ECG Leftovers …But What Should I Wear? Further Thoughts on Ritual…

I am not your typical Pagan. I would say that is a fairly safe bet to make at any time, any place. My approach to a concept such as ritual is one area that is most noticeable to any individual. Most of my rituals are done impromptu, and solo. Location, time of day, time of year – all mean little to nothing to me. More important is intent and frame of mind. For me, it is literally about the nature of connecting with my environment. Finding my place, being my place in that panorama. Not apart from everything, but becoming a pare of everything. For me, ritual is a song of being, not just belonging. In a brutish way of speaking, its a party of sorts…but what should I wear?

If you asked me a few weeks ago about my ritual clothing – I would have ran my hand from my shoulder to my ankles to emphasize whatever I was wearing at that moment. For me, that is typically a t-shirt of some sort, jeans, and a pari of tennis shoes. I come from a point of view that one is able to achieve a state of connectedness when one is comfortable. T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes are comfortable attire for me – so it makes sense. However, that has changed to some degree for me, particularly after the Alban Elfed ritual at East Coast Gathering.

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

I was approached for a conversation about my idea of ritual clothing shortly after I had returned to the camp — and quite some time after the ritual. (I am not going to out this individual by name, but if they want to come out of those shadows – they certainly will if they choose to do so). The question was raised if I had ever thought of having a ritual robe or cloak made for myself. I confessed that I had not — although the idea of a robe made me a little uncomfortable. I had seen what several folks had been wearing, and none of it looked very comfortable to my eyes. But a cloak was certainly an appealing thought. After talking a bit more, I had to confess that I had brought something I had thought of using as ritual clothing – a white hooded, long-sleeved shirt. I had bought this shirt a long time previous – along with a purple one – for the idea of implementing this as ritual clothing. In the end, I had opted to not wear it to the ritual – and instead utilized it as my shirt for going home on the plane. In retrospect, I wish I had worn it to the ritual instead.

Our conversation soon turned to the “why” of keeping ritual clothing. I understood the aspect of having something that was worn specifically for ritual – bringing the act of ritual to a level above the everyday. The clothing helps to heighten one’s awareness of the particular act of ritual – elevating it slightly from the everyday toil of life. And while the everyday toil of life is a ritual in its own respect, providing actions that are tied in with our beliefs – making the moment of living just as sacred as any moment in ritual – the act of ritual is a celebratory moment, where we connect with our environment, with our Gods and Goddesses, and rejoice in the moment…

So, I have once again set my hooded white shirt to the side – only to be worn for rituals. Granted, I will still be wearing jeans and tennis shoes, but the shirt will have a different significance – a different purpose. Yeah, I will still look a lot different than the people wearing white robes — but my clothing will have a similar purpose and intent. There’s that intent word again…there’s meaning behind that too….

Just Because

A little more than a week ago, Summer Solstice moved on through. I read a few posts on Facebook from friends that were celebrating the turn of the Wheel. I had even been invited to a few celebrations that were taking place at various points during that weekend. But I opted for a quiet moment: standing in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee; while watching the sun peek over the horizon. Yes, for those of you that read me on a semi-regular basis (all three of you), this sounds familiar. Its my daily (mostly) ritual for the start of my day. In short, I followed my usual routine for Summer Solstice.

There’s a lot to be said for specific rituals for specific times. Summer Solstice is no exception to that. There are many gorgeous rituals that one can do. One of my favorites is the Summer Solstice Meditation that John Beckett posted a short time ago on Patheos. However, there is also a bit to be said for just handling the day like any other.

