There Will Be Beltane And Rumors Of Beltane

The following article was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on April 30th, 2014.

Beltane 2008
Beltane 2008

I have been to many Pagan gatherings, rituals and festivals over the years, in private homes, at community centers, at UU churches and my favorite, camping in the woods! Of all of the Pagan gatherings of any type, none produce more wild stories (some true but many I suspect not) than Beltane. Good ol’ Beltane, the great springtime rite of fertility and sexuality. Of course it has sexual overtones and because sex is such a charged subject in our society it produces a lot of mixed feelings, emotions and sometimes quite outlandish tales.

I recall one time years ago we came back from camping at a Beltanelike event with one of the traditions who by their own words even are “The Pagans who scare other Pagans.” Due primarily to the legends which permeate the whispers and gossip among the denizens of the greater Pagan community. Upon returning I mentioned to a friend and former covenmate where we had been and he popped off without missing a beat “Oh, those people grow their own chlamydia.” This from a man whose idea of roughing it is to stay in a hotel room somewhere that has no room service. Someone who does not own one single piece of camping gear and therefore has never been to a single event with these or any other people. So I challenged him on it. “Oh, have you ever been camping with them?” 

“Well, no but I have heard…” Yes, we have all heard. If what you hear about and what actually happens have any relation to one another I must be one of the unluckiest sons of bitches on the planet because I have been to many of the camping events with many of the very groups that these rumors are about and I have seen….not much. So, I am just saying, take what you hear with a very large grain of salt please. People do love a good story after all and if there is sex and scandal involved all the better. Now, that being said, I don’t doubt that some of what people speak of may have indeed taken place…once or twice…somewhere at some time. But with the frequency with which it is spoken about you would think it were a regular occurrence and I’m here to tell ya, not so much.

Ho to tell if your dog is involved in a sex scandal.
How to tell if your dog is involved in a sex scandal.

One of these rumors I hear come up a lot involves acts of oral sex being performed at the revel fire of a popularly attended Pagan camping event. Nope, sorry, I missed that one, every….single….time. Women topless, dancing around the fire, yes, I’ve seen that. Men and women dancing around the fire naked late at night. Yes, I’ve seen and participated in that as well. But actual sex acts? Nope, sorry, I missed it. It would have been a great story to tell if I had but I didn’t. In fact, in all my years involved in Wicca and paganism in general I have only been to a few rituals in which the great rite were enacted in true and those have always been clearly stated by the organizers to be adult only events; leave the kids at home for this ritual. They don’t even let you on the property with minors in tow. Everyone in attendance knows what to expect when they get there. It’s the great rite, if you don’t know what it is look it up in any book on traditional Wicca or do a search for it online.  Of course, it all depends on who you’re hanging out with and where you go but I’m talking, I do hang out with the groups that most of the rumors are about. So, again, take what you hear for what it’s worth.

There is a common occurrence, again, late at night when all youngins are fast asleep if there are any present, in which some women slather a special herb and oil concoction on their bare breasts and apply it to the bodies of, usually unattached, young men while chanting. It’s pretty sexy and alluring and it’s meant to be. It’s a fertility rite. The most that is happening there is bare breasts are touching skin much as they would if a hug were given. Again, no sex, oral or otherwise involved. These are the most graphic scenes I have ever seen played out in my 15 plus years of camping with the very pagans who all the rumors are about. I’m not saying that nothing beyond that has ever taken place, but I am saying, I have never seen it.

I used to frequent a pagan community center in town where it is rumored that sex routinely took place in the bathrooms. It is true that the bathrooms in the place were co-ed. Both males and females shared the same bathrooms. The stalls had walls and doors. If anything other than the usual bathroom activities ever happened there, I missed that too.

All of that being said, as a general rule of thumb, if you are looking for a family friendly Beltane event in which there is unlikely to be any nudity or overt sexuality, your best bet are the ones held in town at the UU churches or other public places. I have been to and even officiated at ADF Druid May Day rites like the one coming up May 4th at Arlington UU church which I posted about earlier under the title May Day UU Celebration. They are very family friendly and conservative in nature. You can take the kids and probably not have anything to worry about. I have also been to the AmTrad Beltane gatherings such as the one Covenant Of the Goddess is hosting which I also posted about earlier under the title Beltane Celebration. Again, very family friendly and no nudity.

