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….

The Measure of What One May Believe or “Mine’s Better Than Yours”

What kind of Pagan are you? What type of Polytheist are you, if any? Do you honor your Ancestors? How often do you do so? Lots and lots of questions….how can you answer all of this?

Well, how about not at all? To be brutally honest, the only person you need to answer these type of questions to, is yourself. You don’t need to keep a log of when you visited that little spot in your backyard, and how many novenas you offered to this God or that Goddess. Because how you practice your personal Spiritual Path is your business, and no one else’s.

Not that long into my past, a co-worker who liked to come into my office and start long, theologically based discussions went this route with me. How often did I go to “Pagan church”; how many times did I recite prayers to my Gods to achieve some result; had I worn a path from my back door to the stone circle in my backyard with my visits, or had grass grown where I would normally tread? Was I hot or cold for my Gods?

I never really gave much of a response to the questions, aside from stating that I did do these things, but the frequency wasn’t the measure that I utilized. Instead, I measured my “hotness” or “coldness” for the Gods by my belief in Them. And I do believe in the Gods and Goddesses, and as distinct, individual beings. And as for the desire to pray for things, the Gods and Goddesses are not vending machines where I insert my payment via the whiskey shots that I leave for Them, and then click “22” on the number pad to get a candy bar. For me, that’s not how all of this works. Not any of it.

I don’t ask the Gods to intercede on my behalf. Well, not often. And usually that won’t happen until I have exhausted all the options that I have the ability to do on my own. My prayers to Crow, Coyote and Fliodhais are for understanding of situations or concepts – to be able to wrap my brain around things I don’t readily comprehend. I have no desire to be a beggar to my Gods. Rather, I want Them to help guide me towards the choices I will need to make with a better state of mind, a clarity I might not already possess — and I am under no illusions that I might not be provided that aspect of lucidity. I ask my Gods to guide me, not do the work for me.

As for being “hot” or “cold” for my Gods or my belief in Them…. Let’s just say that I consider this to be a rude line of questioning. My relationship between myself and a God or a Goddess is a unique one. Just as my relationship with another person is a unique one. My relationship will not be the same as someone else’s with that same God, Goddess or person. The “hotness” or “coldness” of that relationship is the correct temperature for that moment. And honestly, if its not – I would expect feedback telling me otherwise coming from the connection between us. And I have absolutely no desire to measure how hot, warm, cold or otherwise my relationship with the Gods is compared to that of anyone else.

Personal relationships between an individual and their Gods is – in my opinion – as sacred as a relationship between two lovers. It’s a foolish game to play comparisons between how I approach my Connectivity with that of someone else. Even when that person has a measure of Connectivity that is quite similar to my own. It may be similar, but each one is unique. And I would rather celebrate the uniqueness of each relationship than try to denigrate someone else’s Connectivity as not being exactly like mine.

 

Dive! Dive! Dive!

So, what do I mean by “depth” in Spirituality? That’s a fair question, particularly concerning my little back and forth jaunt in yesterday’s blog post. But before I get going too far – let me preface this a little bit here. Trying to define what is and is not “deep” about one’s spirituality is a rather tough topic to tackle. After all, what I believe to be an approach of depth concerning Spirituality could be considered a rather shallow approach to someone else. Thus, for me to define the concept of “depth” for someone else would be a silly gesture. But I can describe how I approach the concept of “Deep Spirituality” and what it means to me. My approach might work for someone else; or it might not. It might inspire someone to seek a perspective of what “Deep Spirituality” means to them; or it might not. The truth of the matter is that I can only speak for myself.

For me, my turn towards a more in-depth approach to Spirituality began with taking my understanding of polytheism a little deeper than I had. To some degree or extent, I have had a belief in more than one God and/or Goddess for quite some time. I never truly approached the concept beyond that of the dual aspect of God and Goddess; seeing the various masks as psychological aspects. Except that I really didn’t believe that. I could see that each God and each Goddess were separate entities. Just as there are so many stars in the night sky, I could see that aspects of polytheistic belief worked the same way. All I needed to do was explore more; come to understand each aspect individually. Bumping into Coyote was not what I truly expected. From Coyote came Crow. Fliodhas has been a long, ongoing flirtation. And I have no clue with what is coming with the ravens. I assume I will find out soon enough.

