I wake up in the morning
And I raise my weary head
I’ve got an old coat for a pillow
And the earth was last night’s bed
I don’t know where I’m going
Only Gods know where I’ve been
I’m a devil on the run
A six gun lover
A candle in the wind
— ‘Blaze of Glory’, Bon Jovi
The Start From Facebook
Today, as I started trying to find a way to start this particular blog, I wrote the following on Facebook: To this day, I still have folks comment that I am a lot like Emilio Estevez’s portrayal of Billy the Kid from the two Young Guns films. I can see parts of that in who I am, and in some aspects – none of it. But in the films, Chavez y Chavez comments, “They’ll catch you, Doc. And catch me. Everybody but him. The villagers say he’s a Diablero. He can change into a Coyote, disappear, and never gets killed.” Considering I’ve only ever dipped my toe into the darker side of Tricksters, and one of the two main Tricksters in my life is the darker themed Coyote…perhaps it might be time to go a little further into the forest than the first few trees, n’est-ce pas?
So let’s approach from a few different directions. First, the constant Billy the Kid references. Honestly, I see part of it, the never-serious, joking aspect of the character. The quips – ‘best buck-eighty I ever spent” after shooting the sheriff with a rifle that he (the sheriff) had loaded with ninety dimes in each barrel, and preceding exclamation of “Hello Bob!” before he unloads both barrels into the sheriff, and the immediate concluding statement of “Goodbye Bob!” after the shooting. Yeah, I have to hold my tongue sometimes from making these immediate snappy, snide comments every day of my life. I see this part of the Trickster in my life everyday. Anyone who has been to a Gulf Coast gathering with me can attest to the over-the-top insanity that I am capable of. Tricksters are a part of who I am, that is undeniable. They are also a part of my daily Druidry. But anyone that has had any dealing with a Trickster God knows there is a darker side that is hidden underneath all the humor.
First Steps Into the Darkened Wood
About five years ago, Coyote and Crow prodded me into the edges of the forest. Just far enough to let you smell the oldness of the woods, but where enough sunlight made it through the canopy to allow you a quick return to where the edges of the forest are located. In that whole time, I have made my daily Druidry on the edges of the darkened forest. Slowly learning how those deeper parts of the forest were different from these edges, and who the edges differ from the world outside of the forest. Much like Tricksters, the darkened woods hold a rarely discussed darker side to their respective world. Brave, foolishly so, soul would declare that there is nothing to fear in the dark forest and plow forward, thrashing through the underbrush loudly and boasting of their heroic abilities over “night time terrors of others.” I am sure there are plenty of tales and songs that accompany the loss of those that never returned.
A smarter adventurer will take the time to learn about the forest in stages, always wary and alert for what is out there. Categorizing all that can be seen into potential threats, moving forward when each step has been careful measured and counted. Because the forest IS alive and who knows what terrors lie between its still airs? And what about those times, when you need to utilize the darker aspects of the woods against those meaning to harm you? Say, sending hungry, wild boar into the following party, so that they will have to deal with these hungry, angry animals rather than yourself?
As Druids, we all use spell work in our magickal workings. Some are more adept and willing to use this methodology than so, myself. I tend to hold spell work and magick to the side. Holding it in reserve until I have utilized all other options available to me. This was one of the reasons I declined to participate in the call for hexing President Trump. For me, there were a lot of other options to spend before reaching into that area. For me, magick is utilized for healing, and protecting. Some would argue that the hexing is exactly that, but I am not here to argue semantics and philosophy. Just pointing out that the powers we reach for to heal and protect can be utilized to wound, attack and destroy. There are always two sides, or faces to what we do.
Exploring the Darker Aspects of Druidry
In exploring the flip side of what magick is, the side that is not about healing and protecting but about destructive or attacking forces, let me bring back a point that we tend to miss when first traveling on our paths – magick is not about being protective, healing, nurturing, destructive, or attacking. Magick is about the intent we place behind it. The same forces that we reach for to help us nurture and grow the trees in our “special” are of our local forests, is the same energy we reach for to attack those we perceive to be a threat. If you are so inclined, the Donald Trumps of the world, the people who seem to harm us. So we reach for what we know as a weapon and use it in that manner. Not because it is a weapon, but because it can be utilized as such through our intentions. When we get into exploring the darker side of our Druidry, we are not investigating the energies that we would use, but rather our own intentions in using the tools we have available.
