Episode 019 – This Is It!

IMG_7076Yeah, it has been a while since I have put out a blog post. Two things have been taking up all that time to write – trying to finish up the last episode of the podcast, and the need to handle some Self-Care. My head-space has been in a place where I look at my ever-growing to-do list and just freeze up from all the stuff that is there to get done. And that place is not a pleasant one, to be sure. I pride myself on being able to get things done and staring at a list of things that need to get done just reminds me over and over again that no matter how hard I try, that list will continue to grow. Completed tasks will always be replaced by new tasks that need to get done. Some of those tasks will replace themselves, as it becomes a repeating cycle of completion, setup, complete again – over and over.

Since I announced the end of the podcast, I have had a ton of folks come out of the woodwork – telling me how much they enjoyed both Upon a Pagan Path and my first podcast From the Edge of the Circle. There has been an echo about how listening to me helped them understand how they needed to work their way through their own journey of finding themselves within the complicated gathering under the big tent of Paganism, as John Beckett calls it. I not only appreciate those telling me this, as this was the whole point of doing these podcast episodes all these years – to show others that they can work their own way through the forest. The trees may seem thick, the brush may seem daunting and difficult to get through – but somewhere is that clearing in the forest that you seek. Where you can sun yourself and rest, assured that you found that place where you clearly belong. I did just that, over the last thirty-four years. And as cliche as it sounds, if I can do it – so can you.

Sitting here writing this, Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” has come on the Sirius XM channel that I listen to. What a soundtrack to listen to while I write this…I have never fashioned myself much as a “cowboy” but as I grow older, I find myself gravitating to one of the archetypes – the drifter. I have the long trench-coat to wear in the cold winter nights. I have the cowboy boots now (something I never envisioned myself getting), and I am seeking out a cowboy-style hat to wear. Aside from the hat, I lack the crow feathers to attach it as well. Yeah, what an image, eh? The lyrics of this song remind me quite a lot about myself.

Each night I go to bed, I pray to Crow my soul to keep
No, I ain’t lookin’ for forgiveness, but before I’m six foot deep
Crow, I gotta ask a favor, and I’ll hope you’ll understand
‘Cause I’ve lived life to the fullest, let this boy die like a man

Yeah, I took some license with the lyrics…Bon Jovi prays to the Christian God in the lyrics, which does not work for me. Besides, I have plenty more life to live before this becomes a reality, at least I hope so.

On the podcast, you will find an interview I did in February with John Beckett. I consider John to be more than just a friend. For me, he is family. Someone who has always been supportive. John has been there for my initiations into the Bardic and Ovate grade, gestures of support that I deeply appreciate. We do not always agree on how to approach a particular topic…as it should be. We are not the same person. My Path is not a carbon copy of his, nor is he likely to be swayed into the world of Tricksters. We sometimes travel the same dirt, but we are responsible for our own footfalls. I appreciate John’s willingness to be the first interview I did for the podcast and becoming the point of full-circle as the last.

Also on the podcast, you will find the music of Melanie Gruben. For me, she is a new artist. Her music is exquisite and has accompanied me on several long drives that I have taken. If you enjoy her music, please go to her website and buy her music. I was given her music to play on the podcast – and like with any of the other independent musicians that I play, I will be buying her music very shortly. The music industry has changed quite a bit over the years, and the independent musician has a better chance of making it by working on their own, rather than depending on the dying gyrations of the big music corporations. But that requires word-of-mouth advertising, which I am doing here and on the podcast itself. Please support your favorite musicians by purchasing their music, that small monetary donation means more than you know for them.

So here is a link to the finished podcast, the last I will ever accomplish on my own. Maybe someone will invite me onto their own show, perhaps not. But I am proud of everything I brought to you. Just remember, the point of all of this was to show you that you can blaze your own trail within your own Spirituality. But just like any point of improvisation, you will need to learn the basics first.

All I can really finish with is a heartfelt “thank you”. Thank you for listening. Thank you for downloading. Thank you for finding inspiration in what I have said. Thank you for listening to the folks I brought to you on the podcast. And thank you to all the folks that I featured on the show – John Beckett, Troy Young, Joanna van der Hoeven, Brendan Howlin, Brendan Myers, the amazing Bran Cerddorion, Chris Godwin (the most amazing ritualist I have ever encountered), and Cat Treadwell, who remains one of my most favorite people on this planet. Each of them provided a piece of who they are and what they have created on this podcast, and it has been my pleasure to bring them to all of you. Many of them have books available…much like musicians, please consider purchasing their materials.

