I’m Not a Counselor. I am a Human Being.

Do you have a few moments? I have an issue I need to talk about with someone. Why did I pick you? Because I trust your opinion.

I’ve never relished the role of being father confessor for others. I’m not a counselor. I’m not the kind of person I would seek out for advice. Maybe that’s because I know the conflicts that reside within myself that I never let out into the sunshine. Or even into the moon’s glow. Those inner demons that I constantly hold at bay with my staff and whatever courage I can muster at that moment. Those demons, my deepest concerns over my own thoughts, are things I have shared with a total of six people. That’s the reason that no one else factors that information into choosing me to be the individual that they pour their soul out on the ground by the campfire in the middle of the night. Not that I can be sure that anyone would disqualify me over those inner demons. But in my own mind, they certainly would if they knew.

The first time I ever served in the capacity of being that individual that would receive the trust and distinction of knowing the “dirty” secrets or be asked for how I would handle things, I was a Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Air Force. I was expected to serve in this role by the individuals appointed over me in my chain-of-command. The junior airmen that I worked shift with were away from their parents for the first time in their lives. They were overseas in a foreign country. My position of authority that was bestowed upon me meant that I was the first line of assistance that they had. As my NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) once told me, “…it’s a shitty job but its expected as part of the territory.” It was in this role that I learned the value of just listening.

I still get folks that came to me for advice. The assumption is that my thirty-plus years in Paganism has distilled some arcane knowledge of how to solve their issues and problems. How should they deal with a difficult High Priestess or High Priest in their coven? How do they connect with a God or Goddess? Can I help them find a way to tell their family that they are Pagan? Is Druidry or Wicca the better option for them? How can they stop thinking about suicide? Yeah. That question was a real shot to the gut.

I have learned to steel myself against whatever was about to come out of their mouths after the questions I started this post with. How did I answer the folks in the questions in the paragraph before this one? Well, I started each one off by noting that the answer was different for everyone, which the answer should be. Some of the answers – particularly on how to deal with a High Priestess, High Priest or their own families – I offered some generic, non-specific statements. Dealing with issues with others will always be dependent on the relationship between the individuals involved. I’m always reluctant to offer a suggestion as a “you should do this” kind of solution. As for connecting with Gods or Goddesses, I usually refer them to John Beckett’s blog Under the Ancient Oaks. John has a lot of good advice, as well as a stronger perspective on such points than I really do. Then there’s the suicide question.

I’ve been asked this question just once. I started the conversation off by asking why they felt that way. And then I just listened. The way I saw it, I needed to know a bit more before I started saying a single word. I always never took my attention away from them. No cell phone. No looking away into the distance. I sat there and listened to her talk. I held my hand out for her to hold. My eyes never left hers. I never let out a sigh during the time she talked. I offered no judgment. I also offered no solution until she had finished saying what she needed to say. At the end of the evening, I asked if she wanted me to stay the night. I would sleep on the sofa or the floor, whichever was more comfortable. She declined and I went home, promising to be back the next morning. I showed up with bagels and coffee. We talked more. This time, I added comments or questions for clarification. In the end, she decided that she needed to see a counselor. I offered to go with her to the first appointment and did once she accepted. At her appointment, I gave a very short explanation of why I was there to her counselor, and then stayed silent through that entire session. I never attended another session with her. Instead, I checked in with her from time to time, just to let her know I was still there, still concerned, and always available. That’s about the best I could do for her.

I reiterate, I am not a counselor. I’m not a father confessor. I am a friend. Concerned, worried, available when I am needed. I can’t solve a single issue that anyone goes through. That’s not my role. I am unqualified to be that individual. But I am qualified to be there when I am needed. That’s what being a friend is about.

I bring all this up because it was pointed out to me that the role of a Priest is to be a counselor. I’m not going to refute that point. Some Priests that I know fit that role very well. But not all of them. Definitely not me. A Priest doesn’t fulfill every role and concept that we have about them. But every single Priest that I have met does fulfill the role of being a human being.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Marlene Leppu00e4nen on Pexels.com

Howling Into the Wind: I’m Not A “Holy” Man

I am a Priest. Whether I care one whit about the term, I AM a Priest. I have spoken on and off about my on again/off again perspective of being just this. I tried to push away the concept from myself. I have grudgingly accepted the point. I have struggled with terminology, perspective, and the entire concept of being thus – all thanks to my schooling in Catholic schools. Yes, my schooling. Since the 7th grade, I have exclusively gone to Catholic schools, courtesy of my parents. As a short sidebar, my parents were wanting to provide me with a more structured and disciplined education than public schools in Alabama and Louisiana had to offer. They wanted the best advantages they could provide for their children. I understand all of that. I did not thrive in my parochial education. While my test scores for college acceptance (my SAT and ACT test scores) were very good, my high school grades were not. I was not a fan of being spoon fed doctrine for a religious belief system that my parents were not members of. All of that feeds into my personal dislike of the term “Priest.”

So, with that early background, along with a handful of posts here on the blog, and you have a fair assessment over how I’ve struggled with the term being applied to me. Slowly, I’ve come to grips with the term, but not with the concept behind the terminology. All of that, I’ve had very few issues with. Me performing a handfasting? I’ve never done it, but I know I’m capable of doing it. Plus, I can always run screaming and crying to Cat for tips and a better understanding. She’s the tops in my book, so that’s where I would head for help, advice, and comforting over my feelings of inadequacy. But if someone truly wanted that, I could do it. Being on hand to help with the funeral of someone? I could do that too. I’d likely contact Kristoffer Hughes for help and advice. Plus, I have his book “The Journey Into Spirit” for even more source material and assistance. I already have provided advice and assistance to new Pagans seeking direction in their own Spiritual Paths and will continue along that pathway. Honestly, I’m not the most skilled Priest in the world, but that’s due to a lack of experience – not a lack of knowledge or drive.

So yesterday, I rolled across a descriptive of a Priest that kicked up a lot of the red flags that brought my consternation over the term.

You are a Priest. You speak for the Gods. You are a holy man. You teach people how to build relationships with the Gods. Your work IS holy.

