Tag: Individualism

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.

–Tommy

Thinking About: Doing It My Way

So, Tuesday’s blog post was late by a single day. Thursday’s blog post is now late by two days. I really have a tough time when the winds on the seas of thought go completely calm. Plus, I don’t like to row. 😉

As I stated before, I am currently reading “Anthem: Rush in the ’70s” by Martin Popoff. Interestingly enough, my inspiration for this post comes from the “2112” chapter. The Mercury recording company executives were unhappy with “Caress of Steel” and there was apparently pressure on the band to produce an album with a hit single that could be promoted. Well, as a band, Rush decided to record an album that they wanted – one with an extended, Science-Fiction-ish story-line, and if it meant that the band would go bust – so be it. The result was 2112, an album that almost becomes a rite of rebellious teenage angst to have listened to. The album sold way beyond the first three albums, and continues to sell over 800 units per week, according to the band’s management.

The back story is a piece of nice background and perspective. However, Neil Peart was asked about the criticism of the band, the album, and their concerts. He replies dismissively that the reviews were negative and then explains why he doesn’t read the reviews. He had written a letter to author Tom Robbins stating that he had read Tom’s books and a scathing review in the New York Times. He mentioned that none of those reviewers really knew what they were talking about. In return, Robbins wrote Peart back and told him: “I don’t read the reviews. Because if I believed the good ones, I would have to believe the bad ones too.” That small statement was taken by Peart to be a strong piece of advice. He carried that through his time with Rush, seeing each album to be the very best record that the band could produce, and not worrying about what others might say.

When I made the very difficult decision to leave podcasting behind, and take up blogging instead – I caught a lot of flak. However, I knew it was the right thing to do. My podcasts were not very creative, and continuing to put them out was more of a chore than anything else for me at that time. I did enjoy my time putting them together, but in the end things were a measure of tedium I no longer wanted. I turned to blogging as a creative outlet, knowing that I enjoyed sitting at a keyboard and typing my thoughts. I have thousands upon thousands of lines in an electronic journal, as an example of that. I write in that every single day. Do I miss podcasting? Yes, every single day. At the same time, I still stick to my guns – I will not do another podcast without a co-host.

When I first started the blog, I had a lot of commentary provided to me, particularly in private. If you go through the earlier posts of this blog, you will find that some of the comments are quite well warranted. “Your writing seems disjointed.” That is quite a fair criticism. Many of those older posts have the feelings of being barely finished statements. I may spend some of the future weekend posts trying to bring those thoughts back to life. At the moment, I am thinking of calling some of those “Revisiting” posts, just as this post is part of the “Thinking About” series that I kicked up a while back.

Another comment that I typically got was “why don’t you write more like John Beckett?” John is my friend. I know him in a face-to-face setting; though my move to just south of the Texas/Oklahoma border made seeing him difficult. My latest move to my current location at the edge of the Texas hill country, just south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metro-Mess makes it even harder. I read John’s blog, Under the Ancient Oaks, frequently; though, like I do with most blogs, I do not comment as frequently as I did in the past. Writing like John, would mean that I would be compromising the way I write to be more like him, which – no offense meant John – I have no desire to do. We are both members of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. We both believe that the Gods are distinct, individual Beings. After that, we are essentially very different Pagans. As it should be. If I tried to be more like John in my writing, I would be emulating John, and not being me. The same goes for other bloggers that I read frequently: Nimue Brown, Cat Treadwell, and whole host of others that would make this blog even longer than it is. I read blogs for information, and sometimes I get a spark of creativity from what I read there. But each have their own individual style of writing, their own individual takes on topics, and their own individual approaches to their own Spirituality. For me, emulating their style and approach, while flattering, would not be true to who I am.

In a manner of thinking (not speaking), writing a blog is my way of pulling the curtain aside a little, and letting you see a small part of my life. Certainly, the blog is not like stepping into my world and learning more about me as an individual. A better place for that to happen would be in a setting around a campfire, having a casual setting, something I seriously miss during these times of COVID-19. As Peart came to a realization that missing out on the reviews allowed him the ability to judge and criticize his own personal approach to drumming and lyric writing, I also realized that doing things my own way is important. Important, not only to my writing, but also to the growth of how I approach my writing, and the manner in which I work through my topics. I don’t claim to know everything, or how everything works. In fact, sometimes I have no idea how to approach a concept or how to answer a question. However, I do my very best to gather my approach in a manner that is consistent with my own values, my own ideas, and my own creativity. Sometimes, its not pretty, but the aesthetic is not the goal – its the effort made in getting there.

