Category Archives: Two Pence

Relationships with the Gods are Unique…and Complicated

I attended Many Gods West 2017 a very short while back. Most of that came from pushing by Crow, as well as my own desire to try a Pagan-oriented conference that was geared around a specific area of topical interest, rather than the massive general interest that a much larger conference such as Pantheacon generates. I came away from MGW with nearly two dozen writing prompts, much of which came as questions that came to mind during various presentations.

For me, each one of the prompts that I gathered are direct confrontations to how I am practicing my own polytheism with my triad of Deities:  Coyote, Crow and Flidais. Each of these Three present differing approaches to daily Life for me, and at the same time – together They are a part of my connection to all that is around me. My relationship with each of Them is unique, and singular. I say prayers to Them, as well as other Gods and Goddesses that I have no specific ties to, seeking guidance in what is becoming a more troubled and difficult world.

In what turned out to be a more physical presentation than I thought, “Embodied Practice and Devotion” had all of us in guided focus over feeling aspects of our own physical bodies. Controlled breathing, singular awareness of parts of the body, general awareness concerning various specified inputs and perspectives – none of which was terribly new to me. However, toward the end of the presentation, discussion was opened to the participants and part of that turned towards the idea of devotional surrender, a concept I have never really entertained prior to that moment.

From my notebook:

  • Devotional surrender versus Personal Sovereignty

    • Should we surrender completely to our Gods?

    • Should we bargain limitations with our Gods?

      • Does this limit who They are in our lives?

      • By not pushing our boundaries, are we limiting who we are as individuals?

A lot of this was difficult to work directly with at that particular moment. However, now back at home – in territory that is far more familiar to me, where I can let down my emotional shields that I carry publicly as an introvert – I am now starting with this particular writing point to start looking at my direct relationship with my little Triad.

So, probably the best place to start is to try and define these concepts, starting with devotional surrender and personal sovereignty. To be particular honest, I am not at all interested in the common definitions of the two terms, but rather in how these definitions work out for me. This means that you – the person who has decided to click on this blog post and read it – may define these terms radically different than I do. Frankly, that’s great. What it means is that you will probably come to far different conclusions than I do. And that’s great too. I am not looking for a fight or argument over the difference in our definitions or in our approaches. I don’t mind a discussion over all of that, because it helps me to see some of the cloudier areas in all of this. But I am not interested in a “my way or the highway” approach to discussing differences either. And with that out of the way, let’s dive into how I approach these two points.

The easier of the two, for me, is personal sovereignty. What this boils down to is that I am in control of things where I am concerned. My approaches to the Gods are mine. What Crow, Coyote or Flidais may ask of me, I have the ability to say “no” or “that’s a line too far for me.” The same goes for anything that is asked of me or told to me by any individual. I am in control of me – to the best of my ability. Yeah, its a simplistic definition, but it works for me in terms of this blog post.

Devotional surrender, on the other hand, is a bit more problematic for me. Mostly because I have never entertained this concept before. As I understood the concept from the panel, this can go from terms of following the commands and wishes of one’s Gods without question and follow all the way through something akin to being possessed physically by one’s Gods. For me, that’s an exceptionally wide area, but all of that does seem to fit into the entire concept. Plus, as I ponder over this, I feel that I may already work within some aspects of this already.

During a different panel, I related my bond to Crow. I am a Priest of Crow. Crow has already provided various tasks for me. But as I noted during the panel, I am free to question, and I am free to say “no”. If I am drawing the limitations on what is asked of me by Crow, am I limiting my relationship with Him? I do believe John Beckett once noted in a blog post of his own, that while we can say “no” to the Gods – that may be a moment where They choose to take far less interest in us as individuals. Certainly a risk that comes with that.

