Where Could This World Be

I remember when I was much, much younger – growing up as a military dependent in Germany was an amazing time for me. I would go Volksmarching with my parents and my sister, and in the 10km we walked, I would get to see a lot of the country-side each weekend. Sometimes, the trails wound through town, sometimes through the local farmer’s fields along the paths used for the tractors and other farm equipment. However, whenever the paths wound through the forests, I would be especially happy. The forests provided me with the best opportunities to leave the trail, and walk within the woods – parallel to the walking trail, of course. Those forests spurred my thoughts and allowed me to see other worlds. Worlds full of Elves, full of imaginary battle scenes, and even dinosaurs hiding behind every large trunked tree. Yes, I was particularly fond of dinosaurs growing up. What kid wasn’t?  🙂

It was so easy to believe in magick, and the Fey, and even the Gods. But as I grew older, I was told that such things were not appropriate for a young man. Seeing Fey folks peering back from deep in the woods was just a fanciful imagination running wild. It was “ok” to believe that such things existed, but not as I got older. Things like that were “child’s stuff” and I needed to set that aside, in order to “grow up.” I was to push all that out of my mind and dismiss any such thinking as unhealthy and unproductive towards becoming a “normal” member of “grown-up” society.

As a young adult, I spent a lot of time pushing thoughts about the Gods out of my mind. Dismissing all of it as a product of my over-active imagination. But it was certainly acceptable to believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit…though I had no feeling towards the existence of that. And when I asked for proof, I was given a book and told the answers could be found on those pages. Because it was “socially acceptable” to believe such.

Do not get me wrong here – there is nothing wrong with the belief in the Christian God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That is something that works and calls to those that feel that within themselves. Just as the calling of the Gods and Goddesses and Spirits of Place and Spirits of Ancestor work for me – and many other Pagans. And just as there are those who claim to have the calling of the Christian Trinity in their lives, but have no real connection – in other words, paying lip service….there are certainly those within the Pagan communities as well. But this is not about either of those sets of folks.

We believe readily in magick, the Other World, and so many other things when we are young. Not only do we embrace them, we tend to feel them as well. And then, we are told to set those aside – to embrace something that might not call to us, to dismiss our feelings as being unreal, inappropriate. And suddenly, we find that we are suppressing who we are, what we feel…. And going into the future, we might utilize this as a coping mechanism for the world around us. We bottle in who we are, what we feel, what we know to be right….and all of that starts to eat away at who we are.

Back in 1995, I felt the United States military and came back into the civilian world. In the military, it was easy to be a Pagan, easy to embrace my knowledge and feeling of the existence of the Gods. In the military, my beliefs were protected by regulations and rules dictating that to others. Sure, I had some discriminatory moments from others. There was the one time I was physically accosted at the Sembach Post Office at 3am when I was checking mail after shift. But the civilian world is a little different. Physical altercations can be more frequent and far more violent. People around you are a lot more anonymous than when they are on a military base.

It would have been far easier for me to just not be a Pagan. Or to stay in the “closet” – so to speak. it would have been easier, but it would also have been going back to denying who I was and what I felt within me. I carry enough scars from trying to hide things to appease others. I am not about to compromise on who I am or what I believe. Granted, as I have gotten older, I have learned to not wear my Paganism completely on my sleeve. But when directly confronted, I do not hide who or what I am. Not anymore.

I do wonder; however, just how many people out there lost touch with their feeling and understanding of magick – just because they were told to not have an over-active imagination at their age? That believing in the Fey was not something real – that it could be misconstrued as a sign of mental illness? How many others went through similar actions of internal repression because they were told they should not like the same gender as themselves? How many were told that they could not succeed at various desired jobs because of their gender or skin color or their parents’ income status?

I wonder how different this world could be if we would just make an honest attempt towards being who we want to be, to believe in what we know to be real….where could this world be today? I do indeed wonder….


Trying to Grasp Air in My Hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bargaining (or not) with The Gods

There were a lot of good statements that came out of the conversations at Many Gods West. This blog post is a continuation of writing prompts I developed while there, earlier this year. But this particular one came from a random thought that hit my mind during a large discussion panel and was prompted because of a statement made on the other side of the room.

