Eccentric. Odd. Different. “Not Pagan Enough”. Yeah, I have heard all these types of descriptives applied to me. I used to get really bothered by comments like this, but not really so much anymore. I have heard tons of other comments as well. Not following a Pagan Priesthood. Does not follow the typical framework. Not really a Wiccan (so true for this Druid). Off-centered. And so on.
There is a point of reality that a many of these folks do not quite get: I ain’t your type of Pagan. That doesn’t invalidate who or what I am. I might not be “enough” to be a Pagan in your eyes, but I am not on this Path to be validated by anyone else except myself. Sure, I may not follow a Path that is authentic in your eyes, but my foot-falls are my own. Authenticity comes from within me, not from some aspect of validation from without. Nor am I going to take my personal practice and make comparisons to what others are doing. This ain’t no who-can-piss-further contest. For me, I’m just not interested. You do you. I’ll do me. We’ll both be happy afterwards.
When I was much, much younger in my Pagan roots, outside criticism of what I was doing was enough to wash the soil out from underneath me, and leave a rather unsteady personal practice. Honestly, I just needed time to dig my roots a little deeper. I got that when I was transferred overseas by the United States Air Force. I was left on my own, essentially. I think I knew less than twenty Pagans in the three years I was stationed in Germany. My daily practice was done on my own. As a group of individual Pagans, we would gather maybe two times a year. That meant that a lot of what I did, I was the sole judge of what and how things were being handled.
That alone time was difficult. Things happened here in the States with the Pagans I knew. Several of my friends were hit by the dying gasps of the Satanic Panic. Each of them struggled against those moments on their own, with me being completely ignorant of everything overseas. I heard small snippets of news here and there, but the closest thing I had to consistent information came from the Circle Sanctuary ‘zine that I received once a month. And even then, that was not much in the way of news. For all practical purposes, I was isolated.
At this point in my life, I had not been approached by Coyote nor introduced to Crow. My solo practice had me in the woods of Germany, meditating and working my own circles of celebration as the seasons passed. I developed my own interpretation of raising cones of power, working my circles of Sacred Space, and my own personal theories on the practical application of Magick. Most was taken from books by Cunningham, Buckland, Starhawk and Kraig. At least where I understood what was being asked. Where I did not have understanding, I improvised. And through that process of improvisation, I began to develop my own personal understanding of the process of being a Pagan.
Me? Priest? Yeah. For myself. I didn’t have any students. And have never really had one at any point in my life. I may be a teacher in the collegiate classroom, but I am not some Luke Skywalker figure, here to instruct Daisy Ridley in the ways of Paganism, Polytheism and Druidry. I have always shied away from that role as much as I could. Not because I want to keep some mystical secret. Because those who have asked to be students, I know I would be doing a dis-service to them. It has always been easier (and more appropriate) to point them to those people who would be better suited in that role than myself. Yes, I believe that when the teacher is ready, the student will come. But I am also a big believer in knowing one’s limitations too.
What about public ritual?? Be someone that leads people in a celebration of the seasons. Definitely not me. A good public ritual leader is there to facilitate the experiences of others. I do not read people well enough to anticipate their needs within the context of a ritual…or just about anywhere else. I have helped out in public rituals by handling various roles, but that is just about where my dabbling ends. Again, a process of understanding and knowing your limitations.
So, what kind of Pagan am I? I’m me. Beyond that, you will have to lean back to the descriptives that started this post. If you are looking for what others might think. I will warn you…most descriptives from other people will only tell you the picture as they see it. To really know and understand what you are seeing…you need to experience all of it yourself. And then make up your mind from there. Am I your type of Pagan? Maybe. Maybe not. But I am me. No apologies. No excuses. I have my bad days like anyone else. But then the judgment is all in your perspective, not mine. To paraphrase Mickey Hart of Dead and Company – in all that you do – be kind.