Author: Tommy Elf

Do As I Say…

Had an interesting (at least it seemed to be to the person asking – a blood relative) question posed to me.  Apparently there’s a been a lot in the air on various religious-oriented sites about the “true origins” of religion.  So, she asked me what my two cents were on the topic.  Apparently, she was asking because she felt that my answer would fall along the lines that *my* religious beliefs of Druidry would be upheld as the “beginnings” from my point of view.  The heavy silence on the other side of the Skype connection told me everything I needed to know about her reaction to my answer – she wasn’t expecting it.

My answer?  I told her I could care less one way or the other.  I’m not so entangled with the idea of trying to figure out what religion does or doesn’t look like for other people — whether that be the past, present or future.  I’m concerned more with how my own beliefs are working for me – in trying to attain my own desired position within my own system of belief.  Where am I wanting to be?  In better harmony with my environment.  Yes, that includes people – even those who don’t have or share anything similar to me in terms of politics or religion.  In a way, its a selfish perspective to take – my concern is where *I* am, not where others have been, currently are, or will/could be.  Why?  Because the only person that I can truly influence to any certain degree is myself.  I make the conscious choice of where I am going, what I accept as right or wrong, and what I will reject out of hand.  I can’t – and won’t – make those choices for other people.

Yes, my blood relative had an issue with my stance — which I respected to a degree.  After all, it is *her* perception.  I can’t control what she considers to be of importance or non-importance.  Nor will I project my own understanding of importance or non-importance on to her — even if she is doing just that *to me* or anybody else.  On the podcast I talk about how things affect me on my daily walk — and some of that resonates with other folks.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  And believe me – I HEAR ABOUT IT from the listeners.  And that’s a good thing in my book.  I don’t want anyone to accept what I am or what I believe or who I am just because I say it.  Just because something works great for me doesn’t automatically mean that it will work for anyone else.  Everyone has their own personally defined and understood concepts of religious belief for themselves…who am I to say what’s right or wrong about that – except as it would apply *for me*??

Trying to understand the origins of religious belief — in my perspective — is just not a particular bend that I am willing to follow through on my own trail.  It works for her…and its something that she’s hardcore about trying to figure out — more power to her.  In fact, I encouraged her to continue following that trail to see where it might lead her into the future.  But her indignant attitude had me wondering why she would be upset with me when I didn’t show any interest in it whatsoever??  Its a question I still ponder at this point and time…

Post Samhain — the Best Time of the Year For Me

So, we’ve reached that time of the year that is perhaps the most fulfilling of the year for me — that time after the “thrill” of Samhain has calmed down.  A lot of Pagans make the statement that “Samhain is my favorite time of the year” – or conversely, that Beltane is their favorite spot on the turn of the Wheel.  I can understand the draw to both.  Samhain is the traditional marking of the new year, and Beltane is a time of hope and optimism that the coming warm months will provide all that one is looking for.  But neither of these times of the year hold any hardcore significance for me.  In fact, both are times of the year that I find myself cocooning inwards.  The fact is, I hate crowds of people.  Always have, always will.  When I know ahead of time that there will be a larger grouping of folks around — I head for the trees and seek my solace among the trees.  But the time immediately following these particular points on the Wheel tend to also favor me with a lot of awesome moments of clarity through those moments of individual solitary “confinement”.  This year has been no different from any of the previous.

Last year, I utilized this time on the Wheel of the Year to enroll in and start down the Bardic Path for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.  I’ve had a few stumbles in following the training material from time to time — but I’ve not regretted a single moment of it.  I’ve found out more about myself than I could have ever imagined.  And here, approximately a year later, I found myself as the beneficiary to an immense treasure of information and experience that I had in my possession all along.  However, without those moments of solitude that I sought out at the two periods on the Wheel that tend to be the most social on the Pagan calendar — I doubt I would have undertaken the steps that I have at this point.

