Category Archives: Ramblings

It is Not About the Gods, it is About the Power….

I love to walk with crow brethren. In real life, it happens from time to time when I walk around the college campus I work on. Most of the time, they want food, which I am happy to supply from the last portions of my lunch. But in my dreams, the time spent with them is more of conversation. This dream-world is where I get a lot of the ideas which populate my dream journal, as well as my personal journal.

A few nights ago, one of the typical “conversations” eventually led to a question from me concerning leadership. Why do leaders seemingly reach a point where they abuse others. I was aware of the origin of the question – both then and now. Recently, there have been a large number of people who have been charged with abuse of others – Judge Moore in Alabama, Senator Franken from Minnesota – just name two. Why would the God(s) allow this to happen? Surely, particularly in the cases of individuals in positions of leadership in religious communities, the God(s) would intervene and not allow such abuses to take place in Their name(s). One of the crows supplied an answer, which I wrote down when I woke up in the morning….

It is not about the Gods…it is about Power. It does not matter what one practices or believes…tyranny is about what power they hold over others…not about what beliefs they practice.

Now, I have been in positions of leadership to one degree or another throughout my life. I understand the seduction of power, of playing favorites amongst people who look to you for direction and (shudder) answers. And power is an extremely seductive force. To have people do things when you tell them or to be able to utterly ruin a person’s public reputation with a few well-placed words. To have people hang on your every word. For your every intonation to be treated as the sacred word of the Gods. Who would not want such command??

Well, me, for one. And perhaps I am just the odd duck when it comes to something like this. In my job, I am considered to be a subject expert when it comes to writing programming code. If only I saw myself in that same vein. I am a good programmer. I understand all the manners in which to make most programming dance to my fingertips. But I am by no means an “expert” at my trade. I am merely the best in the environment in which I am in. I know my limitations as a programmer and have little doubt that I have a long, long way to go before I can even be considered “very good”. But in a world of neophytes, even the individual of average knowledge seems to be an all-knowing God. I have no desire to become an all-knowing God…and I am always ready to improve on what I know – ready to adapt to change.

When I was a supervisor in the Air Force, I had subordinates who literally hung on my every word. I had been in the Air Force for over five years at that point. Each of the airmen under my supervision had been in the Air Force for a little under a year. I was their authority figure. Not because I had earned it, but because my rank dictated that I had. For them, I was mother AND father. What I said was law before I uttered it. And I grew up very fast in trying to live up to that responsibility. I realized that responsibility was easily shared. And while authority from above came in the form of rank, it was easier to split that up into equal pieces amongst all of us. Together, we shared the responsibility for getting tasks assigned to us completed. We learned how to work towards resolving issues quickly, not pointing fingers of blame first, and when the task was completed – trying to find out what went wrong at that time. After a time, we learned our strengths, our weaknesses, our incomplete knowledge areas – individually, and collectively. There was no need to dictate what needed to be done. We assessed together, resolved based on our strengths and weaknesses, and treated each other as equals regardless of rank (a concept that runs counter to military organizations).

I see similar aspects in some Pagan communities, whose power dynamics I admire greatly. Responsibilities and leadership are shared commodities with individuals stepping into positions of ownership with what they have been tasked to do. Leadership roles are rotated, along with other aspects, regardless of knowledge or experience. Each individual gets a chance to do, to plan, to organize, to execute tasks, to resolve issues….and each individual grows and learns. And that growth and learning and experience make a more rounded individual. As a group, these well-rounded individuals have their own strengths and weaknesses. Taken together, each member of the group feels empowered to be a part of the solution. Each member of the group has an ownership in the group. And that empowerment and ownership are paramount towards the continued growth of the group.

But we are talking about people here. People are seduced by the power of being the place where answers come from. People are seduced by the concept that they have all the answers where others don’t. One’s Experience becomes a bludgeoning tool with which to keep others away from becoming that Oracle of Knowledge. And soon enough, the power leads to being abusive. Using that power of dominance and leadership to reach for aspects that normally would not be available. We have all heard it before within the Pagan community – the charismatic group leader that uses his/her position of authority as a means to be sexual with someone else. Oddly enough, what the Pagan community has gone through before (largely, to my knowledge, in the 1990s), the evangelical Christian community is getting a taste of here lately. Judge Moore does indeed come from an evangelical Christian background. And I do find it interesting that the evangelical Christian community is rallying around the accused rather the accusers, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly pointed against Judge Moore.

