So, the turn of the Wheel is nearly upon us. For many Pagans, including myself, this is the change from one year to the next. As the season changes to the dark of Winter, the veil between this world and the OtherWorld is said to thin – allowing easier visits from one to the other. I personally don’t hold to that concept; for me, the shift from this world and the OtherWorld just happens. I honestly cannot explain all of it because I honestly have no words that adequately do so. Plus, it is not the focus of what I am writing about. 🙂 That’s one of those deer trods that lead off into the forest from the trail I am walking in this post.
The changeover from one year to the next is marked by Samhain or as the popular culture of our day calls it “Halloween”. For a lot of Pagans, it is a time of reflection, a moment of celebration, or even a downright raucous party. For me, it is a time frame where I draw back from the world around me, particularly people. I do this at Beltane as well, another big “party” and “celebrate” time for most within the Pagan community. And over the last five years, I have pulled back from the Pagan community so much, that few people ever notice my disappearance. Like I said….few people.
I get a slap of feathers to the back of my head, an occasional paw swipe against my nose, and even a sharp beak to the back of the head. My ancestors don’t play much of a role in my life…I have so little in common with my DNA relations….but I am reminded by those that I consider being family….those not related to me by blood, but are my family of choice…. Pulling back is not a proper thing to do. And yet, year after year….I find myself doing just that. Because it is an ingrained habit.
I am a solitaire Pagan by choice, and somewhat out of necessity. I choose to follow my Path alone because it feels natural for me to do so. I also live a very long way from any Pagan in any direction. The closest group of Pagans are about 45 minutes to my south – via interstate driving. Getting there is no easy chore. Remembering to leave on-time to get down there for their open rituals and gatherings….even more so. One of the greatest joys of being a solitaire Pagan is that I handle things on my own time, at my own speed, at my own pace. But being alone…sucks. There are no Pagan friends to talk with. Most of my discourse with other Pagans happens online…and that only carries you so far.
But being alone…sucks. There are no Pagan friends to talk with. Most of my discourse with other Pagans happens online…and that only carries you so far. I enjoy the gatherings of Pagans that I have made it to….and consider a great many of those folks as my family which is not an adequate description for what they mean to me.
My two Trickster Gods – Coyote and Crow – continually push me out of my safe boundaries. I attended Many Gods West in the northwest US….by myself. And that was extremely outside of me being comfortable. But I met a lot of people I enjoyed interacting with, discussed things of a Pagan and Polytheist nature that I don’t normally get the chance to do so (outside of online conversations). And I left that gathering of like-minded folks remembering why I follow the Path I do – and realizing how important such discussion and discourse can be…
So, here I am. Approaching a new year. Coming towards the dark of the seasons, where much work is down internally. And I see myself in my usual place: outside – looking in. Its such a familiar place for me. And oddly enough, there’s a comfort level to it. Like someone standing just outside of a restaurant, peering in at all the nicely dressed people. Just watching them. Wondering how their lives place them where they are. Why the food choices and drink choices they have made. Knowing that I could walk through the door and join them…and just trying not to feel ill at ease for putting myself somewhere that I would be out of place. And then hearing those two familiar Voices in my mind, insisting that it is time to be uncomfortable.
I remember once reading a post by John Beckett, which talked about the need to have others within your spiritual practice. I remember nodding to myself, and pointing out that coming to the various gatherings and conferences was what was needed. And I joined him in going to an ADF Imbolc Retreat, and a few weeks later to Pantheacon. And I did the same the next year, except I went to Pantheacon on my own (this year). At the ADF Imbolc Retreat, I came a little further out of my shell. At Pantheacon, I met people I had talked with online. I interacted with people. Later, I attended the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering – my Spring-time Spiritual home and family (this is such a poor word to describe what these people are to me). I once again came out of my shell a little further. I did something I had never done before – I told a story out at the nightly fire. As I noted, I went to Many Gods West – knowing not a soul there. And I here I sit….looking at another Samhain on my own.
Because why? Because my inner Nature claims me to be an introvert….when I am not completely so.
Many Pagans (and others) will tell you that there is only so much Spiritual growth that you can do. I have to throw the Bullshit flag and call them for a fifteen-yard penalty. I am 52-years old. I have been on a Pagan path since 1986. I am still learning and relearning the puzzle that is me. I still have obstacles to overcome, such as forcing myself to be a completely solitaire Pagan. Like many other humans, I am a social creature. I need interaction with other like-minded humans. Not online interaction, face-to-face eating a meal at a local Cracker Barrel and discussing whatever comes to mind.
Sting noted in one of his songs that people can build fortresses around their hearts. Sure, I get that. But people also build barriers between themselves and the outside world for similar reasons too. I have slowly torn down my fifty-foot high walls until I have a two-foot wall left. But it is still a wall. It is still a barrier. And I still have to remove it. Even at two feet, it will not come down overnight. But it has to come down. And I have to make that effort…because I can be a solitaire, polytheist, Pagan Druid, but I still need others in my life more often than three to five times a year for just a few days.