Daring to Break the Sound of Silence

musicSo its the start of a new work week…and its also the start of a new month…and nearly the end of the year. And like most folks, this time of year has me looking inward…but strangely enough – I am also looking outward and forward.

I have been podcasting since…I don’t know….2006?  Something like that. I do believe I started at the beginning of January. That would make the end of December as the end of my ninth year. The podcast has changed a lot over those years – including a full name change from “From the Edge of the Circle” to “Upon a Pagan Path.” And I admit, I have not done a lot with the podcast over the last year-plus…

Now, before the six of you that still listen on a regular basis start kicking up dust and making tracks through the dust that has settled around the show — no, I am not about to stop podcasting. In fact, its time I started doing what I set out to do with the change in the show. I need to get into the process of interviewing folks.

Scott and Daphne (you two still part of my six listeners??) are currently first in line. A Christian and Pagan that groove on each other enough to find respectful disagreement and some mutual agreement on topics of a Spiritual nature. In a way, interviewing (hopefully) them will bring something I believe in to a great degree:  working with others of beliefs that sometimes seem to be polar opposites, but aren’t really when you start to look deeper into things. But then, there’s a question of who else might make for good interview victi….err…candidates. Yeah, candidates.  ::smiles:: I have a few ideas of who to approach – starting with some of my long-time fellow podcasters…and then moving over to a handful of writers that I know…and a potential musician or two….but what about ya’ll?? I would love to find more folks that are not normally “seen” in the public eye…any suggestions???

Not that long ago, John Beckett had a great blog post about focusing one’s perspective away from detailing who you are not, and putting a perspective of who you are into focus. The post is “Tell Me Who You Are, Not Who You Aren’t” – and it plays into a perfect moment of synchronicity of where I am right now on my own Path.  John notes:

Tell us about your Gods and how you worship Them. Tell us about your ancestors and how you honor them. Tell us about the spirits of Nature and how you work with them. Tell us about the virtues you live by, and how you embody them. Tell us your vision for a better world, and how you’re working to manifest it here and now.

And he’s right on target for me here. Looking back on the podcasts and the topics I have covered – as well as many of the blog posts here on “Footsteps on My Path” – I have spent more time framing my conversations against what I am not.  Or in the words of Simon and Garfunkel:

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

–Simon and Garfunkel, ‘The Sound of Silence’

Who am I?  What am I?  Who are the Gods that touch me on a daily basis? What myths and stories touch me? What awakens the flame of Awen in my sacred space? If you are starting to see a thread and pattern – then you are starting to see where I am headed into 2015. Yes, I am about to try something very, very different with both the podcast and the blog – I am approaching this as a theme going forward. I am about to dare to disturb the sound of silence….

One other instance of note — now that I have a job that is not completely tied to a teaching schedule, my ability to make events during the school semester is much more flexible. Right now, I am down as a “yes” for The OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering in March of 2015. I am also checking to see if I will be in conflict with any major deadlines for the Pantheacon 2015 event in San Jose in February. Yes, it means that I am looking into making some events in the future. And yes, I will be looking to record my thoughts for both the podcast and the blog. Like I said — its time to move forward in a positive vein.  Looking forward to seeing folks and shake hands, hug, and talk…

 

007 – Why Paganism? Why Druidry?

I spend some time discussing why I choose to be a Pagan, and why I use the framework of Druidry to hang my coat of Paganism, and hat of Polytheism on. I wax somewhat in-eloquently (what’s different about that than usual?) on my perspective of the Gods…along with a few left-turns into gender issues (not that far – I took one step in that direction), and a few other topical dead-ends. “If I Could Only Speak Crow…” is featured in the Spoken Word segment, and Wendy Rule’s “Dance of the Wild Faeries” from her 2011 album ‘Live at the Castle on the Hill’ is the featured music segment. You can find Wendy’s music at http://www.wendyrule.com/. Please support your Pagan musicians by buying their albums, so that they can continue to bring their magick to our ears!!

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/007_-_Why_Paganism_Why_Druidry.mp3

006 – Welcome to the Backwaters of Pagan Podcasting

In this episode, I talk about my recent job change, along with my philosophy on data analysis. I also provide my own perspective on some news bits as well. Musical feature is “Soul Quest” as performed by Jim Faupel and Paul Newman.

Jim Faupel’s music can be found at http://www.jimfaupel.co.uk/home/default.aspx .  Paul Newman’s music can be found at https://paulnewman.bandcamp.com/.  As always, if you like the music you hear on the show, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE buy it from the artist, so that they may continue to provide us with such rich and wonderful sounds!


Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Direct Download:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/006_-_Welcome_to_the_Backwaters_of_Pagan_Podcasting.mp3

005 – Goatman’s Bridge and Being a Priest

UponPaganPathIn this episode, I talk about my trip to the nearby Old Alton bridge here in Denton county, otherwise known as The Goatman’s Bridge. I also spend a little bit of time going over some changes I have had in my mind concerning the title of “Priest”. I also spend a bit of time talking about the upcoming changes to the podcast as well.  This episode’s music is from the lovely Kellianna and is her song “She Moved Through the Faire” from her album “Traditions”. Such awesome stuff!!  The Spoken Word segment is my rendition of “Spring Pools” by Robert Frost.

Kellianna’s music can be found at her website:  http://www.kellianna.com/ . As always, if you like the music you hear on the show, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE buy it from the artist, so that they may continue to provide us with such rich and wonderful sounds!


Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Shownotes: https://tommyelf22.wordpress.com/


Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath-005-May2014.mp3

 

Podcast and Blog Decisions

tommyelf1One good thing about hiking in a wooded area by yourself, is that you get to open up your mind a bit more than if you were traversing the area with someone else. Yesterday, while traipsing around in the trails around the Goatman’s Bridge, I had plenty of time to think about how to get the podcast back on track.