Each introduction to these Gods and Goddess (one at this time) are far more intimate than I am willing to reveal on a blog post. But each has brought me to another part of diving deeper – research. And that’s one thing I can truly say for Pagans over Christians – Pagans tend to be a combination of data analysts, librarians, and folk researchers. Always combing for more information, looking through the tea leaves, the bones, and interpreting the cards. Hardly leaving any stone untouched, or any potential path to be examined. In my mundane job, I am asked to find patterns in the habits of students, the grading patterns of instructors, and the ebb/flow of enrollment between three main semesters of an academic year. In a manner of speaking, this is part of diving deeply into the analysis of my college’s student body. The same can be said about expanding and deepening my understanding of such concepts as the Wheel of the Year. All the rituals associated with certain aspects of the year, as well as the ebb/flow of the moon phases have patterns as well. Through continual study, as well as examination of ritual concepts against such aspects as cultural history and folklore; patterns can be discerned, examined and acted upon. But there’s always the reminder in the back of my mind:  I am not trying to recreate something from the past. I am trying to bring pieces of the Past forward into the Present, where I might be able to utilize these in moving with far better grace into the Future.

Its those connections, between myself and everything else, and everything else with everything else that keep me driving forward. As I mentioned in a few recent blogs, conversation with other folks is another aspect of diving deeply for me. I don’t get this as much as I wish I could. But, that will eventually work itself out for me. Of that, I am confidant. Sharing of ideas and concepts with others is a wonderful to expand my point of view, in my opinion. Everyone tends to approach a topic from different angles, and each individual experience adds to what I consider to be the overall consciousness of an issue.

I know that some of what I have written here will strike a vein with some folks. Other folks will shrug and make an observation of the lightness of my approach. Others may scratch their heads and not completely understand. Believe it or not, I grok all three of those positions. I have been there. Each is an experience that I relate to very, very deeply. And at the same time, I know that everyone’s approach will be a little different than my own. Its what makes us all unique.

At the end of it all, I know that a large part of my Spirituality is about continually learning, growing, and evolving. There is no end-game. Only continual experience. Only expanded understanding. I don’t have a mystical hall of roads paved in gold, and a heavenly mansion awaiting me. Only experience. For me, that’s the blanket of the future for me. Always weaving itself. And the best way I have managed to do this? By not trying at all. Ain’t that some kind of paradox? Personally, I don’t think so.

Looking Forward on My Journey – Part 3

So, I enter into the third and final part of looking at my Spiritual journey…a look at today and the unknown reaches of tomorrow. I have discussed the aspects of why Druidry is the framework I choose to work with. My current daily work leans more towards impromptu ritual, finding the spiritual in the everyday mundane, and trying to find new connections with the Gods, the Spirits of Place and Ancestor. This includes a deeper look into my own DNA and Ancestry that started last year during a visit to “The Celts” exhibit in London during my UK trip at the New Year.

DNA-related family has never been a strong point of mine. I have never felt like I was part of my relations, as my Path in life is vastly different than any of theirs. But during my trip through the Celts exhibit, there was a lot of information relating to the DNA side of things. That started me to wonder why I am drawn so heavily to a Celtic framework, particularly over these last few years. The more I dig into my ancestral roots, the more it makes sense. The more it makes sense, the more I relate to aspects of Celtic mythology that I never paid much attention to previously. I honestly do not see some of the connections, but am starting to see small aspects of it in the way I relate to the environment around me. The result of look at my Ancestry has me finding out where my family comes from, how they might  have believed, and how they may have related to their native land.

There’s Fliodhas. An Irish Goddess of the Forest, that has found Her way into my everyday Life. I do not readily understand the connection, but She takes a prominent role in my daily Life. She is in every moment that I am outdoors, whispering in my ear about the beauty of Life and the connections associated with that – both readily known, and those that are far more subtle. Where that Path is drawing me towards, I have no idea. But I readily walk it, staff in hand.

