Rolling the Crystal Ball Out to the Fire – Pagan Future Anyone??

I’m writing the Tuesday blog early. Its Monday night, its dark outside…just wanting to set the mood a touch here. 😊 I love dark nights out by a fire, just sitting and talking. That’s sort of the direction I want to take this post. As I said in the previous post, I plan on utilizing the rest of the calendar year’s schedule for posting to reflect on the future of Paganism. At least the future as I see it through my lens. Please remember, I am not trying to stir controversy with all of this. Rather, my goal is to stir conversation. From conversation we can derive so much more than we can from argument and debate. Conversation stimulates creativity, and creativity allows one to add to conceptual perceptions of matters that have yet to come forward.

I’ve got a job waiting for my graduation
Fifty thou a year’ll buy a lot of beer
Things are going great, and they’re only getting better
I’m doing alright, getting good grades
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

Timbuk 3, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”

Not sure if people remember this song. I always enjoyed it. Cheesy lyrics, but still fun enough to make you grin and remember those first steps into the wider world. Speaking of which…and turning back to the point of the Pagan future…think back, do you remember when you started down your Pagan Path? Well, I do. Let me get our fire started first.

Ever seen a fire start with a big boom like that? Nearly burned my eyebrows. LOL I probably need to use a lot less lighter fluid, eh? Anyways, that first step into Paganism. I remember mine. I was learning from the folks that had learned from the Wiccans in the Dallas/Fort Worth area back in the 1970s. They had learned from others who had learned from others in the 1960s…blah, blah, blah. This group begat that group which begat those groups. Apparently it was a lot of begats. Well, joking aside, lineage was a big thing. Where you learned from and who was important. Being part of a group was a big thing. Being on your own…usually provided you with a (sometimes) undeserved reputation of being shaky and shady. After my first year within a group, my initiation came with a notation that I was the future of the information I was learning. I would assist in passing the information on to future members. The implication was that there would be no changes to what I was learning. It came from here which came from there which got it from this other place.

Then the late 1980s hit. Pagans everywhere were finding books on the Barnes and Nobles bookshelves (about the most comparable example to today’s online Amazon), which taught the reader who to be an [x] Pagan. With the advent of the books came the perspective of comparing materials in every direction. What was different than we had been taught? Why this and not that? Experimentation, exchange of materials happened, new directions were found – brand new Pathways were beginning to be created. For your traditionalist, your reconstructionist, the purists…this was sacrilege. But we are talking a generation of new Pagans that came from my generation. I’m a kid of the late-1970s and mid-1980s. Rebellion was our calling-card. Our parents were outraged over the idea of Satanists among their midst. We flocked to Slayer, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, and Exodus for musical influences. We bought LaVey’s “Satanic Bible” believing we were touching something truly evil – which it was, but from a marketing standpoint rather a content context. We ate up the ridiculous concept of backward masking on albums, believing that messages were recorded backwards to fill our minds with “secret” messages and commands that were derived directly from Satan. Why? Because we wanted to be “different” than our parents. We rebelled against the corporate image projected on to the business world by IBM with its starched white-collar shirt with dress pants, and black dress shoes. We embraced the technological revolution, whose icons looked like we wanted to – wild hair, t-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes. We were looking for ways to do things our own way.

Even today, experimentation is frowned upon. Deviation from the script is considered as impolite, rude, even sacrilegious. But, just like the technological revolution sought to revolutionize the way people worked – many of the younger Pagans looked for ways to revolutionize the Paganism they were taught. Not to change Paganism, but to EVOLVE it. The technological revolution provided employees with the power of a mainframe system (which typically took up an entire floor) in a box with its own monitor, mouse and keyboard that could be set on your desk. A room half the footprint of a mainframe could contain the power of dozens of mainframes, all at desks that employees could manipulate things as they needed to, without the “High Priests of technology” (the individuals operating the mainframe in a locked, enclosed area) being the middleman. As these new Pagans had grown up in the churches that their parents forced them to, they had been living under the concept of that same middleman, in the form of the Preacher. These new pagans in the 1980s wanted to take something that “sort of” worked for them and transform it into something new. Something that spoke directly to them. And they were lambasted for their efforts. I watched all that happen. I watched Pagans walk away from their covens, away from their groups – and reach out on their own. Essentially becoming the rejected solo practitioners that they had been warned about. Because groups had the lineage – and that was the SOLE truth.

Now, before I get tackled, bagged, and quartered for slamming on groups…I’m actually not. I am however, presenting an aspect of historical notation to the growth of Paganism…utilizing a SINGLE aspect of the huge growth of Solitary exploration that has happened all the way through to today. The groups that utilized lineage as the example of their Path – they are still here in Paganism. And still a big part of all of what we are, collectively, as Pagans. Solo Pagans and Pagan groups have existed side-by-side – and continue to do so. Just as white lighters, chaos magicians, fluffy bunnies, and Pagans of nearly every descriptive that you can devise have also established their own basis. Not everyone agrees with everyone else. Some are seen in a negative light by others – but regardless, they are all here. Me? I have a foot in both camps. Most of my Paganism and Druidry is done on my own. Yet, I am still a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD). A few times a year (when COVID is not closing the doors on gatherings of people), I spend time with my fellow OBOD folks in a group celebration. Solo doesn’t mean being alone.

Let me throw another twig on the fire. Maybe I can find one with a lot of leaves, so we can get some smoke going. Sort of like what a lot of folks might think of what I’ve written so far. Which is fine. I’m not trying to appeal to everyone’s sensibilities, merely to get a conversation started. So, the future of Paganism? Groups or solo? I’ve watched the growth of the solo Pagan over the years. But groups haven’t been stagnant either. There’s been growth there as well. New Paths have started, flourished, and stepped into bigger roles within the wider community. Will our Pagan future include only a solo Path or fall back to the Groups and lineage perspective? I can’t say for sure. Predicting a Paganism that resembles a no-rules Woodstock fest utilizing a Pagan past that is much closer in scope to a 1950s coffee-house gathering…is a touch impossible. The data points are just not there to foster any kind of predictive analysis. And you know what? I’m supremely elated over that. I look at these new generation of Pagans, and I see their creativity, their excitement of exploring a Spirituality that is wide open to them…and I envy them. They are stepping into a new world that is ready to unfold for them in ways that I could never fathom. My way of doing my Paganism, my Druidry, my own Spiritual practice – all of that might fade into the dark of history after I pass away with no one to carry that aspect forward. I’m ok with that. My voice was here. It will carry on into the ages of tomorrow in whatever form. But I am elated that their voices are here – that they will carry on. That future generations will find these voices and be inspired to their own ends. What does Paganism look like in the future? Fuck if I know. But its going to something stupendous, beautiful, and amazing – provided we let it grow. Provided we remain respectful of perspectives that are different from our own. Because that’s the carrier-wave that everything else is built upon. That’s our electronic ark to the future.

Let’s face a touch of reality. Paganism today is not the same as the Paganism of yesteryear. Paganism of tomorrow will be very, very different to the Paganism of today. Our collective Spirituality evolves on a steady pace. Some of it picks up the pieces of today’s social mores, the hot political takes on the world around us, and melds all that into a newer, fresher Pagan perspective. One that appeals to the younger generations that are among us. When I was a younger Pagan, the huge majority had stepped away from a religious perspective of our parents…typically as a measure of flying them the finger as we stepped out to live our own lives. Today’s younger Pagan may also be doing that, but there are newer pagans who have lived with Paganism all their lives and were afforded the opportunity to decide their own Spiritual perspective. They likely won’t have the Revolutionary’s heart within them. Nor the measure of defiance that Pagans of my generation did. As Bob Dylan once lamented, “the times they are a-changing.”