Lastly, I am not getting out of the interviewing world. I plan on interviewing more people, and discussing how they got to where they are on their own personal Paths. I will be doing all of that via Soundcloud. You can find the site here. The interviews will solely be discussion pieces. No podcasting stuff to add around it. The discussions will be unedited so some of the discourse may be a little NSFW. And to other podcasters out there, if you want to use a discussion that I post there – please ask beforehand. I am happy to provide the files, but I also would prefer to get the permission of the individual(s) that I had on the recording as well.

I, again, appreciate you taking time out of your own day to listen to the podcast. Thank you or allowing me to be a small part of your world and your journey. I hope you continue with me here on the blog. And who knows, I might even have a book in me. That is still up for debate at the moment – I am never sure of what to really write about when it comes to something along those lines. But who knows…

A fire’s gotta burn
The world is gonna turn
Rain has gotta fall
Fate is gonna call
But I just keep on breathing
Long as my heart is beating
Someone’s gotta hate
It’s never gonna change
Gets harder every day
It’s a hell of a place
To keep your heart from freezing
To keep yourself believing
But I won’t run
I’m not afraid
I’ll look em in the eye
Gonna hear me say
It’s my life, my love, my sex, my drug, my lust
My God, it ain’t no sin
Can I get it, can I get an Amen
–Halestorm, “Amen”

 

 

Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/Episode_019_-_This_Is_It.mp3

 

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Life Does Change — An Explanation Owed

 

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Me, at Imbolc Retreat 2018, being silly on the main porch. Original photo was taken by John Beckett

Its been a short while – and currently, I am in the middle of an insane whirlwind of three events happening back-to-back-to-back. Yesterday evening, I completed a 1,050+ mile trip to attend the ADF Imbolc Retreat near Mountain Home, Texas (put on by ADF Hearthstone Grove), and then a professional conference in Corpus Christi. That equated to somewhere around 17 hours of driving, excluding various stops. Today, I get the opportunity to rest for a bit, while packing (lightly) for a plane flight to, and four days at, Pantheacon.

 

A few weeks back, during a meditation, Crow noted that the coming calendar year was going to be bumpy, exhausting, exhilarating and stressful. “Grab a handle and hang on” was the warning. My professional life is about to move in a direction I only dreamed my department would go. My skillsets promise to be the lynchpin that everything will revolve upon. My new team is comprised of folks that I truly enjoy working with, and that I have the deepest respect for. My desire to help out with the professional conference I attend each year has bee noted, and I am already being asked to be prepared to be involved. There is going to be a lot expected of me, and I am already finding my armor to be in those battles – so to speak. Plus, I am needing to update skills to a program – R – that I have only a passing familiarity with. I am already working towards learning its usage, including professional development, self-paced training that I paid for out of my own pocket.

My Ovate grade work is proving to be difficult, and very rewarding. And while I am moving slowly, I am making steady progress that I am thrilled with. Every single day, I am finding new little threads to explore, and am starting to need the time to do that exploration. In my spiritual life, my daily devotions to Crow are providing a pathway to a much deeper relationship. I am learning that Priesthood, even devotional Priesthood, requires more than just words.

I continue to write blog posts here, and on the Moon Books platform, and have started to develop an enjoyment of putting my own thoughts into a written format. Whether my writing skills have gotten better for it…I’m not quite sure, but I sure do get a lot out of that.

Which brings me to the why of this post. Each part of what I have written above takes time. My daily schedule looks a mess – and what is above does not even take into account the physical workouts that I am trying to do to keep “round” from being my default shape. After a lot of thought, some meditation, some prayer, and some thoughtful discourse with folks whose opinions I trust – the decision to shutter the podcast “Upon a Pagan Path” was made, and I announced such a short while back. To be frankly honest, it is been far too long since I put an episode out – and the format that I am using is done far better by other shows, such as “Down at the Crossroads” and “Druidcast“. I will – from time to time – release short recorded discussions over on my Soundcloud page, but without all the frills and extra stuff that was added to the podcast format. I will also do spoken word bits, where I tell a tale over an open microphone or read one of my poems. But not as a podcast – and not with any release schedule attached to it.

It has been a pleasure to be part of the podcasting community for such a long time. I was extremely devastated when I decided to close down “From the Edge of the Circle” but it was truly time to do so. A recent conversation with someone I admire greatly, revealed to me that “Edge” was a charming format that was similar to sitting down and having a discussion – even if it was just one way. I only hope “Pagan Path” had a similar charm and appeal. But it certainly was a lot of fun to do.