But if you’re looking to not be exposed to any nudity or sexuality whatsoever. DO NOT go camping with Pagans at Beltane. Although the reality is not as “bad” as the rumors might lead you to believe, there is still the possibility that some of them might be true. A good camping event usually to take kids to is Ostara. There are usually colored egg hunts, fun games and faeries at Ostara with little emphasis at all on sex. But always ask in case it isn’t made clear, whether an event is family friendly before attending to avoid being shocked. Just in case.

Blessed Be and Flags, Flax, Fodder and don’t forget Frigg!

Spirituality – Living It vs. Reading It

The following article on living was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on July 7th, 2013.

Festival Drum - Living It!
Djembe By Campfire – Living It!

Each morning I start my day off in basically the same way. I wake up (hopefully) and look over at my altar which sits right next to my bed on a small shelf attached to the wall where most people would keep their night stand. If the spirit candle has burned out I light a new one. I light a tea light candle in the southern quadrant for the element of fire. I light an incense in the east for air. I check on my malachite and other stones in the north and my sea shell in the west. Sometimes I change out and have a chalice of water in the west or some other representations but these days that the basics of my altar. I light a healing candle if anyone I know of is in need of healing or other energies. Then I pick up my athame and cast an invoking pentagram followed by these words or something similar.

Great Goddess, Mighty God

You who are of me and around me

Guide me through this day

Show me the way through darkness and confusion

Grant to me peace, love, balance, courage, health and joy for this day.

So mote it be.

I place my athame back into it’s sheath (it’s a replica of a Royal Scottish Dirk which my wife gave to me as a gift) and lay it back onto the altar. I reach into my bag of runes and take out one for my guidance for the day. Write down what rune it was in my journal and a little about it’s meaning then go on to start my work day.

It’s a simple ritual and very Wiccan in style but I do it every day and it helps me to connect with the divine, ask for their guidance and feel I am off to a good start. If I were to miss it I would probably go through the day feeling lost because it has become an important part of my life and of my daily routine.

In the past I have done daily invocations in the style of ADF Druidry but since the Goddess smacked me upside the head nearly a year ago now and made it quite clear that I needed to get my butt back on my path this is the ritual which has been working for me. Later I may change it but I will likely always start my day with something like this.

We all have our own ways of reconnecting with the divine, the center, nature or however we describe what makes us feel….. for lack of a better word, right? That we belong? That we are a part of something?

I know that whenever I am out in nature I also feel the connectedness of the divine. Some of us need ritual, some of us don’t. We all have our preferred methods of divination. Some of us are heavily into magickal workings, some of us are more interested in learning our history and rituals. But we all, together are living our spirituality in our own ways. How do you live yours?

“Go out, go out I beg of you

And taste the beauty of the wild.

Behold the miracle of the earth

With all the wonder of a child”

– Edna Jaques

Fear – Are You A God Fearing Person?

The following article on fear was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on June 27th, 2014.

If you are shocked by what I say then you obviously haven't paid attention to who I am. Fear.
If you are shocked by what I say then you obviously haven’t paid attention to who I am.

I was visiting my friend Camie at Texas Snow Store in Watauga as I sometimes do on my way home from work and a couple of guys walk up carrying a big box of banana nut bread for sale. She says, “Oh, you have to try this banana bread! It’s the best ever!” So, she goes running up to meet them and buys a few loaves for herself and one for us to share. She offers them a snow cone each to cool them off from walking in the afternoon heat and humidity and they come over and join us in the shade of Dave’s gazebo close to his Philly Shack restaurant.

These two guys are from a Christian based rehabilitation house nearby which helps drug addicts turn their lives around and change their habits. The banana nut bread they sell helps fund the program and helps the people going through the program get accustomed to the trials of everyday productive work and interacting with people. They tell us about how some of the people who are doing what they are doing don’t want to change their ways and instead steal the money made from selling the bread to go buy drugs.