I sincerely doubt that Paganism’s future will be anything close to what imagine. But that future is not mine. That future is for the younger generation to decide. My generation built much of today’s Paganism. Yes, this chaotic, seemingly uneven, deeply messy Paganism that we currently have. For those looking for a structured, orderly version of Paganism – where everything would be bagged, tagged, and set neatly to the side. Well, sorry. That can happen in your corner, but Paganism is much wider, far more, open, far freer, far wilder, and more feral than many may have imagined it to be. Its certainly far beyond what I ever dreamed of back when I started down this path. Frightening in some respects. In comprehensible in others. But damn it’s a gorgeous sight to behold. Paganism may seem like a hot mess to some, but it’s the freedom to reach for the beyond of our nearby environments that lets that shapely beauty out of its jumpsuit for me. Many parts of Paganism are not my cup of tea, but I am thrilled that they exist.

I truly do envy the youth within Paganism. Where Paganism is today may feel chaotic to others, but to me I see the wide-open portal to the stars…the opening to something that has the possibility to be even more. What will they create with all this available to them? I can’t even imagine. I wish and hope I am around long enough to just dip my toe into the depths of what they start. I feel its going to be incredible.

Just one Pagan’s opinion….

–Tommy /|\

Thinking About: Individual Self-Image in Contrast With Fictional Characters (Part Two of Two)

Remembering Episode One

So far, in trying to answer a question that was snarkily (my impression) posed to me in wondering if I thought I was Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings, I have discussed some of the fictional and re-imagined historical figures that I identify with in movies, tv shows and novels. In re-reading what I have written to this point, I feel like I am completely psychoanalyzing myself to a large degree. In this follow-up second part, I wanted to take some of what I have written and swing it back around to my Spirituality. I mean, this blog is about me, but the primary focus is on my own Spirituality. All of that is done in the hopes that maybe one person gets something out of all of this and has their own personal revelation as to how these fictional stories helps provide the necessary cement to hold these concepts together. This particular post is no exception.

Somewhat Circling Back to Science Fiction as a Gateway to Paganism

Back in 2016, I attended one of the three Pantheacon conventions I ever made. At this particular convention, I attended a panel entitled “Morphing the Myth” which was about Paganism in popular fiction. I wrote a handful of posts inspired by this particular panel (“Morphing the Myth – a Personal Look“, “Morphing the Myth – Gateway to Paganism“, and “Morphing the Myth: What Does Myth Mean to You?“). However, I wanted to take this time to circle back to the idea of Science Fiction and Fantasy as a gateway into Paganism. or at least part of the role that these science fiction characters play within my own life. When I go back and look at the characters that I named, there is a strong note of independence between all of them. That concept of being able to do what was necessary, even without the help of anyone else or whatever the odds might be. To use another Star Wars character that I strongly identify with, look at Jyn Erso in the movie Stars Wars: Rogue One. One perspective that I didn’t mention earlier was what others have described as my ability to be an inspirational leader. Jyn is also fiercely independent. She inspires a group of others to walk away from the Rebel Alliance party line and follow her in what was definitely a suicide mission just to obtain the plans of the Death Star so the Alliance could find its weakness and destroy it. Now, I don’t think that the character of Jyn Erso would have drawn me towards Paganism, if I were younger and not thirty-plus years on my own Path. However, I can see where someone younger might be inspired by the independent nature of Erso to look into other alternative areas of Life. Perhaps, in that search, they might come across Paganism. Who knows? Who can say? But the possibility is there. However, I can pull up a few dozen Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and series that could directly point a person into searching through Paganism as an alternative to their desired Spirituality. As I have been often reminded me:  “Words have meaning.” And as I have to often remind myself: “That meaning is derived from the individual reading those words.”

So did all of the characters I mentioned previously, as well as the ones I have not mentioned, turn me into a raging Pagan? No, not really. However, each of these characters, as they are written and portrayed, have provided thematic moments that have helped cement the character traits that I have. My sense of Honor. My buildup of Trust with others. My understanding of what is my own “tribe” of people. None of these characters fully describe me as a person. None of these characters are full amalgamations of what is my Druidry, what is my Paganism or the complex connections I have with the world around me. At best, they are good descriptors of a handful of all of that. These cinematic and novelized moments are; however, excellent visual descriptives to bring to those that are trying to understand aspects of who and what I am. These are absolutely not the greatest descriptives, but in each of these are handles that others can readily grasp and understand at the most minimal of levels. Deeper discussions can take place around a fire late at night, under the moon, with drinks of our desire of the moment in our hands.

Why I Believe Fictional Characters are So Important

These fictional characters are important in our lives. That’s right. I believe that these characters reinforce parts of who we are. When Billy refused to give up Chavez to the lynch mob outside, it shows that he values his friends in all matters – no matter the skin color of that friend.

Billy the Kid:  See, you get three or four good pals. Well, then you’ve got yourself a tribe. And there ain’t nothing stronger than that.

For me, this is an example of the meaning of the word “pals” as is stated at the end of the movie. These people that are part of your tribe are important. That moment in the movie only helped reinforce that idea. I am sure that there are many, many moments in movies and novels and tv series and nearly anything else you can comment on, which do the same for others. All of these pieces of entertainment that we watch are mirrors for parts of ourselves. Yes, even the evil, horrible, blood spraying horror movies that make an ‘R’ rating. All of this places a mirror in front of us, where we can see what we are made of. Now, I am not claiming that these things show us the psycho killer in all of us. Rather, these films show us ways that we stand up to such exciting villains in our own manners of thinking.

Curly Bill: You know what I’d do? I’d take that deal ‘n’ crawfish, then drill that ol’ Devil in the ass. What about you Johnny, what would you do?

Johnny Ringo: I already did it.

These two are speaking of a stage-play of Faust making a deal with the Devil. Haven’t you watched a scene where you had imagined what you might have done in that situation? How you would have responded? Have you ever diagnosed it a bit deeper and tried to figure out how your own personality traits would have made that scene different? Or how the character that is in the dilemma has responded exactly as you would have? Many of these stories allow us to place our own personalities into the mix for our imaginations to work through. In many instances in real life, we may find ourselves thinking back to how a favorite character might have responded to some of the situations we find ourselves in. And those quick summations in our minds may provide the inspiration for a better response than we had initially thought of. These fictional characters provide archetypes that we can form our own hypotheses around.

Should This Matter to You?

So, after writing all of these thoughts, there really is only one final question: should any of this really matter to you? Well, the only person that can really answer that is you. Much of drawing inspiration from popular media sources really lies within you. Not everyone is going to see themselves in characters of a movie, tv series, or novel. Some folks do watch and read all of this as an escape from reality. They are not trying to inject themselves into these characters – even if that injection is only a small part of who they are. They are wanting storylines that give them relief from a world around them, not solutions or inspirations for the very real pressures of Life. I completely grok that perspective and I respect it highly. Everyone has to make their own way through Life in the manner that works best for them. And honestly, there will be a lot of people that cannot agree with my perspective of self-identifying with characters and situations from a fictional world. But then, I am not suggesting that every single human needs to do things exactly as I do. I prefer people to think and do for themselves. I am only representing something that does help me and inspire me to find solutions of my own.

Bringing This Saga to an End/Final Thoughts

In my opinion, there is a lot to unpack for someone here. Furthermore, I know there will be folks who disagree with my assessment of some of the characters, as well as the self-assessment I have splattered all over these two posts. I am perfectly fine with those differences. Life is not always clean and easy. There is a lot of dirty to trying to live life as authentically as you can. When you start adding more and more factors into all of that – politics, dealing with other people, paying bills, working a job – the mud gets deeper and thicker. I do see a lot of these characters in myself. Not complete work-ups of me. Just smaller parts. And some of those parts are contradictory. And those contradictions are sometimes Gordian knots that you just cannot get untied easily. And some of them you don’t want to get untied because those contradictions make you who you are. In the end, we decide what fits our self-image and what doesn’t. Sometimes, we don’t know about all the aspects of our image. Others see us in a different way. And reconciling those different aspects can be even more tedious and difficult. This was just my way of trying to explain pieces of my own self-image drawn against the backdrop of particular fictional characters. Your mileage will definitely vary.

