Category Archives: PantheaCon

Plain-Language Programming – Mean What You Write

Back in 1995, I took a class in Pascal programming – much of which I have forgotten at this point in time. But the instructor taught us a programming concept that he called “pseudo programming” which basically boiled down to regular sentence statements for what was going to be done. For instance, if we were going to write a loop, we would create pseudo code that looked like this:

Check variable [x] for [y] value
As long as [x] does not equal [y] do the following
(long string of functions to be performed on data and stored)

Later on in my professional career – which admittedly looks like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney – I learned that this process is sometimes referred to as “Plain Language Programming” which is just a fancy way of saying that you are talking about stuff in a manner that non-programmers (for your language) can understand what is taking place in the block of code that you are commenting upon. This is typically done so that some other meathead programmer can come along and comprehend what was going on in that garbled mess that I call a brain, without me being there. Or as I pointed out to my students when I taught – if I stepped off the curb in Sundance Square in Fort Worth, hit by a speeding city bus, and thus turned into a pile of mushed meat that could fit into a can of KalKan – someone else could pick up where I left off. Yeah, it got a few giggles and some startled looks, but it kept the students awake. But that’s a deer trod that we will ignore for this post.

Plain Language Programming is wonderful stuff. Its just easy, plain, to-the-point descriptives of what’s taking place. But its not as easy as you think. You have to be precise with what you state. Saying that a block of code “processes some stuff here, and spits out data in the magic format required” is not nearly as meaningful as “the process performs calculations on the data to determine a player’s batting average, on-base percent, and slugging percentage. Once completed, the output is put into a comma-separated value format as specified by the required upload format at baseballstatsarecool.com”. Precision in the language matters, particularly where description is concerned.

All of this comes back to Starhawk’s presentation “Crossing Stony Ground” at Pantheacon this year. The point made was “Watch what you say or repeat…” Next to that, I wrote “PLP” for Plain-Language Programming. When we read or hear something – particularly in these overly sensitive times in our online environments, we can sometimes misread what is being said – totally missing the point of what is being said. I know I have that issue, just as anyone else does. Rather than reading through the entire message for context, we leap to our conclusions or answers based on a small amount of information. Sometimes, its because we are in a rush to provide a response or opinion. An appropriate example came this morning when I was playing Jeopardy on my Amazon Echo. The question was “What number is the last Constitutional Amendment…” (I had my answer here) “…to the Bill of Rights?” I fired back with “What is 27?” That would be right, except that there’s the extra added part of “the Bill of Rights” which makes the answer “10”. Instead of waiting for the rest of the question – I had the answer. And it was wrong. See, words have meaning…and not enough words gives you only a partial picture.

…and its interesting to watch all of this take place, particularly within the online in-fighting we see among the Pagan community. We bicker, we fight, we posture, we threaten, we defend….and most of the time, we haven’t even gotten into the “Bill of Rights” part of the statement, which allows for context. We find our conclusions, form our stances, build our defenses, populate the ramparts with archers – for a single rabbit on the path to the main gates. Granted it could be a killer rabbit…with fangs! So perhaps, we’ve done the right thing by sliding into DefCon one from DefCon five.

No, words have meaning. And when you work without the full context of those words, misunderstandings take place. And from those misunderstandings, we draw battle lines. And from those battle lines…..well, you get the picture. Much like plain-language programming needs to be as descriptive as possible without being overly complicated, we need to be careful about what we invest into what we read or hear, until we know the context of everything. Online communication, being rather binary in its nature, is easily misunderstood. There’s no depth or dimension that is carried by tonal inflection. No additional context added by physical aspects. No smiles. No hand gestures. No standing or sitting postures. No hint of laughter in a voice. No sternness portrayed by narrowed eyes, or surprise by widened ones. As such, we need to be careful with what we say, but also in what we repeat. We need to be sure to hear the latter part of the statement, so that we know that the last numbered amendment refers to only the Bill of Rights, not the entire stack of amendments. And really, the only way to accomplish this – is to learn to slow down and listen. Not an easy task in today’s lightning paced, online driven social environment.

