Thinking About: The Essence of Druidry (For Me)

As I move throughout each day, each week, each month, each year – I do my best to follow the mantra that Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead stated at the end of the last concert for the band directly to the audience in attendance: “The feeling we have here – remember it, take it home and do some good with it. I’ll leave you with this: Please be kind.” Those final shows, at Chicago’s Soldier Field July 3rd, 4th, and 5th in 2015, were billed as “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead.” Coincidentally, I celebrated my 50th birthday a few months later. I livestreamed the July 4th and 5th shows. Later on, I purchased the (HUGE) USB drive of “30 Trips Around the Sun” which is described as “shaped like a gold lightning bolt with the Grateful Dead 50th anniversary logo engraved on the side. The drive includes all of the music from the collection in both FLAC (96/24) and MP3 formats and is an individually numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies.” Its is, by far, the largest USB drive I have ever owned, easily larger than my hand in physical size.

Anyways, focusing on what Mickey stated at the concert, I have always tried my best to follow that mantra – to always be kind. A few years ago, Cat Treadwell provided me with a button that sits on the only makeshift altar that I have. The button states: “Kind But Badass”. It is a constant reminder that my daily life is the only face that some people may ever see of me. Just that one, momentary glimpse. That this one momentary glimpse, this single interaction might be the only chance that those individuals ever have to see someone that is kind to them. They may not see a smiling face for the rest of the day. That this single interaction may the highlight of what is a rather shitty day for them. Whether I like the idea or not, I may be the difference in their day.

I deflect a lot of concepts of positivity away from myself. You’ll read a lot of it here on the blog. I’m not a teacher. I’m not a Priest. I’m no one special. I’ve constantly drawn those perspectives around me, like a warm, comforting blanket that I can wrap around myself. I can wrap that around myself like armor and deflect the praise that I get from others. I do this because I really do believe that I am nobody special. In my reality, I’m just a Druid making his way along his own daily Path. I’m not here to revolutionize Pagan thought. I’m not here to be some Big Name Pagan (BNP) that thrives off the adulation of others. I’ve been to a handful of Pagan conventions over the years – never as a presenter. I’ve been recognized by seven people over those years. Seven total. I’ve never been invited to present at a single event. I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m big shit. I’m just me. No one else.

Nearly every interaction I have had with other Pagans has been cordial. Nearly every discussion I have had with other Pagans, I have tried to steer into how they are doing. Not how I am doing. I wanted them to tell their story. Most of mine is here in the blog. For other people to read. Most of it. Its easy for people to read what I’ve gone through. I want to know what they are going through. I want to hear what they are thinking. If we ever get back to having the conventions again if you encounter me at one and strike up a conversation – just realize that’s where I am going to steer you. If we ever get to the point of having conventions again. And if I ever become gainfully employed again – so I can pay for such things.

For me, everyday interactions are an integral part of my Druidry. Rituals, spellwork, whatever else you can come up with from the more occult aspects – that stuff is ancillary. My Druidry is driven by the interactions that I have. Not just with people. I interact with the plants and animals around me as well. A lot of people wonder if I am daft when I start talking to their pets. I do that to acknowledge their individual presence as well. I talk with small kids. Why? Because interaction is important. It acknowledges one’s presence, as well as placing importance on their moment in that place and time.

Then there are the folks that want to spend that time interacting by discussing politics. When that happens, I tend to shut down and become quiet. Why? Because politics is not about people. Its about political parties. I have no interest in that shit. I grok that there are people who are totally ate up by that crap. I’m just not one of those people. The kindest approach I can utilize there…to just stay quiet and wait to focus on something else with those folks. Should they insist on staying on the approach…I’ll find a moment to politely excuse myself from that discussion and move on.

There are those that will accuse me of not caring enough about others because I try to avoid conflict. That’s not true, however. I see someone being abused in some manner by another – I’m not one to keep quiet about that. I will intervene on someone’s behalf. But for the most part, I do try to mind my own business until a line gets crossed. What line is that? I’m not totally sure, but I know it when I encounter it.

