As i move along more in my life, I am continually surprised at how much I discover of my own life. For instance, just in the past few months – I have noticed my own shift in the world of politics from a staunch supporter of the Libertarian party towards that of a non-affiliated voter. Not all that surprising of a revelation, looking backwards through my own history of dealing with the so-called political process in the United States. But more surprising – at least for me – was my realization that my own Spirituality has begun to evolve (again).
It took me a long time to move from identifying as a Wiccan to that of just a Pagan. When I first started along my Path, I was part of a wonderful coven of folks who accepted me for who I was, loved me for who I was, and allowed me to accept and love them in return. We certainly had our ups and downs as a
group – and as individuals. It was extremely difficult to move away from them, when the United States Air Force stationed me in Europe (Kaiserslautern, Germany to be precise). The vast majority of Pagans that I came across there were also separated from their groups back home in the United States as well. The few local groups that were open about who they were and where they were located, were indifferent to those of us that had come to find ourselves there. As I was (somewhat forcefully) exposed to many other belief systems – naturally I began to compare my perspective to that of so many others.
My return to the United States was even more of a shock. The folks I had left behind three-plus years prior — well, they had all moved on…and I had no idea how to get in touch with them. I continued my stance as a solitary practitioner at this point — and picked up books I would never have considered in the past. I recall Donald Michael Kraig‘s “Modern Magick” striking a minor chord in my mind. I already knew Ceremonial Magick and all of its trappings was not a serious route for me, but Kraig’s approach intrigued me. At the same time, I stepped back into Wicca with a local Tradition in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The results were predictably lacking.
I stepped away from Wicca altogether at this point. For the next decade-plus, I continually referred to myself as a Pagan. I developed my own manner of working with the Gods. I was not overly intrigued with the practice of Magick. I knew it worked, it just was not a system or practice that I cared/care about. I also knew that my stance on that aspect also pushed many of the precepts that Kraig brought forth in his materials away from me. During that time, I found being outside felt much like a ritual to me. Walking, sitting, cleaning around the yard…it didn’t matter, just being outside got me feeling alive. I had no words or concepts to give that perspective life….until I ran across the term “druid” in my readings.
That single term lead me to a myriad of “Druid Orders” – all of which I looked into deeply. In the end, I chose the path of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). To this day, I can’t say exactly why. Something within the statements on the website seemed more inviting and appropriate to me, I guess. I ordered their Bardic grade course – and have been working through the lessons ever since. Its helpful that their course structure is self-paced. I have found myself back-tracking on the lessons several times — realizing that there was another way to try an approach to a particular lesson. Now, I’m nearing Samhain – and the end of my fourth year in the lessons…and the end of the lessons.
During that time, I have also incorporated into my learning the history and spiritual understanding of the First Nations people of North America. I have found a lot of material that proclaims that only “First Nations peoples” can undertake the lessons of the “Red Road” – which was discouraging. Until I realized something through my first lessons in an American History class: if we go back far enough, the peoples of the First Nations had to come from somewhere. That was the infamous “land bridge” that connected the Far East and Europe with the North American continent. This is why there are so many similarities (in my opinion) between European shamanism and the shamanistic practices of the First Nations of North America. Since that moment, my perception of my own Spirituality has begun to change.
I still refer to myself as a Pagan – that’s not going to change. I see the Gods as individual entities. I see the smaller spirits of the Land all around – what the Shinto belief system refers to as “Kami”. But I no longer see people in terms of their race. We’re all the same race. Our appearance and relationship of our environment comes from our regional differences. (Again, my own opinion here) My Spirituality continues to evolve, but I know see myself as an Earth-centered shamanistic Pagan. Druidry helps me understand the connected relationships between myself, my environment, and the people around me.
One day, I may be able to call myself by the title of “Druid” …perhaps not. Only the future knows that answer. But I am more aware now of what I am – Spiritually – than I have ever understood before. And truth be told, its only a small thimble-full of what I will truly understand before I pass on to my next incarnation. I am looking forward to what I will uncover, as well as the hard, difficult work it will take to get to that point. There will be tears, there will be happiness. There will be emotions that run the entire spectrum. And in my view, it will all be worth it. I have only walked my Path for a small time in this incarnation…time to keep walking.