Archive for the ‘Druidry’ Category

I Come of Age
I Go To College
Death and the Televangelist
The Return
Finding My Way


It’s become clear to me I’m not going to finish the “My Pagan Soul” series in any consistent way. The chronological treatment doesn’t work all that well for my more recent years. So I’m going to conclude by starting from the present.

Right now, I’m a Unitarian Universalist and a new member of ar n’Draiocht Fein, also called, A Druid Fellowship – ADF, either way.

Ultimately, despite one more short return to Christianity at an Episcopal Church in 2008, monotheistic, exclusionary religion doesn’t ring true to me. I have tried to make it fit. I have stepped away from it knowing that that represents a break from my upbringing, which isn’t easy to do. But, try as I might, it just isn’t me.

Unitarian Universalism is a much more suitable place for my regular religious practice. I like the freedom of thought and belief it allows, and the people are far more likely to share my values and approach to life than any I’ve encountered in traditional Christian churches. We’re part of a small but vibrant congregation, and find it fulfilling.

ADF too is proving to be a good fit so far, although it’s a much newer involvement. Paganism in general, and the various kinds of modern-day Druidry in particular, feed my resonance with nature. And ADF offers a polytheistic view of deity that reflects the way everybody thought of the gods before monotheisms arose and took over. I have a little difficulty committing to that as a faith-statement, but as I become increasingly comfortable with it as an operating paradigm, I think that day may come.

I am happy with my present spiritual life, moreso than I remember having been in the past. I’m not going out of a sense of obligation to another person, nor am I constantly having to reinforce my commitment by trying to control my own thoughts, nor yet am I drifting along with no structure … and if you look at any phase of my life prior to the last couple of years, one of those three conditions would be in play.

This is good.


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I Come of Age

I Go to College

Death and the Televangelist

The Return

Finding My Way

At the time I was wrestling with theological difficulties, I was also struggling with personal ones. My marriage had pretty well unraveled due to a number of factors, and we divorced one month before our third anniversary. At the same time, I was having some problems at work, partly due to the external stresses affecting my performance and partly due to a bad manager.
It all added up to, time for a new start. So I began looking for a new job in a new place, and within a few months I found one, in Maryland, a thousand miles away. So I loaded up a U-Haul truck and set out for the new location.
I settled into the new job and, with a fresh start and away from the sources of turbulence, did it well. I left it for a better one, and then when that one collapsed in 2002 with a mass layoff, landed in yet another good place. Meanwhile, I had new friends, a new relationship and no particular religious inclinations. Life was pretty good and getting better.
But there were twinges. I sometimes missed the sense of spiritual community in a church. I sometimes missed the comfort of ritual and the sense of spiritual connection to a larger reality. I sometimes wished I could believe what I didn’t really believe anymore. So 10 years or so after the move, I again picked up books and began reading and contemplating – but in new ways. Thanks to a few people I had gotten to know in the years since I left the old home, I had had my horizons expanded. This time, the books I sought out had to do with neopaganism and Unitarian
Universalism – paths I had been virtually unaware of before but that might have appealed to me years before if I’d known.
Unitarian Universalism appealed to me immediately, intellectually at least, because as described in the first book I pick up – A Chosen Faith, by John Buehrens and Forrest Church – it sounded like a good place for spiritual inquirers, people like me who didn’t have all the answers but wanted a place to ask and consider the questions. That was the idea, though – I had no idea yet if the reality would live up to it.
On the pagan side, things took longer to cohere. Paganism is a big world, but Lynda, my partner and co-author here, was a good guide through a few titles that helped put things into focus. I began to feel drawn especially to Druidry due partly to its connection to nature and partly because to the extent that I can trace my ancestry, I’m pretty sure that at least some of my distant ancestors were Celts.
After a few months of thought and discussion with Lynda, I sent in the money to join ar nDraiocht Fein, the largest American Druid organization. I also visited a few UU churches nearby and liked them all in various ways. At last it seemed like I might be forging a spirituality born out of my own awareness and intuitions rather than on someone else’s authority.
Next: Conclusion

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For a while we’ve been planning to join the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and I’d mentioned it here and there.

Tonight, we didn’t. After some thought and reflection, we’ve concluded that Ar nDraiocht Fein is a better fit for us, and we’ve paid our dues for a year.

We’ll post more later to explain some of the reasons for the change of mind, but for now I just wanted to note the occasion.

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One of our many goals for building a life together is to buy as much of our food as we can from local suppliers, and eventually, grow some of our own.

