Greetings…

After starting my blog (druidcat.wordpress.com) some time ago to discuss my thoughts on Druidry as a practical working Pagan, I’ve been kindly asked by the moderators to join the talk here, among like-minded folk. I’m honoured to do so, and hope my words are read in the spirit in which they are written. It’s a pleasure to be here!

I did debate what to write about, however. There is so much in the way of public thinking and debate on paganism throughout the interweb, what could I possibly add to it? My own small thoughts on my path was enough, surely?

But then the ideas started to flow.

This won’t be an easy blog. Not at all fluffy, no wands or fairy wings in sight. I don’t demand adherence to my own practices, nor do I set these words down as gospel. My opinions are my own –  I simply share them here. If they don’t tally with your own, feel free to comment – I’m happy to discuss. But while the topics may be familiar, they may not be the usual sort found on a pagan forum.

Still here? Good.

As I said, I am a practical, working pagan, specifically a Druid by training and inclination. My athame is a working knife, my staff a beautifully carved walking stick, both suitable for daily tasks, magic… and defense, if needed.

Historically, Druids served the community – therefore since taking my vow to do so, I do my best in this endeavour where needed. I have had my solitary time – now I’m very much out. Not at all in an evangelical sense, but simply in my day-to-day way of living. Others can take my ideas or not, that’s up to them. But I do my best to walk my path in truth and honour.

Consequently, seeing stories like these this week did cause a lump to rise in my throat:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/jul/30/time-magazine-news-photography
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/31/half-the-sky-germaine-greer

First of all – PLEASE DON’T RUN AWAY. This isn’t intended to be a feminist rant, in the sense that most people understand it.

My question is simply this: How many of us see such stories and simply turn to the next page? I admit, Germaine Greer can be hard to deal with sometimes – her views aren’t that palatable for many. But did you actually read the stories?

Right. Go back and do so, please.

OK. Given that these are both from the same British newspaper (the left-leaning Guardian), amidst the cynicism and trolling masquerading as discussion, what solutions are posited? Are these articles about politics, the army, or the women themselves? What can we do to help, other than tut quietly and discuss it over coffee with like-minded friends?

There’s a lot similar in the news, mainly in terms of ‘isms’ – feminism, environmentalism, racism. Categorisation. In our ultra-cool, postmodern Western society, we’re bored of such things, aren’t we? They’re old, they’ve been around for years. Someone’ll sort things. Or what’s the point of even worrying about it? There’s nothing we can do.

So look again at that cover of Time. Imagine if this were you, your daughter, your sister. Imagine so many million people looking at your bravery, your shame, your suffering – and turning the page. Able to help? Perhaps not, there are many obstacles in the way. Willingness to help? Other than £2 a month here and there?

I am NOT trying to induce unproductive guilt. I am trying to speak and be heard. To truly question and think about our lives, about our world. That ‘Nature’ we talk so much about.

We are Pagans. While many modern humans have no idea about ethics, philosophy or even how to live their life being true to themselves and those in their immediate community (let alone the tribe of humanity), we do. Or we should – it’s part of the path we walk.

We should be curious. We should question, dig deeper, to seek out the truths behind the motivations behind the words of the stories. I absolutely include my own, but this blog is intended as simply my words reflecting my thoughts, not my wish to promote an agenda. I want to show things that I have seen, not force action. I want to tell my own stories, and endeavour to understand those of others.

I simply want you, as pagans, to look. To really open your eyes and LOOK. The world is there, in front of you. It’s not just a game, a boring job or home life, with occasional flashes of magic when you take time to do ritual. Life IS ritual. Life is sacred. We all forget, myself included – it’s a huge concept to take on, especially given our secular society and upbringing. But this IS the path we walk.

Will you take my hand as we walk forward? I don’t know what’s there yet, but we’ll see what we find together.

No Ritual

The first of August – or somewhere very close to it is celebrated by many Pagans, inspired by the Celtic festival of Lugnasadh and the Saxon festival Lammas. Yesterday Elen Sentir posted some great articles about that, so if it’s unfamiliar to you, do look at her words.

For a good seven years now, I’ve celebrated festivals as part of a Pagan community – there have been a few – open gatherings run by Hedd Wyn’s Grove in Birmingham, the Bards of Caer Abiri at Avebury, a closed group in Redditch, and the Bards of the Lost Forest open gorsedd near Birmingham. It’s been a big part of my life. Yesterday the Lost Bards were out, and I was not. Too far away, and too tired to handle either the journey, or the physical and emotional demands of spending several hours dealing with a lot of people. I missed them, and the sense of connection ritual gives me.

Ritual, for me, is primarily about community. It’s the point when we meet up to jointly express belief and honour the cycle of the seasons. It’s a chance to share inspiration, insight, philosophy and the fruits of our creativity. While large rituals are often hard work, they are also nourishing.

Walking with James yesterday, we talked about how we would handle the absence of a ritual group, and what we would do about festivals for now. It would be technically possible to do ritual just the two of us, but we were neither drawn to the idea. Rituals with one, two or three adults who are very close can work well, but ritual for a child is even more about the social, communal aspects, the songs, cake and spending time with likeminded souls.

We have agreed to there being no ritual. For now, the focus of our Druidry will be the walking, as he learns this land and its stories. Walking brings us into contact with the cycle of the year, with plants and creatures. It is our way of connecting with nature, and our space for talking about values, ethics, philosophy and so forth.

I am missing the contact, the sharing and energy of ritual. Its absence leaves a hole in my life. It’s one of the many, treasured points of reference I’ve been obliged to give up and I feel cut adrift without it. People are meant to exist in a context, and our faith communities are part of that for many of us. It’s not a thing to do at the weekend, but an aspect of self. I still have my own Druidry, which informs how I interact with the world. Shared celebrations are a tiny fraction of that, and yet they leave a disproportionate gap. There are dear souls at Bards of the Lost Forest I might never see again. People who have inspired and encouraged me over the years. People I have watched grow, and cared for. I hope I will be able to share with them again.

Thanks to The Druid Network, I have contact with likeminded folk in this part of the world as well, there will be new things in the future, I have no doubt. Today, there is no ritual, and that feels very strange indeed.