The Dream Crows are right though. What Judge Moore is accused of is not an indictment of Christianity. Nor is it an indictment of the evangelical community. It is a harbinger of something that needs to be looked at far deeper. But its definitely not about the Gods or even the Christian God. It is about the abuse of power. A power that is provided to the individual by the community. The Gods can direct us to do Their will throughout the world. But even They are aware of the frailty of human beings. Even They are aware of what the seduction of power can do to a human being. This is not about Their will, but rather the lack of ours…ours being the “collective we”….

 

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I Program Therefore I Compile – Trail-Blazing Paths Traveled

Over the past month and a half, my job has slowly evolved into what it has now become – something closer to a programmer than a researcher. granted, its mostly work in SQL, which many hardcore programmers do not consider to be a programming language, but I do not consider the difference between SQL and say – C++ to be all that different. The scope of what each language sets out to do is the true difference. Lately, part of my job has been pulling me into the world of R – another light-weight programming language that gets poo’d on by most hardcore programmers. The syntax for it is odd, different, and quite foreign to my brain…and so I feel challenged to make it do things. This is probably the best way to make me want to learn something – make it difficult for my brain. I always enjoy a challenge. Back when I was in high school, I learned to program pixels on the screen of my television with my Commodore 64. I would sit for hours in front of my C64 keyboard, programming the vector for each pixel – and even once got out graph paper and drew an intricate design. I then mapped the graph to the locations I wanted on the screen, and again sat for hours writing each line of code. I believe the entire program took somewhere close to eight-hundred lines of code. I never thought of optimizing code to do the same thing in the fewest lines of code or what is commonly referred to as “code optimization.”

A few months ago, I was asked to design a retention study for a particular collegiate program. The query I wrote called for thirteen years of data to be pulled to the screen from the database. First the population of a semester, then a group of students that were in both this semester, and the following one, and then the next semester’s population. For thirteen years of data, I wrote the entire query with hard-coded values, and the result was nearly five hundred lines long, with fifty-three coded variables. Amending the query to run for a different time frame or a different program was nearly impossible. Most of the singular changes would take nearly an hour to do. So I rewrote the query using a virtual table (not writing to the database but to RAM) and utilized a loop to handle the tedious recall of the same six lines of code. The result was a query that was 69 lines long with five variables. It was easily amended to utilize different time frames and could be recorded to another collegiate program with a change of one three-character variable (provided you knew the three character variable you needed to change it to).

Why did I do it?  Well, two-fold. One, I wanted a query that could be amended easily by anyone who was not me – with a small instruction set that explained what needed to be changed by the end user. That explanation was five sentences long. I was the trail-blazer here – as was stated in the movie “Moneyball”….

I know you are taking it in the teeth, but the first guy through the wall… he always gets bloody… always. This is threatening not just a way of doing business… but in their minds, it’s threatening the game. Really what it’s threatening is their livelihood, their jobs. It’s threatening the way they do things… and every time that happens, whether it’s the government, a way of doing business, whatever, the people who are holding the reins – they have their hands on the switch – they go batshit crazy.

Now, some of you might not be completely following along. I know, computer programming can be some of the most boring, inane stuff to some people. Not everyone is wired for this. But here is the point – being a trail-blazer is not for the weak of heart, or for those lacking the faith in what they are trying to do.

I am on a path of Druidry. I am NOT a trail-blazer here. It may be new, fertile ground for me, but someone else has walked here before me. I may not have a journal of their adventures or experiments or experiences to reference. So my experiences will seem like trail-blazing for me, but its most likely not. Except….that it is trail-blazing. It is FOR ME. And those initial steps are exciting. That new pattern of knowledge and logic falls into place, lighting up a whole new pattern of syntax. My world expands a bit more. I see things in a manner I have never seen them before. And I may not have a grinning mentor standing at my side, knowing what I am experiencing – allowing them to remember what it was like when their world was opened for them.

Thinking back, when I was that proselytizing newbie Pagan…when I had devoured “Drawing Down the Moon” over a single weekend, “The Spiral Dance” in a single evening…I remember how much those two books opened my eyes to what was possible. I had smelt the petrichor of the rains from Paganism for so long, knowing that there was so much more than what Christianity had to offer. Only I could not see on to that rich, inviting plateau until the wall between “cultured” religion and “uncivilized” belief was set aside. And my world was opened to a wider perspective. In a way, I had the same experience that Luke Skywalker did, when he first opened his mind to the concept of the Force. I was so excited by my “discovery” that I felt that everyone needed to see it too. That if they could perceive what I did, they would see the beauty of what I was encountering, and find joy in it as well.

