The Gods Are Alive – You Need Only Reach Out and Open Your Mind

A few nights ago, I was contemplating the legend/myth of Santa Claus. Seemingly, it is interesting that something near to this image of a jolly, older guy passing out presents is so far-reaching and encompassing throughout many cultures around the world. Perhaps, it can be attributed to the wider reach of Christianity throughout the entire world. Maybe. I would prefer to see it a little differently though. I believe that the underlying concept of freely sharing the joy and love of what human beings can be – regardless of nationality or race, is an easier concept to reach for so many.

We live in a world where conflict is common-place. So common-place that many of the conflicts are not readily reported in the news media. But then again, with most of the news media concerned with who hates the Sunkist-Orange President or where a “fascist” can be found that can be punched in the face – news is not as readily available since it does nothing to assuage the feelings of an extremely vocal few. And that is truly a post for another time.

No, the entire concept of Santa and gift giving is a wonderful sentiment to have. I would hope that it spreads to more than just a single day. And more than just six days throughout the entire year. As a myth or legend (whichever you prefer), it does make for an interesting study of just what myth and legend can mean to us as a global society. And not just religiously oriented myths. Myths and legends provide our somewhat monochrome, monotone world with color and expression.

In 2016, I attended a panel on Mythology at Pantheacon, where the discussion turned from the myths as we have told them prior to the addition of modern technology versus the addition of CGI and movie technology providing a new vision. And while I would posit that these modern adaptations of the myths, bear the marks of how the Hollywood producers and executives deem the Gods to be, or even how the Gods seem to be to the graphic novel writers and artists would dream the Gods to be; there is an impetus that these modern adaptations do bring people into Pagan traditions. These people may dabble in various traditions before they cast these off and find their own manner of approaching the world around them. And some of them may stay within a Pagan tradition, finding their own expression of the Gods that drew them in – ditching Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as the embodiment of what the Gods may seem to be to them, and finding their own imaginative interpretations within their own minds and hearts.

Petroglyph Trail - Mesa Verde National Park
A narrow passageway along the Petroglyph trail in Mesa Verde National Park, where I came face-to-face with Crow.

As I noted in my “Static or Dynamic Mythology” post back in 2016, for me the Gods and Goddesses are alive – each their own individual manifestation. But the myths and legends are alive as well. Surely, some of these myths and legends have grown and adapted with the colorful additions of Bards and Storytellers throughout the ages. An embellishment that becomes believable is a true gift of a storyteller weaving his or her spell around a campfire. The same holds true for those same stories translated into a written word or onto the large screen of the movie theater. And given the desire of so many to purchase books, watch movies, and even tv shows geared to the myths and legends of our times – the thirst for the colorful nature of myth and legend is readily evident.

And the thirst is not even true for just movies or even mythology. To present that perspective, look to the X-Files tv shows and movies, which tackle many modern myths and legends. Aliens, shadowy government forces, and deep, hidden conspiracies are all a part of our modern cultural myths. Some are unlikely to be true, but it does provide some color to our black and dark blue suits, with the red ties and white shirts or even the more mysteries camouflage and olive drab uniforms.

Or perhaps, your concept of myths and legends is geared more to the far east with guardian monsters protecting the woods, mountains and streams o the island of Japan from the rampaging force of Godzilla (hat-tip to Mojo)? The idea of a monster created from the frightening and dangerous powers of nuclear energy is a rather modern one. Godzilla has been rampaging throughout Japan since the 1950s. Taking a rampant fear of nuclear technology and applying it to monstrous creations that destroy small-gauge railroad sets made to look like the Japanese cities and countryside, provided both a story that has become beloved and a more hidden warning of the need to respect the Kami that are literally everywhere.

Our myths and legends will continue to grow and deepen as we grapple with the questions of where we fit into the world, and even the universe, around us. And many of these myths, legends, and stories are adaptations of situations within our own lives – projected onto a wider screen than any monitor or television: our own minds. No offense to the amazing CGI and Hollywood writers, set designers, and animators – my own projection of Crow is more amazing than any special effect could make Him. And while I am not reliving any legend or myth (and I really don’t need to) – each day of my life is lived within a landscape of living Gods, Goddesses, Spirits of Place, and my own Ancestors. Every day brings me new experiences that have meaning, complexity, and depth to me. Paganism and Polytheism are not for everyone. And not every person will have similar experiences as I have. However,  without taking the time to explore, the patience to try multiple times, the desire to read and learn about where you are diving deeply into, and having an open mind to what you are experiencing – you may never know. The first step is wanting to.