Prior to Crow, I worked exclusively with Coyote. Coyote was fond of giving my tasks to complete where I wound up looking like a fool when I finished each one. I knew I was working with a Trickster, so I tried to be patient through it all. After about nineteen or twenty of these tasks designed to make me look foolish, I went into a meditation looking for a confrontation. Frankly, I was pissed off at being made a fool. During my interaction, I asked why I was being made a fool. “You make yourself the fool,” was the response. If I am being made the fool, then why in the Nine Hells would you want to work with me? After the laughter subsided, Coyote noted that I was the fool for not asking questions. “I actually wanted to see if you possessed a spine” was the final response.

With Crow, I utilized some of this in my interactions with Him. Like Coyote, questioning was implied, but on a far shorter leash. I have had a few interactions where I have made the statement that I will have to think about whether I would do as asked. “Let me think about that” usually receives a terse reply of “do not take too long.” So, I do bargain with Crow. And sometimes I do try to bargain a limitation. But I have never entertained the idea that I might be limiting my relationship with Crow by doing so. Perhaps, by setting my own boundaries of what I can or am willing to do, I am changing the relationship that I have with Crow. But perhaps not too much.

I do see the Gods as beings that are far beyond my own personal comprehension. But I also see my relationship with the Gods to be somewhat similar to relationships that I have with other human beings. There are people that I would literally do anything for. Some of them know this, some of them don’t. There are others where I am willing to things for, but only up to a certain point. My relationship with them is not nearly as strong. My relationship with Crow is stronger than the one I have with Coyote. There are far more things I would do in service to Crow than I would in service to Coyote. That’s because the relationships are different. And my relationship with Flidais is far weaker than with the other Two. Our relationship is just barely over two years in age. In many ways, we are start in the flirtation stage.

I do not think that I have really changed too much of my opinion on whether boundaries, limitations or bargaining lessen a relationship with my Gods. Perhaps, if I had a more demanding God or Goddess, it would be a bit of a hinderance or even a point where my relationship with one of Them may cease. As for devotional surrender, I believe it really depends on which end of that spectrum may be in play, as to whether I would agree that it was a good idea or not. Allowing personal possession has an uncomfortable feeling to it, and crosses a lot of line with me in my own concept of personal sovereignty. Regardless, I still believe that my relationship with the Gods and Goddesses, particularly my Three, is a unique to me – and there may come a time when I will have to explore this aspect of devotional surrender to an ultimate extreme at some other time. Because relationships are unique…and complicated.

The Days Between – Jerry Garcia

I am undeniable a Dead-head. I own several gbs of their music. I have several solo works of other members. I have all the concerts from the last two years of Dead & Company in my music collection. Yet, I have never seen the Grateful Dead play live. I’ve not seen any of the solo efforts in a live setting. I’ve yet to make a single Dead & Company show. To be frankly honest, the Grateful Dead and associated acts were never part of my musical calculus until somewhere in late 1994 or early 1995.

See, I grew up in the mid-1980s. Teenagers at that time were listening to New Wave or Heavy Metal. Me? I was a Metal-head. My youth was spent listening to bands like Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, Twisted Sister, Motorhead, Cirith Ungol, Metallica, Megadeth, Saxon, Fastway, Dio, Rainbow, Doro, Lita Ford, Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Mercyful Fate, Ratt, Motley Crue, and many others. The Grateful Dead just weren’t anywhere in that neighborhood. But three years spent overseas in Germany changed a lot of this for me.

While stationed in Germany, I was exposed to a wider assortment of music – and learned to appreciate musicianship in its many forms. One of my earliest encounters was through jazz guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth, Al Di Meola, AND Kazumi Watanabe. From these, I came upon acts such as the Indigo Girls, and Gary Moore. And eventually, I wandered into the Grateful Dead.

It was the lyrics that got me there, along with listening to more of the “In the Dark” album than just “Touch of Grey”. I found a lot of synchronicity with various songs, such as “Black Muddy River.” This led me to digging into the band’s past and finding more songs with awesome lyrics. Eventually, I came across the song “Days Between” – where I found lyrics that were incredible, with such delicious imagery attached to it (see the lyrics for the song below). This was the type of poet that I wanted to be!