But if the program can help 1 in 10 people pull themselves out of the gutter of addiction then it’s worth it right? I am happy to see people improving their lives through whatever means work for them. Now cynical me has thought on occasion about how these programs latch on to people when they are at the lowest points in their lives and most vulnerable and susceptible to persuasion in order to brainwash them into a manner of thinking which benefits the people running the program. Like, I said, that’s cynical me talking and indeed such programs do usually come with a stipulation that one needs to submit to and turn over their faculties to the particular organizations interpretation of what their “one true god” wishes. Essentially using it as an avenue to recruit more members. The very thing those of us from minority religions like Wicca and Druidry are often accused of.

But still, if this organization helps those people to make a better life for themselves then some loyalty in return is probably not too much to ask is it? Perhaps some of the Pagan organizations should take note if they ever become large enough and organized enough to fund such programs. 😉

But anyway, at one point one of the guys pipes up and asks us if we are “God fearing people.” I answered as I often do such queries. “I have no need to fear my god because I know my god loves me.” He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that answer based on the look on his face but it was no matter because Camie piped in with “Well, he’s spiritual but not religious.” So the guy says, well, the important thing is that we believe there is something bigger than just us out there. Which I agree with regardless of what form that something bigger might take on from one individual or another.

That phrase and others like it have always bothered me though. It’s a popular one in Bible Belt Christianity. “God fearing.” It smacks of being in an abusive relationship to me. Why should I have to fear my god(dess) if (s)he loves me? Perhaps fear letting my god(dess) down if my actions are not worthy of his or her approval or that I am not living my life up to the fullest potential the gods have laid before me. But to fear my gods themselves? That concept just seems odd to me. What do you think?


Ugliness And Nastiness – No Thanks!

The following article on ugliness and nastiness was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on May 28th, 2014.

Be strong, but not rude; Be kind but not weak; Be bold, but not a bully; Be humble but not timid; Be proud, but not arrogant. No ugliness!
Be strong, but not rude; Be kind but not weak; Be bold, but not a bully; Be humble but not timid; Be proud, but not arrogant. No ugliness!

As I have mentioned in past blog posts,  in my 15 plus years hanging around in the Paganesque community I haven’t received nearly as much negativity from the people you might expect. No, not the hardcore fundamentalist Christians who dominate the region I grew up and live in. The truth be told, the most hateful, negative, ugly words I have ever heard directed towards my beliefs or those of other minority religion faiths have come from right within the Pagan, Heathen or Earth Based Spiritual communities.

It’s a bizarre phenomenon to me. Here we are surrounded, literally out numbered 1000 to 1 or more by people who wholeheartedly believe we are bound for a lake of fire and eternal damnation for daring to believe differently than they do, but some of us would rather cut one another’s throats, figuratively (hopefully), than understand one another and embrace our differences in the midst of mainstream dogma.

I remember a time, back in 2002, I was a freshly minted 1st degree Alexandrian Wiccan priest. I was proud of what I had learned in my past year and a day of study. I was proud of my new pentacle and robe. I was delighted to be a part of a Pagan community which I naively believed at that time to be all open minded, friendly, earth loving, ancestor honoring people supporting one another in their paths. I heard about this Druid gathering going on near Austin called Modron’s Gate. To this day I do not know who the organizers were or which Druid order was represented but I think it was ADF (the one I eventually joined many years later) and I think I remember Skip Ellison (former Archdruid of ADF although he was not yet Archdruid at that time I don’t think) speaking there.
I had really enjoyed myself there that first day and that night went to sit down by the fire with the others and listen to the drumming and story telling.
At one point the drumming stopped for awhile as people were resting their hands and refreshing themselves and someone, I don’t remember who, began to speak. He went on for quite some time about why he believed Druidry was superior to Wicca which isn’t bad in and of itself. Everyone is entitled to their opinion after all. But as he continued the stereotypical cliches about Wiccans came out. The stuff about how all Wiccans believe magick is powered by fairy farts and unicorns who shit rainbows. All Wiccans believe everything in the world is love and light and there is never any darkness. All Wiccans believe in a bunch of New Age (which rhymes with sewage) mumbo jumbo and don’t know their asses from a hole in the ground. You know, the kinds of things people say when they are stroking their own ego at the expense of others in an attempt to make themselves look superior.

