That’s Too Many Battles….

Well, we have all seen the pictures and the images of the so-called QAnon Shaman. The entire outfit looks outrageous on the news. Many non-Pagans have likely been chuckling through it all. “Look at the weird guy in the weird outfit.” “What a typical, goofy Trump follower.” However, a lot of Pagan folk have been fairly upset by the image, and most particularly by the stylized descriptive of a “shaman”. I have read in quite a few places where folks are saying that this guy is a good example why gate-keeping in Paganism should be necessary. That this guy is an example of someone who needs to be told that he isn’t doing “Pagan” incorrectly.

I’m still of a different mindset. I believe that Paganism needs no gate-keeping. Certain traditions and mystery schools certainly do – and should. To be a part of that, you promise to adhere to the aspects of what that Tradition or mystery school is about. But general, everyday Paganism? No. At least in my mind. Others will disagree.

For me, I don’t have enough time to walk around policing Pagans over what I think they should or should not be doing. I have my own Spirituality to tackle. I have my own relationships with my Gods to work on. Add to that, I have other aspects of my life that are turned around, upside-down and inside-out. I have plenty enough on my hands to deal with. I certainly do not need to be in the middle of how others approach their Spirituality, no matter how superficial I may find it to be.

As you can tell, I am not a fan of gate-keeping within the general Pagan community. My personal perspective is that if I am busy trying to right myself after my own stumbles, I certainly do not have the room to critique others on the way they walk on their own Paths. To be honest, when I do encounter gate-keeping, I tend not to have a fond look upon it either.

Ok, so this so-called QAnon Shaman was wearing an outfit that didn’t just border on cultural appropriation – it scratched out the line and traveled right across it. Sure, call that type of shit out for what it is. But let’s also remember, people can – and do – cross the line into cultural appropriation without even realizing that they are doing so. Slamming them like an NFL linebacker eats a running back for lunch might not only be a little harsh, but it can also drive someone away from a Path that they are just exploring at this moment.

Now, I am not excusing this QAnon Shaman for his outfit or even for his actions. Nor am I slamming the folks calling for gate-keeping for their views. I’m only trying to point out that when encountering such an individual for the first time, it might be best to approach them lightly. To point out that…hey, that outfit disrespects several First Nations peoples, their traditions, and their Spiritual Paths. Or…hey, this might not be the best approach towards Paganism, if that’s where you are trying to go with this. Can we talk?

So, is this QAnon Shaman guy a Pagan? I don’t know. I certainly don’t care. Am I disgusted by his outfit and his actions? Certainly. I don’t really have any super-nice things to say. But to be honest, beyond that…I can’t really say much. I already have my hands full. As the saying says – choose your battles. I already have enough battles in my life. I know when I need to put some more of them back. As for others, who feel they need to be gate-keepers for Paganism…well, I don’t agree. But my hands are still full. This is also a battle I have to put back as well.

I do not write this blog to tell you how you should be doing your Paganism, or your Druidry. I write this blog to talk about how I do it. Not so you will do the same things that I do. Rather, in the hopes that you find inspiration from what I do to find your own way of doing things. For you to discover new aspects of connectivity to the world around you. I am certainly not here to make the rules for anyone to approach their own Paganism or their own Druidry. In my mind, that would be dishonest with my own approach.

–T /|\

Picture by John Beckett, who takes amazing photos

Blog Stew

It is Friday, and yes I am aware that I am a day late getting this out. No, I am not changing the blog schedule. Posts will still happen on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and once on the weekend…or as close as I can stay to that schedule. Life will still, sometimes, get in the way.

So, this morning, I am drinking my cup of coffee, and trying to figure out what to write. I am still working my way through my Gwers lessons. I am still putting my Druidry back together into something that fits better to me. At this moment, nothing is different from what I have explained to this point. So, there’s nothing new to add or share here. With Druidry being a mystery school, there are some things that I just cannot, should not, and would not share. Sharing certain aspects would remove the individual experiences for others…and I would not want to rob anyone of that.

For me, that leaves a handful of smaller topics that I just cannot write full essays on, and many of which are not truly Pagan in nature. So, I guess I can write some of these into some form of a blog stew – so to speak.