Yeah.  Not so much. Just like the moment that the hero of Rush’s “2112” experiences his deflated moment when the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx shoot down his “discovery” as a ‘waste of time’ – the evangelical Christians I worked with at Carswell Air Force Base made sure to remind me that I was in Satan’s clutches. And in that same vein, being the only true programmer in my department, it is hard to share the excitement of learning more evolved manners of writing the same code in nearly 425 fewer lines to achieve the same result.

I am certain that many other Pagans have gone through similar moments in their Spiritual lives. As I noted before, many others have walked the same Path that I have. These corridors were fresh to others before me. These same corridors will be fresh to others that come after as well. They will be trail-blazing their ways to their own “new” knowledge, adding subtle changes or nuances going into the future. Just as programming will change as well, as new ways of addressing bits and bytes will be found – fundamentally changing the structure and syntax of a language. Each individual will have to compile the program on their own to see how it addresses who they are…while others have walked here before, we still have to walk those same Paths individually, for ourselves.

 

Doing What You Love Keeps You True to Who You Are – My Experience

I feel quite lucky. I have a love for all things computer-related, but more for programming than any other aspect. I have worked in various parts of the Information Technology world. I cut my eye-teeth in my thirty-four (and counting) year career by working on mainframe systems that were fifteen years old when I was born in 1965. I have worked in hardware maintenance, software support, desktop support, server management, information security, disaster recovery and digital storage. Now, I work as a data retrieval specialist, and a data systems research. Probably the closest technical concept to what I do is that of a Data Sciences specialist.

The primary focus of my job is to write retrieval statements in Transact-SQL (Structured Query Language) to pull data related to the students, faculty, and classes at my college. From that data, other people will seek out trends, and other pieces of information that will help them determine what decisions to make related to some task or support a decision that they are already pushing towards getting into motion. In a manner of speaking, my job is to be of service to others within my collegiate institution – a concept that plays very close to my personal understanding of my own path of Druidry, and my understanding of a role as a priest.

Stating that I love doing what I do is a deeply understated position. I get paid to “talk” to a database system in its own language. I am asked to resolve pieces of a wider puzzle. And over time, I can see the results of what I do emanating throughout the campuses and buildings and corridors of the college. Some days I come home frustrated over something that happened at work. But before I find my well-worn location in the bed for some much-needed sleep, I remind myself that what I do is assist others. The results of my tasks help those people do their jobs better. And when they do their jobs better, they can better assist the students of the college, who are the primary reason that the college exists. I do love my job.

The fact that I find my job challenging, and is something that I enjoy doing, makes each work day more pleasurable than frustrating. I have said it before – I am a Pagan. A polytheist. A Priest of Crow. A Druid. And while any part of that formula can sometimes make my daily Spiritual life a little confusing – I love who I am. I am comfortable with most of those terms. Yes, I still struggle with the idea of describing myself as a Priest. My devotionals to Crow, which happen every evening for me, have great depth and meaning. My connections with Crow, Coyote, Flidais are each unique, personal, and extraordinary in ways I cannot adequately describe. Nothing I have done in honoring any of Them has felt like a chore. Rather, every motion made, every word intoned have felt more like an embrace somewhere between that of an intimate lover and a cherished family member.

When I first left high school – an all-boys Catholic school – I stepped towards the area of the Southern Baptists. It was an easy place to find. In Shreveport, Louisiana, you cannot go more than three blocks without encountering some concept of such a place. The people were enthusiastic and friendly to a new face amongst their congregation. But the Sunday services had an antiseptic feel to it. Very clean, very polished, very rote. Every motion made by any individual in a leading role of the service seemed overly practiced – nearly robotic. After attending services every Sunday for four months, it was painfully obvious that it was. The hymns may have been different, but the singing had no emotion or joyous intonation behind it. The sermons, preached at high decibel levels for certain phrasings and passages, were meant to sound frightful – warning people of what would happen if “wickedness” were not tossed to the side in favor of “righteousness”. Aside from those phrases, the rest of the sermons were wooden in tone. And rarely was there a mention of the people in the congregation being in good faith with their own spirituality. For me, 120+ days were more than enough for me to reach the conclusion that this was not for me. There was no life in any of this – plus much of it was taught to the congregation in a manner that removed the beauty and individual life in the “world beyond” as I had come to term the perception of the Gods. It took a little longer before I realized that what I had been feeling was my perception of Polytheism.

