Paganism. What a great big, wide open expanse that this is. And yet, I have always wondered what draws people to it – what are they seeking from it – what are they expecting of it… Why this? Why here? Why now? Such a perplexing part of this concept of Spirituality to explore, and yet I know that what I write here is only going to be a small part of it because people are individuals. And individuals can have so many varied reasons for doing any one particular thing.
Its a Lot Like Relationships
That’s right. Exploring one’s own Spirituality can be a lot like working your way through relationships. Many folks will only see the need for a singular relationship – a direct, intense one-on-one component. Others, such as myself, take a different approach, where more than one direct relationship is taken and combined together, creating an intense multi-on-one component. Regardless of the choice, making it a part of you takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and yes, communication.
So you want to be…. …whatever. A Druid. A Witch. A Heathen. Whatever. You want to be that, you have to be ready to do the work. If you want to work in a group, you need to ask the questions that will allow you to make the decision to join that group. How do they do ritual with newcomers? How do you get taught those basic aspects of rituals? Will there be magickal workings, assuming that’s something you want. What other aspects will you be taught about? How long can you expect the training to be? What are the steps after that? Does the group work skyclad. You know, naked. For some folks, this is a complete show-stopper. Plus, there will be other questions to ask. Pay attention to how questions are answered. What is said, as side commentary. If something doesn’t seem right…don’t join. And for the sake of the Gods and all that is Holy, know where your limits are. Particularly if intimate acts become part of the bargain. Again, if it crosses that line you should draw for yourself – don’t join. If it happens after you joined, don’t stay.
So, I’m part of a Druid Order, but I am not part of a Druid Group. I am a solo practitioner or a Solitaire as this concept is commonly referred to. Doing a lot of this will depend on you. And trust me, it makes it all much harder. You will need to learn the basics on your own – either from a prescribed lesson plan from your Order or School, or through a book that you bought….somewhere. No matter how much explanation is in place, you still have to interpret things for yourself. Did they mean to have you turn this way or that way? Should you raise your arms, one arm or none during this invocation? You will have to figure out what works best for you. And when you do happen to work with a group of people at a public gathering, you will get to see all the different interpretations that occurred from that moments. You can usually tell Grove (Group) members who learned together, their motions and wording might be drastically different than yours. Don’t worry though – there really is no singular “right” way to do things. Unless you are a Ceremonial Magician. But let’s not go there, shall we?
What About Other Paths?
Well, I can only speak for my own – that of Druidry, but when you start talking with people from other Paths or even other Orders of Druidry – well, you will see a lot of really cool things. If invoking the four quarters doesn’t work for you, you may run into a group or an individual that only calls out to the wilderness beyond, inviting All that wish to witness the rite so long as They cause no harm. That leaves a lot of room for mischief, but ok, I grok that. You might really love the idea. Great. Try it. If it seems to be comfortable and usable for you – adopt it into your practice. Remember, you do not have to be wed to a singular perspective. You can definitely add some polyamory flavor to what you do. BUT. It still takes hard work, dedication and communication. That does not change.
Yes. The hard work is easy to understand. Essentially sweat equity. You do the lessons, you practice the rites, you follow the celebrations of the Wheel. All of that can (and is) enough for other folks. But what about those Polytheists? The ones serving Their respective Gods and Goddesses? Well, if you want to travel to that part of the campground, be ready for a lot more than sweat equity. Dedication means that you are doing stuff on a regular basis, in a regular manner. You are obeying a Being from Elsewhere. You have cut some type of Bargain or Deal. Hope you read the fine print before you signed off on that. Because your dedicated behavior and mindset is going to be important. They wanted you. You wanted them. You are going to have to communicate REGULARLY. Even if They do not always answer your communication. If the Gods want to ditch you – They will let you know. But you wanted in. Like any relationship, there is a lot of learning that takes place. What you like, what They like, what you expect, what They expect. A Bargain is a Bargain, but it does apply both ways.
Putting a Small Bow On It
Remember, you wanted to be a Pagan. How deep you go is really up to you. You can be the adherent, being at the celebrations, taking a part in the rituals, and only dipping your toe in Spiritually. You Can go knee-deep, seeking more in your Spiritually, learning the rituals, practicing more than the Rites, continuing your training alone or in a group. You can shoulder-deep, wanting to be a Priest – either for yourself or others – leading folks in worship of the Gods, celebrating the Wheel, not just telling the tales, but evoking the lessons from within those. Or you can go in way over your head and work with the Gods. Swimming in much deeper waters. Exploring a Bargain struck, and hopefully prepared for the inevitable twist of the horse’s tail. But in the end, the choice of the relationship – that’s yours. I know how my Path in this world is because I chose it. I struck my Bargain three times with the Gods. I did the same with my personal relationships. And all of that is hard work, dedication (telling someone you love them takes dedication), and communication. Don’t be the individual that thinks all of this will just roll up to you, ready to be yours unconditionally. That…just doesn’t happen. Is all of that worth it? Well, I have been a Pagan since 1986. I certainly think so.