Sadly though – it wasn’t Jerry’s voice that drew me in. That was – and still is – Bob Weir. I enjoy his vocal renditions of songs in Dead & Company that were traditionally Jerry’s to sing. That’s not to say that Jerry was a terrible vocalist, merely that my ear is drawn more to Weir’s style.

I do remember where I was on August 9th, when the news came out that Jerry Garcia had passed away in 1995. I was working a day shift as a Tape Librarian at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. When my shift was over, I heard on the radio about other fans of the Grateful Dead who were meeting in a local park to celebrate Jerry’s life. It didn’t take me long to decide to go there. When the sun set, candles were passed around and lit – and the crowd sang songs that were traditionally Jerry’s. I didn’t get to stay the entire night, as I did have a shift to work the next morning – but according to the news people stayed until well after midnight.

I can’t honestly say that the Grateful Dead and their music has really touched my life, or even that it has ignited a fire within me. What it has become though, is a constant companion wherever I go. My iPhone typically has over 2gb of Grateful Dead music on it at any given time. When I am writing (as I am now), the music playing in the background is of the Grateful Dead or some derivative. The sound calms me, relaxes me, and really puts me in a frame of mind to think. So, while I’ve never seen any aspect of the Grateful Dead in a live setting, the music of this band, and the associated acts that have sprung from it have become that constant companion that I really enjoy. We might not be old friends from way back in the day, but we’ve made up for that over the last twenty-plus years.

Jerry was born on August 1st, and died in 1995 eight days after his birthday. Yesterday. many Dead-heads celebrated what would have been Jerry’s 75th birthday. On August 9th, Dead-heads will remember the loss of Jerry twenty-two years ago. From August 2nd to August 8th, this period of time has been lovingly referred to as “The Days Between”…in loving tribute to Jerry, I present to you the lyrics to “The Days Between” in closing.

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Summer flies and August dies
The world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
On black infested trees
The singing man is at his song
The holy on their knees
The reckless are out wrecking
The timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
Than anyone can see anyone can see

There were days
And there were days
And there were days besides
When phantom ships with phantom sails
Set to sea on phantom tides
Comes the lightning of the sun
On bright unfocused eyes
The blue of yet another day
A springtime wet with sighs
A hopeful candle lingers
In the land of lullabies
Where headless horsemen vanish
With wild and lonely cries, lonely cries

There were days
And there were days
And there were days I know
When all we ever wanted
Was to learn and love and grow
Once we grew into our shoes
We told them where to go
Walked halfway around the world
On promise of the glow
Walked upon a mountain top
Walked barefoot in the snow
Gave the best we had to give
How much we’ll never know we’ll never know

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
As soft as velveteen
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

There were days
And there were days
And there were days between
Polished like a golden bowl
The finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
Still tender, young and green
Left on shelves collecting dust
Not knowing what they mean
Valentines of flesh and blood
Still tender, young and green
Hoping love would not forsake
The days that lie between lie between

Written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter

Being Shoved and Dragged to the Spotlight

So, the coming weekend will bring the arrival of more travel for me. This time, I’ll be headed to Many Gods West in Washington state. I’ve never been there before, so I’m sure I will get lost plenty between the airport and the hotel. But that’s ok, I am arriving the day before, so I can try and navigate the best that I can. But I am actually looking forward to this trip. There’s a handful of reasons, but the most important one for me is to provide representation for Crow. I’m not presenting anything…not on a panel…just there as a person coming to the convention. Besides….

Speaking in front of crowds makes me uneasy. Even teaching in the classroom – from which I am now three years removed – made me feel uncomfortable. There’s honestly not a whole lot that I think I could provide to a conference that would be of interest. I’m just a simple, solo, polytheist Pagan Druid making his way through Life with my daily rites and devotions. I’m really just like anyone else. And yet….