–T /|\

Thinking About: Individual Self-Image in Contrast With Fictional Characters (Part One of Two)

Much of what you are about to read came from a snarky question thrown in my face in a private Facebook message that I tried to turn into a single post answer.

So what gives with all the Ranger stuff? Do you believe you are Aragorn now?

Someone asked if I would take another picture of me wearing the mask correctly. So I obliged.

My initial reaction was to be a touch offended. Then I started laughing to myself, as I thought it was a touch funny to have myself compared to a character that I truly am not near in any psychological or emotional aspect. However, I started thinking about the characters that I do deeply associate myself with. Fictional characters (or in some cases interpretations of historical figures from the perspective of a writer, producer and actor) that I can see pieces of myself within. I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to answer the question without approaching this without taking a deeper dive than usual.

Looking at Characters from Various Mediums

So, yes, I do see aspects of myself in various characters from fictional works. I tend to look at these characters to be archetypes of smaller pieces of who I am. None of these characters, or the ones to come later in my life, are complete parts of me. Most characters from these stories are barely on the threshold of being three-dimensional, complex characters. Sometimes, the creator of these stories will provide some complexity to the characters, thus providing a touch deeper aspect of realism and reality to them and the stories that they are encompassed within, but even then, the full manner of approaching the complexity of a real human is still a much further reach. Certainly, there will be those that would disagree with me, which I am perfectly fine with. Essentially this little blog post (or essay if you will), is just my own personal perspective.

Billy the Kid
One of the characters that I completely identify with is that of Billy the Kid from the two Young Guns movies. I have often said that I likely was born in the wrong time frame of the world. I am drawn to that genre of the West very strongly. Now, given that, my pull is more towards the difficult times that encompassed that part of the world. A time when we were invaders into the First Nations. We had more difficulty in trying to work with the original inhabitants of that new environment because of our blindness for a new experience, a chance to live free from the rules of the Old World and the far more “civilized” eastern parts of the United States. The discovery of gold – and its terminal sickness of greed – paired with a lust of land ownership, only made things worse. Young Guns was not truly set in a world where that took place. Young Guns tends to lean more towards the romanticized thoughts of the old West. Billy the Kid is a leader of a loose band of friends that are caught up in the cattle wars and vendettas of the unincorporated New Mexico area during the Lincoln County War. Billy (real name Henry McCarty) spends much of the movie wise-cracking his way through various encounters with rival ranch hands, bounty hunters and eventually law enforcement. However, it is Billy’s unswerving loyalty to his ranch boss, even after he is killed by rival ranch hands, that rings true. This is also mirrored in a moment at a whorehouse, where Billy’s gang is surrounded by townspeople and the local law enforcement (Young Guns II). When the local Sherriff offers up the half-Mexican, half Native American Chavez y Chavez as an atonement to the crowd that is lusting for a lynching, Billy refuses, citing that the Sheriff doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘pals.” This is an example of Billy’s commitment to his companions. When he finds people he cares deeply about, he has a sense of loyalty to them, even when they turn sides on him as Pat Garret does in the second movie.

Doc Scurlock:  You son of a bitch! You’re starting to believe what they’re writing about you, aren’t you? Let me tell you what you really are! You rode a 15 year old boy straight to his grave, and the rest of us straight to hell… straight to hell! William H. Bonney! You are NOT a god! (Cocking his rifle and pointing it at Bill)

Billy the Kid:  Why don’t you pull the trigger and find out.

Billy’s loose grasp of leadership, treating all of his friends as equals, is a quality I have seen in myself. This came in very handy when I was a Sergeant in the Air Force. The Airmen that I was charged with supervising never felt that I had to lord my authority over them. I treated them as equals in the job, relying as much on their knowledge as I did on my own. Billy’s loyalty to his friends is a quality I have always prized within myself. Even when Doc turns on Billy, as noted in the above quote, Billy’s response is a quiet determination for Doc to go ahead and pull the trigger. Billy is loyal enough to not doubt Doc, even when staring the barrel of Doc’s rifle.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s character gets to be a little specific. I absolutely loved Alec Guinness’ portrayal of the character, but I never really identified much with the character in Episode IV. However, Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Kenobi in Episodes II and III were far easier to find myself within. Kenobi at this point is trying his utmost best to be several things all at once. A mentor to Anakin, a sitting member of the Jedi Council and a friend to both Anakin and Padme during a time where he is seemingly aware of the extreme close relationship the two have developed with one another – contradicting a personal code of conduct that Jedi are implied to follow. It wasn’t until I started watching the animated Clone Wars that I realized that Kenobi had found himself in the exact same situation as Anakin. I stumbled across this bit of information about Kenobi and Duchess Satine from a YouTube video that took parts of Kenobi from all aspects of Star Wars to create a fanfic tribute to the character. This only cemented my identification with the character, as Kenobi was shown to make good decisions, but also suffer from mental blindness in others because of his emotions for others. To this end, I could see a lot of the character traits of Kenobi within myself. Kenobi also has an ability to zero in on the completion of his assigned mission over everything else, a definite trait that I can see in myself – and often times, a personal failing of my own. Kenobi’s sense of honor and duty are very easily mapped on to my own sensibilities. But there is another very important quote of Kenobi’s that I find resonates deeply within me.

Obi-Wan Kenobi:  If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess…then you have nothing.

This particular quote defines a difference between myself and some of my supervisors that I have worked for. I have no desire to dominate. I have no reason to try and make myself look or seem greater than anyone else. I do not see a single way or path to accomplish what I am asked to do. Some ways or methods are longer in a time frame, but the results – in my way of thinking – might be better defined, explained and sourced. Honestly, this is a part of me that has started to come out more often than not. I do not seek to make myself right. I seek to follow where my footfalls may take me. I am not seeking a position of dominance or power. Neither of those fit into the goals of where I seek to go. To someone seeking drive, power, glory, name recognition and the such – I can readily see where our perspectives would clash.

The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian is a bit more of a difficult character to work through for me. The perspective is a little easier to understand though. The Mandalorian is only trying to make his way through Life, trying to provide for his clan in a manner befitting the honor he is trying to keep. As a bounty hunter, he wants to make sure that Justice is served towards those who broke their oaths and agreements to others. He is trying to do the “right thing”. When his bounty is to bring The Child to an individual that seemingly does not have its best interests at heart, the Mandalorian steps back into action saving The Child’s life. Not only is the Mandalorian driven by a sense of Justice, but he is also driven by a sense of Honor. Both aspects are larger parts of what drives me on in life, so there is a strong correlation there. A few friends have admitted that the sense and style of the Mandalorian character are very similar to who I am, at least in their eyes. For me, I am not completely sure that the similarities are as tight as others may perceive, but I also have to remember that I am looking into a mirror, where as they are looking directly at me. However, much like Kenobi’s direction towards accomplishing the mission, the Mandalorian does have a single-minded move towards accomplishing what the bounty requests. However, he does not sacrifice his friends to accomplish those ends, a trait in common with the Billy the Kid character from the Young Guns movies.

This is not the character from the tv series M*A*S*H though I do I adore the zaniness of that character. This is actually the lead character in the book and movie, The Last of the Mohicans. This is perhaps the easiest character for me to self identify with. Hawkeye has a strong individualistic trait that is combined with a super-strong sense of tribalism with those he cares deeply about. For me, both of these are core traits as to who I am and what I believe.

Maj. Duncan Heyward: I thought all our colonial scouts were in the militia. The militia is fighting the French in the north.

Hawkeye: I ain’t your scout. And we sure ain’t no damn militia.

