…and so we have made it to another turn in the Wheel of the Year. Though, I would argue that each day represents another full rotation of the Wheel in comparison to the year before. Samhain, though, is a bit different. For many Pagans, this is the equivalent of the New Year. So, let’s take some of the stuff we ascribe to the New Year celebrations the general world populace ascribes to December 31st, and place those here. In other words, I’m about to take a look at the past year from my own eyes. I realize that I have already taken a look backwards but this is in conjunction with that post. In this one, I am examining things from a slightly different angle.
One thematic that has been extra prevalent over the part year for me has been travel. The end of December held a trip to Scotland, England, and France for a whirlwind eleven days. The result was a fantastic trip that has me completely in love with Edinburgh (including fantasies of spending my latter years in life there), and a wonderful trip to Treadwell’s Books in London. If we only had book shoppes with this much flair, charisma, and loveliness. I will be back! And this time I will bring an empty suitcase for all the books I want to adopt. 😉 The early part of this calendar year found me on a plane bound for San Jose, California where I attended my first Pantheacon. A few weeks later, I was in San Antonio, Texas for a work-related conference. Shortly after that, I made a trip to Louisiana for the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering, and a few weeks after that came another work conference in Round Rock, Texas. Another short trip to Abilene was at the start of the Summer. And the end of the Summer saw a trip to Yellowstone National Park come about.
The coming year looks to add more travel, as I have already set aside plans for trips to Pantheacon, Many Gods West, ADF Imbolc, OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering, a potential trip to OBOD East Coast Gathering, another potential trip to CalderaFest, a work conference in Houston, and a shorter single-day conference in Round Rock (its a yearly thing). Plus, there’s always the chance for multiple side trips now that I am pulling a camper behind my truck. In other words, the chances for me to de-stress in the woods, mountains, and prairies has an even greater chance of happening now.
Since Samhain Eve last year, my dreams are filled with images of storms, and tumultuous events. It took a short while to figure out what all of that truly meant, including many a night out by the backyard stone circle. The world is on the edge of changes. Some of these are for the better, some may not be. But change is certainly coming on the wings of the storm. I am still not completely sure what those changes may look like, or how those changes may be felt throughout the wider Pagan community, but when I continually hear statements in my dreams about how – my staff is for more than supporting me while I walk” – I know that there’s more to it than just a thought about getting into better physical shape. Up here near the Texas/Oklahoma border, I am essentially a Pagan on my own. However, were I to find Pagans from south of me on my doorstep looking for a place to hide, I would certainly be prepared to offer them shelter within my home. I would also certainly find myself out in my front yard – staff in hand – offering defense of my house guests from all comers. There is no grey line in all of this, there certainly is a storm coming – and for all intents and purposes, this Presidential election cycle may certainly be its harbinger.
The Four Year Cycle
And certainly, here in the United States, there is no mistaking what the election cycle has done. I cannot count the number of political posts that I have hidden on Facebook. Nor can I count the number of times I have embroiled myself into some nuanced aspect of politics there as well. And there has been more than one time where a friend has taken offense at something I have posted concerning their candidate. In this Presidential election cycle there has been very little grey area. Most people made up their minds over a week ago as to who they were voting for President. Many of those people have already cast their votes. This election cycle, I have abstained from the President/Vice President voting. Instead, I focused on state, county and local elections. There is nothing in the election laws that says that you have to vote for all the races on your ballot. There is also nothing in the election laws that says that you have to explain your reasoning for how you voted, or to detail if you had voted at all. However, one thing is very clear: as a society, we Americans have decided to utilize this election as a litmus test to determine the character of our neighbors. If you have a Trump sign in your yard, you are provided the worst qualities of your candidate. If you have a “I’m With Her” sticker on your car, you are ascribed the descriptives of being an empowered elitist. From my perspective, its sad to see so many people hang the worst qualities of a candidate around the necks of those who vote for them (the candidates). I’d rather look at the citizenry of this country as a group of people, all with a different perspective on why or why not a particular candidate would be a good choice.
About mid-way through the year, I changed my focus, rededicated myself to my Path, and started working through my Gwers again. I am not sure where I got the idea from, but I realized if I was wanting to make progress, I had to spend the time to get things done. In other words, I needed to really want to get through the lessons, I had to really want to be down this Path, I had to want to be a Druid. I spent four days thinking that over. I turned over the positives in my mind, then the negatives, and then weighed them against one another. Once I made up my mind to want to be on this Path, I set forward a plan of how to tackle things – particularly my lessons. I drew up a loose plan of how to deal with the lessons, set aside a time frame for each day, and then started following that plan. Like I said, its a loose plan. That way when life intervenes, there’s places where lessons can be pushed back so I can deal with those issues – without completely destroying the schedule. Plus, I decided earlier on that the schedule should not encompass ALL of the lessons. It handles a schedule of ten at a time. Once I complete those ten lessons, a new schedule of lessons gets created, and I move forward. Some ten lesson packs have taken significantly longer than others – simply because life did intervene. And getting into these lessons with more depth and time has changed me. I am learning patience. I am learning how to handle knowledge. I am learning more about myself. I am growing. And that’s really the key to it all. Just being who I am, and finding ways to incorporate what I learn to who I am, and my daily life.
Looking back at the past year, I see where things went wildly successful. I also see where things went absolutely bonkers too. And I can see where I struggled with keeping things on the rails between those two points. But there’s one constant between them all: I continue to learn. And in that learning, I continue to to grow. I’m not going to be a Druid overnight. It just doesn’t work that way. Plus, I’m not really an Instant-Pudding Pagan. I see many different trails to potentially wander off onto. But I am staying the Path. I am continuing to move forward. I make notes where these switchback trails are located, so I can explore them at another time. In the meantime, its time to move forward. Towards the goal. Towards where I should be. Fun trails are for another time.