My Stone Circle (28Feb2015)
My Stone Circle (28Feb2015)

A few years back, I was struggling to find a way to put organized rituals into my life — specifically those that are meant for specific times in the Wheel of the Year. I had difficulty locating time in the specified day to do a ritual. Sometimes it was because there were competing needs in the course of the day. Other times, it was because I was totally drained of energy to manage a ritual of any sort. One cold evening during the early months of the year, I remember looking outside at the falling snow and thinking it would be really interesting to try a ritual in this weather. I was home alone, so I pulled my boots on, grabbed a coat and headed outside to do just that. It wasn’t much of a ritual, at least I didn’t think so. I walked around the big tree in my backyard, faced each direction, and spoke the words to the Druid’s Prayer. I then beat the accumulated snow off my boats and coat and headed back inside.

I was completely energized by what I had done. It had come about at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way. Except that it wasn’t at any prescribed point in the Wheel. It didn’t have the purpose that any of those particular rituals had. But it had tons more energy! It took a while for me to realize, it was the spur of the moment that really drove me forward. It was that spark of the moment that kindled the fire deep within me. So I spent time thinking about this entire experience. Why did it work for me? What should I do going into the future? And I eventually realized that this was the way that my Paganism was going to have deeper meaning for me.

I still manage to hold some form of ritual at the major spokes in the Wheel of the Year — just not all the time. Its not because it isn’t right for me – not at all. Its merely because its not the right timing for me. There are some rituals that I do follow on with at the appropriate time. There’s honestly not a lot of spark to those moments, and sometimes I feel like I am doing things from rote memory, “just because”. However, giving over to the moment, when everything feels “right” about the here and the now…just letting go and allow myself the self-prescribed permission to do so…that’s the difference.

Informally Clothing Myself

This past week, I have sat and watched as the news exploded with issues related to the Charleston shooting — mostly about tearing down Confederate memorials and removing the flag that flies at some of those locations. If you are looking for a post related to that topic, please move along. I am only setting some of my frame of mind here. After a few days of watching the back and forth on the topic – I decided that this paragraph would be all that I do to address the issue. The anger and over-zealousness of the topic on various social media platforms helped me to realize that its not worth my effort of a discussion. So let’s move on towards something a little more interesting….

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In a few short months, I will be taking a trip to the northeast for the OBOD East Coast Gathering. This will be my first time there, and I am excited about meeting Damh the Bard, Kristoffer Hughes, and be reacquainted with quite a few of my fellow attendees from the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering from earlier this year. I have had a few private discussions with some of the folks going, and a similar question kept popping up:  what ritual clothing will you be bringing?

MeThis is a somewhat odd question to ask me. I have no robes – and honestly have no real desire to have a set. My ritual garments tend to be whatever I have on my body at the time. A real example of this is the photo you see here. This was taken at the Imbolc Retreat in south Texas earlier this year. I am not sure of who took the photo, otherwise I would have their name attributed here for credit. But this picture was taken during one of the three rituals that I was part of. My ritual wardrobe consists of a pair of jeans, a tshirt, (in this instance) an MLB cap, and a pair of tennis shoes. Seriously. This is about as “formal” as I get dressed up to do most things. I have no need for a ritual robe made specifically for this or that. The Gods accept me for who I am, and that includes the manner in which I am dressed at that moment.

In my mode of thinking, I am an extremely informal individual.  This does not just include ritual, but nearly every facet of my life. At work, I tend towards polo shirts versus button-downs. When I can get away with it, I wear dark jeans rather than dress slacks. I have attended a few weddings of friends, not wearing a tie. And I have caught plenty of flak over the way that I dress. However, my point is always the same:  I would rather dress comfortably and have appropriate personal bearing, than dress uncomfortably and fidget throughout the entire event. I do understand that my informal mannerisms tend to make me unpopular with some folks. Why can I not just follow everyone else’s lead and dress similar to them? Because I would rather be the authentic “me” than try and dress me up in a manner in which I am not. To put it in another way — I would rather be myself, than try to be something I am not.