Looking Forward on My Journey – Part 3

So, I enter into the third and final part of looking at my Spiritual journey…a look at today and the unknown reaches of tomorrow. I have discussed the aspects of why Druidry is the framework I choose to work with. My current daily work leans more towards impromptu ritual, finding the spiritual in the everyday mundane, and trying to find new connections with the Gods, the Spirits of Place and Ancestor. This includes a deeper look into my own DNA and Ancestry that started last year during a visit to “The Celts” exhibit in London during my UK trip at the New Year.

DNA-related family has never been a strong point of mine. I have never felt like I was part of my relations, as my Path in life is vastly different than any of theirs. But during my trip through the Celts exhibit, there was a lot of information relating to the DNA side of things. That started me to wonder why I am drawn so heavily to a Celtic framework, particularly over these last few years. The more I dig into my ancestral roots, the more it makes sense. The more it makes sense, the more I relate to aspects of Celtic mythology that I never paid much attention to previously. I honestly do not see some of the connections, but am starting to see small aspects of it in the way I relate to the environment around me. The result of look at my Ancestry has me finding out where my family comes from, how they might  have believed, and how they may have related to their native land.

There’s Fliodhas. An Irish Goddess of the Forest, that has found Her way into my everyday Life. I do not readily understand the connection, but She takes a prominent role in my daily Life. She is in every moment that I am outdoors, whispering in my ear about the beauty of Life and the connections associated with that – both readily known, and those that are far more subtle. Where that Path is drawing me towards, I have no idea. But I readily walk it, staff in hand.

And finally there’s Druidry. I started my Bardic Grade a few years back. And honestly, I started out on-fire. Just ready to get things done. And then Life happened. Job changes. The amount of money that was available at any given time. Many other personal issues. I faltered. I took steps backwards in my studies. I did a poor job of documenting where I was, what I did to get to that point. I wound up dancing back and forth in place. Last year, after a conversation with several people at Gulf Coast Gathering, I buckled down my resolve to finish, and changed my attitude towards my studies. As a result, I am continuing down the road with what I must learn in the Bardic Grade, and am taking far better notes – not just on what I am learning, but also HOW I am learning it. The idea/hope is that I will be able to take those lessons and apply those going forward into the Ovate Grade, provided I am accepted to move forward.

Lastly, there is my tie to two First Nations trickster Gods. Crow and Coyote. Coyote started my journey, with lessons concerning the degree of seriousness I approached the world around me. I have learned to be a bit looser with the way I approach the world, and to not only find the positive in the world — but also find the humor in situations. Even when things look catastrophically bad. Earlier this month, I purchased a camper. I have no idea how to back it up properly. To get it into my driveway, I drove through my front yard in order to pull it down my driveway in a semi-straight line. That, I could back up. It certainly smacked of being a silly situation….and I can laugh about it. It happened. It was a silly solution, but it was still a solution.

Every day is a new moment for me. I greet the sun’s rise, and try to approach the day with a new motivation, a new vision to accomplishing tasks set before me, and with new eyes so I can try and discover new pathways that I did not notice before. At the end of the day, I say goodnight to the sun, and ask for the promise that He will rise again for tomorrow’s dawn. I set aside my frustrations over the course of the day, and prepare for an evening where I can relax, read, or study. My daily Path is about constantly learning, focusing, relaxing, and then refocusing again – all with the measure that each day is a new start. And each new day allows me to take new, fresh steps on my daily Path…find new connections I had not considered before, and strengthen the connections I already have. My Past through the Catholic faith, the southern Baptist faith, and within Wicca have helped bring me here. Whether the lessons I learned were negative, positive, or neutral does not matter. There was something to be gleaned from those times within my life. Paganism is the stream that brought me to where I am now, opened my eyes and mind to the perspective of individual Gods and Goddesses, and has renewed my faith in that perspective each and every day. I am on a pathway of Druidry, as a Polytheist Pagan. That’s who I am. But I can never discount or demean where I have come from. All of that is a part of me as well.


