Howling Into the Wind: What is a Pagan in the Future?

Sitting here looking at where else to peek into the Pagan corner for something to peel back for the future…I keep coming back to the group versus solo perspective. Wrapped up in all of that is an aspect I am reticent to even approach, but it’s a part of how our collective Paganism grows into tomorrow, as well as today: the perspective of “authentic” Paganism. How can you tell “authentic” Paganism from the “fake” stuff? Is there some kind of 3-d sticker affixed to it like Major League Baseball uses for baseballs used in actual play? How do we deal with this going forward into a future that already feels so nebulous and shaky?

To be perfectly frank, I don’t really have an answer. After all, there is some aspect of my own personal Paganism and Druidry that others would not find to be “authentic”. I’m not coursing backwards into history to find where and how our Pagan and Druid ancestors did their rituals. I’m not trying to locate scholarly fields of work to slap an “authentic” sticker on what I do. Instead, I’m doing what feels “correct” for me. I’m not worried about finding a common thread back to the past. I have that with my Spirits of Ancestor. Nor am I worried over those that would believe my approach to be “inauthentic” to theirs. I know my Path works for me. I also know that my approach is unlikely to work for others, which is the sole reason I do not denigrate how others approach their Paganism. Whatever it is, it likely does not work for me, but that doesn’t mean I have to treat it as inferior. Because it’s not.

I catch more than my fair of shit for taking this hands-off approach to Spiritual Beliefs. I should denounce this, showcase the incorrect aspect of this, proclaim the wrongness of these others. Look, I’ll be honest here, unless you are engaging in human sacrifice, enlisting people (especially children) for sex in exchange for the “secrets” of the occult, or mutilating/killing animals…I’m likely to move on from saying much about your approach. The rest of that stuff that I mentioned? Well, I’m more likely to contact the local authorities and let them sort things out. But I will state my opposition to those actions. So, there is a line that I draw in the sand. But I’m not here to denounce things – rather, I am here to discuss how beliefs that are different from our own move forward into the future as well.

Or do they? I have often wondered if some of the Pagan community was going to come together and form something akin to the Council of Nicea. Where what is or isn’t Pagan would be decided. This is Pagan, but that is not. I remember the ludicrous “Are You Pagan Enough?” diatribe that went on quite a few years back. I always wondered who had died made folks into a Pagan Pope that could decree what could and couldn’t be included under the wide, and very diverse umbrella of Paganism? Now, looking into a near future of Paganism, I can see where the sweet, delicious aroma fed that hunger. Being able to decide what could or could not be included within a single vision of what makes a Pagan…well, Pagan.

Yet, we have these inclusion arguments all the time. At Pantheacon, the year before I attended for my first time, there was an aspect that kicked off the TERF argument/discussion that has been going on since. If an individual identifies as a female but was born as a male – should they be allowed into a ceremony or ritual for Women’s Mysteries? And vice versa for a ritual or ceremony for Men’s Mysteries? I don’t have an answer for this. My gut feeling is that if you identify as a female – you attend stuff for Women’s Mysteries. However, not my ceremony – not my call. That’s like me saying that a Wiccan Priestess should be allowed into a grade initiation for my Druid Order. While I am a member of the Order, that’s not my ceremony – its not my call. Of course, this is moving off the topic slightly, so let’s push this back on-track a bit more.

Going forward, into our near future, we are going to see changes. This is what happens when the “new” Pagans begin to grow and feel the length of their legs. They begin to walk with more confidence in what they are doing. They begin to reach for something new, different, inviting to their senses. Things begin to evolve as the older generations shuffle off this mortal coil and cease to be unspoken obstacles to those changes. That cycle will repat going into the future as well, as the generations grow, and new generations come to take their place.

As I have said before, I have been on my Pagan Path for thirty-plus years. I’ve seen my share of new Pagans. Some stay on their Path, some alter their Path slightly, and some leave it altogether, confidant that this was not the place for them. All of that is natural. This that stick around will eventually come to this same point – being an Elder in the Pagan community. I hate the perspective of being an Elder, because I see so much more growing on my own personal Path. I may have been here for so long, but I still have that “shiny, new” feeling about Paganism as a whole. Regardless, I know I am looked at with the lens that places the nameplate right underneath me in the vision of younger Pagans: “Elder.” Just because of the years. In a manner of speaking, it also places me in the sphere of feeling like a parent to some degree. Where I sit and wonder if the Pagans that are stepping into those roles of leadership that open – do they have what it takes to continue to grow this movement that we have?

This, I believe is the crux of the question of looking into the future. Will all this still be here? I daresay that for many of us older Pagans that have traversed this Path for so long, it’s a thought that’s crossed our minds before. If you read the previous blog posts, you know – maybe in a subtle way – that my answer is “yes”, and “no.” Paganism is not going to wither and die. Some of the Paths, that could be true. But Paganism is a wide open, extremely diverse grouping of belief systems. Some might call it a catch-all grouping. Everything that doesn’t fit the “Big Five” falls here. That could be true. I view Paganism as being a set of belief systems that revere Nature as divine and spiritual. Worthy of respect and worship. For me, that’s the binding agent. Nature. An awe for the mystery of all that is Nature, in its many guises, aspects, faces, and senses. That reverence will be here long after my bones have dried, become dust, and scattered elsewhere on this planet. That reverence of Nature will not the same as it is now. The Paganism of the future, rooted in that growing Nature, will utilize the Paganism of today as its root core. Rituals, myths, legends, and even deeper resonance with Nature will be built up from the foundation that will come from our Paganism today. As Damh the Bard sings:

The Ancients opened the door,
We’re the same as ever before,
We will hear you forevermore,
So by peace and love we stand,
Heart to heart and hand in hand,
On the shoulders of giants we stand.

Damh the Bard, “On the Shoulders of Giants”

…going into that future, we will be the shoulders that they stand upon. We will be the raising of the foundation, ever higher.

Is there a future for all elements of Paganism, I ask? “Of course there is, you git!” is the likely response I am to get. Its true, there is a future there. We don’t need a litmus test to allow entry into the future of Paganism. All the arguments on inclusion for this, that, those others – those will move forward into the future as well. Consider them as individual Rubik’s cubes. Currently unsolved, but one day – a few smart Pagans of the future will get together and find the way to resolve each one. I have faith that will happen. Because I have faith that all of us that identify as Pagans will always find a way to make things work. We’ve always managed to make do with our Rubik’s Cube solutions. Even if we just peel the stickers off and put them back on in the form of the solution. 😉

Photo by Marko Blazevic on

This post was written with Keith Jarrett‘s “The Köln Concert” album as my background music.

Howling Into the Wind: Culture Wars Are Not About Culture…Its About Choice

My last blog post touched along the lines of the so-called “War on Christmas.” Well, all of that is really just a smaller symptom of a larger movement that is moronically known as the ‘Culture War.” Personally, I feel that the concept of “culture wars” is ridiculous and built on a desire to bring America back to a period of history (depending on the time of the culture war’s moment) where an aspect of personal and individual morals are perceived to be more connected to those who are in conflict with the popular culture of the time. First, a touch of history…


According to Wikipedia (not the greatest source, but handy and somewhat useful), the concept of the “culture war” goes back to the roaring twenties here in the United States – a type of backlash against popular culture. It was epitomized in the Presidential campaign of Al Smith in 1928. After that moment, it sporadically rises throughout the decades until the beginning of the 1990s. Far right-wing Republicans (we still here from these out of touch people to this day) latch on to Republican candidate Pat Buchanan during his battle with candidate George H.W. Bush. Buchanan railed against the rise of environmentalist, and the new rise of feminism as indicators that the destruction of traditional American morals and perspectives. Needing an enemy beyond the party’s nomination, Buchanan painted Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary as examples of the individuals that would seek to permanently destroy America values. Buchanan also added controversies on the Confederate Battle Standard, tax-payer funded art, and even the backlash against his culture-war perspective to a growing list of perspectives that required Americans with a morality stand similar to his own to draw lines in the sand. Hardcore Republicans, seeking a rallying cry to unite Republicans everywhere gathered up these perspectives and utilized these in perverted manners to proclaim an “Us v. Them” standard within politics that remains to this day.

For me, I recall these being driven hard by the Republicans on such historical moments in time such as the “Tea Party” move to galvanize the Republican fear of being swamped and destroyed by anything that didn’t hold their narrow cultural perspective, and the rise of the culture-war’s hero – Fox News’ popular “commentator” Bill O’Reilly. Let me tell you, fear, anger, outrage – these emotions are easy to attain. The leaders of the “culture wars” perspective were well-versed in how to foment these emotions, while attaching all of it to their cause of the moment, thus creating that deep “Us v Them” divide. A divide that has gotten deeper and more agitated over the years, as we now stand on the Grand Canyon-esque precipice we find ourselves in within today’s society.

Back in the early and mid 2000s, I watched Bill O’Reilly’s tv show “The Bill O’Reilly Factor”. I listened to him and his selected guests rail in anger against Clinton, Obama, and even from time to time George H.W. Bush, and his son. From time to time, O’Reilly would have Democratic commentators such as the late-Alan Colmes and Juan Williams on the show to provide an opposite perspective. However, O’Reilly treated these “guests” as straw men for his other hosts to attack and destroy. The show turned into a weak version of the World Wrestling Federation, with these guests in the traditional role of being the heels. In late 2005, I decided to stop watching because the show had become a caricature of itself and could rarely be seen as anything serious, beyond being an hour-long propaganda show aimed towards shilling O’Reilly’s books, which were written to foment more fear and anger. Believe me folks, fear sells quite well, as evidenced by O’Reilly’s top-seller status on the New York Times book lists.

When O’Reilly eventually left Fox News, more sellers of fear have taken his place – Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson most prominent among them – both of whom are more cartoon characters than anything anyone should take seriously.

My Thoughts

Within today’s fear-driven politics, the real background that everything is played against is this so-called “culture war.” As I said, fear is a great motivator. But what exactly are these folks fighting against? Well, they want a Beaver Cleaver world. They are offended by people making life choices of their own that fly in the face of older societal codes of so-called “morality.” Digging deeply, you will find that their fear is about encountering people with different morals than they have. They fear that their children will make their own choices and choose an avenue that they – as parents – would never choose. They claim this is a battle for the minds and morality of the youth. Really, its just a strong reaction to the change that comes from a younger generation. The younger people are choosing their own Path. Many choose a different way than their parents. Out of rebellion or what not, its their choice to make. Just as it was my generation’s choice to live life to a degree of excess back in the 1980s. We colored our hair wildly and vividly. We wore clothing that defied the normal “sensibilities” of our parents. We made our choices of who we wanted to lead us politically. For some of us, this led us into Paganism, where we found the acceptance of who we are and what we believed. For others, they made decisions to live lives much closer to what their parents had done.

Choices. In my mind, this is what the so-called “culture wars” is really about. Its about the choices that people make for their own lives. Make the wrong choices, according to these loud, over-bearing right-wing fanatics – and you find yourself on the outside of society. Take away those choices that are considered to be “repugnant” and leave only the choices that are “acceptable” and society will become as they dream it to be.

Folks, I’m in my fifties now. I’m set in the way I live my life. I can make small, individual choices, but none of that is going to skew the way I live my life. The culture war isn’t about me. Its about those younger folks, who are malleable at this point in their lives. The culture war is about herding them into a direction of choices that would be acceptable to a small group of others. Personally, I could give a flying shit what choices the younger generation makes. Become a Republican. Drink the Kool-Aid of the right or left in this country. Just leave all of the choices on the table, so they can make up their minds as they wish to. Removing all of their choices is the same as removing their freedom. We may as well take aptitude tests and assign people to jobs and income brackets based solely on those tests. What does a society look like when its only given a small group of choices? Ask the former Soviet Union citizens from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Closing This Out

This is only a small area of my thoughts on this particular subject. Yes, this is political in nature, because of the focus of what the so-called “Culture War” is. This is only my opinion. My perspective. Others can – and definitely will – disagree with me. I’m not saying that I am completely correct in what I am saying – merely that is what I have seen from my seat in history. Its not the Republicans that I find vile, so if you’re a Republican reading this and come to that conclusion, I understand why you did. But that’s not my position. Republicans and Democrats are about how the governmental aspects of this country get managed and run. My beef comes from those who dictate what choices the younger generations will have. Right or wrong, this younger generation has the right to make their choices. Those choices of right and wrong are the experiences that they will grow and learn from. To arbitrarily remove those choices, simply because you don’t feel others should choose this or that…in my estimation, you are robbing them of a full life. Essentially placing them at gun-point to make a smaller, defined set of choices – just so the youth can usher in a long-lost point of generational values that you cling so tightly to. I leave you with a final thought from pop artist Debbie Gibson. Yes, I am going to quote Debbie Gibson here. From her song “Electric Youth” from her 1987 album of the same name:

We do what comes naturally
You see now, wait for the possibility
Don’t you see a strong resemblance to yourself?
Don’t you think what we say is important?
Whatever it may be, the fun is gonna start with me

Just a thought. Especially when you are considering how to mold the youth of tomorrow using your outdated generational norms. Remember, this is about choice…and choice is all we should ever have. Unlimited. Unvarnished. Available.