I understand the need for other folks to have these particular social moments within their own traditions and paths — I’m not trying to take anything away from that or imply any less of a spiritual perspective because it doesn’t match up with my own.  In fact, I would actually point to these two particular points on the Wheel as the prime movers in bringing the feelings and concepts of “community” back into the Pagan community itself.  There are times I wish I could bottle up those particular moments of community-unity and open it up at later times in the year to allow those feelings back into the air.  So, don’t misunderstand me and think that I am bagging on people that utilize these two particular points on the Wheel as a social fulcrum.

Just remember, I’m only one single Pagan.  I’m not a mouth-piece for anyone but me.  I only represent my own understanding and perspective of the world around me.  For me to represent someone else’s perspective would go against everything that I believe in.  For me, Paganism is an individual undertaking – a solitary journey that encompasses experiences and sensations that only one individual can experience:  that being yourself, the individual undertaking the journey.  Others may have similar experiences, but those will be similar….each one is actually a complete unique moment, sacrosanct to the individual themselves.

Time Shift and All That….

So…the time shift that I hate twice per year has happened.  And here I sit, thinking its an hour from now.  Plus, it means that the sun will be a little closer to coming up before me.  I’ll miss a few sunrises because of that.  Bleh.

Ok…time changes suck, but that doesn’t mean life gets any different for me.  I’m still moving forward on getting my class assignments in — and trying to figure out how to jam the rest of my life into a day.  LOL

So Samhain has come and gone.  This is the time of the year that I tend to disappear on.  I get very introspective, and spend large amounts of time on my own.  This year was no exception to that.  Samhain – and Beltane – are my least favorite times of the year.  A huge part of that is the extremely heavy emphasis placed on those two particular points of the wheel by the Pagan community itself.  A corresponding part comes from my distaste for crowds.  Because of the heavy emphasis, there tends to be a lot more people around.  The increase in people makes me antsy — I just don’t like being in crowds of people.  Just not my thing folks.  Anyways, I spent my Samhain in quiet reflection — doing a lot of inner working.  Most of my focus was looking back at the past year — seeing the missteps and successes and utilizing that as a plan for continuing down my current Path.  That’s been my formula for Samhain for close to eight years now…and it has worked quite well for me.

There’s a few folks who don’t understand that particular aspect of who I am…and that’s perfectly fine.  I’m me.  I can’t be anyone else.  I’m comfortable inside my own skin — that’s what matters most for me.  I can’t live my life for other people, its just not possible for me to do.  /shrug

Well, that’s the report for the moment.  I’ll try to be a bit more frequent in writing here…hopefully, some of it will actually make sense.  LOL

TommyElf – Transform!!

Now that I’m finally finished with my class….I have time to breathe and type.

Lately, I’ve been catching up on my reading list — which means running a little further with Tom Cown’s “Fire in the Head” which is a surprisingly coherent book.  I wasn’t sure what I should have expected, but it has certainly opened my eyes to viewing the concepts surrounding shape-shifting in a far different light.  I know a lot of folks live by the addage of “when the student is ready…” but this one has really hit home for me.  Looking at various ways to view dreaming as an altered state of consciousness where shape-shifting has a change to take form (no pun intended) has really been similar to opening a door to the outside on a room with no lights.  Everything has just started to come into a little stronger focus.  last night, even though I only slept three hours — I actually got up and started writing what fragments of a dream that I could remember.  At the moment, nothing seems to fit together too well…but I’ll see how things add to it tomorrow morning.

Oddly enough, this fits in with the podcast topic for the week:  the Power Behind Words.  Mostly, I’ll be discussing the descriptive power behind the words that we read and write.  I’m going to attempt to keep the podcast kind of short — especially since I’m adding a segment for the listener’s voice.  That segment is made up from Emails and Voice Mails from the show’s listeners.  The idea is to provide a spot, where folks can add their own voice to the show…especially since the show is not just mine, but also belongs to the audience as well.

Well, that’s it for the moment…I can’t wait to see what tomorrow is going to bring!!

That Time of the Month Again….