They Say I am Mental…Just Because I Believe

Normally, today would be a day of work for me for me. However, its a National holiday here in the States – celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Thus, the college is closed for the day – and I am home drinking Hazelnut-flavored coffee, and writing this blog post.

It was a little difficult to come up with a potential subject for this post. I have written a handful of posts over the years that I always felt were insightful, but most of my writing is like I am doing right now – aimed more at being conversational. Not in the sense that people will talk about, but more along the route of being like a conversation (one-sided at times) between myself and whoever decides to read this. But coming up with a subject, I did manage, as noted by yesterday’s post of my latest poem.

I have mentioned this before in another blog post, which I am too lazy to go back and attach to this post. The Gods are real. I believe in Them not because I want Them to be real. I believe in Them because They are real – and have manifested Themselves in my life in many ways. Long time readers of the blog – there are so few of you, you may be an endangered species – know of my long affiliation with both Crow and Coyote, as well as my fleeting attempts to work with Lugh. Being that OBOD is very Celtic oriented, I thought I would try my hand with working with Celtic deities. It certainly did not take, as the woods were as silent as ever when I walked. Until just before I left for the United Kingdom this past December.

With a little cajoling, and a lot of teasing, Fliodhas has entered into the mix now. And this “new” Goddess is forcing me to check into my own ancestry background. At this point, I am innately curious as to why an Irish Goddess of the woods and animals attaches me to Herself. Me. A guy who counts nearly half of my own ancestry to Germanic ties. Its certainly an odd thing for me. Regardless, I know She is real. I am now working on getting out into the woods nearby. And I am continuing to build a feeding station in the backyard for birds and small animals that live in my rural town.

Now, I have heard a lot of ridicule and criticism, both from family and friends, who believe me to be mental. I completely grok that perspective. If I were skeptical, I would too. But I am not. All I can offer as a counter-weight to that is that if they had had my experiences, they would believe too. After all, I do not discount their belief in God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit and how that Trinity works within their lives… I am a firm believer that the Christian Trinity works within the lives of those followers as well. But I do question their belief, when they take the words of a book that was written many ages ago, re-translated into several different languages, subjected to the political undertones of the times, and the fanatical ambitions of a power-hungry few – and then claim it to be applied to all, regardless of their own faith…. Then I have issues with their beliefs. Particularly when it flies in the face of many of the teachings within their own Path.

But, I am not here to rebut the Christian faith, or any other faith for that matter. Merely pointing out that sometimes the message gets twisted when added to the mix of politics and power. Honestly, it happens in the Pagan realm as well. All I can do, is to stride forward in my daily life, practice the framework of faith and reverence that I have chosen, and commune with both my environment and the Gods and Goddess that come before me. Unlike many of those following the Christian Path, I have no desire to bring people to a Pagan Path. Personally, I would rather they come to it on their own, in their own Free Will.

Regardless, I know the Gods are real. I feel Their touch when They lay Their hands on my shoulder. I hear Their voices in the land around me. And I have no desire to force that onto anyone else. If the Gods wish to speak to those individuals, They certainly will.


The Gods and Goddesses are More Than One May Expect…

Myths, tales, legends, stories….much of this stuff is the background driver of cultures. In some, the epic tales and myths are forefront, and part of everyday life. Or so it seems – its awful difficult to pull up an average citizen of – let’s say – the Roman Empire, and ask them how much emphasis myths, tales and legends plays a critical part in their daily lives, or even helps explain decision-making in mundane tasks. But that’s a different argument/discussion for people who want to argue those points. (Damn, a tangent, and this early in the writing too)

We have epic myths and tales within our time. Look at the legend of Pat Tillman. An NFL player, who opts out of his contract, so that he can join the military and fight for the principles that he believes in. He enters into a combat zone as a leader of man, engages the enemy and fights them to the bitter end of his life. The military Public Relations people pick up on this, promote the story to show that even one of the “privileged” few will take a stand against the “bad guys”. Of course, after time passes a short time, we find that the tale is mostly fabricated, and there is a strong possibility that Tillman was cut down by friendly fire. But the fabricated story helped many on the fence concerning their enlistment, to decide to join the military. A tale that they had been told helped inform their decision. Those who had decided to take the plunge into a military lifestyle over this decision – I would certainly love to talk to them now, and see how much the disintegration of Tillman’s legendary death may changed their mind – if at all.

