So there’s been this Pagan meme going around the blogs. It was written in such a way that it was easily snarkable. Juniper made a new meme. As it’s a Friday night and I’m feeling kind of tired and lazy, why not? I haven’t done a meme in awhile. Takes me back to high school…
Please describe briefly your Path: Pour four cups of ADF Druidism into a large bowl. Add a cup of liberal Celtic Reconstructionism, a cup of hearth and kitchen witchery, and add a dash of Norse influence. Stir together nicely. Experiment with some hedgecrossing to taste and you’ve got a lovely Grey Catsidhe.
Please describe briefly how you practice it: I try to just live my beliefs with honor. Sometimes it’s hard. Work and financial stresses can wear me down and make me want to spend lazy Fridays filling out memes and playing games, but overall I just kind of… find the magic in living. I work to maintain a good relationship with my deities and spirits. I do nightly devotionals and try to meditate as part of that. I’m trying to practice trance at least once a week. I do a formal ritual each week. I pray a lot. I practice magic. I keep a garden. I go for walks in the woods. Things really started to click when I began to view the world through a certain cultural/religious lens.
When did you first commit to your Path?
I knew that Paganism, of some variety, was for me when I was in 11th grade. I dabbled with various things but didn’t officially commit to Druidism until… 2007? I think that’s about right.
How is your practice different now than it was then?
I’m more confident, practiced, and informed than I was back then. I’m a lot less judgmental of eclectic Pagans, but I’m also more interested and dedicated to a hearth culture. I also don’t worry about being “less Pagan” than other people. If anything, I worry about not getting enough practice, but I don’t believe in a separation of the mundane and the magical. There is a time and place for being overtly Pagan, but I live my spirituality,
Is your practice different today than how you thought it would be back then?
I guess. I think I have a deeper understanding. I practice more and I have a more meaningful relationship with the Kindreds. There’s always room for more work, of course… I did want to start a grove a few years ago, but life took me in a different direction and I’m glad for that. I wasn’t ready to lead others. I’m still learning and getting comfortable.
Does your Path and core belief system differ now than how it was when you first started? Yes. Back in high school, I was dabbing with Neo-Wicca and eclectic Paganism. I was very, very fluffy and naive. I had no idea what cultural appropriation meant. I was praying to Greek deities because I was familiar with them. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of nature. It’s what initially attracted me to an Earth-centered path.
What is your heritage and how does this inform your Path? I’m a mixture of Irish, Scottish, Viking, German, English, and French with a dash of Cree for good measure! Although proud of my Cree heritage, I’ve never felt pulled in that direction. I’ve always been very fascinated with my European roots. As a little girl, I grew up listening to my mother tell of her adventures in Europe and my grandfather explain our genealogy to us. I was enthralled with castles, dragons, and Camelot. All very romantic stuff. As I grew, so did my fascination which matured into a love for European lore, history, and culture. When I started to look more into Druidism, I felt that I was coming home. I don’t think blood is the most important thing to determine one’s path – I believe the Gods can call to anyone – but I do think our ancestors can have a very strong influence on us spiritually speaking.
What are your main influences for your Path?
I’m very inspired by Celtic cultures – Irish in particular but also Scottish and some Cornish. The Tuatha de Dannan are of particular interest to me. Brighid and An Dagda have been with me nearly from the start of my Druidic journey. I feel that Brighid, in particular, was steering me in her direction. She really is the perfect patron for me. My relationship with An Dagda is a little more ineffable… The symbols of Celtic-flavored spirituality are also very influential to my magic and mindset. Working with them repeatedly are what make my “mundane” life more magical. The fire, well, and sacred tree; the upperworld, middleworld, and underworld; the Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Gods. They are all there and we are connected.
Nature continues to be a huge part of my spirituality. Working with plants, being in the forest, watching animals… I love it. It’s always very restorative to go into a forest, and yet it always reminds me of the chaos of life. It is funny how I can experience both in the woods, but somehow it relaxes me… It makes my problems seem so petty in the grand dance of life…
Which do you do more: practice or research?
At the moment, I think I’m reaching a happy balance. I probably still do more research than practice, but like I said earlier, I’m really starting to live my religion. Sometimes we need to focus on one more than the other, though, and there’s no harm in that.
Do you feel that one is more important than the other?
They are equally important to a balanced Pagan lifestyle, but if someone is called to one more than the other, that’s their prerogative.
What values and ethics are important on your Path and in your practice?
I want to live a virtuous life filled with honor – piety and hospitality to the Kindreds and my tribe; integrity to my beliefs; courage in the face of a challenge. I strive to live an environmentally friendly life and seek the least destructive means of living on Mama Earth. To that end I am a vegetarian. I don’t think it’s necessary to Druidism as we are all called to different paths, but to me it is part of my exploration. That said, I’m not against defending myself or my tribe against creatures that intend to harm us. I’m not against throwing vegetarianism aside to survive in dire situations. I’m also not against using a part of an animal that was found so long as it is okay to possess. I believe in eating local more than not, in attempting to use more sustainable “things,” and in being a friendly person. I prefer thriftiness and creativity to fads and excess. I also value learning and believe it is essential to the quest of the Druid.