JOPO (Just one person’s opinion)

–Tommy /|\

Photo by cottonbro on

Originally published 17Dec2021

Edited for grammatical and spelling mistakes (I’m not perfect and never will be) 18Dec2021

Howling Into the Wind: Stuck in the Middle With Me

Pushback. Blowback. Criticism. Disagreement. All part of what daily life has been for me. No matter the perspective that I espouse, there’s always some individual somewhere watching with a disapproving look on their face. When President Trump was an office, my stance of essentially ignoring him drew criticism from my friends who were quite liberal. How could I just ignore him and his antics? He’s destroying the world around us. He’s an affront to everything decent in the United States. You can’t ignore what he’s doing. When I did criticize some of his more inane stances within US politics, my more conservative friends called me a traitor to the Constitution that I defended for eight years in an active duty uniform. A stance of defense where I chose to be governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice instead of the Constitution I swore to defend. In all honesty, it didn’t matter which stance I took – someone was going to vehemently disagree with me, tell me that I was wrong, and level charges towards me that I was violating my oath of fidelity to the Constitution.

I get the same degree of pushback within my approach to my Paganism, and my Druidry. My friends who follow a reconstructionist path will say that I am wrong in my approach to working on my own. I don’t have the correct “source” material. Like I need to quote my sources in appropriate and correct Modern Language Association (MLA) format in every ritual that I write, or every blog post I create. They don’t press the MLA quotation aspect, but there are days it feels that way. My more eclectic friends will tell me that I need to let go of the connections I have to affiliated groups and learn to govern myself without input from elsewhere.

Even within my professional life, I catch the lower levels of the Nine Hells over the way I manage what I do. Improvisation is not a skill to be used by Information Technology professionals. There are set processes that must be adhered to religiously. I shouldn’t learn coding principles for data reporting. Just push the button on the software and let it generate the report. Or conversely those that want to go the “home brew” route with everything. I shouldn’t trust the software tool that I am using. I should write one on my own, that way I know everything that its doing. No matter where I turn, I seem to be caught in the middle.

But the middle is not a bad place to be. Granted, I am altering AC/DC’s song “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” ever so slightly. But I’m really ok with being in the middle of things. For me, being in the middle provides me with the flexibility to alter my approaches appropriately to the situations I find myself in. And I prefer flexibility. It gives me options. I am provided with choices. I like choices.

I’m not a Republican, Democrat, or any other political party. I remain an unaffiliated voter because I get the opportunity to look over all the candidates and choose from the perspective that I can relate to the best. Sadly, these days that always feel like the impossible: choosing between two bad sides. Within my Paganism and Druidry, I am not trying to reinvent the Wheel. In fact, I’m just trying to find perspectives that match my own far better. Nor am I trying to match my Spiritual practices to what my ancestors did so long ago. I’m not living tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years ago. I’m living here and now. My Spiritual practices are here and now. Thus, I am not trying to reconstitute something from the Past. I’m working in the here and now. Professionally, I will do whatever it takes to get the job done or to get the system running again. I’m not worried about violating the “correctness” of how it gets done. I just want it running right now. I’ll come back later and set things into the appropriate aspect of operations long after I got it working.

For me, being in the middle provides me the flexibility to make choices to get results. Rightness, wrongness, correct processes, incorrect methodologies – none of that matters at the moment of getting things running.

I know where my mindset comes from. The United States Air Force taught me this process and concept. Make it run. If I use correct wiring or if I hold things together with chewing gum and bailing wire – it doesn’t matter. Just make it go for the time being. Putting it together the correct manner takes a back seat to getting it running. Believe me, I’ve gotten tons of pushback on this process throughout my life.

Some folks call me concept a “fly by the seat of your pants” concept. ::shrug:: I grok that perspective. I’ve been told that I do things the “wrong” way as well. Honestly, I’m alright with that too. I learned that its just easier to do what you need to do than to worry about how you get perceived by others. I’m not looking for the love and adoration of others over how I handle my Pagansim and Druidry. I’m not seeking anyone else’s approval than my own. Nor am I seeking to have others do things the same way that I do. Everyone walks the Path that suits them the best.

Will you get criticized for doing things this way or that? Sure, you will. There so many ways to deal with your Spirituality. How much it bothers you is up to you. I cannot and will not determine what is right and wrong for you. I can present you with a perspective or a choice. Whether you choose to accept that choice or set that perspective up as a precept of what you are going to do is ultimately your choice. And honestly, your reasoning for accepting, rejecting, or altering what is presented to you is all your business, not mine.

–Tommy /|\

Howling Into the Wind: Mistakes

What if, what if you find you made a mistake
What if, what if it’s worth the chance
That you’re taking

I would never want to see you standing
In the line of fire
You’re the one who has to come to grips
With your own desires

Tommy Shaw, “Remo’sTheme (What If?)

That’s a portion of the lyrics of “Remo’s Theme (What If” by Tommy Shaw from the soundtrack of the Gods-awful 1985 film “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” Great song. Gods awful, horrible film. Tommy also features the song on his album “What If”. But this post is not about that awful film or even the song. This little snippet of the lyrics from the song provides a question that we all encounter within our lives: what if we make a mistake?

Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time I made a mistake, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. I would. Most definitely. If I made each of those mistakes weigh a single pound, and then had those mistakes piled on top of me – I would be crushed to death by the sheer weight. You get the picture though: I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life.

My Spiritual life starts down the road of the Methodist belief system – the beliefs of my parents. But my parents were never serious about their religious beliefs. The Methodist past probably seemed to be the quiet and “safe” path for them. I can’t say for sure. Both of my parents passed beyond the veil a few years back, and throughout my entire life up to the point of their passing, we never discussed Spiritual faith. However, my parents seemed to be enamored with the education style of the Catholic faith and enrolled me and my sister into Catholic schools when we came back to the States from Germany. In Catholic schools, religious education is a requirement for all students. Thus, I was educated in the concepts and beliefs of the Catholic faith. I listened in class. I assimilated the concepts, terminology, procedures, and the such. Fuck, I wanted a good grade. Not that I was a stellar student. I graduated next to last in my high school class. With some of the highest ACT and SAT scores in the class. To tell the honest truth, high school was boring. When I graduated, I looked for a new Spiritual path.

My first stop was the Southern Baptists. Definitely not a good fit from the word “go”. I was viewed as “dangerous” by most of the parents, simply because I asked questions. Starting at this location was a mistake. A mistake that I had to alter when I joined the Air Force. In Basic Training, at our first Chapel service, I filtered myself into a group of trainees that were atheists and agnostics. During chapel service, we were always asked to sit quietly at the back of the chapel and left alone. This choice was another mistake. I had beliefs that there were things out there that were far more powerful than human beings could ever imagine. I just had no words to describe or define what I believed. When I was sent to my first duty station – Carswell Air Force base in Fort Worth, Texas – I stumbled into a Wiccan Priestess, who helped me to understand what Paganism was. I finally had words for what I believed. My first footsteps on my Pagan path began. I would make a few steps along the way with that as well.

When I made mistakes in finding my own Spiritual Path, I backed up, reset my thinking, and chose a different Path. I have often wondered how different I would be if I had just stopped and given up instead. All the people I likely would not have encountered over my thirty-plus years on this Spiritual Path. All the life-long extended family that I have in my life that wouldn’t be there because I had just given up. On top of that, I look back at all the mistakes I have made in my professional life. All the miscalculated results, all the incorrect equipment adjustments. Then there are the mistakes I have made in my own personal life. Trusting the wrong people to have the best intentions towards me. How different would I be if I had not made those mistakes? What if I had just given up and not bothered to try again and again?

Our choices define who we are. Our choices aim us to new experiences that are further down the road. Our mistakes provide experiences that we can learn directly from, just as our successes can do the same. Certainly, I am not proud of all my mistakes. But I made them. I’ve gotten mad at myself for some of my mistakes. Eventually, I got over that anger, picked myself up, dusted myself off, and moved on. Because I believe life is worth living. I believe that the experiences coming are worth continuing for. Good or bad. Life, for me, is about experiences. My Druidry is experiential.

I could have done so many things, baby
If I could only stop my mind
From wonderin’ what I left behind
And from worrying ’bout this wasted time

Eagles, “Wasted Time”

Sitting here looking back, the lyrics to the Eagles song “Wasted Time” come to mind. I can’t change the Past. Playing the “what if” game can be a fruitless pastime. But is it really? My observation of looking back to the choices that we have made is that it is a lot like a project post-mortem. In the Information Technology world, these autopsies look for what practices worked well, and which resulted in bottlenecks that stifled appropriate progress. There’s nothing that you can do for what has already happened. However, you can alter what you do in the future to avoid making the same mistakes. At least that’s the theory, right?

The real point in all of this? Allow yourself to make mistakes. Even the catastrophic ones. So long as no one dies, everything will be alright. Those big mistakes will hurt. They will hurt deeper than you realize. But the experiences is necessary. You won’t get anything from it at first…except for pain, and your self-esteem becoming a hardcore casualty of the process. The pain will lessen over time. Your self-esteem will be built back over time. And those tears? They are a part of the process too. Need a hug? Need someone to comfort you? I can do that for you. I can dry the tears and bring you a wet washcloth to clean your face. I can wrap my arms arounds you and hold you close. Because I’ve been there too. And far more recently than you may realize. I make mistakes too. I’ve been lucky enough to have people who have been there to comfort me, hold me, wipe away my tears, and assure me that everything will be ok…in time. And looking back…its not wasted time. But it’s a moment that needs to stay in the past. Remember, there are numerous new experiences coming. You want those. Good and bad. Because life moves forward. Come on. I’ll walk beside you along the way. I’ll hold your hand if you want me to. We can do it together.

Remember, its not about the mistakes we make. Its about how we bounce back from those mistakes that matters more. Mistkaes are learning experiences, not mortal wounds.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Jasmine Carter on

Howling Into the Wind: Non-Mathematical Division

Here in central Tejas, the weather is about to bring another promise of the coming Winter. Right now, the trees are holding on to their leaves. The leaves are clinging to their colors. Two cold fronts will push through the area over the next two days. These aren’t very strong, so the temps won’t get too cold. But the cold fronts will be coming through. I do wish Winter would hurry up and trot on through.

I miss traveling. I still remember the trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. I hate flying. Interest perspective from a former Air Force member, eh? The trip to Glacier was a three-day trek by vehicle. Up across the front edge of the Rocky Mountains, where the majesty of that marvelous mountain range is just right in your face. Then into Wyoming, and then westward into Montana. Glacier National Park was an amazing place to be. But the trip also provided the opportunities to talk with complete strangers from time to time.

Thinking back, never once was there a conversation about politics. Most of the discourse worked along the subjects of where one was from, what did you think about the beautiful scenery, and where have you eaten that you would recommend. You know, simple stuff. So, I fast-forward to my recent trip to Mesa Verde National Park in the south-western corner of Colorado. Everywhere I went, the conversations that I walked past or walked past me were about one topic (or at least it seemed to be at the forefront): American politics. Complaints about Republicans. Complaints about Democrats. Insults aimed at former President Trump. Insults aimed at President Biden. Really hateful stuff. And conversations I never wanted to enter or intrude on. The difference in time? About six years. Maybe a little more.

I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I’m not even a member of any of the smaller third parties that exist here in the United States. I’m what is termed as a “non-affiliated voter.” But you’ve heard this before, I’m none of that. I’m just me. I’m not overly chuffed with politics or political parties. You’re a registered Republican, a registered Democrat, or whatever other party you can dream of? Bully for you. I’m not impressed or disappointed in any of that. You handle what you need to do. Demand that I be part of your political movement or you will consider me to be a constant and consistent drag on society? Well, you’ll likely see a lot less of me in a social sense. I’ll find other circles to spend my time, probably to your great relief (though that’s an assumption – you still have to do you in that regard).

I have a theory (I have lots of theories) of what is manifesting this massive political perspective of “Us v. Them”. For a long time, our society has lived in a concept of division. We separate people according to their height, weight, skin color, eye color, handedness, social status, income level, intelligence, and a wide myriad of other factors. In achieving that aspect of division, we separate ourselves even deeper through concepts of how to govern our societal aspects, such as states, counties, cities, countries, municipalities, neighborhoods, and such. Once we figure out these divisions, we do our utmost best to protect what we have.

