Why the Irish Goddess? The Start of My Process of Inquiry

All right…thank you for the Emails folks.  I will write more often than I have been as has been asked by a group of folks. And staying with the requests…let’s move on from politics, and talk about some other stuff instead, agreed?

A few folks noticed a statement I made a while back about how I was confused that an Irish Goddess of the forest would approach a Germanic kid like myself. Well, I’m not a kid – at fifty-plus (my fifty-first is October of this year) – and as was pointed out to my via Email, there’s a potential for a lot of melding of Celtic Gods and Goddesses throughout much of the cultures within the islands and mainland Europe. Much like the intermingling of Roman Gods, Goddesses, and cultural influences during the expansion of the Roman Empire into the north and western reaches of Europe; there is a potential of similar intermingling of the Celts in a similar vein. Ok, I grok that perspective. And given that my heritage comes from a full-blooded German mother, and an American father whose ancestral tree traces throughout the central Eastern United States – there stands a more than fair chance that my ancestral DNA may be more than fifty percent in the Germanic vein.

Now, there’s some aspects that seem somewhat interesting to me. First, I am drawn with interest far more to the Roman civilization than I am to the Celt. My interest in Roman history goes far back in my life. When I was nine years old, my parents took me to the Base library numerous times. I was allowed to peruse the book shelves for things that would interest me, as well as look through Encyclopedias for information for classroom studies. Two topics piqued my interest:  nuclear fission, and the Roman Gods and Goddesses.

The first was more from a social perspective. The premise and potential for nuclear war in the 1970s was becoming stronger, particularly with the posturing of the (then) Soviet Union. The wild craze of building bomb shelters in one’s backyard had gradually died down, but there were folks who continued work in that vein. My seventh grade Science Project was a depiction of nuclear fission using dominos to illustrate how the method worked. Originally, I had attempted to add some of the more graphic depictions of nuclear devastation from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks, but was rebuffed by my Sciences teacher, and opted instead for pictures showing the internal workings of a nuclear weapon instead.

MoonlightThe Roman Gods and Goddesses were something I stumbled upon in picking up some research on the Roman military itself. The more I read about the Gods and Goddesses, the more I realized that these were more than the empty feeing I got when attended Catholic church. The Holy Trinity didn’t speak to my heart. My parents were invested in me continuing on to Catholic services, so I was taken there from time to time. Later, I would be enrolled in Catholic schools, where the indoctrination towards the Catholic church would continue. I would be taught why certain services were held, and when. I would learn more about the Sacraments, and the concept of transubstantiation. None of this really called to me. Plus I still recalled in the book of my mind that there were other Gods and Goddesses that belonged to other cultures. I knew the statement of condemnation – “thou shalt have no other Gods before Me”…but I struggled with the idea that a supposedly loving God would condemn individuals of another culture to spend an eternity in a place of torment, pain and anguish – simply because they had no concept of the Christian God or the Christian practices. To me, it was antithetical to what the Christian beliefs were about (as I understood them to be): loving, caring, forgiveness…. In the late 1980s, I started exploring outside of the Christian faith and found Paganism…and learned more about it than an Encyclopedia Britannica had ever expounded.

That was 1987. Since then, I have explored many aspects of Paganism. And in this exploration, I danced all around the terminology that would open my mind to where I am now:  Druidry and Shamanism. But that exploration that I undertook is something I would never want to relinquish or forego were I given the chance to go back in time and do things differently. I learned so much more by traversing various areas, only to find that it was not where I truly belonged.

Over time, I have had two Gods that have helped guide me to where I am at this point in my life. Neither Wolf nor Crow have ever pointed me in specific directions. Rather, through meditation, dreams and subtle pushes in personal study directions, I have managed to make my way to where I am in Life now. I give thanks and veneration to Them for Their guidance. In return, I have my own appointed tasks that I agree to do. I am not compelled to do these things, I do these of my own choice.

That’s only part of the story that brings me to the here and now. There’s a lot more to it then this. Some of it, I am reluctant to pass along – not because its fantastical and I fear no one will believe. I am not worried at all about someone else believes of me or not. Rather, I am reluctant to share some of this, because it is private and personal to me. Not all of my story is for public consumption.

