What should I write on? My earlier effort on this turned into a bitchy tirade that I eventually abandoned. Looking out the window on the back-yard patio door, the sky is cloudy, and the threat of rain within the high humidity shows in the darkening grey. for all intents and purposes, its the perfect day to sit and sulk on woes and angst. I’m now into another year of being unemployed and seeking temporary one-off gigs. Yet, I sit here with a happy grin on my face. My mood is up-beat. Maybe its the morning coffee. Maybe its the fact that I am listening to REO Speedwagon’s “Hi infidelity” album – music that I associate with my early years of high school.
At fifty-six (Gods, I really am that old, huh?), I realize that the years ahead are far shorter in duration than the years in my wake. I’ve been on this Pagan path for almost four decades now. I’m far different than I was as the wide-eyed, naïve, neophyte that I was at the beginning. I’ve seen my share of in-fighting within the Pagan community. I survived the infamous “DFW Witch Wars” of the mid-1990s. At the beginning of my Pagan walk, I found myself in the middle of the scary times of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, an “event” that seems to be making a comeback today within the Evangelical Christian community here in the United States. I cannot even begin to count the number of Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, etc. etc. who have been a part of my life during that time and passed beyond for a variety of reasons. Somehow in all of that, I have managed to get three degrees, a Bachelor of Information Science, a Master of Information Systems Management, and a Master of Business Administration. I’ve been into and out of the United States Air Force, where I helped blaze a bit of the trail that the military Pagans of today walk. Through all of that, I still wonder what I need to do within the Pagan community.
I’ve mentioned – probably more frequently than many people care to hear – that I struggle with the perspective of being a Priest or even a casual reference to being an Elder within the Pagan community. However, whether I accept these descriptives as portraying who I am, there are others who do apply these to me. I cannot (and will not) control those perspectives in other people. While I might eschew these concepts in application towards me, the fact remains that some see me in these roles. Whether I want to accept it or not, being on this Path as long as I have will place me into these roles. Instead of pushing back against these, I can try to handle this in a different manner.
When I was in the Air Force and when I was promoted into the ranks of Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), I was provided with a mantle of responsibility that I always felt I was never really ready for. Part of my responsibilites was to supervise lower enlisted ranks in the discharge of their daily duties in the function of my duty section’s role within our Squadron and Air Wing. In essence, I was placed in charge of what needed to be done during my shift, and I was looked upon as the on-scene subject matter expert – even if I didn’t feel that I was any of that. Furthermore, I bristled at being referred to as “sir” by the lower ranks. As a matter of fact, I still despise being referred to in this manner. Despite my misgivings as being seen as a subject matter expert or being referred to in an approbatory manner, others (including commissioned Officers who were my superiors) saw me as being such and deserving of an affirmative perception.
So, whether I completely agree with the descriptives of Priest or Elder, there are aspects of these that others might place upon me – simply becuase I am where I am on this journey. Recently, I received an ordination with The Universal Life Church. Its not difficult. Its free. The purpose? Well, if I am needed to fulfill a function of being a Priest, I can do so. Like I said, whether I agree with the idea that I am a Priest – I am such. With the ordination, I can legally fulfill obligations if a more suitable individual is not available.
I am;however, other things as well. I am a Druid. Currently working through my Ovate lessons, but I am a Druid. Does that mean I wear white robes, climb ladders to cut mistletoe from trees with a sickle, and brew potions that provide other worldly strength to others? Well, I refuse to wear a white robe of any sort. While I grew up in the Air Force, many parts of that were spent living in the South-eastern United States. White robes are synonymous with the Ku Klux Klan. While I grok the usage of such robes within Druidry in Europe – and I also spent parts of my youth living there – I just cannot bring myself to wear a white robe. So, I can firmly push that part away from me, while I embrace my green cloak, black pants, tennis shoes, and Grateful Dead t-shirt as my ritual clothing. yeah, its not the most “mystical look” but then I’m going for comfort, not stage presence. Besides, I see ritual in a different light than as something that is meant for looks or to be “seen.” Ladders? No thanks. I have an irrational fear of heights. Besides, I like mistletoe to stay up in the trees. Brewing? That’s like cooking, isn’t it? Trust me, you don’t want to eat my cooking. I’m registered as a lethal weapon, in that regard. 😉
My point here is that I don’t really fall into the stereotypical thoughts of what a Pagan or a Druid is. But then, I think the stereotypical representation of a Pagan, Witch, or Druid from the 1980s (my reference point) no longer applies in this day and age. We are all individuals in our own right. There are those who feel the need to have the pointy hats that have long been associated with Witches. Plus, the striped knee-length socks/hose, and the all-black clothing. Cool. If that makes them feel comfortable, that’s awesome. I’ve had folks look at me with derision over my ritual attire. Its taken a long time, but I essentially ignore those looks. How I approach my Paganism is important to me…that’s what matters.
I guess, in reading back through all of this, my thought process falls along the lines of being an individual. In the early footsteps of being on one’s Pagan path, you will find yourself walking in the footsteps of someone else. Some Pagan that you think is “cool” or “right” in their approach. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. Its the easiest manner to find something that makes you feel like “you.” Black lipstick, eye shadow and a micro-miniskirt with four-inch heels makes you feel like “you.” Well, do it. A green cloak, a Grateful Dead t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes makes you feel more connected when you are in ritual? Do it. Not sure what to do? Try things. If it doesn’t work for you, abandon it, and try something else. Just remember, in the end – its about being yourself. Clothing, makeup, shoes, hair color…none of that makes you who you are – unless you want it to. For me, its about comfort. For you, it could be something completely different. Don’t let anyone tell you how to be you – even me. 🙂 Just remember, exploring yourself on this Path of Spirituality isn’t just about growing yourself – there’s also basking in the beauty of everything around us. And finding happiness in being who you are. You’re beautiful.