I have a trickster God (thanks Crow) that keeps pushing me towards storytelling. And I practice. I record each attempt, and play it back and listen. I learn from what I hear. The inflection in the voice – the points of stumbling on words from languages that I don’t know, such as Irish. To try and resolve that, I decided to try and learn Irish. I’m not bad at it, but its painfully obvious that I am novice. My German is rusty, though there are stories I would like to tell from that. And then there’s the American folklore and the First Nations stories as well. And I keep getting reminded – one story at a time…and when you’re ready, start releasing what you record.

…and I got a Soundcloud account just for that. I stuck up my attempt at the “Screen Door Boar”. And I’ve not gone back to check any stats. So…I guess now is better than anytime.  And its only gotten two plays in the last three months, which is ok with me. Its only a partial recording of the story I told around the fire at Gulf Coast Gathering. I warned zero people that I was going to tell it, so no one seemed really ready on recording it. But everyone who heard it thought it was a lot of fun. For me, it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

And yet here I stand. At the threshold to going the route of the storyteller. Bringing a voice to the mounds of poetry I have written. Learning a language so I can pronounce words better. Learning to play guitar – even just a little bit – so I can add some extra push to what I write. And I have stagefright. Me. The guy who podcasts (sometimes). The guy who was a teacher (and nearly shat his pants every time I stood in front of the class). And I get the shakes every single time I try to stand in front of a group of people.

….then there’s the podcast, which I set off to the side for the moment. I will be bringing my recorder to the convention. And I will be looking for folks that want to talk. I won’t be recording any of the panels – because that would just be rude for me to show up and do so. I’m unsure of what the recording policy might be – and honestly, I’ve not asked. So for me, that places the recording of panels on the “no” list for me. But I will be looking for folks that just want to talk…away from the convention. Quietly.  One-on-one, or with a few folks talking about a particular subject. What that intention will bring? I have no clue whatsoever. However its where I am being led. And honestly, I’ll follow that lead….because I trust where its coming from.

So, somewhere in all of this – I need to conquer the fear of being up front where people can see me and hear. I’ll be at CalderaFest this year as well….and I volunteered to announce some of the folks playing on the stage. If there was ever a moment where I will need to completely conquer that fear…it will be there. And yes, I will have the recorder in hand to talk with folks. Because…well, that’s what the podcast is about. Talking to folks about how they came to the Path they are on…or whatever else they might wish to discuss.

I do understand why I am being pushed to the forefront – with a talon shoving my heel and a beak catching me firmly in the small of the back – stories are important. Stories are the oral history. Stories are the lessons. Stories are the fun. And people laughing and enjoying themselves pushes me forward. Knowing that I can entertain, as well as teach, pushes me to the forefront. And the only way I will get better – is to do it. And then there’s the stories of other people. How they came to be where they are, why they are on this Path – because others need to hear the stories of people to realize that (a) they are not alone, and (b) their own story is not that different from other people.

As for the stagefright…..Crow says that I can clean myself afterwards….

 

Many Gods No Masters – How a T-Shirt Can Lead to Assumption Becoming Communication

Anyone who has ever discussed issues of personal belief, theology, or UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) knows that I will not step up to the edge and peer into the abyss of fundamental belief. I am just not the kind of individual that sees a need to make what I believe and what I experience to be the law of the land. Recently I was challenged over that with a t-shirt that I wear that has the line “Many Gods, No Masters” stenciled on it.

How can you claim to be a polytheist, be claimed by two Gods, and not see Them as your Masters? After all, that’s what the shirt proclaims – that you disrespect what the Gods are.