So, in a few short months, I will be getting on-board a flight to the northeastern United States. And I will be carrying no robes or ritual garments with me. I will have a few shirts with hoods on them, but nothing made or purchased specifically for a ritual. There may be a few who shake their heads because I approach ritual settings from such a lax point of view. Maybe. My experience has been that most people don’t care. Its more about the frame of mind you bring to the ritual, rather than what you have on your body in terms of clothing (or lack thereof in some settings). To be quite open about it — I would rather be my genuine self with what I practice in my spiritual beliefs, than be something I am not. This is why everything I do in that sense – clothing, the ritual itself, the setting it is placed within – is informal. And for me….it works.

Jazz-Style Paganism – the Song I Sing for Today

“You’re a Pagan, right?”  A little absent-mindedly, I nod in the affirmative.  “So, are you a re-constructionist?”  And I draw a very deep breath and slowly release my inevitable sigh.

That particular scenario has not played out for some time. My somewhat addled mind strains to recall how far back in time that goes. Six years?  Eight?  Perhaps further than that. Shit, it could have been yesterday. But here it is again. And its the same answer it has always been – No. Which leads to a ton of other questions from my querent. And the start of what could be a promising discussion, or a series of frustrating question-and-answer sessions.

I’m not a re-constructionist by any means. I wouldn’t even consider myself a “constructionist” of any sort either. I know in some minds that this may disqualify me as a “Pagan” in their eyes – but to be frank, that does not matter to me. I don’t follow my beliefs, practice my rites, and learn to expand my consciousness and connectedness to my environment to appease someone else. I follow my somewhat unmarked trail of Paganism through the forest because its the Path that works for me. But, here we are diverging from the trail of this subject slightly – so let me set us back on the Path somewhat.

As I said, I’m not a constructionist or a re-constructionist. I draw my inspiration from the long cold ashes of a belief system that has very little documentation to it. But I have no desire to build it up into a vision for everyone, nor do I have a desire to try and recreate it from those ashes into something close to what it may (or may not) have been. I merely want to follow my Path to wherever it may lead, and spend my time trying to connect more with my own environment.

Now, before the re-constructionists start to freak out as their blood gets warmer than my freshly brewed cup of coffee – let me make something crystal-clear here. I am not saying that the path of re-constructionism is wrong. Nor am I saying it is right. FOR ME. It works for those that are on that Path – and more power to them. I’m not about to say what’s right or wrong for anyone else – particularly in a spiritual sense. I’m not a spokesperson for Paganism. I am; however, a spokesperson for myself. And with that out of the way…

jazzSo, how do I approach my beliefs? Well, perhaps the best way to describe it is with the phrase: “its just Jazz, man.”  The musical form of Jazz is so vibrant and alive, in my opinion. The musician doesn’t just play the music, they play the music that’s inside of them. No true set form, Jazz is improvisational – coming from within, to be played as a tribute to the world around the musician in that moment. There are many people that find this style of playing harmonious, beautiful, and very in the moment. I am one of those people. But there are others who find it discordant, out of sync, and sometimes just purely random. I can understand that. Not everyone has the same connection to the world around them. Some folks prefer a bit more structure to what they do.

Jazz is restless. It won’t stay put, and it never will.  –J.J. Johnson, Bebop Jazz Trombonist

I have talked about this previously on the blog. I am not that big on structured ritual. It has its place in my daily Spirituality – mostly tied to the Wheel of the Year – but my improvisational rituals are far more relevant to me. And there is nothing “formal” to my processes either. Things can be as simple as a walk through the wooded area just south and west of my home in the swampy area of Lake Lewisville’s north shore near the Goatman’s Bridge. if you went walking with me, we might stop along the way to listen to the birds singing their morning song, or clumsily dance together in a sandy section of the trail – just because. For me, its celebrating the world around me for this very day, which the Gods have unveiled before my eyes. Or I can hold my ritual at my desk at work, wearing my headphones – lost in the teen-age wastelands that “Baba O’Riley” is conjuring in my mind. I can grab a hold of the strong energy of The Who and let that flow through me – a celebration of the Awen that created the song.