The year after I graduated high school, I attended a Sociology class in my first year of college. The professor who taught the class (whose name escapes me) divided the class into three groups. These groups were labeled as “Upper Class”, “Middle Class” and “Lower Class”. We then played a quiz game, where individuals who answered questions correctly (and first) were awarded points. Then, after the points were awarded, each group were given the chance to gather, and re-allocate all the points in the group. After this period, these points were checked to see if any individual had enough points to be moved from one group to another. After a time of playing, the groups were disbanded, and the students were asked for observations on what occurred. The students in the Upper Class group found that they always allocated the points to keep the lowest members in their group from being sent to the Middle Class. The members in the Lower Class reallocated their points to try and elevate their members with the highest point total into the Middle Class. The Middle Class; however, never re-allocated their points among their group, as each member attempted to move themselves into the Upper Class, while simultaneously attempting to keep themselves from being banished into the Lower Class. This particular exercise always stayed with me as an example of the competition that we seem to be with one another. Always trying to be better than someone else. I’ve never seen that to be more prevalent than it has been in today’s world of politics.

“If you vote for the third party, you’re voting for Trump!” was the cry I heard throughout the last Presidential cycle. I understand the entire statistical aspect that was being crowed in that political battle cry. But a political vote is more than just some statistical bean counting exercise. A political vote is letting your voice be heard, even when you know that voice is completely in the minority and has no statistical ability of coming out on top. Your vote isn’t a “protest” vote, as some claim. It’s a vote that expresses a perspective. But our political process here in America isn’t about expressing a view – its about winning and losing, as the campaign for President Trump so eloquently put it in his first Presidential run. Over the past few decades, our politics has devolved from a sometimes tense and terse national conversation on how to govern to angry, thinly veiled insults hurled at one side or the other. Its not about governance. Its strictly about winning and losing. And, has been the case decade after decade, our political perspective has spilled over into our everyday social lives. Are you a Trump supporter? Get off my Facebook feed. Better yet, I’ll block you. Us and them. The division goes deeper than neighborhoods where people of certain income brackets live. It goes deeper than an individual’s skin color. Or one’s religious beliefs. Yes, really. Religious beliefs. Check out the Sundays, when people of one faith go to the little (sometimes not so little) building to pray together. And then race the people of the other faiths to the local restaurants to eat with their families. Yep, the Southern Baptists are making a run for the local sit-down restaurant to fill the tables before the Catholics get there. ::smacking forehead:: What the fuck people?

As the meme goes: I’m not competing with anyone. I hope we all make it. When an emergency happens and someone needs assistance, I’m not going to start out by asking what political party they are part of. I’m not going to ask them for their COVID-19 vaccination card. I’m not going to ask what God they pray to. I’m not going to determine how much help I am going to give them based on their skin color or what clothing they are wearing. I’m going to help them to the best of my ability. Because I want all of us to make it. I want all of us to survive. My Druidry DEMANDS this of me.

Grant, O Gods, Thy Protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of the Gods, and all goodness.

EXCEPT, if the individual is a Trump supporter. Right? EXCEPT, if the individual is a Right-wing Christian who wants to eradicate all others of belief that is not their own, right? EXCEPT, if the individual is the wrong skin color, right? EXCEPT, if the individual is left-handed, right? EXCEPT, if the individual is a ginger (red-head for those of you outside of Europe), right? We don’t help those people, right? We want everyone else to make it. But these folks…they can just right out lose. Because its ALL about winning and losing, right? Sorry, not in my way of thinking. And yes, I do realize that applying all of this in the way that I am doing is going to place me outside the realm “rightness” in the eyes of others. But my personal values place me here. Again, I’m not here to compete with anyone. I want us all to make it. Even those that may “hate” me.

Some may think I’m being “silly” or “unrealistic” about the way I approach this. Awesome. I have no mandate in my life or the way I approach my daily life that says that everyone MUST think or believe the way that I do. I do have a mandate in my life that says that this is the way that I believe. And I have to be true to myself. I’m tired of all the divisions that we, as a collective society, have created to separate ourselves from one another. Other can play that game. Me? I’ll be on the other side of this playground we call Life, sitting under the tree reading.

–Tommy /|\

Yes, I spend a lot of time reading – even when I go to the beach

Howling Into the Wind: Group v. Solo

Over the past few months, I have read several bloggers talking about where our modern-day Spirituality is headed: individual practice. Seemingly, there are more Pagans that are striding into their Spirituality alone. Without groups. Alone. Exploring and developing their Spiritual practices (I still dislike this phrasing) on their own. There is a lot of dislike and skepticism being placed on this individual process by Pagans that have long championed the group concept. Now before everyone gets completely ramped up into the whole argument of Solitary v. Group perspective, let’s take a step back.

I have been in both camps. I started out in the Group perspective. I learned the basic concepts, processes, and ritual elements while I was there. I have a lot of thanks and gratitude towards the people who helped me learn material and concepts that were foreign to me at the time. However, after eight years, I found myself needed to strike out on my own. Now, I am a part of a larger group (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids), but my daily practice (::cringing:: There’s got to be a better term) is completely my own. Thankfully, OBOD understands that both aspects can be part of an individual’s Spiritual needs, and not be in conflict. So, there’s now hardcore friction between the points – at least not that I have encountered. However, I do have to acknowledge that my experiences may be the outlier.

Is it bad to be on your own with your own Spirituality? There are those that are in groups that will point out that self-propelled Spirituality can assist in building Pagans through “bad decisions” or “poor understanding of the basics.” There seems to be an even deeper concurrence that self-propelled Spirituality develops what is demeaningly referred to as “fluffy-bunny” Pagans. Essentially, these types of Pagans don’t add up to what others feel Pagans should be. These fluffy-bunny Pagans just don’t seem to be up to the required hardcore element that these others feel the lowest bar of Paganism should reach. Thus, these fluffy-bunny Pagans are met with an attitude of “children just playing at being Pagan.”

For many solo Pagans (::cringe:: an even more klutzy phrasing), striking out on your own removes you from what they feel is a “cloning process” that occurs within groups. Everyone does the same thing. Everyone dresses the same. Any step away from the ruling concept of processes, dress, etiquette, etc. etc. is met with disdain and risks perceived banishment. Be like everyone else or be removed. Thus, the solo Pagans strike out on their own, to feel more at ease with what they do. They are the “masters/mistresses” of their own Spiritual perspective. No one tells them what to do. Their battle cry is “freedom!” versus the constant chants of “conform!” from the other side.

Now, both of those descriptions are extreme perspectives. There is a lot of middle ground to be had, as well as a metric ton of overlap. But the two extremes are better at defining the major differences. As I’ve noted before, I have feet in both camps. So do a lot of other Pagan folk out there. So, trying to relay these differences gets very muddy unless you deal in extremes.

So, which is better? Where should the new Pagan stand for their starting point on their neophyte Path? Is this new Path of individualism within Pagan Spirituality going to fundamentally change Paganism as we know it? Are we standing on the precipice of a cliff that will potentially destroy the seriousness of Paganism?

Don’t shake your head and state that these questions seem silly. I’ve heard, and read, these very questions being set out for discussion. Which is better? Where should you start? Well, I can’t tell you that. I would encourage the neophyte Pagan to look into both camps and see which appeals to them. Neither is bad. All of it hinges on what works for the individual in question. So, I can’t really say I would have a definitive answer for you, the individual reading this. I know the answer for myself, but that’s not going to be helpful for anyone else. Your choice, your decision.

Now, I come to the more difficult aspect. Is this new rush towards solitary (ugh…another unhelpful descriptive) Spirituality going to water-down the Paganism we all know? Will this move destroy Paganism as we know it – essentially becoming a cocoon to a new Paganism that will evolve soon, and put all of our groups into a place of being unnecessary? Well, I would have to say no. This seemingly “new” move towards Solitary Spirituality isn’t new at all. I remember the 1980s, when I started into Paganism. Many of the people I encountered within Paganism were solo Pagans. Not of desire, but out of necessity. Groups of Pagans would tend to live closer together, thus making gathering easier. With not much available communication beyond one’s local area, the further you were from others, the more likely your Pagan practice was as a party of one. So I would posit that this “new” movement towards solo practice is more likely a cycle within Paganism itself. In the future, I would assume that there will be a push back towards being a part of a group rather than being on your own. Of course, I’m not a Sociologist, nor am I an expert on the Sociological aspects of the wider Pagan community. I’m merely making my own guess known publicly.

So, is our collective, modern-day Paganism going to change? Well, I can tell you that today’s Paganism is far different than the Paganism I started with in the 1980s. So, my answer would be “yes” – things will change. And it will change enough that I will likely not be able to recognize it if I could jump into a time machine and move forward a few decades. Our collective society changes. Our Paganism will change with it. For better or worse, it will happen. Knowing that, I find the “debate” of Solo Paganism v. Group Paganism to not have much relevance. Arguments can be made about which style is better, which style is “more appropriate.” In the end, it all falls to an individual choice. For me, I prefer my feet in both camps. My personal daily Paganism is Solo because it fits my approach to my Gods. My wider Paganism includes the Group element because I am still a part of my wider Pagan community. I am not always in synchronous agreement with my fellow Druids or Pagans. But that doesn’t exclude me from either respective grouping. It merely means that there is a difference of opinion and/or perspective.

Others will have a difference of opinion over all of this. Their difference is not wrong. Nor is mine. We merely see the world from a different vantage point around the fire. To place that concept into proper perspective, I offer this. Have four people sit directly opposite from one another on the line of a circle. Give them pen and paper. Then set a coke can directly in the middle. Ask them each to provide a description of what they see. They can only describe what they see. You will find that those diametrically across from one another will provide wildly different descriptions. Those next to one another will have many similarities in what they see. However, none of the descriptions will be the same. Yet they see the same coke can. Differences in perspective come from one’s vantage point. This is why I see validity in groups and in solo Spirituality. I’m not sure that this helps to explain where I am in this entire Group V. Solo argument, debate, difference…whatever you want to call it.

I cannot and will not tell people which option is better for them. You are your own individual. What appeals to you is what appeals to you. “Just be yourself” is about the best advice that I can give. Be true to you. For some, that can be frustrating to hear. I completely understand. But I am no Oracle. The only person that I truly have answers for is myself. I can offer advice, if asked. The weight of that advice…is up to you. But I would caution you against seeing me as some kind of “expert” with the “absolute” truth. I’m just me.

–Tommy /|\

Howling Into the Wind: Change, Communication, Respect

Yesterday, I found a question that was asked of individuals that I believe might be beneficial to ask in a wider public forum.

Name something about the Occult Community you would like to see change…

As you can imagine, a wide-open question like this invites a lot of different angles and perspectives. My response:

Well, it sounds rather basic – but just be yourself. I don’t play any kind of gate-keeping role in what Pagans of any stripe should or should not be doing, that includes what one needs to be doing within the wider community. I think it’s more important to individual Spirituality to find one’s own self and utilize that as an anchor to avoid becoming some kind of “Pagan clone”. If we stay authentic to ourselves and to our wider Community, we avoid a lot of the “artificial” perspectives that arrive when we start looking at others doing their own thing and saying that their approach is “wrong” or ‘New Agey”. Everyone has their own path to walk, and we should avoid trying to play up the idea that any other walk than our own is incorrect, incomplete, or inaccurate. Diversity in Paths, Approaches, and Perspectives are a strength, in my opinion.

Tommy /|\

Not precisely earth-shattering stuff, right? Nothing that I haven’t written about before on the blog. Nothing radically different from stuff that I have talked about face-to-face with others. Nothing that others have not disagreed with me on before either. But its not my answer I want to write about here. It’s the writing prompt.

As I’ve noted often, at the risk of being ad nauseam about it, I have been on my Pagan Path for three and a half decades. In that time, I have watched the ebb and flow of the Pagan community. When I started, digital communications, such as the internet did not exist. Much of long-distance communications were done through personal letters or via dial-in Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs). You can imagine (and some of you don’t have to imagine – you lived it, just as I did) the Community was largely dependent on the cohesiveness of various local individuals. Over time, digital communications expanded into what we know and utilize today. That expansive communications ability has been helpful to so many on their own individual Paths, and has not only widened our knowledge base, but allowed for a lot more cohesive research on those perspectives by so many. Our wider Pagan community has not only grown by leaps and bounds, but we have found more ways to help one another along our respective Paths.

