OK. It’s officially “a thing”. I have a problem with Festival days.
No, really, like ‘knots in my stomach and avoidance’ kind of problem. I’ve blamed it on lethargy, laziness or being contrary, and blamed last Samhain’s really strange energy on some disturbing news I had just gotten about one of my Ancestral lines, but after several more Festival days and several more bouts of avoidance, it finally came to some sort of real awareness today. And I think I can see something emerging.
I’ve been to numerous public rituals, and at only one did I really feel like I was “in the flow”-the public ritual that Kristoffer Hughes did in Berkeley last Feb. after Pantheacon (which I did not attend). That ritual felt wonderful-like the Spirits of Place and Spirits of Tradition came with him to visit the Bay Area. The rest of the events have been “take it or leave it” feeling. Not what I had envisioned. Yes, it was wonderful to meet new people but the rituals, not so much. To me it’s just not about people, or movements, words, scripts costumes or gatherings.
Most of the Druids I’ve met are rather extroverted, bless them, and seem to be the norm in Druidry, but I am the opposite-an extreme introvert that would rather talk to trees, grass or a preying mantis than people. I’m more of the wildcrafter/forest dweller type…more one to be found with pine straw in my hair, dirt under my nails and something green and pungent hanging from my mouth if you can find me at all.
But even when it’s just the two of us doing seasonal rituals at home, I don’t like seasonal rituals.
I’m still not sure exactly what the problem is…but I know I have never liked ritual. NEVER. Of any kind. Not even a daily routine. Previously, if life could be a different color, flavor, painting or place every day, I’d be happy. I’m learning now, as I mature, that at least daily routine is a good thing, but that’s fairly new for me. I’m one of those “dance to your own kazoo” kind of girls. And robes-No. In America, it’s just a NO. You’re either a Priest or a Klansman so, NO. But daily morning ritual is NOT a problem at all. That has become part of my daily routine and I’m a better person for taking the time out to connect, pray, set intention, etc. Nope, it’s the seasonal rituals that I just can’t stand.
And so I’m admitting it to myself, and from here on out, I’m going to “do my own thing” on seasonal Festival days. And I’m not calling them Festivals, I’m calling them “Passages”-Seasonal Passages. I’m admitting that if I am to continue down the Druid path, it’s not going to be some well-worn sidewalk through the forest. Nope, this is going to be a “hack and whack” through the bushes kind of Druidry for me.
So I was grateful today when I went searching and found a blog post by writer Nimue Brown that mentioned coming into her “own Druidry”. I thought, “Whew! At least someone else is admitting it as well!” It’s OK to “do your own thing”.
I think this is what I mean by a “new species of Druid”. Just like other Spiritual traditions, Druidry is not going to be the same for me as it is for people in the England or on Anglesey or Australia. My Druidry can be personalized, and that’s OK. I’m giving myself permission to improvise. I am of the same genus but a very different species.
For a while, being unsure about whether or not I fit the standard Druid mold gave me a bit of a “crisis of faith”. Maybe I shouldn’t be calling myself a Druid at all. But I have been assured by several graduates of OBOD that I will like the Ovate grade and that I’m “definitely an Ovate”. So I’m going to keep bushwhacking.
This particular species of Druid (me) that’s just beginning to emerge, is one who will be OBOD trained, but also one who follows a Bhakti path with my Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, one who has strong Animist leanings, and who works intensively with my Ancestors, an Ifa-Orisha trained psychologist, plant medicine, and “Spirits of Place”; One who is deeply focused on things that make “American Druids” unique to the place they live. It can’t be any other way here. It’s a very different habitat.
Here in America, especially if we want to work with Ancestors and healing their trauma and our own, we necessarily must include subjects like “new world” religions, which should include religious fanaticism, fleeing the ancestral abuses of the Anglican and Catholic Churches in our original homelands (Epigenetic dislike of robes anyone?), how that colors our views of religion then and now, sexual abuse, and egotism.
If we want to work with regional, ancient stories of place, well, we have none. Do we need to create non-colonizer, non-appropriator “new” stories to connect us to where we live? Maybe. That’s a question for future thought… But we must work with the fact that we are children of diaspora-descendants of many places who carry the culture (frequently) of none of them. We must work with and guard against cultural appropriation while finding a place where we fit, and words to describe who we are and what we practice. And many of us don’t have a clue about ritual or any sort of understanding of ways to make things holy and sacred…We have a lot of work to do to heal, recreate, and create American Druidry.
Those are just some of the pieces that I’m putting into the basket of “my own Druidry”.
I’ve definitely had thoughts that maybe I don’t “belong” in Druidry, or should not take the Ovate and Druid grades because people will judge that what I’m doing is not Druidry, but I really want to finish this thing. I’ve made a commitment, and since I haven’t been very good at keeping those during my life, I want to keep this one.
For me, the juicy parts of the course so far have never been “just” on paper. It’s the energetics of things that have already wowed my socks off that let me know that despite people’s opinions (or my perception of what those might be) I AM in the right place. When I look at where I am energetically I KNOW I am in the right place!
It will just take time and tending to bring this species to maturity. What it will be, and what kind of fruits it will bear, I do not know. For now, all I know is it has sprouted and needs tending…