Well, needless to say, I left that place thinking, if this is what Druids are about I don’t want anything to do with them. It was many years later that I bothered to look into it and find out there was much more to it than that person’s impression left me with. The founder of ADF was, himself married to a Wiccan and didn’t feel at all that way about Wiccans. But, how much more might I have been willing to learn about Druidry in 2002 had I not been driven away by that ugliness?

Also, back in the day I used to frequently make trips down to a popular Pagan festival ground to volunteer my time at work weekends. The land crew as it was called had their own camp ground and because I had helped out with the clearing of the land for camping places, I was invited to camp with them at the first festival held on the newly acquired land. My friends and I had a great time that night at land crew camp. There was drumming, dancing, story telling and camaraderie. No one was negative and I don’t recall a cross word being cast toward anyone. Then, the next evening, my wife at the time (ex now) went down to the medical tent area because she was experiencing some pain as she often did and needed some attention. While there another individual was in the area commenting about how there had been some “strange energy” coming from the land crew camp the night before and it just wasn’t good. I’ve come to learn that sometimes “strange energy” is used by some people as code for “I don’t like those people.” But I had no idea what the guy was talking about. I had been there the whole time and they all seemed like a wonderful group of people to me. Still, it stayed with me and showed me that this was not the cohesive, spiritually focused community I naively led myself to believe at first. But why can’t people talk to one another instead of about one another? It’s much as Tommy Elf said in his article, You Never Know Who Is Watching. You really never do and while most community leaders and organizers want to see their community grow, such negativity and divisiveness has the opposite effect on new comers. They see it and it usually makes them want to run the other way.

I, only recently started exploring the Reddit online community or the Front Page Of The Internet as they like to call themselves and I found out they have subreddits for groups like pagan, druidism, wicca, heathen, etc. I’ve known about Reddit for a long time and have been on the site a time or two but never really took the time to fully explore it and get involved. I used to spend a great deal of time on Digg reading news articles back when I was kind of a news junkie and the people on the Digg boards would frequently mention what was going on over on the Reddit boards because, at the time, I think the sites were very similar in style as far as what niche markets they were catering to. Apparently on Reddit, anonymity is a big thing. They don’t even let you put much personal info on your profile over there which has it’s good points and bad points. On the plus side under a cloak of anonymity people feel more comfortable expressing themselves and saying whatever they want. On the negative side under a cloak of anonymity people feel more comfortable expressing themselves and saying whatever ugliness they want. What I mean by that is, some people hide behind anonymity to say some of the most negative and ugly things they can think of which they probably would never say in a face to face conversation. Sometimes it’s just out of pure meanness, ugliness and spitefulness. Other times it’s just general trolling. I come from a long history of not feeding trolls that stretches back to the days before DejaNews got bought out by a search engine newcomer called Google. So, I don’t give the trolls the satisfaction of a response most of the time. But, if these people are not trolls but instead regular participants in their tradition’s particular subreddit board, I wonder if they realize their antics do their groups more harm than good or if they even care. Look at all the good Westboro Baptist Church’s ugliness has done for views on Christianity after all. (/sarcasm)

Health and Blessings!


Please Don’t Wait For An Invitation

The following article regarding invitation to Pagan groups was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on April 3rd, 2014.

Let the seeker seek. Speak Up For Invitation.
Let the seeker seek. Speak Up For Invitation.

And the hills they are hollow and home to the Fey,
Who dance on Midsummer’s Eve,
Some people don’t understand when I say,
These are the things I believe.
These are the things I believe. – Damh The Bard

I once had someone say to me,

“I would really like to go to a Pagan ritual or gathering but no one has invited me.”