However, from time to time, there is always a need to step back and take stock of what has been done, what is being done, and where things are going. Questions such as the one noted above, are typically the start of such endeavors. Like I noted, I have been around a long time. My direct participation in the Pagan community has also ebbed and flowed during that time. I would never hold myself up as a paragon of virtue in being a part of the community. I am aware of most of my faults and missteps. However, despite all of that, I am a part of the wider community, even if I wanted to deny that point. Whether I like it or not, I am a part of the Pagan community. So, what I answered above is not a judgment of the community or a damnation of what is lacking within the community. What I answered was merely an observation, nothing more. My prescription for it – also within my answer – is only my perception of what needs to be done. I am not the Pagan with all the answers. Furthermore, I can only correct my faults and missteps. I cannot and will not be responsible for changing the behaviors and attitudes of others.

Should the Pagan community be taking stock of where things are, and be looking for what change can be done? Well, my answer would be “yes.” But I am a single individual. I am not the Pagan Pope. And if you dig hard enough, you may find a few claiming to be such, somewhere on the internet. But I am all for self-examination. Within my own professional career, this type of perspective is an ideal thing. Within any Information Technology project, there is a period after the project has been completed, and the results set into motion, where self-examination happens. Within the realm of Project Management, this is called a “post-mortem” process. In Latin, the term means “after death,” essentially an autopsy. What you are essentially doing is checking how things went. You look for places where things went wrong, and how things were resolved on the fly. You are looking for ways to do it better the next time. Honestly, I do this after I make changes to my own personal ritual processes. Because I am always looking for where the kinks were, what worked, and what didn’t. That way I can change things and try my best to make my ritual process work better and have a better impact on what I was trying to do. It’s a process I use when writing code within my professional career. It’s a manner of getting better at what I do – learning new code, learning new syntax – just getting better. After all, there’s always room for improvement. Always.

The hard part about doing this in wider community setting, is that this only works on areas of commonality. Believe me, all of that is hard to locate – we are a wide, diverse community that is full of contradictory perspectives. However, there is one aspect that we can all agree upon (hopefully). That is respect of other spiritual perspectives. Even those that are in diametrical opposition to our own. I believe that this is the point that we need to take time to check and re-check ourselves on.

I was wondering aloud about what direction the wider community could take without this re-check process. Well, I hate to bring this into the point, but without checking and re-checking our aspect of respect for other perspectives, particularly those in opposition to our own – our future as a wider community might potentially look a lot like those in American politics, at this moment. Where the Right/Conservative, and Left/Liberal perspectives become so divided, that commonality cannot be achieved. Simply because we dig into our perspective perspectives, and demand that ours is the only, true way. That the other perspective is just wrong. When our entrenched attitudes will develop feelings or hatred, betrayal, and bring about enforcement of our belief over all others. The middle ground recedes to nothing. Compromise can never be achieved in such an environment. Entrenchment gets deeper and deeper. The result will be a civil war of proportions that are unimaginable. All because we lose respect for the other side. Where matters go after that civil war is an unknown that I do not want to even approach.

You might not agree with my assessment. I can grok that. (For those of who have not read Robert Heinlein’s works – “grok” simply means to empathize or communicate sympathetically – or if you prefer “I get you”) Right now, I would surmise that my logical progression to this point, is a wild guess-timation. I certainly hope that I am completely wrong.

Circling back to the original question, what would I – me, Tommy – like to see change within the wider Pagan community? Aside from what I have already written in response? Well, we have the tools to do so. I would like to see us talk with each other. Not talk AT each other. But that’s a conversation for another time, and probably for a better setting than a blog. I really wish we could all gather round a fire on a nice, clear night. Everyone with a nice beverage of choice. We will probably never solve all of the world’s problems, but there certainly is something to be said for the civility o face-to-face communication over that of hiding behind an IP address. #JustSayin’

–Tommy /|\

Howling Into the Wind: If I Stop, I’ll Never Know

I’ve been writing this blog for…what…seven years? Eight? Something like that. The WordPress history says that I started sometime in 2012, but the stats only show heavier readership in the next year. But really the amount of time is not that important – just a placeholder to put an emphasis on time. See, every few years, I wind up with someone asking me if I ever thought about publishing my own book. In the life of the blog, its happened more than a handful of times. And success-averse me always responds in the same manner – “who would want to read it?” Only this year has the answer not been – “right.” Instead, I wound up with a different perspective: “You’ll never know until you write it.”

These days, I have found myself challenging a lot of the perspectives I have built up over the years. 2020 proved to be the year that my perceptions were massively annihilated right before my very eyes. The very foundations of everything that I had been holding close vanished, and I found myself in a deeper sea than I had ever envisioned. It took a while to regain solid footing underneath me again. Once I managed that, I had to re-evaluate everything in my life. And I mean EVERYTHING.

The first was my perception relating to what I did for a living. My tendency has always been to make my job an integral part of how I define myself. What I found out was that I am not my job. My job is what I do for someone else. Work has been sparse. Without that anchor, I had to locate a stronger way to redefine who and what I am. For me, that meant an even deeper turn to my Druidry. I sought a better approach to rebuilding myself – not just in terms of defining myself, but in living what I believed. I had already done a rather foolish breakdown and re-evaluation of my Druidry, which proved – in the end – to be a complete waste of time. This time I didn’t need to rebuild. I needed to reinforce my Druidry. I needed to make sure that my Druidry was an integral and important part of me. I stepped back to doing ritual at appropriate times of the year, not just doing things “whenever.” I kept some of the impromptu aspects of what I do, but I added back more structured elements of ritual. I took the time to re-institute specific times for my meditational work. I pulled journal writing back into my daily practice. In the course of doing so, I find myself enamored with my Druidry again, and not resenting its pull away from other things, such as playing on the PlayStation. Now that the Easy Bake Oven summer of Texas has been lessened, I am getting back to walking again. Yeah, the distances are not anywhere near where I used to be, but it takes time and routine effort to get back to that point.

As I have been re-doing all of these things, and reconnecting with what makes Druidry beautiful, useful, and part of me, I have been wondering how many other people are coming out of that same rut. Let’s face it, COVID has sent us all scrambling indoors to try and avoid becoming ill. COVID has disrupted much of our daily lives and routines. For some who were just starting to enter the wider Pagan community and beginning their own personal steps on their Pagan Path, they may have felt all alone – like the community abandoned them, which it didn’t. We all did what was natural: we went into survival mode.

Yes, I write about stuff like that here on the blog. I write about a lot of other things that have taken place along my own Path. Once again, I feel that calling to write about my own journey, so that I can detail some of the darker aspects of what I went through, so that others can see that their journey may also follow into the shadows, but eventually, you will find the sunlight again.

I sat and discussed this a long time ago with a publisher, who quickly nixed the entire idea. “Books about personal journeys don’t sell,” is what I was told. I can understand that. I was aimed towards self-publishing, as an alternative. That sounds great, except that requires funds, which I don’t have. So, all of this still sits by the wayside. It might never see the light of day. Still, I write.

Am I an author? No. Am I important enough to be read? ::shrug:: I have no idea. But I still say the same thing when asked questions like this – I’m just me. Just an average, every day, Pagan Druid. Just trying to make my way through daily life. With Abnoba to one side of me, Coyote to the other side, and Crow on my shoulder. Constantly telling me all kinds of stuff. 😊

As for the blog, I have a few constant readers. I attract some traffic to the site. I only hope that folks who read what I write get something out of it. Because that’s the real reason I write. To help that one person get that one spark that fuels their inner passions and drives them on to be who they are meant to be. Just that one person. That would be more than enough for me. Maybe there’s a book in all of that. If I stop writing, I’ll never know.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

Howling Into the Wind: Practicing Alone

Last week, I suffered a diabetic seizure and was taken to the emergency room. A bit of a scary moment, as well as having an entire sleepless night in the emergency room in a single bay. Later that night, a woman who had been sleeping in her car at one of the local gas stations was brought in to have her wounds from struggling with the police. Since they couldn’t get a statement of whether she was vaccinated or not, she was placed in the last bay. The two police officers that had struggled with her were also in there. One of them asked the nurse where they could go within the Emergency Room area. She replied that they could go anywhere except Bay Five, which was mine. Later, I asked why my bay had been excluded. “You have an immune system issue with your diabetes. They had been with the patient in Bay Eight for an extended period of time. Since we couldn’t determine her COVID status, we moved her to the furthest location from you, and treated the officers as if they also needed to be kept away from you.” COVID has changed the protocols within my local emergency room. As I sat on my bed in the room, I realized that a lot more has changed concerning those protocols – even my approach to my Paganism.

When COVID was raging last year, I spent much of the Summer in the house. I very rarely came out of the house for anything. I had a handful of homemade masks that I could wear, but nothing I could call dependable. Over a period of time, I purchased a handful of manufactured masks that I could put filters inside of for better protection. However, I continued to stay indoors out of simple precaution. I did my rituals inside, so I could limit my exposure to other people. Rituals that I would normally seek out a group to work with, I stayed in a solo mode. Other aspects where I would usually seek out the company of others, I found other methods to gather and make contact with them. Over that time, my approach to my Paganism has become much more inward, much more solo in nature. Where I was making parts of my Paganism solitaire, and other parts more group-oriented, these last two years have been completely solitaire in my daily approach. Coupled with some issues within my own personal life, I truly found out what it is like to be a solo Pagan.

I know others have had to make changes in their approach to their Spirituality during these times for much the same reason. I know these times of COVID can seem quite scary, even for those who have gotten the vaccines. With new strains showing up, where the vaccines are scant protection against break-through infections, it certainly feels like we are a long way from our lives getting back to some aspect of “normalcy.” I still have fears concerning face-to-face gatherings, festivals, and conferences. I am starting to worry for the survival of such gatherings. Where I live, I am about ten miles from the Texas Middlefaire location. These last two years, Middlefaire has not held an event at their location. A year ago, the Middlefaire owner/operator took the signs off the signpost at the highway just out of the faire grounds. That signage location continues to be bare to this day. There is some question about the capability for Middlefaire to even return if things got back to some aspect of “normal.” That begs the question of what will be “normal” for public gatherings, and rituals. To be honest, I don’t know what the future will bring for those aspects of our collective Pagan lives. I’m not a prognosticator. I don’t even play one on tv.

Currently, I see my own personal Pagan practice continuing on the lonely Path that it is. My lousy immune system will require me to be much more careful than others. Already, I’m seeking out video gatherings to keep connected to others. I just do not feel like having a Pagan practice where I don’t connect with others in some way…just for some meaningful discussions, as well as just plain ol’ chit-chat. In many ways, I’m tired of being alone on my Spiritual Path. That’s actually quite ironic for me. I’ve always been a solo Pagan, coming out to group practice only a handful of times in a year. It should stand to reason that being alone and not doing any group-oriented anything should be ok with me. But like any human being, I’m still a social animal. Being completely cut off from public gatherings has never sat well with me.

Has COVID changed how we connect with one another? Certainly, it has. Has it changed the way we approach the Gods within our own Spiritual Paths? For some it has. For others, its not been a significant point. For me, its been a significant change to my own approach. Still, another example, that we traverse our Spiritual Paths differently.

–Tommy /|\

Howling Into the Wind: It Took Me a Long Time to Clean My Boots…

I don’t normally write about topics from other blogs; however, a recent post by John Beckett provided a strange point of interest for me. John’s point came from a perspective of how to present Pagan beliefs to a generation of what John describes as “Spiritual Explorers.” Quoting from John:

Our many varieties of Paganism and polytheism are not a social club, a political party, or a marketing agency. We don’t proselytize. At the same time, we want to see our values grown in the mainstream culture. More importantly, we want to be welcoming to those who are looking for what we have – even if they don’t know it yet. The Gods call who They call, but many times those calls are faint and difficult to follow.

How do we welcome those who expect to ‘make their own guidelines?’ How do we balance the obligation to preserve our sacred traditions with the obligation to be hospitable to those who simply won’t tolerate being told what to believe or what to do?

John Beckett, “Presenting Paganism to a Generation of Spiritual Explorers?“, August 19 2021

Well, the concept/perspective can provide a bit of an issue for some. Like John, I am a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Within OBOD, there ritual formats that are expected to be learned. There are some philosophical aspects that you will need to not only, but completely understand. Unlike John, I am not a member of ADF, and will likely never be one. Their ritual format is not something that I can work with, and ADF has a super strong adherence to that framework. I have been in quite a few ADF rituals. I understand their ritual format, plus I also realize that while the ritual format is not something I wish to work – there is a point respectfulness towards their way of doing things. So, when I read about how we provide hospitable perspective towards others, I find it to be easy to do. Were I to design and run a public ritual, I would stick the public ritual aspect that OBOD adheres to. If I were invited to a public or private ritual, I would adhere to whatever ritual format that was presented. After all, I am a guest.