These last days of President Trump’s four years in the White House have become some of the zaniest stuff I have ever seen. I don’t talk much about politics for a single, simple reason: my opinion is my own, and should hold sway over no one but myself. But the last ten-plus days have just been incredible stuff. I never, not even in my most incredible nightmares, believed I would see a mob swarm the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Nor would I have ever believed that those people would be trying to stop the electoral process, or even attempt to hold members of Congress hostage (this has been alleged in the news through several sources). Yet, here we are – a little more than a week since that moment. There is nothing that I can say that will change the minds of people who cheered on what happened. For me, it was a repugnant moment in our collective American history. Those who defaced, destroyed, and defiled property should be held accountable to the highest extent of the law. Many of them were heard on video telling Capitol Police Officers that the Capitol building was “their property”. I agree with them. But it is also my property as well. Like them, I pay taxes. My taxes help to manage the upkeep of the property, pay the salaries of those that are there, and serves as a symbol of my government. None of that gives me, or anyone else, the right to destroy windows, doors, and artwork there. None of that gives me, or anyone else, the right to assault Police Officers or to make violent threats against the politicians that are there to conduct business on behalf of every citizen of this country. I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions that get made there, but becoming a violent hooligan is just flat out wrong. So enough on that from me…

I don’t watch much American football. The fact is that I find the sport to be boring. However, my family’s roots are from the Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky corner of the United States. My love of my ragged Major League Baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, comes directly from that. So, when I saw that the Cleveland Browns had made the playoffs and would be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round…well, I had to watch. In the three some odd hours of the game, I kept looking up from the crossword puzzles I was working on. It was nice to see the Browns win. This coming weekend, they play the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that tends to be stated as “the best” football team in this current season. So, apparently the Browns don’t stand a chance. That was also said about the Browns/Steelers game – that the Browns had no chance. There’s always a chance. Right?

I have written about my struggles with my own mental health issues. Primarily, the focus has been on my decision-making processes. However, another area that I have been working with my therapist on is my self-image. This is rather hard to type. I have a lot of problems seeing myself as someone worthy of anything. I run from success. If you read enough of the blog, you will find areas where I self-denigrate and utilize self-deprecating humor. But in all of that, I did not realize that I had an unbalanced sense of myself between my work-self and my personal-self. Much of my sense of worth comes from the work that I have done for a living. This unbalanced aspect of me is not the easiest thing to realize, much less try to re-balance within myself. I write about stuff like this, in the hopes that someone else reads this and realizes that my issues are like theirs. So that they know that what they are feeling is not something unique to them, and that it can be worked on. People talk about the aspect of self-love, which is important. However, one of the first steps – in my opinion – is to determine where and how self-loathing is appearing in your life. Identification, again my opinion, is necessary to figure out what to do. That’s where I am. Yes, I will blog a bit more about it going into the future.

Last, let me finish this up with some fun stuff. Reading. I have been asked what I plan to read going into this year. My answer? I have no idea. In the past, I have set down a list of books that I was going to try and read through the year. All that really did was ramp up my anxiety, and made reading feel more like a chore, rather than a fun and informative experience. This year…I have no idea what I am going to read, much less how many books I plan to read. However, I will write mini reviews over on GoodReads on what I work my way through. I am not the world’s fastest reader either. So, don’t expect a ton of stuff to start pouring out of me there. The way I look at this now, if I read one book this year – I accomplished something.🙂 Reading should be fun, not some chore I need to tackle.

So that’s it. Nothing much more than that. I could talk about the Major League Baseball off-season, but that could be three or four posts in length, and this is not s sports blog. Posts like this…few and far between.🙂

One last thought….this came via my Facebook Memories from 2012 on this day (15Jan). ” The faery-dust of magick comes from your own belief that the impossible is possible.” In my mind, it certainly is.