Please understand this. We are not an evangelical lot and most of us adhere to a code that says it is for the seeker to seek. In other words, a student of esoteric knowledge, occult, ancient wisdom, the arts, or whatever you want to call it, should always seek out a teacher but not the other way around. A teacher seeking students is often frowned upon in many Pagan traditions. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, we are not in the soul saving business. We do not believe that your immortal soul is in danger of eternal torment or any such things if you don’t follow the path we are on. Most of us believe that our lives here on earth are like a school of sorts and we are all learning lessons of one kind or another in this incarnation which may carry over into the next life.

Just because someone doesn’t happen to be on the same path that you are on doesn’t necessarily mean they are on the wrong path. So we have no driving reason to go after people and try to convince them to come join us on our path. But if a seeker shows up and asks to walk with us on our path they are more than welcome.

That being said, if you see a posting up somewhere for a public circle or gathering of a Pagan nature and you are curious or interested, then by all means go. Don’t be afraid that you will be unwelcome because if the event was posted as open to the public then it’s understood that seekers or the curious might show up. The only thing we generally find unwelcome would be people who show up with the intent to be rude and disruptive. If you are there with an open heart and open mind your kindness will be returned.

Many of our traditions include teachings regarding hospitality to strangers and being a good host or guest. So by all means, seek out a public event near you if you are curious. If you have trouble finding one, let me know and I will see if I can help you find one. Check Our Calendar! Need an invitation? Get in touch and let us know.

Many Blessings,

Cianaodh a.k.a. Troy

The gods are my pals, I shall not sweat it!

Desperately Poor Or Just Not In The System?

So, I happened upon a video a friend of mine posted on Facebook and while the man certainly made some good points regarding the issue he was intending to shed light on, my mind wandered off into other things as it is often inclined to do. In it, he keeps referring to these people the World Bank calls “desperately poor” because they earn less than $2 per day on average in income. But, this assumes those people even live within the system the rest of us do and how relative things can be in terms of living and survival.

The system?
The system?

The dominant culture within our society of the industrialized world has no use for people who are not in the system of exchanging labor for money (which is in fact a certificate of debt) for goods and services (many of which were previously freely available to our ancestors for the taking from the abundance of the land or through their own efforts.) Have you ever seen the 1980 movie ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’? It’s a humorous, campy, obviously eighties flick but with an excellent message, I think, about the differences in cultures.

So, how many among these billions of people Mr. Beck refers to in his gumball analogy come from cultures for whom that $2 per day is neither here nor there because they live a life very much like their own ancestors in which money isn’t necessary? One simply lives off the land, shares with his family and neighbors and thanks the gods for the abundance offered? Not a taker culture but a leaver culture as Daniel Quinn referred to in his novels. The takers take it upon themselves to define how things should be and the leavers leave it up to the gods. Also, even among those who live in the world of money, what $2 may purchase in one part of the world can differ greatly from what it might purchase in another part so as a measure of “wealth” it is rather iffy in its own right. When Europeans first came to the Americas the natives who were living here made less than $2 per day too but did they consider themselves to be “desperately poor”? Probably not. Because theirs was a culture which lived in balance and harmony with the land. Oh, I don’t mean to imply that they did not know struggle and strife. Certainly there was disease and war among them. All human cultures are faced with these maladies. All I am saying is, whether or not $2 per day in income is a sign of “desperate poverty” is relative depending on the way the people live and what is considered valuable.

Just a few thoughts that wandered into my mind and now out through my keyboard. My two cents as it were.

Pagans, Integrity and Forgiveness

The following article on forgiveness was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on Father’s Day, June 16th, 2013.

Paganism is a living religion - Always changing, always growing! - Forgiveness
Paganism is a living religion – Always changing, always growing!

Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Dads out there as well as moms who are having to be both mom and dad to someone. Expect today’s blog post to be somewhat convoluted as I have several things that have been bouncing around in my head that I wanted to write about today but no clear plan going forth as to how to go about writing on them. So bear with me as I juggle the duties of writing this along with my dadly (yes, I created a new word) duties of helping a young child who fell asleep on the living room couch last night and had an accident. Oh! and get him breakfast too! 🙂 So anyway, yes, as the title suggests I would like to talk a little bit about how Pagans in general (based solely on my own experiences) treat the concepts of integrity and forgiveness. A lot of Pagans seem to feel that forgiveness is a predominantly Christian concept and that people should be held accountable for their actions to the bitter end. Now, I am no expert by any means on the teachings of all the traditions out there and I write just as much so that perhaps some of you who are more knowledgeable can have an opportunity to enlighten me as I do to express my viewpoints. Anyway, whether forgiveness is a concept that comes from our own lineage or not my question is shouldn’t it be? One of the graphics I see come across on the book of face quite a bit that I usually share when I see it says that we forgive someone not always because they deserve it but because we deserve peace. Another says that holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It just doesn’t work that way. Believe me, I am very much human and very much struggle with these ideas myself but ultimately I do see the wisdom in them.

Moving on to integrity. I also see a lot of posts, and have probably shared some myself, along the lines of “I do whatever I want and screw what you think about it.” Certainly our individuality and rebellious nature is a thing to be celebrated I think but there comes a point sometimes when the actions we decide to take might become harmful to others or show a lack of ethics or integrity. If we make an oath, take a vow or otherwise give our word on something then later take an action that shows we have not followed through on what we’ve said, whether we like it or not, others judge us on those actions. Whether they say it out loud or not the thought is still in their mind and they will deal with us accordingly. Sometimes our actions come with a price. They might cost us a great deal of trust and respect. So, certainly do what you want but understand that what you want and what is right may or may not be the same thing and consider what the consequences of your actions might be. But, since we are all human, we’re all going to slip up once in awhile. Let’s try to work on that forgiveness thing. Agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts. I have to go do more dadly stuff.

Many Blessings All,




Starhawk On Forgiving – Thank you Vense for reminding me of this one.

Pagans Are People Too, See?

In the grande scheme of things Pagans aren’t that much different from everyone else. We may have different ways of viewing the world and different ways of interacting with it but we’re prone to the same lapses in judgement, self doubts, personality traits and character strengths and weaknesses anyone else might be. There’s good and bad in everybody to some degree.

The following article was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on July 28th, 2013

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home. Pagans.
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.

During this past week I have been visiting several blogs and finding new ones to follow. I’ve commented on some great posts that I have read by others and in those comments the topic came up again of the fact that Pagans are people too. As people we all have our own individual styles, personalities and ways of doing things. It’s not like there is just one big universal Pagan religion and we all adhere strictly to it’s path and teaching. Paganism is sort of the Linux of the religion world (for those into the techy side of things you might get the analogy). We all bring our own inherited wisdom and customs to the equations, piece it together and roll our own so to speak. Sure, there are various traditions within Paganism which have a more designed view of things and people will come together and work within a system that works for them. It’s a little more complicated than the myriad of denominations to be found within Christianity though. Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, etc. all have different views, ritual styles, teachings about their “One True God” but they all call him by the same name and they all have variations of one sort or another of the same book. In Paganism the drift is much farther from, say, Wiccans and Asatruar or even from one Wiccan coven and another. There isn’t a universally accepted “One True” deity or set of writings that all must adhere to. Also, I should note, if you meet an Asatruar please don’t call him or her a Pagan, call him or her a Heathen. There is a difference and they will tell you all about it. I use the term Pagan to universally cover all paths that are outside of monotheism because it’s simpler when speaking or writing to do that than to have to say Pagans, Heathens, Animists, Magi, Reconstructionists, Hellenists, Druids, Lord High Mucky Mucks, etc. ad nauseum, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but at some point ya just gotta grab one word and go with it or you’ll be all out of breath.