And finally there’s Druidry. I started my Bardic Grade a few years back. And honestly, I started out on-fire. Just ready to get things done. And then Life happened. Job changes. The amount of money that was available at any given time. Many other personal issues. I faltered. I took steps backwards in my studies. I did a poor job of documenting where I was, what I did to get to that point. I wound up dancing back and forth in place. Last year, after a conversation with several people at Gulf Coast Gathering, I buckled down my resolve to finish, and changed my attitude towards my studies. As a result, I am continuing down the road with what I must learn in the Bardic Grade, and am taking far better notes – not just on what I am learning, but also HOW I am learning it. The idea/hope is that I will be able to take those lessons and apply those going forward into the Ovate Grade, provided I am accepted to move forward.

Lastly, there is my tie to two First Nations trickster Gods. Crow and Coyote. Coyote started my journey, with lessons concerning the degree of seriousness I approached the world around me. I have learned to be a bit looser with the way I approach the world, and to not only find the positive in the world — but also find the humor in situations. Even when things look catastrophically bad. Earlier this month, I purchased a camper. I have no idea how to back it up properly. To get it into my driveway, I drove through my front yard in order to pull it down my driveway in a semi-straight line. That, I could back up. It certainly smacked of being a silly situation….and I can laugh about it. It happened. It was a silly solution, but it was still a solution.

Every day is a new moment for me. I greet the sun’s rise, and try to approach the day with a new motivation, a new vision to accomplishing tasks set before me, and with new eyes so I can try and discover new pathways that I did not notice before. At the end of the day, I say goodnight to the sun, and ask for the promise that He will rise again for tomorrow’s dawn. I set aside my frustrations over the course of the day, and prepare for an evening where I can relax, read, or study. My daily Path is about constantly learning, focusing, relaxing, and then refocusing again – all with the measure that each day is a new start. And each new day allows me to take new, fresh steps on my daily Path…find new connections I had not considered before, and strengthen the connections I already have. My Past through the Catholic faith, the southern Baptist faith, and within Wicca have helped bring me here. Whether the lessons I learned were negative, positive, or neutral does not matter. There was something to be gleaned from those times within my life. Paganism is the stream that brought me to where I am now, opened my eyes and mind to the perspective of individual Gods and Goddesses, and has renewed my faith in that perspective each and every day. I am on a pathway of Druidry, as a Polytheist Pagan. That’s who I am. But I can never discount or demean where I have come from. All of that is a part of me as well.

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Remembering My Journey – Part 2 – Wicca, Paganism, the US Military and the Gods

From the very beginning, it was obvious to me that Wicca was not a complete fit for me. I was still grappling with the concept of duality (God and Goddess) within the bounds of what I had been taught. In trying to understand that both God and Goddess were separate entities, I fell back to my Catholic roots. Much like there was Big Daddy, Junior and the Spook (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the concept of God and Goddess found fertile ground in my understanding of my personal spirituality. It still wasn’t quite what I believed, but I barely had any manner of explaining how I really felt about the concept of God, Goddess, and my own personal approach. So, this was enough for me for the time being. I could shoehorn my own beliefs into this, at least for the time being. Perhaps the terminology and concepts I would learn going forward would be helpful in generating my own perceptions. So like a lady trying on shoes in Al Bundy’s shoe store, I pushed as much as I could into the boundaries provided, and pretended that it fit.

July 1992
Me – USAF – July 1992

Now, I joined the United States Air Force in 1986, so here I was just a little over a year in and I found my first area of controversy. I worked the night shift at the Carswell Air Force Base (Fort Worth) data processing facility. My shift was comprised of five individuals and myself. Of those five, four were charismatic Christians. Like charismatics in the military, they were over-the-top about their beliefs, and not afraid to shove their beliefs down your throat. My first night on shift, with Drawing Down the Moon to read, lead to all kinds of problems. I caught attitude from all four of these preacher-types. One of them lived three doors down from me in the dorms. He continued the same in-your-face moments with me outside of the work place. Complaints to my chain of command about my work ethic started to crop up. I went from being the guy who knew the mainframe system better than the civilian engineers from UniSys to being the problem child. In 1990, my transfer orders for Germany came in, and I danced inside at the idea of being away from these people.

