Over the past week-plus, I got popped by an individual that took some umbrage with my “style” of Druidry. In fact, I was told that being here in northern America, that I wasn’t really practicing Druidry. See, “real” Druidry only comes from the British Isles. Here in America, Druidry is really just a “mish-mash” of Native American beliefs, and “Americanized” Wicca. The implication here being that I should just drop the “Druid” aspect of what I am and be realistic about what I am doing. Essentially, I am a “mutt” believer of some New Age stew that I have created.
I started to fire back an angry retort but held off for the moment. After all, its an online forum where this came from. Asynchronous communication provides me with the opportunity to hold off and begin the process of removing a lot of my emotional attachment to what I was going to say. Instead of creating some online kerfuffle that solves absolutely nothing, while ratcheting up the drama level – I was going to take the time to turn this over and over in my mind before responding. Which I never did.
That’s right. I decided not to respond, except by this blog post. Which I doubt the individual will ever read. Nor do I care if they do. I’m not in the business of trying to change the minds of other people. My business is making sure that I am true to who I am. But that’s a different direction than where I wish to head with this, and I will not let my easily distracted mind sidetrack me here.
Yes, my Druidry is pieced together from a wide variety of sources. The primary framework comes from the framework of Druidry, as provided from the teachings of The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD). On that framework, I have attached teachings and concepts from other belief systems – First nations’ teachings here in North America, concepts from the far Eastern belief systems, some perspectives of Shamanic beliefs from the Scandinavian area of the world, as well as the Siberian peoples – at least those that I can find documented in texts. Yes, much of what I have is a mishmash of stuff that resonates with me. However, none of that invalidates what I use as a basis for my beliefs. No, its not just Druidry. It’s the connection I have with the Gods I work with.
I’m not sure if that makes any sense to anyone reading this, but it makes sense to me – and from where I sit, that’s what is most important. All of this recalls a particular point from the movie “Bloodsport” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yeah, the guy makes some super cheesy action movies. Bloodsport, in particular, has some dubious aspects to its authenticity, since much of it is based on unverified claims made by martial artist Frank Dux, on whose life the movie is based. Setting that aside, there is a particular moment in the movie that struck a strong chord with me and resonates to what I am trying to get across here. The dialogue below is a moment in the film when the Asian martial arts master and Dux are conversing after the death of the Master’s son – Shingo. The Master is going to stop training Dux because of Shingo’s passing.
Frank Dux: Shingo and I were close friends. Brothers. And you and Mrs. Tanaka have treated me like a son. What will happen now?
Tanaka: No more training. Stop now.
Frank Dux: [shakes his head] But you have so much to teach.
Tanaka: You don’t understand. During the war, I lost my first family. My son, daughter, and wife. I left Japan because of the war. War was wrong. I came to America to start over, to have a new family, and a son. For 2,000 the teachings passed, father to son, father to son. When Shingo died, it stopped.
Frank Dux: Teach me. I can do it.
Tanaka: You are not Japanese! You are not a Tanaka!
Frank Dux: You told me to use any tactic that works, never to commit yourself to one style, to keep an open mind!
Frank Dux: To honor you, Shidoshi.
Not exactly riveting dialogue or scriptwriting, I know. However, Dux’s point in the film about not being tied to a single tradition is a point that I have lived throughout my life. Thirty-five years of working in Information Technology, I have done nearly everything that can be accomplished within the industry. I have never been a master of a single part of the trade. I can repair computers, I can rebuild them, I can write programs in various languages, I can build databases, I can curate data, I can provide data analysis on information, I can setup a network, I can troubleshoot all sorts of aspects within an Information technology setup. I can work in a Windows, Macintosh, UNIX, and Linux environment with equal dexterity. If I had kept myself to one particular discipline, my job opportunities over the years would have been limited.
In that same vein, my Spirituality comes from various areas. I have delved into First Nation’s Spirituality, but always under the perspective that I will never be of ‘The People.” Furthermore, I will never be a Master of any of the various belief systems that I pull from. I will also never be a “master” of the Druidic discipline as well. However, I use everything that I have accumulated to help on my Path of Druidry. Sometimes, a particular lesson in Druidry will make no sense to me. That’s when I reach out to other beliefs, to find something similar that I understand better. Once I find something similar, I use my knowledge there to understand the Druidry lesson better, so that I can learn that lesson in a more familiar tone.
Sure, I get it. Not learning the way that someone else perceives as the “right way” makes me “not like them.” However, I don’t really want to be like anyone else. The only thing I desire is to utilize what I learn in my Spirituality to become a better “me.” Druidry forms the primary basis of who and what I am. I’m not on this Path to gain titles, certificates of authenticity according to someone else’s perspective, or some degree that is conferred for learning. Yes, the OBOD coursework confers me with a grade title as I work through each one. But its not the title that I seek – it’s the knowledge. I call myself a Druid because that is the closest set of teachings to my own knowledge. However, if pulling knowledge from other areas nullifies that in the eyes of others – so be it. I’m still a Druid. Because that’s what I am. I’m not defined by others. I’m defined by what I do, as far as I am concerned.