What sort of cycles do you feel your practice goes through?
I cycle through intense periods of study, practice, and balance with the occasional lapse due to health, stress, or family obligations that make it difficult to practice regularly.
What is one of the greatest obstacles or struggles you have had to overcome?
I’m always overcoming some obstacle… I suppose the biggest, and the one that is always ongoing, is overcoming my insecurities. I’m far more confident in everything than I used to be.
How do you see yourself practicing in ten years?
I hope that I would be even more informed and confident. I hope to be better practiced at trance and meditation. I hope to be an improved liturgist who can lead a moving and effective ritual. I hope to have a stronger relationship to the Kindreds and my hearth culture. I hope to know more Irish. I would also like to make more of my own ritual tools.
How do you incorporate your practice into your life?
I’m always praying and recalling the Kindreds and powers. I find ritual and magic in some of the most basic of things like making a cup of tea or cleaning the house for company. Daily devotionals, gardening, nature walks, cooking…
Has walking your Path changed you as a person?
Oh yes. I feel more connected to the world around me, more intelligent thanks to my obsessive study of religions, mythology, culture, history, art… I also feel more confident thanks to my involvement with groups. I’ve lost my fear of public speaking (at least in front of smaller crowds) and I feel pretty most of the time. I’m a lot less shallow than I once was. I’m also more environmentally aware and am always trying to live in better harmony with the Nature Spirits and Mama Earth. I really work hard to practice what I preach.
Do you consider yourself to be a priest/ess? How so?
Um… yes and no. I’m my own priestess and I serve Brighid and An Dagda, but I don’t see myself as priestess in the Wiccan sense. I have no degrees in that tradition.
A witch? How so?
I do consider myself a bit of a witch, yes. I find myself influenced by hearth and kitchen witchery and am continually fascinated by hedge and traditional witchcraft. Basically, I think anyone who strives to practice the traditional folk magic of their ancestors, even in a Druidic tradition, can consider themselves to be practicing witchcraft. There is a sort of overlap and I’m not decided if there is a real difference or not…
A shaman? How so?
I’m not sure about this… I suppose if you want to say that Druids were to the Celts as shamans were to the Siberians, then yes… only I consider myself to still be in-training and not fully practiced in what shamans are known to do… It’s not something you can just decide to be. It takes practice.
Which matters more: getting the vocabulary right or the actual practice of what we are trying to define?
Again, balance is best. I don’t think the Gods are going to shoot a fireball at you for butchering their ancient names, but I do think trying is very important. Trying shows respect and care. If someone continually butchered my name and didn’t try to get to know me but acted as if he or she were my best friend, I would start to get pissed and probably distance myself. If someone spoke a different language and continually pronounced my name with an accent but got to know about the real me and gave as much as she took/got – I would love that person. I think the Gods are the same. That said, there could be some really picky, angry deities.
One of the most profound things anyone ever said to you was:
“You must watch where you are going!” – Random Canadian guy who looked like Albert Einstein. He ran up to me after I tripped on the sidewalk, nearly spilling my hot cocoa. He vanished as quickly as he came. He wasn’t rude or scary – in fact he was very goodnatured and grandfatherly about that.
A defining moment on your Path was:
1) Seeing a spirit as a child. I was convinced in an “otherworld” ever since.
2) A few very visceral interactions with a couple different Goddesses.
3) Meditating in a forest and finding myself surrounded by a heard of deer – face to face with a bellowing buck! We had a brief conversation.
Have you ever taken a “leap of faith”?
Probably, yes. I suppose that’s what religion is, even when we have very real experiences. We don’t really know if it’s an illusion. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream…
Please tell us something stupid, reckless or embarrassing you did once in your practice:
Um… I tried to prick a finger for some magic but just couldn’t do it. I really tried to – I couldn’t get it through my skin. It’s so easy to do it by accident… Since that, I’ve just been using menstrual blood. I just can’t do it otherwise! I’m such a wimp…
What is the most frustrating thing about your Path?
Sometimes it seems that there is more of an emphasis on liturgy and research than doing in Druidism. Hence my interest in folk magic. Good balance.
Have you ever been frightened?
Oh yes. I’ve encountered a few frightful things in the short trances I’ve had. The first and only time I managed to astrally project was unexpected and, while amazing, really disconcerting… There was also a time I was in the woods at night and heard coydogs nearby… Ran right home!
Can you perform ritual without a script?
Yes. It’s been awhile since I’ve lead a public ritual, but something tells me I could do it – or most of it anyway.
Have you ever preformed spontaneous magick/spellcraft?
Yes. Sometimes there’s just a need…
What are you still exploring or experimenting with?
Still exploring and experimenting with trance. Playing with drumming and researching flying ointments.