Those that wind up with Gods and Goddesses calling to them, well they tend to do research as well. They pick up the Legends and the Tales, they read about the exploits of these figures enshrouded in myth, and legend. And I wonder how many are shocked to find that these Gods and Goddesses are somewhat different from what has been spoken about them through tales and stories around the campfires? ::raising hand:: Been there. Doing that. The legends and myths talk about some of the general aspects of those Gods and Goddesses, but communicating directly with them will blow an individual’s entire expectation. These Gods and Goddesses are not as cut and dry as the myths and tales bring about. They have personalities, they have the ability to be tender and kind (even those associated with war). They have the ability to be angered, and nearly militant in avenging even what some may consider to be the smallest of slights. Some may feign an interest, simply to utilize an individual’s corporeal existence and talent. But my point is not to paint the Gods and Goddesses as “petty”, “Angry”, “aloof” beings – they can be at times. They can also be nurturing, caring (to a degree), and very helpful.

Crow in Trinidad, CO
Crow in Trinidad, CO

If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you are aware that I have two Trickster Gods in my life – Crow and Coyote. And while they are Trickster Gods, they have a caring side to both of them as well. Sometimes, they bring helpful insight by showing you a Pathway to walk down, which is a dead-end with a stinging rebuke. From them, I have learned to accept cautiously, research deeper, and examine from every potential angle – even the most improbable or impossible. In some ways, its like reading the “Terms and Conditions” from a piece of software that you downloaded from the internet. Most people hit the “Accept” button…and never read beyond the wording “Terms and Conditions”. Part of the reason I changed the name of this blog from “Footsteps on My Path” to “Life With Trickster Gods” was to reflect that blindly accepting agreements and “bargains” from the Gods is not only in your best interest.

And sometimes, in your research, you may find that some legends and tales may not be completely appropriate for the God you are currently dealing with. If you ever get the chance to listen to the Rock Opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”, you will find that it is possible to see Jesus ben Joseph in a different light. He makes a bargain with God to show the human race what love is like, by being manifest among them. He reaches some followers, and adds revolutionary figures such as Simon of Zealotes to his group of friends. Simon advocates in the song “Simon Zealotes/PoorJerusalem” of the overthrow of the Roman government that occupies the government and lands where they live. Jesus tries to dissuade them from their path of anger and destruction by telling them of the future of “Poor Jerusalem”…which confuses the gathered crowd, as they were primed for violent overthrow. Now think about this for a moment. What Andrew Lloyd Weber was doing here was trying to get people to see characters in the Bible from a different perspective. And he was pointing out that outside influences may have tried to attach themselves to Jesus’ provision of peace, love, hope, and assimilation into society – utilizing that as cover.

Gerald Seymour wrote in his book Harry’s Game that “one man’s terrorist, is another man’s freedom fighter.” Which brings up the reminder – legends and myths are not a two-dimensional canvas from which we glean only one perspective. Its more like a three-dimensional sculpture, which we can find more understand and perspective by circling it from every angle. Seeing the good sides of it, as well as the bad sides. The Venus de Milo is a marvelous depiction of a young lady of that time. A marvelous figure, save for her missing arms. Seen from every angle, the feminine lines are absolutely marvelous, loving carved from rock — but it all comes back to the missing arms. Why the arms are missing? To be honest, that doesn’t matter. There’s still the missing arms. The scar on an otherwise marvelous work of art. Seeing the good, along with the bad.