See, Druidry is about interaction with me. Its about experiencing the world around me. That moment on a trail in the woods becomes more than just a place to walk. The sounds of the wind blowing through the leaves and limbs of the tree. The songs the birds sing as they flit from trees to the ground to the sky above. The quiet around me, as I spot a fawn deeper in the woods searching a meal of berries from a bush. Or the sounds of the cars and trucks on the interstate just a little over a mile from the house. Or the sounds of the construction workers building the three houses just on the other side of my backyard fence. Or the sound of Doro Pesch singing “All We Are” though the speakers of my headphones while I type this. All of that, along with the knowledge that if I place myself in the exact same spot, at the exact same time tomorrow…all of those sounds and moments will be there to experience. All so similar, and yet all so different because every moment is unique. All of that comes from a quote from the movie ‘Troy”:

The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.


Druidry, for me, is all of that – and so much more. So many moments, so many experiences that I cannot put into words that would make sense to anyone but me. Each of those experiences circle the idea of being kind to others. Because those moments of kindness are some of the most joyful that we can share with others, especially strangers that we may only see once. In line at the grocery store. Walking on the sidewalk in town. Those encounters have so much more impact than we might realize. A smile. A heartfelt “hello.” Just a simple kindness. An experience, a momentary encounter. That single moment where we are the most beautiful that we will ever be in our lives. That, for me, is the essence of my Druidry.

–Tommy /|\

Trapped in Your Own Maze

Personal boundaries are always a necessary thing. At one point in my life, I had an extremely intricate set of personal boundaries. Certain people could have this part of my life, but not that part. Only certain people would I talk with about stuff like that. Everyone could get the very washed out “morning” versions of me on Facebook. It was a lot of compartmentalizing. And all of it was done for one reason – to protect myself from everyone else.

I guess to really illustrate this point, I need to provide a touch of background. When I was in my early twenties, I was a very open individual. You wanted to know something about me, all you had to do was ask. I had no problem telling you. But after a few years, certain people started exploiting that openness and would either use me for their own means or deliberately hurt me emotionally. This caused me to build my own walls, boundaries if you want and started placing people outside of certain pieces of who I was. I even started to compartmentalize my life. I would only talk about politics with these people. Only baseball with these people. Only work with these people. Only Pagan stuff with these people. And the number of people who had access to all of that information was infinitely small. Then there was the section where I held all the stuff about me. What I wanted out of life. What my dreams were. And no one had access to all of that except me; that was where I kept my heart and soul.

In 2006, one person finally got into all of that. And truthfully, I didn’t even realize it until a few years later. At that point, I was being torn to shreds over my inability to do the right thing and it hurt more than anything else. Somehow, she had managed to get past all the boundaries without me realizing it. She had complete access to my heart and soul. However, despite all of that, I kept my boundaries. In fact, I built more. Now, fast forward to 2018. Those walls and boundaries made life very quiet, sheltered, and lonely. That one person entered back into my life, and her unfettered access across the boundaries was still there. Through a few discussions, I started to realize what I had been doing wrong. I had made too many boundaries in my life. I needed to open up a bit more. Her access to every aspect of my life is still there. There are no boundaries and barriers for her. I want it that way. But I don’t have so many barriers and boundaries in my life anymore.

I live my life out in the open now. I’m a Pagan. I’m a Druid. I’m a Polytheist. I am polyamorous. I am fifty-five. I am an Information Technology data systems specialist. I am currently unemployed. I am so much more than all of that. And it’s out there for people to see. Why? Because it can’t be used as a weapon against me. None of it is a secret that I am hiding from anyone. If you don’t like any aspect of it, you can move on or you can choose to accept that my life is different from yours, but you still enjoy and respect me as your friend. There’s a boundary. It’s a simple one. I won’t tolerate being disrespected or anyone disrespecting those of my chosen family. There’s another boundary. So, I haven’t gotten rid of every boundary that I have. But opening up my boundaries has opened up my eyes to possibilities I had never contemplated before.