My Odd Thoughts on Journals – Hand-written v. Keyboard

So, I write poetry. Back in the day, I wrote a LOT of poetry. Being in the military at that time, with a girlfriend back in Shreveport, Louisiana, I sent all of those poems to her. She would cut them out of the letters, and put them in an album. When we broke up, I never saw that album again. But then, I discovered BBSs, and wrote a lot of my poetry while logged in. I was rather prolific there as well. When Renaissance BBS closed down, I was provided with a printout of all the poems I had written there. Two moves – one to Germany, the other back to the States – provided a loss of those poems as well. Thinking back, I believe it may be somewhere close to 400 poems or more that I have lost over that time frame – probably to never be seen again.

These days, I tend to write poetry here on WordPress, and will sometimes back it up on EverNote. But the reality of that has been slim to non-existent, which is a bad habit I have fallen into. A few years back, I submitted one of my poems – Lone Wolf: Innocence in Snow – to a writing contest here at the college. I won first place in the poetry contest, and also received an award for best writing work for the entire writing showcase. I realized at that point, that I needed to start backing up my work, particularly since I wrote mostly in a digital environment.

As I noted, my backup efforts have been sporadic, at best. So, when I finished my Bardic Grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, I realized that I needed a better manner to protect my writings – particularly my poetry. So, I bought three blank, lined journals – dedicated one to my own personal thoughts, the second to my upcoming Ovate Grade Gwers work, and the third to my poetry. Now, my efforts are towards writing out my poetry by hand into my journal. And in doing this, I discovered something rather strange.

As I started reading through my entries here on WordPress, I realized that I had written poetry that I couldn’t recall. There were a few that I remembered, but as I looked through those, I realized that these were poems I had hand-written back in the late 1990s. The other poems were ones that I had written in the last few years, via the computer. As I sat and pondered over this, it dawned on me that many of the appointments and event schedules that I write in Google calendar are easily forgotten a few days later. Furthermore, I found myself using Google calendar for a few days, and then no longer using it like I had previously. However, if I wrote things down – even as a scribbled note on the back of an envelope – I could easily recall what I had written three, four, and even eight months later.

Maybe its just a learning concept for me. If I write it, I remember it. I remember every single note I took at Pantheacon, earlier this year. I hand wrote all of those notes. A meeting with another department, I couldn’t recall a single note I took. That meeting was less than two weeks ago. I wrote those notes using a blue-tooth keyboard connected to my iPad.

There is a history of Alzheimer’s disease among the male members of my family on my father’s side. My grandfather, before he died, couldn’t even recall who his grandchildren were. My father had trouble with his short-term memory before he passed away a little more than two years ago. Perhaps, its just my genetic makeup?? If so, why should I be able to recall what I wrote at Pantheacon a few months ago with a slightly fuzzy clarity?? And why can I not recall poems I wrote a little over two years ago on a keyboard, and have vivid recollection of poems I wrote back in the early 2000s, and even back in the mid 1980s?? Its certainly a concept to study a bit deeper.

As an experiment of sorts, I have started moving all my writing – save for the blog – to pen and paper. I am also moving my calendar from Google to a daily planner. And I will be taking careful notes about how well I recall things using these methods for the next year-plus. Who knows? Perhaps my clarity of recall has something to do with rote memory of what I write physically with my hand because of the motion. Maybe its something to do with how I learned as a child. Maybe its none of that. Or even all of that. But this is the kind of stuff that puzzles me. And the kind of stuff I enjoy researching.

Connectivity, indeed…..

–T /|\

Life as a Long Hike

As I noted in a previous post, some of the minor themes in a talk given by Starhawk at Pantheacon this year have brought interesting conceptual thoughts to my mind. One of the more interesting ones was looking at one’s life-time journey as a hike. A really long hike.