Why do I bring up this moment of Christianity in my post? After all, I claim (and still do) to have no “beef” with Christians at all. And here I am slamming them for what they believe. Except that I am not. Their belief system, the delivery method that had been used within this church (and quite a few others I experienced afterward) had a lack of life for me. Perhaps it had life and meaning for those that were practicing it – I cannot say for certain because I am not them. I do not know what was deep in their hearts. Only they can answer that with factual perception. And it is not for me to ask. However, if I had stayed within that belief system, I would have found no joy. I would not have found any true bearing of love. In essence, my own Spiritual life would have slowly died and withered.

There was nothing wrong with me trying that particular belief system out when I was searching for my corner in the world. Just as there is nothing wrong with people trying out whatever aspect of Paganism, Polytheism, or what have you. We have all jokingly referred to these Seekers before. These white-lighters, seeking a place of “peace, love, and white light” above all else. These rainbow-hugging, granola-eating hippy-wanna-be folks – seeking a place of easy physical sex, and individual bonding – seeking their own communes whatever that may be. Some of these folks stay, learn, grow, and become the Priests and Priestesses that help lead and grow our widening Pagan community. They stay because they find something that they embrace whole-heartedly. Something that calls within them. They stay because it is something that they love. Love about the rituals, the spellwork, the spirituality, and the people they have encountered. Because they have found their Spiritual home.

I work at the college because I believe in the mission that it upholds in educating people, preparing them for better jobs, more knowledge, personal growth…and because what I do allows me to be of service to these students, and to my fellow coworkers. I am good at my job because I enjoy what I do. I am becoming a better Priest, a better devotee to my odd triad of Gods and Goddess, and continuing to learn what means to be a Druid because I love who I am and what I am becoming. And I am completely grateful for it all. For without any of it, I would not be who I am. And I love who I am becoming, who I have been, and who I am now. Warts and all.

Leadership is About Sharing Experiences – At Least in My Opinion

I have written a few times about the concepts of leadership, but to be honest – I have always thought it silly for a solo Pagan, like myself, to speak on things like this. My connections within the Pagan community are slight. Much like the title of the old podcast, my area falls more to the edges than anywhere else. Not only am I more comfortable out on the periphery, its almost as if I have been called to be here.

Back in the 1990s, while I was in the United States Air Force, I stepped up to the idea of being a leader in the community. I tried to help with the leadership of the local Kaiserslautern military Pagan community. What I found in doing this was that more people were willing to complain and criticise than those willing to roll up their sleeves and help do the work. And that winds up being a real turn-off to me. So, once I left the United States Air Force and came back to the United States to live my life as a civilian – I choose to be solo. But not after another attempt at being a part of a local community – and what would be the last chance I would give Wicca to be what I needed in my life. But that is a post for another time and topic.

So, I dove deep into being a solo Pagan. I continued to follow the Wheel of the Year in my daily life. And while I never hid the fact that I was a Pagan, I surely did not advertise the fact either. And I discovered a lot about myself during this time. I was not a leader. Working on my own was more effective for me. Wicca was definitely not the Path for me. The Nordic Path had no pull for me to follow. And I was not interested in reconstructing any older belief or practice. And all of that was true, with the exception of the first two statements.

When you are on your own, and there are no effective means of communicating with others, your concept of leadership comes down to a single person – yourself. I can deny my ability to be a leader in crafting my response through my desire to not be a leader. But that desire is not because I lack the ability to provide leadership in anything I do. It comes from my fear of being out front, where others look to what I have to say or do, as an example of what they can try on their own. And at the age of 52, I can literally say that I have been running from leadership since my late teens. And that is certainly a long time. It has colored a lot of the way I handle myself in other situations. I have developed patterns of an introvert as defense mechanisms to insulate myself with ready-made excuses.

I was never ready to be considered a leader in anything. I have always looked at leadership as being some modicum of control over others. My libertarian streak inside of me informs my perspective that only an individual can be the leader of themselves. We make our individual choices on our own. We decide what is right and wrong for our own individual selves. A leader does not have to be manipulative and controlling. In fact, I would posit that such actions are not perspectives of leadership whatsoever. Leadership is not about grooming others to be what you expect them to be but helping them to become what they are. The individual chooses the direction that they wish to go; the leader helps find ways to assist in the growth of that person. Sure, there are many other definitions of what a leader is or is not. Ask a group of ten people for a definition of a leader, and you’re likely to get fifteen different answers.