Its the mid-range section of October…and I’m hitting that particular point in time again.  This is where my doctoral class starts to take a front-seat in my daily life.  Right around this time, I have all my papers due…so I begin my mad dash to get things completed.  This month is no different than any other.  In some regard, this particular time-frame takes on the mantle of a house-cleaning of sorts.  Where I push everything over to the side — and weed through everything one piece at a time.  First comes the classwork.  After that, I start to look through my OBOD materials and where I am on my studies.  Once I have another twenty battle-plan there, I move on to some of the mundane parts of life…and so on.  Its a very strange cycle…but it does work well.  So, for the next few days — you won’t see much being posted here on the blog.  And then, once I get things squared off — you’ll see a flurry of posts coming from me.  And oddly enough…that’s been the cycle for quite some time…it works…its just really odd to acknowledge that there is a cyclic nature to it all.

/|\

Review — Wild Wisdom Meditations with Earth, Water, Air & Fire by Philip Carr-Gomm

Excellent Guided Meditations

Much like Philip’s books, this series of guided meditations are excellent starting points for one’s journey through the four elements. Each element is covered in its own individual meditation, as well as a fifth meditation that combines all four elements together. There is no religious affiliation to any of the guided meditations — though I approached this series from my own perspective as a Pagan on a Druidic path. The meditations can easily be adapted towards any religious persuasion by the individual experiencing these guided meditational tracks. Philip incorporates easily understandable descriptive concepts to help visualize a particular setting within an individual’s “mind’s eye”. The settings are fairly generic in tone — a field, a seashore, a mountainous region — which is helpful in allowing an individual to tailor each setting to their own individual experiences.

Of the five meditational guides, Fire was by far my favorite. I enjoyed the sounds that were added to the track, as well as the descriptive usage throughout. This was by far the most visually accessible guide throughout — at least for me. One recommendation though — while Philip states in the Introductory Track that each meditation can be done individually — take the time to go through each one after the other. Philip describes the methodology to do this (taking ten minutes between each track to basically “cool down” from one guided meditation to the next) in the Introductory track…and I have to say that this was definitely the best method to partake in. Your individual mileage may vary…

MP3 downloads can be purchased at Amazon.com or CDBaby.com.

Do I Really Have To Memorize This Stuff?

Back in the late 1980s, when I started my long journey down my Pagan Path, I was literally overwhelmed with all the information on the properties related to plants and animals.  There was literally tons of the information located in various books.  I was completely in awe of my High Priestess, who could literally name related properties and where each would be affixed within the Qabalistic system.  It was literally daunting – and something I was not capable of doing.

Not even now.  My memory is not the best thing in the world.  Ask anyone that I’ve met recently for the first time.  I do not remember names easily.  The same is true for associative concepts.  Literally, I have to have it shoved into my face time and time again – before something clicks and becomes something etched into my mind.  So, when I was presented with all of this information – I was literally frozen with fear.  There was no way in the Nine Hells I was going to remember all of THAT!  Not then…not even now.

However, I appreciate the words of a senior non-commissioned officer in the Air Force, who was helping me with my cryptography training when I was stationed in Germany.  “Remember, this has everything you need to know,” he said holding our training manual up in one hand, “all you need to remember is where the Hell you put this.  Everything else is already written, cataloged and indexed in here.  Why do the work twice?”  Thinking back on that moment, it set the scene for me to handle many situations.  Of course, over time, you remember things with repetition – so eventually you won’t need the manual to help with those particular things.  But it is there for when you need it.

For me, being a Pagan isn’t about memorizing all the correspondences and associative properties for all plants, animals, astrological positions, and all that.  There are folks who are good at that sort of memorization — and that’s great.  But memorization skills such as those don’t make anyone a “better” Pagan than anyone else.  Everyone has a place in this community.  I’m still in awe of those who can do the memorization stuff – but I lean more towards experiencing things.  That’s where I excel.