But that illustrates my point. Pagans are People. People in all walks of life have different ways of looking at things so labels just don’t stick all that well anyway. You really have to get to know a person before you can understand how their spirituality inter-relates with them as a person. That’s also why it’s a beautiful thing that there are some of us out there sharing our points of view. It’s good that there are many Pagans who are bloggers, podcasters, coven, group and tradition leaders out there doing their thing their way. Some people will come to my blog and say, well that guy uses profanity and tells bad jokes too much and isn’t “spiritual enough” (Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.) for me but they might go on over to another blog and find exactly what they are looking for and that’s fine. It’s good that we have that diversity because people have their differences but want to find other people who are more like them to relate with either as a friend, teacher  / student, or to get together with for spiritual ritual. It’s nice to have a fluid network within a community to allow people to shop around for what works for them rather than see a few that don’t fit, decide the whole thing is a bunch of hooey then drop out all together. I have several friends on my various online social profiles who love the stuff I post and share and others I know have dropped me from their feed or even unfollowed me. I don’t take it personally. I post what I like and those who are like me will enjoy it. That way I am happier because I am not trying to be someone that I am not and those who enjoy my posts are happier because they see someone else who thinks like they do. That’s true whether the people are pagans or something else.

In the shop where I work during the week I am an electrician / Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator. The people I work with are all facilities mechanics of one sort or another, Plumbers, Millrights, Electronic Technicians, etc. There are many personalities within our work group but one thing is certain, mechanic humor is different from admin humor. The folks working in the cubicles and offices don’t find the same things funny that those of us working on the shop floor find funny. It’s just the nature of the world. People are people. Some people like Coca-Cola and others like Root Beer. Me, I like Guinness. 😉

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on long enough for this morning. I need to go mow the grass since we got all of that lovely rain last week and we have a double birthday party to go to later today. I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful week. Be good to each other out there and Hail The Gods! Whatever gods you believe in…

Damh the Bard – Pagan Ways live:

Spirituality Should Not Be A Competition

Competition is a fine thing in some circumstances. But, do we really need to compete over spirituality?

Navy Tug Of War Competition - Public Domain
Navy Tug Of War Competition – Public Domain

I believe a good spiritual path should fit like a nice comfortable pair of shoes. It should keep your feet protected and help you get where you are going without being constrictive or causing blisters. But, not all feet come in the same shapes and sizes right? My comfortable pair of shoes might be too big or too small for your feet. Not to mention, I might like black or brown shoes but you might prefer yours white or blue. In the end though, It’s just shoes, so what’s the big deal? If you’re happy with the ones you’re wearing and they get you where you need to go then what concern is it of mine why you don’t choose the style I prefer? Ah, but people can be awfully competitive can’t they? Whereas, you or I might have such laissez-faire attitudes about shoes, there are some stories of people shooting folks over a pair of shoes. But why? What is it about this man-beast that makes everything have to be about competition rather than just enjoying the journey? Frederick G. Naerebout of the Department of Ancient History, Leiden University, The Netherlands  wrote an interesting study entitled ‘Religious Competition: Is It A Useful Concept?’ which I found to be an interesting read as I was researching the history of religious conflict in ancient times recently.

If you go to your church or temple and find the spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment you seek and I go to the forest and meditate under a large oak tree to find mine who is the lesser for it? If none of the above interest you and you’re content to spend the afternoon reading a nice science fiction novel or tinkering in the garage then how am I harmed? There’s no need to compete over everything. Just enjoy life and let your fellow man-beast inhabitants of the world do the same.

Have a blessed day! 🙂


Spiritual Unity – Event Planning Lessons Learned

I’ve heard it said many times and have repeated it myself as it is so dawgone true. Event planning and organization is pretty much like herding cats. But that’s okay, once you start figuring out what motivates cats.

Local Pagan Unity Fest Event
Local Pagan Unity Fest Event

I’m by no means what I would consider an ‘expert’ at event planning and coordination but I have been involved in several at various levels over the years and have picked up some wisdom along the way which I can remember not having as I naively began my journey. The most recent one I am working with is called DFW Pagan Unity Fest and it was created by a local lady who is well respected and loved within our community. She is moving away though and I was honored when she offered to pass the torch to my tradition sister and I as the co-organizers of the event she started for a community which demanded it. I do mean demanded too because people around here really wanted to see the event happen then and they do now. To be honest, my tradition sister and I were considering not having it this year and maybe wait until next year because there wasn’t any seed money to take care of rental fees, insurance, porta-potties, and all of the other associated costs of putting such an event on. We figured, okay we’ll take a year off, have some fundraisers or something and revisit it next Spring maybe. But then the emails, messages and calls started coming. “Hey, is it happening? When is it happening? If not, why not? How can we help? We’ll front the money if needed!” Yes! People offered to help do whatever was needed to make it happen this year regardless. So we thought it over and collectively said “Wow! I guess they really want to do this. Let’s see if we can book a venue.” The venue was open for the date we needed so the whole thing kind of took on a life of it’s own and this amazing community of people are showing up and getting things done.