Practicing Pagans -- Stars and Stripes -- 13Oct1992 -- Page 14Practicing Pagans -- Stars and Stripes -- 13Oct1992 -- Page 15

Germany proved no different. I wound up in another duty section with a born-again Christian, but here my beliefs were respected. As long as I kept my beliefs to myself, there were no problems. Religious discussions were typically avoided. And I found a group of individuals who were not only sympathetic to my position as a Pagan, when I was featured in the centerfold story of “Practicing Pagans” for the Stars and Stripes newspaper – they kindly poked fun at me (my last name was misspelled as “Ban Hook” in the story). This was also the time frame where I parted ways with Wicca.

As I noted before, Wicca never really fit what I understood as my own personal Spirituality. I just never had the words to understand. But I did have the companionship of the people that were part of the coven I studied with. When I left for Germany, I had none of that. I was on my own. And I had a better understanding of Paganism; a better understanding of the dual concepts of the God and Goddess; and a stronger understanding of polytheism. I finally had concepts that fit what I believed – a wider, more expansive view of the perspective of Deities, specifically Gods and Goddesses. With no group to provide an anchorage, I started to explore my own concepts of Paganism. Without that safe harbor of a coven, I found other Pagans in my nearby communities. We banded together under the moniker of “The Pagan Support Group” (which always seemed silly for a title), and I started to learn more about how other Pagans approached their beliefs, their rituals, and their Spirituality. It was here that I started describing myself as a “neo-Pagan”. I wasn’t trying to recreate something from earlier history. I was constructing my own Path through the forests.

And the forests of Germany was where I once again found myself feeling free. Much like the years where I spent time volksmarching as a kid through the woods – I found myself taking long walks in the woods very near to the military base housing I lived in. And it was in these woods that I had my first experience with a Spirit of Place.

Carving at a Roman Spring
Celtic/Roman Shrine – Kindsbach, Germany

I was walking along a ridge above the Celtic/Roman shrine that you see in the picture. This is just west of a small town called Kindsbach, which itself is just west of the outskirts of the city of Kasierslautern. It is in the wooded area just to the south of the football field on the west side of Kindsbach. The ridge above this comes to the edge of a small 40-ish foot cliff to the path that runs right part this shrine. The area is frequently walked by the residents of the area, and they pick up most of the trash. I spent time getting the stuff that they generally missed or was a bit too far for them to reach. On this particular day, I had gotten close to the edge of the ridge, which kicks my Acrophobia into high gear. So I sat down with my back against a tree and tried to collect my breath. I shut my eyes, and felt a presence. I neither heard nor felt any specific communication, but felt a feeling of “thanks”. At first I took no notice of it. But every single time I came back, I felt that same feeling. And on the day I knew would be my last time there – when I knew I was going back to the States the next day – I could feel sorrow at my leaving. I stayed there until nightfall, which is not advised because of the wild boar population. When I walked back to my microbus (what I was driving at the time), I stopped and turned back to look at the wooded visage in front of me. It felt like a small child was hugging both of my legs tightly. I’ve never forgotten that feeling, and will return some time in my lifetime to revisit this place.

That single experience opened my eyes to a much wider world of Spirituality. Monotheism, and Duotheism would never be workable concepts for me. I finally had the words to understand what I believed. I believe in many Gods, Goddesses, Spirits of Place, Spirits of Ancestors….polytheism. The belief in many, individual Gods and Entities. Now my Spiritual Path would lead me to find a framework on which to build my personal Spiritual beliefs upon.

 

The Whispers From the Four Directions

Do you hear the sound on the wind?
The beating wings of crows?
Do you hear that on the wind?
The whisper of Andraste and Segomo
Do you hear the spears and swords beating on shields?
Teutates! Teutates! Teutates!
For the protection of Land!
For the protection of Tribe!
For the protection of kindred Spirit!
Standing Rock is the battle line.
—Robyn Birchleaf, 9/7/16

Its been a while since I have dusted off of my old poetry moniker. Back in my early days as a Wiccan, this was also my “Craft” name. Eventually, Wicca faded as a part of my life, but the moniker continues as my writing name.

