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cold shoulder from local druid community, other thoughts on paganism

September 27, 2010

This past week, I was in communication with a woman from a town an hour’s drive up into the hills. She and her boyfriend are both practicing druids, and her boyfriend is also very much into shamanism, which I am also interested in, but know almost nothing about.

I have been seeking out pagans to communicate with, because I don’t just want to learn from books, and I don’t just want to practice spirituality of any kind by myself, and only by myself.

The email conversation had been going well, or so I thought. In my last email to this woman, I asked her if she would mind if I could talk to her and her boyfriend in person. I was more than willing to drive up there, as I love that area of the state anyway. I have always been very polite in my emails, and don’t think it is rude to ask to meet someone in person for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment. I certainly wasn’t flirty at all. I’ve never met her, and she has a live in boyfriend, and going by her facebook photos, I’m not at all attracted to her, so of course I haven’t been flirting with her – I’ve been polite and respectful and it’s been close to a week since I last wrote to her.

She might write back, who knows.

I also have been writing to another woman (I think there are many more female pagans than men, but that’s just a guess – regardless, in general, I prefer communicating with women) who is part of the same order – which is called OBOD “Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids,” which is based in England and offers home study courses – and is a member of a local druid group. Wiccan groups are called covens, as wiccans identify themselves as witches. Druids call their groups Groves. This woman informed me a couple days ago there is a druid grove here in town. I was quite pleased to receive this news.

Today, I checked my email/facebook messages, and only got one of her responses in my main email in box. She seemed optimistic about me being able to meet with her and some of the others and have a chat. I went over to FB to respond to that comment, then found another one, more recent, right below it. Here is the comment she wrote, “Well, I asked the grove about you checking out our group, and was advised we are not accepting new members at this time. Also tat you should prob order the intro gwersu from OBOD directly. sorry I didn’t have better news for you.”

My first response was rather long, and went like this:

“I don’t, as of now, want to be a new member, just want to hear from people about what they are learning and their experiences – have a conversation, getting a brief look at materials before deciding to buy – but apparently they are not open to that either.

I am guessing there is some kind of power structure within the grove – someone who is in charge, makes the decisions – or there are elders and newer people – some have seniority and others don’t?

I do hope that if I someday decide to study and practice Druidry, there will be other groves, and that they are interested in new members. I don’t want to pay for all that material, learn it, put it into practice and then be excluded in the future. Each group is different though, so I’ll find other Druids to talk with.. maybe.

“I’m guessing I first have to know a practicing Druid fairly well before being accepted. Perhaps, it’s like so many things in life – a matter of who you know..

I really appreciate your trying to help me though – very nice of you to help someone you don’t know. You tried, and that matters to me. Thank you for that.”

I later changed it to : “Ok, thanks for trying.”

Why complain? They don’t know me so why care? Well, I think people would want to share with others who show interest, but this is not the case sometimes.

I do know of course, that I have no right to demand acceptance or expect acceptance or anything of anyone. My hope has been that people will be open enough and nice enough to talk with me in person. No druids to talk with yet.

I wonder if there is some druid grapevine – within the towns and cities located within an hour’s drive of each other – and these druid folks just arbitrarily (or through some arcane form of divination) decide who to include and talk with, and who not to..

Awhile back this past year, I’d asked a co-worker at the wildlife center about paganism, and her then-roommate turned out to be a Druid. I might have at that time had the opportunity to talk with her roommate, but didn’t feel the time was right. My co-worker – one of my supervisors, has since moved to a different city to study at a university. I wrote her recently, asking if she could put me int touch with her previous roommate. She wrote back, saying she felt it wouldn’t be right to give me her roommate’s contact info, but did give me a link to a pagan site. It was on that pagan site that I found links to the two Druids I wrote to on FB.

Well, I am bummed and irritated, but I tend to take things personally and think it’s just another in a massively long and tragic chain of things not working out for me, and being rejected by other people.

I could easily be angry at these druid-types. But that would be foolish and wrong, even if they are being petty, which they might not be. Pagans still practice mostly in secret, because although Christians no longer set fire to pagans, they still harass and discriminate against pagans – not all Christians do this, but many do.

This even happened to me years ago.