Can I Do That When I Need To?
Perhaps the most difficult part in the exploration isn’t the cruel faces of the Gods that we may encounter. Nor the sheer force of Their Wills in wanting us to do things we could never imagine doing. Rather the most difficult part is in knowing whether you could or could not. Could you stomach looking at an individual who is clearly dead, whom you were just having a conversation with mere seconds ago? Will your ability to continue to operate and move forward with succeeding in what you need to get done be deterred by what you have just seen, or will your resolve take over and move you past that moment?
I can tell you from experience, someone who just died is a smelly, rotten mess in a mere matter of minutes. Its a smell that never leaves you behind. One you will never forget. Nor is the smell of burning human flesh. Both are quite sickening smells. Add to that the smell of diesel fumes and jet engine exhaust fumes from today’s modern tanks. And that doesn’t even bring in the auditory experience which ramps that experience into an even more difficult scenario. Its an experience that can stop you cold. Can you operate in conditions like that? Where the intent of others is not to injure you or make you run away and hide. Rather their intent is to kill you. Plain and simple. The world of the soldier is not meant for everyone. You might hear the call of the “Storm” – I do and I don’t – but there’s a difference between “hearing” the call and “heeding” the call. Not everyone is designed to be a soldier, but in the face of extinction (which we are nowhere near, in my opinion) everyone can fight, even when not taught to do so.
But the dark side of Druidry, in my opinion, is so much more than just heeding the call of a Warrior God or Goddess. Dark Druidry is about being willing to utilize your magickal resources in ways that might feel a little “yucky” to you. Hexings, Curses, creating barriers for those who might believe one way, or whatever else might be necessary. Its not the methodologies that matter, its exploring the intention you put behind the magick that you use.
Can you really do that? Are you capable of continuing forward when the world is not nice, neat hedgerows with beautiful manicured yards with small gardens just waiting for you to visit? Sometimes the darker aspects of Druidry will require you to slog through terrible environments or frightening scenarios. Perhaps your Druidry places you at the front door of an abortion clinic, there to escort women to and from their cars. You do realize that your life is in danger from the people outside the door protesting the existent of that clinic? Check out the number of bombings that have happened at such clinics. You’ll find you are placing yourself in a position of danger to be a shield. Your intention is right. Could you smash someone directly in the face, if that need arose? Dark workings are about the intentions we place behind our magick, behind our spell work. And to be honest, that’s just the start…we’re still only a few dozen yards into the forest, just at this point. What lies further into the trees? I am not sure, but I am certainly not going to be the brave, foolhardy hero and go rushing in deeper at this point. As for me, there are some deeper, darker aspects of Coyote that I need to spend a bit more study time, meditation and ritual time with. Just remember, this is my take on the darker aspects of Druidry. Yours and your experiences will likely be different than mine. Because we are Druids, but we are also individuals.
2 thoughts on “Foolhardy Heroes and Cautious Adventurers – Aiming Down the Path of Darker Druidry”
Really enjoyed this post. The thought I’ve returned to over many years is that the skills it takes to make a healer, and a torturer are pretty much the same. If you can’t see where someone is most vulnerable, you can’t see how to help them or hurt them. Healing itself is so often a messy, brutal sort of process that, in the middle of it, whether you are being helped or harmed isn’t even always obvious. Sometimes both. Some wounds have to be cauterized, some things have to be cut away. Healing is not reliably nice.
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Thank you. I thought this would be a much harder post to write than in turned out. When I wrote the starting blurb on Facebook, I thought that trying to determine the hows of writing this would require a few days to do so. After about 70 minutes, I had this finished. Another lengthy post, but it really seemed to come together so easily, especially when I started to realize that everything really boiled down to intent. And that is so very true about how there’s a fine line between healing and torture, and that both require understanding where vulnerabilities are, and utilizing that knowledge with intent is what makes the difference.
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