The feel of the cold mountain air at the top of Pikes Peak – a sensation I will never forget.  Coupled with the giddiness associated with the thinner air.  Its an experience I can recall instantly – and yet I have such difficulty explaining in words.  This is where my memory climbs and soars with me — and my vocabulary fails me.  I couldn’t tell you the associative properties of air or snow or the cold.  Nor could I give you any of the folklore associated with the mountain.  But that doesn’t lessen the experience that I associate with that location…its just a different perspective, that’s all.

Tommy the Farmer

I’ve always loved the idea of growing food in my backyard.  Problem is – I have a “black-thumb” – in other words, I generally kill the plants that I try to nurture.  My problem is typically that I over-water the poor things — and they drown.  So, a friend suggested that I try my hand at jalapenos.

This generally fits hand-in-hand for my love of hot sauce – as well as my passion for making my own from mostly fresh items (jalapenos, onions and garlic – I still work off the Rotel cans for my tomato aspect).  Last year, I attempted to grow my own jalapenos from seeds.  I nurtured these through the early Spring — and when they got too large for indoors — moved them outside.  And promptly killed them by over-watering again.  So I spent the Winter researching a bit about the plant — developed a less liberal watering scheme, and tried again this year.

This time, I bought plants that had already sprouted a ways out of the ground from the local Wal-Mart.  I knew the harvest period was approximately 90 days — and was looking forward to a handful of my little green goodies to place in my food processor.  After 90 days, I was disappointed to have only ONE jalapeno.  But…I was happy that I got the single little guy – so I gave my thanks to the G-ds, and added that one jalapeno to my hot sauce batch.  I left the plant outside…hoping for a second harvest.  And promptly received nothing.  So I stopped watering the plant altogether.

Until this morning.  I happened to glance over at the plant while loading up the birds’ water bath.  What?  ANOTHER jalapeno!!!  Its still small…so it has some time to mature into a larger jalapeno…but its there.  A small, little green, shiny casing.  So I have big hopes for next year’s attempt at becoming Farmer Tommy….plus I’ll be adding a new crop:  scallions.  🙂

One of the nice things about this entire process isn’t just about the food though.  I get to put my hands in the dirt.  And while I’ve actually had blood-relations make scathing comments about my “sanity” – I spend a little time talking to the plants as well.  I do the same for the enormous tree in the backyard that puts my stone circle in shade each morning.  Much like I enjoy talking to animals – I also enjoy talking to the plants.  I love the feeling of energy that I get from them when I touch their leaves or stems…and I enjoy the symbiotic relationship we enjoy.  I feed them, they feed me in return.

Perhaps some of my blood-relatives are correct — I may be a little crazy.  But its a “crazy” that I am not only comfortable with — but lovingly embrace.  I’m honestly not so worried over what people think — but rather, I worry about not being “me”.  Talking to plants and animals and getting connected to my environment — that’s me.  My daily Path is about being true to who I am – not trying to appease others.

/|\  TommyElf

Walk. Don’t Run. Don’t Crawl.

Yesterday, while on my morning walk, I was struck by a particular thought.  Oddly enough, this happened while I was listening to the latest episode of Druidcast, where Damh was interviewing two individuals during a recent trip of his into mainland Europe (I believe he was in Prague).  The thought really had so very little to do with the podcast or the interviews — it was just a stray thought that squeezed its way to the forefront of my head.

Walk.  Don’t crawl.  Don’t run.  Walk through your day.  When you crawl, you pay too much attention to the smallest details and miss the larger picture.  When you run, the picture blurs and you miss the imagery in your haste to move along.  There are times to crawl and run, but these are few.  So walk and enjoy the day.

I’m not entirely sure where this thought originated at or even why it came out during these two interviews.  In looking back at where I was on my walk, I was leisurely enjoying a stroll past the front pastures to SpiritHorse, watching the horses grazing leisurely.  Whether or not this had anything to do with this train of thought is a complete unknown to me.

Whatever the origin of the thought — the true focus for me is on the overall message.  Where and why it came along is somewhat immaterial.  I seem to be getting my usual poke from the G-ds that I need to take things a little slower than I have been.  To slow the pace down and enjoy the feel of the sunshine on my face, the slight breeze in my hair (what’s left of it), and to pop the earbuds out of my ears from time to time.  I wear my iPod everywhere.  Usually, I load it up with far more music and podcasts than I need to get through my walk.