That perspective of being what is not expected of you is a big part of my past, as well as my present.  I suspect it will be the same going into my future as well. This actually figures into a lot of what I am. When I was in the military, I sought out repair methods that were not traditional – not to be different – but to get the job done. The military’s stance, at least at that time, was not to improvise. Follow the repair instructions to the letter. I never consulted the instructions unless I ran into a dead-end and needed some inspiration on a different direction to try. My Druidry is much the same. I see the direction I am pointed, I walk it for a while and then try to find some parallel Path that allows me to explore in my own manner. I guess, it could be said that I am strictly unconventional. Not sure how that would sit with those that prefer a more conventional approach to Life, but then that’s their approach. I would never say their approach was bad for them. I would say, its likely not to work out as neatly for me.

The Ranger class of Dungeons and Dragons
Ok. Don’t laugh. In fact, try and have a little bit of an open mind. I have played dozens upon dozens of games of Dungeons and Dragons. Nearly every single character that I have played is the Ranger. When taking those inane Question/Answer personality quizzes that you see floating around Facebook, every single one of the Dungeons and Dragons themed quizzes have brought me the result of the Ranger.

Though a ranger might make a living as a hunter, a guide, or a tracker, a ranger’s true calling is to defend the outskirts of civilization from the ravages of monsters and humanoid hordes that press in from the wild.

This fierce independence makes them well suited to adventuring, since they are accustomed to life far from the comforts of a dry bed and warm water. Some rangers find the responsibility of protecting the rest of an adventuring party to be burdensome, but most quickly find that other adventurers who can carry their own weight in a fight against civilization’s foes are worth any extra burden. City-bred adventurers might not know how to feed themselves or find fresh water in the wild, but they make up for it in other ways. A ranger’s talents and abilities are honed with deadly focus on the grim task of protecting the borderlands.

Warriors of the wilderness, rangers specialize in hunting the monsters that threaten the edges of civilization—humanoid raiders, rampaging beasts and monstrosities, terrible giants, and even dragons. They learn to track their prey as a predator does, moving stealthily through the wilds and hiding themselves in brush and rubble. Rangers focus their combat training on techniques that are particularly useful against their specific favored foes. Thanks to their intimate familiarity with the wilds, rangers also acquire the ability to cast spells that harness nature’s power, much as a druid does. Their spells, like their combat abilities, focus on speed, stealth, and the hunt.”  

“Classes –Ranger”, Dungeons & Dragons website, located at

The point that stands right out for me is the concept of fierce independence, followed quickly by a desire to defend others against forces aligned against them. I have always felt a desire to protect and defend others. My military service was filled with the perspective that part of my duty as a military member was to defend the Constitution of the United States against all aggressors – foreign and domestic.” And while I don’t serve in the military any longer, I still hold that oath as being in place with who I am. Admittedly, its not the easiest of perspectives to maintain in this day and age, with the swirling political waters we found ourselves in. I have lost a few friends refuting their perspectives of what is appropriate for a President to do with Constitutional proof that its the exact opposite. Politically, I hold no party affiliation nor do I have a desire to affiliate or find any form of allegiance to one. I have taken that particular stand since I was eighteen. I’m nearly fifty-five now (in just a few days, in fact). For some indelible reason that I cannot firmly place my fingers on, I feel a kindred spirit with this particular class in a table-top role-playing game.

Cinematic Cliff Hanger for Part One

These are just some of the characters that I find myself associating with. Certainly there are others, but these were the first ones that came to mind when I was writing this. Just as I am sure there will be others going into the future as well. With this particular section now approaching 2500 words, I’ll bring this to a stop here. In the next post, the second half of this, I want to take a look at how stories with these archetypal characters influence us on levels that we might not even be aware of. I will also take a step back to looking at Science Fiction and Fantasy as potential gateways for folks into Paganism, something I have done before. Lastly, I want to explore one more aspect – if all of this should matter to you at all – a rhetorical question I will probably dance around the edges of, but one that I think might be useful for some folks to explore.

Thanks for reading part One. I hope you stick around to read Part Two which I’ll post tomorrow.

–T /|\

Thinking About: What Makes a Pagan, a Pagan?

Today’s blog post is in response to a statement posed by a friend on Facebook.

We pagans find it easier to agree on what we are NOT than what we are.

This one is going to be a tough one. Essentially, looking underneath the statement to find the underlying anchor stones, I get left with really wide-open questions. “What is Paganism?” “Why can Pagans not agree on a set of defining principles that bring a solid foundational aspect to what makes a Pagan?” All I can hope is that this post does more than muddy the waters. I do; however, love to play in the waters of the creek. 🙂

To a point, I am reminded of a moment in the tv show Babylon 5, where G’kar is trying to enlighten his fellow Narn as to the truths that he has found in his many moments of solitude. Moments that have changed him from the angry, raging warrior that he was in the earlier seasons to a seeker of self enlightenment that has curbed that anger and provided a much stronger, wiser, and far more peaceable character in the latter part of the show. I will link to the video of that segment below on YouTube. Try not to get thrown by the costuming too much and listen to what G’kar says. In the meantime, I’ll go make a cup of coffee.

I know it seems that I am making fun of the question, but really its not. This particular segment from the tv show has something that I believe is a quite often on display when trying to describe one’s beliefs to others – a lack of compatible wording or even a lack of compatible concepts. The theorem follows that if you ask ten Pagans to describe what Paganism is, you will get eleven different answers. That is just from those that are creating the message. More confuse will arise from those receiving the message. The term “Priest,” for example, means something vastly different to a Christian. Add more than one type of Christian, and the number of meanings gets even larger. The more people you add to the conversation, the more the meanings of words begin to change. The more meanings change, the more misunderstanding that arises from the conversation. So, how to describe a Pagan? How do we synthesize the many different beliefs and concepts of the very wide and vast collection of faiths and belief systems that are ascribed under the so-called “Big Tent of Paganism?” Perhaps, we don’t.

See, Christians have this easier (maybe). They have a holy writ, the Bible, from which their beliefs spring from. The idea of being a Christian is to follow the teaching of Jesus ben Joseph, otherwise known as Jesus Christ. The basic concept is that in following these teachings that, as a follower, you become more like Christ. Yet, even with the anchor stone of the Bible, Christians cannot agree who among that designation is or is not part of that group. Back when I worked in the college, one summer afternoon, I had lengthy discussion with someone I would describe as an evangelic Christian over the Christian nature of the Catholic faith. I pointed back to the anchor stone of the Bible as evidence of the Christian aspect of the Catholic faith. He pointed to the way the Catholic Church does not follow the teachings of Jesus ben Joseph as an example of how these followers were not Christians. All according to how he interpreted the Bible to be read. Yet both are part of the wider range of Christianity, depending on whose interpretation you follow.

So, in light of that difference within a faith, how do we define Paganism? Who gets to be in the “Big Tent” and who doesn’t? Because this is going to help determine the definitive lines that need to be drawn in the sand to identify what is a Pagan and what is not. Right? If you believe (x), you get to be in.

There was a Facebook page surrounding a post from Patheos which slowly devolved into what seemingly is an online pushing match on the playground of Paganism. The pushing match was a result of soft polytheists feeling that hard polytheists were creating the definitions of how the Gods can or cannot be approached or worked with. The Patheos post is here. Give it a read, if you like. Personally, I thought the article (opinion piece, if you prefer) was quite well written. Yes, it is written from a hard polytheism point of view. It also approaches matters from a theological stand point, which I have no desire to go into. I’m not a Theologian. I don’t even play one on tv. I certainly did not perceive the post as trying to create holy writ or even telling soft polytheists that they are completely wrong. However, in a Facebook thread (I do not have permission to link you there) it was taken that way by a lot of soft polytheists. Now, I bring up this thread to not only round out the entire pushing match, but to also provide an example of what I am not in favor of doing: creating lines in the sand of what is or is not Paganism.