The growing our own part isn’t off the ground yet — I need to learn a good bit before getting started — but the buying local is going very well. We’ve found three nearby farmer’s markets and have gone to two of them each Saturday to stock up on vegetables and meats. We’re getting good quality, delicious food that hasn’t traveled more than a hundred miles (usually less) and the prices aren’t much different from supermarkets.

We’ve signed up for deliveries by a creamery, so we’ll be getting fresh milk and eggs from free-range chickens every week, with the option to add other items as needed week to week. And there’ll be more to come.

We’re seeing this both as a move toward better health and environmental responsibility, and also a spiritual practice. As Drudiry emphasizes, it puts us in closer connection to the rhythms of nature, as the items available to us vary with the growing seasons. We’ll learn how to store them — rather than resorting to supermarkets — so we can enjoy them out of season, but we’ll become more aware of when things grow in our region.

Developing the skills to grow our own will only add to that awareness.

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How do you use God? Do you use Jesus? How about Allah, ever use him?

The idea of “using” Jesus or Buddha sounds strange, doesn’t it? And yet, I’ve heard many pagans talking about the deities they “use” for various purposes. I’ve done it myself, in deciding which gods I wanted to “use” in JMG’s Sphere of Protection ritual.

But Teo Bishop brought me up short on it with this entry at Bishop in the Grove.

After describing attending a ritual at which a leader briefly suggested the best gods to “use,” Teo writes:

Huh. What an interesting use of the word “use”, I thought. Using Gods to cure what ails you. Using Gods to get what you want out of life. Huh. How consumerist. Pill popping deities; making use of them in order to – what – be pain-free, blissful, satisfied?

It got me wondering – Is that what the Gods are? New Age Prescription Drugs?

Me, I’m still wrestling with my concept of deity, and I’ll say more about it as I continue the “My Pagan Soul” series I’ve been slowly working on. I’m not sure if I’m a “gods are real” polytheist or not, as Teo describes himself. I’d like to be, but coming from a long time of alternating between monotheism, agnosticism and panentheism, it’s an alien concept that I’m still working to get comfortable with.

But I do think that whatever the gods are — real individual beings, manifestations of a single larger divinity or psychological archetypes — the very concept means they deserve to not be seen as commodities that we can “use.” They deserve respect and some degree of reverence. (I recently read a discussion where one poster mentioned he’d named his dog Cernunnos, after the horned god of the Celts, and another said it was a “great name for a dog!” Is it? Know any devout Hindus with a dog named Krishna?)

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John Michael GreerI’ve arranged for John Michael Greer, Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, to come speak at my church, Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist. The program will take place Oct. 8, and is titled “Nature Spirituality and the Future of Human Society.” He’s going to blend Druidry with his work on peak oil and conservation.

I’m winding my way through his latest book, The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered. It’s an excellent read and offers some really insightful analysis of why economists miss the point so much of the time. Like all of his books, it’s written well, easy to read and understand despite the complexity of the subject.

He recently mentioned in a comment on his blog The Archdruid Report that he’s working on a book about various prophecies of doomsday, to be titled Apocalypse Not. It will be out in September.

The program is free, so if you’re anywhere nearby the Washington D.C. area (the church is south of D.C. in Camp Springs, Md.) come on out. And pass the information on to anyone you know who might be interested. It promises to be a great evening.

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I’ve memorized the basic steps of the Sphere of Protection that Greer teaches in his Druid Magic Handbook. It’s a fairly elaborate set of steps — the elemental cross, formed with visualization, vocalization and body movement, followed by the invoking and banishing of air, fire, water and earth and the invoking (no banishing) of three spirit levels — spirit below, spirit above, spirit within. These also involve vocalization, movement and visualization. The final piece, the circulation of light, is all visualization.

The SOP forms the foundation of the things taught in the remainder of the book, so he advises learning it to the point you can do it smoothly from memory before moving on.

This morning I completed it and, feeling pretty confident I had it down, I performed an ogham draw on the question: Am I ready to move on in my study of magic?

I use a tarot program on the computer as I don’t have a set of phyiscal ogham sticks or cards yet, and you can tailor the percentage of cards that come up reversed. I have it set at 20 percent — and all three fews came up reversed. As I began to read the possible interpretation meanings I found that all three of them can easily be read as pertaining to lapses in developing skills … inconsistent practice, not understanding the full picture … essentially, past, present and future were all pointing to NO … I am not yet ready to advance.

Several past readings where I’ve asked a more open-ended question have yielded signs of a transition or growth to deeper levels in the future following a present of things being less clear. Asking this particular question evoked a very different result.

It’s really one of the most clear answers I’ve ever gotten from any form of divination.

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