What is it about following a Spiritual Path that brings to mind a long, rambling road Like we’re out to have an adventure. Our feet flying down the Path, the extremely long contract streaming out behind us as we race to catch up to the group of dwarves that just wrecked our house? Of course, that imagery comes from “The Hobbit” as Bilbo Baggins races down the path to catch up with the company of Thorin Oakenshield. Yet, I’ve heard this description applied to many an individual’s thoughts about the start of their own journey into Paganism.
I bring this up, thanks to a post by Nimue Brown over on her blog “Druid Life”. That post, titled “Following a spiritual path,” brings a lot of thoughts to mind. Her post had me thinking about my own start down this Path, how its never felt like a straight line, and why I eschew the mantle of leadership in a general form. I thought all of this would provide some interesting perspective, as well as letting my mind stretch its legs a bit – so to speak.
I remember my start on the road of Paganism. That feeling of such newness, such wonder…and confusion. So many different roads to take. So many ways of approaching life. So many perspectives on the afterlife, spell-work, and so many other things. All of it so different from the Southern Baptist faith I was leaving behind, and the Catholic faith that I had grown up inside of. The Wiccan High Priestess I was involved with offered a few books to help me understand – at least that was the hope. “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler, “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk, “Witchcraft From the Inside” by Raymond Buckland, and “Witchcraft Today” by Gerald Gardner. Of the four books that were provided to me for my reading, Adler’s made the most sense. Plus, its presentation of several different Paths in a format that resembled a face-to-face discussion had a much higher appeal than the other books. Starhawk’s presentation did not appeal much to me as it seemed to skew heavily towards the feminine (duh), and my Libran tendencies were already in full effect even this early in my Path. I was seeking something that was more equal between the genders, and this was just not providing that. Buckland’s book was difficult to digest, and Gardner’s writings went way over my head. Despite all of that, I was still eager to continue my footsteps along this new Path.
It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.Bilbo Baggins
I’ve never felt like my Path to Druidry has ever been a straight line. Indeed, I’ve also never felt that my Path within Druidry has ever been a straight line either. Nimue states in her post: “Increasingly for me, the idea of following a path is just about ambling around having experiences. I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere, and I’m fine with that.” I completely concur with this. There has rarely been a flowcharted process to get to where I am now. Not a lot of “A then B” or other aspects of programming logic. Rather, there’s been a lot of “this looks interesting, I wonder what its all about” type of stuff. I have found that my style of Druidry has been much closer in satisfying my curiosity and thirst for knowledge than it has been in any other manner. Sure, I accept that being within Druidry means that the title of “priest” gets auto-attached to me, but the reality of what I am is so much different than that. In that regard, the Path has been a winding one – sometimes even doubling back on itself.
And I may lose my way homeJon Butcher, “The Long Way Home” from the album “Wishes”
While I’m lookin’ in the wrong direction
And I know I’m not alone
So I do the best I can
As I begin again
To walk the long way home
Sure, there’s moments where I feel completely lost during all this exploration. What am I looking for? Sometimes, I’m never sure of that. Or anything else for that matter. Boy there sure are some lessons and experiences tied to all of that though. Some good. Some bad. All valuable to one degree or another. Life is surely not a straight line. If it was, it be as boring as driving Interstate 70 in western Kansas. Trust me…its boring.
Then there’s the perspective of leadership. I’m not really the type of person to be a leader or at least that’s how I’ve always felt. Even today. Yet, there are people that look to me for direction. Like I’m a compass out of the forest. Maybe I am…for other people. I know that my life has always been a series of dead-ends where I wind up back-tracking because of poor decision-making on my part. I’ve been there as recently as the beginning of this previous year. The good news is that you can always turn around and try again. It can be embarrassing to walk into those dead-ends and then walk back out. But hey…stuff happens. If my mistakes help others to keep from making their own mistakes…well, if that’s a quality of leadership…sure. 😊 I’ve watched a lot of leadership issues within the Pagan community in the last thirty-five years. I know that I am not the individual people should closely follow. But perhaps, I can inspire people with the attitude of getting up and trying again. If that is helpful – so be it. But I still caution you…don’t follow closely. When I spring the trapdoor, it might be better if only one of us falls to our doom after failing our dexterity rolls. 😉
So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.Gandalf the Grey
So where am I going with all of this? Well, its rather simple. We all make mistakes. We can go back through our past and take a very jaundiced look at those misdeeds. We can see where we made our errors, and hopefully learn from our missteps and misdeeds. And through that yellowed lens, we can also replay what happened in our minds, and see what other options may have been available to us that we didn’t see. Seriously, Life is a journey. Its not a straight Path. Sometimes, you’ll have to stop, and go back to the last crossroads. At some point, we will sit down and lament the fact that we are on this journey. That’s ok. Its ok to have doubts. Its also ok to change your perspective over the years…after all, you are so much further down the Path than you were back then.