Ok. I can understand that particular postulation. And there may be a chance that folks associated with where I purchased the t-shirt may believe that as well. I truly cannot speak to that. But for me, that’s not what this t-shirt means. The “Many Gods” part is self explanatory. I am a polytheist, I believe in many Gods. I believe that each of Them are individual entities. I work with Coyote and Crow. I am starting my relationship with Flidais. Ech of Them have Their own demands and expectations of me. Particularly Crow, where I am bonded as a Priest. But none of Them are my Masters (or Mistress if one would apply that in a gender specific aspect for Flidais, but that’s a post for another time). I can walk away from any of Them whenever I choose to do so, just as They can walk away from me anytime They choose to do so. I am compelled by agreeable oath to a stricter relationship with Crow, where stepping away would have to be a far more formal process, but again, none of Them have me slavishly doing Their bidding.

“No Masters” – for me (I must stress this) – means that I have no one compelling me to be a polytheist. I have no middle-man Priest or Preacher that has to stand between me and my Gods and interpret material on Their behalf. I need no intercessor to bring me before the Gods or to tell me what the Gods need from me. And honestly, if anyone ever approached me and told me that Crow commanded me to provide 10% of my income to that individual to show my loyalty or devotion; I may burst a seam from laughing so damn hard. I have no Masters that need to interpret what my Gods require of me. I have no Masters that will compel me to do this action or that task in the name of my Gods. My Gods communicate that directly to me. I have no need of a Master to hold the strings of communication between me and my Gods. Nor am I that intercessor for anyone else. Many Gods, No Masters means that I am capable of handling my relationship between myself and the Gods on my own.

Now, all of that said, this is not me sticking my fingers in the eyes of Christianity or any other belief system that has these Priests and Preachers that do act as intercessors for the masses within those systems. If others have a need for an intermediator within their own beliefs, I see no issue there whatsoever; provided they do not apply their framework to me. Everyone utilizes the framework that works best for them.

Certainly, there is an implication that is set forth by wearing a t-shirt with the statement of “Many Gods No Masters” emblazoned upon it. Just as there is an implication that can be made by the Rainbow-flag sticker I had on my truck (before someone took it upon themselves to peel it off without my permission). But the rainbow flag sticker makes me no less a straight male than a t-shirt stating “No Gods No Masters” implies anything about my relationship with my Gods.

Maybe a t-shirt with a slogan on it or a decal with a rainbow flag helps the receiver of the silent message to find a manner to label or define someone. However, in my mind, prior to applying the final thread to sew those labels into people; perhaps some communication can be made prior to doing so. In our modern society, we draw conclusions on just who people are or aren’t based on their Facebook memes, their Twitter posts, or what decal is on the bumper of their vehicle. A little conversation can go a long way to clarifying things prior to making conclusions on such inane things. And that would be conversation – not debate, not argument, not forcing people to have to defend why they wear these t-shirts or put those decals on their vehicles or why they found the need to post this on their Twitter feed.

Maybe all of this is just my over-reaction to something simple. Or maybe, a lot of this is symptomatic of how out of touch society has become, as we divide ourselves based on politics, religion, skin-color, who we love, what we eat, what we read, and what we listen to. We currently live in the age of information, where communications abilities are more prevalent and quicker than ever before. And despite all of that, we certainly seem to communicate far less than ever before. Perhaps the age of information is not about communications, but rather about freeing folks up to make conclusions and assumptions about people without having to really communicate with them at all.

I certainly hope not…but in the meantime, its time to crank up some Edgar Winter (Free Ride) and enjoy the sweltering Texas heat. Yes indeed, I live in an Easy-Bake Oven.

A Dream For Another Sleep….

Let’s be [x] Pagans. To be a Pagan, you need to do [y]. If you don’t believe [z] then you’re not a Pagan. Or to put it in other terminology…

IF != x THEN NOT “Pagan”

IF y = “This” Then “Pagan” ELSE NOT “Pagan”

If != “Belief” THEN NOT “Pagan”

Yeah, pulling things into programmatic statements seems a little silly, but its there to emphasis a point. Mathematical equations within programming constructs tend to be empirical. A value or variable that is compared against the equation is typically true or false. It makes for awesome usage in a programming statement. But it tends to make for a lousy statement concerning an individual’s belief. But not because a comparative value of one’s beliefs cannot be utilized. Rather, its because of the cold, calculating usage of boiling down an individual’s spiritual experiences into a pile of cold, heartless numbers and equations just to place an individual into a category.