I created Upon a Pagan Path to help showcase the personal Spiritual Paths that others are on through interviews…and while I have had some luck getting folks interested in coming on to talk about such – its a little harder to mesh personal schedules to accomplish this. So, I have reverted a bit back to what From the Edge of the Circle was about – talking about topics from my own perspective – essentially holding a conversation with myself. Sounds a bit like a desperate cry for mental health assistance…but really its not. So, bringing that particular aspect back to my podcast repertoire allows for a little more flexibility. And it also allows me to push the podcast back on to a better schedule. So here comes the particulars….

Format

The show will consist of a few segments – consisting of:

  • Interviews/Topics – depending on the availability of guests and personal schedules it can be one or the other. I will also be attempting to record a few talks and lectures along the way as well. Topics with me reflecting from my own perspective will come with the title of “From the Edge of the Circle” to distinguish this as my own perspective.
  • Musical Features – I have always been in favor of the independent, Pagan musician – and will continue to feature such music on every single show.
  • The Spoken Word – I have not featured the Spoken Word – poetry and readings of short stories – as much as I have wanted to. While I do write my own poetry and will read it from time to time – I will also read poetry and short stories and myths as part of this segment. Every single show will feature a Spoken Word segment.
  • The Mail Bag – I do get the occasional eMail from listeners as well. And while its been a good few years since I have read eMails and the such on the show, I will feature this segment whenever I do have a comment or eMail to read.
  • Around the Blogs – I read a lot of Pagan blogs, and the topics that come up there are not always material that I can turn into a full show. When I manage to get a few of these together, I will spend a few minutes talking about what was said, where I got it from, and my own personal take on the topic as well. Most likely, this will not be a segment that comes up near as much as the others.
  • Shout-outs – I got away from doing shout-outs to various folks and the other Pagan podcasts – and I realize its a practice that I miss doing. So this particular segment will return with it most likely taking place at the very end of the show.

Each of the segments will have their own intro sound – much like the show has its usual intro and exit sounds. Also, I will be bringing back soundfiles for other podcasts as well – but I will limit that to three per show, and rotate these in and out. And for those that have had issues with my “potty” mouth – I will probably go back to utilizing Red Dwarf speak to cover up those words, so that the show is a little more “family friendly” or at least something closer to a PG-13 rating.

Schedule

Which brings me to the entire aspect of the podcast’s schedule. We are approaching the midway point in the calendar year – and I have been sporadic in getting episodes out the entire time. That has to change on my part, so I will utilize a schedule I can remember far better than before. I will aim at getting each episode out sometime around the 22nd of each month. Why is this easier for me to remember?  Because 22 is my soccer jersey number. I have never worn another number…so its easy to remember.

Blog

Which brings me to the blog. “Footsteps on My Path” was meant to be more of “me being me” and less of being the podcast. However, the podcast is me…and I am the podcast. Its hard to divorce the two – and thus, I will be bringing the two blogs together here under the “Footsteps on My Path” title. Podcast episode show notes will now be held here in the blog under the tag of “shownotes”. I will add and backdate the posts that were under the old blog, and delete that particular site. The way I figure things – its far easier for me to handle one site than it is to separate myself into two distinctly different entities.

Well, that’s all I have for the moment….I have some recording to do over the next two days…see you in a few days….

 

Too Close to the Forest – Where Did the Trees Go?

After spending a day thinking about the potential changes to “Upon a Pagan Path” including a thought to change the name back to “Edge of the Circle” – I have to agree with my two listeners, Troy and Scott. The podcast name does not need to change – in fact its a far better title for a show than “From the Edge of the Circle” was. It reflects who I am far better than being on the outskirts of things. However, I will be changing some of the aspects of “Upon a Pagan Path”. The idea is to continue to bring interviews with people I think are interesting and/or have an interesting topic/story to relate. But I am also going to add some other elements to the overall show as well.

Currently, the show has four thematics associated with it – “Interview/Topic”, “Personal Opinion/Topic”. “Featured Musical Artists” and “The Spoken Word”. Those aspects of the podcast will not change. In fact, the first three will definitely remain the same. However, I will be expanding “The Spoken Word” segment from poetry to include retellings of various short tales and myths that I come across. I am not the world’s greatest story-teller, but I think that in retelling some of these stories and myths – I just might be able to entice some of you to do some deeper research into some of these areas. I will also be re-adding the commercial segments for other podcasts to the format as well. I have a rotational set of about five shows at the moment – so if you know any show that might be a good add…send me a shout.

Also, I will be creating a show ad of my own as well. Something that can be traded with other shows. The way I see it, the best advertisement that we can do – is to help plug other shows out there and cross pollenate with one another. After all, as Pagan Podcasters, we are not in competition with one another – we are here to add our voices to the entire mix.

—-

Now, let me get into something else. I have started noticing a few things in my own personal life…particularly how difficult it is to do the things that I am wanting to do. And over the past few weeks, I realized what it was: I was over-committing my own time. For instance, I had decided to go back to school for another degree. This wound up sucking down a tone of my own time. Enough so, that I always felt that I had never accomplished much at the end of the day – any day. I already have three degrees – a Bachelor’s degree and two Masters degrees. Another Masters degree is not going to help me accomplish the things I want in my life. So, I have dropped out of my degree program, and have started the process of refocusing on the things that matter more to me – such as my own Spiritual Life.

The last three years have been tough. Things of a Spiritual Nature have taken a back seat to too many other mundane aspects of my Life. Not just because the mundane things were important – all of them were. However, I had over-scheduled things, and placed myself into positions of impossible commitments. Now, I am at a point where I can take a few minutes to breath, and re-collect myself. I am learning the process of saying “no”. And much of this got into the way of the podcast schedule, and the one process I have come to rely on the most in my Life: the time to write.

Writing has become far more important in my Life over the past decade. I am keeping two journals – one for my OBOD studies, and one personal journal. I am about to start a third journal for another set of studies. And now that I am realizing that I am over-scheduling my free time and changing that, I am finding the slots that I need to be able to write. And that also means that I will find the time to connect and re-connect with folks as well. I have found that I am missing much through my over-scheduled life. And part of that which suffered was connecting with folks in the Pagan Community.