This piece of poetry I wrote last night. I had set some music from the Johnny Whitehorse series of albums on rotation, and pulled on my headphones to block out noise. As I listened, I let my mind wander to my inner grove, while watching my stone circle in the backyard being bathed by the sprinkler system. It eventually brought my mind to the perspective of water, which naturally led my mind to what is going up in North Dakota. People were protesting, as peacefully as they could, the building of an oil-transport pipeline underneath the Missouri river. Any leak at or near this point threatens the clean drinking water source for the peoples of this area, and everyone else downstream. This includes farmers, whose crops feed the markets of this country where people shop for their food. Odd how all of that is so interconnected when you think about it, right? Not really, to be honest.

There’s nothing truly odd about the interconnection of all of us. What we do to the environment, our communities, ourselves, others, the animals, the air, the water, the land….it affects all of us to one degree or another. That’s a huge part of what I have come to understand and relate deeply to within my Druidry. There’s more than a “Circle of Life” – there’s an interconnected web, where everything finds harmony to one degree or another with everything else around. Everything that is, except mankind.

As human beings, we have managed to be arrogant enough as a species to consider ourselves above everything else in Nature. As a collective species, we have even managed to excuse that arrogance with “divinely inspired” spiritual perspectives that categorize the earth, the animals and everything else to the position of a giant grocery store for our use and abuse. We place ourselves above everything else, and then excuse our abuse and overuse of resources by declaring that there will be an end to this Earth, and the righteous will be flung up into the heavens to enjoy a plentiful and never-ending paradise. The wicked will be sent to a place of eternal damnation. And the planet and the animals?  Who cares? Its use will be finished. We can just wade it up, and pitch it over our shoulders. After all, we’ve managed to create a very disposable society in the same vein. But I digress slightly…

lakota-siouxWhen I wrote that last night, I was remembering that time and again, the clarion call of the Wild Hunt’s horn in my dreams and meditations. I remember a few meditations that were filled with whispers on the wind. “The battle draws closer”  “I do not ask for war. But I do ask you for to defend when the time comes”  “Remember, your staff is not just for aiding you in your walking”  Those were some of the louder whispers that I heard. For me, a determined peace-loving Druid, to speak of hearing whispered words of war is a difficult thing. I don’t like violence of any sort. I prefer to find peaceful, negotiated manners of dealing with conflict. But many times over the past months, I have been reminded that sometimes physical battle comes to one’s doorstep despite your best efforts to quell it.

The issue at Standing Rock is starting to resemble those moments where one has to reach for your staff because peaceful resolutions cannot be easily found. Last weekend, during a three-day holiday stretch, the corporation building the Dakota Access Pipe Line decided to bulldoze a large swath of burial ground that is part of the area that is to be built up. The protesters there immediately started to attempt to stop what was happening, only to be met by a “security” detail with poorly trained (if at all) dogs. The protesters were attacked by dogs that were encouraged to attack by their handlers. Protesters, including children were bitten. Many other protesters were maced by these same “security” folks. All the protesters had to defend themselves with were a makeshift flag on a stick, and their bare hands. What they really should have had in their possession were mace canisters. Not to attack with, but to spray at both the “security” detail and the dogs once the attacks against them (the protesters) had started.

I have always lived by the perspective that being non-violent and peaceful in protesting is the key to getting one’s message across. But just because you are being peaceful and non-violent does not mean that you are not prepared to defend yourself with forceful means. Trying to resolve issues with words and negotiation is the appropriate measure to take, but always be prepared to defend yourself against violent action. Defend, not retaliation. Retaliation belongs in the realm of vengeance, and that is a business that is far more serious, and should be far more thought out and appropriately measured.

From my perspective, and my interaction with Gods and Spirits….there’s a palpable anger on the wind. And return is coming…like I said, vengeance is for deeper thought, and far more measured response. I leave that to the Gods. Should They decide to utilize me as part of that response, I’ll know when They tell me. Until (of even, IF) that time, peaceful, non-violent, legal protesting is the call for the moment. Standing Rock is the battle line.

