I have relayed, many times in the distant and not-so-distant past, the myriad of questions that I get asked by non-Pagans over my own personal beliefs. Many of those questions fall along the lines of the questioner trying to understand a belief system that is completely alien to their own perceptions of religion. These perceptions are typically colored by the banners of monotheistic thoughts. In the final understanding, either the questioner disregards the entire perception of polytheistic perception or their mind is opened to a wider potential perception. But the questions from Pagans are typically more difficult to answer, and are generally best left for a cold night, huddled around an open fire, and passing a whiskey bottle between us all throughout the discussion. or at least that is how I see it.
Most of the puzzling aspects tend to come from the facts of what I believe and what I follow. I am a hard Polytheist. I believe each of the Gods are their own distinct, Spiritual Beings. Simple enough, and rarely does this come into any aspect of heavy confrontation. I follow a Path of Druidry. Another fairly straight-forward perspective. So far, so good. I work with two First Nations Gods (Crow , and Coyote), and a Germanic Goddess (Abnoba). And here is where the twist starts to come into play. I am a Druid. I work within the framework of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) – both of which imply that I work within a Celtic framework with the Gods. And yet I don’t.
I have been called everything from a hypocrite, to a non-genuine Druid, to a few other names I would rather not repeat in general company. I SHOULD be following a Celtic path, dedicating myself to Celtic Gods, and trying to work my rites under a Celtic perspective. How dare I call myself a druid when not doing such things?
Yeah. I have dealt with all of that. I do realize that the general concepts of Druidry are firmly embedded within the concept of Celtic faith and practices. I utilize the framework of ritual and practice as outlined by OBOD as a framework where I hang my own beliefs, my own perception of the world around me, and weave in the practices I find that not only work for me, but call directly to my heart and my soul. My heart is within Druidry, as I have come to understand it. Not in a definitive form for others, but one form for me. Some of what I do can be found in what others do. And some aspects of my Druidry are things that I, seemingly, am alone in doing. But it works for me. Furthermore, I am not claiming it to work for anyone else. I may not seem “authentic” to others, but I am not undertaking my Druidry for others. I work towards what is authentic for me.
My undertaking in learning Druidry through the OBOD system is not to become another Druid like [insert OBOD member you know here]. I work through the lessons in order to become a better Druid for myself. Certainly, part of being a Druid is in helping others. That I completely grok. In wanting to be a librarian, my desire would be to help others find the information that they desire. But to become that helpful resource, I would need to learn to be a better librarian for myself first. The same would hold true in being a Druid. I need to learn to be a better Druid for myself. In that process, I become someone that can help others as I learn more about the Path of Druidry, and the world around me.
Do I have to be completely immersed in Celtic studies to be a Druid? No. But I do need to have an understanding of Celtic studies to help me gain perspective on where Druidry has come from. Ignoring the past of the framework that I am using, so as to achieve whatever the future may hold for me would be….well, criminal, at least in my mind.
Alongside my Druid studies, I have decided to start learning more about the aspects of being a Priest. I have a lot of baggage that I carry around based on my perception of this word. Just as others hand me the baggage that they carry in regards to the term Druid. I have, somewhat, come to grips over this concept of Priest. I am not going to ever lead any type of a congregation – not because I cannot, but because I will not. That type of function is not for me. I do not need to lead anyone anywhere. But we can walk together as equals, and we can discuss topics together. You might seek advice from me. Or I might seek advice from you. My function, as I am starting to understand such, is to be there for discussions with others. Perhaps, I would be able to lead a group ritual at one point or another? Perhaps. I am starting to give up on the idea that I might look the fool in doing so…that might just come with the territory. The point is to not be afraid to do so…because in leading a ritual, I can show others that with a little work and some dedication to the task – anyone can have the chance to do so, and to succeed at it – whatever that means.
Certainly, I may not be the Druid that some expect. I sure as the Nine Hells hope I am not the Druid others might expect. I do not need to be solemn and stoic. I will probably be laughing a little too loud. Likely, I will be having long-drawn out conversations by the fire while passing a bottle of whiskey from person to person…discussing everything under the moon and stars. Because to me, this is what being a Druid is all about – living in the moment. Being alive for the now. And if my Gods are not quite what you would have expected…just think how surprised I was.