–T /|\

Photo by Timur Saglambilek on Pexels.com

Thinking About: 2021 and Questions to Ask

I am writing this post as the 2020 Year starts to wind down. The coming year holds a lot of promise and hope, but the reality is that we will not find either until we find that in ourselves. The removal of Donald Trump as President may solve a few things and relieve some of the pressure in various areas. COVID vaccines will hopefully help bring the virus under control and allow us some degree of normalcy in our lives, which we haven’t seen since March. But let’s consider both aspects as symptoms that allowed various things to come to fruition in our lives just a little faster. COVID removed some of the immediacy that we had in some relationships while forming new ones that we never saw coming. COVID also brought some realities of our lives to the forefront that we had never considered. In the end, some of that happened for the good of things, and in others created utter devastation that we could never have imagined. After all, life is short. We need to live with no regrets.

2021 is not going to be better just because Joe Biden is President. The only way it gets better is when we start to take stock of who and what we are. Me? I’m a Pagan. I’m a Druid. I’m me. And I have my own problems that I have to figure out, for myself. My world is different now. In complete darkness, I am trying my best to pick up the shattered pieces and rebuild something that resembles a fucking life. So, for me, 2021 is not about hope. It’s not about the promise of things getting better. 2021 will be about finding myself again. 2021 will be about being able to look in the mirror in the mornings and see some kind of day that I can move forward in. And I sincerely believe that we will be doing much the same thing as a collective society.

Who are we? What are we? What are we going to believe? As a collective society, we are going to have to take a few moments, catch our breath, and consider quite a few things about the world around us. Racism is not dead. ‘Us v. Them’ is still alive in every corner of our lives. Discriminating against others because of differences – whatever those differences are – is far more pervasive than we thought. You can see it right out your front door if you look deep enough. But finding it, pointing it out, getting others to see it – that’s the easy part. Thanks to the last four years, we’ve all seen it. The bigger question is ‘what now?’

I am really the wrong person to be asking where things are going or even how do we get there. I’m an idealist. I prefer to see the good in people. I expect people to defer to doing the ‘correct’ thing, the necessary thing. And typically I’m disappointed every single fucking time. It’s gotten to the point that I no longer hope for people to do the right thing. I expect the worst. And with my state of mind, I can expect some really, really bad shit. Stuff that I really don’t care to entertain in my thoughts whatsoever. Because I have seen the worst that human beings can do to each other. And it’s not pretty.

So all I can really do is answer the questions from my own perspective. Who am I? Well, that’s easy. I’m a Pagan. I believe that the natural state of the world is best when mankind stops fucking with it. I’m a Druid. Because I believe the concepts laid out in Druidry are some of the better starting points in how we can deal with one another on a daily basis. And I’m me. Because I believe that individuality is important, particularly in a modern, plastic world that emphasizes that everyone should be the same in their daily approach to Life. Being you is more important than anything else. Your uniqueness brings more beauty, life, and sanity to this world than anything else possibly could. That without you, the world loses a little of its vibrancy. What am I going to believe? Well, I am going to believe in you. That your presence; however small you may believe it to be, brings everything together. And that without you, the world loses a bit of its beauty. Yes, this even goes for me…digging my own way through the deeper recesses of who I am. I believe our differences make us stronger, and that does not dilute the so-called “purity” of what we are as humans. Our diversity is our strength because we can see so many different perspectives. Some even diametrically opposed. Those differences allow us to find unique, stronger solutions. But only when we listen. Right now, we have closed our ears to that perspective…for whatever reason.

2021, not 2020, offers us a chance to move in a different direction. But like a large ship on the ocean, it takes a while to make a new directional change. We’re not going to shift ninety-degrees immediately. It will take time. It will take effort. It will take conscious thinking on everyone’s part. And it will take forgiveness. Not just of those who voted for Donald Trump. That’s small stuff. We are going to need to forgive our collective selves. Forgive ourselves for allowing things to happen, and then get started on doing things right. No pointing of fingers. No assigning the blame. We can deal with that much, much later. We are hurting now. We need to bandage the wounds and start the healing process. We can figure out who is to blame much later on.

Again, we need to decide who and what we are. Are we a mob demanding immediate justice? Or are we people who seek to first find healing and help for those in need? For me, it’s obvious…I prefer healing and help first. Those in need should always be first and foremost. The next question…is how? That’s where the rubber meets the road.