So, 870+ words into all of this and I have danced and wiggled (don’t visualize) around the entire concept of defining Paganism. What defining construct do we have that makes us all Pagans? Off the top of my head, we all have an innate love of our Natural world. But then, this makes me believe that we might need to determine what is and what is not the “Natural World.” Technology is a part of our world. Just as the concrete and glass buildings we have created to reach into the clouds are also a part of our world. Perhaps an easier thought would be that we all try and to find a balance between the wild aspect of our environments and the parts that we have “tamed” to provide easier living conditions for us, the human beings of this planet. Some Pagans reach for magick within their everyday existence. Some, such as myself, don’t. That makes us different, but surely despite the difference – we can agree on the existence of magick in many ways and formats, some which we cannot explain readily to others because of a lack of corner stones from where to attach commonality for proper discourse. Perhaps, Paganism is merely the wide-ranging umbrella term that we believe it to be. A term that describes individuals that live a life not bound by a holy writ, such as the Bible or the Koran or whatever set of rules and documents created long ago. Perhaps Pagans are those people who live their lives not bound to such rules. Pagans reach out and connect with their environment openly and find the Paths that are most suitable to each individual.

We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny and in the name of God

And you can see them there on Sunday morning
Stand up and sing about what it’s like up there
They called it paradise, I don’t know why
You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye

The Eagles, “The Last Resort”

Perhaps, a more on-point perspective might be this. Christians live their lives here on Earth, looking for a better life beyond. Life here is disposable. Their desire is the life beyond this one. Pagans, on the other hand, live in there here and now. We find ways to be the caretakers of this planet because we want to be alive today and leave a livable environment for generations to come. We are not looking for a more glorious place in the After Life. But then again, this is coming back to describing what we are not, rather than what we are.

A better solution might be to jettison all the Christian comparisons and develop our anchor stones a little better. Pagans are those who live their lives connected to the world around them and in some cases to the worlds beyond. Pagans found comfort and wisdom in the environment and try their best to blend the wild aspects of the world with the environments that have been created to keep us more comfortable. As for the everlasting battle between the hard and soft polytheists – and including those that don’t fall into either camp – everyone experiences the Gods (or God and Goddess or the Unknown) differently. We are all individuals, not clones. Our experiences are different, even if we name the resulting part differently.

Now, if all this makes sense to you, come and explain it to me, ok? No, I’m kidding. What I will tell you is this – all of this is my opinion. Its not holy writ of any kind. I am one thousand percent confident that there will be folks that disagree with me. Yes, even Pagan ones. Because if every single Pagan in this world agreed with me, I would need to find another planet to live on. That would frighten me beyond belief.

So what is a Pagan? And can we make it a definition that draws lines to absolutely define what a Pagan is? Well, you’ve got one opinion here. If we work at it, we can find nine other Pagans to voice their opinion too. We might be able to break the record and get fifteen different opinions. 🙂 All I know is that if you define yourself as a Pagan, take it super serious and constantly continue on the life-long exploration to find what works for you and what doesn’t…you’re a Pagan in my book, for whatever that’s worth. I’m not entirely sure I have answered any question with all of this. However, I do hope all of this has provided some food for thought – even if the conversation is just between you and yourself.

–T /|\

Every night I stare up at the stars and am thankfully for the life I am living now. A life defined by my personal beliefs. Its a freedom I never take for granted.

Revisiting “Morphing the Myth” – Building a Mystery or Personal Self-Examination?

All of what you are about to read started with a question posed to me in Facebook, which I turned into a status post. From there, what I perceived to be a touch of playfulness from Cat Treadwell turned into me turning that same point over and over in my mind. First let me setup what happened to get this entire aspect kicked into gear.

Q; Biggest Pagan confession?

Well…its not much of a confession, as a lot of people do know this about me. I’m not a fan of the Mabinogion. Never really was enthralled with it when I read it (all three times, different translation each time), and its generally not a part of anything that I practice within my Spirituality. I grok that it speaks to others….just not me. Now what’s my penance? ::eye-roll::

This was what started everything. A simple question, followed by my answer. Many of the members of OBOD – and many more Druids – are inspired by the Mabinogion. For me, its an odd series of tales, which provide no area of ready comprehension for me. That prompted the following….

Cat: So what story speaks to you instead?

Me: Mythological?? Theseus and the Minotaur.

Cat: I do wonder who set those Pagan Rules. Tolkien made his own mythology. I’d love to see yours.

Me: Mine would be really messy…I mean REALLY messy….

Cat: Do it!

…and all of that started my brain racing.

A few years back, I attended Pantheacon in San Jose, California. Actually, I attended it three years in a row. In one of those years, there was a panel that I attended called “Morphing the Myth” which I wrote a blog post on. There’s actually about six or seven blog posts that tie to this panel, but you should get the picture with the one. If you want to read further, just do a search on “Morphing the Myth” here at the blog site, and you should pull up the other posts.

Back to Pantheacon’s “Morphing the Myth” panel… Much of the discussion fell towards how Science Fiction and Fantasy open the doorway to Paganism for so many people. Cat’s point on Tolkien really struck home with this thematic for me and realized that I was suddenly thrust back into the panel’s wide-ranging discussion. Tolkien wrote a very impressive universe for his stories to live in. His vivid depictions of places such as Fangorn Forest, the formidable and dangerous land of Mordor, and the dwarven fortress of Erebor, provide the fertile ground upon which the seeds of his stories grow and take deep root. In much the same way, we find similar fertile ground in the myths and legends that we read, study, and explore. For some of us, certain legends resonate deeply with who we are and the manner in which we connect with the world around us. As I noted, the Mabinogian holds no such cherished treasure for me. Furthermore, while I identify greatly with Theseus in the story concerning the Minotaur, is is also not a story that calls deep to my heart either.

Oddly enough, I am drawn to the stories of the old West here in the United States. The stories of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Billy the Kid, and so many others ring deeply in my soul. However, it is not the lawman that resonate with me. I’ll use a very specific example – the movie Hidalgo, which depicts the legend of distance rider Frank Hopkins. The character is one that does things his own way, a trait that plays well in my way of dealing with the world. I am also drawn to the mythologies of the First Nations, some of which do not dove-tail neatly from tale to tale. As I noted my idea of a mythology would be extremely messy, and this rag-tag mythology of tales fits right into that particular point.

Building my own mythology. While it certainly sounds intriguing to my ears, its a direction I cannot tread – other than through a fictional narrative. I have often though about creating my own world for characters that wander through my mind. There is a certain appeal to doing just that, through short stories which I might be able to weave into a longer tale. As I noted, it would be messy. And while I am not completely seeing how I might be able to do this, as I said there is a certain draw to it.

You come out at night
That’s when the energy comes
And the dark side’s light
And the vampires roam
You strut your rasta wear
And your suicide poem
And a cross from a faith that died
Before Jesus came
You’re building a mystery

“Building a Mystery”, sung by Sarah McLachlan

The “Morphing the Myth” panel did have one extra feature to the discussion that I thought was an incredible point – we give life to the Myths and Legends that we hold close and dear. We don’t always get all the points absolutely correct in the retelling, and this literally brings these stories back to having a renewed life. Plus, there is some aspect of retelling these stories with updated parts to the stories – told against the background of a culture so alien to the original story. Take for example, the 102nd episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, titled “Darmok”. Much of the story parallels “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and is a very interesting showcase for how an old myth can be painted against a futuristic backdrop. I have often wondered at the inspiration of so many other films and whether or not that inspiration may have been drawn from a myth or legend that have long been put to the wayside.

I don’t keep an altar in the house. This is as close as it gets.

Would I create my own mythology and legends, from which I could use as a backdrop for a series of characters? I do not know about the “would” part, but the “could” reaction is that yes I could. It would be messy. As if the entire aspect of the myths and legends was not completely preserved. This is a thought that I have constantly had concerning the myths and Gods and Goddesses that we all work with. Yes, this God was a god of this or that, and there are references to the God having certain characteristics and personality traits from the myths and legends. However, I have often wondered if we paint too much of a two-dimensional portrait of the Gods in this manner? Maybe the stories, legends and myths that have survived are not a complete understanding of that particular God or Goddess. Maybe Pan was more than just the epitome of a collegiate student headed to the Florida beaches for Spring Break. We just don’t know about an alternate, more serious and studious side of Pan because those stories did not survive being handed down during the ages.