Its no real secret. I hate the concepts of labels. While labels are great descriptives, and can put you into a mindset of what an individual believes in at an extremely basic and simplistic perspective; it propagates the basic desire to make assumptions on what a person is or isn’t. From my perspective (read: opinion), it keeps one lazy in the notion of getting to know someone. It negates conversation, and the exploration of belief with someone else. And for me, an individual that loves experiential moments within life, that negation of interaction loses all of what being alive and connected with the world around me is all about.

Back in the day of the old Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs – and I am completely showing my age here), conversation was mostly sequential. I typed a message. Then someone read it, and formulated a response. I read that response, and replied back. And thus the exchange went on. Occasionally, I would get the chance to meet some of these other folks face-to-face, and we would sit in a pub for hours – talking, eating finger food, and drinking beverages of our own choosing. And those moments were sometimes intense, and sometimes completely silly. But when the end of the night arrived, we exchanged hugs, and eventually started back into our “online” conversations. And while we didn’t meet that often, typically once every three to four months, some of those folks became friends that I would hang out with even more often. Many of these folks are still friends to this day.

Some of them are Wiccans and Witches, some of them are Druids. There’s even a Chassidic Jew, and a handful of very opinionated Atheists in all of that. And not a single one of them even comes close to being an archetypal practitioner of their respective beliefs. All of them are unique individuals, with equally unique opinions, and very distinctive voices. Were I to envision these people under an archetypal impression of what each of them would believe, I would likely not have interacted as greatly or deeply with each of them as I have. And I would have missed out on those experiences, and honestly, I would be less of a person today without the input I got from each of them in conversations that we had.

There are friends that I have on the internet of today – a far more generalized tool of communication than BBSs were back in the day. Some, I have had the chance to have conversations with – both face-to-face and in an online manner. I have found that each of these folks are no less individualized than those I met far earlier in my Pagan Path. Some of them are very close to the archetypes of what they believe. Many others seem to cling to the label, but are far afoot from the archetype. If I were to apply just the label to each of them, I again would find no real connection with them.

So, when I hear/read people within the Pagan-sphere make statements that “Pagans are [x]” or “Christians are [y]” – I cringe inwardly. Many of the statements fall into the area of stereotypes, or if you prefer archetypes. And laying empirical statements concerning an individual’s faith is, in my experience, almost certainly a recipe for a landmine to step upon. A short examination sometimes yields that the archetypal statement, while true to some extent, certainly does not represent the individual as a whole. After all, a person’s Spirituality and how they approach the Divine, is only a small variable in the summation of who they are as a person. And I have always found reasons to celebrate what a person is in their chosen approach to their Spirituality. My only moment of revulsion seems to come from those that feel their Spiritual approach is good for everyone.

Perhaps, this is where I tend to clash with others. I follow an approach that what you do in Life works best for you. We might walk a similar Path, or we might be on completely different highways headed in completely different directions for completely different reasons. But your Path is yours to walk. Your connection to the God(s) is your own to handle, manage, and experience. When you stray from your lane, and believe that I should be driving the same car as you, driving at the same speed as you, headed on the same highway as you, for the same reasons as you – this is where I draw the line. I am driving into the middle of nowhere, so that I can experience the incoming thunderstorm from the middle of a wheat field. You might be headed to a storm shelter because you are seeking shelter from any tornado that spawns from the storm. I’m not going to criticise you for heading to the storm shelter. I can only hope you would do the same for me, as I drive out to the wheat field.