Working with the Gods can sometimes place us in the position of being problem solvers. How can this come into conflict with our own personal limits, and does this limit our relationship with the Gods?

I wind up in this sometimes awkward position quite a bit. My personality is really that of a troubleshooter. I am always ready to solve a problem, and more than willing to make things happen without any of the typical tools. When I was in the military, I was prized for my ways of solving issues with unconventional (and sometimes illegal) means. My philosophy was that if it worked long enough for a real and correct solution to be implemented along side it – and then switched from the makeshift solution – then everything would be fine. I worked in Command and Control Communications, and my job was to keep the communications systems working so that information could flow…I just took it upon myself to add the statement of “by any means possible” to the end of it.

My concept of work responsibility has not changed much. I am still available to make solutions happen, utilizing whatever tools I have at hand. And to be completely frank, I tend to do the same within my own Spiritual work as well. No candles for a ritual? I’ll make due with flashlights instead (yes, I have done this). The wording for a particular part of the ritual is tricky and I stumble over it too easily. I’ll improvise or change some of the tricky wording. If the wording cannot be changed – I’ll spell it phonetically on an index card. To me, there’s always a solution available. It might not be ideal, but it works for that moment.

I also like to believe that my ability to problem solve is attractive to Crow, and is one of the reasons that our relationship works the way it does. And sometimes, I have been put in a position to problem solve, and found that the solution was not really palatable to a limit that I had. This has (three different times now) placed me in a somewhat difficult spot of choosing between a methodology that I was comfortable with, and one that would be appropriate. Essentially, I wound up in a spot where I could either say “no” to Crow or grit my teeth and step into a solution that might not be ideal for my own personal comfort level.

For me, it’s a tug of war between my own personal sovereignty, and my devotion to Crow. I want control over who I am, to be able to decide how far I am willing to go with this, that or the other. On the other hand, I am a Priest of Crow. Much like when I worked in a command post, my desire is to do the best that I can….even at all possible means. Which brings me to a clashing point of defining where my limits are, and performing my tasks as a Priest to Crow, where the two may collide.

Now, one can always say “no” to the Gods at any time. You run the risk of the God or Goddess taking no further interest in you. Or, the exact opposite. Where They become MORE interested in you and continually make Their request(s) to you despite your refusals. And one can always just say “yes” to a God or Goddess without perusing the details of what is being asked of you. But, without reading through the “fine” details of what is being asked, you may find yourself placed into a position where you just cannot do what is being asked.

For me, I have learned (the hard way) that is easier to stop (let me think about that), and look at what is being asked, as well as how it is to be done or any other relevant details. Check all that against your own personal limits – your sovereignty, if you prefer. And if you cannot do what is asked, state so. Give reasons why. Ask if there can be alterations to what is being asked. Try to bargain your way through to terms or methodologies that are better suited for you. But be prepared to also be told that there is no “deal” to be had. It’s either what is being asked, or not at all. And then you will need to really check your desire to do Their will against what you feel you are able to do (comfortably or not).

Will bargaining or saying no limit your relationship with your God or Goddess? That is definitely possible. So I would caution you to bargain or deny carefully. Weigh your options. Weigh the potential consequences. And choose your next steps gently…..


Building Relationships With Our Gods in a Ten-Second Society

Ok…the title is a bit misleading. But it is derived from a conversation point in a panel from Many Gods West 2017 this year. And it does bend back to something I have heard quite a bit from people trying to work their way into a relationship with a God, Goddess, Spirit of Place, Spirit of Ancestor, etc etc. The typical question boils down to a similar cry from many of them…

How do I get a [insert God or Spirit of choice here] to work with me or talk to me? How do I connect with Them??

That’s not an easy question to answer, and at times, I have felt a bit awkward trying to provide an answer that might make sense or at least be bit coherent. Creating a relationship with one or more of the Gods (I am going to use this as a generic catch-all from this point on out – so please don’t get hung on terminology) is not a simple thing. In my opinion, it takes time; it takes effort; it takes personal sacrifice; it takes patience; it takes determination; it takes research; and it takes love. And to some degree, I would urge a little touch of caution in trying to create a relationship or connection. You never know precisely what you are going to wind up with – even after all the research and effort.

