Thinking About: Samhain, My Perspective

Well, the time of trick or treating is upon us. This year, the day falls on a weekend (A Sunday), so my local area communities have been shifting the time frame to tonight (Saturday). Plus, its not being called “Halloween” but carries colorful names such as ‘Trunk or Treat” or “Autumn Fest” or “Fall Fest”. Yeah, the right-wing Christian community has that typical knee-jerk reaction to this time of year. The Chick tracts start reappearing. The darker time of the Wheel is starting to approach. Which leads me to a small side thought…do we have to view the Year in terms of a Wheel? I’ll come back to that in another post soon.

Samhain is that time of the year where I take a deep dive into where I am at this point in my journey. I take stock in where everything has gone over the last year, look at what needs to be addressed for the coming year, and make my plans accordingly. For me, this time of year is about putting things back on course – navigational corrections, if you will allow me the descriptive.

The last year didn’t go well for me. COVID-19 played a huge role in driving me to avoding people as a whole. A huge life change turned out to be something completely different from what I envisioned. Another year being unemployed and working one-off gigs has placed a lot of the mundane life on shaky ground. Much of what I had hoped to accomplish was placed into the background for the time being. Thus, this time seems to be a good place to bring everything back into focus, re-group, and determine what needs to be handled and how.

Probably the best way I can describe what this time of the year is for me is to compare it to a Project Management overview meeting. I have done my share of these kinds of meetings in my professional life, particularly in the Air Force. Essentially, a Project Manager, who is responsible for a project’s forward progress towards completion, will have scheduled “update” sessions with team and shift leaders at certain points. The point is to have discussions about where each part of the project is at, what obstacles have been encountered, and what resources/assistance is needed to accomplish tasks. Not every project stays on track, and occasionally its necessary to nudge it back into the correct path. I have found this process to be very helpful, even in my daily existence. After all, none of us are perfect, and things don’t always go as planned.

Samhain is also about more than sitting down and re-planning the course of my daily existence. There is a point of comparison that I can make as well. How much have I changed over the year? Not physically, but mentally and spiritually. What I look at is where my mindset is at. Last year, I decided to make a more concentrated effort to place local, state, national, and world politics as far back as I possibly could. Politics has an effect on all of us, whether we want to believe it or not. Its important to keep up with what is going on, so we can be informed citizens. However, it doesn’t need to be something that swarms our every waking moment, unless we want it to do so. Me? Not so much. I hold a dim view of political parties, especially when their actions seem to be geared more towards their needs rather than those of the citizenry. So, I made the decision to step away from politics, and concentrate my daily time and effort on to other things that held a higher importance to my daily life. For the most part, I feel I have done far better than I have in the past. I spent far less time railing about the inefficiencies and delusion of people hood-winked by President Trump. I spent far more time reading, learning, and getting outside. I found my mental health felt far better than before. That’s one – somewhat extreme – example of what I have done in this process.

So, delving deeper into what this time of year means to me – rather than the process of it. Samhain is a point of acknowledging transformation that has occurred, and planning for future changes. The weather is getting colder, so staying indoors is becoming more and more commonplace. The time of the year is getting darker and darker as well, as the days shorten. The ability to turn inwards is much easier. The seeds of transformation will grow in these deeper, darker times. The need to turn inward is becoming more and more insistent. Thus, this process is logical for me. For others, some of this might not seem to be so.

I have always acknowledged that I don’t approach my Paganism or Druidry or Spirituality as others do. My mindset is my own. I don’t always travel the commonly traveled paths. I don’t see the points of the Year in the same manner as many others. So, some of what I write here will be at odds with what others feel or point out. Honestly, for me, I am more than “ok” with that. I have a different view than others. I also don’t make claims to have the “right” or “correct” view on Paganism, Druidry, or personal Spirituality. No one has to do a single part of those in the same manner as me. I don’t create holy writs or claim to be an authority on Druidry, Paganism, or Spirituality…except where it pertains to me. I know there are those that rail against people doing their Spirituality, Paganism or Druidry on their own. I’m not one of those people. I think that you can do your own thing in your own way, so long as you don’t claim to have the “absolute truth” that everyone else MUST follow. So, I just ask that you remember that what I write here is my own approach, not some “gospel truth” for the masses.

Samhain is also a good timeframe for gathering with others. Just because I do much of my personal Spirituality alone doesn’t mean I don’t like the company of others or eschew group ritual or workings. I’m a human being. I am a social creature. Plus, I enjoy the company of other people. I’m not some moody, Gollum-like creature that sits in the shadows grumbling to itself about its hatred of others. While I have my own reservations about the hardcore revelry of Samhain and Beltane (a blog post for another time in the near future), I do acknowledge that this is a good time to build up the reserves of social interaction that I need to get through my solo times. Honestly, this is one of the reasons I enjoy giving out candy to the trick or treaters. Not only do I get to see the excitement in the faces of the costumed kids, I also get a few moments to acknowledge the trailing parents who are escorting the little ghouls and goblins on their candy retrieval quest. Samhain is a great time for brief social interaction. Or if you are attending some kind of adult costume party…a much longer time frame of social interaction.