Teaching people to build relationships with the Gods. Ok, I can grok this point. It’s akin to helping people find their way to the Spiritual Path that they wish to explore. I’m not a Wiccan, but I know enough Wiccans to either find an appropriate avenue for a Seeker to travel or initiate contact between the Seeker and the Wiccan. So I can understand that part of what I can do is help those who are trying to make that connection to the Gods, but always with the caveat that the Gods call who They call. Having any of the Gods leaning over your shoulder and whispering in your ear doesn’t happen for everyone. But I understand how this is the duty of a Priest. It’s the rest of the statement that I take umbrage with.

As I’ve said, I am a Priest. I am a Druid. I work with Crow, Coyote, and Abnoba. None of that means that I speak FOR the Gods. I work WITH my two Gods and my singular Goddess. I’m not an Oracular aspect for any of Them. As far as I can remember, which doesn’t mean that its canon or some holy writ, Oracles are not Priests – and vice versa. But I wouldn’t rule it out completely. As I have commented so many times before – I’m only an expert on me. I don’t create holy writ or canon for anyone. But I can, without the shadow of a doubt, proclaim that as a Priest, I speak for NONE of the Gods.

Nor am I a “holy man.” Describing a Priest in this fashion falls far too close to Catholic perspective for me. The work I do is not “holy work” and never would be. The work I do WITH my Gods is not some holy manifestation of Them on this earth. I know that THEY are capable of handling that without my assistance or compliance. Laying a descriptive of “holy” at my feet simply because I accept the descriptive term of “Priest” being applied towards me is just not what I see. HOWEVER…..

Working as a Priest to handfast a couple is a moment that might be described as “holy.” Being there to witness a couple (or a poly triad or what have you) pledge their undying love and compassion to the Universe…that’s a “holy” privilege. The same can hold true for funeral rites, rites of passage, and even leading a ritual celebrating the turning of the Wheel of the Year. So I could say that some work that a Priest does can be considered “holy” in its nature. But I do submit that performing in these roles (and others that would equally apply) do not make me a “holy man.”

Others will disagree with me on that, but it’s the one area that I am firmly taking my stand. I am not a holy man. I am a Pagan. I am a Druid. I am capable of performing the functions of a Priest. I am a Teacher. I am just me. A simple, humble Pagan – trying to live my life one day at a time. Sometimes just one hour at a time. Sometimes even smaller time increments than that.

–Tommy /|\

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 /|\

Revisiting – Musing on “Elder” Status

Back in October of 2018, I wrote a blog post titled “So You’re an Elder…What Now?” where I started the overall discussion by noting that I am an Elder within the Pagan community. At thirty-plus years on my Pagan Path – I started down this path in mid-to-late 1986 – I am certainly an Elder. This is also a role that I continue to have my own personal issues with. At nearly fifty-five years of age, I do not feel “old” in any sense. However, I cannot run like I used to. My poor knees cannot take that kind of punishment. So no matter how I might “feel”, my body reminds me nearly daily that I am not the young man used to be. Never mind that when I let my full beard grow out, I have extremely white whiskers on my cheeks. No matter how hard I fight the idea, I definitely am an Elder.

Following those slight musings, among a few other points, I wrote the following two paragraphs:

Traveling through this part of my feelings, and my struggle towards accepting my own role as an Elder has brought me to this point. What in the Nine Hells am I expecting of myself in a role as an Elder? My struggle with this has nothing to do with the people that stop me along their own Path and ask questions. No, my struggle comes back to a feeling of being responsible for someone else’s Spiritual Path. Which, to be blunt, I’m not.

I’m not trained as a Priest. I do not, will not and cannot perform those functions. There are members of the Pagan community who are more than capable of doing these functions. They have pledged their lives to be Priests for their communities. Part of their function is in assisting and training others who are also on their Path. It would be wrong, unethical, and very unwieldy for me to perform such functions. I am not a clergy member. It is not my function nor my role.

All of this took another six months for me to start changing my perspective. I still struggle with the idea of a wider role within the Pagan community. The only role I have in the community that I have moved into is to just be me. To my knowledge, there are no Pagans nearby, making me into a local community of one. What am I expecting of myself in this twilight of my life in this existence? Well, probably the best way to explain that is to drop into the second paragraph from the article. I may not be trained conventionally as a Priest, but I am capable of fulfilling the role when needed. It will be a little wobbly, quite unconventional in nature, but I can definitely fulfill the role. Could I train someone on this Path? Not likely, but I can provide direction to those that can. For instance, someone wanting to get into Druidry, I can point them to the closest ADF folks to where they are or I can provide them with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. As someone on an Ovate path, I cannot teach much, but I can be available to listen to any difficulties they might have, and provide some assistance – though a better source for that would be their assigned mentor.

So, as I struggle with my own myopic view of what an Elder is, how can find my own role within the context of this label? Or do I really need to? I work in my Spirituality under the precept that I need to handle my own approach as my own. If it doesn’t conform to what someone else is doing, that is perfectly fine, so long as it works for me. As I learn more and more about my own Path, my own perspective, my own Path – I have started to realize that my divergence from what is essentially the mainstream of today’s modern Pagan Paths is not because of a desire to be different, but a need to follow what is a concern within my own personal Spirituality.

So, I continue to see myself in the role of a mentor, of sorts. I am not going to be the Pagan that teaches you about magick or spell work – those are not arrows in my quiver. But I can help you make the connections to your immediate environment, so that you can experience your immediate place in the world around you.

And the resulting conversations with some of the newer Pagans on their own Paths is not about converting them to my way of thinking, but just pulling the curtain back on where I have walked and how I have managed to get here. I can show them the hows and whys of getting here…they still have to walk the walk. They still have to want to do the hard work that gets them to a point similar to this. I am not their Priest. I am not their Guru. I’m just me.

I still worry about people placing me on a pedestal. As I note here, I am a Priest of one – me. I am no Guru. I just happen to have been walking this Path since 1986. None of that makes me special. However, it does make me who I am. All of that experience informs my daily walk. All of that experience has helped me to develop stronger connections to the world around me. All of that experience will help me as I continue to move forward on this path, and in this existence. The way I think, the way I work through issues – even in my everyday, mundane life – is informed from my experience, and my experience alone. To get here, I did the hard work. To get further, I have more hard work to get through. I don’t do it for a title or to be an initiate to some grade in some Druid Order. I do it because its my Path to walk. It took me around two decades to find myself here. This is the Path I was searching for. This works for me. I’ll be more than happy to pick up and support those who stumble along the way. I’m also happy to help those who are lost on this Path to find the Path that works better for them. Why? Because it strokes my ego? No. Because its the right thing to do.

