A few days ago, I got a question about whether I was on a Path of Shamanism. The easy answer to the question is no, I’m not. I work with a pair of First Nations Gods, but the path of First Nations’ folk is not mine. My work with Crow and Coyote goes in a different direction. So, what about Siberian Shamanistic practices? Nope, not there either. Shamanism ain’t me. In fact, there’s a lot of assumptions that people (both Pagan and non-Pagan) make when it comes to non-Christian Paths, and believe me I’ve heard quite a few of those tossed at me and applied to what I do.
I’m not a Shaman. Nor a Medicine Man. To be honest, I’m not even sure that the title of Druid can be absolutely applied to me. Yet, I am a Pagan. While I struggle with the application of the word towards me, I am a Priest. So, where does all that take me in my Spiritual life? Well, to be frank and honest – anywhere that I feel it applies to me. My Spiritual life carries me through dark, foreboding forests. My Spiritual life has me climbing rocky, rough terrain. My Spiritual life points me to walk beside cold, calming streams where dense forests populate either bank, while the sounds of wildlife are all around me. My Spiritual life inhabits me when I travel into the concrete jungles of large, modern cities, where the forests are replaced by tall buildings all around me, and the wildlife is replaced by cars and the detritus of human refuse.
In other words, my Spiritual life is everywhere that I go. I follow some of the traditions of the First Nations’ people, particularly in my offerings to Crow and Coyote. However, that’s as far as it goes. When I started working Crow, it was made very apparent to me that my work with them was not to be confused with being a part of the People. I am not First Nations. As I said, the same can be said concerning the perspective of being a “Shaman.” A Shaman refers to some very particular practices, usually by the peoples of the Siberian steppes. None of that is who I am and what I do here in this existence.
I am a Pagan. Nature is my daily signpost. I do believe in the existence of multiple Gods – quite a few, in fact. That’s the Polytheistic part of my beliefs. I don’t worship or work with all of Them. But the three I have chosen to work with – Crow, Coyote, and Abnoba – are an integral part of my daily Spirituality. For my Pagan friends who believe I should work with their Gods too – maybe in a one-time deal. Those three keep me busy enough as it is. For my monotheistic friends who believe that I live in a fantasy world – I understand why you feel that way. Honestly, this is my life. The experiences I have had point me here. I’m sure if your monotheistic Path were meant for me, I would have had similar experiences that you have had and be walking a similar Path to you. But I didn’t.
I am on a path of Druidry. Much of it has been an enlightening Path for me. I have learned how to take what I believe and place it within a context of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD). However, I have had to alter some of the material I have learned to remove the heavy and overt Celtic influences. I’m not on a Celtic Path. I do not interact with Celtic Gods and Goddesses. There is no call for me to wander down that Path within my Spirituality. To that degree, I do sometimes wonder if I can truly call myself a Druid. I refuse to wear white robes of any sort (I ain’t trying to be some mystical “Merlin” figure, and white robes on a white guy have some bad context here in the southern United States). In fact, I refuse to even wear a robe. My idea of what makes good “ritual garb” amounts to a green cloak, a Grateful Dead t-shirt, a pair of heavily worn jeans, and hiking boots. Trust me, I have seen the “looks” I am given when I come to ritual.
Here’s the ultimate result of all of that. I could give one on-fire fuck what others might think of my Path. I’m the sucker that must walk it. Every fucking day. Without fail. I’m not a Shaman. Don’t even want to be one. I’m not a Medicine Man. I don’t even have the balls to try and PRETEND to be one. I have made friends with Medicine Men and Medicine Women. I sure the fuck ain’t them. I’m not a Celt. Not my thing. Not my Path. I’m not a Shaman either. Don’t even want to be one or play one on television. No, like it or not – I’m a Pagan. I’m a Polytheist. I follow a path of Druidry….but even that cloak doesn’t completely fit. But here’s what I do know – I’m me. Unashamed. Unafraid. Awkwardly walking my Path daily. I trip. I fall. I scrape my knees from time to time. I will lay on the ground and cry over my stupidity, my pain, and my bad decisions. However, once all that gets out of my system, I will get back up and continue. Why? Because my Path is about experiencing the world around me. Good, bad, beautiful, ugly. Its my Path. Its my Life. It ain’t always pretty, but sure as shit – its here every single day. My Path is not for everyone. Its for me. I share things about what happens so that others can see some of the mistakes I have made along the way – and some of the successes – and decide for themselves if they want to walk the same Path as me, even if its just for forty feet.
Yes, as you read the above – I do get aggravated when people paint me with labels and descriptives. Even when the labels and descriptives fit all too perfectly. But its not just because I hate labels. Its because I would really prefer and sit down to have a conversation about our differences. To be able to sit on the porch, or in the backyard, or around a late-night fire and hold a conversation while drinking whatever our drink of choice is at that moment (I could go for a Slush Limeade from Sonic right about now). Paint me with your descriptives after the conversations. Attach your labels to my jeans (preferably on the butt so I don’t see them right away) when we’re done talking. But, please, let’s have the conversation first. We’ve gotten so far away from conversation as a means of communicating with people with whom we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with on the tube.
–Tommy /|\ <–Just me
“If fools had a country, I think I’d wear the crown.” –Black ‘N Blue, ‘Two Wrongs Don’t Make It Love”