Another Circuit Around the Sun – With All of You

Another circuit around the sun comes to an end for me, and a new one begins. Yes, it is my birthday today. On October 1st in 1965, I was born at the hospital in Tachikawa, Japan. Yes, that means that today is my 52nd birthday. For me, it means that my 53rd circuit around the sun is just now starting.

I understand that birthdays are essentially a celebration of the individual having them. However, I am not really one for “tooting my own horn” as it were. If you ever wanted evidence of that, you only have to look at how little I have ever advertised the existence of my two podcast endeavors. (smile) So, let us tackle this year’s annual remembrance in a slightly different fashion. Instead of me smiling faintly and saying “thank you” dozens of times over for birthday wishes, I want to focus on what makes life wonderful: all of you.

The turn of the calendar had me in Ireland. Another trip with the Honors program with the college. And to be blunt, I am in love with that country now. Dublin was amazing. Belfast was intriguing. And the countryside was simply incredible. If I had been given a chance….I would have stayed. I will be back….

I made it down to south Texas and hung out with a bunch of Ár nDraíocht Féin folks at an Imbolc celebration. This year, I was a little more outgoing and hung out with a lot more folks at both the main fire and on the porch. I am not an ADF Druid, but these people are more than just friends. They are family. I follow a slightly different Path than they do, but it is not the differences in our chosen Paths that stands out. We stand together as friends and family, willing to stand between threats and one another. I am truly blessed to have a family like these people.

Just a mere week later, I found myself at Pantheacon. This time, I attended solo. Once again, I found myself being a bit more outgoing than I usually am. I managed to connect with Selena Fox for a few minutes and thank her for all the help she provided to the military Pagan group I was a part of in Kaiserslautern, Germany. That was the first time I had ever met her face-to-face. I also managed to connect with Patrick McCollum, another individual that helped that same group. Bringing moments like that full circle is a totally amazing experience. I also caught up, again, with Jon Drum at the ADF Hospitality suite (I had seen Drum at the ADF Imbolc), and got to say hello to Sean H., whom I had met a few years earlier at the same Imbolc gathering. I also caught up with some OBOD family members, including the incredible Frank M. During the con, I got to spend some time with other people that I consider to be wonderful, extended family. Shauna Aura Knight, one of the most lovely souls I have ever met; the amazing Byron Ballard (whose conversations I need to sit on the edge of one of these days), and the amazing Kristoffer Hughes, who I would see again in three more weeks. Hugs from these three are the stuff that lasts a lifetime.

Three weeks later, I found myself at my Spiritual home – Gulf Coast Gathering. It was also here that I found myself at the end of another cycle, and the start of a new one. I had finally finished my Bardic grade and was initiated into the Ovate grade, where my studies currently have me. Here, I find the larger part of my family. Conversations, hugs, Screen-door shenanigans, and discussions are the fires that stoke my heart until the next year’s gathering. Again, the thematic aspect to my 52nd circuit has been about stepping out of the shadows and being more outgoing. I found myself stepping up to the Bardic Cycle and telling the tale of the “Screen Door Boar” which happened at the previous Gulf Coast Gathering. Every year, I met new people at this event. Whether they are wearing garish cowboy boats, or come from as far away as the west coast – they all end up with a piece of my heart and becoming a part of my collective soul (no apologies to the band).

The latter part of the Summer found me heading to the northwest to Many Gods West. Face-to-face, I knew NO-ONE at this event. I had met a few people online and got to meet them face-to-face. Ember, George, and several others helped stoke some long, cold coals in my polytheist’s heart. Returning from the event, I found myself diving deeper into my connections with Crow and Coyote, as well as exploring some other connections that have seemed to be mere flirtations. In many ways, the Many Gods West event pulled back the curtain on areas of my polytheism that I had only guessed at.

But life has not just been about change in my Spiritual life. Work has seen a few changes as well, with my job being more focused on pulling data and writing code. I am learning to play the guitar. I am eating healthier (no cake or cupcakes for me today – it is about vegetables and a home-cooked dinner for tonight). I am working out on my stationary bike, and have obtained a new bike to ride outside. And coming in the very near future, I begin the search for an anchor stone within the Unitarian Universalist world. And I am even finding ways to showcase my writing, which I still do not believe is the best in the world – but apparently, what I write is helpful to others.

So the world is constantly changing, constantly evolving; even if I feel like nothing has really happened in my life. And through all of it, my family, my friends have been a part of it all. And to be real – I would have it no other way. Because without all of you, the world would be a smaller, angrier, less beautiful place.

–T /|\ Slainte!

Warts and All – Fifty Circuits Around the Sun

Walking on Wild Horse Island in MontanaYesterday was my birthday. It marks the end of my 50th circuit around the sun.  For those wondering how that translates into what today’s modern society calls our “age” – that makes me fifty. Yep, one of the “big” birthdays. But to be honest, I still feel like I did eight years ago. Currently, I am sick with a nagging and very robust cold — but I really feel the same way I did eight years ago. For the most part.

Eight years ago, I buckled up my belt, set my personal spiritual Path to the side, and started to look at other ways to walk my Path. The next thirty days would lead me to many doorways, but on October 30th – I set my feet on a path of Druidry, I had no fecking clue how I was going to get there. Just that what I had been reading and dreaming (in case you have not figured it out, dreams play a huge part in my spirituality). In time, I found myself being placed at the doorstep of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids again, and again. I eventually took the big step and started my Bardic Grade. And stumbled a whole lot. A whole lot.

Earlier this year, I took the time to go to the very first Gulf Coast Gathering, and opted to take my initiation into the Bardic Grade. I had already done the initiation solo, but being initiated with my fellow Bards at that moment changed my entire perspective. Two particular individuals were at that initiation, who I have a deep reverence for. Both had comments for me about my Path. Both have had a great influence over who I am and how I have approached my studies since that March evening. The solo ritual was life-changing as well, but the initiation at the Gathering was vastly different and to keep the the one portion of the entire initiation that makes it so magickal….that’s as far as I will pull the shroud back from the ceremony. The mystery is still key….

Its also reshaped some of my thinking as a solo Pagan – as a solo Druid. As I noted in the last blog post, being solo does not mean you have to be alone all the time. In fact, its always good to have some other Druids that you meet from time to time to just socialize with. That tiny socialization factor really does help – a whole lot more than one might imagine. A whole lot more than I had imagined.

So here I am at fifty years of age – starting my fifty-first circuit around the sun (to borrow from the Grateful Dead as I typically do). I feel no different than I have previously, but as with every single day, every single footstep, every single breath – I am changing. The individual I was ten seconds ago is a different person than I am now. That is part of what makes up the entire universe around us. We are all energy, energy that is constantly changing, constantly evolving, constantly dying off, constantly renewed with each moment. Interacting with all the other energies around us. In whatever forms those energies take.

So again, I sit back and look at who I am. I look at where I have come from. All the Me at 6 years oldmistakes and mis-steps I have taken in my life. And all the most awesome steps in the right direction I have taken as well. Reflection is not just about learning from your mistakes, but also reveling in your successes as well. And that leads to the one question that everyone always seems to ask:  what would you change about your past if you could?

Not one thing. Changing anything would change who I am now. And I really like who I am. Warts and all.