My role as an Elder is truly a simple one: be me, and be available. Talk. Discuss. Point others in the directions where you have been. Talk with them about your approaches. Provide advice when asked for. Try not to be judgmental about other approaches. Simply just be there. And you do not even have to embrace the title of “Elder”…you can simply just be you. Just another Pagan, living each day in service to your Gods, experiencing what life has to offer…and being there for others. In the end, this should be service enough to others because a safe place to discuss any topic is where and who I should be. And through all of that, none of it marks me as “special” – merely that like anyone else, I am unique.

I loathe mission statements. To me, those are corporate leftovers which make a statement to the world, but are rarely followed internally. However, if I was looking for a mission statement, this quote may surely be it. I am no holder of some secret, ancient knowledge. I hold my experiences in everyday life, as well as life within more closed and intimate environments, such as Druid Camps, initiation circles, and the intimate, delicate conversations around a fire at two or three in the morning. Some of those experiences are closed events, not to be shared with others. Not just because of the private matter, but so that the moment (such as in initiations) can be experienced with fresh eyes and emotions by the initiate. Life is all about experiences. Sometimes those experiences can be confusing and even downright scary. I have been there. I’m more than willing to sit and listen. You need someone to hold you at the campfire, just so you have someone close….I’m your Druid. An Ovate, but still a Druid.

We are all unique. We all react differently to events that unfold around us. Sometimes, we need a shoulder to lean. Or a hand to hold for a while during a short distance on the Path. Or someone who will wrap us in their cloak and be that warm, soothing companion against the chill of the night or the tremors that stepped up at an unguarded moment. Part of being on this path for so long means that I am here to be that person, should you need it. I am an Elder. I am a Priest, maybe not in the conventional sense of the word, but still a Priest. I am a Druid. I am approachable. I am a safe place for anyone that needs it.

–T /|\

Priest of One

So let’s circle back to Priestly concepts, shall we? I have struggled with this concept for a good deal of time. You can dig back through some of the older posts, and find all of that – should you wish to do so. Quite some time back, during one of my meditations, Crow approached me over the idea of being a Priest. Originally, I was confused, thinking that Crow was asking me to be a Priest of His. It took a lot of time to realize that this was not the case. Crow was not pointing me at a position of servitude for Him. We already had created – and continue to work within – a strong boundary-related partnership. granted, its not always easy, and seemingly is not as evenly-sided as I think it should be, but it exists and I work within it at my discretion and benefit. No, instead, Crow’s push has been towards me finding my way as a Priest. And this vague direction has brought a lot of issues forward for me.

I have pushed back on the concept – I have no desire to be a leader of any group, much less cultivate any form of following – even here on the blog. I have been on my Pagan Path for over thirty years, with the majority of that as a single individual. I have tried groups. I have tried covens. I am even part of an organization currently, the order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). Groups and covens proved to not be useful for me or the other people I interacted with. OBOD has provided me with my own perspectives of autonomy and self-determination along my own Path, to be a more precise fit for what works for me. With no flock, no followers – how could I be a Priest?

I was reminded, time and again, that being a Priest did not mean that one had to have others that they tended to their Spiritual needs as a Shepherd would tend to a flock of sheep. That directive and concept was extremely Christian in its being, and would never be a fit for me. And while being a ritual leader is not precisely my forte, that could be one way that being a Priest might fit for me. The same holds true for being an adviser for those who are on their own Pagan Paths. In a manner of speaking, I could be a Guide along the Path – there to help those that need assistance, even if that assistance was just getting them to someone that could be in a more Priestly role for them.

I am reminded by a few folks that just by writing my blog posts – explaining my thinking, my internal processes, essentially my approach to my own Paganism and Druidry – that I am exploring a function of being a Priest. In its own manner, all of this can be construed as teaching and philosophizing, at least to some degree by other folks. That this is an aspect of being a Priest, though I am somewhat unsure at times of helpful I can be with what I write about.

I am already exploring aspects of simple ordination, so that I might be able to step in to some functions of a Priest, as expected by modern-day society, when others cannot be found – or where I am considered to be some kind of a fit for that role. In baseball vernacular, I am setting myself up as a pinch-hitter in a reserve role. Primarily, this comes about from my lack of experience in working in group rituals. Time and participation can change that.

Would I call myself a “Priest” at this point? Well, in a manner of speaking – yes. I am a Priest. Just as I am a Druid within OBOD. I may not have finished my Ovate and Druid grade training, which I will, but I can call myself a Druid, because that is what I am. I definitely have a lot to learn, but I am a Druid. I certainly need to consider a lot of other functional roles, in terms of Priesting (is that a verb?), but at this point, I am an inexperienced Priest. I may not have the years of training behind me, but I can step in to handle various roles…even if I am somewhat clumsy at this point.

Certainly, there will be those that will disagree with my usage of the words. Frankly, I am not about to let that bother me. No matter what one says or relates, especially in today’s social environment, someone will always be willing to take up some aspect of umbrage. I am not trying to fulfill these concepts and roles for my own benefit, but to benefit others – where I can. Even if, at this moment, I am a Priest of one.

Its More Than Just Typing on a Keyboard

Ok. So the last post I wrote was rather bleak in its outlook. The prospects of nuclear exchange can do that for you. But there’s more to life and being alive than being frozen in time by fear.

The calendar has us pointed directly at one of the two yearly turns of the wheel that I tend to run for solitude. Beltane and Samhain are both periods of time that I tend to avoid the outside world, and wrap myself in the cloak of my solo work. But that has more to do with the approach of others towards these two points of the year. This year; however, holds a slight bit of difference – at least for Beltane.