–T /|\

Bits and Pieces of My Mind

I don’t always wind up with topics that I can write forever on. For those, I usually set them to the side and wait to see if anything further can germinate. Sometimes it does, most of the time it doesn’t. When I get enough of these little topics or talking points – I eventually make a post like this, just a bunch of hits and pieces.

Personal Spirituality

I catch all kinds of the Nine Hells over the fact that I work with two Native American Gods. I completely grok the perspective of cultural theft, but neither Crow nor Coyote have expectations of me trying to become a part of the People. Nor do They have any expectations of me becoming a Medicine Man or some form of tribal Shaman. In fact, neither have the expectation of me joining or working with a tribe. My Path with Them was made very clear. The only intersection I have with Native American traditions are these two Gods. My working with Them is not to become part of the People. My Path is to be who I am and work directly with Them for guidance, direction, and to be Their “worker” (that’s a horrible descriptive, but that is about as close as I can get) for what They request and require of me. I try not to become unhinged at those who aim the cultural theft descriptive at me. After all, they don’t walk my Path. Nor do I walk theirs. I just worry about my footsteps, especially when the Path leads me out onto a narrow ledge. I even wrote a blog post over this quite a while back…

Statues and the Confederacy

All over the news are stories about various statues being pulled down, vandalized or destroyed. I completely understand the anger towards symbols such as these, especially those that were erected here in the southern tier of the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. Most of these were built as a subtle reminder to the generations of slaves and their children and grandchildren, just what their place in society was meant to be: Free but Unequal. I am one of those that does not want to see the statues destroyed but placed in more appropriate settings – such as museums, where context can be added in far greater detail. As for the Confederacy, most believe that they were fighting for slavery – and they were to a small extent. The big difference fell on the concept of States’ rights. Slavery was one of the issues that made up that complex ball of issues and started back at the founding of the Nation. The southern states were not content with having issue after issue forced upon them by the more industrialized and populous (remember, representation in Congress was – and still is – determined by population) northern states. By the way, this is an issue that is still held today by the middle-section of the United States, commonly referred to as “flyover country”, as the far more populous states on the East and West coasts continue to dictate aspects of States’ rights. But yes, slavery was a bad thing and it is wrong to hold up the Confederacy as being something worthy of praise. The overall issues that led to the Civil War is far more complicated than the singular perspective of slavery.

Major League Baseball

Anyone that knows me well, realizes very quickly that I am a huge baseball fan. My beloved Cincinnati Reds are not exactly the greatest team on earth and haven’t been very successful for quite some time. Ever since the breakout of the COVID19 pandemic, Major League Baseball has been on hiatus, trying to wait out the pandemic to reach a starting point for the season. This morning, it has been reported that the owners have voted to start the MLB season sometime near the end of July. Yah. Baseball is back. Yes, it seems that I am not enthusiastic about this because I’m not. Surprisingly, I am all for cancelling the entire season, as an abundance of caution. Not just for the players, but also for the umpires, the television crews, the grounds-keeping personnel, and any other workers that would be there. Currently, it sounds like the same would be played without fans in the stands, but should they decide to move forward with that – also for the fans, and all the stadium personnel and concessions workers as well. I just don’t think it is a good idea to do the restart of the country as is currently taking place. Yes, I get it that people need to work to make money to pay their bills….but I’m not for doing so and putting so many lives in danger. Yes, I think it is that bad.

Wear Your Fucking Mask

Which leads me to the last thought of this post from me. Wear. Your. Fucking. Mask. Especially when you are out in public. I hear all the excuses for not wearing one – its stifling to wear, it’s a political message designed to do (x) (whatever you want to dream of), its government control of the people who follow directions blindly, and it doesn’t stop COVID19 spread. Guess what, you’re right. It doesn’t stop the spread of COVID19 one hundred percent. A three-layer cloth mask probably stops COVID19 at a sixty-five to eighty percent rate. But guess what? Not wearing a mask stops COVID19 at a zero percent rate. Personally, I would rather take the more effective measure. Twenty percent rate of infection is far better than one-hundred percent chance. I will continue to wear my various masks. If you’re not willing to do so…awesome. Just realize, I’ll be keeping you at a distance.