What (or whom) are you the most committed to in your practice and on your Path?
Brighid, An Dagda, and The Nature Spirits mostly. I have a connection with my ancestors but the pull isn’t as strong. The Earth Mother, in particular the spirit of the forests around here, is also very dear to me.
Ritual tools are …
Cauldrons, wands, candles, bowls, my trusty knife, kitchen knives, a wooden spoon, drums, ogham, animal oracle cards…
Magickal tools are …
Same as the above with the addition of various herbs, papers, metals, and fluids.
The one thing you can’t do without is:
Seeking personal power is …
fine. I think it is most healthy when you seek it to improve yourself and help the world/your tribe/the environment… But who hasn’t done a spell for money/employment/love? Why not try to strengthen every tool in the chest?
Politics and your Path are …
somehow connected. It’s hard not to see it that way. I’m concerned with religious freedom, as are most Druids. I’m also concerned with environmental mattes – as are most Druids! Some are more political than others…
One thing you wish people would understand about your Path and/or practice is:
Most Druids are not trying to be pompous-ass know-it-alls. We’re not trying to be rude when we explain why Wicca isn’t inherently Celtic. We value history, scholarship, and lively debate. Yes, our rituals are sometimes long but, you know what? They’re usually very moving. Not every ritual should be wham-bam-thank you ma’am.
Oh, and just because we don’t cast circles doesn’t mean our ritual space is going to burst into flame and we’re all going to become possessed. We’re not trying to control demons or anything. Jeesh…
Do you teach?
I engage with others in conversations, feel comfortable sharing what I know, and have lead a workshop. I generally don’t feel ready to be a real Pagan “teacher.” I need more years and experience.
What do you feel is the role of clergy in modern Paganism and Heathenism?
Clergy are the truly dedicated people who organize rituals, festivals, and workshops while the rest of us are struggling to balance our spirituality with our work and family demands take time off to play video games or nap (I am in the latter category right now!). Clergy are the people who go above and beyond and sacrifice themselves for the betterment of the community. They are unafraid to be the public face of Paganism and confront issues of religious inequality while the rest of us feel unable to do so. Those who are truly wise, caring, and selfless deserve our kudos and assistance.
When the Veil (or Hedge!) is thin, how does that feel to you?
I feel very light, like could or am falling out of my body. I feel tingly – sometimes hot or cold. Sometimes I feel a little sick…
What entities do you work with most? (ancestors, gods, fae etc)
I mostly work with Gods and Nature Spirits. I would like to develop a better relationship with the Ancestors.
What is your relationship with the Land?
The land is important to me. It is my home, source of sustenance, a source of inspiration, and life. I strive every day to walk in better harmony with her and her children, my brothers and sisters.
The most important aspect of ritual is:
If I’m performing a solitary ritual, I mustn’t feel on a deadline. If I’m rushing to get to bed before work, everything is just strained. If it’s a group ritual, I want to have a decent amount of rapport with everyone there. Organization is also good. If one of the ingredients is missing, the ritual can leave something to be desired… Everyone needs to know what’s going on. If something spontaneous happens, everyone should understand and trust each other enough to feel what should be done.
The main purpose of ritual is:
That depends. It could be to commune with spirits, worship deities, or give thanks. It could be to seek advice or some sort of change in life/the world. It could be to seek wisdom.
What is the purpose of divination/dowsing (or whichever form of augury you use)?
I personally don’t feel that divination is for seeing the future. It could be to see a possible future, sure… But I use divination mostly to speak with the Kindreds and gain further insight into a situation – not necessarily a futuristic event.
What was the most difficult book you ever read? (Either difficult to understand or hard to face what it said or both)
I read a lot, but the older grimoirs are the hardest to get through. I’ve been trying to get through The Key of Solomon most recently. There’s a lot of flowery language and it’s kind of a chore… I want to read it for a better understanding of ceremonial magic, but I can only take it in short bursts.
What book do you recommend the most to others?
It’s not entirely academic, but I really love Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman. It’s a great resource for anyone hoping to live a more spirit-filled life! There are recipes, meditations, crafts, stories, and such following the high days. A wonderful book for anyone curious about Druidism or Celtic, particularly Irish, inspired religion.
What is you favourite podcast (if any) and favourite blog (other than your own)?
Podcasts: I like ADF’s Tribeways, New World Witchcraft, OBOD’s podcast, and Standing Stone, Garden Gate. Favorite blogs include Ian’s, Witch of the Wild Grove, The Ramblings and Wanderings of a Canadian Hedgewitch, The Wild Hunt, The Juggler… So many…
If you could impart only one last piece of wisdom or knowledge, or share one experience with the world at large, what would it be?
Just go outside and try to find balance in all things.
Is there an additional question you would like to see here? What is it? (please also answer)
Nope. This was long enough. I’m tired now.
Please finish this meme with a picture, image or photograph of some sort: Here’s one of my most favorite places in the world – Bald Mountain in the Adirondacks. I got engaged here and love visiting.