A secondary question that was brought to this – how does one get the attraction of a God and/or Goddess to themselves? Honestly, its a lot like falling in love with someone. If you spend your time looking specifically for an individual to share your life with – someone you can give your heart to – you will find it to be a difficult time. Furthermore, you will spend a lot of time compromising on various aspects and facets that you would want in a loved one – simply to fit them into your life. You’ve essentially created a human-shaped hole in your life, and then spend your time trying to reshape that template to fit the people you audition for that role. In my experience, its far better to not go into the search, and just live your life. When the person that is right for that part of your life arrives; you won’t need to reshape some template. You won’t even need a template. They fit into your life, and you (and they) will know its the correct fit.

In my personal estimation, finding a God or Goddess working through you in your life, taking an interest in you, laying claim on you….that happens the same way. Keep working on your Spiritual life. Keep doing the things that give meaning to you. Meditate. Do ritual – even solo rituals (this is where I was/am). If a God or Goddess seeks you out, you have the option of being flattered and still saying “no”. Take your time when you feel things happening. Do personal research on the God or Goddess. There’s a reason that I don’t heed the call of the Morrigan…I hear Her, but my Path is not with Her.

All of this is only a starting point. Please understand, I am not an expert in anything, except for myself. I know what works for me. I know what *might* work for me. I know what doesn’t work for me. Whatever those things are…the manner in which I categorize them (will, might, won’t) is not necessarily true for you. Explore. Granted, you might get your hand slapped for being in a place where you aren’t meant to be. Just apologize and back out. And while some might not agree, just remember to mind your manners when dealing with Gods, Goddesses and Spirits of Place.

Yes, I know this post opens a variety of different directions to move on from. One of those will be my exploration of my DNA, in relation to some of my Spirituality. I am not sure that there is that strong of a connection between the two of them, but that’s an uneducated supposition on my part. And as I noted – exploring suppositions brings a bit more information. It just might not be what I expect it to be.

One last note; and take it in whatever manner you would, working with your Spirituality is a lot more than just burning candles, chants, rituals, and meditation. There’s research, digging for information, and even getting outdoors in the dirt. Roll up your sleeves and be prepared to do some hard work…Spirituality doesn’t come free or easy.

So why Fliodhas (or alternatively Flidais)? Why indeed. its definitely time for some inquiry, research, and even some DNA inquiry. Time to go spit for Ancestry.com.


–T /|\


Having Faith – Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis

Medicine Wheel in Wyoming...one 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.

Its overcast, and seems to be a threat of rain in the air this morning. While I do love to see the sun, even on the hottest days in August, I do love seeing the rain and the clouds too. After all, these actually form a part of the Pattern, all that makes up our day-after-day existence within this incarnation. And before anyone asks, yes I do believe in reincarnation – and no, I cannot prove that as a fact. Its just one of those things that I take on faith.

What a strange concept – faith. Many sun and moon cycles back, whenever I heard that word, my immediate association was with Christianity. “Do you have faith – in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit?” “You must trust your faith in the Lord.” I heard statements like this all the time when I was taking some steps into the Southern Baptist world in my late teens. Repeated over and over again, my mind made the association that “faith” was a Christian concept. Now, nearly thirty years forward from that time, I understand the word a little differently. Do I have faith in my Gods? Yes, I do. Do I trust my faith in those Gods? Yes, I do.

1a :  allegiance to duty or a person :  loyalty
1b (1) :  fidelity to one’s promises (2) :  sincerity of intentions
2(1) :  belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) :  belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
2b (1) :  firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2):  complete trust
:  something that is believed especially with strong conviction;especially :  a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

The above is the definition from the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary website. Notice that the second definition starts with a specific definition related to the Christian belief system, and then immediately follows with a more generic definition to cover all the other beliefs. I know, many folks will start hollering about ‘indoctrination’ and maybe even ‘suppression’ – and I can see the point. But I choose not to be that reactionary to something like this. I understand where this attitude to describe things in terms of the Christian belief system comes from. Besides, its just a descriptive. Getting totally into poo-flinging mode over something like this serves no productive or positive outcome.

I tend to lean towards the second definition when it comes to describing what my faith is – that firm belief in something for which I have no proof. I cannot prove to you anything about reincarnation. Much like the opponents of the theory, I find it funny that nearly everyone that attempts to trace a past life claims to be someone famous. Very rarely do you find someone that makes claims to be the reincarnated soul of someone that is not recorded in History somewhere as an individual of import. Just as a for instance – think of how many dozens of people have claimed to be the reincarnation of the infamous Aleister Crowley. Either the guy had a serious multiple personality disorder, or there’s a bunch of people trying to be something that they are not. And honestly, I can see the case for either perspective where that is concerned.