And there you go. The scary roller coaster ride through my mind. Told you it wasn’t that bad. It’s about as scary as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney. ;)~

— T /|\

Stems and Pieces – Unintentional Thoughts on Beginnings and Endings

One of the odd moments of blogging is where you have all these “mini” topics floating around. John Beckett calls these his “Nine Things I Think” and has turned these into a near regular segment of his blog. Me? I’ve called these various things, but the one that keeps coming about is “Stems and Pieces” – being a fan of mushrooms….  Rarely do I have nine things…but here are a few things playing with the hamsters on the wheels in my head…

BookofQuotesTomorrow morning will be the release of the last podcast episode I plan on doing. This will be the second podcast I have brought to a close. I just do not have the time to really dedicate to putting together a full show. I will continue doing interviews with various folks and placing those interviews on Soundcloud…but no more complex mixing of a podcast for me anymore. When I shut down From the Edge of the Circle, I wasn’t too sure about letting go of something I put nearly nine years of my life into. Now, nearly three years later…I know this is the right choice. My mind is not in a state of melancholy of stepping away from the podcasting world…I have enjoyed my time doing these, but it certainly is time to move into what I have been spending my time doing: my writing. Besides, there will still be interviews…

A short while back, Philip Carr-Gomm brought about the public transition of one chosen Chief – himself – to another – Eimear Burke. Now, a lot of folks know that I am a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. I have been tossed a handful of questions privately asking for my opinion. Well, first off, I am just a member. A solitary one at that. While OBOD’s Gulf Coast Gathering (GCG) is the closest thing I have to a spiritual family, I am a solo practitioner here on the Texas-Oklahoma border. My first reaction was one of shock – particularly after having just met Philip face-to-face at this years GCG just a few months prior. But after re-reading Philip’s statement on his blog (here), I cannot help but to be overwhelmed by the amount of thought and love that went into deciding this transition, as well as finding an individual with whom he is at ease with to walk through this process. Most leadership changes happen very quickly. This one will take place over time, allowing for a gradual transition from Philip to Eimear. And I am so thankful that such careful thought went into the all the aspects of this, particularly the speed. In my opinion, it will help ease what – at least for me – has been a sudden shock.

Another aspect of transition within Druidry is when one passes beyond the veil. Yesterday morning, I woke up to the shock that Anthony Bourdain’s suicide had occurred. At first, I tried to fathom the idea that someone who seemed to be so full of life and had such a relish for adventure would want to end their life. But that is really a wrong thought. I have no idea of what was the tipping point in Anthony’s life, merely the speculation of what I saw on the camera. And I have to be a little realistic – all my speculation is merely me pasting my own ideas of life on to Bourdain. It is such a natural thing to do – assuming that others feel the exact same way that you do. We do it when we think about politics, the social causes we champion, how we feel about others – we paste our feelings, emotional IQ, and intellectual processes on to others. How can they NOT feel the same way that we do? And if they do not, they must be emotionally bankrupt, incapable of feeling or emotion, or incapable of “properly” processing information in a “proper” manner. I did just that with Bourdain’s death. I have no desire to slip beyond the veil anytime soon. I love life here far too much. There is so much more that I desire to do, so much more that I desire to see, to experience. How could anyone else not feel that way?? Yeah…monovision…hyper-focused inside of me…rather than taking the subtle differences between myself and others. One of those personality faults that I wish were not a part of who I am…but a part of me that allows me inner flame to burn as brightly as it does. A two-edged sword indeed. Bourdain’s CNN program was one that I caught occasionally, and I marveled at the things he would do and try. I sincerely hope that his storytelling style inspires others to reach out into the unknown around themselves – and experience things they never dreamed of. It is definitely something I take away from watching Bourdain’s experiences…to always try something new….