Aspects of my Druidry have changed a bit. Parts of my personality are changing slightly. Instead of being closed off to chances and opportunities in magick that I would never have chosen to work with except in dire emergencies, I’m open to some of these as first options. My perspective about dealing with things such as politics has altered a bit. Because, in losing many of those boundaries and walls, I can now see a little more objectively than before. I am not saying that my boundaries blinded me, just that my boundaries limited me. Yes, I built the boundaries to protect my heart, to keep me from being hurt. But I have learned that hurts like that can be healed, especially if you have someone that is willing to help heal and care for your heart and soul. Someone whose heart and soul that you want to help heal and protect as well. Because together, nothing can stop either of you.

Photo by Linz Franciz on

Don’t misunderstand. My first statement still holds true. Personal boundaries are always a necessary thing. But be careful about how many boundaries you create. Because you never know when you might trap yourself in your own maze. I’ve been there. It’s not a great feeling. Compartmentalizing your life, something I consider to be another form of boundary making, is a technique that I have found sucks the joy and happiness out of life. You spend all your time trying to remember how to act with this group but not with that group. Life has gotten a lot easier for me since I stopped doing all of that. I’m just me. I have no need or desire to hide pieces of myself away from polite company. Either accept me as I am or you don’t. It’s really that simple. And if you feel that the way I live my life makes it difficult for you to be my friend, I completely understand. My feelings are not going to be hurt if we part and go our separate ways. I’ve found my love, my family, and my tribe. All of this not only works for me, it is me. And to be honest, I’m just tired of hiding behind the walls of the maze.

–T /|\

No Questions, No Demands

What do you get out of your relationship with Crow and Coyote? Why put your energy and effort into a pair of gods that do not promise you a healthy after-life in Heaven?

I hear this kind of question quite a bit. More than I really care for. There are two concepts at play in all of this. The first is a relationship or partnership built on a quid pro quo concept. The second, well, is the ages-old perspective that Christianity is the only true way to a “healthy” afterlife. So I suggest we start with the second one since it is a faster answer.

I am not a believer in the concept that Christianity is the only way to find “heaven”. However, before you start proclaiming me as the general of the opposition, hear me out. I have nothing against Christianity and the precepts that it sets forth into the world around us all. Goodwill and health to all is always a nice perspective to come with. Proclaiming your perspective as the only way definitely does not wash with me. It is certainly not Christianity that I have the issue with, but rather the zealotry of a few of its adherents. In fact, it would be an easy thing to say that I have issues with zealots of any faith or belief system, including my own. When people start proclaiming their perspective to be better for everyone else, I completely disagree. Each person has their own perspective on the world around them. Being comfortable enough in your own perspective should mean that you have found what works for you, not what will work for others. Showing others your perspective is a perfectly acceptable approach. Damning people to an eternity of pain and suffering because they choose not to follow your perspective…that’s abusive in my eyes. And I will definitely call people out on that, and have.

Now, let’s talk about this concept of “getting something for something” perspective of dealing with the Gods. The Gods are not some mystical Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or vending machine where you put your prayers and devotion in like a coin, and then make the appropriate choice from what is presented. Seriously, if this is your perspective of approaching the Gods, I would offer that you are going about things the wrong way. Certainly, you can offer prayers to the Gods asking for Their intervention in some issue. Just don’t be disappointed when They choose not to do so. I’ll offer it this way – you have the Free Will to approach the Gods in whatever manner you think is best. They have Their own Free Will and can choose to ignore your approach. Yes Martha, the Gods have Their own Free Will. They can make Their own choices.

In conjunction with this set of questions, I often get asked how I approached Crow and Coyote. Honestly, I approached Coyote on my own. I read through the myths, I read a few scholarly articles on First Nations’ beliefs and quickly realized that the approach of First Nations’ folks through their ceremonies was just not going to cut it for me. I needed to fashion my own approach and not lean on an approach that was not readily available to me. So I took to meditation and offering my nightly devotions to Coyote. I attempted tasks that were presented to me, many of which turned me into quite the fool amongst those folks that knew me. And then one night, during a meditation I put my foot down. I demanded to know why I was being made into a fool, and why in the world would Coyote want to work with me if I was being made a fool. I refused to be a plaything any longer. That led to me being told that it was beyond time for me to have grown a spine. My tantrum and there is no other description for it, was precisely what Coyote was trying to provoke from me.