Much like the Jazz soloist, waiting for the bass player and the drummer to lay down the syncopated backdrop against he/she will paint their feelings against in a fountain of musical notes, I hold my rituals in the same fashion.

The quest for spiritual experience begins with the quest for feeling. What moves you? Has anything in your life been beautiful enough to make you cry? What took your breath away, put you on your knees with awe, turned your world over and shook it?  —Nimue Brown, Spirituality Without Structure, p.22

Nimue’s wonderful book put into words much of what I already knew. I already understood the “why” and the “how” of my rituals. I lacked the lexicon to explain it adequately. I still do – in my opinion – a lackluster job of explaining things. A lot of that has to do with my brain running far faster than I can type or talk.

If you’re gonna sing meaningful songs, you have to be committed to living a life that backs that up.  –Joan Baez

This one quote of Baez’ brings me back to a semi-grounded state. Celebrating the day is one thing…I still have to live my life with integrity. I remind myself that I need to remain grounded and centered in the face of the world that doesn’t accept me for who I am. Exploding in anger and rage for the lack of respect or recognition of who I am and what I believe does nothing for me – and only fuels their argument that what I do has no basis in a reality that they choose to define. I may declare myself as not being a “Priest” of any type – but I am still viewed as a “Pagan” in that vein by others. I MUST follow my Path…

I am ok with being looked upon with disdain by re-constructionist folks. I only need to remind myself – I am the one working with my own spirituality. I only need to have my own permission to do what I need to. And much like the Jazz musician…I play what I feel. I feel the environment around me, and let that influence the pattern of notes that I will play – the song I will sing for today….

I Am a Survivor – Solo Ritual vs. Group Ritual

Over the past few months, I have been stepping outside of my own bubble. Its a bit daunting, at least for me, as I have noted before in this blog. But I have also been subjected to some experiences I had never had before. Such as my first encounter with someone who has been a “fan” of my podcasting work for a few years now. A moment of sheer, inner terror for a momentary flash…but I survived, at least I think I did. ::grins:: But there are other experiences I have had that were far different. Here’s one that had me a little bemused, befuddled, and feeling somewhat awkward – from the same Brigid retreat held by Hearthstone Grove.

As a solo practitioner of my Path, its very rare that I attend group rituals. Typically when I do, the format has rarely called for an individual moment within the ritual. However, during the rituals held during the Brigid Retreat I attended earlier this year, I found myself confronted by just that, and more than once. And before I continue, let me note that I am not placing blame or anything like it on anyone other than myself — and even than its not really blame, just a “critical” observation.

Imbolc Retreat 2015 - photo by Amanda Godwin
Imbolc Retreat 2015 – photo by Amanda Godwin
The first time, a chalice cup was passed around, from which all were offered the chance to drink. I had watched the preparation of the cup, and knew that there was alcohol in the chalice. Being a diabetic, I knew I had to pass on drinking from it – alcohol is not a friendly thing for a diabetic. However, I was unsure if this was to be some sort of affront to my hosts. When the Chalice reached me, I held it in silence, raised it to the skies, and then handed the chalice to the next individual within the Circle. As I watched the Chalice make the rounds through the Circle, every individual drank from the Chalice, and every single individual offered up some words to Brigid or the God or Goddess of their choice. Damn I felt out of place! Worse still, I felt that I may have committed a faux pas of some sort.

At the second of the three rituals I was a part of, I knew that the Chalice would be passed again. I wondered what I should do. This time, however, there were quite a few more people who had made it into camp since the previous ritual. Even before the Chalice reached me, there were others who had made the same silent gesture I had made before. Relief! I had not committed some social error. But then, there was a curve-ball thrown my way: an offering. Oh damn! What in the Nine Hells was I going to do now??

I actually take offerings very, very serious. When I am doing a working where I encounter Crow, I take the time afterwards to offer fresh water and fresh bird seed outside in the shade of my backyard tree. As I pour fresh, cold water into the bird-bath, and as I spread seed with nine throws from my hand, I silently give thanks to Crow and hope that what I offer helps to nourish the bellies of the flock.