Many folks are understanding and experiencing aspects of the Storm in their lives. A lot of this is, in my opinion, about taking the perspectives of others into account. There certainly is some normalizing of dismissive behaviors that have gone on in the past. A lot of folks have called it “privilege” which is a wording pattern I dislike. Sure, it might be because I am a white, hetero, middle-aged male. Yeah, whatever. I just do not get into the concept of shaming folks. To me, that is just pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other. I’d rather yank the pendulum out of the clock, and not have the damn thing swing from one extreme to the other. Besides, we can use the Sun to tell approximate time…you know, the important stuff, like sunrise and sunset. The rest of the time can be figured out by your stomach. I would rather see people treat one another as equals, but that is an idealistic world. So, how do we change it all? I am not sure, I have no answers. However. I can change my thinking, and my actions, and my words…because I am in control of those things. No one else can change that…only me. Perhaps the true measure of revolution comes from the mind of the individual, rather than the rage of the mob. Perhaps Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was on to something…I would like to hope so. When you look at a battlefield, all you see is the carnage. The dead bodies. The destroyed equipment. The ravaged, deep scars of where weapons have created massive craters. Where forests have been destroyed by the combat within or burned down as a result of that combat. All the animals that have died or moved deeper into the forests to escape the destruction and havoc wreaked by man fighting man. We turn away, thinking there is nothing that can be saved or recovered from all of this devastation. A few years later, Nature returns when left to Her own devices. And all these beautiful flowers that have grown throughout that devastated land…that is hope. And that is what I am looking for…after the Storm. First, we have to find ways to manage and survive all of this. Because this will not be the end…

It is interesting to look back and read all of this. There is a lot of discussion of endings, with some notations of beginnings. I honestly did not intend any of that. At the same time, I am glad it organically developed – much like a simple stew that you keep adding ingredients into. Yeah, stems and pieces indeed…

 

Improvising in Ritual? Learn the Basics First…Trust Me.

So, let’s ditch out of the talk of the impending “Storm”, shall we? There are plenty of folks writing their own perspective of that…plus, my focus is really elsewhere. Instead, let’s drift over to working within one’s own personal Spiritual practice and walk down a favorite trail of mine: improvisation.

Wholly committing to improvisation implies taking risks. It’s a philosophy of leaving yourself open to possibility and leaving yourself open to magic.  –Dennis McNally

The quote comes from the authorized biographer of the Grateful Dead, Dennis McNally. The reference is to the musical style of the band. In hundreds upon hundreds of shows, the band never played the same song the same way twice. Certainly, there were elements that were replicated as faithfully as possible, such as primary riffs and rhythm tempos, but solos were off-the-cuff – and sometimes even the primary elements of a song were taken in directions by various band members. As a group, they were tight enough to work with each change. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

I enjoy the music of the Grateful Dead (and its various spin-offs and incarnations) – enough so that I have somewhere around 2900 tracks, totaling approximately 18.7 days’ worth of continuous music. There is, for me, something truly magickal about the way they approach their music. So free, so pure, with a nearly jazz-oriented approach to just playing for the sake of playing.

A good part of what makes my Paganism comes from this perspective as well. Off-the-cuff, impromptu rituals for one (remember, I practice most of my rituals alone) that leave me so alive and in-tune with the world around me. It truly is a gorgeous thing to behold, at least for me. But there is a key to being able to work on such a high tight-rope without a net (so to speak), and it is similar in nature to playing music improvisationally.

Learn the Basics As Best You Can

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A picture taken by John Beckett at this year’s ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat. For some reason, John takes really awesome pictures of me. The dude has a seriously awesome touch in photography.

Musicians will probably say that individual solos are some of the things that they get to enjoy the most. That moment allows them to showcase what they are good, or even to experiment with a style or technique that they normally don’t get to display. It is a moment of creativity and playfulness that is the crux of why they enjoy playing the instrument of their choice. But before they could get to boogie down on these beautiful moments, they had to learn to play their instruments. That means taking on the basics, and practice, practice, practice. The same can be said for ritual. Learning the basics of the ritual format that you use is essentially to being able to spin off into riffs on what you would normally do.