It makes me think of something I saw my temple brother post on his timeline on Facebook earlier this week.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done; his aim fulfilled; they will say: “We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

It’s so true though and understand that by sharing this quote I am not trying to cast myself in the role of leader here. Indeed, I was ready to let it ride for the year. But the force of the community as a whole wasn’t having that. Where does this leader exist? Within us all, I dare say. We are all leaders in our own right when the time and situation calls for us to step up and say or do what needs to be said and done. I take great pride in the knowledge that I am surrounded by such wise and powerful leaders who can lead, even when people barely know they exist as leaders. Or, even when people know full well that they are leaders but they chose to lead from the sidelines so as to be a catalyzing force rather than a divisive force in the community. Wisdom tells us from where best to lead when and where the situation calls for it.

Most events I have worked with have been spiritual festivals of one sort or another aimed at predominantly Pagan minded folks. Sometimes they’ve been aimed at a particular segment of the community but more often they’re aimed at a broader section. These events usually have some common basic elements.

  • Rituals – People want to experience spiritual energy and collectively thank the divine (in whatever ways they perceive the divine) for being a part of their lives and the events of the day. They like to experience rituals as others may perform them and note differences in style and focus. It’s all a part of the exploration and sense of adventure, mystery and learning that following a spiritual path brings us. These are some of the things that are the catnip that some of the cats are herding in for. But not all.
  • Vendors – Ah the shopping! The wares! The stuff that looks good, smells good and feels good! How exciting it is to browse around and see so many different things that you didn’t even know you needed in one place. It’s a win-win. The vendors usually fund a large portion of the event by way of vendor fees but in return they access a potentially large crowd of willing and interested shoppers who will but their wares and keep them in business to sell another day. For this is the life of a retailer. They unite people with things they desire and in exchange they receive enough currency for it to be worth the trouble and effort. They work hard to haul their equipment and items out there, set everything up for enticing display, and keep it clean and protected. It’s not an easy life but some find it rewarding. Lots of the shopper cats flock to them like fresh cans of tuna. 😉
  • Entertainment – Oh the music! The dancing! The feats of magic and artistic imagery! Yes, there are cats who are drawn to the playful balls of yarn and the games of amusement and there are cats who just like to sit back and enjoy the show. These, too, become part of an organizer’s arsenal of cat herding tools of the trade. Dancers want to dance, players want to play and the vibrations carry througout the event adding to the ambience and energy. Ahhhh, smell the catnip? 😉
  • Workshops – Hey! Did you hear one of your favorite bloggers, authors, podcasters, or community leaders might be there putting on a workshop on that subject you’ve been interested in? Won’t it be cool to see them and hear what they have to say? Of course it will, just jump down off the furniture, arch your back and do that cat strut over to the workshop tent to see what’s going on.
  • Fundraising For Charity – Most events of this type are hoping to raise money for local charities and do some good in the community. It feels good to do good and it is also good publicity for people to see your spiritual or otherwise connected community doing good things. So buy those raffle tickets or bring those donations. Maybe even roll up a sleeve and give some blood. Good cats are drawn to good causes. Meow!
  • Kids Activities – The kids are coming along and they might not be much in to the shopping scene or the music that’s playing on stage. Maybe they haven’t heard the spiritual call to ritual yet and don’t care much about the workshop subjects. Kids want to play and if you can give them some activities to be involved in with adult supervision for awhile you might get some you time and they get to have some fun. Let those kittens come play with the ball of yarn for awhile so you can enjoy the show or visit the shops. Yes, this too is a good cat herding element to consider and if pulled off right the kids and the parents as well will appreciate it.