Will I wind up on another podcast as a guest? Who knows…anything is technically possible. Maybe so, maybe not. I only know what the future holds for me going forward from today. The two blogging platforms are where I will spend the majority of my time pontificating my personal perspective on Polytheism, Paganism, and Druidry. Sort of like “From the Edge of the Circle” except that I will wear out my fingers instead of my voice. 🙂

There is one more podcast episode left, though. The final show. Yeah, I was not going to let things go without taking the opportunity to have a final moment. I had originally planned on having just two interviews and leaving it at that. However, I have another musical feature that I am working towards getting materials for. As for my two interview victims, those would be the absolutely phenomenal ADF almost-priest (fingers crossed) of Nine Waves, Lauren M. I have known Lauren for a few years now…and am absolutely thrilled to get her on the podcast. And to provide the ultimate aspect of symmetry – I bring back my friend John Beckett, who was on the first episode of Upon a Pagan Path. Both interviews were conducted at the ADF Imbolc Retreat, and are some really fun conversations – complete with background noises from all over camp.

This final podcast will be out sometime in the first seven days of March. And after that, I will keep Upon a Pagan Path alive and available for download on Liberated Syndication up through the end of March next year (2019). At that point, I will cease payments for the podcast, and delete the account from Liberated Syndication – the same manner in which I closed From the Edge of the Circle.

Honestly, life constantly changes. For me, things are getting busier in my life. What essentially starts part of one’s current cycle in life, may come to a close. But other opportunities are always available. Sometimes, those are easier to see. Sometimes, these are not readily evident unless you look harder. But life does change.

From a Podcast to a “Selection of Audio Offerings” – Transformation Can be Considered a Constant in Life

Twelve years ago, I started my first podcast – “From the Edge of the Circle”. I spent time talking about whatever topic came to mind – essentially using the podcast in much the same vein that I use the blog here at “Life With Trickster Gods” – a sounding board for the most part. After a period of time, the podcast got a bit difficult to keep working with, and I was moved towards the idea of shutting things down. And I did. Then I started “Upon a Pagan Path” where I have tried to focus on talking with other Pagans about how they came to be on the Paths they are on. And essentially, that has managed to fizzle out. Its been nearly a year since I put out a podcast episode. And honestly, while the podcasting side was fun – putting a podcast together is really tough stuff. There’s a lot of post production work that goes into getting a show together, not to mention trying to find ways to mesh times with folks for interviews. Many other podcasters out there are aware of how difficult all of that can be to manage. And in truth, many of them do a far better job at it then I have ever managed to do. And that means that it is nearly time to bring the second podcast incarnation to a close.

Yes, you read that correctly, it is time to bring “Upon a Pagan Path” to an end. Sort of. As a podcast, it will definitely come to a close. I have one more episode to do…and I have an idea who I want to push a recording device in front of…and will somehow manage to do just that. After that, the doors for the podcast will close. The last version of the podcast will be a very stripped down version of the show. No musical artist features. No extra stuff. Just me and the individual(s) that I hope to get on the recording device.

But there’s life beyond the podcast. I have an idea to continue recording stories, poems, and even interviews from time to time. I will place those on a Soundcloud page instead of a LibSyn account. No extra stuff. No show intros and outros. Just the stuff that is meant to be heard. Why? Because there is still a need for the stories to be heard. There’s still a desire to read my poetry aloud. And there are still stories to hear from other people. But the podcast has run its course at this point. When will it happen? Well, fairly soon. And when I mean soon…somewhere in the neighborhood of the next ninety days or so.

I am not disappearing from sight, though. I have two blogs I am writing. And while my writing is not stellar stuff, it is far better than what I managed to put together for the podcast. And my thoughts are far more coherent here in the written form than anytime I am in front of a microphone. So, it is not like I am disappearing completely from the online world. Just transforming to a different presentation format.

Plus, writing comes easier to me – and I have far more time to do that. My mundane job gets busier each day, and my working hours sometimes have a tendency to be long and unpredictable. That makes scheduling stuff for the podcast a little more difficult, particularly in a world where meshing hectic schedules can be a serious chore.

And by the way, the name “Upon a Pagan Path” won’t be disappearing either. It will be the name of the Soundcloud page. So, in a manner of speaking, the podcast will be making its own transformation through this as well. From a podcast to…well, I am not sure how to classify what the Soundcloud page will be. A selection of audio offerings?? Maybe. Just not totally sure that is a “proper” descriptive. Then again, when have I ever done anything in a “proper” manner?  🙂

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Episode 018 – Podcasting is Hard!

Back from a short hiatus, which had me tweaking the podcast format a bit. No interview in this particular episode, but I do a bit of a talk on how my life is being aimed towards the direction of being a storyteller. Plus, I make an attempt to recreate the story of “The Screen Door Boar and the Bardic Initiates” that I told around the fire at this year’s OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering a short while back. Personally, I’m not happy with this version of the re-telling, and will work towards a new recording of the tale, which I will put up at a soon-to-be-created Soundcloud page in the near future. But in the meantime, enjoy this version (I hope!). I also have two songs from Bran Cerddorion‘s upcoming new album “The King of Dreams” for everyone to hear. This stuff is super awesome, and already in my own personal music rotation on my iPhone. I will also be at CalderaFest later this year, where I do believe Bran will be performing…hope to see all of you there as well!!