There are a lot of things that Samhain can be. For me, it’s a period of time that lets me take a few moments to nudge my desired approach to Life back onto the rails. For others, it’s a time to revel in spooky-themed interaction with others. For others, there are a larger collection of reasons and needs during this time of the year – some of which I cannot even imagine or come to think of. We’re all individuals. We all have different needs and desires. My idea of a spooky time is to put Mercyful Fate, Exodus, King Diamond, and Slayer on the headphones, turn off the lights, and light a single candle. Listening to the music, I look at the candle’s flame and let the music move me to thoughts that come to life in the candle’s background. For others, they may turn off the lights, light a few candles in the room, and watch a marathon of the Halloween movies back-to-back. The possibilities are completely endless. It all depends on the individuals involved and the desired activity. How you spend your Samhain is solely up to you. There is no wrong way to do so. Make it meaningful in the way you need it to be. Whatever and however that looks.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Anugrah Lohiya on

Thinking About: Working Through the Turn of the Wheel

Usually, I write these blog posts with some standard idea of a topic that I want to cover. I may not have an idea of what precisely I am going to say, but I normally have a topic in mind. This past week and a half has been a complete jumble of personal emotions. Every blog post has been a struggle and a fight for my mind. Today, Thursday as I write this, my mind is tapped dry. So, I guess it might be time to talk a little about what happens with me during Samhain. Because a lot of what I am going through has a lot to do with the energies that I get during this time of the year, and at Beltane as well. But let’s keep the focus at this time of the year. I warn you now – I am about to dive into some of the darkest parts of my personality. Please don’t take this post as me looking for a way to end everything. I am nowhere near that point. In fact, I have a very bright and vibrant life ahead of me and a partner who will be there to steady me whenever my footsteps become stumbles from the exposed roots of the trees of the forest. Without her, I would truly be completely lost.

For many, Samhain is a turning of the Wheel – a point where one year ends and a new one begins. Back in September, I wrote in “Samhain Approaches….That Time of Year“:

However, aside from working with my Ancestors (arguably, the weakest link within my Druidry), I also take a walk down much darker Paths. On these Paths, I work with some of the emotions that I tend to push back – sorrow, anger, rage, jealousy and even hate.

This year, apparently this type of work is at the forefront for me. In the past few weeks (arguably a month and a half), I have been fighting my own war against these emotions on a nearly daily basis. As I move forward and am trying to shed significant portions of my past, these particular emotions are tied to several very distant memories. These memories have surfaced for a variety of reasons. I have found myself experiencing these emotions in a very real and distinct manner in relation to people who do not merit or deserve these emotive moments. As I experience all of this and paint it on to others unfairly, I find myself in that very memorable spiral. The lashing out, the regrets at doing so, feeling my own anger and sorrow at what I have done, lashing out at others…etc, etc. I wind up with Noctura’s “Die Another Day” lurking in my mind.

Believe me
Never meant to make you feel this way
Forgive me
Before i die another day
I can’t erase
The things i said that made you go away
Give me just one chance and hear me say
I’m sorry
-Noctura, “Die Another Day”

There is a reason I have a tendency to celebrate Samhain (and Beltane as well) alone. Because I know how I can lash out at others with my emotions that get generated from this time. if you look at the Wheel of the Year, you will notice that Beltane is at the exact opposite position. Both are times where the veil is the thinnest. And that thin veil does more than allow the Spirits to cross over. It also allows pieces of your Past that haunt you to cross over more easily as well. I am a quintessential Libra. I seek balance and calm in everything I try to do. But as an air sign, I can also be unbalanced by extreme emotional moments too. And an unbalanced Libra is difficult to deal with. I am not a vengeful person. I’m not an individual that seeks out conflict or wishes to harm others. But my darker parts of my personality can certainly lead me down the Paths to such thoughts.

Usually, this time of the year finds me reaching into those places where I have pushed back my jealousy, my sorrow, my anger, rage and hate. Normally, I don’t even realize that I am doing so, but can catch myself doing it. Its a sign that I need to draw up inside myself and deal with things. This year; however, has been a little more difficult to deal with in a manner I am used to. Starting right around my birthday (October 1st), my entire world has been shifted from its base. Done deliberately. By me. And I am now dealing with emotions that I had long buried underneath that base. In essence, the forest closed up around me and blocked out the light. There’s a path underneath all of this…I just cannot see it. I feel it from time to time when my feet cross over it. But I am still pushing through the darkness to find my way. I am still reliant on a helpful nudge in one direction or another….not knowing what or who pushed me in that direction. For all I know, I’m travelling in a wide circle at the amusement of Crow and Coyote. And in that darkness, I am encountering everything that I pushed back. And lashing out blindly as a result. This is what Samhain and Beltane feel like for me.

I wrote in one of my journal entries that I would be celebrating the full moon of Samhain alone again this year. Perhaps, next year will be different. In fact, I know it will. I’ll have others there that will help me walk a bit more solidly during this time. I don’t know what shape that will take. Each step of the journey will get me closer to that time. But this year will not be that time.

In “Samhain Approaches….That Time of Year“, I noted that I do the best that I can to work with my Ancestors at this time of the year. As an actual outcast from my family, its a bit difficult to work with disapproving Spirits of Ancestors. However, during the full moon, I will do my best to honor Them, as they are my Ancestors. They don’t have to approve of me nor I of Them for me to give honor to the footsteps They left on this earth during Their time. A good friend of mine passed away earlier this month. I only found out today. Though he and I disagreed with one another for the last decade-plus, I still consider him family. I still care about him. He will be given honor in my ritual on the full moon. There are also so many others within my Path of Paganism that I will find time to honor as well. They all had a hand in my growing to be the Pagan that I am today.

For me, I will continue to struggle with the strong emotions that I encounter during this time. Next year…things will be different. But for this year, I continue my struggle in a time of constant flux, change and no base/foundation to completely work from. But I’ll manage. Because the alternative is to succumb and let the waves crash over my head and allow the current to drag me to the bottom. And I just cannot let that happen. I could easily let these completely overwhelm me to the point that I am unresponsive to the world around me. But I have something that reminds me there’s a reason to fight back – the future, the here and the now. And I am learning to ask for help. Because asking for help is the bravest thing you can do.