After several months, most of these being used to teach me some humility and perspective, Coyote led me to Crow. I was happy working directly with Coyote, but I was told that I had been taught what I needed to know and needed to approach Crow for my further steps on my trail. Crow and I talked quite often in meditation and dreams. No matter where I go, I tend to find a crow somewhere nearby. Usually in the top of a tree calling out to the world. Crow has always found a way to remind me that His presence is in my life.

So, what do I get out of all of this? Exactly what I need at that moment…even when I am unaware of just what it is that I am to get or how it will come to me. I have learned not to expect anything. If something is provided, I am thankful for what has been provided. If nothing is provided, I am still thankful for the time and presence that I have shared with Crow. I expect not a single thing in return for my prayers, devotions or tasks. The connection that I have is enough for me.

My connection to the Gods is not a quid pro quo. In many ways, it is like any relationship I have with other folks in my mundane life. My friendships and relationships with others is not based on what we can get from one another. My friends have a need, and I can provide for that need – it’s theirs. No questions, no demands. The same can be said for the relationship that I would have with any God. Does that make Them my friend? Maybe. But I wasn’t expecting that either. I was capable of providing what was asked for, and I provided. No questions, no demands.

Time to Stop Running

Is hard work something we all seem to be allergic to? It certainly seems to be that way. There’s always the hunt for the “easy way” through an issue. Or looking for the “shortcut” to get from Point A to Point D without touching base at Points B or C. And to be completely upfront, this seems to be a product of the hectic hustle and bustle of modern western society. We always seem to be in a hurry to get things done. We’re in a rush to get from place to place. And for what? So we can feel that we accomplished something at the end of the day, as we pull on our pajamas and our slippers? And in order to compress more stuff into our day, we seek shortcuts in getting things done, all in the name of “saving time.”

Here’s a confession: I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. In fact, I’ll drop an even bigger confession: during my first five years working my way through the Bardic grade – I was constantly seeking shortcuts. In the end, I stopped, took stock of what I was trying to do, and the manner in which I was trying to accomplish it. And it was fairly easy to see that in trying to round out the corners, and find faster ways to get from Point A to Point D – the only thing I was cutting short was myself. Once I started taking my time with the lessons, and started doing what was being asked of me instead of looking for shortcuts, everything started to fall into place for me to understand. Rather than trying to “rush” through everything, it was more of a time-saver for me to complete each lesson completely rather than looking for time-saving changes to things.

Let me put it another way. If you were to build a house, you would want every aspect of it to be built correctly, right? You would want the company doing the actual construction to do things right, and not cut any corners on your home. After all, you want the house to stand for decades as you live in it. You don’t want the eastern wall to fall over in three years, simply because the construction company cut corners by not extending the foundation in that part of the home. Right?

So why do we seem to do the same thing where construction of rituals or spell work is concerned? We want to skip over some steps because we want to get to the end result as fast as possible. And when those skipped steps can be costly in terms of the effectiveness of your ritual or spell, would you not want to go back and do it the right way? If it takes three days to work out the construction aspects of your ritual, wouldn’t you want to start doing that four or even five days ahead of time, so that its ready when you need it?? Or would you like to fit three days of work into less then five hours?? And in terms of ritual, who are you shorting on that? Yourself? The people who attend your ritual? Your Gods? All of the aforementioned??

Being prepared is one thing. Understanding the need to follow directions and get the timing right is another, though related, concept. But why are we hustling through these things? Especially when it comes to something like acquiring knowledge. Everyone learns at a different pace or a different methodology. And, by the way, learning things and expanding your knowledge and understanding is not a fecking race. So why are we constantly setting ourselves into positions where it seems to be just that??

In my case, its something I have been coming to grips with lately. I have a tendency to over-schedule myself. I want to do this or that, but I just don’t have the time to handle such things. I have a hard time saying “no” to people. And to be honest, I don’t like to disappoint anyone. And what happens is that I disappoint everyone else, and I disappoint myself when “I can’t do this because of that.”

