a perpetual Summer here in Texas), and the Wheel of the Year begins the change to a new year. There are those that will call this time a “thinning of the Veil” between here and the Otherworld, which I believe to be misleading – but it is a¬† common descriptive to describe an overlap between the Otherworld and here. The point is not about the difference between There and here or what the transition between the two should be called – merely that the blending of the two seems to be more visible to many¬†more folks.

…and to be honest, nearly the entirety of this year has seen change. We, here in America, have elected a moron to be king – not that the choices were all that great, but that is a debate for another time.

Tell me when the stars begin
Or is there an unending place?
Or is there a guiding ship of Dreams
Floating at the edge of space?

There are no words
There is nothing you can say
But this whole world
Is turning night and day

–“This Whole World“, Coast

One of the bigger changes I have seen in myself is further distancing myself from the over-permeation of politics that I have been watching.

Not a day goes by where I have not hidden some political meme or post that someone on my Friend’s List has shared. I watch less and less of the news. Everywhere I look, there is one sub-group or another that is proclaiming some aspect of being “victimized” or trying to find some manner in which to shame some other sub-group of people. We keep hearing about “making America great again”, or how this group of people shouldn’t be included in the Democratic process because of this or that reason. Various sub-groups of people demonize others for one reason or another. And as we, as a collective society, continue to categorize and herd others into groups – the compartmentalization of everyone has begun. We find more reasons to be aggrieved over one thing or another. And we only laud our efforts to remove these divisions when a tragedy occurs, and we make the efforts to save others from natural disasters or some twisted individual in a 32nd-floor hotel suite with a cache of rifles.

A few days ago, I was talking with a co-worker about the way that nearly every grant at the college focuses on compartmentalized factors such as race or gender when dishing out monies to students that need assistance with the ever-rising costs of a collegiate education. “It is rather depressing,” I noted, “To think that students get the extra funding that they need to get an education based on their skin pigmentation or their gender. A collegiate education should be helpful for a student to develop their critical thinking skills, and help them to understand that skin pigmentation and gender mean nothing in defining a person for who they are, and what they are capable of accomplishing. Yet, here we have an entire system of collegiate monies tied to those two factors, providing meaning to something that should not have any such distinction.”

Sure, I have heard the concept of “White Privilege” or “Male Privilege” or a combination of the two thrown at me many-a-time. My response has always been the same – sure, society provides me a degree of privilege because I am a white male. That does not mean that I accept that concept as being the driving force of where I am today. Nor will I accept that this same concept will stop anyone else that does not fall under the “white male” umbrella from accomplishing anything they set their hearts and minds to. And to be honest and blunt, if there is a manner in which I could utilize that so-called “white privilege” to assist anyone that is not under that umbrella….point it out to me.

Depeche Mode said it best….

People are people, so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully?

Indeed. I look around and watch people search out for things to be outraged by. People taking a knee at the National Anthem. Instead of asking “why”, people got mad at the action and never left that to find out more about the reckless abuse of police powers that happens all over the United States. People getting pissed about statues that were put up during the “Jim Crow” era and demanding the statues be removed and destroyed – without trying to find a better way to tell the other side of that story. Instead of listening to other opinions, intentionally derogatory terms such as “white-‘splaining” and “man-splaining” get hurled back. And the complete dismissal of an individual’s perspective by labeling it as “liberal” or “Nazi” (depending on your side of the political spectrum). To some degree, civil discourse certainly seems to be dead.

I really hate writing stuff like this. Perhaps I am too much of an idealist and believe some sugar-coated version of the world. But. I do have faith in human beings. I firmly believe that the concepts of compartmentalizing human beings on factors such as skin pigmentation and political perspectives – and believing others to be inferior because they do not fall into your particular compartment — it is a reflexive way of thinking that is taught. I also believe that when this compartmentalized way of thinking is removed, and people begin to see each other as equal human beings – we become far stronger and capable of tackling real, extinction-level issues – such as global warming. However, so long as we bathe in divisive natures….