But that’s at home. Here I am in a Circle in ritual with a large group of folks – some of who I know, others that I don’t. No birdseed in my hand, none in my pocket, no water bottle with me. When it comes my turn, I will be offered some incense to toss into the fire, or some alcohol to pour into it. Neither offering feels “right” to me. So, I quietly shake my head when my turn is offered. I watch individual after individual step up to the fire, make a statement, and provide their offering. I stayed silent. Oh shit, certainly I have done the wrong thing here…

IMG_0199After the ritual, I waited for someone to come and pull me aside and tell me what I had done wrong. Essentially I was waiting to be scolded like a child. It never came. No one looked cross-eyed at me. No one treated me any differently than before. I breathed a sigh of relief, and made my way back to my bunk in the cabin, where I had a small baggie of birdseed sequestered within my giant plastic tub that was doing double-duty as a footlocker and a suitcase. I pulled a small handful from it, grabbed one of my last bottles of water and made my way up the hill towards a tall wind-vane. As the darkness started to come down around me, I scattered the handful of seed, and poured out some water. I took a long pull from the bottle for myself, and silently gave my thanks to my patron God for the finish of the day. The next morning, I would get up before dawn and repeat the process in a little grove of trees on the other side of the community fire.

By the time the third ritual had come around – I knew that my previous actions were perfectly fine and acceptable, so I was at a much greater ease continuing my silent acknowledgement of the moment.

Now, my purpose with this is not to put shame on the folks who put on the Retreat…I know full well, if I had brought my concerns to them, they would have put me at ease. The purpose behind this is to showcase how different ritual can be for a person who is a solo practitioner and someone who is used to doing group work. Those first moments in a ritual that one is not familiar with can (and typically is) filled with moments of trepidation and inner terror. What if I do something wrong? What if I say the wrong thing? Will I be looked upon with derision because I don’t know the “basics”? Will I be an embarrassment to my hosts?

While some of may not remember those moments – we have all been there before. And we have all survived those moments. I can say that I am a survivor…many times over…

Nous Sommes du Soleil – Some Thoughts on Ritual

Many people know my aversion to most things “ritual” in form. And many of those folks are even more puzzled when they discover that I have my own rituals – my morning greeting of the sun (it doesn’t always happen, but I do make a concerted effort), my evening send-off of the sun, and my greeting to the moon.  Yes Virginia, Tommy does have regular rituals in his life…

My Morning Ritual (the abbreviated version)

Perhaps the one ritual I talk about the most is my morning ritual of greeting the sun. Back IMG_2867when I was teaching as an adjunct professor, I had plenty of time to make this into a daily ritual.  I would stand outside by my little stone circle, and watch the eastern horizon as the sun slowly crawled up over the horizon. There’s nothing overly special about it. I would stand next to the stone circle, a fresh cup of coffee in my hand, and greet the morning sun with the Druid’s Prayer for Peace.

Grant, O Great Spirit/Goddess/God/Holy Ones, 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 Great Spirit/Goddess/God/Holy Ones/the Earth our mother, and all goodness.

(Druid Prayer & Devotion)

In the minds of a lot of people (including myself at one time), there’s the terror of having to memorize all of this word for word. The reality is that I have rarely said this the same way twice. I have aspects of this memorized, but the wording as I speak it is rarely the same. To be frankly honest, my memory is not that good. And to be even more blunt, I actually like that I can’t remember stuff like this word for word.