For me, Spirituality is not something that can be boiled down to a variable whose value gets plugged into some equation to prove or disprove the veracity of one’s faith. Spirituality is a connection to the God(s) that each individual will experience differently or sometimes not at all. While I may not completely agree with your experience, I certainly don’t feel any need to denigrate it either. Its merely not how I experience my Spirituality. So long as I am not trying to compel you to believe as I do, or vice versa – we should be able to co-exist near one another with no problem whatsoever. But then again, we are humans. And humans do, for the most part, fear that which they do not understand. My only hope is that we eventually do understand, but that is a dream for another sleep….

That’s Me

The past two days, I have been talking about the “abridgment of Ann Coulter’s free speech rights” by the University of California at Berkeley. Or at least, that’s the way that Coulter has been spinning the narrative. The reality has been that UCB was trying to keep their campus in a state of a “safe environment” for their student populace – a number one priority for any University or College. What has started to come out of all of this conversation – both in face-to-face discussions and online – has seemingly come down to a labeling of me by quite a few.

So let’s get a few things out in the open.  I’ve talked about labels and my dislike for them before. I even wrote a poem about it. Yes, I know the world works via labeling. Its convenient to pile a lot of these similar things over here. And some of those things that are similar to one another, but not the first group in another pile over here – and so on. It makes it easy to understand what we believe is the basic nature of this, that, and those others. Except it doesn’t.

I have been labeled a lot of things. Crazy. Odd. Hippy. Old. Out of touch. Headbanger. Punk. And so on. The reality is that I ascribe to three labels. Pagan. Priest. Druid. For me, these three labels are who I am. These three labels are what I am. What I say, what I do, the way I do it – all reflects, in my opinion, on who I am as a Pagan, a Priest, and a Druid. As I told Scott (I’m sorry to throw this into the post, Scott – its not a reflection on you, but on what I am saying) earlier today on Facebook:

I don’t identify myself as much. I’m a Pagan, I’m a Druid, and I’m a Priest. My personal perspective of politics tends to lean towards the assignment of being a liberal, but liberal doesn’t define me. Its an ideology that I utilize from time to time. That doesn’t make me a liberal, it makes me….well…”me”. My actions, words, and personal worldview aren’t defined by politics. Its framed by my beliefs, by the way I serve my Gods, and the by the manner in which I find my connections in the world around me. My political striping is merely a singular – and honestly, rather minor – connective string in all of that.

I’ve mentioned before my aversion to the label of “Priest” – and then came back to revisit the concept a second time. So, in a way, this concept of defining labels is something I have talked about quite a bit. But there’s a reason for that. I don’t believe a word, which has a meaning ascribed to it by our wide-ranging concept of “society”, can truly be a complete descriptive of a single person. I’m a Druid – an Ovate grade student in OBOD. Cat Treadwell is also a Druid. So is John Beckett. So is Damh the Bard, Philip Carr-Gomm, Kristoffer Hughes, and so many other people I know. Not one of us is the same Druid. We all bring our own individual persons into what we are. To utilize a single descriptive of “Druid” and apply a wide-ranging, generic descriptive to all of us captures *some* of who we are, but it by no means is a complete descriptive of who we are. We are all individual human beings who approach our beliefs, approach our understanding of the Gods, and our perception of connectivity differently. And this unique approaches are what makes us the people we are. Not some singular, generic descriptive of a singular aspect of who we are.

Most interesting in all of this, it seems that politics – particularly American politics for me, are what showcase the nonsensical concept of singular word descriptives of people. Its almost as if politics takes the labeling concept and wraps it in the dull, glowing light of flash-fired neon lights down the Vegas Strip. Are you a conservative? Are you a liberal? Well, honestly I have liberal leanings, as well as some libertarian theories, and some aspects of classic conservatism wrapped up in my politics. So what does that make me?

Well, damnit, it makes me who I am. A Pagan. A Priest. A Druid. That’s me.

Fearing the Nightmare Scenario of My Youth

I try my best not to speak about politics. The tendency is for people to either agree with what I have said, or to try and start a debate or argument. None of that is what I am trying to accomplish. I’m not looking for validation of what I think, nor am I looking to play a war of words with someone. However, I do have to speak a bit about something that has taken place over the last few weeks that has brought the world closer to a nightmare that my generation was completely obsessed with – nuclear weapons exchange.