–T

Another Circuit Around the Sun – With All of You

Another circuit around the sun comes to an end for me, and a new one begins. Yes, it is my birthday today. On October 1st in 1965, I was born at the hospital in Tachikawa, Japan. Yes, that means that today is my 52nd birthday. For me, it means that my 53rd circuit around the sun is just now starting.

I understand that birthdays are essentially a celebration of the individual having them. However, I am not really one for “tooting my own horn” as it were. If you ever wanted evidence of that, you only have to look at how little I have ever advertised the existence of my two podcast endeavors. (smile) So, let us tackle this year’s annual remembrance in a slightly different fashion. Instead of me smiling faintly and saying “thank you” dozens of times over for birthday wishes, I want to focus on what makes life wonderful: all of you.

The turn of the calendar had me in Ireland. Another trip with the Honors program with the college. And to be blunt, I am in love with that country now. Dublin was amazing. Belfast was intriguing. And the countryside was simply incredible. If I had been given a chance….I would have stayed. I will be back….

I made it down to south Texas and hung out with a bunch of √Ār nDra√≠ocht F√©in folks at an Imbolc celebration. This year, I was a little more outgoing and hung out with a lot more folks at both the main fire and on the porch. I am not an ADF Druid, but these people are more than just friends. They are family. I follow a slightly different Path than they do, but it is not the differences in our chosen Paths that stands out. We stand together as friends and family, willing to stand between threats and one another. I am truly blessed to have a family like these people.

Just a mere week later, I found myself at Pantheacon. This time, I attended solo. Once again, I found myself being a bit more outgoing than I usually am. I managed to connect with Selena Fox for a few minutes and thank her for all the help she provided to the military Pagan group I was a part of in Kaiserslautern, Germany. That was the first time I had ever met her face-to-face. I also managed to connect with Patrick McCollum, another individual that helped that same group. Bringing moments like that full circle is a totally amazing experience. I also caught up, again, with Jon Drum at the ADF Hospitality suite (I had seen Drum at the ADF Imbolc), and got to say hello to Sean H., whom I had met a few years earlier at the same Imbolc gathering. I also caught up with some OBOD family members, including the incredible Frank M. During the con, I got to spend some time with other people that I consider to be wonderful, extended family. Shauna Aura Knight, one of the most lovely souls I have ever met; the amazing Byron Ballard (whose conversations I need to sit on the edge of one of these days), and the amazing Kristoffer Hughes, who I would see again in three more weeks. Hugs from these three are the stuff that lasts a lifetime.

Three weeks later, I found myself at my Spiritual home – Gulf Coast Gathering. It was also here that I found myself at the end of another cycle, and the start of a new one. I had finally finished my Bardic grade and was initiated into the Ovate grade, where my studies currently have me. Here, I find the larger part of my family. Conversations, hugs, Screen-door shenanigans, and discussions are the fires that stoke my heart until the next year’s gathering. Again, the thematic aspect to my 52nd circuit has been about stepping out of the shadows and being more outgoing. I found myself stepping up to the Bardic Cycle and telling the tale of the “Screen Door Boar” which happened at the previous Gulf Coast Gathering. Every year, I met new people at this event. Whether they are wearing garish cowboy boats, or come from as far away as the west coast – they all end up with a piece of my heart and becoming a part of my collective soul (no apologies to the band).

The latter part of the Summer found me heading to the northwest to Many Gods West. Face-to-face, I knew NO-ONE at this event. I had met a few people online and got to meet them face-to-face. Ember, George, and several others helped stoke some long, cold coals in my polytheist’s heart. Returning from the event, I found myself diving deeper into my connections with Crow and Coyote, as well as exploring some other connections that have seemed to be mere flirtations. In many ways, the Many Gods West event pulled back the curtain on areas of my polytheism that I had only guessed at.