And what if we have an incomplete understanding of the Gods? Does it negate what energy we have put into worshiping and working with Them? For me, that answer is easy: no. Over the years, I have developed my own relationship with both Coyote and Crow. Both are tricksters and enjoy having fun at my expense from time to time; however, both can also be quite serious about things that need to be accomplished too. For me, this is a case where the myths and legends only show you a two-dimensional aspect of who the Gods are. If you believe that the Gods are individual Beings who have Their own lives and make Their own choices…then of course, the myths and legends will only show a singular side of who They are. Do I believe that? Yes, I definitely do. Do I have a complete understanding of who Crow or Coyote are? No, not even close. My relationship shows me a side of each of Them that is chosen to be shown to me. I know enough of Them to do the workings that I need to do for Them.

…and all of this came from a single comment made on a Facebook post. That’s generally considered diving down a rabbit hole. Except that it is not. That one comment opened a doorway I have walked through many, many times. That comment lead me through the doorway to something that I have done my very best to consider, evaluate, understand and believe for a huge portion of my adult life, and will continue to take up my thoughts far into the future. Is my perspective empirical fact? Nope, not even close. It is; however, a part of my own UPG – Unverified Personal Gnosis. And as such, you might even be able to consider it a part of my own personal Mythology. For me, it is just the prelude to some chocolate eclairs for this morning – and a topic that I will continue to obverse, evaluate and explore well into my next lifetime.

…and I certainly have to thank Cat…for knocking the door off the hinges, so I would walk through. 🙂 Conversations can take us all to some supremely strange places.

“‘And what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?'” Indeed Alice…what are legends, myths and stories without internal observation and personal examination. Indeed.

–T /|\

Thinking on Virtues

Over on Facebook, for a time I was under a small deluge of questions from a handful of folks. I did my best to answer their questions, just not in a ton of detail. But then, one of them asked me the following series of questions…

What virtues do you see in Paganism? In Druidry? In Polytheism?

…and I realized I had what amounts to this blog post on my hands. However, before I get going, let me add a few points. I am not a spokesperson for any Pagan, Druid or Polytheist group or movement. Nor do I want to be. I am a solo Pagan, Druid and Polytheist. My approach to all three of those areas is my own. I have no High Priest or High Priestess, nor do I have any students or fellow members of my group. It is just me and me alone. And while my answers and commentary have been influenced to one degree or another by others, what I describe herein can only be described as my own, singular approach. With that out of the way, let’s take a shot at what I see as an extremely meaty topic.

Common Ground

The best place to start is in locating what I call “common ground”; what others might describe as terminology and definitions. My experience has been that without this first step, the chance of misconception and misunderstanding is far greater, especially in a one-way forum such as a blog post or a podcast recording.

Describing and defining the concept of what a virtue is, seems to be the best first step to take. In his Mount Haemus lecture, Dr. Brendan Myers states ‘…virtues are qualities of character necessary to sustain a certain kind of virtue.’ (1) The Merriam Webster online dictionary provides several definitions, but two stood out for me (2):

  • conformity to a standard of right morality
  • a commendable quality or trait merit

Working from these two perspectives, for me, it is obvious to note that this is going to step into an area I consider to be a really difficult minefield to traverse: individual morality. I do not find morality a difficult place to consider. Rather, I find it fraught with the dangers of imposing one individual’s values on to another. Much of this tends to roll down the rabbit trail of causes and proclamations I have little use for, such as the “Pagan Enough” battle cry of the last five to seven years in the wider online environment. I am certainly not going to try and paste my moral judgments on to the wider Pagan world. Or am I about to?

Thinking Out Loud

::big sigh:: As I sit here and write this, I realize that I am about to scamper across a line I dread crossing. When I am asked for what I believe are the virtues that define three very broad groups that I identify with – Druidry, Paganism and Polytheism – I realize the corner I am being backed into. As an individual, I careful craft my own statements of what I feel are aspects of each of these areas of identification with the caveat that I cannot and will not speak on the behalf of anyone else. And while I am trying to emphasis just that, I do comprehend that carving out which virtues I feel are a defining aspect of these is doing just that: providing declarative statements of what moral perspectives are “right” and “wrong” in relation to these groups. So, hopefully, like Hilts in “The Great Escape“, I can scamper to the wire fence and retrieve my baseball without the guards in either tower noticing and shooting me.

My Chosen Virtues

For me, separating Druidry, Paganism, and Polytheism from one another to choose specific virtues for each is a choice of folly. Pulling all three apart from one another removes the aspects of the other two from the third and takes away the meaning of the sum as it relates to me. So, I will refrain from doing so. Plus, since this is essentially a list of virtues that relate to how I incorporate each one of these identification points into my own daily life, separating them would mean trying to compartmentalize myself, an exercise I have found to have no meaning or value for my personal Spiritual practice. And while I do practice compartmentalization to some degree with my work and private life, even that has met with mixed and somewhat disastrous results. So let’s leave these three intertwined in a manner where each are essentially a single entity within my own life.

The first virtue I would place on the board is integrity. That includes a lot of other aspect, including a few others that will make my list as well. I will go into that in a bit more detail in the very end. Integrity is an important quality to me. This one aspect is the glue that holds all the others together. Integrity relates to my adherence to the moral code that I have. That moral code is fed from what I gather and experience from Druidry, Polytheism and Paganism, as well as a few other sources. But my integrity in adhering to that code that is constantly being evaluated and formulated in my life is a primary color in the painting of my life. Without that adherence, my moral, ethical code has little to no meaning.

Honesty, loyalty, acceptance, accountability, charity, hospitality, compassion, modesty, restraint, tact, and wonder. Add integrity to that, and you have my complete list. That should be it. So then, thanks for reading!

Well, I realize that I do not get off that lightly. I will dig a little deeper into each one of these. But again, I caution you:  this is my list. This is not meant for anyone else, except me. If these are virtues for your Spirituality and life, so be it. If any of these are not in your list, I am not saying that any of these must be. You get to do you.

Honesty, obviously it’s the perspective of being truthful in dealing with others, but there is also the aspect of being sincere in how the truth gets delivered. Which brings in the concept of being compassionate. Knowing how the truth can be hurtful, and trying to soften the blow, but still deliver the wounding aspect of the truth. Added to that mix are modesty, restraint and tact. I am, too a very big fault, modest about my part in anything. Teamwork has always been a big necessity for me. As Senator Clinton once, infamously, proclaimed in a book title, it takes a village. In nearly everything I do, I have a role and typically, there are the roles of others that are necessary in achieving an end-goal. The next two, restraint and tact, I try my best to work towards, but don’t always achieve. I am known to charge in, wade hip deep into a task or battle, and let it consume me on every level. As an example, when I first started learning how to retrieve data from the college’s old command-line interface, I would literally dream about the coding techniques I was learning. In that aspect, I needed to utilize some restraint. Tact, well I am known for being fairly blunt about my feelings on topics, even toe the point of being a little too forceful with my descriptive language with no regard for people around me. Another of the virtues that I need to learn to work with more often.

Let’s see, that leaves loyalty, acceptance, accountability, charity, hospitality, and wonder. In regards to loyalty and acceptance, I am loyal to those closest to me, unless I am shown that my choice in that loyalty was done poorly. That usually shows in the form of acceptance. I honestly could give a hang about what makes a person a person. Their gender choice means nothing to me. Who they choose to love or how many also means nothing to me. As long as they are honest with themselves and with others about their choices, none of the rest matters. I also understand the need for second and third chances. Not everyone is perfect, most assuredly not me. People screw up all the time. They make bad choices. Bad things happen and they react unwisely. Stuff happens. I am not willing to flush a person down the drain. My trust will be shaken and lessened in some instances, but my loyalty will still be there – just not nearly as strong as it was.