Part of the whispers I hear from just over my shoulder have involved me getting out into the wider community. I live in the middle of of nowhere – on the border between Oklahoma and Texas. The nearest Pagans that I am aware of are over an hour’s drive in any of the four directions. So getting “involved” in the “community” requires a lot of thought, a lot of moving pieces in the calendar, and a lot more dedicated commitment on my part – all of which takes this solo Druid outside of his comfort zone. But no one ever said following what the Gods want and direct you towards will ever keep you in your comfort zone.

Part of all of that has been about me going to gatherings and conventions. Earlier this year, I felt like I lived out of a suitcase. Now, everything seems to be calming down a bit more, and I am getting my legs back underneath me concerning my connection with my local environment. But there’s still the need to get better connected with the wider Pagan community.

Sure, Facebook does some of that, but that’s not what was meant when the pesky freaking beak hit me behind the ear. It just so happens, that in February, an opportunity for re-connection was provided, in the form of two folks I have known for quite some time. Both members of the Denton CUUPs group, John and Cyn asked if I would come down to their Beltane celebration. Apparently….well, its not apparent, its a definite fact…the Gods are poking them towards a particular celebration that I had only witnessed from the top of a hill at the last Pagan Pride Day event in Dallas (that was 2013). So I said “yes”. And apparently, a lot of other folks – both local and from distances much further than my own – have also said “yes”. And as each day passes, the reminders keep coming back in meditations and dreams.

The most poignant reminder has been:  “Remember your word.” I have been poked and prodded about rejoining the wider community for quite some time. And while I make efforts from time to time, it winds up being a dipping off the toe into the water. I usually remember all the politics of the wider community, and my overall distaste for crap like that – and the result is me backing off yet again. The problem there is I am not giving these folks a chance to be who they are. Rather, I wind up painting an old picture onto their new canvas. Many, not all, of the Pagan leaders I remember have disappeared from the scene. They have either moved elsewhere, passed beyond the veil, or dropped out of the Pagan scene for one reason or another. And the Pagans that are here now, are not the same Pagans I recall. Nor is Paganism the same Paganism that it was back then.

So, I find myself at one of those moments that I find in flow charts. A decision. Re-enter the community? Continue to be solo and isolated, with a few celebrations and conventions to punctuate the year? And all of that brings me back to so many other thoughts I have had over the past year. My struggles with the concept of being a Priest. My struggles with having the label of “elder” applied to me. And as I look at all these pieces and concepts, scattered across the grassy area of my Inner Grove, I start to see how each fits together. Whether I like it or not – I am an Elder. I am a Priest. I am a Druid. I am a Student. I am a Teacher. I am a solo Pagan. I am a member of the Pagan community. I am a Friend. And the Gods have slowly pushed me to a point where I can see all these individual pieces, and many more I have yet to completely identify, set out before me. And I can see how these pieces fit together, and where missing pieces remain. So, yeah.

This Beltane, with what John, Cyn, and their group of folks are planning, will be a special event and moment. Its also going to provide another Sea Change for me. I asked the Gods to help me grow and become the Druid, Pagan, and Priest that I am supposed to be. All these steps have led to here, this coming moment. Its a very scary, and uncertain step for me. But there are people that I know here. And other people that I have already met that here, too. And so many others that I haven’t. Be the Priest that I am to be? The Druid that I am meant to be? Be the Pagan that I definitely am? For all that take place, transformation will need to take place. Some of that has already been done – internally. I need to change myself externally, as well. And that means doing more than just typing on a keyboard.


So Here I Am

I have discussed in previous posts about getting messages about the coming Storm for the past two-plus years. Those messages came through in nearly everything I did that was tied to my Spirituality. Meditations, dreams, during rituals, and even while reading. But it didn’t happen every single day. Other days, everything was quiet – thankfully. But there were certain days were another message found its way into various parts of my life. And this has been around for far longer than the Storm messages have.

Become who you are. Be what you are to be. Be the Druid you are. Be the Priest you are to become.

Take a jog back and read some of the blog posts in the past, and you will see a few spots where I have had trouble dealing with all of this. Go on. Me and all the rest of the folks reading will hold on. Go on. Everyone else – coffee, tea, hot chocolate and lemon cookies are in the back of the room. Help yourselves. Ok. So, now that you have had a quick peek back, I guess the fair place to start is where I was versus where I am.

Most of my life has revolved around defining myself by the job position that I held, and the value that my employer held upon me. I have had some shitty employers in my life, and have had some even shittier jobs as well. Believe it or not, back in 2004 I actually gave tax advice over the phone for Intuit. Worst job I ever had. Hands down. But my own self-image and self-value came from what I did to make money, so I could pay the bills. Now, I work as an Institutional Research Assessment Analyst for a small college. But the reality is that I am a glorified Data Analyst. I don’t have time to do any real research or analysis of collegiate information. Most of my time is spent filing federal reports, gathering data to file state reports, or pulling data for other people’s research projects. In the private sector, I would likely be classified somewhere between a Data Analyst and a Data Retrieval Specialist. And the truth of the matter is….not one bit of that really matters.

My job is my job. I have the skillset to handle my job responsibilities. I have zero desire or inclination to climb the “ladder” within the college. If, in twenty years, I find myself in this same job position – I will be quite happy with my career progression within the college. Five years ago, I would not have said the same thing. I would be discouraged if I had not progressed within the structure to some Director position. But that was when I let my job position and the prestige behind it dictate who I was and the self-image I had. But like I said, my job is my job. It provides the money I need to pay the bills. It provides the healthcare I need to insure I continue to survive from my diabetes. It provides the monetary ability I have to attend Pagan-related conventions, music festivals, and OBOD gatherings every year. My job does not define who I am. My job does not define my self-image. I do that.

I work as an Assessment Analyst. I am a Polytheist Pagan. I am a Druid. I am a Priest of Crow. And to me, those statements are who I am. My self-image is my own. I may not see myself as someone with any large shadow to cast – I am reminded by several people that there are those that read what I write, hear what I say, and weigh that in their own terms for themselves. And in knowing that, I realize that I need to slouch less, sit up straight, and continue to be me.