What about you? Have you ever stopped for a moment and taken stock of the way you approach your Spirituality? Or how you troubleshoot and research something new that you cannot readily identify? Every individual human being has some degree of innate curiosity…take the time and explore it a bit. I know letting my own individual approach inform how I did things was helpful in establishing who and what I am today. Let the individual loose….explore….

–T /|\

What You Should Be…

Do you remember when you were a kid?  Well…for some of us that’s an easy point to remember. For older folk like me, it can be a bit of a chore. Hehehe However, I am sure that all of us can remember being asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, right? I wanted to play soccer or baseball professionally. Sadly, I didn’t have the drive to do either, though I still dearly love both sports. But my parents had dreams for me as well.

Both of my parents worked in the medical professions, so there was a keen desire for me to follow in those soft, muddy shoes. Honestly, there is not one thing that draws me to the medical professions of any sort. Unless you can allow that a computer technician is a sort of “doctor” for electronic technology. So maybe I did follow in their footsteps, to some extent. And I am sure that your parents – whoever happens to be reading this – had designs on what you were going to be when you “grew up” according to society’s standards. Right?

So, you were being aimed towards some sort of template that would turn you into something. Your job does the same thing. They send you to training associated with your job, so that you will meet these basic-level criteria of what your job function can accomplish. Your friends might do it. They set you up with a potential significant other, because he or she might be your “type” – some form of template of what a significant other might look like at your side in Life. Or they will make some sort of commentary about how you need to “do this” or “be that way” when you are off to visit a foreign country. They have a cardboard cutout – in their mind’s eye – of how you should or shouldn’t act or behave in another country or what questions you should or shouldn’t ask. Most of all that can be very sound advice, but its all based on their cognitive understand of the world, not yours.

The reality is that you really need to act like an honorable you. You don’t need to be a cardboard cutout, or be following some Gods-awful template. What you wind up with is a version of yourself that is not you. I am not sure about you, but if I presented myself before the Gods in an archetypal manner – I’m likely to have talons stuck in my ass as I get shoved back through the door. I took an interest in learning about the Gods and Goddesses because I saw Them as unique, self-contained entities with distinct personalities. I sincerely believe that They see each of us in the same manner. And I also believe that if They presented Themselves to us in a similar archetypal vein, that we would find no reason to interact with Them on an honesty, caring, and respectful manner.

So I tend to bristle when I hear people saw that someone needs to be “this way” or “do this thing” in order to be “that person.” If I truly wanted to wear the face of someone else or achieve the same mannerisms as another, I would have gone to see the Many-Faced God and go through the training that Arya Stark endured. My Gods and Goddess are all unique in Their interactions with me, so why would I want to interact with Them based off of a template or someone else’s interactions. Certainly, in the first interactions, utilizing some of the same techniques and concepts would be handy, but I would certainly find a need to stretch my legs and my imagination by adding and subtracting to the format, so I can find an approach that is uniquely “me”.

Now, maybe I have overblown things. Maybe a template approach works for others. Hooray, that works for them. I find that to be awesome. And I would certainly never dissuade someone from something that they have find to work. Rather, I would be overjoyed for them, and ecstatic that they have an approach that works well. They have achieved victory in part of the “battle” so to speak. Their footfalls work for them. What kind of an ass would I be if I sneered at that?? No, I find that to be stellar stuff. Its just doesn’t work for me. And if its a technique I have never seen or attempted to utilize…I might give it a try myself. I am always up for adopting techniques (yeah, stealing from the best – if you prefer) that might be better approaches. Or even filing different approaches off to the side for usage at another time and place.

Really, in the end – I don’t have to be anything that someone else thinks I need to be. I merely have to be me, and stay true to who I am inside of my own skin. Its nice and lovely for folks to say “you need to do this” or “you need to do that” in order that you might do this other thing over here. I might even follow someone’s advice for the first time I do that particular action. But I can almost guarantee – in the future, I’ll do what works for me, because to do anything else, would be me choosing to not be me.