In the last year, I’ve lost or given up most of the communities I was involved in. the necessity of moving cost me my folk club, singing group, the guys I jammed with, the Druid gorsedd I helped found, the folk festival I’d loved and supported for years. I had to step away from the Druid Network, which had been a conceptual home, I lost my physical home and the community of neighbours around it. Some lovely people have kept in touch via the interwebs, but those who weren’t so close, I probably won’t see again.
Choices beget other choices, and nothing is ever simple. I’d spent years running things, holding groups and spaces for others – it was a big part of my calling and how I offered my service as a Druid. But at the moment, needing to focus on my own life, I don’t have the resources to spare for that kind of community work. I miss it, and I miss the sense of community I derived from it.
There’s an uncomfortable truth to face here. I’ve never really known how to just be part of a thing. I’ve never been confident that I would be tolerated unless I was being actively useful. So any time I get involved with a community, that need to serve raises its head. Part Druid calling, part need to make up for being there. It’s been with me a long time.
I’ve been through a long process of having parts of my life stripped away, and I’m starting to feel a sort of clarity as whatever is left is who I am – at least for now. I’ve never had a very clear sense of self, so this is undoubtedly a good thing, even if it frequently does feel like I’m being flayed.
This week I made the decision to step away from the Pagan and the Pen – I have a number of reasons, but the key two are that I was holding this space as well for others, which was an extra toll on scant personal time and energy, and that I unbalance the blog. When Casey was blogging every day too, it worked better, but the density of my posts in relation to other content doesn’t feel quite right. The Pagan and Pen will continue in other hands, and the Druid’s Life column becomes a blog – www.druidlife.wordpress.com Blogging alone, no one else is implicated in what I say. And I have no responsibility for anyone else. I need that.
Community is about shared responsibility. I’m not actually very good at that, and I need to learn. I know why I take too much responsibility, but it takes time to reinvent how I relate to myself and the rest of reality.
I’m going to have a time of being mostly solitary. I have very little formal membership or affiliation left, and aside from work, where I hold membership of things now, it’s in a fairly passive way. I’m going to keep it like that. There are one or two places where I still have a sense of community without running things, or needing to give more than I have. I will take the time to be in those spaces, and learn how to do community properly, how to accept, how to ask for help, how to be open about being vulnerable and fallible. These are things I’ve found it far too hard to do.
So, as I tidy things up here, I’d like to thank The Pagan and the Pen community for this space. In it, I’ve found my own voice and the confidence to write about my path. I was so nervous when I started this column, I imagined I would get a lot of criticism for daring to speak for and about Druidry at all, and that I’d be told to desist. I didn’t really think I was good enough to write any of this. No one ever did say that. So I’ll keep exploring, and writing, trying to figure out what it means to be a Druid, and a human being. Thank you everyone who has shared the journey with me so far.