Over the past ten years, I have slowly brought myself back into the Pagan community. Through the podcasts, the blog, going to local events, going to not-so-local events…and rarely have I interjected myself into the concept or perspective of being a leader. Most of the events I have attended have had very well defined perspectives of leadership. Some folks were well suited to be leaders, others not-so-much (in my opinion). With the podcasts and the blog, my “voice” tends to be given a position of authority and credence that I don’t normally attribute to myself. But in both instances, whether I agree with it or not, I stepped into a role of leadership. And I do have to provide ownership of what I write and say in both areas – after all, I did say it.

Whether I completely agree with it or not, I have been a leader to many folks. No one should be following me into the woods just because that is where I am going. But some folks have asked about what type of gear I am carrying into the woods with me and then creating their own group of items to carry with themselves when they go into the woods. Sometimes, their items have stuff that I took, sometimes it doesn’t…and most likely, it has stuff that I never thought about. In the end, we learn from sharing our experiences. And in a manner of speaking, this is the kind of leadership I see myself providing.

All of this has gotten me to think even more about what happens going forward. Certainly, I will keep blogging about my experiences. Here shortly, the podcast will get moved forward and back into gear. Both of those platforms allow me to share my experiences, as well as the experiences of others. And through that sharing, my libertarian heart says that we will all be able to make better choices for ourselves. We can find the level of comfort that we have in our communities and develop the roles that we should each be filling. And in that manner, we become leaders – in our own definitions of what that means.

And while it is a pretty dream that might never be achieved – simply because we apply this theory to the fallibility of human beings — I am willing to dream that dream. And reach for it as well.

What Do I Want From My Paganism?? A Personal Look at Damh’s Questions….

Recently, Damh the Bard put out a blog post which focused on how one’s approach changes in their Spirituality. At the end of the blog post, he set out a paragraph asking several questions.

So tell me. What do you want from your Paganism? I’m not talking about the Pagan community here, I’m talking about your personal quest. Is group work/initiation important anymore? What do you want your path to help you feel/see? Does it achieve that? What turns you on spiritually? Ecstatic dance? Drums? Or quiet contemplation? Has Paganism lost its teeth over the past couple of decades in an effort to become acceptable to the mainstream? Does that bother you?

So, I decided to give it a try and answer him. And I thought it would make an interesting blog post on top of that. Plus, considering that it flows into what I am doing for NoNoWriMo, I decided to add it into what I am writing there as well. (Best Oprah voice) You get a win, and you get a win, and you get a win…..

To really answer this, I have to take a few steps backwards. I first encountered Paganism through Wicca. My first introduction was through a High Priestess I was dating. She tried to explain her beliefs to me, and when I faltered in understanding – she tossed four books to me to read. “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler, “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk, “, “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” by Raymond Buckland, and “Witchcraft From the Inside”, also by Raymond Buckland. After reading each of them, I began to realize that Wicca was the nearest approximation for what I felt inside of me. It wasn’t a perfect fit by any stretch of the imagination, but it was far closer than my forays into Catholicism (of my youth), and Southern Baptist (shortly after high school) had been.

Long conversations ensued between her, myself, and two other members of her coven. And the more the conversations continued, the more I began to realize that Wicca was not the right fit for me. There was a lot of talk of a God and Goddess – and the many faces that the two had, and a lot of usage of the term archetypes from Jungian philosophy. I felt very differently. There were many Gods and Goddesses, each was unique and distinct. Not many faces of a Goddess and God. Furthermore, the stylized ritual aspect was not something I was comfortable with. Circles that enclosed a ritual from the outside world just did not feel right to me. When the United States Air Force moved me along to a European posting, I decided to also leave the conceptual aspects of Wicca, as I had been taught, behind as well. I kept pieces that worked for me, such as ritual work – but without the conceptual boundaries of a circle. Through Adler’s work, I started exploring the conceptual edges of other ideas, stylizing myself as a “neo-Pagan” during this time frame.

During all of this, as well as my time being stationed at Sembach Air Base in Germany, my need from Paganism was to find my footing in the wider world. To determine who I was, where I was, and what I wanted out of life. Paganism provided many, many different Paths. Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” allowed me to approach many different doorways, and try ideas and concepts I had only thought were possible. And while many of those steps proved to not be accurate or correct for me, I learned more from each one – and incorporated more ideas and concepts into my own Spiritual practices.

