Thoughts as I Travel

So with Pantheacon just barely in the rear-view mirror, I hopped down to San Antonio for a work-related conference. Now, my job deal with crunching numbers – showcasing how my college’s students are doing. I also deal with funding formulas from the State that are based on headcount of our student body, etc etc. This conference was a meeting of my peers from around the state of Texas. And it was not only a lot of fun, but opened my eyes to how much more I needed to know about my position, as well as how far I have come in just a single year (this conference is annual). But one thing was for certain, the amount of relief I felt when I pulled into my driveway at 10:30pm last night.

Make no bones about it, San Antonio is a long drive from up here near the Oklahoma border. The drive down was on a Sunday, a slow traffic day in Texas – I took advantage of that by driving down via the interstate. The drive back; however, was a touch more difficult. I left the conference hotel at 4pm, which would have placed me in rush-hour traffic in Austin. Knowing what the interstate looks like at rush-hour in Austin, I opted for the backroads.

From that decision, I was rewarded with a beautiful view of the sun going down, shortly after I left Marble Falls, Texas. I even stopped on the side of the road to watch the sun wink out over the horizon, and to offer the leftover pieces of my hamburger buns (why does McDonald’s make burgers smaller than the buns?) to the local wildlife. That was rewarded with two Grackles landing near the car to pick up those offerings almost immediately (is there a five second rule in Nature too?). As I sat on the back bumper of my Subaru Forester, I recited the Druid’s Prayer of Peace, even as car after car zoomed past me carrying their passengers to somewhere.

When I got back into the car and re-entered the traffic on Highway 281; I felt a little more at ease, a touch more connected than I have during my stay in a 20-floor Resort/Hotel in northern San Antonio. I realized that I had not even stopped long enough at the conference to process why I was feeling anxious. The closer I got to home, the more relaxed I became. I was coming back to familiar territory. Back to where my connection to the environment around me is stronger. Not because its “mine” – because its not. Because it is what I am familiar with. The connections are easier to feel, and far easier to process.

Kaylee – “my puppy”

When I walked in the front door at home, I was greeted by one anxious little black kitty – Kaylee. She certainly missed my presence in her world, just as I missed her in mine. When I finally went to bed, she spent over an hour snuggling under the covers, purring her affection while I pulled her close to hug and pet her. Normally she stays in that spot for less than ten minutes. That was sheer bliss for us both. Long ago, she adopted me as “her human”, and she is “my puppy” (and yes, she responds to that title).

In my experiences with Spirits of Place, we human beings are typically ignored, until we threaten some aspect of existence with our intrusions – no matter how beneficial our intentions may be. I have always made the assumption that it was because we human beings are unimportant. But, in remembering how slowly it takes a tree to grow, and that aspects such as rock and soil most likely exist at a slower time pace – perhaps its the fact that we human beings are “racing” in our time, compared to the speed that other aspects of our environment exist, including the Gods themselves? For me, at least, its a thought well worth thinking about and meditating upon.

As for conventions and conferences, I enjoy them quite a bit. In the case of this one, I learned quite a bit more about approaches I can take within my professional craft. But to be completely honest, I am bushed from the travel. And I am quite happy to be home.

Taking a Step Forward – the Pull of Gods, Goddesses, and Place…

I have always been drawn to certain things – certain ideas – certain places. Oddly enough, many of these things are not related. Crow, Kokopelli, Borrum, Artemis…all Gods and Goddesses that have approached me in one form or another. Glastonbury Tor, Externsteine, Mesa Verde, the northern Rocky Mountains and Tai Chan — each a location, nothing like any of the others.

Medicine Wheel in of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.
Medicine Wheel in Wyoming…one of the most magickal and alive places I have ever been.

Taken altogether, they seem strange placed together – and yet they all make up a part of my own personal Paganism to one extent or another. Each features prominently on my bookshelf – except for Artemis, which is a new approach for me as of a few weeks ago – and I have actually designed more then one vacation around a few as well. But what is the common thread?

That really is a tough one to bring about for me. Each is very different, unique in their own right within my mind. A friend of mine suggested that the common thread was me, which I nearly dismissed immediately. Why would someone like me be the central focus? After all, I am just myself – nobody extraordinary. However, the point has some merit, particularly if I remove the idea of individual celebrity and focus instead on each particular topical point providing a needed focus on what makes me who I am.

Which brings me back to something I have been thinking about for quite some time — as a solitary Pagan, how do I go about doing all of this? Where do I get a mentor or do I even need a mentor? If no mentor, where do I find people walking along a similar Path to what I am studying at that moment? Would they be willing to advise me? This is a particular concern when it comes to First Nations information here in the United States. It can be a very touchy moment when trying to query a First Nations Shaman about their own practices.

In the end though – I realize what pitfalls may arise in my study of these varying perspectives, and working with different Gods and Goddesses. But the draw is there – its not anything I can place my finger on — and its not really anything that seems to be “cool” — let’s face it, Kokopelli is a very, very strange God to deal with in the first place. I have to work towards each one, a step at a time. Listen, watch, learn…and where I can find someone to discuss these things with, there’s that avenue as well. And despite some of the potential pitfalls, I have to wander these Paths. I am not completely sure of “why” — though the pitfalls that I incur may actually be the “why” — but I’ll never know, so long as I stand at the crossroads of each Path and contemplate the whys and why-nots.

Sometimes, you just have to take a step forward…