Foggy ForestIts been a hard and difficult set of lessons to learn. The adage of being “too close to the forest to see the trees” certainly holds true. Taking a major step back, and allowing myself to breathe, relax, and look over what I was doing was extremely helpful. I live in a very busy American metro area. Just because I live here does not mean I have to adopt that way of living my Life.

 

 

Schedules and Changes – Thoughts on the Blog and the Podcast(s)

sword-fluteI am not much for keeping on set schedules. However, I will need to try and do better. Here on the blog, I am trying to commit to three posts per week — and have done a somewhat adequate job of doing so. Thankfully, I have found that taking my writing prompts from some of the books I am reading is quite helpful for finding topics to write about. So I will hopefully manage to keep that time schedule with the blog here.

The podcast is a little more problematic. My desire was to focus on interviews with other folks – to showcase what they believe. However, one of the more difficult things with doing that is finding time that meshes with my personal and professional schedule (which changes from semester to semester) and that of the individuals I would love to put on to the podcast. So, I will bring back a little bit of “From the Edge of the Circle” – where I discuss some topics from my own perspective. And I will attempt to get the podcast out once per month – twice per month when I manage to mesh time with an interviewee. I discussed this a bit with a few friends…and the mention was made to bring “Edge” back out of the grave. And it is certainly a thought with some merit. Edge still garners downloads, even though I have put the podcast into sunset mode.

So if I did look at bringing Edge of the Circle back into existence…I would need to make a few more changes to what I have been doing with it previously. Obviously, I would need to add interviews to the entire show format. There would still be a “Spoken Word” segment, the “Musical Feature” segment, but am wondering what else could (or should) be added to it?? Obviously, I would need to rework the Opening and Closing themes for the show – that’s not difficult. And I could work up Opening themes for each of the segments. But would the podcast need anything more?? Or should the podcast be brought back to Life??  Perhaps with a change in the name?  Removing the “From” at the beginning of the title, perhaps??  Definitely a few things to ponder….and really, I could always use the input from folks out there too. After all, I put the podcast out to give back to my Pagan community – which means input from ya’ll is always a nice thing to have….

Just a thought…at the moment….

Tommy /|\

 

Damn the Numbers…

Numbers. Just numbers. A counting of sorts. Sometimes, its amusing, sometimes its just something to glance at and wonder about for a moment. Other times, I barely pay a moment’s attention to it. My checkbook? No, not even close. I’m talking about the stats that I gather for my two podcasts – From the Edge of the Circle, and Upon a Pagan Path – as well as the stats I occasionally glance at here on my blog. To be openly blatant about it, if I were a syndicated television show – I would have been cancelled long ago for low ratings. If I were relying on this to make money for my mortgage or for food and clothing – I would be homeless, hungry and naked. And that’s the open truth about it. And yet, none of that bothers me whatsoever.

When I started my first podcast, From the Edge of the Circle, i envisioned it as a labor of love – an offering of sorts. It was my gift back to the wider Pagan community. A sort of signpost for Seekers walking the Path – where I discussed a bit about my Path, and some of the pratfalls I encountered along the way. And for the most part, it stayed that way. Oh sure, I wandered in and out of various political discussions, I added various aspects to the show – such as Spoken Word segments, and music from Pagan artists. The Spoken Word segments were material that either inspired me, or that I had written – hoping that the segment would strike some form of a spark in others. The music segments was my desire to help promote the independent Pagan musicians, and trying to showcase their music to listeners. And those two segments have wandered with me into Upon a Pagan Path – with the same hoped-for results. But overall, the numbers were never overly large then, nor are they now.

There’s a handful of thoughts behind the “whys” of it all. I do not advertise my podcast’s or blog’s existence that much. I do have a business card with the pertinent information listed on it – but I rarely hand out the cards. I figure that those looking for the show will find it. And if they think it is good enough – they will say something to others about it. But candidly, its never been about the number of downloads.

In the beginning it was. For the first two years of the existence of From the Edge of the Circle, I would check the numbers daily and update a spreadsheet where I tracked the numbers. And I found myself obsessing over the numbers – trying to figure out why this episode did better than that one. And then tweaking the show constantly to try and see if that would help the change in audience numbers. And then one night, I was brought face-to-face with the way I was treating the show…and in all places, it was a dream.

In the dream, I had managed to make it into the internet – and was watching the small strands to grab the show’s episodes come to the web site. And as I sat there watching, two Seekers sat down next to me and asked what I was doing. I told them I was watching the downloads of the show – and I had an abacus in my hand, on which I moved the beads with the completion of each downloaded episode. The two Seekers were quite young, and they started to ask me about my own personal Path, but I quickly silenced their questions with an impatient wave of my hand. After four attempts to speak, they both got up and walked away. Both of them shook their heads and looked back at me sadly from time to time. After a short time longer, a Crow landed near my knee, and looked up at me. “You are doing the wrong things, you know”, the Crow said softly. I looked down and gestured to the abacus and replied that my count was accurate. The Crow leaped up into the air and snatched the abacus from my hand, and moved so that the abacus smashed into pieces against the wall. “You are doing the wrong things, you know”, the Crow said more forcefully, “and you are not listening either.” I sat there with my eyes wide open, completely flabbergasted that someone would be so rude to interrupt me in my counting of downloaded episodes. “You have forgotten the ‘why’ and have become focused on an outcome that does not matter. Remember your focus” intoned the Crow in soft tones. And with that the Crow flew off, and I awoke from my dream.

I only remember this dream, because I immediately grabbed my iPhone and recorded the dream as I remembered from that moment that I woke. It came out a bit more jumbled then this, but once I got all the parts put back in the right places – its a dream that I can now easily recall. Its not about the downloads. Its not about the number of times that posts get viewed. That’s a result of everything else. Its about putting my perspective out there for others to read. For others to choose to accept and adapt what they read or to decide it does not fit on their own Path, but allow my perspective to challenge and strengthen their own.

