The challenge of writing about a spirituality that is wholly personal, is that basically you’re putting *yourself* out there. There are no generalizations. You can’t speak on behalf of your brethren. You speak on your own behalf. Perhaps through these words, I can give a glimpse into a personal spirituality that many may consider flaky, strange, alien or even something worse (and I have been called worse).
I self-identify as pagan, with a small p. That lumps me into a large and eclectic group that spans many different cultures, from the Heathen/Asatruar, to Egyptian, Italian, Greek, even technically Hindu pagans. I could narrow it down further to say that I am drawn to Celtic mythology, partly through it “feeling” right and partly through heritage. I am, by blood, a UK mutt for all intents and purposes (although my family tree has not been rooted in that soil for several generations). Narrowing down to the Celtic pagans does reduce the population of the group I claim. But not fully. You see, we seem to be a group of like-minded, completely independent folks. So my way of seeing things may not reflect the opinions of *any* other Celtic pagan-y type person. There are also many different ways to approach Celtic paganism. There is the Wicca-inspired Celtic Faery Faith, the Celtic Reconstructionists, the Druids (which may or may not be the same thing, depending on who you speak to)… the list is as long and varied, especially since there are a few pantheons that can be identified in the Celtic realm – the Irish, the Welsh, the Scottish, the Gallic, the German… Personally, I am drawn to the Irish pantheon, and there is enough overlap in concepts that I don’t feel left out in the cold if, for example, the Welsh pantheon is being referred to.
Now, I will introduce the concept of my being drawn to the practices of the druids of old. This is where it gets tricky from the perspective side (i.e. flaky or worse), because mentioning the d-word can bring up mental images of the old bearded guys in the white robes with flashing knives, human sacrifice and mobs of people descending on Stonehenge for Summer Solstice so they can drink and party and be weird together. *sigh* Yes, I have a cloak. It’s green. But no, I haven’t gone to Stonehenge, and if I did, I’d try to choose a day that I thought would have the smallest crowds. Mainly because I’d want to experience the environment of it, not the ritual. I’m definitely not a Romantic Ceremonialist, and am a little more on the Hedgewitch side (oh, darn, I just said the w-word…)
Okay, so witch… right… I knew this was going to be a slippery slope. Witch is a loaded term, and I don’t necessarily self-identify as a witch, per se. But the natural-knowledge part of what I like to do does fit into the witch side of things, I suppose. The little charms, herbal work, the crafty side of things. I’ve a long history of doing that sort of thing. But no, it’s not like Practical Magic or The Craft – man, if we had special effects like that, it would be way sexier to self-identify as a pagan-witch-druid-thing. As far as discussing the charm/herbal work/crafty side of things, perhaps I’ll leave that to another post.
But, but, but! While I may self-identify as an Irish Celtic pagan with druid interests, I don’t restrict my spiritual influences to only Celtic sources. I greatly enjoy learning about other religions/spiritualities. I’m highly influenced by the ideas in Buddhism, for example. I’m currently reading the Koran, as well as a pagan philosophy book on moral living from a Pagan perspective. Comparative theology and understanding other faiths perspectives and how they evolved are very important pursuits for me. So much so, I almost started a comparative theology graduate degree. I may still – time will tell.
Not all Celtic pagans feel this is a good practice. They feel that it is too eclectic, and that it introduces foreign concepts into a not-yet-fully-recovered ancient faith system. I accept that they wish mainly to study and tease out the details of the Celtic faith system that was practiced in the British Isles pre-Roman invasion (and conquest). My perspective is that the Celtic faith system would have evolved since then. And as I mentioned above, I prefer to also study comparative theology.
I’m not “active” in the physical community of paganism in my city. A part of me doesn’t want to share my experiences physically. Another part of me doesn’t want to do the ritual aspect of it. I was, at one point, part of a community. I was even one of the leaders of that little community. I think perhaps my spiritual development needed it then, and right now I have a different focus. Perhaps I will rejoin it. I know of one effort currently underway that I would like to be a part of, potentially. We shall see. It might just take me following up on it. If I’m able to, I will blog about it.
(originally posted April 12, 2010)