Almost a decade ago, I bought a deck of Tarot cards. It was a really nice deck – pictures were from Arthurian legend. I sat at a corner table in a Barnes and Noble, minding my own business, and this wild-eyed Christian lunatic, who I’d seen before harassing people in the store, spotted me. I had earlier seen this guy, and one other dude – a guy I hung out with a few times years ago – standing right in front of the new age/pagan section and heading people off at the pass, blocking their way and intensely arguing with them about all that stuff being of the devil.

This guy just happened to pop into the store at the same time I happened to be sitting in a corner of the store laying out the Tarot cards in a spread and trying to figure out how they all worked.

This dude, looking manic, nuts, and bug-eyed already, turned on me and said, “I can see you are being bold about your witchcraft so I’m going to be bold about the Lord!!” I told him I was just sitting here minding my own business. He said, “You want me to turn this table over on you?”

This question is in reference to Jesus turning tables over in a synogogue. In at least one of the Gospels, there was an episode in which Jesus went into a Jewish house of worship (which was not an unusual thing for him to do considering he was Jewish), and found that inside it had been turned into a marketplace – people changing money and selling lifestock, etc. Which was of course inappropriate behaviour in a house of worship. Christ certainly had a right to be mad. He picked up some chords of leather or a rope or something, and made a whip out of it and started swinging it around in a rage and cleared the temple. I don’t blame him for doing that. “Not in my father’s house!” Jesus said.

I was NOT in a church sanctuary with these Tarot cards, I was in a bookstore – the same bookstore where I bought the cards, so the Christian fanatic’s remark was rather inappropriate.

I am a big guy, and I was getting angry. I slowly stood up and pushed my chair out of the way – obviously pissed off. The lunatic’s expression changed to one of fear. He muttered something, and took off quick into another part of the store.

The timing of all this bothered me though, and I was shaken because I really hate conflict with anyone. I figured maybe this was a message from God, and eventually through out the cards. Maybe that was not the right thing to do. One of the reasons I tossed the cards is because my mom, who I live with, is very religious and she would not have wanted anything like Tarot cards in the house, so that was one reason I pitched them.

These days, I have been contemplating buying another deck – but out of respect for my mom and other religious relatives, keeping it in the car. Too much study to figure out the cards though, so I likely will not buy a deck anytime soon.

Going back to the druidry emails.. the word “gwersu” means “lesson.” That’s what one of the women was talking about – the introductory lesson sold by OBOD. And if I want to continue – at least 47 dollars a month – could be well worth it, but maybe not. I might still by the intro materials, but I sure would have liked to have a look at them first. Probably won’t happen though.

I have found one pagan willing to meet with me and talk. But she is not a Druid, she is a Wiccan.

I met her early this year.. I think it was this year, might have been last year, hard to remember – at a small pagan meeting at a coffee house in a smaller city to the south of where I live.

The meeting was alright. The people were nice, but a couple things bothered me. One is that there seems to be an undercurrent (or else blatant) decadence to pagans. They were talking about frequenting a local sex shop – I hate sex shops – have no interest in porn or anything else they sell. That troubled me.

The other thing that gave me a bad feeling was hearing how wonderfully close to certain goddesses the two main wiccans at the meeting felt during their rituals. I felt bad only because I’ve never felt embraced by anyone divine – it was rather like hearing other Christians talking about feeling close to God, or being filled with the Holy Spirit – the kind of thing that obviously happened to others – I went to some holy roller Christian meetings back when I was a Christian..

I felt as though all the divine was alike and I couldn’t relate to these goddesses being mentioned, and that they would ignore me too.

I also have read and heard that spiritual feelings are a matter of brain biology and genetics.. some people are much more genetically pre-disposed to religious/spiritual/mystical experiences than others because of their brain chemistry.

Perhaps brain chemistry is all that there is – no gods no supernatural, no spiritual, but I don’t believe that.

I HAVE felt closer to Nature more lately. I got to see a barn owl in flight several times – once it flew by rather close and turned to look at me as it passed. Some of my feelings I’d rather not endeavor to describe because putting things into words sort of diminishes them. I’m not talking of overwhelming experiences, but have been feeling spiritually better.

My brain is doing its usual thing though, at least starting to – burning out a bit on an idea before I barely get started. I do have some sort of mood disorder perhaps.. a mental shifting of preferences – liking something for awhile, getting sick of it.. maybe it’s not a mood disorder at all, maybe it’s just how a lot of us humans are.

