We have all heard the statement made….
I’m going to be….
Nine Hells, I have made that statement a ton in my life. Especially when I was much, much younger. Now at [mumble-mumble] years of age, I understand a bit more of the underpinnings to statements like that. To be able to be….(waving one hand in the air)…whatever….there’s a lot of hard work that needs to be handled before you get to that title, position…(waving hand again)…whatever. Let’s take an example…
Quite a few years ago, I ordered my Bardic Grade lessons from the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I was confident that I could handle the self-paced timing of the lessons. I had a Bachelor’s degree and two Master’s degrees…this couldn’t be any more difficult than that, right? Yea, famous last words.
Make no bones about it, the Path to becoming a Druid through these lessons (or any set of lessons for that matter) is not one of academic pursuit. It is definitely not the same thing as getting [x] number of credit hours in various subjects at your local college or university. And approaching it from that mindset was a major stumbling block for me. This is not an academic pursuit. It is a spiritual one. And there is a huge difference between the two.
Truly, there is some academic pursuit involved in wanting to accomplish the knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a Druid grade member in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. After all, you are going to be touching base with history, religious theory, mythology, and writing. Lots of writing. All of that can be found in the pursuit of an academic degree. But there’s more to this than academia. There’s finding a framework to work your own beliefs upon. Whether you are working a monotheistic, polytheistic, or even a non-theistic belief structure to the teachings that you are learning, there’s plenty of areas for deeper thought and contemplation on spirituality, personal philosophy, and even exploring one’s own moral compass. And that does not even approach the exploration of meditation, and ritual concepts.
In the end, this is not the same thing as working towards a degree that proclaims to the world the base of knowledge that you have attained within a collegiate structure. This is about enriching your own personal spirituality, finding your connectedness in the world around you, and becoming part of something far larger than you. You are growing yourself, not working towards a degree that allows you to place some initials after your name.
Back when I was in the Air Force, one of my supervisors used to tell me that in order to achieve level-5 (a status level that allows you to work unsupervised in the career field I was in), I had to put in the “sweat equity” to achieve it. In other words, I had to do the work to get the certification. I had to prove my knowledge base. I had to roll up my sleeves and get into the material.
A few years back, I was frustrated at several points along my studies in the Bardic work. Because I had not been putting the *right* sweat equity into my studies. I was looking at my studies as a way to achieve a title. I was approaching my studies from an approach of an academic student trying to achieve a grade in order to obtain credits that would be spent towards earning a degree. This is not a degree. It is a study that is meant to provide a means for me to understand my Spiritual Path better.
This morning, I woke up at 2am. I walked out into the backyard, and stood by my Stone Circle in my overgrown backyard (it needs mowing desperately). I looked up at the stars, and just stared. What I have just written here, occurred to me during those five minutes outside. I had brought a glass of water out with me to drink, which I poured at the northernmost stone in my circle. I chose my phrasing carefully. I stepped back onto my Bardic Grade again, with a fresh perspective. I am not on this Path to achieve a degree or a title. I am studying this Path to understand better. I am on this Path to learn more of myself. I am on this Path to honor the Gods, the Goddesses, my Ancestors, and myself. I am on this Path to connect in ways I had only dreamed of before.
Sometimes…it takes a shift of one’s mindset to realize where one’s foot slipped off the Path. And where one’s leg went knee deep into the bog. One thing is for sure…there’s work to be done. Nothing is going to be given to me. I have to want to learn on this Path….and I do. Any title or accolade may be nice, but is certainly not necessary. But the sweat equity most definitely will be….