Recently, I finished my Bardic Grade studies and submitted my review. I spent nearly seven years on those studies. Because I didn’t believe that I could do what I needed to. Because I let myself be defined by something I am not. I was defining myself by something that I do. Once I reversed that; once I stopped trying to be what I do, and decided to be what I am – I found my freedom to move forward. The rest of the Bardic Grade studies were difficult, and eye-opening – but I no longer had the mental blocks holding me back in my mind and attitude. That ages-old saying – “free your mind, and your ass will follow” certainly holds truth to it.

So here I am. I’m Tommy. Better known as TommyElf. I am a Polytheist Pagan. A Druid. A Bardic Grade member (hopefully soon to be in my Ovate Grade studies) of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. A Priest of Crow. A follower of Coyote and Flidais. A Poet. I stand before Time and the Gods with my fist raised in the Wind. I define who I am. I live, learn and grow into what I am, and what I will be. I live free to make my own choices for my own life. All I ever ask of anyone else is that you do the same for yourself.

Being a Generalist in a Specialized World

At one point in my working career, I was considered to be a generalist. An individual with knowledge of many working areas (in my case, Hardware and Software), but no specialization. At the lower rungs in the business environment, this was particularly fine for someone that was just starting out in a company. But as I advanced further down the line in my career, I was pushed more and more towards the concept of specialization. Until I find myself where I am now – Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Data Herder….whatever title you’d like to bestow upon me. My job is simple. Get information out of the complex data network that the college has, and get that individualized data to the correct people to help them make an informed decision of some sort.

I cam across the following passage in “Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing” by Robert Wolff. And this passage has certainly got my gears grinding over the difference between the way Pagan beliefs tend to approach spirituality, ritual and honoring the Gods, and how more mainstream systems such as Christianity do the same.

All systems (health systems, economic systems or political systems) are creations of our unique way of looking at the world, our reality. Systems are expressions of our beliefs.

…(A)ll our systems are designed around a belief that everything is so complex and difficult to manage that we require experts to help us navigate. There are experts for every aspect of life. Everyone who does anything at all needs training, probably a degree or a diploma, certainly a license. The result is that each of us is powerless, except in the narrow slice of the world we ourselves inhabit. There is hardly anything we can – or are allowed to – do for ourselves. We are made to think that we must ask for expert advice for everything we do.

Because systems are rooted in beliefs, we and even the experts find it difficult to imagine that there might be other ways of doing things. We cannot imagine that there are other beliefs. Thus we think that ours is the only true reality, that other people, other cultures, are backward, archaic, underdeveloped, and so on.

By judging others as less than ourselves, we cannot learn from them. That is sad, because we throw away, suppress, and deny the accumulated wisdom of generations or ancestors. (p.59-60, “Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing” by Robert Woolf.

A few days back, I wrote about my need to redefine the concept of the term “Priest” and how it related to me. In reading this, I am realizing that my problem is not so much that the role is defined in a certain manner by Christian concepts. Its the specialized nature of the role within the Christian definitions that bothers me so much. In many Christian churches, I sat in the pews and listened to frothy-mouthed pastors shout about how to follow the word of God as it sprang forth from the Bible. They would utilize a concordance to help assign modern definitions to translated words and passages. They assumed a role as an intercessor between their congregation and God. It was this specialization that I have been assign to the term Priest…correctly or incorrectly.

IMG_0243For me, as I have to come to understand what the role of a Priest means to me, I find my understanding to be different. As a Priest, my role is not to serve as a position between someone and the Gods. My role is to help in honoring the Gods through ritual – whether solo or in a group. I may be a mentor of sorts to those who are young on their own Path, but even then I am not to serve between the individuals and the Gods. I am to be there, to stand by their side and offer support, and advice. And whatever advice I offer can be rejected, as the choice is the adherent’s to make, not mine. My role, as a Priest, is to be more of a generalist in service to the Gods, to my Community, to my extended family, and to myself.

Certainly, this different manner of looking at the concept of Priest is a step in a slightly different direction on the Path…but its a step I am willing to explore and embrace, as I discover the new sights and sounds with this unmarked trail….


Paying the Priest Another Visit

Priest. I have written before about how I struggle with this term. How I cringe inwardly whenever someone mentions that I am on a Path towards a priesthood. Depending on my mood, my frame of mind, the temperature outside, and how much good IPA beer is available at the moment, I can embrace the idea that I am a Priest. But later down the line, I will back away from the entire concept, nearly aghast at how I was able to embrace the concept. So in many ways, its a love/hate/love-to-hate concept for me.

Perhaps some of what I am feeling comes from my dislike of labels. Or perhaps, more appropriately, it comes from my pairing of the concept with the archetypal image that resides in my mind. The black outfit, the white collar, spending time trying to fashion the religious directions of those who are lost. I mean, who is to say that I am not also treading the Path in my own fog? And yet, I would argue that I am here doing just that with these blog posts, and with the podcast episodes I do manage to put out. Providing a light for others that are walking through a similar fog in their lives. But then, I would toss aside the concept of being a Priest, and place that under the descriptives of being “friendly”, “helpful”, “kind”.

The forest is my church

Interesting descriptives there though. I’ll circle back around to the priestly concept in a moment. But let’s focus here for a few paragraphs. When we talk about our Pagan spirituality, we discuss things in terms of doing this or that for the worship of the Gods and Goddesses. We – well some of us – leave offerings to the Gods, Goddesses, and Spirits of the Land because it is a giving part of our worship, our dedication to Them. Our focus is on our rites, our magicks, our rituals, our Gods and Goddesses. We do circles and rites to work against those who choose to use and abuse our environment as a resource, and ignore our collective attachment with one another and that same environment. We certainly focus well in these areas as a collective community. But we also tend to miss out on another important area…one another.

A recent post by Cara Shulz on the Wild Hunt brought some of this focus into my mind yesterday. A serious medical diagnosis for her has changed a lot of her focus, and has certainly brought areas of the world into focus for her. Cara and I have had our run-ins on Facebook over the past few years, and mostly because I was being a flippant ass. Her sharp rebuke of me over my behavior was appropriate at that time (and would be as well today). Despite that, I have a lot of respect for her, as she is very dedicated to showcasing Paganism through her stories on the Wild Hunt. Both the good and bad sides…after all, we learn from good stuff, as well as the bad. Her individual story from yesterday is not easy to read. Even this morning, knowing what is said within it, brings tears to my eyes. But another side of her story made me realize that I am approaching this entire concept of “Priest” from the wrong angle.