I would posit that many people see the Gods and Goddesses in a two dimensional understanding. Flat, uninspiring (to them) tales and legends of an era of superstition. Hardly lifelike. Those that communicate with these Gods know far different. But then, I have also seen individuals who venerate and communicate with these Gods and Goddesses sneer down their noses at the Christian aspects of Jesus ben Joseph as the Rising Savior, Mary Magdalene as the earthly Mother of the Savior, the all-knowing Jehovah as the Father God, and the mysterious Holy Spirit. If there is power, and three-dimensional aspect to our Gods and Goddesses, surely there is the same merit in the same manner towards the ethereal figures within the Christian Pantheon? Or any other Pantheon?? But again, my point is not to argue the merits of the Gods and Goddesses, regardless of tradition or follower belief. I know these Gods and Goddesses exist…and I really have no need to convince anyone else of that fact, aside from myself.

But the Gods and Goddesses are three-dimensional on aspect, and even in personality. The legends, tales and myths show some aspect of these beings. Experiencing them for yourself is another matter altogether. For me, it fleshes out the ramifications of something that goes beyond legend, far beyond the myths, and enters into an area where a singular relationship becomes a matter between you and whichever God or Goddess has approached you or you have approached. In my own experience, the tales and legends are nice to know, an excellent starting point to realize a small part of who these beings are and what they, for the most part, represent. But in the end, its the personal experiences between the two of you that will matter more. You develop a unique relationship with your particular God or Goddess. I have a relationship with Crow, but that relationship is unique to Crow and myself. Others may have similar experiences as well, but those relationships will all – individually – be as unique as my own.

The Gods and Goddesses are more than just the two-dimensional caricatures we create in imagery and tale. Some story-tellers do a wonderful job of exploring that depth further, as do some artists – but in the end there’s still so much more about each of the Gods and Goddesses that can only be fleshed out through personal experience. And from my experience, if you approach the Gods and Goddesses with patience, honest, and openness, you may get the chance to cultivate a wonderful experience that may last lifetimes, or even shorter….but the experience is worth the chance. Just my two pence…

Taking a Step Forward – the Pull of Gods, Goddesses, and Place…

I have always been drawn to certain things – certain ideas – certain places. Oddly enough, many of these things are not related. Crow, Kokopelli, Borrum, Artemis…all Gods and Goddesses that have approached me in one form or another. Glastonbury Tor, Externsteine, Mesa Verde, the northern Rocky Mountains and Tai Chan — each a location, nothing like any of the others.

Medicine Wheel in of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.
Medicine Wheel in Wyoming…one of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.

Taken altogether, they seem strange placed together – and yet they all make up a part of my own personal Paganism to one extent or another. Each features prominently on my bookshelf – except for Artemis, which is a new approach for me as of a few weeks ago – and I have actually designed more then one vacation around a few as well. But what is the common thread?

That really is a tough one to bring about for me. Each is very different, unique in their own right within my mind. A friend of mine suggested that the common thread was me, which I nearly dismissed immediately. Why would someone like me be the central focus? After all, I am just myself – nobody extraordinary. However, the point has some merit, particularly if I remove the idea of individual celebrity and focus instead on each particular topical point providing a needed focus on what makes me who I am.

Which brings me back to something I have been thinking about for quite some time — as a solitary Pagan, how do I go about doing all of this? Where do I get a mentor or do I even need a mentor? If no mentor, where do I find people walking along a similar Path to what I am studying at that moment? Would they be willing to advise me? This is a particular concern when it comes to First Nations information here in the United States. It can be a very touchy moment when trying to query a First Nations Shaman about their own practices.

In the end though – I realize what pitfalls may arise in my study of these varying perspectives, and working with different Gods and Goddesses. But the draw is there – its not anything I can place my finger on — and its not really anything that seems to be “cool” — let’s face it, Kokopelli is a very, very strange God to deal with in the first place. I have to work towards each one, a step at a time. Listen, watch, learn…and where I can find someone to discuss these things with, there’s that avenue as well. And despite some of the potential pitfalls, I have to wander these Paths. I am not completely sure of “why” — though the pitfalls that I incur may actually be the “why” — but I’ll never know, so long as I stand at the crossroads of each Path and contemplate the whys and why-nots.

Sometimes, you just have to take a step forward…

When Gods and Goddesses Come Knocking at the Door

My Backyard Stone CircleI have been touched by the Gods. Back when I first started along my Path in Paganism, I never truly understood that statement. Just a year earlier, I had walked away from a Pentecostal Christian friend over a very similar statement. He had claimed to have the direct connection to God through the use of his ability to speak in tongues, as well as translate directly for those who were touched in a similar manner. I questioned him as to the origin of his “new” language. He responded back that he wasn’t sure, and that it didn’t matter to him.

