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Posts Tagged ‘druidry’

Previously:

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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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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I’ve been working with the Sphere of Protection, a ritual in John Michael Greer’s Druid Magic Handbook. The basic components are a series of gestures and visualizations that include invoking air, fire, earth and water.

JMG advises learning it step by step, adding pieces one at a time until you can do it all from memory.

When I first added the invoking of air, doing the SoP in the morning, the wind kicked up that night and a large tree limb that had been dangling by a thread for the past nine months came down harmlessly. (Had the wind been strong enough out of the southeast it would have hit the house and probably done some damage.)

Coincidence? Maybe. But the limb’s been in high winds a good number of times since the storm in August of last year that first broke it. Why pick that moment to finally fall? On the other hand, I’m a novice and it was the first time working with air, so dare I connect a significant effect to a first try?

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