When Ritual Gets Boring (for me)

I remember back in the 7th grade, we did a play about the American Revolutionary War. I went to private schools as a child (a whole different blog post that may never get written) because my parents thought I got a “better” education there. Our class was very small, about fourteen kids in all, and each of us had a compulsory role in the little play. Mine was to be the rebellious son of one of the village leaders, and I was opposed to the little colony village seeking independence from the crown. The term in the play that was used to describe me was that I was a Tory. We practice the play in Government/History class every day. In three weeks, I had my lines memorized (and I had the lion’s share of lines) to the point that I could recite my part while looking out the window. And I honestly was so bored, I spent a lot of time looking out the window. One afternoon, during the recitation, I decided to start playing with the lines a little bit….tweaking them if you will. I had grown up in Europe, and was exposed to the English lifestyle quite a bit. So, I adopted the mannerisms of some of the young adults I had watched from a distance during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many of the people I was attempting to emulate were involved in the 1981 Brixton Riot.  For the most part, I was ignored, because I was just a “Yank’s kid.” But I remember the pent-up anger and frustration of people living in the area during those times. So I utilized that, along with a terrible Eliza Doolittle cockney accent to help make the character a little more “interesting.” This did nothing to make me “popular” with my peers, since they resented me changing things up from what was written on the paper.

Thinking forward now, I can see where my problem with ritual is – when it becomes rote, habitual, almost mechanical in nature – it loses its touch with me. Ritual should – in my opinion – flow, live, breathe, evolve. There’s a framework that ritual should be held to, but it should be basic and unobtrusive – ready for new things to be added, and aspects that are not entirely relevant to the moment to be removed and packed away for another day. That day might be next year, it might be twenty years down the road — but its always available to be re-added.

Perhaps, this is the reason that I am constantly refashioning the podcast that I do. I am always afraid that the podcast will not have relevant information or formatting for the listeners, and I am equally afraid that it will become a stiff, unbending format that makes doing the show into a chore of sorts. That’s honestly when I know its time to close down the podcast for good and “pod-fade” into the woodwork – when it becomes a chore.

This probably explains my fascination with musical artists like the Grateful Dead, Ratdog, Phish, Widespread Panic and others. None of them play the same performance twice. Every show is a unique entity, where they utilize songs as frameworks to try new things against. As an aside, about ten years back, I went to a Styx show here in Dallas. This was the first tour dates with Dennis DeYoung no longer in the band. When the band played “Too Much Time on My Hands”, I found that I knew all the interspersing dialogue in-between the lyrics — because they were exactly the same as it was on their live album – right down to Tommy Shaw‘s maniacal giggle in the middle of the song. It was a clearly disappointing moment for me. I was expecting the song to somewhat resemble that which was already on their studio recording. What I wasn’t expecting was a note-for-note, word-for-word effigy of a previous live recording. I walked away from that concert with far less respect for a band that had punctuated much of my late teen years growing up.

Spicing It Up

But there is a point of caution to all of this. “Change for the sake of change” is never a good mantra to uphold. Sometimes, changing things up just to be “different” can make something untenable, even somewhat forgettable. I had a report that I had given to my boss at the beginning of my employment in my new job. I had created the report of a need to quench a question I had asked myself. From that, grew a report that I turned over to him. He then asked for other data points to be added to it. As I dug in the system to get this information, I found other information that I added to the report to spice up the information a bit more. The result was a report that I was proud of, but had so much data contained within it that it become an overwhelming tsunami of data, rather than a useful analysis tool. I made changes simply for the sake of making changes – which resulted in something that became unusable. Be sure that you need to make the change to whatever ritual you are looking to alter and not because you want something “different”.

I’m a fan of impromptu ritual. I have been known, on many of my trips to various scared site locations here in the United States over the past few years, to stop and spent time in impromptu ritual or devotion. I started carrying tobacco (loose leaf) during these trips – not because I smoke (I hate smoking being around me) but because I want something to offer back to the Spirits of the Land and the Ancestors that are there but somewhat forgotten. And when I don’t have tobacco with me, I usually carry a sandwich baggie full of birdseed for the same reason. I toss seeds in the four cardinal directions, and pour a small bit of water in each direction as well. Then I sit or stand – reciting the Druid’s Prayer for Peace — either out loud or silently in my mind. Whichever seems more appropriate. And as I noted, the words are hardly ever the same. Nor is the manner in which I make my offerings to the four directions. Nor is the manner in which I try to connect to the Spirits or Ancestors. Mostly because I cannot remember the exact words or gestures, but also because each of them are different. Just as each moment is unique and different. Viva la’ difference! N’est-ce pas?