See, I keep looking at Priest from a religious clergy perspective. There is a lot more to being a Priest than just the religious perspective. Priests also look after the folks that are part of their parish, congregation, group, whatever you want to call it. They also look (or should) look after the people in their local community – even if they aren’t of the same faith as the Priest. Let’s face the facts though – many people who perform the role of Priest or clergy for their group don’t really care about those outside of their small circle. Which goes against some of the points that Jesus ben Joseph made to His followers. But this post isn’t about indicting Christian believers over what they do or do not do in the area of consistently following the teachings of their risen Savior. Thus, I digress slightly (as I always tend to do).

In a recent post, John Beckett pointed out that change does not readily happen from the top-down. Its far more beneficial and long-lasting if it comes from the bottom-up. This holds true for this as well. We can all lament how others have not fulfilled the conceptual role of a Priest when it comes to administering to the needs of others, particularly in the Pagan community. We make the offerings to the Gods on behalf of others, but sometimes its not the offerings that they need. Sometimes, they need people to come over and tidy up the house, do the dishes, mow the yard, run out and do some grocery shopping, help out with the laundry. Sure, they are ill, and the offerings to the Gods are done to assist with getting them to better health…but what about rolling up your sleeves? And before someone wags a finger at my Solitary ass, let me be the first to point out – I am far more guilty than many others in this respect.

So, I definitely need to do a lot more rethinking on what a Priest is. And I need to start by ditching the Christian and mainstream definitions of just what that role is. Perhaps a better way for me to approach this, is to define what the role means to me, and apply it right here – and not project it out onto others. Start at the base of what the definition is, and work upwards from there to build and strengthen the word’s meaning to me, and me alone. And to remember that the application of that meaning is for me and me alone. How I perform the function of Priest becomes something that inwardly is between myself and the Gods – and is projected outward into how I work within my Community….both mundane and Pagan.

Perhaps, instead of trying to shun the label, I need to embrace it. I can be a Priest, just not the way that the mainstream definition holds to it. By ditching the overtly Christian diagnostic of the term, I can utilize the term in a way that is a positive reflection of who I am, and where I walk on my Path. Perhaps, its because Druidry taught me that. Terminology should be flexible, able to grow and change with the needs of the role it describes. Definitely a thought going forward…and a lesson in how to release myself from Christian dogma that is heaped on terminology that I should see far differently.


I’m not a Jedi-Knight … Yet

So, you’re a Druid. You perform blood sacrifices in the woods?

You’re becoming some kind of Priest, right?

Why don’t you just declare yourself as a Jedi in training and ditch the mystical religious stuff. Its all play-acting, right?

Nearly every time I even slightly mention my religious beliefs and am asked for an adjective, I’ll supply two:  “Pagan”, and “Druid” — in that order. Most people bypass the first one, because it seems too alien to deal with – and latch on to the second. And from that second descriptive — its usually how modern-day consumer-oriented culture has shaped their understanding of that word that provides the next steps of our linguistic dance.


The rarest of the perspectives is one that I grew up with:  Asterix the Gaul. In this comic series, there’s a single Druid that services the hold-out village in France during Roman occupation. In most English narratives, he’s named as Getafix (get it?). When I was growing up, I read these from the French version, and his name is Panoramix there (wide view – seeing all). I usually get the comment of being a “scholarly” type. Always with my head stuck in books, learning more than I could ever have a need for. And in a manner of speaking, this is correct. Its not everything that my Druidry is about, but reading is generally the first steps in any endeavor for me.

The next two narratives are the more typical. Me becoming some type of Priest, or finding a better descriptive facing towards emulating the Jedi order in George Lucas’ Star Wars’ films. The easier one to deal with is the jedi aspect. Typically, I laugh. While Lucas has created a fantasy order of fighting monks that work towards being the troubleshooters and peacemakers of the known galaxy, I know its fantasy stuff. Very attractive in its positioning and perspective, but fantasy nonetheless. Besides, if I had to go the fantasy route, I’d honestly rather be in the order that Gandalf belongs to in the Hobbits and Trilogy of the Ring movies. At least there I get a chance to meet Tauriel, and try to find out why her character wasn’t in the books. ::wink:: As for the Priest part of these types of questions….I tend to waver between the idea of being a Priest to a congregation of one, and not even desiring the idea of such a title in the first place. The reality of it all, is that I am not on my path of Spiritual Belief to become a Priest of anything. I am trying to discover and nurture my connections to the world around me. If it turns out that it makes me a Priest of anything…so be it. But its certainly not any focus of my own.

Me at the 2015 ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat (photo by John Beckett)

The last one is where I have the hardest time even conversing over the topic with an individual that asks it. The idea that I do blood sacrifices. Well, that’s just crazy stuff. I get it though. There’s a part of written history that details such things happening. How accurate are those writings?  I have no idea. Nor does it really bother me one way or another. As a student of History, I know that one of the spoils that the victor gets to enjoy is that of writing the History. And typically, the loser is painted in a very dark light – after all, when the accolades of why we fought this war or conquered these people is told to future generations – there’s a desire and need to paint it in a manner that makes the victors into heroes. Over time, that glossy shine will be all that is ever known… My usual response to queries like this is that I practice my Druidry as it focuses on today and tomorrow. What has already happened, particularly so far into the Past that it is easily distorted through the viewing lens, needs to remain firmly in the Past. I’m not here to “re-construct” anything.

In the end, the conversations turn one of two ways. The first, more desirable way, is that the individual(s) and I step away and go home – both knowing that our interaction has allowed us to understand one another. Plus, we have been able to grow not only that understand, but a mutual respect for our different approaches to the world around us. The second, and unfortunately more common way, is that we walk away from one another, confused, anger, hurt, and feeling misunderstood. Usually, that’s because of bad communication on both our parts, or a stubbornness born out of accepting no other way of seeing and interacting with the world than our own. I’m not going to sit here and blow sunshine up your skirts. There are times that I can be stubborn and unwilling to hear another side. I’m a freaking human being…I have feelings that can be trampled on and hurt…I react just like any other person might. …and…well, I’m not a jedi-knight yet….