–T /|\

Samhain Approaches….That Time of Year

Morning, well at least that is what it is here, as I type this blog post out. Somewhere along the line here in Tejas, the weather has decided to take a turn for Fall. Though the leaves have not seemed to have gotten the note just yet. Still green in color and still clinging tightly to the branches. Still the weather is nice and conducive to some longer walks through the neighborhood, if the rains from the tropical depression down south would just hold off for a while.

The onset of Fall is still a reminder that Samhain is right around the corner. This is not a time of year that I get terribly excited about. Trick or treating is a wonderful tradition for younger kids and in the past I have enjoyed giving candy out to the kids. However, in the time of COVID, I am a touch more concerned about doing so. Even the idea of leaving little “gift packs” of candy at the front door has me a bit worried about the spread of COVID to kids – and to some degree, me. So I am beginning to think that this tradition is probably off-the-table, at least for this year. As would attending most Samhain functions. With the pre-existing conditions that I have, I always have to make super cautious decisions based on being out in public.

All of this leads into a recent question I got in Facebook Messenger.

What do you do for Samhain?

As one whose Spiritual Path is done mostly solo, the snide answer is “not much.” But this is mostly a self-defense type of answer designed to stop the questioning. I am not sure I want to completely come off as Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson is Dennis the Menace’s curmudgeonly neighbor, if you are trying to grasp the reference. Some of you younger folks might still not get it…google it, if you need to. ::smile:: Anyways, tossing a snide retort is not really answering the question, so let’s unpack a bit more. After all, I get tired of all these Spiritual travel bags….

For me, Samhain occupies two particular points on the Wheel of the Year. I know, I know – there’s more to Samhain than just two points, but this is where it falls in my own Spiritual Path. My approach would probably be considered a statistical outlier, if we were mapping this on a graph of relevancy. However, this is where I am. Samhain is the point where the Wheel of the Year ends and begins. The Old Year falls away and the New Year begins anew. The second point is that this is the time frame on the Wheel of the Year where the veil between this world and those beyond is at its thinnest. For me, this means a time where I can work with the darker, deeper aspects of my Spiritual Path without a heavy effort.

Endings, Beginnings

The simpler of these two points is the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one. Think along the lines of December 31st/January 1st on the Gregorian calendar. At that point in time this year, we will say goodbye to a horrible 2020 year and hello to a hopefully better 2021 year. For me, the end of the old year and the beginning of a new cycle on the revolution of the Wheel is much the same. Except that I don’t toast the end of one and the beginning of the other with alcoholic drinks and a massive party. For me, its a much quieter moment. On the first night of the full moon, I stay up through midnight and spend my time in study and meditation. For me, this is the way that I wish to end my old year. Around midnight, I change over to doing journal work. I write about the previous year that has just ended. I try to recall everything of major significance that I can and record my thoughts at that time. I also pull out my previous year’s list of goals and desires so that I can see where I managed to stay on expectations and where I came up a little short (or a lot depending on what happened). My desire is to step into my new year with my mind recalling the old year in detail. Once finished, I go to sleep. When I wake, I spend my day plotting out goals. Short-term goals, long-term goals – I try to get a focus on where I hope to be by the end of the next turning of the Wheel.

And that’s it. See? I told you that I am likely the outlier where all this is considered. Wha? Oh. Yeah. There is a bit more. I’d kind of hoped you might have forgotten. However I did type it back up there, didn’t I?

Diving Deeper and Darker

Starting around the mid-point of October and carrying over into the mid-point of November, I start doing some deeper – and sometimes darker – Spiritual work. I do my best to work with the Spirits of my Ancestors. This is not easy work for me. In my family, I am considered to be the ultimate outsider. Most, if not all of my family (Ancestors included) do not share in my beliefs. Working with Ancestors who glaringly disapprove of your Spiritual Path is not the easiest Path to walk. I try my best. I honor those who have crossed the Veil before me in the best manner that I can. However, aside from working with my Ancestors (arguably, the weakest link within my Druidry), I also take a walk down much darker Paths. On these Paths, I work with some of the emotions that I tend to push back – sorrow, anger, rage, jealousy and even hate.

These strong – and arguably – negative emotions are my truest Achilles heal. Back when I was a much younger man, I was ruled completely by my emotions. Those who knew me when I was younger know quite well how easy it was for me to reach for and grab a handful of the mane of Anger. Having learned that burning the lands you stand on will leave you in a very barren place where it takes even more time to nurture and regrow friendships, I have learned to push the strongest of emotions deep down inside of me. This does not mean that I do not get angry. I do. I just try and do my best to contain that anger the best that I can. An individual cannot contain all of that within themselves. I tend to refer to this as working the darker Path of myself because I am grasping very tightly a set of emotions that I tend to suppress within myself. In a sense of description, I am embracing my darker Self – the one that is wrought completely with the emotions that I desire not to work with immediately.

One thing that I have learned over the many years I have been a Pagan, is that the Earth is more than capable of taking these negative energies that I have and turning them to Her own need. From mid-October to mid-November, I spend a lot of time working on my earth-grounding exercises. Except that these are not exercises, its a necessary moment in time for me. And I choose this time of the year for a specific reason. By removing these energies from myself, allowing myself to completely feel all of these emotions before I bury them into the ground, I am completely a rite of dying and re-birth for myself. I lose the energies that have been building up inside me, I work through the issues that created all of this and I arise at the other side of the turning of the Wheel with a new personal perspective.