I read a good many blogs, and listen to quite a few podcasts. And while I enjoy getting a little sideways glimpse into the lives of those blog authors and podcasters – I also enjoy having my own perspective on something challenged. That helps me to grow, it helps me to find my footing on my own Path. Perhaps, I don’t tell these authors and podcasters that I really appreciate what they do for me as much as I should, but I tend to believe that they already know that what they put out there will help others to think about issues – as well as create a strong bond with their listeners and readers. That’s because it has never been about the numbers, or the popularity, or the prestige, or whatever else you can think of that goes with putting your heart and thoughts out there for others to read/listen to. Its about the message. Its about the connection. Damn the numbers…

 

004 – Predation and a Lack of Critical Thinking

UponPaganPath

In this episode, I discuss a bit about the recent issues with Predators in the Pagan Community, as well as some of the problems I see arising from using our emotions over our critical thinking skills. This episode’s music is from Explorer – aka Nice Vermaas – and is entitled “My Name is Lugh”. The Spoken Word segment is back, with my poem “Free Skies”…

Nico’s music can be found at Spirits of My Blood.


Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Shownotes: http://onapaganpath.wordpress.com/


Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath-004-April2014.mp3

Who Has Time to Wait? I Do…

If you had asked me a few years back, I would have told you that money makes the world go round. After all, without the scratch to back anything – its hard to keep any kind of service running for people in the public forum. But I have watched time and again, where the Pagan community, seemingly a loosely knit group of perpetually cash-strapped folks, have found ways to dig into their pockets for the causes and services that they believe in. And over the past few years, I have come to notice that its not really money that makes things go…its belief and time.

As a wide-arching community that encompasses many different personal beliefs – the “Big Tent” of Paganism, as John Beckett has mentioned in many of his blog posts – getting every single individual to agree on any one thing is stupendously impossible. When things do manage to come together, and people of varying backgrounds and beliefs begin to utilize a service for a variety of purposes – it can be a wonderously beautiful thing to behold. Take, for example, the efforts of the folks that post on a daily basis over at The Wild Hunt. It can be argued that its not really much of a service, but I would tend to disagree. Its not an all-encompassing service, but TWH does provide a service of information sharing. I would not go as far as to call them the Reuters or Associated Press of the Pagan community, but they certainly do keep people aware of issues, discussion, content, and information that is of interest to folks within and without that “Big Tent of Paganism.” And while the discussions in the comments that are attached to the articles can sometimes stoop to the level of an uncontrolled saloon brawl, an additional service is provided as a place where material presented can be discussed and explored in greater depth.

And TWH is only one example. There is the Pagan channel over at Patheos, where a growing number of bloggers (including the aforementioned John Beckett among many others) post their perspectives on a wide range of topics. There’s PaganSpace, an online community where people can meet, chat and have fun with one another. There’s the Pagan Pride Day initiatives, that span across the globe in a wide range of local communities – providing a face-to-face environment where Seekers can meet with Pagans from all parts of that “Big Tent of Paganism”. And a whole host of others that I am not going to try and cram into this post… Each provides a distinct perspective to the wider Pagan Community. Each serves a particular function, and provides a unique voice in the ocean of voices that contribute to the ground-swell of the Pagan community’s overall identity.

Thus, I was a little taken aback by the following statement that I stumbled across on FaceBook from The Pagan Newswire Collective:

We have an announcement of some sad news everyone: the technical difficulties that have plagued the site finally overcame my ability to fix them a few weeks ago and myself and the other volunteers helping to keep the PNC online have decided that we’re going to wind down our operations.

I’ll be helping to keep those blogs and bureaus that want to continue to produce content going during the transition so this doesn’t necessarily mean that the blogs and bureaus that you’ve been able to access here are going to completely disappear, only that the super-feed from the main PNC site is going to go away.

Thanks for your many years of support and I’ll continue to keep you informed during the changes regarding new sites that come online.

I already know that a few of the authors from the No Unsacred Places blog are going to continue writing over at the Patheos Pagan channel, so if you don’t already “like” and follow that site, now is probably a good time to do so!

– Dashifen

Its understandable that this is happening. As I mentioned before, its a matter of available time. I am not saying that there needs to be people jumping and demanding to fill the aspects of keeping this collective alive. I respect the decision that they have made – and the decisions of those groups that are choosing to stay active. if your decision is to jump up and place yourself into that realm of keeping a vision such as this one (or any of the other platforms I have mentioned – or even starting your own) – I say more power and respect to you from this corner. All I ask is that you have more than just the momentary heart to jump forward. Have the belief and understand that you are stepping forward into the spotlight – and be prepared for the amount of time you will need to provide into making that vision work.

This is a struggle that I have gone through every single year that I have been podcasting. There are little hiatuses all throughout the time that I have been putting out From the Edge of the Circle, and now Upon a Pagan Path. That’s where Life gets in the way – and my available time runs short because of other priorities that unexpectedly arise. After all, we podcasters, bloggers, and informational clearinghouse owners, producers, writing and vocal “talent” – we have our own family issues to deal with. We all have jobs outside of these things we slavishly put time and effort into. So I do comprehend very well what it means when there is not time to put into something because there are Life changes that happen.

Money is one thing – its a driver that moves certain parts of a vision forward. But its only one thing. The more important factors are belief and time. Believing in what you are doing is key towards driving you forward to making your vision happen. The harder factor is time. Without that, everything else makes you feel like you are rowing and going nowhere. The world runs on time…a truly man-made concept. Perhaps, if we just added more hours to the day… Or perhaps, we need to remind ourselves that no matter what we believe, there is a limit to what we can physically accomplish at any one given time…which means we need patience. And who has time to wait, in this hurry-hurry world?  My answer?  I do….

003 – A Conversation With Troy Young

UponPaganPathIn this episode, I have a lengthy conversation with Troy Young, one of the co-Chairs for DFW Pagan Pride Day. We discuss Pagan Pride Day 2013, as well as tackle many issues related to personal Spirituality. I do believe we talked about nearly every topic under the sun, except how to split the atom – and I believe if we had let the conversation continue, we might have done just that too!