Doing Means More Than Titles

A long while back, I wrote a post about accepting the idea of being a “Priest”. In that post, I made the following statement:

Yes, I am a Priest – just as you are. I may not fully embrace the title or the term, but I embrace the workings that are part of it. And in my estimation, that is far more important than whatever descriptor I attach to it. I celebrate Life every day. In every breath that I take. In every action I perform. When I add mindfulness to that equation, I discover where I am on the Pattern, and how my strand of the Song fits in. And at the end of the day, when I step out on to my porch to wish the Sun well on its journey to the other side of the Planet, and greet the Moon as She rises in His place – I celebrate what I have managed to create. I celebrate my workings as a Priest.

I have always thought that this final statement was a fairly good closing descriptor of my position, but apparently it was not. A few weeks ago, I received an Email from a reader noting that following a Pagan Path – particularly a Path of Druidry – is to follow a path towards priesthood. I have to say, it was a little difficult to not fire back in a sarcastic retort, but I maintained my calm the best that I could – and attempted to write a reply Email….and didn’t get very far.

To be perfectly honest, it would have been far easier to write a sarcastic retort – but that would have also been far less productive. So I let the entire issue sit and percolate in my brain-meats for a couple of weeks (three now), before I decided to write this blog post as a response – of sorts.

I am a Priest – Sort Of

Every day that I rise from bed, my eyes look to the skies to find the sun. Yes, even on cloudy days. The Sun is my constant companion throughout the daylight hours – and even into the night-time hours through the reflection cast across the face of the Moon. Each day provides me with a new opportunity to explore new-found connections with my

environment, as well as finding even more connections that I was not aware of. I work in a data analysis position, so I am given time to explore connections through data-centric models – a connective measure I had not really considered until a few months after I accepted the job (I started in September of last year). I perform rituals, for myself, on a daily basis as well as on marked aspects of the Wheel of the Year. I commune with my patron God, and the Spirits of the Land in a large variety of ways. And I am aware that every moment I have in the “here” moment of Life is unique, even when it seems very similar to another moment from the previous day(s). Its taken a lot of time for me to get beyond the idea that being a Priest means that I have followers, students, and a congregation of some sort.

Titles Mean Little to Me

Followers. Students. Congregation. Yeah, I have to shake my head at that notion. That is steeped in Christian definition. An individual that practices on their own is not a Priest within the Christian definitions. Rather, that image is provided a different definition, such as Lay-man, Monk, Mystic. But honestly, I could embrace the notion of any of these terms. And yet, I would rather eschew titles such as these. If I was to ascribe myself to a title, it would be this:  Me. Yeah, I follow some of the concepts that define the term “Priest” in what I do on a daily basis on my own Path, but I really doubt that a title is going to transform me into any sort of a holy man. My actions and studies will do that for me. Smeg, if a title was going to instantly transform me into something — I’d like to be a jedi, please.

If Titles Mean Nothing….

So, if titles mean nothing, then why am I studying the OBOD Bardic Grade course? Why am I taking a class with Cat Treadwell on Druidry? Why do I hold a Bachelors degree in Computer Science? Why do I hold a Masters degree in Information Systems Management? Why do I hold a Masters degree in Business Administration? Why am I continuing my education towards a Bachelors degree in History?

Well, its not some wildly complicated answer. I do all of these things because I like to learn. Each of those areas of learning afford me a different angle in Life. And seeing through that myriad of angles, I can find even more connections to the world around me. And the people within it. And the animals within it. And the plants within it. And the Gods. And the Spirits of the Land. And myself. I do these things because I want to understand the connections to the world around me. I do these things because I want to experience the world around me. I do these things because this is who I am.

Just Being…

Its really hard to explain any of this beyond those words. This Path works for me. I could give a hang about the titles. Call me whatever you like. Priest, Solitaire, Solo Practitioner, Me, whatever…it makes no difference to me. I know who I am. I know why my feet leave footsteps on this Path. I want to know more and experience more on this Path. I am only starting to understand my thread within the complex rhythm and sound of the Song we all sing together. And that alone compels me to continue my daily exploration – finding the connections within this world, and others.

Yes, I am a Priest

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

If you have been reading the blog, you would have noticed that I posted a review of “Paganism 101” from Moon Books (editor, Trevor Greenfield) – a book that has given me many, many writing prompts. Today’s blog post will be no exception to that, as I tackle a concept and descriptor that I have eschewed for most of my life: “Priest”.

Anyone who has read this blog or listened to my long period of podcasting or even knows me personally – is aware of my hardcore avoidance of the term and title of “Priest”. I am no Priest for anyone except myself. I have always avoided the usage of the term where I was concerned, so that I would not be wrapped up in any misconception over my role as a Solitary Pagan practitioner. I am a group of one…me. And yet, as I have learned over the years as a podcaster, by placing myself out in the public through my podcasting and my blogging – I am more than just a group of one. For the longest time, I avoided the descriptor of “teacher” – until I understood that even standing up and talking about my manner of being a Pagan on a Path of Druidry placed me in a position of being a teacher. I am not teaching anyone about the mysteries of a belief system. I have no formal students, but I am showing people where I stepped along the rocky Path of my beliefs. In essence, I am showing them where the slippery rocks are, and where I had slipped and stumbled. And for some folks, its a helpful learning lesson that they utilize, and pass on to others. Strangely enough, I am finding out the same thing about the descriptor of “Priest”.

In “Paganism 101”, the very last section is titled ‘Celebrant Work’ and the introductory paragraph is written by someone I admire a great deal – Cat Treadwell. Considering the large amount of celebratory works that Cat conducts through handfastings and other rites in her local area, I was hardly surprised to find her writing this particular introduction. In reading through her essay, I found several passages that have really managed to grab me by the throat and make me take a longer look at my perceived discomfort with the word “Priest”.