Yes, I am wearing the mask upside down. This was meant to be a sight gag…but no one seemed to notice in the first hour…. 😦

Yeah, I see the doubt on your face. But I will be honest with you, I’m ok with anyone that doubts this entire process. Everyone approaches the world around them in a different manner. We all find our own ways of making it through the everyday shit that Life tends to bring in front of us. All I am doing here is sharing what it is that I do. There is no mandate that YOU HAVE TO do this as well. Even if you were my student, I wouldn’t lay this down as something you need to do. You’re an individual, just as I am. We might walk the exact same Path, but we still walk as individuals. Condemning you for not doing as I do means that I have no respect for what you believe or practice (or not). I share, not in the hopes that others will do exactly as I do, but that others will find ways, rituals, Paths and what-not that work for them. I only present what I do as a potential starting point for others. If all of this sparks a desire or an intent in you to find a Spiritual Path for yourself (if you don’t have one), or a new method of how to approach your Spiritual path (if you do have one), that’s all I have ever intended.

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

The Grateful Dead, “Ripple”

Various Thoughts and Recollection – A Little Sorting After Samhain

I have mentioned it a few times before – this time of year tends to get me focused inwardly. I spend time looking at what happened over the course of the year, and what didn’t. And trying to figure out how things might happen going forward. I tend to refer to this point where the Wheel turns from one year to the next as my “quiet time”. And for the largest part….that is what it tends to be.


I have never really been one for spellwork or magick work. My two trickster Gods don’t really demand too much along those lines from me. They do; however, push me towards the idea of living my life intentionally. Honestly, it is not the easiest thing in the world either, at least for me. Life would be far easier if I just went to work and came home and relaxed afterward. That way, my intention would be pointed towards whatever task may come my way at work and I could veg at home in the latter part of the evening. But intention throughout the day is not built like that. Instead, I find myself facing the night before bedtime thinking about what I could day the next day that would make a difference. Sometimes, it is just a change in attitude. Be kind to others throughout the day. Be friendly to everyone. Sometimes it is specific things.

Magick is not some arcane set of words for me. Magick comes through living life. Every morning, I drive a small country road to get to the college. On either side of the road are dairy farms. Cows graze everywhere. Like an idiot, I wave at the small calves near the edge of the fence and watch as they run along with my truck – eager to play. On that same stretch of road, I have seen Fox, Coyote, Hawk, Crow, Grackle, Tree (intentionally singular), and the occasional car-chasing Dog. The magick and beauty of life, as well as the cycle of Life, unfold before me every day.

I totally grok the concept that every day needs a revolution – brewed in spellwork – to counter the politicians up on Capitol Hill, here in the United States. Bindings, cursings, spellwork – these are the chosen tools of so many. And I doff my cap to those people for the efforts that they put forth. Their chosen cause is a just one. To bring a sense of order and calm to a place that touches nearly every American life in one capacity or another – and reaches even beyond that. Politically, my perspective is very different from these folks. I have been cussed at for not joining in for the “cause” – for not putting my magick into the “cauldron”, so to speak. And while it feels like I am devalued in the eyes of these folks when I step back from that arena, I remind myself that my Gods have other directions for me to tread. And honestly, if my friendship with someone hinges on how I think and act politically – we have likely not had any kind of friendship whatsoever. My friends are my family. Political sides have nothing to do with any of that.

And with all that in mind, another cycle of the Wheel has ended, and a new one begins. This ending cycle ends with a marked upturn in chaotic feelings. Many, many folks are feeling like they have targets on their backs. Naked. Exposed. Under-protected. And rightly so. Like I said last year, the #Storm is here. And in the downpour that has arrived, people need one another – for shelter, for protection, to know that they are not alone. Pagan-folk will need a Pagan community that will reach out and be inclusive and protecting. And yet, I see where some continually lash out at others – over petty issues, or a need to be nasty to certain other folks. And while I wish that I could wave my staff and make stuff like that go away, much of it is about the dynamics of people wanting power over others. I cannot change the mindset of others, but I can note that none of that is hospitable behavior. I can also note who these nasty individuals are, along with their constant flailing against others that they perceive to be a threat to their small-minded concepts of power over others, and avoid them. And help others to avoid them as well. I cannot change the world, nor can I make people think the way I wish they would. Nor would I want to.

Over the last year, I have done a better job of writing here at this blog. That was one of my intentional thoughts from the previous year. This coming cycle, I will be blogging on the Moon Books platform, which I am thrilled about. I will try and keep the focus there on topics brought about from various Moon Books titles that I have. This blog will continue to exist. What I have done a lousy job with is the podcast. Some of that cannot be helped – such as changing schedule and job at the college – and some of it, I need to be more focused on doing better. There are plans to evolve things into a shorter, more direct and focused podcast. One of those areas will be far less social commentary from me on the podcast, more focus on poetry, short stories, interviews, and of course, music from independent Pagan artists. I am not rebooting to a new format. Rather, I am tightening up the format a bit more – and removing some of the focus from myself.

As for me – I am still just a simple Pagan with two Gods and a Goddess in my life. I continue my work in the Ovate grade of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. Every day brings me a chance to be more focused and intentional in who I am and what I want to become. Occasionally, I get a nudge from Crow or Coyote to do this or try that or be there. Flidais continues Her flirtations with me; though, these have evolved into conversations in dreams and meditations. I continue to wonder where our interactions will lead me to. Perhaps the coming cycle will provide those answers.

