Thoughts as I Travel

So with Pantheacon just barely in the rear-view mirror, I hopped down to San Antonio for a work-related conference. Now, my job deal with crunching numbers – showcasing how my college’s students are doing. I also deal with funding formulas from the State that are based on headcount of our student body, etc etc. This conference was a meeting of my peers from around the state of Texas. And it was not only a lot of fun, but opened my eyes to how much more I needed to know about my position, as well as how far I have come in just a single year (this conference is annual). But one thing was for certain, the amount of relief I felt when I pulled into my driveway at 10:30pm last night.

Make no bones about it, San Antonio is a long drive from up here near the Oklahoma border. The drive down was on a Sunday, a slow traffic day in Texas – I took advantage of that by driving down via the interstate. The drive back; however, was a touch more difficult. I left the conference hotel at 4pm, which would have placed me in rush-hour traffic in Austin. Knowing what the interstate looks like at rush-hour in Austin, I opted for the backroads.

From that decision, I was rewarded with a beautiful view of the sun going down, shortly after I left Marble Falls, Texas. I even stopped on the side of the road to watch the sun wink out over the horizon, and to offer the leftover pieces of my hamburger buns (why does McDonald’s make burgers smaller than the buns?) to the local wildlife. That was rewarded with two Grackles landing near the car to pick up those offerings almost immediately (is there a five second rule in Nature too?). As I sat on the back bumper of my Subaru Forester, I recited the Druid’s Prayer of Peace, even as car after car zoomed past me carrying their passengers to somewhere.

When I got back into the car and re-entered the traffic on Highway 281; I felt a little more at ease, a touch more connected than I have during my stay in a 20-floor Resort/Hotel in northern San Antonio. I realized that I had not even stopped long enough at the conference to process why I was feeling anxious. The closer I got to home, the more relaxed I became. I was coming back to familiar territory. Back to where my connection to the environment around me is stronger. Not because its “mine” – because its not. Because it is what I am familiar with. The connections are easier to feel, and far easier to process.

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Kaylee – “my puppy”

When I walked in the front door at home, I was greeted by one anxious little black kitty – Kaylee. She certainly missed my presence in her world, just as I missed her in mine. When I finally went to bed, she spent over an hour snuggling under the covers, purring her affection while I pulled her close to hug and pet her. Normally she stays in that spot for less than ten minutes. That was sheer bliss for us both. Long ago, she adopted me as “her human”, and she is “my puppy” (and yes, she responds to that title).

In my experiences with Spirits of Place, we human beings are typically ignored, until we threaten some aspect of existence with our intrusions – no matter how beneficial our intentions may be. I have always made the assumption that it was because we human beings are unimportant. But, in remembering how slowly it takes a tree to grow, and that aspects such as rock and soil most likely exist at a slower time pace – perhaps its the fact that we human beings are “racing” in our time, compared to the speed that other aspects of our environment exist, including the Gods themselves? For me, at least, its a thought well worth thinking about and meditating upon.

As for conventions and conferences, I enjoy them quite a bit. In the case of this one, I learned quite a bit more about approaches I can take within my professional craft. But to be completely honest, I am bushed from the travel. And I am quite happy to be home.

Out of the Comfort Zone…

This year has been full of change for me – lots of firsts, lots of doing things differently. Probably a better way of putting things – there’s a lot of me stepping out of my comfort zone. In just two short months, I have found myself going to a Pagan retreat, and doing a chat session with an author for the podcast. In both instances, I was stepping way out beyond what I have been doing. Going to outings where I know so very few people is something that makes me a little nervous. And the only two interviews I had done previously for the podcast were with two people that I was very familiar with in a face-to-face environment. But…the podcast changed to this new format for a reason. And getting out into the community was a part of that.

Many people view Crow as a mischievous Trickster – and that is quite true. However, the crow is also a bringer of messages – as are many birds. Its this particular area that I focused upon when studying the crow and finding Crow in my meditations. The promise is to provide a platform for others to present their perspective, and thus “Upon a Pagan Path
” was born. But there are little caveats to that promise being fulfilled, as I have been finding out.

MeMy friend, John Beckett recently described me in a blog post as “…epitomiz[ing] ‘solitary practitioner’” and he’s quite on the mark. My Path in Paganism leads me on a solo track — even though I have a very active CUUPs group nearly in my backyard, and a few other groups just to the south of me. I like to refer to myself as “solo by choice”. Its not that I dislike any of the groups near me — merely that I find my footsteps easier to handle in my own manner and time. I do occasionally make an event at the nearby CUUPs group — but those are very far between. Mostly because my time schedule and theirs don’t always mesh. But over the past few months, that push has been there…

Yes, I feel the gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle push of the Gods — pushing me towards being more out in the open. Being more in the community. And I am working towards doing better. As I noted, I made Hearthstone Grove’s Imbolc Retreat this year, and hope to be invited back again next year. In just a few days, I will be attending the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering. In late March, I will be attending the Melting P.O.T. Pagans in the Park event. As I have for the last two years, I will be at this year’s DFW Pagan Pride Day event, and hope to have the available time to make it to this year’s Austin Pagan Pride Day event as well. There’s an outside chance I may be able to make it to the OBOD East Coast Gathering. And I am already making plans to attend Pantheacon next year, and possibly Many Gods West. Those are, of course, a little further out in the calendar, so there’s some give and take where those are concerned at the moment.

So why am I getting out there? Well, the answer is two-fold. Being a solo Pagan does not mean that I have to hole-up in my home, and wander the brush and wooded areas near my home only or even alone. Paganism is about experiencing things, and its about community. Being here in my local environment, there’s plenty to experience, but I have to get out to experience community. I’m just not going to get that through Skype alone…plus, I can set my digital recorder in front of people and let them talk…about who they are.

I did From the Edge of the Circle for a little more than….seven years, I think. In that seven years of shows, I only brought an outside perspective in once. That was a talk that John gave at the first Pagan Pride Day event that I attended in Dallas. That’s a lot of shows talking about where I cam coming from, explaining what I believe about this topic or that topic. Its time to turn the microphone on my audience and the best way to do that is to get out there with them.  Yes, that’s what “Upon a Pagan Path” is about – that was the promise. Now I am being held accountable to that promise.  And that means climbing out of my comfort zone…

::opening the door::

::looking both ways down the hall::

Here goes nothing….

::stepping out of the comfort zone::