That was 1986 to 1994. A good chunk of time backwards in my life from this point. In 2007, I eventually stumbled onto Druidry, my current Path. The fit is better than Wicca was before. Then again, I am far more weathered, and not quite the idealistic young man I used to be. My wide-eyed first steps were measured with the ideas that if everyone became Pagans, the world would be a better place to live. Nice dreams, but I am far older, and a great deal more experienced than I was before. I still believe that Paganism still has a lot to teach people, myself included. But my needs from Paganism are quite different now.

Paganism, from my own perspective, provides me a lens through which to see the world around me. I am still a polytheist. I see the world through that lens. I have Crow, Coyote and Flidais in my life to one degree or another. I continue to learn about Connectedness with the world around me. I am working on living Intentionally – that is to say, I am trying to live my life in a particular fashion with a particular attitude and perspective. Paganism continues to provide a familiar framework from which I can approach these concepts. Has my perspective changed? Certainly it has. My understanding of what being a Pagan means to me grows with who I am becoming. In a manner of speaking, I am glad that remains comfortable to me, but I also realize that there is still a degree of uncertainty that is out there – and that no matter how far I reach, I won’t and cannot know everything. Paganism continues to be a source of mystery, education, and familiarity for me. What do I want from my Paganism? The same thing that I have been getting from it over the last thirty years…an excitement for living, learning, understanding, and communing with the Gods and Goddesses. What will that look like in the future?  Search me, but I am excited about what it may become.

I never thought I would look for what turns me on Spiritually….but it is an interesting question. One thing that helps me recenter myself spiritually is just getting out into forested or mountainous areas. Just being in environments like that allows me to really relax and breathe. But then discussing things of a spiritual nature with other Pagans makes for a great moment as well. I never would have guessed that would happen until the huge round-table discussion at Many Gods West this year. Being able to talk and discuss matters concerning individual approaches to the Gods and Goddesses and Ancestors was amazing. I would never have guessed at how much something like that would have really meant to me before. But then, there’s ritual. The dynamics of being around the campfires at the various events I have attended. The stories and tales and myths we all tell to one another around that same campfire late at night. Attempting to quantify that is difficult, but each one of those moments help feed and nourish who I am as a Pagan. And as an individual who is a determined solo Pagan, that is a surprising perspective. That interaction with others would comprise such an integral part of my own Spiritual practice.

….and what about the mainstreaming of Paganism today?? Am I upset by this?  Am I even fazed by it? Honestly, I can remember when new folks would come into the orbit of my first Wiccan coven. I would wonder what brought them into Paganism? For some, its the prospect of being around others with a similar perspective. Some would look towards being able to learn ritual and magick concepts as being tops in their books. And yes, there are a few Pagans that don’t really get into ritual or magick. I am one of those that uses magick sparingly…sparingly enough that it could be described as “next-to-never”. Nowadays, My sense of wonder is even greater. Often, I hear people describe the Gods and Goddesses in terms of movie sets and the actors and actresses that play those characters. When I think of Paganism becoming mainstream, this is where that concept comes to mind. When people take something that is in pop culture and bring it to their beliefs…. But then, I have to recall how I got into the Gods and Goddesses. At eleven, I read about some of Them in the encyclopedias at the military base library. The Greek Gods and Goddesses were most prominent. Then, in my mid-teens, I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons, which eventually brought the concept of Gods and Goddesses into light through “Dieties and Demigods”. A wider selection of the Gods was available here. And I have to wonder….is that any different from the comic-book/movie characters that have some people coming to Paganism today? Certainly, newbies come into Paganism wide-eyed, marveling at all the sights around them – ecstatic over the gobs of information that smack them directly in the face. And I remember….to one degree or another, I was probably the same way. In one light, these newbies might upset me, with their, seemingly, non-serious manner of viewing things. They discuss Loki in the light of Tom Hiddleston…slamming their understanding directly upon this Hollywood construct. But to be completely honest, these folks will start somewhere. Those that find a seriousness that connects with who they are deep inside themselves, will find their steps on a Pagan Path lengthening further into their lives. They will find much richer detail, description, and value within rituals, discussions, and whatever Spiritual outlook that works for them. Those that didn’t, will slide away and find their next shiny object to fixate on. Is that the complete truth?  I am not totally sure, but I know that if I didn’t believe that – this fifty-two year-old Pagan wouldn’t be who he is today.

Take up Damh’s questions. Write them in your journals. Come back to these questions again a decade from now – and see how your perspective changes. For me, this has really opened some different directions for me – and will bring to life quite a few other topics in the near and far future.