As for the perspective of working with a “Spiritual Explorer,” I think my moving through various Wiccan groups – all of which had a different ritual format than I did, my time within OBOD, and the three years of presenting myself as a generic neo-Pagan (as well as trying to determine the best direction for ritual perspective) could quite easily place me in the “Spiritual Explorer” camp. While I have been working with the OBOD framework, particularly during OBOD camps, I still utilize the OBOD framework as a way of framing the way my practice works for me. I know. I hear it all the time, even inside of OBOD: I need to stay faithful to the OBOD framework. I need to stop changing things up, like it’s a balloon-animal. Its bad for me to do that, even if the only time that I do things is when I do ritual on my own. However, I learned that its easier to ignore such statements and to continue doing my own ritual techniques in the fashion that work for me when I am alone.

As for passing the values on towards others or making my values into the mainstream…no thanks. I am not going to pass my values on to others. I would rather that others take the values that they deem to be correct for their Path and find ways to make that work for themselves. Surely, we will have values that cross-over from our perspectives. We can work on those values together. Where our values differ, there’s no need to declare mine or yours to be what every Pagan should be doing. To my ears, that sounds like dogma…and I have no need to impose my own dogmatic perspective on to any other person. Just saying.

So, to answer the question of how be welcoming, respectful, and honorable to those who see Paganism in a different way? Well, I just do the same thing I try to do for Christians that I encounter on my daily walk within Life. I realize that we may not see things the same way, but I try to respectful as much as I can without compromising my beliefs and understanding. Even when they respond to me with hatred and anger. Certainly, I won’t invite them back to sacred space or a ritual after the intention is known. But the only way that I physically remove them from the equation is if their responses and actions are detrimental to the sacred space, the ritual or those attending at that moment. Ideally, everyone would be respectful enough to be able to get through the rite or ritual. However, as much of an idealist that I am – I know that doesn’t happen all the time.

Personally, I don’t want people to be limited to whichever part of the forest that they are going to explore. However, as I have said several times before – before you start leaving the Path to explore, its best to learn the ins and outs of the basics. Some of those basics on ritual, magickal frame-working, and other things will provide a stronger basis, should you look for twisting the balloon into a balloon-doggy. Do I disagree with John? To a certain degree. I don’t find it productive to argue over the differences. Instead, its useful to provide a different perspective. I’m not sure what theological perspective, point of view or concept all that plays into. I’m not a theologian, and don’t really care about stuff like that. Instead, I am just trying to make it through each day and be available for anyone that needs a shoulder to lean on or an ear to bend. I’m not here to prove John wrong in any manner. John is a friend of mine – or at least I consider John to be a friend.

These “Spiritual Explorers,” I can understand their perspective very well. I was there not that long ago. I’m just glad that my teachers were patient enough to show me ways to place myself in their shoes. I’m also glad that my teachers had enough patience to let me ask my questions, no matter how silly they might thought I may have been. I might not have any students…and I may never have any students ever in this lifetime. All of that is “ok.” But I can sit and talk with these Seekers and provide my own perspective and explain that my perspective is one of many. I don’t create “the law.” However, I do know where I had stepped, so I don’t step in the dog shit and the cows shit that are in the field. Believe me it took a long time to clean my boots off. 😊

–Tommy /|\

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Howling into the Wind: Imposter Syndrome, Priestly Stuff and Ordination

What’s my credibility? Why are they looking to me for advice? Isn’t there someone more qualified?

Robin Williams

I ran across this quote on the internet last night while looking up some information on Robin Williams. Sadly, yesterday marked the seventh year since his tragic suicide. But this quote really hit me hard when I read it. Like many folks, I suffer from time to time with Imposter Syndrome, where I openly wonder why I get viewed as some kind of “credible” source of information on Paganism and Druidry. The true reality is that I am only a credible source on how I view those topics (and so many others). But that concept of credibility runs far deeper than the shallow stream I portray here.

I relayed this story yesterday on Facebook, but it has bearings on what I have noted so far. A neighbor in my local area sent me a private message asking what Paganism and Druidry were all about. I can only assume that she got my information from the private Facebook group for my neighborhood, of which I am a part of. After a short bit of explanation, she fired back with a question asking if I was an ordained Priest. Yeah. That damn loaded word. I asked what she meant by being an ordained Priest, and she brought up The Universal Life Church. I responded back that I was not any such thing. “Why not?”

I admit that moment was like running flush into a concrete wall. The dizziness I felt was solid and real. I really had no way to respond to that, aside from a hollow and meek retort of “I have no idea.” However, leaning back to the Robin Williams’ quote that I found on the internet much later in the evening – wouldn’t there be someone more qualified?

Yes, sometime back I accepted the point that referring to me as a Priest was not the same as the romanticized (and honestly, horrible) vision of the Catholic Priest or the Baptist Preacher that my mind associates the word with. Nor do I have to be a Priest to my local Pagan community, performing public rituals everywhere I can possibly find a gig. Nor do I have to officiate over weddings and funerals – unless there was no one else available. In baseball vernacular, I am available to pinch-hit from the bench, should the need arise.

Or am I? I don’t hold credentials of a Priest that would allow me to perform a wedding ceremony from a legal perspective. I believe the same holds true for a funeral service, though I don’t see how that’s necessary to dig a hole, chuck the body in, and say a few words before the dirt gets tossed back on. But then, I am coloring that rite with my own perspective on it. However, let me nudge this back on-track.

The credentialing process through The Universal Life Church is, from what I understand, not a huge issue. You fill out their paperwork, they send you a certificate. Or something like that. There’s not much hassle to it. So why have I not done something like this? Well, again, leaning back to Robin – isn’t there someone more qualified? The answer to that is “probably.” But what if I am all that is available? What if, by some strange thought process, they would want me (what is wrong with you people?) to perform the ceremony? Without the credentials, I could still perform the ceremony…but it wouldn’t be legal.

So, why should I care? I mean, truly, I am nobody special. However, that is me denigrating myself against the way others view me as their friend and their fellow Pagan. Furthermore, I am pushing myself away from the wider Pagan community. A Pagan community that I keep pointing out needs to stay together to survive through these tougher times and beyond. Gathering such credentials would be not only an effort to provide some stronger credibility behind my point, but it would also be a move to be much closer to what I talk of – and something that can be readily seen. Walking the talk if you prefer.

Of course, I have shuffled through this thinking before – just not with the option of being ordained in The Universal Life Church. Now the question remains – should I? Do I need to be that potential stopgap for the more rural aspects of the Pagan community here in central Texas? Or perhaps, more realistically, an option that some folks might want.

The answer is that I will most likely do so, just to be an option for those that would want it. But I still hit that moment of Imposter Syndrome – wondering if there was someone else that would be a more appropriate option. Then again, if a couple (or even a polyamorous triad) came to me asking me to perform a handfasting for them, I must remember – they chose me. Whatever misgivings I have with my Imposter Syndrome are immediately crushed by that point.

Besides, becoming ordained to legal performing such ceremonies doesn’t make me a Priest. Merely an Officiant. My function is to make a ceremonial rite that is memorable for those that asked it of me. In that regard, I truly need to get over my misgivings and pull myself together. The ceremony is for their sake, not mine.

So, I find myself circling around the question of “why not?” Honestly, I believe I have run out of excuses for not doing so. My answer: therefore, must be – “I don’t know, but that needs to be changed.” My Imposter Syndrome be damned. Time to pick up the bat and head to the on-deck circle. Gotta pinch-hit.

–Tommy /|\

Howling Into the Wind: Four Political Quid in the Pot

Ahhh…politics. The ultimate method to destroying a family get-together. The strongest option to setting ablaze a decades long friendship. In short, the ultimate division creation process that we have in the modern age. Shit, I’ve not only watched, but also participated in the loud, vicious arguments over whose concept of governing a country is best. Or at least I did until I took a Texas government class at the community college I used to work at. Through some brilliant assignments handed out by the instructor, I began to realize that all the arguments concerning politics weren’t being made about how to run some form of government. Most of the arguments were about the way people are trying to force their own moral code on to others. But wait, before you start labeling me as a Liberal trying to tear down Conservative values in America. See, I paint with that same brush on the Left side of the aisle as well.

Republicans, Democrats….for me, there is not much difference between the two parties. Both moralize about how their perspective is more “American” than the other. Truth be told, both are saying whatever it takes to get votes for their candidates and be provided the power of holding the reigns on this flaming garbage bin that we are calling our country. Their call for votes to their respective sides is not about fixing issues within this country, or whatever state, county, or city that they are running for office. This is about power, pure and simple. Being able to claim “victory” over the other side. Up until Trump’s election year – and his disastrous four years as President – no one has spoken about “winning” and “losing” out loud.

Yeah, I get that the idea of winning and losing is easy to understand. However, I don’t look at election as a “win/lose” dichotomy. While there is a philosophy behind each party’s perspective – there are still governmental rules that must be followed. Trump attempted to roll completely over stuff that he didn’t like, but whatever he did try was still contained by governmental regulation. Sometimes to good effect, sometimes not. Like many citizens I watch what goes on. I see those who try to bend the governmental rules to keep their stranglehold on power for their party. Unlike many folks – I do the best I can to make my vote be my voice, rather than trying to find some online forum, some smoky filled backroom in a bar, my time around a nice campfire at night, or whatever other place of gathering you can imagine – I’m not trying to find some person to engage in a debate or argument with. In my experience, most people have already made up their mind – for whatever reason. Debating or arguing is nothing more than a waste of time and energy. However, who am I to denigrate what others may find as stimulating and worthy of their own energy and time? I just bow out and move on.

All this stuff on politics has come about after a conversation with an individual that I went to college with. University of Phoenix-Online, to be exact. Back then, 2000 through 2003, we were part of a group of students that had these political discussions in a discussion forum that amounted to a slightly moderated Student Lounge. We were discussing the way that we all argued over the competency of the end of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President. We debated the ability of Vice President Gore’s ability to President. We debated the hanging chads of Gore v Bush. Thinking back this is where I can see the deeper split between these two ideological factions here in the United States. Except that the chasm is far deeper and wider than it was back then.

Folks, I’m a Libra. To make things even more clear, I’m an INFP-A or if you prefer the archetype – the Assertive Mediator. I look for balance. I try to locate common ground or compromise. Add to that, I’m what is referred to in the Information Technology field as a “Troubleshooter”. I look for what’s caused the problem, as well as a way to fix it for the short term, even if its an extremely unconventional methodology. Getting things working is what I am about. Lots of my life has been lived doing just this. However, I am also a realist. If I can’t fix it…I back away.

Usually, when I provide my perspective on politics, I get asked what is the best way to fix it. Well, I hate to break it to anyone out there – I don’t have a fucking clue. I know this system is not working well. In fact, its extremely minimal on results and pumping maximum output on rhetoric. When I make that statement, I get told I’m an idiot or that I’m dumb. I’m neither, but I do know when to back away and just observe. That’s where I am on politics. I don’t have answers – I’m just watching, seeing where things get broken even more. Because later, everyone’s going to want things to be put back together…and someone has to be willing to roll up their sleeves to do that.

I know that much of what I stated here is probably making the blood boil of my Republican and Democrat friends. Why can I not just join them in their respective parties? Why can I not just pick a side? But I have chosen a side. Political parties…just a bunch of nonsense and clamoring for power. I’d rather stay with the side I chose – to see people as intelligent human beings, regardless of their political affiliation (or lack thereof), and to focus on the things that I can help repair or mend. Because no matter what your political affiliation, we all live on this rock spinning in space. I believe it will be a fair better place to live if we set aside our differences and focus on our similarities. We’re all human. We all have the right to live here. And it would be far better for everyone if we can do that without drawing sides of Good v Evil or Us v Them. That’s my four quid in the pot. I’ll fold my hand now and go find something to eat.

–Tommy /|\

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Howling Into the Wind: The Future, Today, My Paganism, My Druidry

What does the future hold for Paganism? What about Druidry? Well, honestly, I don’t know. I’ve asked a few Pagan and Druid friends over the years, and they normally shrug their shoulders too. A few have discussed what they HOPE the future looks like. The typical standard is fifty or a hundred years into the future. Pagan churches and gathering locations will find their place next to Christian churches within the sprawling suburbia of the United States. Shrines will be in more populous locations such as train stations, city blocks, and elsewhere. Pagans will stand side=by-side in equality with Christians. People will not have to hide their beliefs. There will be seminaries throughout the world to train Pagan Priests to do things the “right” way. Because, as I climb my desk to stand taller, reaching my arms towards the skies above my ceiling, for Paganism to grow like Christianity – WE MUST COMPETE!

Ok, so the imagery of me standing on my desk with my arms akimbo really does have a silly outlook. Plus, even standing here I can feel myself getting a little dizzy from the height. Yeah. My fear of heights. Let me get off the desk, first.