“But it matters to me,” I fired back, “You are wanting me to take on faith that you are not making this up as you go.”

“Of course you have to take it on faith, you have to trust implicitly in God,” Mike tossed back at me. He had a rather smarmy smile to begin with, and his statement preceding his smile at that moment only bolstered my image of him as a used-car salesman trying to hustle a deal.

I kept hammering away at his statement, trying to get him to reveal this mystery language that he had suddenly been provided through a George Malley moment (for those confused – in the movie Phenomenon George Malley learns enough Portuguese from a book in twenty minutes to comfortably converse with a native conversation). After a short period of time, I found that he was following the incoherent babble of Robert Tilton, a TV evangelist who swiped money from people that mailed in “love offerings”.

So, when I hear the statement of being “touched by the Gods” my mind immediately ran to this scenario, and my skeptical brain kicked into over-drive. And stayed there for the better part of fourteen years. It was, after all, the only reference I really had to work with.

Now, I know very different. Its not difficult to find where the Gods touch our lives. Its just not nearly as dramatic as it gets made out to be on TV or the movies. Its more a manner of understanding, comprehension, and opening your mind a little further. No God or Goddess is going to just pop down right in front of you and say “its time for a good fucking – get your clothes off.” Although, I’m understanding that Hemsworth’s Thor could have a significant pull for the ladies. However, if we’re going there, I’m a little partial to Hudson Leick’s portrayal of Callisto or Aphrodite as played by the lusciously gorgeous Alexandra Tydings. Just saying…

But while the Gods may not be dropping in for a bit of lewd coupling, there are times that the Gods call on specific individuals. For this, I was equally skeptical. I’ve always been of the mind that the Gods ignore humans for the most part – in much the same way that humans ignore ants. There are folks that I know that make it publicly known that a God or Goddess has tasked them with something to do, or have laid a claim on them as individuals. Quite a few years back, I would roll my eyes and quietly laugh behind their backs. Again, why would the Gods lay any claim into our lives? We’re just silly humans after all – with far little value to the Gods in whom we place a ton of faith. That is – I believed that way until found myself being influenced and led in a particular direction by Coyote.

My time with Coyote turned out to be rather short, because it was a lesson I was being tasked to learn. When it came to ritual and religious stuff, I was a bit stern. Ok, it was like I had a super long stick shoved up my rear. Through Coyote, I learned that the sacred could include laughter and frivolity. But I also found myself eventually dealing with Crow.

‘Its just another Trickster,’ I would tell myself. Just a furthering of the lesson from Coyote. But after a time, my meditations came to be more significant with Crow, and Coyote became far less frequent. Everywhere I went, there was some form of blackbird following me around. At work, there are two Crows that greet me nearly every morning. In the afternoons, I leave them whatever crumbs I can manage to gather. And Crows actually have the capacity to remember people’s faces. So far, no one at work has really noticed that these Crows that are sitting on the parking lot lights always ‘qwork’ whenever I come out of the building. Plus, I know its more than a coincidence.

Crow was insistent that I change the format of the podcast. Instead of me talking, I was to provide a platform for others to talk. ‘People need to hear about the Pagan Path,’ I was told in one meditation.

“Isn’t that evangelizing?”

“Only if you try to convert them to your Path. You are only letting them hear about the various Paths. They will make their own choice to walk those Paths or not.”

Since that time, the podcast has made its changes. People other than myself are being featured on the show. And I am quite happy with the result. Plus, I am getting people in front of a microphone that normally are never heard of or from. Yes, I am interviewing the average, everyday Pagan for shows. And all because the God that has literally taken me under His wing told me I had to do something for him. Many folks, including myself, do not realize that Crow is a messenger.

Like many folks who have had the Gods enter into their lives, I have had my moments of doubt. My moments where I bristle at the requirements that are laid upon me. Listen to the first year of Upon a Pagan Path, you’ll hear it (and there’s not that many episodes either). I paid the price for that piece of defiance. I saw Crows EVERYWHERE – even in my dreams and meditations. To be fair, I ALWAYS see Crows in my dreams and meditations. There are five of them. Except that during my period of defiance, I saw HUNDREDS of them! Eventually I got the message: get back to what you are supposed to be doing.