Growing up, nuclear war – well let’s call it nuclear holocaust (a term that was bandied about an awful lot back in the 1980s, but one I don’t particularly care for because of the implications that get tagged on with the word “holocaust”). Or, if you prefer an even more charged term, nuclear genocide. Whatever terminology you want to use, the exchange of nuclear weapons on the battlefield, even with smaller “tactical” nukes, was a much discussed and feared scenario. Just a few decades before I made it to my high school years, school children practiced the “stop, drop, and cover” exercise, in the hopes of protecting themselves from what would be a terrible moment. When I was in high school, the exercise had been given up, simply because it was a useless one. As the world became much more knowledgeable about the terrible nature of these weapons, the realization that there was very little that could be done for protection (aside from getting indoors and sealing your home as much as possible) quickly brought this stuff to an end.

The fear of nuclear weapons was rampant in the 1950s and 1960s, where families built bomb shelters in their backyards as a means of protection. By the time the 1980s rolled around, many folks were in a position of essentially saying “fuck it” and moving on with their lives with the knowledge that “something” could happen. And eventually the fear of nuclear weapons began to dissipate to a degree.

Until now. In North Korea, we have an unpredictable leadership that is capable of utilizing a weapon that could bring untold devastation to certain parts of the region, as well as a desire to develop a delivery system that could reach the western edges of the continental United States. Here in the United States, we have an equally unstable and unreliable leadership that would see such an attack as a reason to loose untold devastation on North Korea and the immediate region, which would include allies such as South Korea and Japan. A nuclear explosion does more than just destruction to an immediate area – there’s a radius of fallout that doesn’t discriminate between your intended foes and the people you claim to protect. Its an indiscriminate weapon that wreaks destruction in a wide swath that goes beyond a local region. The devastating effects will be felt world-wide. And a nuclear exchange between just two countries has the potential to change the entire world that we inhabit. With that untold power, we have two national leadership groups that are just aching to show how big and powerful they are to one another, and either would unleash literally Hell-on-Earth in retaliation to other, with little care for how their exchange would effect other countries and populaces. All to assuage the egos of two extremely petty individuals.

Agree with me or not about the personalities of these two; there is no denying the destructive capabilities of these weapons. Even utilized in “tactical” capacities, where the yield is much smaller, and thus the devastation would be far less – the damage would still be felt world-wide. Like it nor not, we work in a world-wide economy. Any issues that would effect the economic capacity of a single country will have a ripple effect for all other countries. That’s the nature of rampant capitalism. Once everything is connected in a global economy, things that effect the economic capacity of one country will have effects on all others. And none of this even brings into account the effect that radioactive fallout will have on areas in the fallout zones – including the oceans, and farming fields, which would make the precarious balance of food even more contentious throughout the world.

There is no doubt that this “game” of whose nuclear penis is larger could quickly spiral out of control, and the nightmare scenarios that played out in movies and TV shows back in the 1980s could come to fruition. This, folks, is the reason that picking leadership for a country is important, and should never be made on the basis of not wanting “her” to be President because she’s a “Democrat”. Or voting for “him” because he “tells it like it is” without varnish or polish. Because what you wind up with is an individual that gives discretion to military leaders to determine responses to actions taken by other countries. There’s a reason that a civilian is placed in full charge of the United States military. Its meant as a check-and-balance against the single-minded nature of the military. And that’s not a slap-in-the-face to the military. The military is very efficient at what it needs to do. But choosing the response options cannot, and should not be left to military commanders to determine. Short-term options fall to a civilian, the President of the United States. Long-term options fall to a civilian body, the Congress of the United States.

Am I fearful of the nightmare scenarios of nuclear exchange happening between the United States and North Korea coming true? Certainly. I only wish that this country had elected an individual with a little thicker skin.

#TwoPence