Now, I enjoy walking. I get a chance to wander and accomplish what I call “walking meditation” where I can literally turn a single thought over and over in my mind as I walk. Lately I have not done a lot of these, and I really do need to change that. But that is a thought for another time. Using a hike as a metaphor for life was certainly an intriguing thought. There are all sorts of things that can be utilized in hiking that can be brought over to looking at one’s journey in life.

Pathway in Mesa VerdeFor instance, probably the easiest one to bring into focus is the ups and downs of life relayed into the hiking of hills and valleys on a path. I walked a rather long trail in Mesa Verde National Park. The start of the trail was up a steep hill to get closer to the cliff-side nearest to me. Once there, the trail hugged against the cliff-side, and narrowed considerably. The drop-off into the valley below was extremely steep and at times a sheer drop-off. At other times, the path passed through very narrow passageways between large boulders and the cliff wall. It was along this pathway and through one of these passages that I encountered Crow, which I can describe in no other way than an initiation of sorts. At one point, the trail scaled straight up a cliff wall, which – for me, as an individual with an acute fear of heights – was quite harrowing indeed. But thinking back along the lines of a hike as a metaphor for life….makes perfect sense.

The steep climb at the start of the hike, is quite similar to the initial steps one takes in life or even a Spiritual Path. We do not necessarily know exactly where things are or how definitions to certain terminologies or concepts can map into our own lives; so there’s a rather acute struggle. Or if you prefer, a climb of sorts. As we accumulate knowledge and understanding, we build on each concept and build and grow our application of that to our own lives.

But hills and valleys can have other meanings as well. The height of a hill can be a positive moment in our lives. Where we reach the pinnacle of some aspect. Everyday life seems to be in harmony with anything we do or try. We feel the awesome joy of accomplishment, able to look outwards at all that is our life, and survey the beauty of everything that is there. The valley, with its downward momentum, can have the feeling of riding in a vehicle without brakes. Gaining speed at every moment, careening dangerously along the path; a certain painful, and sudden stop that may certainly be in our very near future. Our demeanor reaches depths of sorrow and despair, as if our immediate world is being torn asunder. And we know that once we reach the bottom with our painful, injurious stop accomplished, that our future will require a slow, difficult climb to reach the heights. At times, we can feel like laying at our stopped location in the valley, staring up at the sky with despair that we will once again have to expend the energy to achieve what we once had. And we know that the top of the coming climb will provide a different vantage – similar to the previous one we had – but different all the same. Each individual person will have to determine whether they feel that such a climb is still within who they are.

And then, there is the narrow pathway that I found along my Mesa Verde walk. There were places where the path lead down a very steep, and short dirt path to the cliff edge. The drop off was certain life-threatening. A single misstep could potentially spell outright doom for me. Every step was carefully determined, each handhold was carefully tested to insure I had a strong grip, and that the handhold would hold enough to keep my pudgy ass from pulling me over the edge. Believe me, that the cliff edge was very much on my mind. We do much the same thing throughout our lives. We make plans for this or that; we make preparations for how we are going to accomplish these tasks. We make plans and preparations for our rituals. We decide where and what we are trying to accomplish. And sometimes, that narrow Path is the only way forward we have. Its not the yards-wide Path with smooth dirt or concrete or asphalt that we would prefer. Its rocky, uneven, and fraught with ways for us to trip and fall. We take our steps slowly, trying to keep our balance, and our footing. We navigate our way through some aspects of our lives in careful, measured steps. Where we have walked many times before, we might make quicker steps – faster decisions – sure of our footing or our position. And we might find an unknown root in our way, ensnaring the toe of our boots, and sending us sprawling face first into the Path. What else is there to do, then pick up our wounded pride, check for injuries, dust the dirt off our clothes, and move forward – looking more carefully?