As for charity, well I am one of those folks that is willing to help out in whatever way I can – provided that I can get there in time. Most Pagan folk are an hour or more in any direction from me, which is where most of my friends and family (non-DNA related) are as well. I cannot always get there, but when I can – I’m always willing to roll up my sleeves and help out. No questions asked, no payment required. Though its always nice to get a hug for the effort. Hospitality, I have found this to be an integral part of what I believe. People, in my opinion, should always feel welcomed – like they have always been a part of what they are participating in, even if it is the first fifteen minutes they have ever been there. I will add a slight caveat though – charity and hospitality do have limits as well. If everything is a one-way street, that can be ok in the beginning, but sooner or later, one has to follow all that one with some giving of their own. Even something as simple as taking out the trash in a home where you have been provided a long-term space to be safe can go a long way to avoid wearing out that welcome. Which rolls a touch into the arena of accountability. No one else is responsible for the actions that I do or the words that I say or write. For me, a touch of self-responsibility can go a long, long way. Just saying.

I kept wonder for last. This, for me, is one of those traits that I hope I never lose my connection with. Wonder leads to curiosity which will bring you to the dual paths of learning and knowledge. I do not know everything. Not would I try to pretend that I do. However, I get completely excited – and sometimes flustered – when something completely different shows up in my daily Path. Often times, it is just a small piece of information that I glean from another process or way of doing things, such as a ritual technique or even some obscure magickal working. A few times, it has been an encounter with a Spirit or a God or Goddess I was not readily aware of. or even a piece of history of our wide world that I only had vague understandings of. Even those little tidbits; those small chewy morsels, can captivate me for hours on end. I sincerely hope this is a virtue that I never let go of because it is the one that really provides those adrenalized moments that I truly cherish.

Coming to a Close

As I noted before, all of these virtues; these characteristics of personality, morality, ethical behavior – these all overlap to a great deal with one another. Packaged together, these become a deeper understanding of who I am, what I value, and how I observe the world around me. But these generalized concepts will not let you know the real me. That doesn’t come with taking these generalized perspectives and trying to cultivate an individual from all of that. The true measure of that comes from sitting down and talking with me. But all of this should give you a better understanding of me. Hopefully, it helps you to find a common thread or some common ground with who I am – from a generalized point of view. And yes, I see these virtues, and many, many others encompassed in Druidry, Paganism and Polytheism. If only for the fact that I hold these virtues to be the truest revelation of my daily life traits, and I am a Druid, a Pagan, and a Polytheist. Not a single one of these traits will define every single individual who identifies themselves in those three groups. But there will be a large contingent that identifies with each one. Hopefully, all of that answers the question…

Lastly, I wanted to share the location where I am using the following definitions from. These help put a form to what I am saying about each virtue, but is not a complete definition of each one in my mind. That might take quite a few more blog posts for me to try and cover that. Definitely food for that. The below definitions can be found at: “List of the Virtues” (3):

  • Integrity: Moral soundness; Integrity is consistency of values and actions. Unbroken completeness with nothing lacking.
  • Honesty,: Truthful; sincere; not lying or cheating.
  • Loyalty: steadfast in allegiance to one’s homeland, government, or sovereign. Faithful to a person, ideal, custom, cause, or duty.
  • Acceptance: To consider circumstances, especially those that can not be changed, as satisfactory.
  • Accountability: The quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
  • Charity: Generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering. Aid given to those in need.
  • Hospitality: Not on the list of virtues at the site. Definition from Merriam-Webster.  ‘the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.’ (4)
  • Compassion: Sympathetic awareness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
  • Modesty: Freedom from vanity or conceit. Not inclined to boast.
  • Restraint: Holding Back.
  • Tact: Consideration in dealing with others and avoiding giving offense.
  • Wonder: The feeling aroused by something strange and surprising.


  1. Myers, Dr. Brendan. “How Beautiful Are They: Some Thoughts on Ethics in Celtic & European Mythology.The Mount Haemus Lectures, Vol. II, Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, 2016, p.13.
  2. “Virtue.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2018.
  3. “List of the Virtues.” VirtueScience, 25 Aug. 2018.
  4. “Hospitality.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2018.

    Just After Sunrise - Glacier National Park
    Here I am walking back from a vantage point, where I tried to get a picture of the morning sunrise. I had the wrong lens for the shot – so the picture did not come out the way I had hoped.

Respect My Authority!

Someone’s got to step up to the podium, and grab the reigns of leadership. We need a person that can be the spokesperson for the wider aspect of the Pagan community. Someone we can all point to and say “that’s who you talk to when you want to know what’s what in Paganism.” We need that one individual that steps to the forefront every single time and asserts their position of autho….wha?

Ok…you got me. What I just spouted off on is completely antithetical to what I believe about Paganism in general. No, the Pagan community, as a wider arching body, has no need of an authoritarian figure. And before anyone suggest it…even if the Pagan community had need of such a thing, its definitely not me. Yeah, I have this blog…with the five people that read it. Yeah, I have the podcast with its three dedicated listeners. But if I wanted to utilize either platform as a bull pulpit and try to make my idea of Paganism into the be-all, end-all….honestly, I would have gotten into Talk Radio and tried to give Rush Limbaugh a run for his money. But that’s not what I want. At least not for Paganism, and definitely not for me.

What do I want for the Pagan community? For people to respect one another’s differences, and be kind to one another. Yeah, that’s a definite theme of mine – being kind to one another. And if you disagree with others, be respectful about it. Of course, I am more likely to get a goose that shits solid gold eggs given to me by a kid with magic beans that grow huge beanstalks that could feed every third-world country for years, then any of that respect hogwash. But I can dream, can’t I?

Essentially, we have made it back to the “They aren’t ____ enough” arguments that have been prevalent for the last decade or more. Seriously folks, it was attitudes like that which ran me out of the Christian belief systems. People proclaiming that you weren’t Christian enough because you didn’t fork over 15% of your take-home pay into the offering plate on Sundays. People claiming that you weren’t Christian enough because you acted on the natural urge to have sex…even when you weren’t married. People saying you weren’t Christian enough because you didn’t read the “right” version of the Bible. Give me a fucking break! If you follow what’s in your heart…then you are doing what’s right. Even as a Pagan.

Look, I’m the last person to hand out a commandment to anyone regarding how they live, who they are having sex with, what you eat (or who), or how you offer up prayers and devotions (or not) to the Gods and Goddesses. I do what I feel is correct – for me. I post about it here on the blog and talk about on the podcast – because I feel its a good place to talk about things. To re-examine (or not) what each of us is doing in regards to our Spiritual lives. I’m not here to condemn you if you do things differently than I do. That’s what makes us who we are – individual, unique, human beings. All I ever lay down as a commandment of any sort — that you examine things as each pertains to you. Adopt it if it works, reject it if it doesn’t. In other words, think for yourself!

I know there’s going to be people that disagree with me. There always will be. And frankly, I am perfectly fine with that. So long as those detractors and disagree-ers (is that even a word?) just take the time to think for themselves, rather than just parrot what they are hearing – for the sake of going along with the crowd. And have enough respect for others, to allow those differences to be what they are – unique differences between us that can be acknowledged and respected.

–T /|\

Rabbit Hole: Days Between

Let’s hop on down the rabbit-hole of my thoughts….

Some songs just take a hold of you in a manner you can never foresee, but in looking back – you can understand. “Days Between” by the Grateful Dead is one of those songs. Yes, I’m a Dead-head. I didn’t start life that way though. I was very much into commercial and dark metal in the 1980s. Van Halen, Dokken, Ratt, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Armored Saint, Motorhead, and many others were in my tape player. The Grateful Dead was a long way from that time frame. But as I expanded my musical taste, and started to understand the beauty of a well-played instrument, and the turning of an excellent phrase in a lyric, I eventually find my way to the Grateful Dead.