DFW Pagan Pride Day’s web site is located at:  http://dfwpaganpride.org/

Our Pantheons Way’s web site is located at: http://ourpantheons.org/

The musical feature is ‘Alive!” by Omnia. Their music can be found at http://www.worldofomnia.com/. Please remember to support your independent Pagan musicians and BUY their music!!


Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Shownotes: http://onapaganpath.wordpress.com/


Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath-003-Feb2014.mp3

Idea For Tweener Shows for ‘Upon a Pagan Path’

So, I had a really good suggestion made for some of the Tweener shows….holding a Google Hangout for an hour, recording it, and playing that as a Tweener show. I think its an interesting idea, since it gives folks from the audience a chance to come into the show in a more interactive way. I am just not sure how much interest there may be in it…aside from Theresa (the suggestor) and myself. So, I am asking for input….what does everyone think?  Good idea?  Perhaps not for an hour…unless the interest is really strong.  But that’s something that can be worked out. What do ya’ll think??  Something to incorporate going forward?

002 – Digital Archives (Short Talk)

UponPaganPathWelcome to the second episode of “Upon a Pagan Path”.  This particular episode will reinstitute the short-talk format that I had on “From the Edge of the Circle” – and I mean to keep it short. I will limit these particular shows to approximately thirty minutes in total length (or thereabouts). I will also use these “tweener” shows as a location for my “Spoken Word” segments, which will be back in episode 004.  This additional show will also change the timing of the show’s release dates. I will be releasing shows every two weeks – with an interview show followed by a tweener talk segment, and then another interview show after that – on a two-week schedule. For instance, episode 003 will be out in two weeks, and will be an interview show — episode 004 will be out two weeks after that, and will be a tweener segment show.

In today’s tweener show, I talk about the career path that I am moving towards – digital archives – and the ‘why’ of that choice, as well as the moment that I realized the need for such a move during my visit to Medicine Wheel in June of this last year.

The music featured in this episode is from Sharon Knight and her album “Song of the Sea”. The song is the lovely “Siren Moon”. Sharon’s music can be found at  http://www.sharonknight.net/.  Please remember to support your independent Pagan musicians and BUY their music!!


Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Shownotes: http://onapaganpath.wordpress.com/


Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath-002-January2014.mp3

A Few Random Thoughts Going Forward

I realize that it has been a short while since I have posted anything. Up until today, my daily routine has been completely filled with getting the classes I am teaching firmly into the routine that the students need – and getting myself organized and into the routine that I will need as a student (once again). It will certainly be an interesting balancing act between leading a classroom and being a student – however, I feel that I am up to the task and therefore have accepted that challenge. I know there are a few curveballs that are going to be thrown my way during all of this – and its just a matter of adapting.

At the moment, both podcasts are on a slight hold, as I adjust my routine to a new teaching and student schedule. But both should be back underway in the very near future. I do have an idea of melding the two together into a single show…but I am a little hesitant to do so at the moment. Its a very odd thought for me to hold, considering how I have wanted to handle the UaPP aspect. But I think there may be a way to balance both the idea of the Circle’s Edge with that of the interview mode for Upon a Pagan Path. It may mean far faster turnarounds for the podcast – but a more distant turn-around for the two show segments. Certainly, its something I will need to mull over in my mind for a bit longer. I have a few ideas for the blog here as well – including the idea of working with some writing prompts that I may come across on other blogging sites. While I try not to be held to a schedule, I figure to post sometime within a four day period, to keep material fresh here.

 

Living 2014 With Purpose

Well, its the start of a new calendar year. Like most Pagans, the change of the Wheel happened for me back at the end of October with Samhain. So, last night was – essentially – a big yawn for me. I spent my night the same way I normally do – reading my book, writing in my journal, and a few minutes in my nightly meditation. As I have said in previous blog posts, I am a barrel of fun at parties.

Ball String

But it is the start of a “New Year” – which means that there’s all kinds of plans in the air. Instead of making some list of silly resolutions, I thought this would be a good time to elaborate on some of those upcoming items for my coming year. And perhaps, in doing this, it might spur some point for someone else to take the time to do something similar.

Podcasting

First comes the podcast. Or perhaps, I should say the podcasts, as in plural. Yes, that’s right. I will be handling two podcasts. Let me start with the one that everyone knows is running – Upon a Pagan Path. Due to some scheduling conflicts on my part, I was unable to get an interview recorded and ready for the December month. So, there’s a month pause in there. However, the January podcast will carry that interview, and I will line up interviews in advance of the scheduled times going into 2014. That was a lesson in planning that I needed to learn. Second, From the Edge of the Circle will return. That’s right, the podcast I put to bed will be back. In a slightly different format, with a slightly changed name. The Circle’s Edge will be a place where I can voice my own point of view on various topics. The podcast will be in a running time of less than 35 minutes total, and will also be the location where I continue with my “Spoken Word” poetry segments. The idea here is to separate my own thoughts from that of the featured guests I will have on UPP. Plus, I have heard from a lot of people that want me to keep Edge running…so, I’ll indulge folks in that area – but force myself to limit Edge to my own thoughts, and UPP for showcasing other people’s points of view. UPP will still be released in a time frame of the 10th to the 15th of every month. Edge, on the other hand, will be on a two-to-three week schedule, starting January 6th. I already have nine shows recorded for Edge, so that I keep ahead of the recording schedule.

Reading

If anyone has managed to keep up with my Goodreads account, you noticed that I took on the reading challenge. I aimed towards reading 40 books for the year, which is quite an endeavor on my part. I also took on a dual challenge of 15,000 total pages. I did quite well. I finished a total of 46 books, and 15,858 pages. I rated each book on a 5-star scale, and my books averaged a rating of 3.43 over the year. I am striving to undertake the same challenge again here in 2014. Hitting my page limit was a little tough, so I will aim towards the same goal of 15,000 pages by the end of the calendar year. However, I will up my goal from 40 books to 45 books this year. I already have a queue of reading setup for the coming year, which combines some classic Science Fiction and Fantasy with books on Druidry, Computer Science, and Native American issues.