I hope that the coming cycle of the Year will bring you hope, tranquility, and some rest from the #Storm.    –T /|\

Looking Back Down the Path: Thoughts on the Turn of the Wheel

…and so we have made it to another turn in the Wheel of the Year. Though, I would argue that each day represents another full rotation of the Wheel in comparison to the year before. Samhain, though, is a bit different. For many Pagans, this is the equivalent of the New Year. So, let’s take some of the stuff we ascribe to the New Year celebrations the general world populace ascribes to December 31st, and place those here. In other words, I’m about to take a look at the past year from my own eyes. I realize that I have already taken a look backwards but this is in conjunction with that post. In this one, I am examining things from a slightly different angle.


One thematic that has been extra prevalent over the part year for me has been travel. The end of December held a trip to Scotland, England, and France for a whirlwind eleven days. The result was a fantastic trip that has me completely in love with Edinburgh (including fantasies of spending my latter years in life there), and a wonderful trip to Treadwell’s Books in London. If we only had book shoppes with this much flair, charisma, and loveliness. I will be back!  And this time I will bring an empty suitcase for all the books I want to adopt. 😉 The early part of this calendar year found me on a plane bound for San Jose, California where I attended my first Pantheacon. A few weeks later, I was in San Antonio, Texas for a work-related conference. Shortly after that, I made a trip to Louisiana for the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering, and a few weeks after that came another work conference in Round Rock, Texas. Another short trip to Abilene was at the start of the Summer. And the end of the Summer saw a trip to Yellowstone National Park come about.

14224720_10205751176018782_59571031270202389_nThe coming year looks to add more travel, as I have already set aside plans for trips to Pantheacon, Many Gods West, ADF Imbolc, OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering, a potential trip to OBOD East Coast Gathering, another potential trip to CalderaFest, a work conference in Houston, and a shorter single-day conference in Round Rock (its a yearly thing). Plus, there’s always the chance for multiple side trips now that I am pulling a camper behind my truck. In other words, the chances for me to de-stress in the woods, mountains, and prairies has an even greater chance of happening now.

The Storm

Since Samhain Eve last year, my dreams are filled with images of storms, and tumultuous events. It took a short while to figure out what all of that truly meant, including many a night out by the backyard stone circle. The world is on the edge of changes. Some of these are for the better, some may not be. But change is certainly coming on the wings of the storm. I am still not completely sure what those changes may look like, or how those changes may be felt throughout the wider Pagan community, but when I continually hear statements in my dreams about how – my staff is for more than supporting me while I walk” – I know that there’s more to it than just a thought about getting into better physical shape. Up here near the Texas/Oklahoma border, I am essentially a Pagan on my own. However, were I to find Pagans from south of me on my doorstep looking for a place to hide, I would certainly be prepared to offer them shelter within my home. I would also certainly find myself out in my front yard – staff in hand – offering defense of my house guests from all comers. There is no grey line in all of this, there certainly is a storm coming – and for all intents and purposes, this Presidential election cycle may certainly be its harbinger.

The Four Year Cycle

And certainly, here in the United States, there is no mistaking what the election cycle has done. I cannot count the number of political posts that I have hidden on Facebook. Nor can I count the number of times I have embroiled myself into some nuanced aspect of politics there as well. And there has been more than one time where a friend has taken offense at something I have posted concerning their candidate. In this Presidential election cycle there has been very little grey area. Most people made up their minds over a week ago as to who they were voting for President. Many of those people have already cast their votes. This election cycle, I have abstained from the President/Vice President voting. Instead, I focused on state, county and local elections. There is nothing in the election laws that says that you have to vote for all the races on your ballot. There is also nothing in the election laws that says that you have to explain your reasoning for how you voted, or to detail if you had voted at all. However, one thing is very clear: as a society, we Americans have decided to utilize this election as a litmus test to determine the character of our neighbors. If you have a Trump sign in your yard, you are provided the worst qualities of your candidate. If you have a “I’m With Her” sticker on your car, you are ascribed the descriptives of being an empowered elitist. From my perspective, its sad to see so many people hang the worst qualities of a candidate around the necks of those who vote for them (the candidates). I’d rather look at the citizenry of this country as a group of people, all with a different perspective on why or why not a particular candidate would be a good choice.

Moving Forward

About mid-way through the year, I changed my focus, rededicated myself to my Path, and started working through my Gwers again. I am not sure where I got the idea from, but I realized if I was wanting to make progress, I had to spend the time to get things done. In other words, I needed to really want to get through the lessons, I had to really want to be down this Path, I had to want to be a Druid. I spent four days thinking that over. I turned over the positives in my mind, then the negatives, and then weighed them against one another. Once I made up my mind to want to be on this Path, I set forward a plan of how to tackle things – particularly my lessons. I drew up a loose plan of how to deal with the lessons, set aside a time frame for each day, and then started following that plan. Like I said, its a loose plan. That way when life intervenes, there’s places where lessons can be pushed back so I can deal with those issues – without completely destroying the schedule. Plus, I decided earlier on that the schedule should not encompass ALL of the lessons. It handles a schedule of ten at a time. Once I complete those ten lessons, a new schedule of lessons gets created, and I move forward. Some ten lesson packs have taken significantly longer than others – simply because life did intervene. And getting into these lessons with more depth and time has changed me. I am learning patience. I am learning how to handle knowledge. I am learning more about myself. I am growing. And that’s really the key to it all. Just being who I am, and finding ways to incorporate what I learn to who I am, and my daily life.