Why I Choose to Be a Solitary Pagan – A Look at Ritual

SunriseMornings always bring a new perspective on the Path for me. When the sun rises up over the horizon and starts that slow climb into the day-time sky, I can typically be found with a cup of coffee in my hand – watching. Its a morning ritual that has served me well. During the time of sunrise, I clear my head of the cobwebs from my sleep during the night. I can put my mind into gear and start to prioritize my day in my head. But there is a lot more to my morning start….

I spend a few minutes doing my first centering and grounding exercise of the day. Next to my large backyard tree, I can visualize myself growing roots through my legs and feet, reaching deep down into the ground. I can feel the strong comfort of the earth embracing me, holding me upright. At this point, I usually set my coffee cup down, and reach my hands towards the sky. I can feel my arms and hands embracing the warmth of the sun’s rays, and the air gently moving around me. After a few moments of embracing the world around me, I move internally and find my center – my grove of the heart.

This is my internal sanctuary. The place where I find solitude and comfort. This is typically where I meet my Dream Crows. Even five minutes in this place will remind me of how I need to approach the world around. My worries, stress, and anger are not necessary. I remember that each moment, each breath, each action is a celebration of Life. I entwine myself in that thought, took another deep breath, and come back to this moment. And I begin my day.

Rituals do not need to be complicated motions and incantations – rote statements and actions. That works for other people, and I applaud them for finding something that works for them. My approach is much more simple. This is the style of ritual that holds deep meaning for me, it is a deep reservoir that I can access at any time and place. Most importantly, it works for me.

No, it has not escaped my notice that my perspective of ritual comes from a singular perspective. My ritual style will not translate well to any aspect of group dynamics. But this, I have come to understand is why I am a Solitary Pagan on a Path of Druidry. My rituals are in my Grove of the Heart. I cannot translate accurately what that Grove looks like. I cannot translate correctly the emotions that are tied to every experience.

I do the best that I can with the writing I do in my journals, but those words splayed on the pages hold more meaning for me than for anyone that may forage through them. Each statement made there is charged with attached meaning and understanding for me. I wrote those words, and the memories and emotions attached to it are my own. Thus, I am able to translate what I have written there in a manner far more meaningful than anyone else. Much like we all attach feelings, emotions and memories to the songs we hear on the radio, the words I place on a page will have a different meaning to me than to someone else.

In contemplating the idea that I am a Solitaire by choice, I realized that the word itself implies loneliness. The lone individual traveling through a Spiritual Life, alone. No friends, no one to discuss those experiences with, no one to celebrate the turning of the Wheel with. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a Solitary Pagan by choice, but I do spend a lot of time talking with other Pagans. Occasionally, I will attend events and group celebrations to touch base with those same friends and to encounter new friends. A Solitary Path is not a lonely one. Yet there is the implication that it is. In my manner of thinking, this is from a deeply ingrained perspective that is brought about by our modern society. For instance, lonely people are thought to be deeply depressed, deeply resentful of others around them, and that eventually they will snap in a violent manner and strike out at that connected, communal world around them. I am quite sure that there is some aspect of psychology that can be set forth to “prove” my point to be “wrong”. That’s all right though – I still stand by this point. No, I am not lonely. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I am a Solitary Pagan by choice.

This is only the first in a series of posts that I will be making on all of this. I am exploring the perspective of why I have chosen to be a Solitaire. I am not questioning whether I should remain a Solitary Pagan. I am trying to explore a bit more of who I am, and why I am. My first look here has been at this from a perspective of ritual. There will be more to come…

Tommy /|\