If you have ever wondered what it can be like having a God or Goddess putting themselves directly into your life, I found a video that seems to explain just that. Its from the Rock Opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and specifically is the song ‘Gethsemane (I Only Want to Know)’. I chose this specifically because of the facial expressions and the way the actor – in this case Glenn Carter from the 2000 TV adaptation – managed to get the vocal inflections into his voice during the entire segment. Particularly moving is where he finally accepts his role as the sacrifice, and still has a hint of defiance towards God for putting him in a position with no choice.

Is there a choice? Certainly. I could have chosen not to agree to Crow’s expectations for me as a podcaster. Before the bargain was struck, I could have walked away without any repercussions. Now…that’s a completely different issue.

Not everyone is going to have a God or Goddess hanging over their shoulder. And there will be people who doubt that it even happens to those that are claimed by their Gods and Goddesses. You won’t find me arguing with those folks. Its far easier to just nod, and let them go along their Path, smug in the knowledge that they pulled one over on me. After I get finished wiping up the blood where Crow’s talons have dug into my shoulder in anger at their statements – I’ll just get back to what I meant to do.

Your Mileage Will Vary….

I am an individual that handles Life more as an experience than as a theory. Its a really simple formula for me. I do not really understand or comprehend until I can experience what is being discussed or brought up in conversation. For instance, a friend of mine started to discuss how she loves to skydive. Apparently thinking that me – as an individual who is terrified of heights – had not done such a task, she started telling me that I would not understand the feeling of hurtling through the emptiness of thousands of feet. Her assumption was wrong, the United States military provided me with the opportunities (six total) of doing just that. I hated all six of those jumps. However, her point was right on target. Without experiencing those jumps, I certainly would not understand her feeling of joyful experience that she gets from those jumps – though my experience was far different: absolute terror. I’ll come to this in a short bit.

For the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of banter in the Pagan blogosphere over the manner in which one may/may not or should/should not experience the Gods. There have been plenty of comments, points, counter-points, and even (sadly) insults fired around the virtual room of the internet, sometimes coming in swarms resembling the attack of bowmen on the Scottish forces in a few of the battle scenes in the movie Braveheart. I have plenty of thoughts on the commentary, none of which would be helpful or insightful, so I will keep those in my pocket. However, there was plenty of hay made over the difference of experiencing the Gods.

Some viewed them as archetypes – essentially constructs for the mind to comprehend a subject that may be unknowable. I can understand that. And I even embrace it to some degree. On the other side of the coin, there were those that held that the Gods were singular, knowable entities that could be experienced, and to some extent communicated with. And I totally get this point, and warmly embrace it. I have had plenty of personal experiences with Crow and Coyote to have a large handful of this concept. But I also believe that the archetype belief has some merit to it as well. To bring that into focus, perhaps its best for me to explain a bit of theory on my part…

I believe that the Gods are singular entities that we can experience, and to some degree, communicate with. However, their existence is completely different than our own. Our understanding and experience is wrapped up in concepts that we already have readily embraced. We get the idea of physical bodies, so we map that understanding on to what the Gods can be. We somewhat understand the concept of non-physical bodies in the form of ghosts and spirits, so we also map this understanding on to the Gods as well. However, the Gods can also exist in other formats, that we may not be able to readily comprehend at this time in our minds. Those particular existences may not be something we perceive correctly, so we turn to the archetypal models we have already created for corporeal and non-corporeal understandings. This is where I believe that we use the archetypes to help us comprehend and understand an entity that may be unknowable to us in its current manifestation.

OdometerNow, that’s just my own personal theory, I am quite sure that many other people out there will have far different explanations, theories, understandings and experiences. Some of these may be doubtful to me. Some I may readily agree with. Either way, I personally cannot fathom how someone can take a difference in experience and/or opinion as a personal insult – or to respond over those differences with a personal insult. Everyone one of us is a unique individual – we experience differently, we analyze differently. As Pagans, we should understand the desire to allow for individual expression and experience – and that the differences are what make this wide-arching perspective to be more encompassing and inviting to the Seeker. Coming down with harshness over what is this or what is not that, in my opinion, places us on the Path towards rigid dogma. And no offense intended towards those of the Christian faith, but it was that rigid, unbending, intolerant perspective that drove me away from what is the beautiful experience of the Christian faith.