And I actually speak from experience on all of this. When I first started on my Pagan Path, I was doing things within Wicca. Now, Wicca is not the right format for me. But in my initial training with the American Tradition of the Goddess, I was to learn their format for rituals. To say that I did not enjoy their format is an understatement. So, when my moment came to show what I had learned, I handled the ritual as impromptu as I could. I refused to use the traditional quarter notations, nor did I call the Guardians of the compass locations in a proper manner either. I themed the entire ritual concept around wolves, as the group I was working with were formed around the concept of wolves. It made sense to me. It worked, for me. I wound up being scolded for not following the proper format. I was also praised – by the same person – for my creativity.

Now, all of that had a negative impression for me. It also deeply imprinted upon me how Wicca was not the appropriate place for me to be. Several months later, I parted with the group and became the Solo Pagan that I am today. What I failed to understand was that the creative part was acknowledged, but would have been better accepted if I had shown my understanding and adherence to the basic concepts first. Now, a few decades past that point, I have grown a bit more in who I am, and comprehend the need for basics to be found first – and once those are understood, you can futz with the workings to see what you get. The basics give you the foundation that allows you to stretch your creative muscles across – sort of the same manner in which the bass player and drummer provide a background on which the guitarist can improvise without losing the crowd as to the familiarity of the song.

Do Not Be Afraid to Fail

I grew up in a family where failure was not an option. I was seriously afraid to bring bad grades home, as my typical punishment was to get the strap from my father. Sure, we could talk about the “abuse” that it was, but the point is that I was not provided the opportunity to fail. And in not knowing how to fail, I was always afraid of not being successful. Same goes true for ritual. I always obsessed over the idea that I *had* to get it *right*. Even if I had never done it before. I had to succeed. Failure breeds experience. When I did not get things right, I always examined the “why” of things…I always tried to see where I missed the point or where my effort fell flat. In essence, I was learning.

Thanks to a whole lot of folks within the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, I have learned that failure is nothing to beat yourself up over. Every year, at the Gulf Coast Gathering, there are mishaps, bad statements, incorrect placement of individuals, misunderstandings of where and when a person should be at this point and time in the ritual. Everyone makes mistakes. Even some of the more experienced folks have had their issues too. And instead of folks scolding others…there are gentle reminders and nudges to get people back into their roles and say their parts. This is lighthearted laughter and friendly cajoling over missed or misspoken lines. There is no judgment. There are plenty of smiles, hugs, and words of encouragement. Because people need to be allowed to fail, so that they can learn from those experiences.

Do Not Be Afraid to Succeed

And then there is the opposite side of that perspective: success. And I suffer from this more than anything else. The other day, I noticed that a recent post of mine, Devotional Practice – My Approach, had reached a level of reach on Facebook I had never seen a post achieve. My reaction was not one of “Wow, that’s amazing!” Rather, it was one of “Oh Gods, what is happening?” I am not really geared for large-scale success, because I truly do expect things to fail. This is a mindset trap that I need to dislodge myself from going forward, but I am sure there are others out there that feel similar.

So, you do the ritual. In the middle of the ritual, you try some magickal working. It has never worked before, why should this be any different, right? Except that it does work. Whatever it was that you were trying to do, happened. What’s next? Well, let’s not get a big head and think that everything else will work if we do things the same way again. After every ritual, I make notes about what I did. If it was a public ritual, I write notes about the part I had in the ritual (if any). How I felt afterwards. Was it indoors or outdoors? Anything of significance to my mind’s eye goes into those notes. And when I get ready for another ritual, I go through those notes. I note my previous feelings for similar rituals. And in my preparations, I try my best to find anchors from the previous ones to help me stay grounded and focused in this current one. And I decide what a “success” will be to me in today’s or tonight’s ritual. And I aim myself in that direction.

Now, one side of this that I have intentionally left out – how I approach all of this with my own devotional work. Why? Because everyone approaches that very differently. Even two people approaching the same God or Goddess. Our individual connections to the Gods are unique between us and each of Them. Trying to tell someone how to approach something so personal and distinct, in my opinion, is not useful whatsoever. Open yourself to your own Gods, and They will guide you on what is appropriate and what isn’t. That’s about as much advice as I dare give in that direction. I am not here to create a dogma of belief for anyone, other than myself.