So, there are certainly ways to see Life as a long, long hike. We get a little cocky on our walk, trip and fall in places where we seemed to be certain of our footing. In other areas, we are acutely aware of the drop-off at the cliff’s edge, and tread far more carefully. But the true measure of our hike is not how far we’ve managed to walk. That comes from looking around us. Seeing the environment within which we’ve walked. During my walk along the Petroglyph Point Trail in Mesa Verde, I was struck by how beautiful the views were from my side of the wide valley. The land rolled outwards from my vantage point, moving hundred of yards in distance until the other side of the valley rose sharply from the ground. Once I got far enough away from people, I could see deer – or they might have been antelope – down in the valley below me, searching for food and water in the brush far below. Crows cawed from the trees above me, and Hawks soared on the thermals in the skies above. There is so much to what happens around us in Life as well. People come and go in our lives. Some stay and walk the Path with us from time to time. Some stay longer than others. All of them touch our lives to some degree, even if just momentarily.

Life is a long hike. But its not the distance that matters most. Its what we experience along that distance that matters the most. Those experiences make us who we are. Steep climbs; long valleys; thin trails; deer trods that we can barely see; extremely wide, paved paths – all of it provides the trail. But what we encounter on the trail, and just off the trail adds to what makes our Life experiences. And from my own perspective, those experiences are the treasured aspects of who and what I am.

 

Missing My Stone Heart-Beat

I am back home after two weekends of travel. And I have another three days coming up in the next week where I will be away from home yet again. These first two events – the ADF Imbolc Retreat and the 2017 Pantheacon – were just plain awesome times where I got the chance to reconnect with people that I consider to be a wider aspect of my tribe, as well as excellent opportunities to meet people I have only had the chance to have discourse with via online.

But I will be honest. By mid-day on Sunday, I was missing home. So much so, that I literally spent most of the afternoon in my hotel room. See, I’m an introvert by nature. And sometimes there’s just too many people to process, such as a large event like Pantheacon. I wind up just needing to get away from folks for a short while. But that’s not the entire aspect for me. I missed my little stone circle in the backyard.

IMG_9670When I get off work this evening, I walked into the backyard right after I pulled into the driveway. Its my primary way to get into the house, as I use a backdoor key to get in via the porch. But I have to walk directly past my stone circle. And this evening, it was the first time I had seen it since I had landed the previous night. I dropped my shoulder bag on the sidewalk, and immediately walked around the circle in my work clothes. I took in every stone I had placed in it, feeling the extension of each rock’s ripple into the immediate world around it. I let each ripple encompass me as I walked slowly part each one. I looked into the center where my small resin statue of Kokopelli stands, next to another large stone I have added in the last few weeks. And I felt how comfortable I was with the feeling of this. I pulled off my shoes and socks and let my barefeet feel the ground under my feet.

And I paused. Home. I have really missed this little patch of Home. I silently gave thanks to Coyote, Crow and Fliodhas for continuing to show me how nourishing Community can be for the soul. And I thanked Them for showing how important home can be as well.

With another three-day trip just around the corner, I know that my anxiety will be even greater at this conference – a professional one, not Spiritual in nature whatsoever. But I am also at the overflow hotel – not the primary one. This means I can take great care to stay away when I need to….and that I will have a quiet place to write from. And if everything works out well, I may even have some Pagan visitors over those days as well. If not, I will have plenty of time to manage some down-time as well. Perhaps I can get more than just a couple of hours of sleep, like I managed at Pantheacon and ADF Imbolc Retreat both.

Most importantly, was reconnecting with my Stone Circle. Tomorrow, I will spend more time…and provide offerings and thanks for all that I have experienced over these last two weekends. I have definitely missed my little Stone heart-beat in the backyard.

It Must Be the Cloak….

Ever been to one of the many Pagan-themed conventions?  How about a local gathering?? You know – the places where all the authors, bloggers, podcasters, and well-known Pagans come to?? Ever go all fan-boy or fan-girl on these folks? Well, let me relate an experience to you, along with a handful of observations.