…and Home to the Fey

After driving for four solid days on America’s interstate system (and some of its back roads), I found that spending time in the cab of a pickup truck by myself allowed for a lot of time for thinking. And with no one to bounce ideas or concepts off of…I eventually had conversations with myself in my own mind. Most of those conversations came about because of unique moments. Such as the moment when I realized I was driving into the mountains (more like very tall hills, but who is really counting?) near Mammoth Cave National Park, and my revolving music playlist started up with “The Hills They Are Hollow” by Damh the Bard. I had to pull over into the next rest area, sit outside on a picnic bench and marvel at the world around me.

IMG_0243The mountains have a huge appeal factor for me. Just being in the mountains makes me feel at home, and a lot calmer than I am out here on the plains, where I live. During this part of my trip, I was driving in a narrow construction zone with eighteen wheelers and other traffic zooming around me (I was driving the posted speed limit). I know I should have felt nervous, but instead I felt calm and assured. In a similar construction zone on the east side of Memphis, Tennessee (the previous day), I was extremely nervous and agitated with the same type of traffic around me. I know I am in kinship with the Spirits of Place in mountainous areas.

That kinship with Spirits of Place is something I have started to explore in more depth. Each time I go into a mountainous area, I spend time just being outside – hiking, sitting, walking, standing – just being. Opening myself to the moment and the feeling. There is really no way to describe the feeling I have – other than being calm, and clear-headed. Anything that is happening elsewhere in my Life is on hold during that time. I am right there, focused on that moment – drinking in all the sensations and experiences I can.

Quite a while back, I had mentioned somewhere about a conversation I had with a fellow coworker. His questions were concerning where I get my moral authority from. My response was that I certainly don’t get it from a book. At one time in my life, I had my feet firmly planted in the Christian faith. But during that entire time, I never felt comfortable with the mandates and rules that came from its pages. Particularly when I was told that the Pastor or Preacher or Priest needed to “interpret” what was written there. I was even more uncomfortable, when I realized that the Bible was considered to be “divine inspiration” even though it was translated into the English from the Latin and was translated into the Latin from the Greek. And when I started to realize that passages in the Bible could be countermanded with other passages from the same Bible – I began to not trust what I was told to believe in blindly.

I understand my own moral code. I should not kill others out of spite or simply because they are different. I should not shun others who are different either. I trust people when they give me reasons to trust them. I should stop people from harming others. I should strive towards finding peaceful solutions to issues as a primary means. I didn’t need a book to teach me this. I only had to place myself in the shoes of the other person and think of how I would want to be treated. Call that the Golden Rule or whatever you want to…I just know that is where my compass is.

I follow the Old Gods. That does not mean that I think everyone MUST follow the Old Gods. Nor does it mean that I have a grip on how others should follow the Old Gods. Nor does it mean that I understand the relationship between others and the Gods and Goddess I am drawn towards. My relationship with Them is as unique as it is between any of Them and others. I am not the Gatekeeper to Polytheism…and if there ever was such a position – I wouldn’t want it in the first place.

But all of that, coupled with being out in Nature – particularly mountains – is what makes me feel alive. Every single moment of every single day. On the worst days I have experienced to the most incredible experiences that I cannot even begin to describe. And driving through the mountains in Tennessee and Kentucky made me feel that exhilaration. I felt “at home”. I felt “calm”. I felt positively alive. I wanted to stop the truck on the side of the interstate and climb up into the woods around me. I wanted to feel the leaves of the trees in my hands, and the warmth of the sun-soaked soil between my toes. I wanted that moment of ecstasy. I settled for sitting on a picnic bench in a rest area along the interstate. And it was enough.

And during all that time, I could feel the soft warmth of Fliodhas’ hand on one shoulder, Crow’s claws digging in slightly on the other, and the warm fur coat of Coyote in my hand at my side. And I could hear the words in my mind:  “There’s deep, old magick in these mountains. You should explore more.” And I certainly shall….