Life is not a race. Expanding your knowledge and training within your own Tradition is not a race. Proper preparation, proper concentration, proper attention shows respect for what you are trying to do – whether that be ritual, spell work, grocery shopping, your job, or listening to your significant other or kids. We don’t need to rush from spot to spot in our lives. We wind up missing out on the details, we wind up trying to find shortcuts. And in the end, we wind up coming up short on things that really do matter.  #TwoPence


It Really is a Rigged Political System….

….just not the way you might think it is. No, its not rigged like the Donnie thinks it is. It is; however, fairly close to what Senator Sanders said.

For those of you outside of the United States, I understand that this particular post might not be your particular brand of meat. I promise not to linger on American politics much more than this single post though. So, please forgive me this one transgression.

The American political system truly is rigged. It is not rigged so that Secretary Clinton will get elected. It is; however, rigged so that the Republican and Democratic parties will remain in favor.  As well as pull down the most monies in the “matching funds” pot from tax refunds, among other goodies, including a permanent stranglehold on Congressional (and thus budgetary and legislative) powers. That’s right. Third parties are essentially frozen out of the entire equation. From impossibly high hurdles to gain a spot on the national stage for debates, to aggressively impossible tasks towards getting candidates on state and local ballots – third parties are kept at bay by the two powers in charge.

But before we all start charging out of our houses, affixing bayonets to the ends of our staves, and trying to take the local courthouse by force. Let’s take a quick look at how to fix the system. And it is easy. Believe it or not, the Tea Party showed everyone how it can be done. They just never followed through on the end result. The way to make this work is local grassroots. Local elections. Win the bottom of the ballot offices. Show that candidates of your third-party choice have the ability, desire, guts, and yes….stamina… Wha?  Its true…stamina. In it for the long haul. Show other folks that party (x) candidates have what it takes to hold offices, make PROPER changes, and then move up the ballot to the county, and state. Eventually up to the National Legislature, and…eventually the Presidency.

The Presidency. The weakest, but most well-known political position in the United States. Congress holds the budget strings. Congress holds the legislative strings. That’s where the real power lays. But holding Congress, along with the Presidency – that’s a pure mix for getting legislation through. That’s the formula for making change. But that’s getting ahead of where we need to be. The mistake that the Tea Party made. They pushed through the local, county and state. They provided their viable candidates. When they started taking the National offices, they started not paying attention to the base that got them there – local, county, state (lcs)….and they lost a lot of their support. Now, they are playing catch up to resolidify their movement. But they have shown themselves to not be caring about the lcs aspect, and that’s cost them some voting support.

So….now for my formula for how to handle an election where the candidates that are offered are so bad, you just can’t make a choice between them. My solution?  Don’t. Leave that part of your ticket blank. But be sure you vote your candidates in the lcs aspects of your ballot. If the congressional stinkers have a candidate you can support, vote there too. But if you just look at the Presidential candidates and cannot find a good reason to vote FOR any of them. Then don’t. Or, if you prefer, pick the least worst candidate and vote for them. Don’t fall prey to the mantra my late father tried to feed me time and time again:

If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.

My response to him, much later in life than when I was eighteen and voting for the first time in my life:

That bullshit. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. Your vote, my vote, falls under that right. Its our opinion being tallied. And if we choose not to vote, we are voicing an opinion. Just not one that is being tallied directly. Its our CHOICE to vote. Our vote is our voice. Our freedom to voice that choice, voting or not, is our RIGHT.

Don’t worry. If you feel I haven’t swayed you, that’s all right. It wasn’t my purpose in writing this. Besides, it didn’t sway my father’s opinion either. And the world didn’t end then. Its not going to end this election, either. But I really do believe…if we want to change the system. If we want to get more choices. If we want to get better choices. We have to start small, and allow things to grow. And nurture the movements we believe in. That’s how we are going to change the system. Not by electing a President. But by electing a whole bunch of people to a whole bunch of political offices. That’s the way we make the system change.