Anyway.. I just made an appointment with the leader of that little pagan group yesterday. I don’t know if she is the head of her coven, but she is open about her witcraft, which I think is good. There is a site called meetup – not sure if it is a .com or .org. But, on this site, she clearly identifies herself as a practicing witch and member of a coven. Cool to be open about that, I think.

Another thing I like about her is she isn’t one of those velvet-clad wiccan women who wears too much black eyeliner and tons of pagan bling… you know that type of wiccan. This one appears just as an average person, works at a hardware store goes about her life. It’s just that her religion is Wicca.

i still have many reservations… druidry has appeared better to me because I am guessing there is less heavy emphasis on deities, less emphasis on the more far out metaphysical things that wiccans really dig.. And there’s the old Christian fears of demonic possession. And my parents being Catholic – and Catholics being dead set against the occult..

I don’t remember if I wrote about Catholicism seeming pagan. But it sure does! Catholics and pagans both wear robes, both have rituals, and altars and implements and incense and prayers and pray to various people and get amulets blessed and have a preistly class, and holy orders and both believe in goddesses of a sort, and have mother and child imagery (which pre-dates Christianity by several thousand years) .. there are MANY SIMILARITIES between Catholicism and paganism. The difference is all this magical stuff in the Catholic church is supposedly sanctioned by the Christian god. I can certainly see why Protestants get bothered by Catholicism – Catholicism is quite pagan! Or certainly looks that way.

Alright then..

That book I ordered, called ” Positive Magic,” will arrive sooner than expected. I got an automated email from Amazon.com notifying me of this. I ordered 3 books from Amazon directly, as compared to buying from another seller through Amazon – one pagan book, one fitness book, one career guide, and one book from an independent merchant selling through the Amazon website. The pagan book will be arriving earlier than originally scheduled.

Hmm… I’ve often wondered about the timing of things.

And, the wiccan woman being available this week to talk – this Thursday. I need to make a list of questions – take some notes, and will have more to write about.

If she backs out too, though, that will really make me think something weird is going on..

Wondering that reminds me of an odd experience a few years back. I was trying to find a pagan store that was located in a residential area here in town. I drove up and down that street, and where the pagan store was supposed to be was a beat-up and neglected small house with a big cross put up on what was once a basketball hoop and pole. It looked like some crazy poor person’s idea of a church. I think that might have even been the exact address where the pagan store was to be.. or close to the address.

I wrote an email to people at that store, explaining what happened, how I could not find the store, and found an old house with a big cross. No one wrote back.

What’s with this stuff?

I have had positive experiences with pagans in the past. A few I’d met have been very cool people. I went to one of their events in 2003, and the woman who had been the proprietor of that store (which I years later found had closed – maybe that’s why I couldn’t find it, but I thought it was still open at the time I looked for it) – the woman who also lead that particular meeting (not the same woman I’ll hopefully be talking to on Thursday) she reminded me a little of my mom, only an earthy and MUCH more at peace and laid back and serene version of my mom. I really got a good feeling about her. And the other pagans were salt of the earth folks for the most part too.

So that is positive. I don’t know where they all are now, though. Most of them might still be in town, and practicing in secret. Hardly anyone comes to the meetings that are still going on in this other town. Maybe pagans in this area have for the most part really gone underground. There wasn’t even a pagan pride day in the park this year. Hmmm..

A lot going on that I don’t know about..

And that is probably a massive understatement.

Well, that’s pretty much all I want to write about now, I’ve been typing for QUITE awhile, and have other things to do today. I really hope I’m not wasting my time with all this. I’ll make certain to study other things today.

I plan on meeting this woman on Thursday. I will write about the meeting, or mention in a blog if she backs out.

Time will tell.

That’s all for now.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 2:57 PM

    Bummer on the not having a whole lot of luck with meet ups and such.

    I can kinda relate, with the ‘no close connection’ thing you mentioned, but it just dosn’t bother me.

    Some deities use confusion or misdirection in order to teach their lessons. If there IS a deity interested in you, perhaps they are one of those who teach through confusion and misleading? I know I’ve read about some like that. Something to consider if nothing else.