Looking back at the past year, I see where things went wildly successful. I also see where things went absolutely bonkers too. And I can see where I struggled with keeping things on the rails between those two points. But there’s one constant between them all: I continue to learn. And in that learning, I continue to to grow. I’m not going to be a Druid overnight. It just doesn’t work that way. Plus, I’m not really an Instant-Pudding Pagan. I see many different trails to potentially wander off onto. But I am staying the Path. I am continuing to move forward. I make notes where these switchback trails are located, so I can explore them at another time. In the meantime, its time to move forward. Towards the goal. Towards where I should be. Fun trails are for another time.

Walking Through the Opened Door

MePolitics have never meant that much to me. When I was younger, political causes were simply something that the “adults” did…arguing over which person made more sense than the other. For me, it was never about the person, but about the issues. And growing up, there were two issues that were near and dear to my heart:  the environment, and halting the possibility of nuclear war.
My love for the environment came from growing up in Europe. My family would go on 10 kilometer walks nearly every weekend. Volksmarches or “People marches” is a form of fitness walking, where people walk 5km, 10km, 20km, and even 30km over a predetermined route. It was a manner of fitness that I still use to this day. Walking through my neighborhood is a form of meditation for me, and I am firmly convinced that it came directly from this. The setting was typically through a forested area of Germany or through a series of fields near a small town. It was the beauty of these areas that I enjoyed.
Ed-Van-HookMy other issue came from a completely different place – through the music that I listened to. Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, and a whole host of other bands would perform songs against Nuclear War scenarios. Being the son of an active duty United States Air Force member, this typically put me at odds with my father.  Not because he wanted nuclear war, but because these bands were protesting against the military forces that maintained these weapons. I still remember my father coming up to my room one evening. I was nineteen and struggling to get through college. It was fairly obvious that my career path was going to lay outside of college – and ironically, it seemed that the US military would be providing that route towards a career in computing technology. In my typical rebellious youth mannerism, I was dragging my feet on getting enlisted in the Air Force, and apparently my father had suffered enough of my waffling. With a few cans of liquid courage under his belt (beer), and the next one in hand, he came up to my room to talk to me. I had several album sleeves scattered throughout the room, and in his insistence that I go down to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) the next morning, he picked one up and told me that I needed to remove this “fantasy garbage” from my life.
That started a nearly ten year period in my life where I pushed my father and my mother as far from my life as I could get them. That one moment strained my relationship with my parents until a few years ago – when I started to make my peace with them. And I am glad that I did, for just as I had started to piece that relationship back into something more resembling a parent/child relationship – both of them slipped beyond the veil. My mother’s health was the catalyst in that. I watched her slip from normal health into a world of dementia and pain for three solid years. I watched my father reduced to the role of caretaker in her life – her health placed ahead of his own. I did the best I could to help, but was typically rebuffed by my father who handled every necessary aspect until my mother passed on in her sleep one night. After that, I stayed in closer contact with my father – always calling to see if there was anything he needed assistance with. Sometimes, he accepted the offers – more often than not, he gently rebuffed my offers. This year, during the Gulf Coast Gathering, I received a call from my sister telling me that my father had died of a heart attack.
There are times that I think of my father and mother and how they helped to shape certain aspects of my life – and how some of their actions cause me to take other roads – other avenues. And after a time, I will eventually come to this one moment in my life. My father standing over me while I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, notebook open, my pen in hand — and telling me that I needed to discard fantasy from my life. And that next heartbeat, where I froze my entire soul from him – encasing it in an icy protective mold. I couldn’t give up having Fantasy in my life. And besides that, protection of the environment, and stopping the threat of nuclear war were VERY REAL issues for me. I would not allow even my father to shake those core issues from my life. And when I joined the United States Air Force, I would not even let the military shake those core issues from my being.
And Fantasy. Fantasy kept me alive. It kept me with hope in my heart. Without it, I would not know the saga of Frodo and Samwise in their quest to destroy the Ring of Power and bring peace to Middle Earth. I would have never know the courage and heart of Bilbo Baggins. I would never have known the conflicted world of Vanyel, and how hard he struggled with who he was, and what he would become. I would never know the struggles of Talia as she earned her Whites or the secrets that the Companions held. I would never know the struggle of Neo in rejecting the Path of the One, and choosing his own Path. I would never know the concepts and aspects of religious and spiritual beliefs that were tied up into these stories and characters, which opened new ways of seeing the world around me. Understanding connections and connectivity I had never imagined was there – and likely never would have explored. If I had given up on Fantasy, I would have most likely never have explored those avenues and become the person that I am today.
It is Samhain, a time we remember those who have departed from this world, those who have crossed beyond the veil. I still struggle with the passing of my mother, and my father. Every day, is a new step into a world without them. And they have been there with me, since the very first steps that I can remember. In my memories, they are what stands in the background of nearly every moment of my youth. And while I love them very dearly, it was my struggle to find myself – apart from them that makes me who I am. Yes, I am Edsel and Barbara’s son — but more importantly, I am me. And despite my father’s angry statement that Fantasy was something I needed to expunge from my life, its a part of what has brought me to where I am now. Without it, I would have never stepped into the concepts of Zen as I have. Without it, I would never have investigated very deeply into the concepts and ideas of Paganism, and found the stronger connection of Environmentalism that connotes as my core between the physical and spiritual parts of me. And without that, I would never have stumbled onto the Path of Druidry, where my footsteps are so much more firmly grounded.
Fantasy and heavy metal music are a part of what led me along the Path I have been on, but in the end – I’m the one who walked the footsteps. I’m the one who reached out in curiosity to experience. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will open the door — but the student still has to walk through it.

Samhain – Change and Transformation Goes Hand in Hand With Reflection

Walking on Wild Horse Island in MontanaYesterday, I wrote about my feelings about Halloween – particularly the more bloody aspects of it. Today, its a little shift of the gears. Instead of the spookier element of the Halloween celebration, let’s turn to the more spiritual side of things and have a peek at Samhain.

