Pagans at the Gates

When folks find out I am a Pagan and not a Christian, I get a whole host of the “usual” questions. “What’s a Pagan?” What’s a Druid?” “Do you worship the Devil?” “Why are you in rebellion from God?” I live in an extremely right-wing Christian county in the state of Texas, with the northern line of the county as the state line between Texas and Oklahoma. So questions like these are never out of the question. And to be honest, you get used to hearing them after a while, and develop a set of rote answers to them, in hopes of avoiding too much confrontation.

The more interesting questions come from Pagans that I meet that find out I am on a path of Druidry. These questions are a little more difficult to answer, especially when there is a feeling of gate-keeping associated with them. “Why Druidry? Why not {insert Pagan belief here]?” “Why that Druid order? Why not [insert Druid order here]?” “Are you like [insert well-known Druid here]?” “But your practice is nothing like [insert well-known Druid from my order here]. Why is that?”

Gate-Keeping

I promise, I’ll cover each grouping I have mentioned, but let’s take a look at the concept of Gate-keeping. At Urban Dictionary, there are a handful of definitions, including a singularly disturbing version that I had never heard before. However, I will go with this one:

When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.

I am a firm believer that Druidry is not for everyone, but that anyone can follow the path of Druidry. Just as I feel the same about Paganism. There is no blocking of someone that is truly interested in following either path. No genetic test, no knowledge check…just a desire to follow that Path and following it wherever it may take an individual.

I remember, quite a few years back, a moment in time for the Pagan community. It was a perspective called “Are you Pagan Enough?” This had the odor of a litmus test of sorts, almost as if you had to prove you were fervent in your beliefs to match a certain measure. To me, this type of gate-keeping has a similar feel to high school cliques, where nerdish, bookish students are bullied because they do not look, dress or act like others. And yes, that was a real thing when I was in high school back in the early 1980s. I have no idea if it still holds true in today’s high school environment, though I sincerely hope not.

Now this is not slamming those who enter into mystery schools, where part of the aspect of continuing is to show a level of understanding the material that was presented. That is expected as part of that Path, and is typically based on materials and concepts that the adherent was provided over a period of time, along with one-on-one training.

Why Druidry? Why Not That Pagan Path?

Simply put? Druidry fits the tightest to what I believe. Its not a perfect fit, and I dobut any Path would ever be that. But the framework of Druidry, the ritual aspect, the manner in which I can bring my own conceptual understanding of Animism, Polytheism, and my own world view; allows for me to grow in a way that I find completely acceptable for myself. I have tried other Pagan paths, and while I found them to be wonderful for the adherents that pulled so much beauty from those Paths and themselves – it just wasn’t the right fit for me. In other words, having been a Pagan since 1986, Druidry was not my first and only stop. Everyone has to work out what will be best for them.

Why the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids?

When I started looking into Druidry, I was looking for an experiential Path that would fit in with my approach to being in the world around me. I wanted to be a part of an Order where ritual was not the primary focus. OBOD allows me to place the primary focus where I wanted it to be. Certainly, there is a focus on ritual, but every Druid is not meant to be a carbon-copy of the others. Of course, I never saw any of that with the other Druid orders that I explored – the carbon-copy Druid making – but there was certainly a much larger focus on ritual, which did not appeal as brightly for me.

Why Aren’t You Like These Other Druids?

I tend to get this particular question from newer Pagans more than anything else. As I said, I’ve not seen any Druid order where carbon-copy Druids are constantly made. Every Druid is an individual, and so every Druid has their own personal focus in how they weave their Druidry into the world around them. Some are extremely gifted ritualists. Others are phenomenal story-tellers, writers, poets, musicians, and artists. And there are others who focus on philosophy, history, or other academic endeavors. Still others are dedicated environmentalists, having found jobs in fields where their Druidry can be utilized to help heal the environment, as well as study it. Just as people are unique, so are the Druids in their individual Paths. So are all the Pagans from the wide variety of Paths out there. And dare I say it, so are the members of other faiths throughout the world. Even where the desire is to make carbon-copy adherents. Everyone is their singular self.

Wrapping Things Up

Whatever your Path – be it Pagan, Druid, Christian, what have you – you and you alone walk it. Certainly, there are those who are on that Path with you. They walk side-by-side with you. They will be there to steady you when you stumble, just as you will be there for them as well. But your steps are yours alone, even when you are stepping in the direct footfalls of the person before you. You will have to decide the Path that you walk. No one else can do that for you. And if you think someone else can…you’re letting someone else think for you. And you will learn very little from that. Gate-keepers? Well, beware…I may smack you in the throat with my staff…let’s remember, everyone’s experiences will differ. The only way that will be found out, is to get out of the way, and let them in…

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