If you have read the blog, you know that I am a Priest of Crow. I am dedicated to Crow, and it took a long time for me to get to this point. Prior to Crow, there was Coyote. Coyote spent about two years putting me through a few tasks, all designed to force me to not take myself so seriously. Eventually, Coyote led me to Crow. From the beginning, my relationship with Crow has been a very slow, deliberate build between the two of us. First, we learned how to communicate between the two of us. Then, we worked on building trust for us both – a process that continues to this day. That was back in 2005-2006….I am unsure of the exact date. It took even longer before I decided to become a Priest for Crow. And there’s a long conversation about my aversion to the title of “Priest” that figures into all of that as well. But the point here is that it’s a long, complicated process. Coyote and Crow didn’t just appear in my Life and an immediate bond between us was formed. I am sure that others may have a different experience with their own Gods and the relationships that they have. But that is just not my case.

Currently, our modern-day society is fast-paced. News, information, and other things are available at near instant speeds to any individual. Through the magic of the internet, combined with the delivery platform of a digital phone, tablet, and/or computer – everything happens quickly. We can pay for our coffee and other food items from our phones, while en-route to the location we are purchasing those items from. The expectation is that our items will be ready for pickup when we get there, and we can skip the long lines to just waltz in and waltz right back out. Need information on something? Just type a descriptive word or phrase into our devices, and the information arrives at our fingertips at break-neck speed.

If all that can happen, why can I not create a relationship with one of the Gods through a simple five-minute meditation? I have already spent five minutes doing this, that should be enough, right? Well, my experience has been that it is just not that simple. In fact, in a manner of speaking, it is a lot like dating. Sure, the flirtation feels great – there is a promise of something more, but you need to come back, again and again, to continue to build on that interest. But building a relationship is about more than just making out and the hope of an eventual tryst for the night. There’s trust, bonding, building on so many other aspects of mutual interest, exploring differences and the avenues that this may open up. The same holds true for a relationship with the Gods. Spending time getting to know about your potential relationship partner will require some research. Reading Their myths, reading what other bloggers and writers may have to say, and even visiting sites that may be sacred to

The same holds true for a relationship with the Gods. Spending time getting to know about your potential relationship partner will require some research. Reading Their myths; reading what other bloggers and writers may have to say; even visiting sites that may be sacred to Them; invoking Them in your daily rituals and offerings; and even performing rituals that are sacred to Them. All of this requires research, study, gathering required materials, and practice, practice, practice. And even when it is all said and done – you might not even get a second glance. Much like trying to court favor with that attractive individual that you would like to have a relationship with; you can find all your effort was for naught. Because the Gods, just as we human beings do, have the choice of saying “no way.”

Fret not, you can still go through the same processes of devotion, adoration, and just essentially praising the Gods as you see fit. The only difference is that you may not receive reciprocation in your efforts. Sort of the same way that I adore Lzzy Hale, but she likely has no clue that I am alive.  😉

Probably the most key thing, in my opinion, is not whether you manage to create the relationship between you and your specific choice among the Gods. If you’re a hard polytheist – believing that all the Gods, Goddesses, and Spirits are distinct, unique beings – the fact that you believe is what makes your relationship with the Gods a beautiful thing. And this even goes for the monotheists that are out there. You may not have the direct-line that you were so wanting, but you do have belief. Whatever that is anchored upon is important, and a wonderful thing. No one should be able to wrestle that away from you. And who knows?? It just might be the start of something beautiful and special between you and the Gods. And it might even be a God, Goddess or Spirit you never considered.

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.

Working with the Gods Does Not Always Have to be Epic in Scale and Scope

The past few days it has been really cold up here on the Oklahoma/Texas border. Cold enough that the pipes to my pool and hot tub froze up and burst. Its nothing major, and provides the opportunity to replace the old heating system that is currently in place. But it was an unexpected moment. And a little reminder of why two Trickster Gods have been such an influence on who I am today.

When I heard people say that they were “working with the Gods”, I always fell into a pattern of thinking that they were doing something similar to Hercules – achieving stuff for the Gods that was just some massive undertaking. But in working with the trio of Gods that work within my life, I have found that this is not always the case. Sometimes, the tasks are a bit more internal – and in reflection, typically even more epic in size and scope within an individual’s life – rather than epic in the measure of our entire Pagan community or scopes even larger than that. And sometimes, the individual scope is enough to effect change elsewhere.