Except yesterday.  I only had episode 41 on my iPod.  A little under an hour of material for a walk that typically takes me anywhere from 70 to 90 minutes to complete.  And while I do walk along one of the busiest streets in Corinth, once the cars pass by – I can hear the sounds of everything around me.  Just a little further down the street from SpiritHorse is a cow pasture, where the local flight of geese typically stay.  In the early hours of dawn, they fly right over my house in formation – their cacophony of honking announcing their arrival back at their makeshift airfield.  When I walk by, I’ll steal a glance over from time to time to watch them dart in and out of the tall grass, playful settling down for their day near the man-made pond on that property.  The cows with whom they share this field with are always laying in the shade of the trees at this time, but sometimes I will pass them by as they quietly make their way across the property to chew on the much nicer grass located there.  In between the blasting car stereos (thankfully much less frequent now that the local High School is back in session) and the passing growl of work-trucks, I hear the warble of the local birds — many of whom seem to visit my backyard where I leave bird-seed and sun-flower seeds out for them and my local squirrel battalion.  And that was what I heard on the last ten minutes of yesterday’s walk.  I’m now loading my iPod for today’s walk — and purposefully under-loading my iPod so that I can go through this experience again today.

Take the time to just walk…

Hate the MoodSwings, But I Have Leanred to Cope

About eight years ago, I went into see my Primary Care physician for my yearly “routine” checkup.  After a round of blood-work and a few checks on my physical self — I was told “everything’s ok” and sent on my way.  About four months later, I was suffering from the effects of the flu, and I returned to my Primacy Care Physician’s office and was seen by one of his partners.  She looked through my medical records and made one notation to me.

“Did Dr. xxxx say anything about your high glucose levels?”
“No.  He told me everything was ok.”
“Well, the numbers were really high, he should have ordered more blood-work to see about diabetes.”

So, to make the entire point a little shorter – another round of blood-work was ordered.  My glucose levels came back at nearly 600.  My doctor almost fainted when she saw that.  I was immediately given over to an Endocrinologist and thus began my journey as a diabetic.

My blood glucose levels are far better — typical hovering somewhere between 200 and 110.  That’s a wide number too.  Anything over 130 is to be considered too high.  Oddly enough, I’ve learned a few behavioral aspects from all of this too.  When my numbers are above 150, I feel lethargic and have difficulty focusing on the issue at hand.  When my numbers are below 100, I get very irritable and vocally combative with people over the smallest issues.  In both instances, I have learned to recognize these particular states and make appropriate adjustments.

Those states of being also play havoc within my Spiritual Life too.  The problem there, is that I am still learning how to make those adjustments within my Life too.  When I’m lethargic, I generally don’t have the get-up-and-go to maintain my daily ritualistic aspects.  I won’t go walking because I feel “too tired”.  With someone as stubborn as I can be…its just as hard to push me out the door to do those things that I normally do.  What makes it even worse, is that I am my own worst critic as well.  When I fail to do any of those particular Life/Ritual aspects, I then spend the times when I do have the energy and the pep-in-the-step beating myself up mentally – rather than spending my time enjoying what I am capable of doing that day.

With that in mind…the last two weeks have been particularly hard for me.  Over that period of time — including this morning — nearly every single one of my BGL readings have been between 245 and 201.  All extremely high.  With the SOLE exception of yesterday at lunch, when my BGL reading was at 124 – right in my target range of 130 to 100.  And I felt good yesterday afternoon too.  I got a lot of classwork done.  With the end of my current class looming on the immediate horizon — I need to start making tracks in the spot where I’ve really been dragging my feet.  And that’s whether my BGL numbers are right or not.