This year, I made my first trek to Pantheacon. My very first time in California. My very first time to a Pagan-themed conference of any sort. Previously, the largest Pagan-themed event I had attended was the Dallas Pagan Pride Day. And I helped work part of that, so I didn’t get to play free-form experience like I did at Pantheacon. There were a metric ton of people there, and then some. And there were a metric ton of authors, bloggers, and even musicians there as well – some of whom I had more than a passing knowledge of their material.

I was lucky enough to have a part-time guide, and roomie for the entire Convention from my local area – John Beckett. Now, John’s a fairly well known Pagan in his own right, and I not only highly respect John’s point of view – some of his blogs have influenced aspects of my own perspective on personal, individual spiritual experience. John provided me with a few helpful hints of how to survive Pantheacon, and even spent a bit of his time walking me around to get the lay of the land (so to speak). But for three days, I was essentially on my own. I had my own panels that I wanted to catch, mostly from Pagans that I knew or had talked with online.

My first experience of meeting someone that I knew/read was with Shauna Aura Knight. It took a few minutes – actually quite a few – to hold back in the background and let other folks talk with her. Eventually, I got my chance to meet her, shake her hand, and talk with her for a short bit. And yes, I fan-boy’d a bit on her. After all, her blog introduced to some of the more difficult to grasp concepts of group leadership – an area, which I admit to being so lousy at, that I tend to stay in the background in most groups I am with. Because I know I am no good at it. Talking with her via Emails and Facebook messages was great, but getting the chance to talk to her face-to-face was a really big moment.

My second experience was catching a panel by Kristoffer Hughes. I had already been around Kristoffer at the East Coast Gathering, but here – he was just off the hook. I was introduced to some of the funniest moments of the entire Pantheacon experience in this panel. Kristoffer’s off-hand comments about the heat of San Jose were nearly side-splitting. His panel was one of the most intense moments I experienced, particularly from a knowledge perspective.

My final experience was in a very laid-back, very cerebral panel on the cross-collaboration between Science Fiction and Fantasy with Mythology. Here, I came face to face (nearly) with an author I had read for a long time in my life – Diana Paxson. She was one of three individuals on what turned out to be a fascinating time, which I have written about in several previous blog posts.

But I found myself doing something I had never realized I had done until long after the fact. Many of the authors, bloggers, musicians, artists, and even us lowly podcasters get placed on pedestals and treated differently than other Pagans. Its almost as if the books that are written, the blog posts that are thought out and articulated, the music that is played, the podcasts that are formulated and mixed down, the sculptures, paintings and other items that are created — its almost as if all that makes those folks different.

None of that stuff truly makes any us different from anyone else. As a podcaster and a blogger, I am just trying to present ideas and points of view that can help people start a discussion – even with just themselves. Our community’s artisans (I will use this as a collective term for all that I have mentioned here – as well as some things I haven’t) are sometimes placed on high pedestals. These folks are championed for having the bravery to place who they are and what they have to say in a format that we all take in and incorporate (or not) into our own lives. Sometimes, we even forget that these folks are just like we are. They laugh, they sing, they have good days, they have bad days. They cry. They do everything that we do. And sometimes we forget that and hold them to an even greater standard. When these folks may have had the shittiest day in their lives for whatever reason; sometimes we expect them to place all that behind them and be there for us. Because we happened to be there. We make them into super-heroes – and they are that indeed – but e forget to let them be ordinary people, too.

We sometimes forget that they don’t always want to talk Pagan stuff. Sometimes, they want to talk about ordinary, everyday stuff too. I had a wonderful time at Pantheacon. I had a wonderful time talking with Shauna, listening to Kristoffer, and allowing Diana and the panel she was a part of to absolutely melt my brain on the concept of modern-day mythology. When I got ready to leave for the airport, I walked over to Shauna to say goodbye. She asked for a hug. And I got my first taste of being treated on equal footing. By someone I admired from a long distance and had spent time in her panel gleaning more information on leadership techniques that I have found ways to apply within my own mundane job. And sitting at the airport, waiting for our flight back to Dallas – I ate dinner with John, and we talked some about American football. Afterwards, I teased John about the many pictures I took of my foot at his panel – waiting for the right moment to get a single shot of him. If I happen to see Kristoffer or Diana at the next Pantheacon, I plan to take a moment and just ask them how their day is going. Nothing of a Pagan-esque nature. Just how their day is going. So they don’t have to be super-heroes every single moment of the day.