As always, if you hear music on any of the podcast episodes that you like – please take the time to buy from the artist. Please help support your independent Pagan artist! We want more music from these awesome people….

Email:  elfster@gmail.com

Twitter: @t_elfster

WordPress:  https://tommyelf22.wordpress.com  “Life With Trickster Gods”

Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath018.mp3

 

Episode 017 – Exploring Pagan Ministry by Cat Treadwell

This episode, with huge thanks to one of the most awesome Druids I am happy to know, is a talk by Cat Treadwell entitled “Exploring Pagan Ministry”. I found the talk quite fascinating, and quite honestly it has helped change some of my mindset towards the concept of “Priest” within the bounds of Paganism. The volume was a bit light on the original file, so I tried to boost the volume a little bit. Hopefully, that worked well enough.

Congrats to the three winners of Shauna Aura Knight‘s books that were given away on the last episode. This episode, I am giving away two albums from Bran Cerddorion, “The Hour Before Dawn” and “Four Branches: Tales of the Mabinogi in Song”. To be the winner of the two albums, just send me an email to elfster@gmail.com (please include an address that I can ship these to you) before midnight (Central Standard Time, United States) on October 31st. That’s it. You win, you get the albums. Simple as that.

Closing out the show….I decided to dish out one of my favorite S.J. Tucker songs “Sultry Summer Night” from her “Stolen Season” album. One day, I’ll get the chance to catch this lovely lass live.

As always, if you hear music on any of the podcast episodes that you like – please take the time to buy from the artist. Please help support your independent Pagan artist! We want more music from this awesome people….

Email:  elfster@gmail.com
Twitter: @t_elfster
WordPress:  https://tommyelf22.wordpress.com  “Life With Trickster Gods”
Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath017.mp3

 

Episode 016 – Alf Herigstad

After a lengthy hiatus, the podcast is back.  And we start off with a discussion I had with Alf Herigstad at this year’s Pantheacon.  Alf is the voice behind the podcast “Being a Better Man” as well as the head gothi of Hawk’s Hearth Kindred. Being a bit ignorant of Asatru, I utilized part of the discussion to better understand some of its aspects with Alf, with I very much appreciate. We also discussed aspects of his daily practice up in the Washington state area, which I admit was quite fascinating. For those who may be attending Many Gods West this year, he will be presenting “A Heathen Perspective of Ritual Slaughter” there. The link for Many Gods West is located here. The link to Alf’s extremely interesting podcast is located here. Check out both of these links, very interesting stuff. I am making plans to attend Many Gods West next year, if it is held then.

The return of the podcast is also going to bring about something new….giveaways. When I was at Pantheacon, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Shauna Aura Knight, and purchasing three of her books, which she has signed. I will be giving each of these books away to three listeners, who respond via Email. Yes, there will be three winners….one for each book. If you wish to be entered into the drawing for a specific book or books, please let me know via your Email.  The book titles are as follows:

  • Ritual Facilitation: Collected Articles on the Art of Leading Rituals
  • Pagan Leadership Anthology: An Exploration of Leadership and Community in Paganism and Polytheism (edited by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood)
  • The Leader Within: Articles on Community Building, Leadership, & Personal Growth

You have until July 30th to submit your entry (its just an Email) to elfster@gmail.com. I will announce the winners on the next podcast, which will be out the first weekend in August.

Finally, in the middle of July, I will be adding something new. I will be doing a short video, which will be available through the podcast link, taking you around my local (somewhat) area. I will start with my stone circle in the backyard, where I spend many mornings and evenings in meditation, and ritual. I will be doing this via the Periscope App, which I have been experimenting with over the last few months. I will also be doing short videos when I take trips to various places as well….you won’t be seeing my ugly mug, well…not that much. But I thought this would be an interesting addition for the podcast. Let me know what you think, if you would like.


Links

Being a Better Man Podcast:  http://beingabettermanpodcast.com

Shauna Aura Knight website: http://www.shaunaauraknight.com/

Many Gods West: http://www.manygodswest.com/

Pantheacon: http://pantheacon.com/wordpress/


My Email:  elfster@gmail.com

Life With Trickster Gods (my blog): http://tommyelf22.wordspress.com

Direct Download Link for this episode: http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/Episode_016_-_Alf_Herigstad.mp3


This podcast was created using the following:

  • Garageband v10.1.2
  • The Levelator v2.1.2 (revision 4261)
  • Zoom H5 Four-Track Portable Recorder
  • Apple Mac Pro (Late 2013) using OS X El Capitan (v10.11.5)