To be openly honest, none of that appeals very much to me, aside from the point that Pagans can live openly with who they are – with no repercussions from a world and governmental systems built on the premise that Christian standards are the only ones that matter. So, what does my vision of Paganism look like for the future? Or as Cat Treadwell queried me on Facebook yesterday – what does my Druidry look like today, particularly here in my small, dusty corner of the world? Ok, I added a touch of descriptive to what Cat asked, but its essentially the same thing. 😊

I cannot and will not try to predict any kind of future. I can look through the information in front of me and try to see a pattern headed into that future, but my focus is firmly on the present. Will we have Pagan “churches” in the future? I don’t know, maybe. But then what defines a “church”? The building? The land on which the building rests? The people that make up that small, intentional community? My feeling is that such a thing doesn’t matter. My Paganism, my Druidry are not defined by a building, a parcel of land, or even a group of people. My Druidry, my Paganism – all of that exists from the daily experiences that I have, the choices that I make, and my perspective that helps drive those choices.

Right now, it’s the start of August here in Texas. This is the time of year that signals the start of higher heat. Texas begins to feel like living in an Easy Bake oven that’s always on. Despite the temperatures, I have always tried to find time to be outside – just not in the ultimate heat of the day. Short morning walks are a nice method to being out among nature. When the air is more humid, and the petrichor is far more distinguishable, the animals seem to be more alive and awake than usual. The songs of the birds, coupled with the small yips of coyote pups or foxes make for a wonderful cacophony for the ears. Added to that is the rustle of leaves in the small breezes that are the starting signal to the approach of an unstable air mass. Rain is on its way. A cycle of water for all, for water is life.

On the days when the heat will be high, the humidity a touch lower, and the promise of rain is nowhere to be found, the early mornings will start the same. However, quickly things will quiet down, as animal life finds shelter from the blazing sun. Even the cows in the pastures will seek whatever shade they can find for the full day, content to huddle in a tight mass away from the sun’s heat until much closer to sunset. Me, a single human being, does the same. I head indoors, behind the walls, under the ceilings, and in the cool air conditioning that allow me to avoid the outdoor conditions.

Living in a rural part of central Texas, I watch the seasons change through the cow pastures, wheat fields, and corn fields around me. The year of the Wheel is in full force around me. I see small baby cows appear in the pastures that I drive past. They grow into more mature cows, as another cycle of newborns comes into the herd. Older cows are sold by the farms to provide the food we have on our plates that we buy from the local grocers’ shelves. I watch the corn grow in the fields until it turns into a light brown color – ready to be harvested and replanted as seed corn. Then, I watch the same field grow again and be harvested closer to winter, placed into the beds of large trucks, and sent off to processing to become more of the food we purchase at our local grocers. I see the same cycle in the trees in the neighborhood and at the local park, which sprout new leaves, that grow and green throughout the year, until the early arrival of Winter’s chill begins. Leaves turn brown, fall from the trees, and cover the ground in their dead husks that can provide Winter sustenance for plant life all around.

All of that is my Druidry, my Paganism. In all of that, I see the Gods and Goddesses in the far background. I see the Spirits of Place, and my own Spirits of Ancestors, their silhouettes scattered throughout. The far images of those who had come before to find a way of life and survival with far less capable technologies than we have today. I can also imagine a much further future, where those technologies will far outpace the technologies of today. An evolution of mankind’s survival if you will. That future; however, is murky and unknown to me. Perhaps it exists, perhaps it doesn’t.

So, again, I ask myself – could the previously mentioned future of Paganism and Druidry exist? Could all that come to pass? Perhaps it could. Certainly, I wouldn’t rule it out. However, much of that future works on the cognitive balance that the future of Paganism and Druidry is solely encased within the realm of groups alone. While I do enjoy my time within my extended tribes that I find myself a part of within Druidry, as well as Paganism, in general – I am still very much a solo Pagan. Thus, a future that claims that working within groups is the only way to survive and thrive runs in conflict with how Paganism and Druidry works for me. Plus, there’s the baggage to unpack around terms such as “church” and “Priest” that would certainly arrive from such a direction. Is there a way to remove the entirely Christian and Catholic perspective of a “Priest” or “pastor” being the sole intercessor between people and their Gods? But that, perhaps, is a discussion for another time…with the willingness of someone wanting to read the entrails of my opinion on the matter. Regardless of how I feel about the prognastications of the future, I do know this: the future of tomorrow will always look bright if you stand outside and wait for the promise of the rising sun to happen in front of your eyes.

–Tommy /|\

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Here’s a little trap
That sometimes catches everyone
When today’s as far as we can see
Faith in bright tomorrows
Giving way to resignation
That’s how it is, how it’s going to be

It’s such a cloudy day
Seems we’ll never see the sun
Feel the day has possibilities
Frozen in the moment
The lack of imagination
Between how it is and how it ought to be
Between how it is and how it ought to be

“How It Is”, Rush from “Vapor Trails”

Howling Into the Wind: Not Every Fight Is Worth the Energy

Today has been an odd day. I don’t normally engage people in religious or spiritual conversations unless I know them a bit better than most. However, today seems to have been the exception to that statement. I mean, its not a “rule” per say – more like an internal directive to myself. Even under that type of thinking, I usually do not discuss such matters with people that I know are heavily entrenched in their thinking and have no room or desire to comprehend other viewpoints. Again, today was somewhat of an exception – and it did not last very long either.

An individual, whom I know is a staunch agnostic, here in the neighborhood was engaged in a conversation with me that rolled from one point to another. In the process of moving topics, the tragedy of the condo-collapse came up. I noted that CNN had done a few discussions with those who are mourning the potential loss of their loved ones, while holding out hope of their survival. In the segments, a lot was made about their steadfast hope with a strong emphasis on what they believed would be the afterlife for their loved ones. The moment that came up, my conversation partner snapped into an angry perspective that these people were deluding themselves. That their so-called faith was essentially a “child’s understanding of the world around them.” I responded back that each individual has to make up their own mind as to what is right and wrong – each individual had to reach inside of who they are to determine what happens after one ceases to be in this world. The next remark was disdainful, in my opinion. “When they die, they no longer exist. There is no heaven for them to enjoy. They deteriorate until all that is left is their calcified skeletons.” “What about those of us that are believers in reincarnation?” “You’re even worse. You believe in a Marvel comics existence. All of you are fools.”

I ended the conversation shortly after all that. Skipping the derision and the anger, the conversation did have me thinking about the “rightness” and “wrongness” of believing the way that we do. However, as I turned that over and over in my mind – I kept coming back to how I have approached differences in Spiritual and religious belief: I know what I believe, but I am unwilling to make that into some kind of cut-and-paste belief. In other words, I disagree with quite a few ways of seeing the world around me. But disagreeing is one thing. Disregarding the personal nature of individual Spirituality and religious belief is another.

I am comfortable being around those of the Christian faith – yes, even those that would “rebuke” me to my face over how I believe. I have found that the easiest way to diffuse such situations was to not react defensively. In fact, I don’t even respond. When pressed, I will tell those people that I respect their beliefs and have no desire to change what or how they believe. But there is an exception to that. Should you try to harm me or anyone else because we don’t believe as you – you will have one insane fight on your hands. And I don’t fight “fair”.

Now back to where I was. What happens when we pass on? To be completely honest, I don’t know. I am a strong believer in reincarnation. I do believe I have been here many times before. I also believe that sharp details of those times are not available to me. What I can recall, which frankly is not much, are more like muddied markers. I doubt I will ever be able to sort much of that out. I do know that there are members of other faiths that believe differently. Unlike some of those Paths, mine does not provide the dictum that everyone else must believe as I do. My Path is mine alone. Sometimes people walk it with me. Most of the time, they don’t.

I am sure I am not alone in encountering people that are staunch and firm that their beliefs, their way of seeing the world around them, is the “only true road” that everyone else must travel. So, I am sure that there are those that are just as taken aback of their extremely aggressive pronouncements of how “stupid” or “idiotic” those who don’t see things their way are. Being honest, I usually avoid these people in most serious conversations after encountering them once.

Now, this is how I deal with stuff like this. None of that means that you must do as I do. You might crave the debate – the constant back and forth, the ways of utilizing logic in intellectual combat that they may have never considered. If that’s your cuppa, go for it. Just don’t be surprised if I back to the edges of the conversation and stop paying complete attention – if we are together. I know my own limits. Don’t be offended when you find that my limits stop far short of where yours are.


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Howling Into the Wind: Individualism and One’s Approach to the Sacred

Since COVID struck, I have had lots of online conversations with various folks about what I believe. Lots of conversations. Much of that also backs up into how they can help define what they believe as well. That’s a hard zone to really be in. Not everyone thinks the same or experiences things the same – or even has the same emotions to experiences. Working through how others experience the world around them, react to the experiences that they encounter – I began to understand how one’s Spirituality is not a “one size fits all” perspective.

Now, I write quite a bit about how I react to things, how I experience the world around me. More often than I care for it to happen, what I write about gets compared to other Pagan bloggers. I get the rationalization though – if I felt one way, they should too. When my experiences and reactions are very different – I tend to hear about it. “You didn’t have the same experiences that John did.” “Your reactions is totally different than Cat’s.” Way back when, commentary like that stung – hard. I also questioned whether I approached that experience in the “correct” manner. After all, these Pagans, these Druids – they write about their experiences, and a multitude of people chime in that they felt that way too. Anyone experiencing it differently – they’ve got to be doing it wrong.

Slowly, I started confiding in others, usually around a campfire, late at night. I would discuss how my way of experiencing and reacting to moments that I encountered within my Pagan and Druidry studies were different. I would bring up various examples that had been flung in my face – and I would ask how I could approach things better. One night at an OBOD retreat, I confided in someone whose perspective I have always admired greatly. We talked about why I felt the way that I did. Why did I feel that I was doing something wrong because I didn’t have the same reactions as other people? Quietly and gently, I was reminded that I am an individual. I am not my friends. I am not other Pagans and Druids. I am me. Uniquely me. Comparing myself to others did nothing for who I am. All it would accomplish is an erosion in my own confidence. I’m not to be a clone of some other Druid out there. I am meant to be me.

Remembering this quiet conversation in a corner of the main building has helped me push further past my drawbacks concerning the word “Priest” and all that it conjures up in my mind. There is no Priest archetype that I need to fulfill or assume. I just need to move forward in my studies and forward in my life. My role will figure itself out. My direction will come quietly to me – through the whispers of my Gods, and through my daily walk through Life.

Perhaps, my current role is to document my thoughts where others can read. They can make up their own minds concerning my sanity (or lack thereof). However, there may be that one person that needs to hear that they can blaze their own Path in their Spirituality. That there is nothing wrong if you’re experiences are different – by just a few centimeters or by many miles.

So, I began to realize that I could more adequately answer the questions of “why Druidry?”, “What does Druidry afford me that other Paths cannot?” Furthermore, I can answer that in a single statement – Druidry is who I am, what I do, where I go, what I feel, what I am.

Several years back, I wrote about compartmentalizing myself. My Druidry would go into one area, my work went into another, and so on. What I wound up with was a mess. Separated aspects of what I was trying to deal with did inform others. What I found was that my Druidry was a part of everything that I do. Understanding correlations and relationships that Druidry helped me uncover informed the statistical analysis work that I was doing at the time. My work helped me to understand relationship and connections I could never fathom in my everyday life. All of it worked together. All of it informed other areas of my life. Within that understanding, I started to understand the Christians that made statements that their faith was a part of everything that they did. They believed that because they insisted that every aspect of what they did was a part of their everyday faith. Well, my Druidry is an everyday part of who I am. Perhaps, in a similar way that the Christians believed theirs; however, I don’t believe that mine is the way everyone else should believe, because I believe in individualism. Everyone chooses their own Path to walk. Sometimes they walk it alone. Sometimes they walk it with a great many others. But the singular choice is still theirs to make. The form that their Spirituality takes is their own unique connection to the world around them.

What does Druidry do for me? Well, I am provided with so many different ways of seeing the world around me. I see the Gods, Spirits of Place, Spirits of the Land, Spirits of Ancestor, fairies, instances of magick, and the living Earth Herself all around me. Everything is living at different speeds around us. Everything is aware, just not at the speeds that we move. Druidry helps me to embrace that understanding and learn how to live in my existence as a better caretake – a better member of a wider society. The morning sunrise is always the kept promise that the sun will rise again – a promise made at sunset each night. Greeting that morning sunrise is my way of extolling that I believed in that promise last night, just as watching the sunrise is my way of saying that I believe the promise that was just made. All of that may seem silly to you, and that’s really ok. For me, I am the only one that needs to steadfastly believe in all of that – because it’s a part of who I am.