Days Between was one of the very first songs that I encountered via Phil Lesh, the bassist for the Grateful Dead. He had a downloadable version of the song on his Phil Lesh and Friends website, and I fell in love with the lyrics. And as I have grown older, I have found that the lyrics have a certain flair for parts of my own life.

Summer flies and August dies
the world grows dark and mean
Comes the shimmer of the moon
on black infested trees
the singing man is at his song
the holy on their knees
the reckless are out wrecking
the timid plead their pleas
No one knows much more of this
than anyone can see

Certainly an appropriate set of lyrics for a time such as the one we are in today. The death of Summer, moving into the cold clutches of Winter. We are seeing some of this in our current political climate, where the two candidates of the major parties are posed to take on one another in a battle of words that is seemingly already punctuated with insults. The attacks against character, ability, knowledge, and “correctness” for our current world situations are all placed into each side’s ballistas, which are aimed where such weapons can possible do the most damage.

In the end, the lyrics remind me that the moon will rise, regardless. That Bards will continue to sing their songs of hope and beauty – reminding us of what it is that makes us followers of our respective Gods, and why we tread the Paths that we do. Even in times like these, where we see disrespect for others, and the innocent cut down without a thought – in the name of one’s own internal hatred over some perceived difference.

When phantom ships with phantom sails
set to sea on phantom tides
Comes the lightning of the sun
on bright unfocused eyes
the blue of yet another day
a springtime wet with sighs
a hopeful candle lingers
in the land of lullabies
where headless horsemen vanish
with wild and lonely cries

And from Winter, eventually comes the hope of Spring, riding an unperceived tide, propelling us forward. Where the promise of the future sends the nightmares of today into the beyond. The Gods have been nudging us all to prepare for the coming storm. But behind that message concerning a coming storm, is the notation that things will change for the better. That the coming storm will provide the nourishment necessary to grow our future to a better place. That we will have to walk through our fears, through the times of injustice, so that we can help teach towards a better society. We have to face our headless horsemen on the path.

When all we ever wanted
was to learn and love and grow
Once we grew into our shoes
we told them where to go
walked halfway around the world
on promise of the glow
stood upon a mountain top
walked barefoot in the snow
gave the best we had to give
how much we’ll never know

This particular set of lyrics hits close to me. I have been on my Pagan Path since 1987. I never fully understood what I was trying to achieve or where I needed to be. I moved from Path to Path within Paganism, never finding anything that truly fit who I was. Eventually, I found my way into OBOD, where I have managed to find a Path that fits more of who I am, and provides a framework where I can learn, and love, and grow.

Polished like a golden bowl
the finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
still tender, young and green
left on shelves collecting dust
not knowing what they mean
valentines of flesh and blood
as soft as velveteen
hoping love would not forsake
the days that lie between

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me some of the poetry that I had written on a BBS (Renaissance BBS here in Arlington, TX) because I had lamented that I had lost some of the stuff that I had written over the years. When I received it, it took me three days to get the nerve up to open the package. I was afraid of reading what I had written, because I didn’t think I would recognize it. I was correct in that assessment. Not only did I not remember writing these poems, I couldn’t remember “why”. In a way, it was frustrating to read something I had written, and not recognize it. But in another way, I had to remind myself that this was a part of my life that I had stored on a shelf. Occasionally, I would remember those times fondly, but only have a blurry memory of it. Which I still do. I remember myself as being a lot more arrogant than I am now, a lot more angry, and a lot quicker to step up for a fight over even the smallest slight. Yeah, a little overly proud. But I am sure that others may remember me in a far different vein too. After all, memories are subjective to the individual.

Yes, music is a big part of my life. Songs are constantly in the background. And every lyric holds a memory to the past. Some memories are covered in dust. Others are a polished sheen from all the attention provided to them. But each is still cherished, even if they are faded like my older faded and worn blue jeans.



Down the Rabbit Hole –A Short Look at Reincarnation Theory

Writing is a ton of hard work. Even when its not writing for a book. Or a magazine article. Or a research paper. Its hard when its just a blog post. Or a journal entry. It can certainly be somewhat tough to get the words in your head to flow through your fingers and through the keyboard. Honestly, its tough to come up with coherent topics at times. Which is why you are getting the blog post you are currently perusing. Because I cannot find the right way to say everything that is swirling in my head at the moment.

Its not like there’s not a ton of topics that could be written about. The trans-gender bathroom issue. But then again, I think everyone under the sun has covered that topic in about as many different manners possible. There’s the American politics scene. But then again, I would like to keep my dinner in my stomach, and not splayed all over my iMac monitors. There’s the shoddy manner in which my Texas State Attorney General is playing politics, religion and morality with his elected position. But all I can really do is hope that voters remember what tyranny REALLY looks like when they go the polls in the next election cycle. And to just be frank, I’d rather the voters make their own choices when it comes to things like that. I try very hard not to be preachy about politics these days.

But all of those topics are just “meh” for the most part. Definitely pots to leave off the stove. My interests are going back towards reading again, and mostly on topics like Celtic and Irish history, along with parts of Roman history. But none of that really lends itself to good topic writing. There’s only so much you can write about reading history…and to be honest, I’m not trying to dove-tail a lot of it into today’s societal outlook. There may be a few parallels, but nothing that I can conclusively lay a postulation upon. After all, my own thoughts are that today’s societal environment is today – what happened in the past is a different time frame and concept.

Which leads me down a different trail of thought. In approaching each day is a new moment in time, I realize that each moment is unique and will never come again. There will be similar points in time, but only similar. Each would be unique. If I look deep enough, I can find distinctive differences between the two points in time; even though each is quite similar in tone and feeling to the other. Which leads me down another thought path — perhaps the same can be said about each individual, in fact I believe that to be true. No matter how similar two people are; they are different people. But then, that makes me wonder aloud about the reincarnative process. If, as I do believe, many incarnations of each being happen on this plane of existence, would the returning individual be the same as they were before?

Let’s go with a totally out-there perspective:  many, many, many people have claimed to be a reincarnation of the famed ceremonial magician Aliester Crowley. Would they have to be EXACTLY like Crowley in their current life? Or would they possess only a certain aspect of Crowley’s, which would be combined with the rest of who they are?? Could they be a mixture of several different beings, melded together into a new essence?? Or just certain parts of various beings that are combined together to create a new matrix for this new incarnation?

This is why I don’t really like the idea of looking back into my potential past lives. And yes, I do believe that there are past lives within who I am. No, I don’t believe that every (or even ANY) of those past lives are of royal blood, or some “significant” individual (as “significant” as any individual can and would be – that’s a potential topic for another time and blog post). I’m just not all that convinced that knowing who or what I may have been in my past lives would be of any use or significance in today’s environment. As I said before, each moment may seem similar to one in the past – but each moment is unique. Knowing who I was or what role I had played in the past may be an interesting academic perspective…but I am unconvinced that it would play a helpful role in the “me” of today, beyond a “gee whiz” factor.

…and this is what I mean. This little rabbit hole lead me to here. Just be typing and thinking. Is it significant?  Perhaps not. Maybe it opens a perspective or a thought-provoking moment for you. perhaps it doesn’t. Much like John Beckett‘s “Nine Thoughts” perspective on his blog…I believe that this may wind up being a semi-regular feature. Down the Rabbit Hole…a glimpse into a random topic that’s on my mind. Perhaps, next time, we may explore the philosophical difference between the National League’s (American Major League Baseball) non-use of the Designated Hitter. Or maybe we will take a trip into the kitchen and look at some food creation I decided to create (and I make STRANGE food combinations just for the Nine Hells of it all). But regardless, thanks for reading…hopefully you found some of this fun and amusing. Not really sure of the informative part of it though…  🙂


–T /|\