Ah, questions, questions, questions. I get a ton of these from folks. Mostly friends that are neo-Conservatives who are trying to get to know me better. Yes, I can be friends with Conservatives too. Its no more trying than being friends with neo-Liberals. 😊
One of the more common questions winds up about the clothing that Druids tend to wear. Pick up any news article about a Solstice celebration, and you see white robe after white robe after white robe. Here in the southern tier of the United States, white robes are usually identified with people you wouldn’t want to be associated with. Plus, to be honest – I fucking hate the color white. And the only robe I own is a dark blue bath robe that I rarely wear in the first place. So, this question usually winds up with me explaining my penchant for concert t-shirts, worn jeans, tennis shoes, and my forest green cloak. That’s my typical dress code for any Druid or Pagan gathering. Why? Because its comfortable for me. I prefer to be comfortable during rituals and celebrations and what not. So I wear what I typically wear when not being in such gatherings…well, minus the cloak. My cloak is forest green, which is advantageous in certain settings. If I pull it completely around me, stay in the shadows, and somewhat near the trees – I can’t be readily seen to be given speaking parts in the ritual. 😊Of course, I’m kidding because I do like getting speaking parts in ritual…just not primary roles. I know a lot of other Druids who back away from the white robe and garb stuff as well. They usually have very different answers, such as one Druid I know that wears a particular color to signify what grade they are in. When they move to the next grade, they confided that they will change their ritual clothing for that grade as well. An interesting and somewhat intriguing idea, if you ask me.
Eventually, questions from non-Pagans will roll around to the Gods and Their role in my rituals. Some have even asked what I do about the blood and the bodies that are eventually left behind after the ritual. Well, if you go way back in time, you’ll find ritual sacrifice of animals and humans were a part of the times, but over the years the social mores have progressed. Druidry is about respect of living things, and sacrifice of people and animals just doesn’t fit that mold. Sacrifice can be found in some rituals to be embodied by borrowing alcoholic beverages on to the fire or burning certain types of food stuffs. I’ve seen rollo candies utilized in this manner. Mostly, sacrifice is symbolic, such as the burning of a “wicker man” made from wood and consecrated in a manner to be the embodiment of the reason behind sacrifice. This explanation doesn’t always go down well with non-Pagans, even though there is a Christian practice of much the same manner with the enactment of the sacrifice of Jesus ben Joseph through the ingestion of sacramental wine and wafers, both consecrated to be the embodiment of the sacrifice of the Christ. Of course, this means that one would need to accept the positioning of those faiths that practice this gesture to be “Christian” – which some of the more extreme, far-right aspects of the Christian faith do not.
Some of the more informed non-Pagans will eventually push into the area of magick and spells, asking how this forms into our natural world. Well, I would submit that the concept of magick and spells is merely the action of will and intent taking form within our world. Being an individual that does not utilize magick or spells within my daily Druidry, I’ve always found that my own explanations pale in comparison of those who lean on these practices far more often. My usual stance is to point people elsewhere for answers in this area. I do attempt to avoid contentious debates and “prove it” points with many non-Pagans. More on that process and reasoning here in a second. The late Margot Adler has an excellent section in her “Drawing Down the Moon” book about how those fishing in a stream for food for a communal community were assisted by their leader who spoke to them of the extreme need for the food, providing them with a purpose. Then, he showed them how grizzly bears fished for their food by reaching into the stream with both paws (while standing in the river), scooped the fish out and threw them over their head on to the bank, here the bear would later retrieve the fish to eat. Using this tactic, with the purpose and need at the forefront of their mind, they went back into the stream and managed to catch enough fish to feed the community for a few days more. Magick at work.
Now, I mentioned the reasoning that I don’t engage in the contentious “show me” arguments with non-Pagans. Much of that comes from dealing with monotheists on the idea of Polytheism – the belief in many Gods. Eventually, there’s always the moment where you get challenged to prove your Gods’ existences. Or you get challenged to show people a magick spell that works…right here, right now. On the spot. I generally step away from conversations that wind up in this territory. Its not that I don’t want to prove the existence of my Gods, rather, I don’t want to put the existence of my Gods to some kind of foolish test, just to try and prove something to someone that isn’t going to believe no matter what happens. For me, the time I get with my Gods is sacred. The interactions I have with Them are important. They have Their own needs within Their existence as well. I don’t need to waste Their time by trying to prove something to some individual that isn’t going to believe in the first place. That’s a waste of time. Plus, it puts the Gods in a place where I could resort to calling on Them for everything. Petitioning Them in the same manner as prayer. Please let me get this job, I pray to You. The Gods aren’t going to get me the job. Interviewing in a manner that shows what I am capable of doing in relation to the position I will be working in will get me the job. The Gods aren’t Automated Teller Machines that I insert my prayers into and get some kind of prize in return. Wasting Their time and effort is the same as wasting yours. Its foolish and disrespectful. That’s why I back away from conversations where I’m asked to put the Gods to some idiotic test to satisfy some ludicrous demand.
So, these are the common questions. The ones I usually get asked more frequently than others. I do the best to give people my perspective, but I am not the Answer-Pagan. I don’t speak for any part of Paganism, other than my own approach to my own Druidry. I’m no expert on Pagan anything. I am an expert on my own Paganism because I live it every day. If someone pointed to what I’ve said here and claims it to be th unmoving truth of Paganism or Druidry…well, then you’ve not read an awful lot of the blog. I know my Druidry, my Paganism….and that all fits into the general targets of Druidry and Paganism. But not everyone in Paganism or Druidry believes as I do. And that’s something I adore about this very wide system of belief. Diversity is its strength. Acceptance is its key. But best of all, we all keep smiling, sometimes laughing at our ourselves or others….but through it all we respect one another. We don’t all do it the same way….but we all do what we need to. And that’s important.