So, I decided to help make light of this particular issue within my next podcast.  Spiritual practice is meant to enhance one’s Life, at least from my perspective.  Its a way for me to connect with the world around me.  I’m not here to “control” anything — but rather to learn to co-exist within my environment with all the other aspects and individuals.  So, when you’re not feeling within “sorts” — how can one “cope” with that feeling without tipping the cart over?  From this single question – I’ll lay out my own plan for coping, and what I try to do to avoid taking my feelings/attitudes out on others.

In the meantime….I need to get back to my classwork.  🙂

Morning Blahs….

The past few mornings, I have had the desire to get in and post — but not the energy to do so.  Working on my Doctorate class papers can sometimes do this to me.  But its also an indication that my diabetes is out of whack again.  So, this morning, I find myself getting ready to drop on down to Flower Mound and visit my Endocrine (I think I spelled that right) for a checkup.

Being a diabetic comes with its own special brand of mood swings…at least for me.  When my blood levels are spot-on — I feel great, life is wonderful and I can make it through anything that might happen.  When those levels are too low, I’m cranky, irritable, and generally not fun to be around for anyone – including myself.  When my glucose is too high…I’m constantly tired and have a major dosage of malaise going through the day.  For the past few days…my glucose levels have been extremely high — which has had me feeling like I am going through Life in a huge vat of molasses.

Sooooooo….that’s where things are at for this moment – and the biggest reason I haven’t posted anything in a few days.  Time to get in gear and get ready for the doc appointment at 10am – just about an hour from now.

The Bliss of the Cacophonic Thunder

Music is a driving force in my life.  When I am writing the papers I’ve been assigned in my Doctoral studies, I can’t sit in the silence and find the Awen necessary to transform my thoughts from my mind to the written word.  Even now, while I am writing this particular blog posting, I have music on in the background.  And what I consider to be “music” – others have reasoned it to be a cacophony of sheer noise — or as my parents used to sardonically call it:  noisy thunder.

having grown up as a child of the mid-1980s, I was bombarded with a variety of musical choices.  There was the strange, off-beat dance styling of the New Wave movement, and the abrasive under-tones of the post-modern punk movement.  I, however, fell in with the Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and Thrash Metal crowds.  Bands such as KISS (without their makeup for the first time), Anthrax, Metallica, and Ozzy Osbourne (solo with the awesome Randy Rhoads on guitar) were mainstays in my tape player.  Added to this were bands considered to be a bit more offbeat — Iron Maiden, Richard Hell, Mercyful Fate, Highway Chile, Rock Goddess and Phantom Blue.  Occasionally I tossed even more obscure artists of that time frame, such as W.A.S.P. and Accept.  But all of my music had a common theme — loud guitars and thundering bass and drums.

Over time, my musical tastes have expanded.  Newer favorites have arisen, such as Damh the Bard, Emerald Rose, Wendy Rule, and Coyote Run – among others.  Perhaps I’ve been mellowing over the years — or maybe my mind has been a little more open to trying and accepting the beauty of music I normally scoffed at within my youth?  Most likely, this is the case.  Most of my life has been spent on gathering new experiences and concepts within a narrow scope, until I gather a degree of comfort where I can expand that zone of understanding just a little wider.

Maybe, I could consider my approach to new concepts and information to that of an animal in the forest when it approaches a meadow or the edge of that forest.  I cautiously check out what has been presented, and inch my way outwards until I perceive that there is no immediate, present danger.  Then I can relax and enjoy the warmth of the bright sunlight that struggles to reach the forest floor through the enclosed safety of the arms of the forested army of trees.

 Perhaps.  For certain though, I know that music is an encompassing background to my life.  With a massive iTunes library encompassing nearly every genre (except R&B and Rap — music forms I have sampled and found not to my own liking) — my iTunes player is always running.  When not around my machine, I put my iMac on “mute” and let iTunes continue to play to amuse itself.  I know through experimentation that I cannot write well when there is nothing but silence.  Perhaps, there’s an element of Awen that emanates from the music that allows me to ride its wave?  I’m not absolutely sure as to the “why” factor — but I do know that there’s something within my Cacophonic Thunder that allows me to more easily get a handful of Awen for my own endeavors.