That’s what I see. That’s how I believe. My sunrise and sunset rituals may take moments, but they are important markers of time in my daily life. Not every Druid or Pagan will believe like I do. Maybe no Pagan or Druid believes like I do, but that’s ok. I don’t need the buy-in of others to my beliefs. The world around me is alive – this is how I connect to it. I don’t need to believe as you do to find the beauty, the joy, or the sacred in what you believe and do. I don’t have to believe it because I can see it written in your face. I can feel it written in your soul. That is what matters the most. Not that we match, but that we respect each other’s approach to the sacred – even if we find the other’s approach to be nonsensical compared to our own practices. We are individuals.


Howling Into the Wind: Moving on From the Smoking Ruins

I am sitting here with my headphones on, listening to the Styx live album “Caught in the Act”. This is interesting for me because this album is a direct link back to my post high school years. The album was released in April of 1984, somewhere close to my high school graduation. Shortly after the album’s release, my favorite member of the band – Tommy Shaw – made the announcement that he was leaving the band. Caught in the Act would be the last album that Styx released in the 1980s. Many of the tracks on the album hold some dear memories for me – hanging out with friends in their front- and backyards. We would listen to various music, cut-up, talk, and generally just be around one another. Around 1985, we all started going our separate ways. This was also a time frame where I had difficulty trying to figure out where I was going to go in life. My plans were slim or non-existent. My interest in personal computers was there, but there was no avenue aiming me to a career – until the Air Force.

There was a single song that echoed through the hallways of my mind through all this time. “Fooling Yourself (the Angry Young Man)” quickly turned into a personal anthem.

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

Styx, “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”

These lyrics along with “Blue Collar Man” held me together through some truly difficult times.

Keeping my mind on a better life
Where happiness is only a heartbeat away
Paradise can it be all I heard it was
I close my eyes and maybe I’m already there

Styx, Blue Collar Man”

I bring this up because – well, life has been a true disaster since mid-January for me. My struggles have happened in nearly every aspect of my life. My everyday mundane life on through into my personal Spirituality. Much like those days immediately after high school, I have had a lot of trouble trying to see clearly and with focus. The future has been cloudy…and with super heavy meatballs.

This has been noticeable to almost everyone who remains in my life to this day. Keeping up with my own Spiritual practices has been difficult to say the least. Even staying focused on blogging regularly has been a bit of a struggle. This morning, I spent a short while in meditation, asking for help from Coyote, Crow and Abnoba – either individually or through some combination of the three. No answers were readily available, so I opened iTunes and hit shuffle on my massive music playlist. The first song to start was “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” – not a sure sign from the Gods, but most likely a coincidental, synchronous moment for me. All the memories of my nearly three-year struggle to find my footing in the early parts of my adult life came rushing forward.

What I needed to do was make a completely clean break from my not-so-distant past and move my focus to the here-and-now, as well as the short-term future. I made mistakes. I needed to spend time squaring that fact with myself, as well as realizing that was over and done. There would be no going back. Now, I find myself in the planning stages of where to go from here.

Yes, I have need of employment. That will come soon enough – now that Texans have decided to open up after the pandemic. I am not too sure how good of an idea that is, but I need to focus on finding employment and stop worrying over decisions made by others where I have little to no input. My Gwers work, as I survey what I have completed so far, is shoddy at best. I had promised myself not to re-boot things…and to that point, I have resisted doing so. However, a reboot is what I need to put things back on track. No deadlines for finishing – just a need for weekly progress, no matter how small. Focus on quality, not quantity. Re-entering my “local” Pagan community will be a bit more difficult. However, even though I follow my Spiritual path alone – I do need others. So, I am looking at making those steps real again. Getting the blog back on track is not as easy as it sounds. However, I just need to take that a step at a time – focusing first on consistent posting on the Tuesday/Thursday/Weekend format. The last was to rebuild my personal practices and my relationships with my three patron Gods. That will take time and some consistent effort.

That’s a lot of stuff, eh? It certainly is. A lot of that becomes a sacrifice of personal free time. As someone told me not that long ago – you focus on the things that most interest you. You make time for the things that are important to you. Well, everything that I just outlined above are important to me. And as the song says, “You’re the one they can’t beat, and you know it.” That means effort. That means action. Instead of sulking over the burning ruins of the past, I need to get focused again and get moving forward again.


Photo by Lindeboom Jean-Bapt on

Howling Into the Wind: Playing in the “What If” Puddle

I took the opportunity this weekend to travel from central Tejas to Hot Springs, Arkansas to visit the graves of my parents. I am not sure that I would ever have thought that a boy that grow up in the hills of southern Kentucky and his wife – a German from the fairly large city of Wiesbaden – would ever have picked Arkansas as a place to retire. Coming back here, at what seems to be the height of Spring, I can see why. The trees are full of lush, green leaves. The air is filled with the smells of wildflowers. And then there is the state bird of Arkansas – the mosquito. These suckers are large enough to carry away small dogs. But despite the overly large bugs, everything is serene and peaceful.

I am fifty-five now. Later this year will mark another turn of the Wheel within my life. Sometimes, I wonder what the future will hold for me. Other times, I look back on the past few years, marveling at the turns and twists that my life has taken. I think the lyrics to a song states that life is a winding road – or something like that. Sometimes, it can have that feel to it.

Over the last few weeks, I often wonder why I write these blog posts. My traffic stats suck. Nine times out of ten, I get stuck on just what to write. When I do write, I always feel like I could have been more concise, that my writing is a touch more rambling than it should be. I write about my experiences in Paganism. I write about my experiences in Druidry. I write, and I realize that I don’t typically follow the same Path that most other Pagans do. When I look back through my life, I have begun to realize that most everything that I do is quite unorthodox. How did it go in the Johnny Depp pirate movie? Those aren’t rules – they’re more like guidelines.

Sometimes, I wonder what I would be like if I just did things the conventional way? Wat kind of computer technician would I have been? Would I have stuck to single specialty or would I have satisfied my curiosity of other areas in Information Technology and still branched out to become more of a generalist? Not that someone with generalized knowledge is considered valuable or necessary in today’s marketplace. Or at least that’s how it feels from where I sit.

What about me as a Pagan? If I had just learned to live with the parts of Wicca that I didn’t completely agree with, and stayed on my original arc of Wicca – would I be the Pagan that I am today? Perhaps, my disdain for spell work would be far less than it is today. Perhaps, I would be less inclined towards non-formal ritual structure in my life? What about my encounters with Crow, Coyote and Abnoba? Would any of that ever have happened? Would I have been interesting enough to have the interest of Coyote happen upon me? If it did, would I have delved into understanding the perspective of First Nations’ Spirituality enough to know that I was not “of the People” or would it have mattered to me at all?

There’s a lot of room to play in the “What If” world. While it can certainly be fun and amusing for a time; in my opinion, it’s a nice moment of play. None of that is going to take care of the things that I need to do to move forward from where I am now.

2020, the year of COVID, has certainly sucked. During it, I lost a lot of things for a large variety of reasons. Chances at a job since companies didn’t seem to want to hire anyone. Friends – over the choices that I made in my life – both good and bad. Muscle-mass, as I had a major tendency to stay indoors and avoid people outside – choosing to be sedentary instead of staying active. Not being able to be among friends and family around campfires at various points of the year – catching up with our lives, as well as making fun, zany, new memories. There is a lot that I must take stock of within my life, as well as building things back up to being the active person that I was in 2019.

The biggest part is decided where and how to start. Thinking back to when my parents had decided to move up here to Hot Springs and build a home, I remember how much work they put into everything. First was the purchase of the land that they built the house. After that, it was developing the plans for the small house that they had created for themselves. The kitchen was the way my mother wanted it. The garage had a workspace that my father laid out his wood-working tools on, as well as the little corner where he built golf clubs as a side business. Then there was the plan on moving from the house in Shreveport, Louisiana. Things had to be set into two groups – things to go to Arkansas, and things to be gotten rid of. It was a lot of work and effort, but they did what they had to, to make their retirement dreams come true. That hard effort, planning and sweat worked out for them, and they spent the last years of their life living in a heavily forested retirement community, able to enjoy those years in as comfortable a manner as they could.

Here I am. In a similar position. At fifty-five, I’m no young person full of vim and vigor. I’m not old either. But I am old enough that I am starting to see age discrimination in the hiring practices with employers. In the end, I am really looking for a way to continue working – and setting up for the latter part of my years. However, I have far more pressing needs in the short term. I need to get out and do some moderate exercise – not enough to turn myself into another version of Kirk Douglas in his later years. Just enough to keep my healthier than I am now. I have OBOD studies that I need to put a stronger focus into. I have a role of where I fit into a wider Pagan community to figure out as well. Through all of that, I need to continue to be alive.

Playing the “What If” game is a nice past-time to partake in when the rain is pattering softly on the roof. Hang around there long enough, you will wake up suddenly and find that Life has started to move on without you, while you remained in park. My parents and I were never close. I didn’t follow the Path in life that they wanted me to. That disappointed them, and they were not shy about expressing it to me. While I loved my parents, I kept them at arm’s length in my life because of that. I have no regrets in doing that – it was what was necessary for me to be able to survive. I found my support and love from my extended family. However, my parents did show me what drive and determination could do. They had a dream of living here in Arkansas. Why? I’m not sure, nor is it important. They had a desire to be here, and they found a way to do it. Now, its my time to approach that same idea…where am I going, what am I doing, and how do I make all of that happen? On the first two, I am not completely sure, but I have some idea what it is. I can utilize the third to make it real.


The house that my parents designed and built for their retirement years.

Howling Into the Wind: Whose Side Are You On?

“God was more on my side.” This morning on the news, I heard an individual who had been physically assaulted by another make that statement. I sat there and chuckled a bit. Here was an individual that believes that his idea of God was taking sides between himself and someone else. But as the weather guy droned on and on about his forecast of the weather – coupled with his constant apologizing and hedging over how forecast models are merely “trends” – I found myself thinking a bit more on the above statement.

So, I work with three different Gods. Coyote (sometimes), Crow (most often), and Abnoba (Who I have been working with more and more). Working with each of Them to handle what was asked of me was one thing. It never occurred to me to think of Them as taking my side in the world around me. Or do They? Should They? If They don’t, why won’t They?

I am never sure how others may feel about the Gods being involved in the lives of human beings within this existence. Some will view that as unwanted manipulation by the Gods. Others will see it as a loving action on the part of the Gods. Some will even see it as being “favored” by the Gods. Personally, I can not only see the validity of each perspective mentioned there, as well as the logic that can bring one to believe. For me, I have a different perspective. Yeah…go figure. I have a different view. 😊

I do believe that the Gods can and do intervene on the behalf of human beings that They work with. But not all the humans that work with Them. I don’t see the Gods as being perfect. I don’t see Them as being omnipotent either. They are however, beyond our comprehension. Just like I love all three of my cats, I do have my favorite. I intervene on her behalf when it becomes necessary to do so. But only when necessary. Yes, comparing the way I deal with my cats to the way the Gods deal with the humans that They work with is a horrible comparison. After all, I am not the God of my cats. I’m just the human that they own.

I cannot provide a single instance where Coyote, Crow or Abnoba have intervened on my behalf. Nor do I think that any of Them would do so. Most of my mistakes that I have made are utilized as lessons to be learned. Discernment and understanding are key elements of what each want from me. I won’t get that without making mistakes to provide a better perspective for me. I could even suppose that They set me up for failure at times just so I can learn and understand a perspective much better. Some of that has been and is painful, but I was never physically in danger or harmed. Lessons to be learned.

So, are They “on my side” when there are battles of any sort that I am involved in? I couldn’t really say with any level of certainty. I would love to say that it is true. That each of Them has my back and would intervene in my favor. That’s nice “Us v. Them” theory though. Unlike many Pagans and Christians that I encounter, I do not see a coming battle of Polytheism and Monotheism. Rather, I see human beings projecting their need for debate, discourse, and dislike for things that are different from their own perspectives onto the projector screen of their representative Deities. For me, I don’t see much difference between the perspectives, aside from Who – and how many – are being uplifted as “divine”. But are Coyote, Crow, and Abnoba on my side?

I suppose it’s a fair question of sorts. However, I do comprehend all of this in the same perspective of the relationship between myself and my three cats. Knowing that the Gods are not perfect, I would theorize that They also have their own favorite humans. However, I would further theorize that despite the concept of “favoritism” that could be applied, it does not diminish the individual relationship that They have with everyone that They interact with.