No, I can’t prove reincarnation beyond even the wispy mist of a doubt to anyone. I also cannot prove the existence of the Gods and Goddesses and the Spirits of the Land to anyone either. Nor do I feel a need to do so. I have a firm belief in these because I have experienced them. And those who doubt my experiences, frankly I am quite ok with that. John Beckett refers to this as an Unverified Personal Gnosis. In the blog post I have linked there, John describes thusly:

[Unverified Personal Gnosis, or…] UPG is first-hand religious experience. It’s what happens when a goddess or god speaks to you. It’s what happens when a Pentecostal Christian is “filled with the Holy Spirit.” It’s what happens when a dream is so real you know it’s telling you something you have to do. It’s a vision, an audition, a feeling so strong you don’t even think of questioning its authenticity. –John Beckett

From my perspective, this is an excellent descriptor. I take this a few steps further though. Not only do I not question the authenticity of my own faith – I cannot fathom how to explain parts of it to someone who has not had similar experiences. Nor do I feel the need to “defend” my beliefs to someone who doubts. There will be those who doubt – those who call me crazy or insane for what I believe. And I do “get” that perspective. The only time I have problems with all of this, is when someone gets offended when I have my doubts about their own UPG and/or experiences.

As a matter of example, five years ago I attended a family reunion of my blood relatives. For the past fifteen years, I have not been particularly close with most of my blood family. Most of them are hardcore rednecks from the backwoods of Kentucky and Ohio – and have heavy tendencies towards Evangelical Christianity – and are VERY pushy about their beliefs. Me?  I’m a very open Pagan. I feel that I have no need to hide what I believe. I just don’t push it down anyone’s throat. When asked, I provide my point of view. When scoffed at for my perspective, I smile – thank the person for allowing me to share my point of view, and move on. At the family reunion, despite my attempts to do this – it did not happen that way. My cousins pressed me heavily about my beliefs – even after I politely bowed out of the “conversation” – that is until I finally had enough of being pursued from corner to corner of the family reunion by them trying to witness to me. When I pointed out that they could no more prove their experiences than I could mine – the belligerence became even worse. One of them even told me that this was similar to Moses taking on the Pharaoh’s magicians as expressed in Chapter Eight of Exodus. The implication was obvious – but I pressed the point again, and was again rebuffed. The belligerence grew in stronger intensity, until I finally opted to take my leave of the to-day family reunion – just four hours into the first day.

The way I saw all of this, was that they were seeking a debate. That was fine, if I was seeking the same thing. I wasn’t.  I was looking for a discussion. See, I am not out to prove anything to anyone other than myself. I am not here to be a prophet of some sort, nor am I here to convert anyone to my way of thinking. If there are people who think as I do – that is fine with me. I know there are people who do not, and I have no desire to force any change on them. See, I know that I am a Pagan. I walk the Path I am on because this is my Path to walk. I have no idea where it will take me, but I am bound and determined to not only walk it, but to also experience everything that I encounter along the way. For me, its not a race. Walking this Path and experiencing everything on it is far more important than reaching or even knowing where the Path will take me. Perhaps, I am on something similar to a songline from the tradition of the Australian aborigines. In the West, thanks to the movie “Crocodile Dundee”, we know this as a ‘walkabout’.

There will be those who won’t agree with my perspective I am making in this blog post. And I am perfectly fine with that. Those individuals walk their own Paths, for their own reasons. Who am I to say they are right or wrong? Their Path is their own to walk. I cannot begrudge them their experiences in Life. To do so, would be similar to me saying that my experiences are far more important than anyone else’s. That statement is only true for me. In trying to bring this post to a close, I am reminded how many times in our recorded Histories, we – the human race – have fought deadly wars over a difference of opinion over a UPG. And that saddens me to realize that – for it means that we do not value the individual’s experiences. Instead, we – the human race – fear other experiences as potentially being valid, and believe that if that happens it would invalidate our own personal experiences. And yet, time and time again – I hear the cries of those within the smaller subsets of belief and experience who are oppressed and subjected to forced conversion or death. In my eyes, its such a shame that we embrace the ideas of freedom within the West – and cannot utilize that same aspect of freedom when it comes to UPG.

–Tommy /|\