B*B  –Tommy

Daily Ritual Doesn’t Have to Be Stagnant

John Beckett gave an excellent presentation at this year’s North Texas Pagan Pride Day on “Daily Spiritual Practice for Pagans.”  At one particular point, he talked about utilizing small aspects of one’s life for daily ritual.  This particular point got lodged into my mind for further study, which I did that particular night.  I turned the concept over and over in my mind — and examined it against my own mostly regular routine.  In doing so, I found my daily routines would work well as a frameworks for spiritual practices with a few minor tweaks.

Every morning, I make a pot of coffee.  While I wait for the first cup to percolate into the pot, I head outside into the backyard with a handful of birdseed and sunflower seeds.  I scatter the bird-seed through the yard by the bird-bath, and place the sunflower seeds in a pile not far from the stone circle you see in the banner page for the web site.  The bird seed is, obviously, for the birds.  The sunflower seeds are for the squirrels that populate my backyard trees.  I then take the water hose and refill the water fountain, for the birds and squirrels to enjoy through the hot Texas summer days.  Once back inside, I pour a cup of coffee and sit on the couch that is at the back window and watch the scene as the sun rises.  It is here that I take my first moments of reflection over what needs to be accomplished for the day.  This “list” gets compiled in my head, and I think of what initial tasks I need to undertake for the rest of the morning to put myself in a place to succeed at these tasks.  This past Monday – two days after John’s presentation, I started adding an extra dimension:  giving thanks to the G-ds for the things that I have in my life.

My second ritual of the day happens right around 10am.  As Texas tends to get super hot during the day-time hours, I make a trade-off in times for taking my daily 5-mile walk.  This is helpful for my diabetic condition, but it enhances my day as my moments to get outdoors, and to enjoy what has become a meditative state for me.  Many people find it easier to meditate by sitting quietly in a room or outdoors.  That works for them, but for me it gets me somewhat agitated.  However, when walking, I find myself achieving that particular desired state – where I can find that inner grove of my mind…and commune with that particular part of myself — while taking step after step in this world.  Granted, I have to watch for traffic a bit — but given the hour I walk…there’s typically very little traffic through my neighborhood.  There’s also a lengthy walking trail very near to my home as well – maintained by the city of Denton, Texas – which can also serve for the same purpose, and I have no traffic to worry about at all.  This particular piece of daily ritual (it actually occurs five days out of the week — since most of my “chores” are taken up during the weekends) has been a part of my life for close to two years.  I also carry a pedometer with me, which counts the number of walking steps that I take and calculates it into mileage.  I have a goal set to walk 1000 miles each year.  Last year, I walked 1,072.30 miles.  This year, I’m currently at 742.05 miles as of 14Sep.

My final ritual of the day is to sit in the rocker on my front porch and watch the evening sun go down (My back-yard faces north-east, my front-yard faces south-west).  Sometimes I bring a book out to read (currently that is Tom Cowan’s “Fire in the Head”), and sometimes I just sit quietly and take in the sounds of the neighborhood.  yes, some of those sounds are not necessarily “natural” — except that the sound of people living their daily lives is “natural” to me.

In a sense, I’ve been doing these particular aspects of daily ritual all along — and never really view these in that light.  Ritual, for me, is about connecting with the Greater Whole around me…and these particular events specifically take on that role of attunement in my daily life.  None of the particular events that I have depicted take place in the same way every single day.  Every one of these events is flexible enough to allow for changes in accordance to my own daily changes in Life.  In that regard, these particular daily rituals take on aspects of non-static ritual for me.  These are not so much an observance of a particular time of the day or year, but rather a re-connection to the Greater Whole.  Sort of similar to the way your cell phone or iPod recharges when you plug it back into its power source.  At least that’s my take on it.  😉

B*B  –Tommy

Some More Thoughts on Leadership…and a Little More Background on Me

NOTE:  This was originally posted on my WordPress site (which I will be closing down to move over here to BlogSpot for the simplicity of posting) on 4Sep10.

