I have returned from the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids’ “Gulf Coast Gathering” which was held (for the fifth straight year) near Mandeville, Louisiana. This particular event is my Spiritual Home. I have attended all five years. At my first year, I initiated into the Bardic Grade. At the third year, I initiated into my Ovate Grade. When I am ready to move to the Druid Grade (fingers crossed), I will do that with these folks as well.
Its not the location that makes this my Spiritual Home, its the people. The people who run the event, and do such a stellar job every year. The people who regularly come from so many different locations around the United States. The guests who agree to come and share their stories, their desires, and a few days of their lives with all of us. All of those folks, gathered together to celebrate Alban Eilir, aka the Spring Equinox, make this event what it has become for me: a place of recharging, a place of re-balancing, and a place to find my own answers without even realizing that I am doing so. For me, no matter what the weather, everything is right with the world here – even when things don’t always go right.
One common theme, for me, that ran throughout the entirety of the event was a particular comment: “Tommy, you inspire me.” I have never considered myself to be anyone of any type of importance. My Druidry is focused on trying to find, explore and nurture the connections I have within the world around me. My time with the two podcasts was to give back to a wider Pagan community what I had found – someone that wanted to discuss aspects of Paganism. Someone to help nurture the desire to explore. Someone to guard that special flame of creativity and to help kindle that into a larger fire within others. The idea behind the blog is somewhat similar to provide a platform that helps start discussion, not arguments. A platform that shines a light into areas where some light may not have reached for others. Again, for fostering the concept of exploration for other’s Spiritual perspectives – sometimes without having them event step outside of what they already firmly believe and understand.
So I sat, I listened to people tell me their perspectives, how they found inspiration, comfort, joy, learning, new perspective in what I write. Believe me, its been a very humbling experience for me. My first ever experience with someone being excited to meet me came from a podcast listener at an ADF event. I think she knew I was a touch uncomfortable with anyone fawning over me for any reason, and she dialed that back. I count her as a very close friend. But yes, encounters like these make me want to run the other direction screaming because I don’t like the spotlight. Weird huh? A former classroom instructor that didn’t enjoy the spotlight. But it is true.
Other perspectives were brought to light for me during this Gathering. Last year was about survival, particularly trying to beat back pneumonia. There literally moments that I truly thought I was going to pass beyond the veil. How close I came? I am not truly sure, but it certainly had that feel at times. This year will be a year of gathering strength, working myself back up to an appropriate physical shape for a 53-year old – in a sense, getting back to basics. This will also be a year of accepting perspectives that I have always tried to step away from – leadership, priest functions, being accountable to myself and others…because the reality of it all is that I have to be responsible not only for myself, but for how others can see me. Whether I like it or not, people have their perceptions of me, and I can only ignore those to a point.
Very few of you may have noticed my attempt to keep some kind of a schedule with the blog. I do not have posts written ahead of time, so when I go places and do things – there winds up being some kind of posting hole. Hopefully folks understand, but I am not trying to be some kind of posting machine. I’ll just manage to do the best that I can. That’s a change towards some degree of accountability and consistency (as close as I can get to that) with the blog.
I am not here to tell you how Druidry is to be done or not done. You’ll need to figure that out for yourself. However, I can show you how I did it. And if that works for you – wonderful. However, in the end, you have to do the hard work yourself. Like any other Spirituality, you want this to work – you gotta do the work – whatever that looks like for you.
I’m not really a guide. Nor will I ever be your confessor or your parent. I will offer no bullshit when talking about your Spirituality – even if we disagree completely. Because the walk is yours. I have no desire to place your foot into some footstep or aim you down some Path. You gotta do you. If I did it for you, it wouldn’t have the same effect or importance in your life.