But life has not just been about change in my Spiritual life. Work has seen a few changes as well, with my job being more focused on pulling data and writing code. I am learning to play the guitar. I am eating healthier (no cake or cupcakes for me today – it is about vegetables and a home-cooked dinner for tonight). I am working out on my stationary bike, and have obtained a new bike to ride outside. And coming in the very near future, I begin the search for an anchor stone within the Unitarian Universalist world. And I am even finding ways to showcase my writing, which I still do not believe is the best in the world – but apparently, what I write is helpful to others.

So the world is constantly changing, constantly evolving; even if I feel like nothing has really happened in my life. And through all of it, my family, my friends have been a part of it all. And to be real – I would have it no other way. Because without all of you, the world would be a smaller, angrier, less beautiful place.

–T /|\ Slainte!

Magick and Intent versus Politics – Batter Up

Every once in a while on Facebook or some other social media platform, I see something about working a hex or some other bit of magick against Donnie. I smile to myself, gently shake my head, and pass the post by. Not because I am against finding some manner of getting Donnie to shut up. That would be most ideal, in my mind. For me, magick working is not something I toss around lightly, in fact, it is usually an instance of last resort in trying to do anything. And to be perfectly honest, I see politics as being a waste of precious energy, time and intent – especially in trying to change the perspective of firmly entrenched politicians and political zealots. And I certainly do consider Donnie to be a political zealot.

For me, politics is an area that I rarely cross my Spiritual life into. But make no mistake about it; political stuff does bleed over into all aspects of my life, whether I like it or not. I firmly believe that people love who they love. Some political leaders would have us all believe that in some instances, that is against some “natural law” that is laid out in a particular religious tome. Here is politics, tinged in religious zealotry, bleeding into the lives of people that I care deeply about. Still, magick working would be the very last option for me in trying to combat this type of political and religious motivated thinking. Participating in rallies, marches, writing campaigns, talking to my elected representatives, working to actively replace elected government representatives with those that believe differently – these would be the areas that I would (and have) work with to ensure the rights of people to love who they love. Magick might be a “go-to” for others; for me, its usage comes when all other measures have not produced results.

Politics is not a defining factor for me. I have heard many folks say that everyone should be into politics. I disagree. Everyone should be informed enough to cast a vote with knowledge behind “why” – but that does not mean you have to be into politics. You just need to know enough about an issue to vote your conscience. You just need to know how a candidate stands on the issues that concern you most in order to determine your support (or lack thereof) for them at the ballot box. And honestly, if you vote because an individual is part of a particular party…and solely for that reason…well, it is not how I would go about determining how to cast my vote – but each person needs to do what works for them, not what works for someone else. I get to define me, not you – and I do my best to live by that.

Now, it can be said that I have a bit of an aversion to magick working. I do. I will not mince words when it comes to that. First, I do not believe that I am particularly good at working concepts like spells and the such. Like a pitcher that throws a good fastball, but has not managed to grasp the mechanics of a slider; I would tend to throw my best pitch and not rely on a weaker pitch. Second, I believe there is some aspect of spellwork in just rolling up your sleeves and pant legs and wading knee deep into the stream. I am not sure if it really qualifies under the various meanings of magick working, but I know it tends to get results. Just not always the results I intended at times.

However, while I have an aversion to magick working, I certainly do not turn my nose up or scoff at those who turn to spells, hexes, curses, and prayer as their primary starting point in dealing with issues. I actually respect them for the strength and value they place in those abilities. Obviously, they have managed to get results from those actions, and therefore they are going with their best pitch. All I can hope is that their intent is similar to my own…because I don’t want to be in the batter’s box against that pitch.