Education

A few months back, John Beckett mentioned in a post of his that I may be addicted to podcasting. With two podcasts in the run now, he may be quite correct. However, I may be more addicted to the concept of education than I am to podcasting. Currently, I hold three degrees: a Bachelors of Computer Science with a minor in Database Management, a Masters in Information Systems Management with a concentration in Information Security, and a Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Information Security. In approximately a week, I will start my fourth (and final) degree: a restart of my Masters of Library Sciences program at the University of North Texas. My program will be focused on the technical side of digital library systems with a personal emphasis on digital archives. I discussed some of the reasons behind this back on my post “Resolutions, Resolve, and the Will of the Gods…” – in case you are interested in why my brand of insanity has decided to set sail. The hope is to finish this degree program in sometime in 2016.

Vacation

Every summer, I look to getting out of the Dallas/Fort Worth metromess. I will be up-front and honest here. I hate living here. Crowded metroplex-style cities are extremely distasteful to me. However, since the almighty dollar rules the existence of human beings within the United States, and the almighty dollar is attached to a job – I stay where the jobs are. And that’s here in the DFW area for me. So, every Summer, I indulge in a two-week period of time to get away from here. Last year, it was a trip to Glacier National Park with a side trip into South Dakota on the way up, and a side trip to Medicine Wheel in northern Wyoming on the way back. Pictures for that trip (and a few others) can be found here at my Flickr account. Well, this Summer it has been decided that a different trip will be undertaken. While I love getting out into Nature and recharging my batteries from the stressful living of the suburbia of the modern American metroplex, I am also a major space geek. I love everything about NASA, and have made several trips to Houston to see the Johnson Space Center there. However, I have never seen a shuttle up close, with the exception of the single day when a shuttle landed at Carswell Air Force base back in the late 1980s on a trip from California back to Florida. So this summer’s trip will be to Disney World in Orlando with a trip over to Kennedy Space Center. On the return trip, a side-trip will be made to Huntsville to visit the NASA facility located there as well. And yes, there will be pictures.

Other Travels

Aside from vacations, there are other travels planned as well. I will be traveling down to Houston later this month for an event with the Melting P.O.T. Pagans. I have also purchased a tent (about time Tommy), so there’s a lot fewer excuses for me not making campouts going into the future as well. There is a possibility I Might make the CMA Beltane or CMA Samhain events, but I have to check that against my classes that I teach, as well as the assignment schedule for the classes I will be taking as a student. So, those are possibilities at the moment, rather than definite. I will also remain involved with the folks on the Planning Committee for Pagan Pride Day, and will be assisting with mini-events and the eventual Pagan Pride Day for this coming year.

Smaller, Personal Goals

There are other things that I have planned going forward. Yeah, I know the above all sounds like a lot of time – but to be honest, its really not. Its more of committing small sections of my daily time here and there – and sticking to getting those things done. I am hoping to complete my Bardic grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids this year. If everything goes well with that, my hope is to make the OBOD East Coast Gathering. However, several things will need to fall into place for that to occur…and right now, the event is far enough into the future that I cannot make firm plans for that. I am also planning to undertake a training session in another program as well…which, as I am understanding will have assignments and class work associated with it. I am looking forward to being a part of that program, since it will be helpful in my growth as a Pagan. I am also working towards keeping up with two written journals – one that is a daily writing journal, and the other which is a bit more specific in Nature and does not need to be updated daily. Both will be hand-written. While I do a lot of writing at my computer keyboard, I find that it is far better for me to write out my thoughts by hand…I tend to be more purposeful in my writing in that format, since it takes me a while to write anything by hand. Typing is an easy thing for me to do.

Final Thoughts

I will be honest, in writing this post – I know that very few people will read it. I look at my traffic statistics for this blog, and I know the totals are not that high at all. But that is really ok with me. This post is a lot more for me than anything else. Its a way of putting purpose behind my actions, putting purpose behind my plans. Its out here, in the open for all to read, for two reasons. First, it is a reminder for me to keep my feet on the Path – to walk forward with purpose. Much like the dwarves, I must walk the Path and not stray from it into the wilds of Mirkwood. There are giant spiders, after all.  🙂  The second reason, is that hopefully someone else may read this and be inspired to put purpose behind their planning for the year. Perhaps I will not reach all of these goals…regardless of whether I do or do not – the idea is that I have purpose here. I am striving to live a Life moved by Purpose…and placing my signpost here reminds me. Perhaps its my way of feeding out the ball of twine, so that I may come back to Ariadne. Whatever it may be…I have my purpose…

The Wheel Turns…

Its mid-November here in Texas.  Typically, the weather has already taken a turn for the colder at this point.  This year is no different, although the weather folks are calling for temps around 80F during this weekend. The leaves have already started to change colors, thanks to two nights of near freezing temps just a few days ago. Wish as we might, the Wheel turns – and the cold nights of Winter will be upon us. Granted, it does not snow often in Texas – and when it does, its usually never deeper than a few inches. I can easily remember winters in Kaiserslautern, Germany where the snows were a foot or more.

I do miss the German mountains and forests quite a bit. I vividly remember long walks through forested area that was two-hundred yards away from my apartment’s front door in Vogelweh housing. The woods were thick with trees, and no matter the time of year or day, you had to strain your hearing to make out the sounds of cars on 270. Just on the other side of the trees was the little town of Hohenecken, which has grown significantly since my time there in the 1990s. The places I remember walking are now gone, having been replaced with family homes. But that’s the change of the Wheel. Time has moved on from my memories of that period of my life. Even I have changed since that time.  I no longer wear the uniform of a United States military member (USAF). My hair is far longer – and turning grey at the edges. I carry my weight much differently – and there’s more of it now. The Wheel turns.