What people seem to be looking for in The Person Leading the Rite (whatever their title) is someone to do precisely that. An experienced, preferably trained individual who is capable of holding together a group of varied individuals, leading them to a specific purpose. To act as a Priest, in fact, as this term would usually be understood by the wider society. (p.251)


There is very little, in fact, that is common to all Pagans, except for our reverence of and for Nature, and our active lives within it. (p. 252)


Every Pagan worth their salt has to be able to justify their beliefs on demand. We’ve all heard that simple question: “So, what’s a Pagan, then?” or “What exactly do you do?” The extent of our answer depends on our own deep (or shallow) understanding of what it is that we actually do. Those questions still make me question myself, my own beliefs and practices. And that’s before we even get into the muddy ground of explaining ourselves in a way that is actually understood. (p. 253)


Remember: those who do this are standing for the rest of the community. As I said, each of us speaks for every other Pagan when we’re describing what we do. Imagine that, multiplied to include everyone who is watching. I always have that awareness in my mind when speaking publicly: do I accurately represent each and every one of those Pagans out there? If I saw myself on the television, would I roll my eyes and turn away, or nod and smile? The responsibility is terrifying, and for someone who isn’t a natural show-off, never, ever fun. At heart, I can only ever be myself. But I promised to do my best for my community, and so I do. (p. 254-255)

Four simple statements. And in reading through them, some of you might see these and say – “How in the Nine Hells are these related Tommy?” But they are, my friendly reader. They are. Taken individually, these statements may seem like simple individual statements, but for me – they are pieces to a small puzzle. The first statement shows the typical response to the notion of what a Priest is – an individual that leads participants in a Rite or Working. The second statement is a reminder of what binds all of us on this wide-arching set of beliefs together – as Pagans under the wide big-tent of Paganism, as my friend John Beckett has mentioned a few times on his blog “Under the Ancient Oaks“. For me, the third and fourth statements combine together as a reminder – we can only be ourselves. No matter what training we have received, no matter what order or group we have made ourselves a part of. In the end, we can only be ourselves.

In “The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature“, Emma Restall Orr states:

Every ecosystem is a community of beings, perceiving, sensing, experiencing, responding, and more, each community, the whole community of life, being in a constant flow of interactions. A community, then, is a pattern of relationships; within each pattern there are countless smaller patterns, and each pattern itself is a part of a larger pattern and a part of other different patterns. (p. 200)

Taken in with the quotes I have brought here from Cat’s essay, for me its a fairly easy perspective of seeing the role of a Priest. The Priest’s role is to help celebrants locate and experience the interconnected aspects of the web that weaves us all together. If we looked at everything around us in the context of a Song that is sung all day, throughout the day – the verses strung together by our thoughts and actions, with participants in the song constantly stepping into and out of the verses – the Priest is there to bring the chorus into focus, to help bring the Song together between each verse. And where are the Priests exactly?  Who are they?  We all are. Each one of us adds a voice to the Song, adds a strand of a verse to the Song, helps hold down the rhythm that weaves its way underneath that Pattern.

I am a Priest. Whether I want to believe that or not, I am. Just as you are. Every day we add to that pattern, add to that celebration of being alive, in the here and now, living each moment so that the future continues to unfold in front of us. We sing the Pattern of the Song, so we can celebrate each moment as we experience it, but also so we can remember the experiences as we go forward. Each strand we weave into the Pattern of the Song is important, no matter how great or small – each strand helps to create the Pattern we are.

Yes, I am a Priest – just as you are. I may not fully embrace the title or the term, but I embrace the workings that are part of it. And in my estimation, that is far more important than whatever descriptor I attach to it. I celebrate Life every day. In every breath that I take. In every action I perform. When I add mindfulness to that equation, I discover where I am on the Pattern, and how my strand of the Song fits in. And at the end of the day, when I step out on to my porch to wish the Sun well on its journey to the other side of the Planet, and greet the Moon as She rises in His place – I celebrate what I have managed to create. I celebrate my workings as a Priest.

— Tommy /|\

No Priest Here…

I am still tickled when I read a message from someone who refers to me as a ‘Priest.’  I am far removed from any such title or Imageposition.  Simply put, I am a Pagan.  I follow the Gods as they present themselves to me, but that typically falls along a First Nations path more than anything else.  My primary framework for my religious practices comes from the lessons of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.  But following that framework does not make me a Priest.  I have had training in two Wiccan paths – including initiation into the first grade of one of those traditions (the other offered the initiation, but I chose to refuse since my military career was about to take my overseas).  But that also does not make me a Priest.  I hold no claim or desire to be such.  I guess its the fact that I am working along a Druidic path that confuses folks.  But just because I use the framework, that does not make me a Priest either.

My idea of ritual is rather different than that of a lot of other folks I have encountered as well.  Every morning starts my day with greeting the sunrise.  Hopefully, the weather allows me to be outdoors.  If not, I am content to stand in the kitchen and look out my backyard windows to the East.  My daily Life starts, and along with it – my ritual of respect to the Gods.  It makes no difference what I do over the course of the day.  I teach, so a lot of my typical days are spent trying to hammer home some academic point for my students.  Before every class, I spend a few moments finding my own internal center – and try to remember the state of mind I had when I spend time learning material.  After every class, I spend a couple of moments grounding and centering – typically outside (if possible).  I find it useful to ground and center to let go of any stray energies I may have encountered while working with the students.  Before each meal, I spend a few moments thanking the Gods for providing whatever I am about to eat — yes, even meals that are comprised of materials from the “evil” GMOs.  When I finally make it back to the house – I unwind with short meditative moments, and generally enjoy whatever time I have left.  The closing to my night is to spend a few moments greeting Grandmother Moon – even when there is cloud cover and I cannot readily see her.  For me, each day is an extended ritual.  There is nothing overly special about the day – but each footstep and breath I take – my focus is on being the best I can possible be in that moment.  Not just for myself, but also for my ancestors – past and present.  What I do in each moment of the day sends ripples through time – both forward to my future generations – and backward through the generations that have already come and past.

I am no Priest.  I have no desire or ambition to place myself into such a position of responsibility.  I am really just me – responsible for myself and my own actions.  And I have talked about this on numerous occasions with various people.  A few have made the comment that I am my own Priest.  Sure, I can work with that – if there’s a requirement that there just MUST BE a Priest involved in there somewhere.  I will accept the title then.  But in the end, I am still no Priest.