I know, I can literally hear Pagans cringing over that last statement. But that’s my experience and my perception of the Christian faith. Once the dogma is stripped away, and the teachings of Jesus ben Joseph are looked at without adding the political nature of human beings – I find a religion of peace, love, understanding, tolerance, and a desire to help others regardless of their faith. of course, there are those who will differ with my statement there – and I will not discourage their perspective. I merely will not agree with it. Arguing over the “rightness” or “wrongness” – in my opinion – is a waste of time and energy that I could spend far more wisely and usefully elsewhere.  Your mileage will vary…

Peering Through the Fog — a Perspective on the Gods

Foggy ForestNice foggy morning today. I get songs like “The Foggy Dew” stuck in my mind on mornings like this. I truly love the fog, the way it shrouds the landscape into a misty world of mystery. Much like snowy days, the world seems to sit still during a fog. Hardly a sound permeates the air – its almost as if the fog washes the polluted sounds from the environment, so things can be started again upon its finish. We do not get many foggy days here in Texas. Possibly the only remarkable thing that can be said for the state of Texas is the immense, stifling, triple-digit heat that shows up every year during the Summer months. So, when events like this happen, I tend to enjoy them as much as I can. This morning, I have spent a lot of time staring out the window, watching my backyard squirrels coming down from the tree for the remnants of the cornbread that was made for dinner three days ago. In my opinion, its a better usage than just pitching it down the garbage disposal or into the trash can.

But anyways, back to the idea of fog and shrouded mystery….a lot of people love the idea of mystery belief systems. The concept does not really excite or create revulsion in me. Every single day, I find out something new about the world around me some small detail or concept I had never considered before. Or, on occasion, I wind up with a God, Goddess or (more likely) a Spirit of the Land that visits for a short time. I hear a lot about how the Gods are likely not that interested in the lives of humans – simply because they have an existence that we cannot fathom. I agree that their existence is something I cannot completely comprehend. After all, I am not a God…I’m just me.  I understand my own existence in a corporeal body. My spiritual existence is something that I will likely puzzle out for the rest of my time in this bodily incarnation. But (before I start getting sidetracked again), I do believe that the Gods take an interest in our lives – whether we believe in them or not, or worship them or not.

I am certainly not talking about the way that the Greek Gods have been portrayed in some movies – where the Gods look to be gathered around a sand-table moving clay figures around to make changes in the lives of mortals on a whim. While I certainly do believe that the Gods can have an effect on our lives, we still have the Free Will to choose our own direction in our Life. The Gods take an interest in our lives, because like us – they are curious about everything in their environment. And while we may not be able to prove their existence under Science – as we currently understand Science – they are a part of this same environment. Thus, since we inhabit this environment together, they get curious about us…and sometimes, we fascinate them enough for many, continued visits – such as my ongoing relationships with Coyote and Crow.

Now, I’m no fool. I know that there are many different ways to look at the idea of the Gods, how they manifest in our lives, and how we perceive their existence. Let’s be realistic here – every single individual is geared towards their environment based on their own personal experiences, coupled with how they process those experiences. Some people can see a manifestation of a God or Goddess in their lives – and deal with it rationally. Others might not be able to do so. Thus, everyone has a different way of describing – or perhaps even denying – the existence of the Gods, Goddesses and Spirits that are in our lives. So, I am not going to sit here and proclaim my understanding of the Gods and Goddesses as being any sort of “gospel” — other than for myself.

We all experience the foggy surroundings as individuals. Some of us peer through the gossamer shroud and see nothing but trees in the forest. Others, see the Spirits of the land, peeking out from behind the foliage. Regardless, of the experience, but are not only valid, but also have a beauty to them that is special to the person experiencing that moment. Just do not be surprised or offended when someone does not have an identical experience to your own…remember, we are all individuals.