Super-heroes. Indeed. It must be the cloak….

img_9678

Morphing the Myth: What Does Myth Mean to You?

This is the second in a series of posts that are inspired from questions I wrote down during the “Morphing the Myth” panel at Pantheacon, earlier this year. In asking myself these questions, and writing about them here in the blog, I wanted to take a deeper look at an area of my own Path in Paganism that I sometimes overlook.

As I noted in the last post, Mythology and story-telling can provide the gateway for folks to look deeper into Paganism – or for some, be the first steps that they may take on their search within Paganism. I am no different in that manner. Digging through Encyclopedias at the base library opened a door of belief and thought for me, particularly where mythology and folk-tales were concerned.

Thanks to the wonderful podcast “The Celtic Myth Podshow” run by Gary and Ruth, I have been introduced to the world of Celtic Mythology in a manner that I have never had before. They produce a podshow that retells the stories of the Celtic Myths in a manner that I can only describe as something akin to the radio programs from a historical time frame called “The Golden Age of Radio”. At times, they have included interviews with various Pagan folk as well. One particular moment that stands out in my mind is when Damh the Bard and Cerri Lee were interviewed in an episode. The recreation of such myths as the First Branch of the Mabinogion, and the Irish Mythological Cycle have introduced me to a world of stories, and tales that I had never known previously. These shows are literally story-telling treasures for me, and occupy a place on my iPhone that I reserve for long trips. If you have never heard of this wonderful podshow or these two fantastic people…you seriously need to.

What does myth mean to you? How do you incorporate it into your life?

Myth can have so many meanings to so many different people. Stories, folk-tales, superstition, lessons from time….the list can literally be endless. For me, myths, and mythology are ways in which I can connect with my ancestors, with my Gods and Goddesses, and with myself. My ancestors, like the ancestors of anyone else, told stories around their campfires, late into the night. These stories held cautionary tales for the listener, explaining where and how things went sideways…and how everything eventually got put back together. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what cultural environment you look to, you will find the Bardic Arts involved in society – telling the tales of the Gods, the Goddesses, the Heroes, the anti-Heroes.

For me, I live in an area of the southern Plains peoples. Here, the peoples of the First Nations lived, hunted, warred with one another, and were part of their cyclical aspects of the environment around them. At their fires, they told the tales of their Gods and Goddesses. How trickster Gods such as Crow and Coyote created mayhem and mischief, and the punishments and repercussions that occurred from those actions. When I finally felt the pull and call of the Gods, I was not overly surprised to find Coyote and Crow over my shoulder. I read up on their respective myths, learned how to handle their aspect of humor, and derived my own lessons of humility from those tales and my own interactions with both of Them. Their tales do not always overlay completely into my own Life. In fact, that rarely happens ever – if at all. But there are parallels between Their tales and some of the lessons I have encountered in my Life.

Its difficult to relay the meaning of Myth to my own Life in a manner that may make sense for you, the reader. Everyone will draw something different from Myths. Everyone’s interaction – or non-interaction – with the Gods and Goddesses will be different. After all, we are all unique individuals, its only logical that our experiences with the Gods and Goddesses will be just as unique. For me, Crow, Coyote, and Fliodhas, are ever-present. Not always over my shoulder, or whispering in my ear – but typically near. The Myths and Tales that I do have, are treasured readings for me. Whenever I feel lost or out of sorts, I pick a Tale and read. Sometimes, I find meaning in a place I had not before, and sometimes reading the Tale provides some insight I had not considered before, even if it were not provided directly within the story itself.