I’m not going to go into a reiteration of what Samhain is about, or its origins or what not. What I am doing here is taking a small exploration of why I don’t spend a lot of time during this point on the Wheel of the Year with other people. And honestly, this is typically the point on the Wheel that I go into a self-hibernation of sorts.

Self hibernation. What an odd way for me to declare my own positioning. But it does fit in a bizarre manner. Every year, it seems that I get invite after invite after invite asking me to come to some group’s Samhain ritual. And every year, I try my best to accept at least one of the invitations, and then don’t go at all. I have had some people tell me that they were sorry for whatever it was that they may have done or said that caused me not to go. And I wind up having to explain in great detail why its not them – and why its me.

A lot of this has roots back into my desire to be a Solo Pagan. No, not a Red Solo Cup Pagan…just an individual doing my own thing. Red Solo cups are for something completely different.  🙂 I have discussed why I am a Solo Pagan to a great deal throughout this blog. Its a primary basis of who I am, what I am, and how I approach the world around me. But as John Beckett once pointed out on his blog (and I am far too lazy to go and find the exact post), even Solo Pagans need some company from time to time. Typically, I do this during the Summer Solstice period – the weather is usually nice, and it tends to be a gathering time for a lot of Pagans. Just factors that make it easier.

“But why just a single point in the year?” That’s something that continually is brought to me in meditations where Crow appears. I am a Solo Pagan, who enjoys being an individual on my Path, and I am called to A God who just happens to be one of the more social birds in the entire world. So there’s plenty of push there.

Which brings me to the current point on the Wheel. Samhain.

For me, Samhain is a time of reflection on what has happened over the past Year. Granted, I see the new Year starting each morning, but that is a very microcosmic view of the World around me. A more macrocosmic view brings further out, further on — and provides a much wider viewing lens. Everything has changed in the period of a year. Its much harder to notice that at the microcosmic level, as my immediate surroundings I see every day. Change happens every day, very slowly – almost imperceptible. But further out, where I am not everyday – those changes happen at the same rate, but my awareness is not there every single day. Thus when I step back into that awareness, I see the changes very clearly. I am holding memory up to present day and seeing very clearly the change that has occurred.

Then there is the thinning veil, the far easier connection to the Ancestors. This, for me, remains a solid aspect of my personal, individual time for this particular point on the Wheel. While I may be coming out of the darker edges of the fire’s circle of light to participate with my fellow Pagans and friends on celebrating the turning of the Wheel, my veneration and communication with my ancestors remains a very personal thing.

This year, I was invited to several Samhain gatherings. I turned down all of these invitations, except one. From a group that I respect because of their very tight-knit relationships with one another, and for their very honest, friendly, open acceptance of people who are outside of their group. Its not much of a first step back into the public light, but one gathering is far better than no gatherings.

I have very strongly held perspectives of both Samhain and Beltane – and why I avoid each. But it is based on the experiences that occurred from another group. And those experiences happened nearly twenty years ago. Its time to set those experiences to the side, and realize that this came about because of a particular time and moment in my life. The group in question, has changed over those years – and I hold no ill will or resentment towards the people still with that group. They have changed, I have changed. Holding to a perspective of broad-brushed painting an entire point on the Wheel based on actions that happened, nearly twenty years into the past – that’s honestly silly. This past year has been about change and transformation for me. Its time that I continue that – one small step at a time.

Samhain is an important point on the Wheel of the Year for me. Its a time to look back, reflect, see what I have accomplished, see what fell short. Its also a point where I look forward, to see what may lie ahead, and bring my projects and lessons forward with a new plan to insure they don’t fall short again. Its also a time to remember those who have walked beyond the veil, and a time to enjoy the company of those who have remained. Forging stronger relationships with them, and moving forward from that point. As a Solo Pagan, I have managed to do all of these, except the last. For that, you need other people…

Being A Solo Pagan Doesn’t Mean That You Are Alone

Being A Solo Pagan Doesn’t Mean That You Are Alone

As I sit here nursing a cold, and listening to a wild Texas Rangers-Detroit Tigers game – I am reminded that there is a rhythm to the year. And currently that is aiming us solidly along to Samhain and the Halloween season. Much like Beltane, this is not one of my favorite times of the year. But its a little different this time around….

Gizmo hiding...sort of
Gizmo hiding…sort of

I’m not a huge fan of the overly commercialized version of the Samhain-Halloween concept. I grow very tired of commercial displays of shoddy, plastic costumes and the tons of candy that is set out where kids can pester their parents constantly for these items to be purchased. Do not get me wrong — I see an endearing quality in kids trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods in costumes that they make themselves (or with help from parents). I see a very strong connection to community with kids trick-or-treating at your door. But in this environment, where kids are preyed upon as victims of sick manners of abuse and harmful intentions – I can also see why things such as this no longer seem “wholesome”. And coupled with the over commercialization of the “holiday” season…well…

That brings me back over to the “scary” movies within the horror genre — something I am not a fan of. At least not in today’s movie environment, where the emphasis is on blood, gore, and abusive acts – rather than plot lines. To be frankly honest, I thought the movie “The Blair Witch Project” was absolute genius, in comparison to many of the blood-dripping movies that precede and follow it within the genre. The individual viewer’s senses and anticipation of what might happen next were key to the movie’s emphasis…but I digress ever so slightly….