Like any person, my time here in this Lifetime is finite. My body will continually be ravaged by a disease that will eventually take my life (Diabetes Type II). How long that will be is a real unknown. I take the medications that my doctor prescribes to help slow the progression of the disease. Today, I will start on a needle injection of Victoza. I have a SEVERE fear of needles. Even giving blood requires a major gritting of my teeth to accomplish. However, oral medications are now at the max dosage levels, and my disease is once again raising its BGL to undesired levels on a regular basis. The Wheel turns. Much like an individual trying to survive the ravages of a strong Winter, I must make the choice of how hard I want to fight. And I have a strong desire to continue to live. I’m 48 years old now. I have a lot more to give to my community, my family, and so much more to experience myself. The Wheel turns. And I turn with it.

Every Summer, I take a vacation of an extended period. This past Summer was an extremely magical trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. Not only was the scenery completely amazing, but the feel of the Gods and the Kami were EVERYWHERE. For me, I Imagedid not even have to experience this through a quiet meditative state. I could feel them everywhere I walked. No matter the number of people around me or the commotion that they made. In contrast, a trip to Medicine Wheel in Wyoming – it was a side trip on the way back home from Montana – revealed a very quiet, serene location where very few people were. In fact, we were the only people at the site for nearly an hour before another group of visitors arrived. The stillness of the area, the majestic view, all the offerings left by others at the Wheel…really slammed the presence of the Gods down on your shoulders. Even spoken whispers seemed to be a violation of the presence you could feel. I have never been to either place until this Summer. This next Summer, I will make a return trip to Medicine Wheel – with tobacco as an offering – and my own prayers for the Gods.

There’s so much more for me to experience, and so much more that the Gods are wanting me to do. When I started this year, I was content with my little podcast “From the Edge of the Circle”…but the Gods kept pressing me to help showcase other perspectives, other ways of seeing the world around us, other ways of seeing through the veil. And I started “Upon a Pagan Path” to do just that. I am sad to see my little podcast disappear under the waves of the vast ocean of the internet.  However, the Wheel Turns…and carries me forward. What experiences are the Gods pointing me towards? I have no idea, but I am excited and open about those experiences – and looking forward to sharing those moments with others.  The Wheel Turns…

Take a Moment and Listen…Its Only Awen…

Everyone finds inspiration somewhere.  Maybe I should utilize the Welsh word for poetic inspiration instead?  Awen has been described as a “flowing spirit” by Emma Restall Orr (Living Druidry, 2004).

Image

I am both cursed and blessed to be claimed by two Gods – Crow and Coyote. I say cursed and blessed, but the reality is that its really neither. The curious part is that I have two trickster Gods that constantly whisper in my ears – typically one on each shoulder, or so it seems.  About two years ago, these two Gods latched on to me, and have slowly shown me that my life as a Solitary Pagan tends to fall too much towards the serious. Anyone that knows me well enough, knows I love playing out jokes, laughing, clowning around, and generally having a good time. Very few of those people have ever been in one of my own rituals. The few that have are well aware of the very straight-forward and serious way that I attend to my rituals. To those folks, the pairing of two tricksters with me makes sense – a balancing of the scales so to speak. To others that know me primarily outside of my ritual life, its a look that’s similar to “birds of a feather.”  But I am teetering off-course here…Perhaps even Yeat’s description of “fie in the head” – that moment of visionary experience  (The Song of Wandering Aengus) – would be more prudent. Whatever you want to call it – inspiration, Awen, visionary experience, fire in the head – everyone has those moments in their life. Moments of sheer brilliance, where the starry heavens above part to reveal your Life’s Path in jaw-dropping beauty and the limitless clarity of a clear night. And that’s what those moments tend to be – literal MOMENTS.

A few days ago, these two Tricksters decided to impart a point to me – a place where much of my Awen flows from – a form of that spirit in the head. It didn’t help that it was conveyed to me in my Forester, while I was driving home. I have never understood why these two constantly impart moments of clarity and wisdom in places where its nearly impossible to take notes, or in this case – where it can give the impression to other commuters in Flower Mound traffic that I’m completely out of my tree. Thankfully, Apple has a voice recorder built into the software of the iPhone 4s. I probably still looked a little on the strange side talking to myself. That’s all right though – I have never worried much about how other people think about me. I’m comfortable with me, and that’s the opinion that counts with me.

Much of my moments of – BAM, WOW, GOTTA WRITE THAT DOWN – have typically happened while listening to music. My meditations are usually accompanied by the music of Wendy Rule, Craig Chaquico, Enigma, Andreas Vollenweider, or something similar. I also use these same artists as background music when I am reading. My walks tend to go for bouncier music – lately its been Damh the Bard, Jim Faupel, Paul C. Newman, and Kate & Corwen. I carry my earbuds in my pocket nearly all the time. I have an iPhone plugged full of music and podcasts. I have an iPod in my Forester that has even more music plugged into it.

On the one shoulder, I have a push towards digging deeper into the music, to find that Awen entwined in the notes and lyrics of these musicians. On the other shoulder was a quiet statement, one I barely heard at first…

Take out the earbuds. You’re missing the concert

So I did. The last two walks I have taken have been without my iPhone in tow. The first walk was during a light rain. The sound of the rain falling all around was absolutely amazing. At one point, I even shuttered my umbrella, so I could hear the sounds a little more distinctly. I got soaked in the process, but it was definitely a worthy price of admission for that concert. This afternoon, I did the same thing – except that there was no rain. Just clear blue skies. Part of my walking route takes me along the fenced-in pastures of Spirithorse Ranch, where kids with disabilities are given the opportunity to be around and ride some of the most beautiful and gentle horses I have ever seen. Typically, I bring my leftover vegetables for the horses, and feed them at the fence. Today, I had nothing in my pockets, but I stopped at the edge of the fence line for fifteen to twenty minutes. I leaned against the fence and listened to the horses trotting through the pastures – romping and playing like huge dogs. In the background was the sounds of the birds, singing their songs, flittering from branch to branch…all to the rhythm section provided by the occasional gentle breeze.