    Owls in general don’t usually get close to people like that. Perhaps it was an ‘on purose’ thing, like you got too close to it’s nest tree, but again, I suppose it’s possible it’s someone’s way of going ‘Hey, Pay attention now’. Try looking up ‘Deities with owls’ and see who shows up? *shrugs*

    Good luck with your upcoming meeting, I hope it goes well for you!

  2. tomschronicles permalink
    September 29, 2010 11:09 PM

    A real comment from a real person! Thanks! I mean it – my blog gets spammed almost everyday! It’s so nice to get a comment from a fellow blogger. Hasn’t happened in awhile.

    It’s very good that the no connection thing doesn’t bother you. I wish I felt the same, would make life LOTS easier, and I would not go on these obsessive quests, most of which, so far, have apparently not born fruit.

    Very interesting to think of a deity taking an interest in me, instead of the other way around! I hadn’t thought of that at all. I still have a difficult time believing in deities as being more than rather interesting fictional characters in some of my favorite books, such as “American Gods.”

    It’s wild to think that 1. deities are real, and 2. one would take an interest in me. That’s mind-blowing stuff! Not to say it’s wrong – you might very well be right, I just haven’t been thinking this way at all.

    Also interesting to think of one that has taken an interest in me that teaches through confusion – a trickster deity, I suppose, like Coyote is to the Native Americans? If I remember correctly, those deities tend to do people harm. Maybe there are deities in some pantheons that teach through misdirection and confusion and so forth but do so in a benevolent fashion that truly helps people.

    Hmmmm..

    Regarding owls, were you referring to another of my blogs? I don’t remember mentioning owls in this one, but I might have and forgotten, I forget a lot of things these days. Yikes, getting older.

    Deities with owls – I am aware of one of them, I think it is Athena, who has an owl with her pretty much all the time.

    The Native Americans tend to associate owls with death, and so do some European cultures. There is a Native American story I read years ago called, ” I heard the owl call my name.” According to this legend, owls call peoples’ names when it is time for them to die.

    So I’ve got a trickster/death deity – great.. oh well. Seriously though… who knows.

    And you are a practicing pagan? And have you been at it awhile?

    Thanks again for writing.

    • September 30, 2010 4:28 AM

      Not all Trickster/death deities are bad, at least I don’t believe they are.

      And yes, I am a praticing pagan, or at least attempting to be. I’m not sure on all this stuff myself either but I’ve been kinda thrown into it, and am still trying to figure out if I’m doing stuff right. ^^;

      All I know for sure is your post prompted a reply, if only to offer food for thought.

      And yes you did mention Owls, right after the ‘brain chemistry’ bit, about 2/3rd into your post.

      As for Deities taking interest in people, I’m a bit forced to believe it’s possible. If you’d like I’ll explain that bit, though it could get lengthy – just a warning there ^^;; But the short of it was I started, when I found out about Paganism, with the Greek Deities, and Hades was who I had the strongest ‘connection’ to, because I’d always had a sort of fasination with death (Halloween fave holiday, fave doll was a wire-frame bendy skeleton, fave decoration were the little plastic and paper wallhanging skeletons, ect ect.) and sort of got shoved over to the Egyptian Deities via a Dream, pretty much ‘You’re not ready for my lessons yet, and this guy has plenty to teach you’ type of a thing. So still learning and figuring stuff out myself.

      And to the ‘no connection’ thing, I’ve sort of created my own connection to my current Head deity, learning all I can about him every chance I get, and boy is there a LOT to learn o.o;; I still don’t feel close as other might feel, like your example of a Christian being filled with Holy Spirit, but the connection I’m working on forming with my Head Deity dosn’t need to be THAT strong, what I have is enough to know he’s there if I need someone to go to, and that’s good enough. *shrugs*for me, it works to have a ‘weak’ connection, if you could call it a connection at all, mostly because I don’t work at it all the time, I tend to go from learning about him to others to something completly different and back again. ^^;;;

      Really I think when people talk about their ‘connection’ to a Deity, it’s the point they realize they’ve been in contact with the deity in question or one simmilar for a long time already and they only just realized it AS a connection and not just a random behavior pattern they’re following… like someone connected to Canine deities collecting Wolf figurines long before they knew about the Canine deities or something like that. I guess it would be like the final peice of the puzzle falling into place, y’know? That ‘Ooooh, NOW I get it!’ moment.

      But this is all just my point of view on the issue, who it could go either way for you specifically.

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