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Over the four-and-a-half years that I have been doing my podcast “From the Edge of the Circle” — I’ve taken time out during several shows to talk about the Pagan community, what I see from my perspective on the edges of it, and a small sprinkling of commentary on leadership.  My last podcast episode was focused directly on the concepts of leadership.  A lot of Emails that I got from listeners about the show had commentary about why my perspective wasn’t really clear — and why those listeners felt that I wouldn’t make a good Priest.  They’re right.  I wouldn’t make a good Priest – because I’m not a Priest.  I’m just one guy working my way through my own perspective in the world around me.  I choose Paganism as a broad-faced template to paint my own picture, and I specifically utilize the teachings within the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids to further refine that same perspective.  But I am certainly not a Priest of anything or to anybody — except maybe to myself.

Probably the best way to marry up this perspective is to look a bit more at my religious and spiritual background.  Perhaps more my religious background than my spiritual one.  I started life in a Protestant family that didn’t attend church with any regularity.  My education was through the setting of private Catholic schools, where my parents figured I would get a stronger, classic education than I would in public schools.  Learning in the Catholic school environment means that one of your primary classes is religious education within the Catholic faith.  Once I left my parents and stretched out on my own — I tried out some other aspects of the Christian faith.  I looked into the Pentacostal movement, as well as the Southern Baptist aspect.  While I enjoyed my dealings with the individuals in each — it lacked enough interlocking aspects to my love of the outdoors to really mesh with who I was.  So I continued looking.  Eventually I found myself in the Wiccan aspect of the Pagan path.  I was trained in three different tradtions — and again, while I enjoyed the individuals within each particular Tradition, there seemed to be something more attuned with the outdoors that didn’t seem to “click” for me in any of those.  Eventually, I found myself stepping out into the area of eclectic Paganism, where I am today.  I found ways of taking aspects of various faiths and marrying these to what I believe and feel about Life as a daily ritual — and found myself staring directly into the pathways of OBOD.  The lessons that I have gleaned from the Bardic training for OBOD have opened my eyes to new ways of looking at familiar concepts, which brings me to where I am today.  When I get asked to define myself — I generally utilize the term “neo-Pagan” — as it is the closest determination I can utilize to correctly identify me.

So what does all that have to do with my concepts of leadership within Paganism?  Everything.  The particular pathway defines me for who I am — what I have learned — and some of the experiences I have had.  I’m not a Priest or leader of a coven or a group or anything like that.  I’m me.  All I try and do is make my way through the daily aspects of Life.  What I seek in a leader of the Pagan community (and there’s room for many, many leaders in my eyes) is an individual that can relate to the differences between him- or her-self and the wide expanse of individuals and groups that make up our Pagan community.  And not only relate, but to be inclusive — even when the differences are diametrically opposed to his or her own views.  I’ve seen far too much divisiveness amongst various corners of the far-reaching community.  Its that exact divisiveness that caused me to literally walk out of the community six years back.

That’s right.  Six years ago — I stepped completely out of the Pagan community.  Not because the community didn’t fit me, but because the community was turning into a series of turf wars between various factions.  Because people perceived a difference between themselves and others — and would then deem those others as “not Pagan enough” and therefore unworthy of being included in the community.  Closed attitudes like that are the fastest manners to drive me away — and it did.  Leadership isn’t just about putting on a pretty public face to the other religious communities.  Its not just about promoting Paganism as a wide-reaching expanse of individuals and groups.  Its about showing that Pagans are inclusive — even to those who are diametric opposites to the concepts of polytheism and animism that are the prevailing under-current of the larger ratios of belief in the Pagan community.  That Pagans are capable of peaceful communicative concepts to those that are “different” to themselves.  But that we are also capable of defending our own against aggressive actions and words as well…and capable of coming to the defense of those under similar forms of attack — even when those individuals do not share much common ground with us.

Just my own perspective…and one that I will gladly expound upon over the coming days.

B*B — Tommy