Personal Ritual – Doing It For Yourself

Welcome to day (counting on fingers)…..whatever of the #CoronaVirusPanic! Seriously though, just try to remember not to panic folks… Beyond this small paragraph, you won’t read too much from me on the #CoronaVirusPanic of 2020. Why? Because all you need to do is flip on your television or your radio to get caught up. My opinion? Well…it sucks. That about sums up my feelings….

I’m a day late with the blog post, which is an “ok” thing. First, no one is going to die if I don’t write these on time. Second, I don’t have an army of these posts lined up and scheduled for lift-off. I tried doing that…and I wound up writing even worse than I usually do, so I resorted back to sitting down and just writing – which I think provides a better blog post (for the most part). Plus, there are not that many bloggers – Pagan or otherwise – that are using this methodology to write with.

Besides, I get plenty of questions to work off of. Derrick from Ohio (its what he preferred me to refer to him as), wanted to know a bit more about doing ritual for just yourself, particularly in this time where we have started to live a life shut into our homes. All right Derrick, I will give you my run-down, but I do caution anyone – not everyone does what I do. There are many ways to do what you are asking…or if you prefer, there are many roads to Rome. I’m not sure that any of those roads connect across the Atlantic ocean to the United States, but what the Nine Hells….

I have a morning ritual that I do, which is the start of nearly every day for me. Its nothing super crazy, and its fairly simple. Whenever I get up, I step outside and greet the Sun. Even if its behind the clouds. On really nice mornings, I’ll add the OBOD “Tree Meditation,” as depicted in this video.

Its not really important what you add or remove from a daily meditation aspect. Some folks take time out of each day to venerate their ancestors, others seek a time of clam and reflection, and others will provide prayers and thanks to their respective Gods. What matters most, is what you do has meaning to you. As well as developing a daily routine of doing what you are wanting to do. Does it deepen your focus in a way that you want? Does it honor your Gods in a manner that you feel reflects the veneration that you wish to offer? Does the morning, afternoon, evening or night feel best? Only you can answer those questions. And whatever you answer will be correct – for you.

The other key in all of this is learning the basic framework of the ritual you are wanting to do. Most of the rituals I do for myself are impromptu. They are some basics to what I do, such as the recitation of what is sometimes affectionately referred to as the Druid’s Prayer.

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

Now I have altered it slightly to reflect my own Polytheist bend – I just changed God to Gods – but these lines all hold strong meaning to me. As such, each recitation provides a reminder to me of what my Druidry is all about. Aside from the Druid’s Prayers, I will turn to each of the compass points (north, East, South and West) to thank all entities that are attending my rite, and ask that They not do harm or trickery during the rite. That is a little something I have taken and altered from a few of the ADF rituals I have attended. Those are my basics. Nothing overly difficult, nothing too complicated. Everything else that happens between the opening of the rite to its closing is completely impromptu. I have been known to recite poems, sing, talk or just sit quietly. The actions are dependent on what I feel at the moment. I have had a few folks tell me this is some kind of ecstatic ritual format…to which I usually shrug. I’m not really worried about learning theological terminology that I can apply to the ritual techniques that I have learned to use. I just want to do my rite, when and where I feel like.

I have mentioned it before, don’t go grabbing at pieces of various rituals – as I have done here – and trying to sew them together, until you have learned the basics of what you are taking from. Without the understanding of those basics, you have a foundation made out of sand – mushy, and not completely solid. Learn a basic comprehension of what you are using, so that you can apply it correctly.

All of that leaves me at group rituals. I have not done enough group rituals to really consider myself all that knowledgeable. I can handle myself fine with a piece of paper in my hand, with my speaking part laid out among the speaking parts of all. Putting one together? Well, that’s not for the feint of heart…and let’s just say that I am cognizant enough of my abilities and understanding to know when and where I am in over my head. I tend to leave group rituals to the people that know how to do that, and do it well. But I am learning. So maybe in the future, my writing on this will have changed ever so slightly.

Tools? Flash cotton? Props? Costume? Ritual garb? Sure, why not? The basic elements of my ritual clothing is a green cloak and usually a t-shirt and jeans under that. Shadow has discussed with me the idea of getting some clothing together that I could use for ritual…think Renaissance type clothing…but that’s only in its initial phases of discussion. Right now, I remain in cloak, t-shirt, jeans and either boots or tennis shoes.

In these days, where we are essentially shut into our homes over the #CoronaVirusPanic, you can find the time to make a daily ritual. get up and greet the sun. In the evenings, go outside in your backyard and bid the sun a fond farewell for the night. Get the Sun to promise to rise again in the morning. All of that is ritual. Something that is done over and over. Or if you prefer, spend some time in meditation with your chosen Gods. If you do circles for your rituals, do one to create sacred space for your meditation. Allow the circle to dissipate, just as you would in your ritual.

In other words, its time to do some home exercises on our personal faith and devotion. No matter what practice. Take some time getting closer to your Gods. Take some time to get closer to your personal Spirituality. We always complain that we don’t have a lot of time to work on our Gwers lessons. Well, if you’re home instead of at work….you have the time now. Just a thought.

Question: Why Solo?