Ten years ago, I would be cursing and angry about what happened with the burst pipes for the pool. I would be proclaiming my bad luck, and how Life is being unfair to me. In short, I would be pitching a Titanic hissy fit. My disposition throughout my earlier life has always been one of being knocked off balance by events that happened along the way. When shit happened, I hit major meltdowns of epic proportions.

But two Trickster Gods intervened in all of this six years ago. My life was turned upside down in every imaginable way. I quit my job after working the worst employer I have ever had. I found myself caught up in one of the biggest downturns in economic history within the United States. I was unemployed for ninety-eight weeks. One week shy of the maximum amount that could be pulled during unemployment. I was hired in as an adjunct professor at the college I am currently working for. A position that I felt uniquely unqualified for at that time. And through all of that, every step of the way, there was a voice in the back of my mind.

Keep calm. It is only a stretch of rocks in the road. You will get past all of this, and find yourself among the trees again. I promise.

That was Coyote, whom I had just started finding in my meditations. I was learning the lesson of seeing the bigger picture. Opening up to the perspective of seeing wider and further than just me, I soon realized that while I was unemployed, and that full-time work, along with the medical benefits that I needed for working with my diabetes, was a difficult stretch of road – it could be far worse. I saw that on the news constantly. People losing their homes because they had lost their jobs. Unable to provide for their families. People leaving the keys on the kitchen counters as they abandoned their homes. Their pets left behind in those same homes because they could no longer afford to feed the furry members of their family. Yes, my road was difficult. But it could definitely have been worse.

I was learning another lesson as well – that of transformation. My time working as a desktop support technician were over. My skillset was similar to that of a high school student entering the workforce. There was no way a forty-something man was going to be able to compete in that industry with workers who would do the same thing at a cheaper price. I had two Masters degrees and a Bachelor degree. My time working in hardware was over, and I needed to realize that. It took a while. Hardware was what I knew. Hardware was how I made a living. But slowly I was nudged into the classroom, where I taught basic hardware concepts. I was able to show students how data on them was utilized by their own government. How data flowed between government entities – and how it did not in other cases.

And through those two lessons – amid the howls and laughter that Coyote had throughout all of it, I learned to control my emotions a lot more, and figure out how humility would work for me. Not only was I transforming my skillsets and moving into other areas of Information Technology, I was growing as an individual in ways that I desperately needed.And I was growing towards being what I needed to be: a Priest.

I have resisted that title for so long, that I still feel odd in accepting that aspect of my Path. Its only been fairly recent that I have turned towards that and decided that I would define what the term “Priest” meant to me – rather than accepting some definition that mainstream society attached to it. I am not going to hear confession. I am not going to transform anything into the body of anything else – no matter what the ritual. And honestly, I am not likely to lead any ritual anywhere except in my own backyard. And even then, only when I am the only one there. For me, Priest is something a little different, which I have talked about before.

For me, one of the tasks given to me by my trio of Gods was to grow. Coyote required me to grow up, and learn to be more in control of myself. Crow showed me how to find the silver lining in situations. Yes, the pipes froze and burst. That’s a bad thing. But it certainly provides the opportunity to replace the aging heater as well as repair the pipes. Fliodhas is showing me to find beauty in all aspects of Life. To look at the beauty of things beyond the external appearances. To look deeper at the relationships, how things interconnect, and where the intersection of all of that has a deeper meaning than can initially be realized.

Certainly, there is a lot going in the world all around us. A contentious Presidential election. Seemingly endless terror attacks on our over-arching society. Many, many people using political tides as excuses for behavior that is completely unacceptable. I am reminded that each time these moments occur, we – as a collective society – need to stand up against that. But in doing so, we need to make sure that we don’t let our emotions go overboard and boil over – that we don’t become something we never meant to be in the first place. Certainly, such issues need to be responded to, but we also need to remember having restraint in those moments as well. That’s what makes us different than those people. For me, Coyote, Crow, and Fliodhas have provided enough insight for me to recognize this need within myself.