I have often described my daily walks as “zoning out on the sidewalk”. But that’s always been done with earbuds in my ears with the volume cranked up loud enough not to hear conversations from fellow walkers, and low enough to avoid becoming street-pizza from the awkward driving of the neighborhood teenagers. Without the earbuds, its like hearing a completely new concert. And surely, there’s the occasional disturbance from a car here and there, but that’s sort of like having people talking during the symphony. Eventually the disturbance goes away – and you get the music back again.

All of this has given me new ideas for some sound breaks in the podcast. Essentially little sound breaks to “announce” certain parts of the show. Previously, I had used little pieces of music to provide this. This time around, I am using the music of the Natural world to assist me. I do realize that the podcast is a major change in what I have done over seven years…but the fact that these little changes are being shown to me through a little prodding…well, that makes it even more magical for me. Hopefully, it does the same for the listener as well.

Everyone likes to talk about how sudden that the “Fire” comes on – and the creative process behind it. For my two pence worth, the Fire in the Head is not just about the creative process that is its result. For me, its a lot more than just the output. Its being shown a new to process the information that one has. The output can be something as mundane as a new way to draw up a table in an Microsoft SQL Server database. Its that momentary spark of clarity – when everything sorts itself out and shows you a way to potentially try to gain a result you are wanting. It lasts for a moment. You spend the next few moments getting your brain to claw furiously at the receding result…but it was there. Trust me, I understand…I get a tap from a bird claw on one shoulder and a wet nose nudge in the neck from the other shoulder. I don’t always readily understand…and I have only just begun to realize how to listen. Take the time…don’t be in a rush, I bet you’ll find its worth it.

/|\

Upon a Pagan Path – Episode 001 – Discussion With John Beckett

UponPaganPathWelcome to the first episode of “Upon a Pagan Path”.  I am quite ecstatic and honored to have as my first guest, Patheos blogger John Beckett – the man behind the blog “Under the Ancient Oaks”. I have known John in the face-to-face world for quite some time and am quite honored to call him a friend.  In our discussion, we covered quite a few different topics – some of which John covers in quite a bit more depth in his blog.  After listening to the show, you may wish to peruse these particular blog postings of his (as well as many more of his thought-provoking posts).

Under the Ancient Oaks:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/

“A Pagan Ritual Outline”:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2012/01/a-pagan-ritual-outline.html

“Common Ritual Errors and How to Avoid Them”:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2012/01/common-ritual-errors-and-how-to-avoid-them.html


Denton CUUPS:  http://www.dentoncuups.org/

Denton UU will also be having its “Introduction to Paganism” Wednesday, November 13 at 7:00 PM:  http://www.dentonuuf.org/joomla/index.php

John will also be speaking at Pathways UU on Sunday, November 17 at 10:00 AM:  http://www.pathwaysuu.org/



This episode’s musical feature is Kellianna’s title track from her 2004 album “Lady Moon”. Kellianna’s music can be found at her website: http://www.kellianna.com/ . Please remember to support your independent Pagan musicians and BUY their music!!


The Spoken word segment is an old poem of my own called “Nighttime Contemplations”.



Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Shownotes: http://onapaganpath.wordpress.com/


Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath-001-Nov2013.mp3


001 – Discussion with John Beckett

UponPaganPathWelcome to the first episode of “Upon a Pagan Path”.  I am quite ecstatic and honored to have as my first guest, Patheos blogger John Beckett – the man behind the blog “Under the Ancient Oaks”. I have known John in the face-to-face world for quite some time and am quite honored to call him a friend.  In our discussion, we covered quite a few different topics – some of which John covers in quite a bit more depth in his blog.  After listening to the show, you may wish to peruse these particular blog postings of his (as well as many more of his thought-provoking posts).

Under the Ancient Oaks:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/

“A Pagan Ritual Outline”:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2012/01/a-pagan-ritual-outline.html

“Common Ritual Errors and How to Avoid Them”:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2012/01/common-ritual-errors-and-how-to-avoid-them.html


Denton CUUPS:  http://www.dentoncuups.org/

Denton UU will also be having its “Introduction to Paganism” Wednesday, November 13 at 7:00 PM:  http://www.dentonuuf.org/joomla/index.php

John will also be speaking at Pathways UU on Sunday, November 17 at 10:00 AM:  http://www.pathwaysuu.org/



 

This episode’s musical feature is Kellianna’s title track from her 2004 album “Lady Moon”. Kellianna’s music can be found at her website: http://www.kellianna.com/ . Please remember to support your independent Pagan musicians and BUY their music!!


 

The Spoken word segment is an old poem of my own called “Nighttime Contemplations”.



 

Contact Information

Email: elfster@gmail.com

Google Voice-mail: (972) 514-7315

Skype: tommyelf22

Twitter: @t_elfster

Shownotes: http://onapaganpath.wordpress.com/


Direct Download link:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/paganpath/PaganPath-001-Nov2013.mp3


First Steps “Upon a Pagan Path”….

In less than an hour, I will be conducting my first discussion with a guest for my new podcast “Upon a Pagan Path”.  That individual will be John Beckett, someone I am fortunate enough to know face-to-face as well. I think John brings a very interesting approach to Paganism as a part of one’s everyday Life, and as that is the primary focus of what “Upon a Pagan Path” is about – I considered this discussion to be a natural fit.

Despite the fact that I am quite comfortable talking with John – he is a very friendly individual and very easy to talk with – I am extremely nervous. Not once during the 7+ years of doing “From the Edge of the Circle” did I have an interview or discussion for the podcast’s episodes. Things were kept at a monologue perspective, since the podcast’s perspective was my sharing of my approach to Paganism. So this new approach to providing a platform for the voices of Paganism is a very radical step for me. It will be a challenge…I completely agree that it will.  I am looking forward to everything that challenge will offer. But I am still a bit nervous.  🙂  And from what I gather, nervousness is a good sign….

Tommy /|\