Various Thoughts and Recollection – A Little Sorting After Samhain

I have mentioned it a few times before – this time of year tends to get me focused inwardly. I spend time looking at what happened over the course of the year, and what didn’t. And trying to figure out how things might happen going forward. I tend to refer to this point where the Wheel turns from one year to the next as my “quiet time”. And for the largest part….that is what it tends to be.

 

I have never really been one for spellwork or magick work. My two trickster Gods don’t really demand too much along those lines from me. They do; however, push me towards the idea of living my life intentionally. Honestly, it is not the easiest thing in the world either, at least for me. Life would be far easier if I just went to work and came home and relaxed afterward. That way, my intention would be pointed towards whatever task may come my way at work and I could veg at home in the latter part of the evening. But intention throughout the day is not built like that. Instead, I find myself facing the night before bedtime thinking about what I could day the next day that would make a difference. Sometimes, it is just a change in attitude. Be kind to others throughout the day. Be friendly to everyone. Sometimes it is specific things.

Magick is not some arcane set of words for me. Magick comes through living life. Every morning, I drive a small country road to get to the college. On either side of the road are dairy farms. Cows graze everywhere. Like an idiot, I wave at the small calves near the edge of the fence and watch as they run along with my truck – eager to play. On that same stretch of road, I have seen Fox, Coyote, Hawk, Crow, Grackle, Tree (intentionally singular), and the occasional car-chasing Dog. The magick and beauty of life, as well as the cycle of Life, unfold before me every day.

I totally grok the concept that every day needs a revolution – brewed in spellwork – to counter the politicians up on Capitol Hill, here in the United States. Bindings, cursings, spellwork – these are the chosen tools of so many. And I doff my cap to those people for the efforts that they put forth. Their chosen cause is a just one. To bring a sense of order and calm to a place that touches nearly every American life in one capacity or another – and reaches even beyond that. Politically, my perspective is very different from these folks. I have been cussed at for not joining in for the “cause” – for not putting my magick into the “cauldron”, so to speak. And while it feels like I am devalued in the eyes of these folks when I step back from that arena, I remind myself that my Gods have other directions for me to tread. And honestly, if my friendship with someone hinges on how I think and act politically – we have likely not had any kind of friendship whatsoever. My friends are my family. Political sides have nothing to do with any of that.

And with all that in mind, another cycle of the Wheel has ended, and a new one begins. This ending cycle ends with a marked upturn in chaotic feelings. Many, many folks are feeling like they have targets on their backs. Naked. Exposed. Under-protected. And rightly so. Like I said last year, the #Storm is here. And in the downpour that has arrived, people need one another – for shelter, for protection, to know that they are not alone. Pagan-folk will need a Pagan community that will reach out and be inclusive and protecting. And yet, I see where some continually lash out at others – over petty issues, or a need to be nasty to certain other folks. And while I wish that I could wave my staff and make stuff like that go away, much of it is about the dynamics of people wanting power over others. I cannot change the mindset of others, but I can note that none of that is hospitable behavior. I can also note who these nasty individuals are, along with their constant flailing against others that they perceive to be a threat to their small-minded concepts of power over others, and avoid them. And help others to avoid them as well. I cannot change the world, nor can I make people think the way I wish they would. Nor would I want to.

Over the last year, I have done a better job of writing here at this blog. That was one of my intentional thoughts from the previous year. This coming cycle, I will be blogging on the Moon Books platform, which I am thrilled about. I will try and keep the focus there on topics brought about from various Moon Books titles that I have. This blog will continue to exist. What I have done a lousy job with is the podcast. Some of that cannot be helped – such as changing schedule and job at the college – and some of it, I need to be more focused on doing better. There are plans to evolve things into a shorter, more direct and focused podcast. One of those areas will be far less social commentary from me on the podcast, more focus on poetry, short stories, interviews, and of course, music from independent Pagan artists. I am not rebooting to a new format. Rather, I am tightening up the format a bit more – and removing some of the focus from myself.

As for me – I am still just a simple Pagan with two Gods and a Goddess in my life. I continue my work in the Ovate grade of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Every day brings me a chance to be more focused and intentional in who I am and what I want to become. Occasionally, I get a nudge from Crow or Coyote to do this or try that or be there. Flidais continues Her flirtations with me; though, these have evolved into conversations in dreams and meditations. I continue to wonder where our interactions will lead me to. Perhaps the coming cycle will provide those answers.