I am a firm believer that the relationship I have with the Gods – any God or Goddess – is unique to me and that Deity. Further, I believe that applies to the relationship that every individual has with their chosen Deity on their own Path as well. Knowing and believing that, I can openly say Coyote, Crow, and Abonba are on my side. They are on my side in a manner that works within the relationship we have together. I don’t expect my relationship with Them to be the same as the relationship that They have with other humans. I know that many Christians believe that the relationship that they have with their representative God is – and should be – the same between all of the Christians and God. Sorry, I’m not built that way.

Being open and honest, I cannot empirically prove anything that I am describing above. Nor do I care to do so. I know what I feel. I know what I believe. Considering the personal nature of Spirituality, I am not out to prove anything that I believe to anyone else. Nor am I a person to convert others to the way I connect to the world around me with my Spirituality. Forcing people to believe as I do is diametrically opposed to everything I believe in and hold as morally correct. If people believe differently than I do or worship differently than I do or connect with the Gods different than I do – believe it or not, I am thrilled for them. I know how special and wonderful that feeling can be – even if just from a general point-of-view.

Many folks will say that if the Gods do not intervene on my behalf, that those Gods are not with me. Or that my Gods are bowing before their all-powerful monotheistic God. Bully for them. I don’t subscribe to that thought. I would suppose that it depends on what you mean by the God(s) being “on your side.” I know my Gods are with me. Mine walk with me on my daily Path. Sometimes beside me. Sometimes on my shoulder, in the case of Crow. They are not with me to fight my battles for me, but to teach me ways to be a better human being. In return, I do Their works here in this world. It works for me. Apparently, it works for Them too.

Now with all that said…I need to go pick sides with Them for a game of Red Rover.


Howling Into the Wind: A Different Beltane Perspective

Yesterday, I was starting to come out of my self-imposed “burrow” mode from Beltane. I do this nearly every year, where I step away from social media and most of the people around me. For me, Beltane is an intensely private moment. I usually take this time to reflect on where I am concerning goals I laid out in October of the previous year. Seeing that most of what I had envisioned exploded in my face like a badly timed and poorly mixed chemistry experiment, This time of the tear has been about resetting all of that into something far more on course for the rest of this turn in the wheel.

Coming back into the miasma that has been the wider expanse of the internet, I ran across a re-posting of a blog post by Jason Mankey from the Patheos Pagan platform. The post was written back in 2019; however, many of its salient points are still relevant in today’s Pagan community. The basic point came down to how Beltane is represented by male and female coupling – ONLY. Personally, I would disagree with the “ONLY” part – unlike the Sith (May the Fourth be with you), I try very hard not to deal in absolutes. But the point of many examples of the overtly sexualized aspects of Beltane being strongly depicted as hetero aspects is a particularly strong one.

That leads me into a twin-forked perspective. First, for me, is the aspect that Beltane should only be represented by straight aspects of Paganism. The second, grates against one of the reasons that I prize Paganism over other aspects of Spiritual practice: that the only person that can tell you what is right and wrong within your own Spiritual practice is you. I have slammed the world constantly on the second perspective, so I will let that one set – for the time being. But I will dip my toe into this entire concept of sexual gender identity within ritual aspects of Paganism.

To preface things a bit – I am a straight, white male. I am a Pagan. I am a Druid. I am a Polytheist. I am a Libra – and have been told I am nearly the quintessential aspect of a Libra. All those labels and a tenner will get you a cup of coffee at the local Big-Box Coffee shop. In other words, none of those labels really mean much more, except to create some aspect of meta-tagging for those that need to categorize humans. The truest meta-tag I have for myself: I’m just me.

Within the Pagan community, we tend to pride ourselves on being accepting of others. Your gender identification, your hair color, how many eyes you have, how many fingers you have, your sexual preference, your education level, the kind of vehicle your drive, your socio-economic status, whatever other descriptive you can figure out – none of that matters within Paganism. Or does it?

Back when Pantheacon was running, I heard whispered conversations in the hallways about various rites that were “specified gender only”. Ok. Women’s Mysteries and Men’s Mysteries are certainly an aspect of Spirituality to one degree or another. But there were issues over how the trans-gender folks were to be identified. Should someone who was born male but now identifies as a female be denied entry to an event on Women’s Spirituality? My personal take has been if that is the gender you identify with – that’s where you should be. But what about those with fluid genders? Or those who do not identify with a gender at all? Going forward, I am not sure how to resolve such an issue, but considering that I would balk at a Men Only gathering – despite the fact that as a straight male, such an event would be right down my alley, so to speak – I am not entirely certain I would be speaking out of turn with my thoughts.

But then, as Mankey wrote in 2019, how do we approach a celebratory seasonal rite that is long ensconced in imagery of straight male/female coupling? Again, as a straight male, I am not sure I have any true answers – except to completely remove the imagery. That would be my original thought. But it does suggest the idea of creative solutions.

When I first started down my Pagan Path, Paganism was decidedly female in its outlook. The first ten years of being in various groups, I found that the ratio of women to men was not a one-to-one paradigm. It was closer to seven to one. In many respects this is still somewhat the case; although I would note that the eye-balled ratio that I noted at Pantheacon was closer to one-to-one. From a factual, statistical overlay, I would essentially be accused of spit-balling my ratios – and that would be correct. However, I do recall many rites where the female-to-male ratio was so lopsided that someone would be asked to portray a role that was not their chosen gender. For one rite, I was asked to portray the role of the Maiden, as an example. At first I was flustered and embarrassed over the fact that I was portraying the role of a female within the rite. Later, it was gently explained to me that the gender of the individual portraying the role was not completely important. What was important was the heart and passion one placed into the role during the rite. The role is about the energy portrayed, not about the gender portraying it.

Utilizing that aspect, I wonder about the need for specific roles within any given rite. Yes, I can hear the shouts of anger over a male portraying the role of a High Priestess. The Gods would certainly be angry with us over this, right? I would submit that the Gods would surely not give that much of a shit about such a gender change in the role. I would further submit that any emotion – even what I just ascribed in the previous sentence – is our projection of our own emotions on to the Gods.

So, let’s say that a yearly Beltane celebration has utilized a male/female aspect in its advertising. If they were to show two females kissing, or alternatively two males, as part of their advertising for next years, would you be offended? If the emphasis of their ritual was a same sex coupling to portray the love and passion between two lovers for Beltane, would you be offended? If their portrayal was of a love between more than two individuals together, would you be offended? Me? I certainly would not. Any of those scenarios are depictions of love between two consenting adults.

That brings up one final point. Children. A heavily sexualized aspect of Beltane should never be presented before under-age children. I remember, far too vividly, the accusations of child abuse and sexual molestation that were leveled against Pagan parents during the Satanic Panic. In this, it is far more prudent to follow social mores where minors are concerned. It is also the reason that we need to do better in the care of alcohol at gatherings as well. Better to be more conservative where minors are concerned than to provide unnecessary ammunition for those that would prefer the destruction of Spiritual Paths not the same as their own.

Yeah, this turned into the Beltane rant I was not going to write this year. But this has taken a far different turn than I really envisioned. I may be a straight male. However, I have many friends who are not the same as me. I don’t love the way that they do. But I love them. I also acknowledge that they have just as much right to live as freely as I do. Furthermore, while they do not live free, neither do I or anyone else. Altering the aspects of Beltane’s male/female coupling may sound like a small thing or even a petty aspect but trust me it’s not. Symbology is important. We all talk about the importance of allowing people to love who they love. Changing some of the symbology concerning Beltane sounds like a good, strong step in that direction. At least it does to me. I’m just one, single voice in the wider Pagan wilderness – howling into the wind.


Howling Into the Wind: The Draw of Paganism

Sitting around a campfire with other folks is a memory that I cherish every single time it occurs. The little jumping flames of the fire are always a relaxing aspect, as is the ability to look up into a star filled night. However, the real draw for me is the conversations. No topic every seems to be off-limits. From politics to sexuality to sports to spirituality to history, philosophy, and beyond; my experience has been that the late-night/early-morning camp-fire talks are the highlights of any outdoor gathering I have attended. One topic always seems to rise to the top, even at non-Pagan events that I have attended: How did you become a Pagan?

My story of stepping into Paganism has been told before, here on the blog, as well as at camp-fire discussions. I am always interested to hear the “how” of a person coming to Paganism, but the “why” sometimes never makes the discussion. That single aspect of those discussions always leads me to the question of “what was the draw to Paganism for you?”

I stepped on to my Pagan path a long-time back. However, during the first five years of that time, if you asked me what drew me to Paganism – I honestly would struggle for an answer. I stumbled across Paganism through discussions on the local Bulletin Board Systems in the Dallas/Fort Worth area while I was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base. I had just finished a short flirtation with the southern Baptists element of Christianity, which I found to be a distasteful moment in my search for something that had meaning for me. However, to be even more forthright, I was also searching for who I really was and what I was to be in my life, as well. I don’t have ties with very many folks from back in those days any longer, but those that I do remain in-touch with may describe me as a “lost puppy dog.”

A few years after my start on my path of Paganism, I was stationed overseas in Germany with the US Air Force. Here, I found myself completely alone as a Pagan. There were a few Pagan folk that I met, but I meshed with none of them. Seemingly, they all had aims towards being a “Big Name Pagan” within the military. I just wanted solid footing on my Path. I spent a lot of time taking long walks in the nearby forests – and Germany has a lot of gorgeous forests to walk through. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I read in various Pagan books that I would purchase through Circle Sanctuary’s mail-in store. My mind turned a lot of thoughts over in my mind. This was where I concluded that Wicca might not be appropriate for me. Nearly six years later, after another flirtation with Wicca, I knew it for a fact.

When I came back to the United States, ending my eight years in the United States Air Force, I understood a lot better why I was drawn towards the wider umbrella of Paganism. I could take elements of things that I had learned, put those into everyday practice for myself, and walk my Spiritual Path on my own. I had been taught in elementary and high school (Catholic parochial schools) that I need a Priest – an intercessory – to commune with God. Within Paganism, I needed no such middleman in my Spirituality. I alone was responsible for where I took my Spiritual path and what I did to further my growth.

However, that was not the only draw to Paganism for me. No, it wasn’t dancing around the fire with naked women. No, it wasn’t all the free booze that seemed to be shared in generous quantities. Don’t get me wrong, all that sounds nice. I have yet to experience the first one. The second? Well, I’m picky about what I drink, plus being a diabetic means that large quantities of alcohol are a no-no. So, I can’t say I have experienced the second to any grand aspect. No, another draw to Paganism is the people.

I am sure that there are creative folks in other belief systems out there, but Pagan folk are real outside-of-the-box thinkers. At least, in my experience. I have seen some real genius solutions to complicated issues, done with exquisite detail and amazing flair. In rituals, I have encountered some of the most gorgeous singing voices I have heard outside of Taylor Swift’s work (as an example), and some of the most amazing musicianship and storytelling. The creative nature of Pagans is just an amazing thing to behold. However, the personalities, the individual stories, the comradery, the fellowship, the way Pagans will reach out to help those in need – those big hearts are amazing to encounter.

Through all of that, I am also a realist. As I posted before, Paganism has its own in-house issues – just like any other Spiritual belief system or community of people does. While I have posted the rosier aspects of Paganism, at least according to me, there are just as many people that can refute what I have said with their own bad experiences. Just like a rose, when you pick a Path to walk, you will eventually find the thorns. So be prepared for that.

Most Pagans that I have encountered could care less about what Path you walk or the way you walk it. For every individual that takes slow, sensible steps on their Spiritual Path, there will be another running, skipping, and doing cartwheels in a minefield. Everyone has their own approach to things. Again, this is a massive appeal to paganism for me. Christianity, it seemed, had a Spiritual Path that was xeroxed and the copies handed out to every new adherent. Follow these rules. Walk at this speed, and this speed only. Don’t reach out and touch the trees. And most importantly, don’t question anything. This shit is holy writ. You just need to follow it. Sorry, I just cannot live that way.

Perhaps, I just have a rebellious attitude. Maybe, I just want to be “different.” Yeah. Maybe. For me, I just want to be myself. No limits. No forced changes. As Twisted Sister once intoned: “I am, I’m Me.” When I first came onto my Pagan Path, I couldn’t really articulate the reasoning behind its attractive nature to me. Now? I see the beauty of it everywhere. I understand the appeal. I’m allowed to be myself. To be who I am, not what someone else says I should be. I get to make my own choices in my Spirituality. I will make mistakes. I might even make the same mistakes more than once. However, I don’t need a Father Confessor to apology to my Gods on my behalf. I’m capable of doing that myself. My mistakes, my responsibility to own up to.

So, for fun, take a few moments and think back to when you first discovered and/or started down your own Spiritual Path? What drew you to this? Did you realize it right away? Keep it in the back of your mind. You might find yourself around a late-night campfire with others when the topic comes up. 😊