Trying to Grasp Air in My Hands

I make no apologies for who I am, what I believe or what I choose to do in my daily life. I am a Pagan, Polytheist, Druid. I enjoy a good two fingers of whiskey, a good pitching duel in baseball, and gush at a 0-0 tie between two excellent defenses in football (soccer to the Americans). I believe in following the rules, except where the rules are exclusionary for ridiculous reasons. I believe in inclusion. I refuse to see color or gender as any standard of identification of what makes an individual capable of accomplishing anything. For me, a lot of that is non-negotiable. Especially the part about football. ūüôā

One of the things I love to do is sit and have conversations with people. About nearly anything. Except that it has to be a conversation. Not a debate. A real, honest discussion. And one of my favorite places to do this is out by a fire. I have had some of the best conversations I have ever attended at night-time fires in various Pagan gatherings. However, a fire cannot always be had, and discussions take place by more than the light of the moon and stars. So, sometimes it is a good coffee shop or living room or even in front of my computer that discussions take place.

Most discussions with my non-Pagan friends will eventually turn towards my religious beliefs. Some discussions with my Pagan friends will eventually turn towards my Polytheism. A few discussions with my Polytheist friends have turned towards my relationship with my strange triad of Gods. And the leading question usually goes something like this….

So, what is it like to have Gods and Goddesses in your life?

Well, I cannot (and will not) try to answer for other Polytheists. Some of them have blogs and podcasts and are more than capable of answering on their own. Speaking for anyone other than myself, in my opinion, would be completely wrong. Everyone has a unique relationship with the Gods and Goddesses. And those who are Called to Them or have agreed to serve in whatever capacity – will have experiences that can vary widely from one another. To speak on behalf of any of these folks…well, I would be making an assumption about the relationships that are there. And I am just not going to slide down that rabbit-hole.

For me, I have a strange Triad. Crow, Coyote, and Flidais. Coyote is more of a peripheral figure in my daily practice these days. Flidais has been an ongoing two-plus year flirtation that I am unsure of where that will head. Crow, by far, has been the prominent one in my daily life, and the focus of my daily practice.

When I mean daily practice, I don’t mean that Crow and I head over to the local Starbucks to share a coffee and bullshit with one another at a table on the patio. Every morning, I greet the Sun and leave a small offering of birdseed out by my stone circle on days where there is no rain. I ask Crow to watch over me throughout the day and to show me where I can take a better direction in my daily life that would allow me to whatever service He may require of me. In the night, I thank Him for the guidance that was provided, even if I never realized that I was being guided in that direction. if no guidance was provided, I still give thanks for Crow’s presence.

My daily practice is simple. Tennis shoes, jeans, and a t-shirt will suffice for any ritual. If I have need of it, I have my staff to bring with me. Greeting the Sun serves as a reminder that each morning brings a new day with new challenges, mysteries, and exchanges with other people. My celebrations of the changing seasons follow the Wheel of the Year. As a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, I utilize their framework for my rituals – and alter each slightly, so that I include my strange Triad.

A daily practice does not have to be elaborate. Nor does it have to be complicated. It just needs to work – for you. A relationship with a God or Goddess does not need to be complicated either. Nor does it make you “important” or better than anyone else. Should you choose to accept a mantle of Priesthood or some form of servitude to any of the Gods – that role will change who you are, as it should. But it will never make you into some “better” Pagan or Polytheist than anyone else. You are accepting a role and the duties associated with it…not a scepter or crown that places you above anyone else. You are, in my opinion, formalizing your relationship with that God or Goddess.

To be blunt, just perceiving the Gods is an amazing experience – in my opinion. Knowing and feeling that They are real, distinct Beings was a watershed moment in my life. Not having a vocabulary to communicate this to my (then) eleven-year-old mind was uniquely frustrating. Having to wait until I was nearly twenty-three to find the words to express what I had felt was its own discouraging form of the Nine Hells. Now, at nearly fifty-two (just days away now), with a proper lexicon of definitions to explain things to my much more experienced mind – I am much more at peace with what I feel, what I experience and what I perceive in the world around me. Certainly, there will be those that may find me mad, confused, and odd. All I can reply to that is that the fire in the head can always be confusing to those that do not understand. What is it like to have a God or Goddess in your life? Honestly, it is amazing. But trying to describe the feeling is like trying to grasp air in your hands.