I sometimes wonder what will happen when the Tales, Stories and Myths will no longer be told. I truly believe that which is remembered will never fade. And those moments become reminders that this is part of what brought me to the Path of Druidry – the Bardic Arts. Damh the Bard, Bran Cerddorion, Wendy Rule, Spiral Dance, Paul Newman, Loreena McKennitt, Gary and Ruth, Fionn Tulach, the great Robin Williamson….and many, many others, have brought the Myths to life in their songs and retellings. yes, that which is remembered, never fades….

–T /|\

Morphing the Myth – Gateway to Paganism

As I related in the previous post, I am embarking on a series of posts that answer some of the questions I posed to myself in notes at Pantheacon 2016. The panel was titled “Morphing the Myth” – and to honor that particular panel, I have chosen to title all of the posts in this series as “Morphing the Myth” with the question following it.

In the panel’s description in the Con’s Information booklet, it was noted that many folks have come to Paganism through various stories. So, the first question I wrote down was

What is your gateway to Paganism?

In a manner of speaking, the question seems somewhat silly at first glance. Essentially, some topical approach is being blamed for one’s deeper involvement in Paganism. Sort of similar to blaming Cocaine usage on one’s earlier usage of marijuana or if one wants to complete the slippery slope of context – one’s usage of cigarettes at an early age. But, we will pick up this football and run with it. At least until the referee blows the whistle.

Mine was fairly simple. I was a curious kid, and loved to spend hours at the base library. Particularly in the section where the encyclopedias were kept. Yeah, I used to read encyclopedias for fun. That was where I came across the Roman Gods and Goddesses. That eventually lead me to the Greeks, the Celts, and the First Nations.

Tommy at the Beach

Yes, I spend a lot of time reading – even when I go to the beach

In essence, my gateway to Pagan belief came from reading the encyclopedia. Granted, it took a while before I realized that I believed in the Gods and Goddesses as the individual entities I see Them as today. I had a lot of Catholic programming to overcame, and a lot of “civilized” societal mindset to shed. I was raised in a household that really wasn’t heavy into belief; even though the children (me and my sister) were sent to Catholic schools. Not for the religious education, but for the so-called “superior” education we would receive in comparison to the public schools. But education with Catholic schools comes with mandatory religious education. So I had plenty of years of being pounded with the idea that a single God with a triune perspective was the “only” way.

When I finally made my initial steps on to the Path of Paganism, the Catholic veneration of Mary made the transition to relating to a God/Goddess paradigm was rather simple. Each of the aspects of the God – Jupiter, Pan, Odin, Thor, Loki, Coyote, Crow, Cernunnos, the God of the Hunt, were just different faces that allowed the follower to relate better. The same held true for that of the Goddess. Not a really far step away from the Christian perspective of a singular all-knowing God. There was no way that anyone was going to blow the mind of this simple, young Wiccan in the United States Air Force.

Over time, my understanding of the Gods and Goddesses began to change. I can’t really pinpoint a time frame or a specific book or movie or talk that set me on a pathway to understanding that each of the Gods and Goddesses were individual, unique beings. if I were pressed a bit for some accuracy, I would put it somewhere between 1997 and 2003. Give or take a few years in either direction. And to be honest, I am not sure it really matters one way or the other. I know what I believe now. And for me, that matters far more than the exact details of how I got here.

I am sure of another thing, though. That not every Pagan out there will believe exactly as I do. Some will see the Gods and Goddesses as aspects of a God and a Goddess. Others will believe as I do, that there are many, individual and unique entities. Others may not believe in any Gods or Goddesses whatsoever. And I am not really all that interested in how close or far away from what I believe that they are. I only care that they believe in what do they do believe in. That they put their heart and soul into who they are. That they live their life as Pagans of whatever stripe – without regret, without apology. And that they respect others’ rights and needs to follow their own hearts and beliefs.

Every single one of us have something that led us to this Path we walk. It was a gateway that brought us to a point where we decided to follow this particular Path we are on. In the next post, I’ll take a look at Myths, Stories, and tales – and the roles that these can (and do) play in my daily life.

–T /|\