Samhain is about a lot more than scary stuff. Its the time when the veil is at its thinnest. A time when communication between here and the Otherworld is easiest. Contact with the Ancestors is far more common. So, with that in mind, my own emphasis for this time of the year is in honoring those who have come before in my family. And if anyone has paid attention, I am not close to my blood relatives whatsoever. However, I do honor those individuals that I am related to. And Samhain seems the most appropriate time for that.

With my mother and father passing away over the past year – my understanding of this time of year…my understanding of honoring my ancestors – is a little stronger than before. While I was never that close with my parents in my adult life, but I do acknowledge that many of the values I have today come directly from growing up with my parents shaping my life. We were a military family, so we moved a lot. Which means that my friend-base changed constantly. It also means that some families we were very close to. And we crossed paths with them many times over the years. The strength of those relationships are part of what fuels the way I see family today.

My family consists of a lot of people who are not related to me directly via blood-lines (or at least not as I may have thought). But there is a very easy, very quick connection that occurs with these people. And one of the things that I hold to with them — what is mine, is theirs. And there are not very many of these people. Generally, they know who they are fairly quickly…and eventually understand how deep the connection is. These people are important to me. A statement I make constantly is that I would walk barefoot over broken glass for them. And I seriously would. That’s what “family” means to me.  And some of those people have passed beyond the veil as well. And every Samhain, I remember who they are, what they still mean to me….and how much my life has a very empty hole that is shaped like them.

Yes, there’s still a very lovable quality to Halloween. The tradition of trick-or-treating has a very strong community factor to it. Even with the danger of certain people doing dangerous things to children — there’s still a need to remember that part of being in a community is participating in little traditions like this. That’s what keeps things safe in a community. Knowing one another – and being committed to one another. Perhaps, its a trait we have gotten away from in our individualized society…and to be honest, I have to remember that even as a Solo Pagan, I am part of the wider Pagan community. Both those physically close to me – and the wider ranging Pagan community online. And keeping our community safe and strong means being a part of it…not standing outside of it. Being solo means practicing my Druidry alone — not being a Pagan alone. Quite interesting that this comes to me as we get closer to Samhain. But not so unusual when you consider the context that was in play at East Coast Gathering….

Loving Fall, Hating Halloween

I have to confess, I love Fall. The beautiful colors of the leaves as each ends its time within the birth-life-death cycle. The russet blanket that will eventually cover my backyard, forcing me to grumble as I set upon the task of raking all of the detritus up, and pack it away for a friend’s compost pile. But those grumbles are just my way of greeting a grueling task – in secret, I admire the beautiful colors, and the fact that I spend a short period of time outside. Then there is the cooler weather, which allows me the capability of getting outside, as Texas ceases to be an outdoor Easy-Bake oven. There is a lot to love about this time of the year.

And there’s actually some aspects that I dislike about the oncoming blitz of Fall….but one stands out above a lot of the others:  Halloween. When I was much, much younger – I enjoyed the childhood ritual of trick-or-treating….for about three years. Somehow, when I turned nine – I just was never really enamored with Halloween any longer. And now, forty years further down the line….it remains the case with me.

The costume side of things is “ok” — I have been known to don a costume or two in the past few years for office parties — and I have spent more than my share of evenings handing out candies to some of the cutest ghosties, goblins, and their equally cute mothers. But I really believe that’s about the end of what Halloween is. Just a time of the year to hand out candy to small children, and smile at their parents. Anything beyond that is truly wasted on me.

Yes, this even goes for the horror and shock movies. Honestly, I do like a good campy horror movie – the Bride of Frankenstein, the Three Stooges Meet the Wolfman, An American Werewolf in London, and The Fog are typically something I can sit and watch. But the newer films seem to be all about spraying blood and body parts everywhere, while Tara Reid or Rose McGowan scream endlessly throughout the film. Just not my cup of tea for an evening.  No thanks, I’ll stick with Blade Runner, one of the first two Alien movies or Prometheus.

Sure, there’s also the schlocky “adult” parties that are bandied about in the office. But that feels more like a need to drink for the sake of drinking – or to find some bed partner for the evening, where you stretch your fogged brain to remember what the other person’s name is and/or what happened last night. Damn, I’m pushing fifty years of age here…I don’t quite have the ability to be a racing machine anymore.  Think more along the lines of an El Camino with a camper wedged into the bed.

It took quite a few years before I began to realize what it was about Halloween that I disliked – the manner in which the dead were portrayed. The dead were made out to be evil, mindless, driven with a desire to do harm. But I see those that have passed beyond the veil in a different light. They have transcended this existence and moved on to another. What happens beyond the veil – I don’t know, nor do I suspect I will until I pass from this existence – but those that have moved on are not evil or mindless or bent on destruction of those that are in this existence.

I do “get” the idea of Halloween – the ‘spirit’ of it all, if you will – its a time geared towards the children – allowing their fertile minds to create and focus thoughts onto the noises made by the ‘unseen’ forces. But I will be honest, I prefer the aspects of Samhain that I have encountered in my walks throughout Paganism. A night to honor the ancestors that have passed beyond the veil. A time when the veil is thinnest, allowing for prolonged communication between the two existences.

Yes, there are those that love a good horror film, and those that enjoy a good haunted house where they are scared/excited over an innocent “threat”. And there are those that enjoy being in the company of others, gathered around a bonfire and toasting the memories of those that have passed away in the last year – and those ancestors that slipped from this mortal coil even further back. For me, I prefer a quiet night in the backyard (if the weather permits), a cool glass of iced tea, and a lawn chair – where I can watch the moon move across the sky against the backdrop of the stars. Where I can marvel at how wide, great, and unknown the world around me is – and how I can find connection to nearly everything there – in one form or another.

Yeah…I’m a party pooper….