Not that long ago, I made mention of how I am not great in groups – particularly as a leader. Well Rebecca E. grabbed that little point, and asked if I could “dive deeper” on that point. Sure, let’s give it a shot and see where we re-surface at.

Most folks know, I am rather reticent about being referred to as a leader of any sort. Truth be told, I have been trained to be exactly that. The United States Air Force has schools that teach the concept of leadership to its lower enlisted. I was selected for, and sent to Airman Leadership School, and Non-Commissioned Officer’s Preparatory School. Both schools taught me the importance of HOW one leads. There was plenty of training material on the history of the ranks within the Air Force, as well as the history of the Service itself; however, the core of each was lessons in selflessness, concerning yourself with the well-being and needs of those who serve at your command. Much of these concepts have continued with me throughout my life and I have had many opportunities to apply those lessons in real-life situations in my career. However, I still have a reluctance to be the individual that steps up to take charge within my own Spiritual community.

I came into Paganism, or at least into a more formal understand of it, when I was in the Air Force. I was a part of two covens, one during my time in the military and one shortly after I left military service. Military life demands a lot of moving around for duty assignments and the such, which means that one’s Pagan life can have a lot of individual aspects to it. I learned fairly quickly that it was far easier to handle the primary aspects of my Spiritual Life on my own, and spend my time with others as more like a Pagan Meet-and-Greet. Much of that perspective has continued with me from my time in the military to where I am now.

So why join an organization like OBOD? Well, its not so that I can climb up to the point of being the Chosen Chief, that’s for sure. Philip Carr-Gomm, and his successor Eimear Burke, do a wonderful job with that position – far better than I could ever imagine myself doing, if I had that kind of ambition. I joined OBOD to learn about my own Druidry from a much deeper perspective. OBOD does not try and strip away who I am, and rebuild me in an image of what they believe a Druid to be. They help me to understand who I am, what I believe, and how aspects of Druidry can be added to that – as well as what I can do to change perspectives that might not have good foundations attached. OBOD allows me to be an individual practicing my own Spirituality, able to reach out to where I intend to be rather than fit round me into a square opening. For me, that’s important.

There are two points I will dig further into – ambition and my desire to remain an individual. I believe both of these are important to understanding why I remain where I am – a Solitaire – if you’ll forgive the chosen Wiccan narrative there.

I’ll start with ambition. I do not enjoy getting titles or awards bestowed upon me. I know that some of this is a necessary thing. I am just not super comfortable being in the spotlight. When I was teaching collegiate classes, it was easier to handle because my classes were fairly small. At most, I had twenty-five students in a class. While it was unnerving to have the attention of twenty-five people, it was far easier to adjust than if the room had more. There were plenty of times I wanted to run out the classroom door and find an office to hide in. As I said, I am not comfortable in the spotlight. And yet here I am, writing a fucking blog. Read by tens of people. With writing its a little different. You don’t have the people right there. Plus, in an online environment, its far easier to hide my terrified blushing.

Much of this plays into my desire to remain an individual. Its far easier for me to be in control of what I learn, how I learn it, and when I learn it. I spent eight years of my life in the US military, dressing exactly like everyone else, having the same haircut as everyone else, and blindly following the instructions I was given. The same instructions everyone else is given. The military is designed to tear you down as an individual, and then to build you back up in the same image as everyone else. All of that strikes a very dissonant chord within my very being. I have a strong desire to be myself, dress how I feel comfortable, and be who I feel I am. Its not for attention. Remember, I hate attention. Its not to be different either – that draws attention to yourself. Its so that I am comfortable with who I am. I am a Druid – I hate the color white. Currently, my cloak is a green color. I have conversed with Shadow about the idea of a tunic or shirt of another color…blue, red, black, maybe even green. Anything except white. I am not trying to stand out in the very white robed world of Druidry, I prefer other colors. I will dress in a manner that is comfortable to me. I typically wear concert tshirts and jeans under my cloak. Why? Because its comfortable to me. And because I feel that there should not be an “official uniform” to what does or does not make a Druid. A Druid is a Druid, in my book.

I don’t keep an altar in the house. This is as close as it gets.

So, where does all this bring me? Well, Rebecca asked about my perspective on my desire to shy away from groups and leadership. Well, I do not see myself as a leader type. I see myself as me. As an individual, capable of making his own choices in life. I choose to follow a Path of Druidry. I choose to dress comfortably. I choose to be me. Certainly, there will be those that completely disagree with me on parts or even all of this. I can respect that because everyone has a right to the ground they choose to defend. All I ever ask, is for the same respect when it comes to the ground I have outlined and defend here. Surely, we don’t have to walk in lock-step to be Pagans, Witches and Druids? I will walk beside ANY Pagan, proud to be their friend and ready to defend what they believe – even if it is completely opposed to what I believe because I believe they have the right to do so. But defending rights is not about defending people who think exactly like you do – its about defending people so they can think exactly like they do.

Hope that answers the question a little more and a bit deeper for you Rebecca. It was a lot of fun writing this out, and it made me sit back and examine my own perspective in a manner I’ve not done in quite some time. Thanks for pushing me towards this.

–T /|\

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…