I hope that the coming cycle of the Year will bring you hope, tranquility, and some rest from the #Storm.    –T /|\

Top 50 – How an Introverted Druid (Me) Deals With the Idea of Being Top Anything (And a Few More Thoughts)

Earlier this week, I got a surprise Email, stating that this blog made the “Best Pagan Blogs on the Planet”. Knowing the traffic of this blog, which on its best days would be considered as “light” against many, many others, I was a touch skeptical at what I was reading. So I clicked the link and had a look. I was 26th out of the 50. There were many other blogs, which I am flattered to be included among – but some of the bigger traffic blogs were not listed at all. Not sure why. Not even sure how I managed to get into a Top-50 anything…so it was also a touch confusing.

To be fair, I am not discounting my blog’s reach or the people who read it. Nor am I trying to downplay something nice about my efforts. However, I am also a realist. It would take six or seven times the traffic that I currently get to reach the plateau that other blogs have. Most of those blogs have a platform that helps advertise and place these writer’s blogs in front of many more people. Most of these blog writer’s also have books, have been around a lot longer than I am, publish at a greater frequency, etc etc. But regardless of all of that, I am extremely grateful that some folks find my writing inspirational for their own spiritual practices. And in the end, that is what matters most to me. Traffic stats, advertising, trying to drive readership way up into the stratosphere…all of that would be nice, but it is not my primary goal.

There are a few folks that get frustrated with me over my lack of desire to promote the blog, as well as the podcast. But honestly, I have never been good at shouting my own name from the rooftops. However, I love promoting what my friends do. When I promote them, I always feel like I am pushing forward good karma for them. When I promote myself, I feel like a Vaudeville shuck-and-jive con-man. And I have never been able to completely explain why I get that unctuous feeling.

Here on the blog, I write my own feelings. I am provided a degree of anonymity through the written word. That allows me to be a bit more open with what I feel, in contrast to how I would in a face-to-face environment. Yes, I am an introvert. An introvert that is constantly shoved out of the shadows and into the light by both Coyote and Crow. And that becomes difficult to deal with from time to time, as well.

Being thrust into the spotlight is truly an uncomfortable spot for me. I do have opinions. I do have perspectives on things that happen. I do have experiences that I can relate to others on how I have walked this Path since late 1986. But I have always wondered if what I have to say, what I have to relate really matters. Thankfully, I have had a few folks remind me of just that via comments here on the blog, comments in face-to-face environments, and via Email. So, while I have that fear of saying nothing of value, quite a few others have noted otherwise. And that is what continues to have me blogging.

And then, there’s the podcast. Ever wanted to be really uncomfortable as an introvert? Try doing a podcast. Try doing a podcast where you have the chance to interview people. Where you interview people that you admire. Yeah. Thanks for that situation, Crow – my fine-feathered friend. Currently, the podcast has not put out an episode since March. Partly because of time constraints (especially the last two months with my paying job going through a huge transition – and my actual job duties changing radically with that), and partly because I keep thinking about making changes. Except, that the podcast does not need changes. It needs content. And it needs me to get to getting said content. This is another instance where I will need to concentrate on getting out of my shell. Because, honestly, I cannot continue to live in such cramped quarters.

Lastly, I will be starting another blog.  Yes, another one. I will be writing for Moon Books’ coming blog platform – as one of many bloggers. I am both thrilled and frightened at this prospect. Blogging for a platform of bloggers, with advertising behind it means a brighter light will get shone upon me. I hope I am worthy of this and that I can exceed the expectations of Moon Books. As a publisher, I have a great deal of respect for these people, as well as the writers that they bring forward through the books published there. Nervous is probably the best word to describe how I feel. I already have a pile of potential topics to write about, and will be including some aspects of research with my writing. Yeah. Nervous.

With the inclusion of writing for a blog on the Moon Books platform, this blog will continue in the format I have used it for – personal intonations on topics that catch my eye or pull at my heart. I am not sure if I have a book within me, but this year’s National Novel Writing Month will determine that to some degree. I have three ideas for what to write…two non-fiction perspectives and one fiction. I have a few more days to figure out just what I am planning on doing.

So, I made a top-50 list. How I got on the list or even into being considered for it? I honestly have no idea. According to some of the material I have found concerning the list, you had to submit your blog to be considered. I never did such a thing, which means someone out there thought enough of my blog to submit it themselves. And for that; whoever you are, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Perhaps my efforts to write better blog posts helped you to think of me. Perhaps, the topics I have been bringing compelled you to do so. Whatever the reasoning, I thank you.