Just remember…ritual can be your own free-form expression to the Gods. But like any improvisational musician, you need to understand the basic framework of ritual. For me that is the framework within OBOD. Once you are comfortable with that framework, then improvisational work will become a useful tool in your workings. Yes, I did it backwards…and there is a lot I am still unlearning, so that I can relearn it in a proper framework. But I still have the heart of an Al Di Meola or a Pat Metheny when it comes to personal ritual. And improvisation is still such a joy to me…even if I did learn it in a manner that makes learning regular frameworks a bit difficult for me. I hope you can take something away from this post, and place it into what you do – and have the Awen spring up unexpectedly in everything you do.  –T /|\

Individually Not Blog Posts – Together They are Blog Stew

Welcome to the little pieces of topics that I just cannot get a complete blog post around. So I shove them all together here and make a blog stew out of them. Not sure about the taste, but at least the ingredients get used, eh?

Let us talk blog posts, shall we? What an odd topic for a blog post – blog posts. In the past, I have tried a bit of scheduling and I have also tried posting whenever I feel like it. The odd post timing just does not work. Plus, I spend a lot of hours at the keyboard of the Mac in the evenings on the weekends. Instead of playing Zen pinball all the time, how about I start writing blog posts instead? And better yet, how about we do not let me get away with being lazy about it too? So, I will start scheduling blog posts here on Life With Trickster Gods – and how about we make it Mondays and Thursdays for blog posts, right?? And I can always get away with an unscheduled one from time-to-time on the weekends. Works for you?  Works for me. But that lead me over to another point about blogs…..

I am now writing blog posts for Moon Books. I am actually really chuffed about this. I have many of the Moon Books titles on my bookshelves and on my kindle. Most of my posts there will be related directly to a topic pulled from one of those titles. My very first topic-related post was on ritual and was inspired by Rachel Patterson‘s amazing book The Art of Ritual. Over there, I have decided to post twice weekly as well, using Sundays and Wednesdays as the days I will post. Stuff is a touch trickier there, but I will look into the ability to schedule posts there as well. Hopefully, I can do that, but if not – I will need to login there to make my posts. I am super excited to be posting there with so many of the authors that I admire greatly, and many, many thanks to Trevor Greenfield for providing me with this chance.  🙂

With the Major League Baseball season firmly in the books (Yah Astros!!), I am hard-pressed to find another sport to watch. I am not a fan of American football whatsoever, so that sport is out the window for me. With real football (soccer here in America) only available on the weekends (Bundesliga!!), I am giving hockey another try. I started out trying to root for the Winnipeg Jets, but I just cannot find anything I enjoy watching on this team. So, I settled on the Toronto Maple Leafs. I enjoy watching their style of play (they pass a lot more than other teams seem to), and….well…if I am going to root for a hockey team, its got to be in Canada. And no, I am not a Dallas Stars fan – even when they were good.

My calendar for the coming year will have me down near Mountain Home, Texas with the ADF Imbolc retreat – an event I have started to refer to as my “second home”. The people that attend this are some of the kindest, most loving people I have come to know. Whether they realize it or not, they have become family for me. After that, I have a professional conference for my job to head to in Corpus Christi – like IMMEDIATELY after. I will be there until Wednesday and then travel back to the Texas/Oklahoma border. I get one day off, and then it is on to Pantheacon that following weekend. Shenanigans are likely to take place, though I am wondering if I will be able to peel my eyelids back. We shall definitely see…..

And last, but certainly not least – the podcast will be back. Upon a Pagan Path has been on the back burner for most of the year. Mostly because I just have not had the time to mess with it due to a lot of changing aspects of life. But sometime around December 15 to the 20th – a new episode will be out. There will be more of the interviews. More poetry read. More Pagan musical artists featured. And maybe even a short story from time to time. What there will be less of is me. I need to take a major backseat to the rest of the podcast. So there will be a lot less of me rambling on about life…..and don’t try to fake that sigh of relief. ;)~

Anyways, that is all that I have. Hoping that you are enjoying what you read here. If you have anything you want me to write about in here – shoot me an Email:  elfster@gmail.com.  I promise I won’t bite.  Unless you want me to.    –T /|\