Posts tagged ‘druidism’

Wanderings of a would-be Gael

Gaelic Roundtable for the March 2017 topic of Journeys (summer catch-up!)

I have been a Pagan of some sort for about 20 years now, which sounds more impressive than it actually is! I’ve had a tendency to be more of an armchair philosophical Pagan than much of an active practitioner, but I’d like to change that. I’d like to weave my spiritual practice into my everyday life, so it does not just feel like something walled off in a corner. I have primarily been focused on Irish culture, but am also branching into Scottish traditions as well. I am especially interested in learning more about how customs and cultures have evolved in both diasporas in Minnesota and other parts of North America and adapted to a modern urban working-class setting, rather than an pastoral aristocratic or peasant setting that tends to be the bias of medieval Irish literature and later folk customs.

During my college years I studied with two different Irish Reconstructionist groups- Tuath Choilraighe, led by Aedh Rua (who now goes by the name Segomaros Widugeni) and Temple of the River, led by Andrew Jacob (who now goes by the name Andre Solo) I have also been an on and off member of Ar nDraiocht Fein, and also studied and practiced with the Mists of Stone Forest, a druid grove that branched off of the Henge of Keltria, in turn a branch of ADF.

I am now a part of Northern Roots Grove, which is an independent syncretic Druid grove, with members of RDNA, ADF and OBOD involved. And of course, I’ve done lots of studies on my own, and gained a lot of knowledge along the way.  I have also been studying the Irish language with Gaeltacht Minnesota.  I am also a member of Clann Bhride, a gender-inclusive Brighidine online devotional group with a focus on social justice.

Druid ABC soup:

RDNA– Reformed Druids of North America

ADF– Ar nDraiocht Fein

OBOD– Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids

For a good comparison of these different druid groups see Susan Reed’s summaries here.

 

 

Advertisements

July 1, 2017 at 8:23 am 1 comment

Pagan / Buddhist Syncretism

At our Druid Meet n’ Greet, we had several people with an interest in Buddhism, or who already had a dual path or syncretic practice including Buddhism & Western Neo-Paganism. Over the years, I’ve known many Pagan folks who either included Buddhist “bits” of philosophy and practice (especially meditation) or identified as Buddhist Pagans (or insert your hybrid label here) I’ve also known of people who left Buddhism to become Pagan or left Paganism to be more focused on Buddhism (Deo and his wife of the former Deo’s Shadow podcast come to mind for the latter) Since I feel that I know just enough about Buddhism to “be dangerous” as it were, I will leave judgment of what are good and not-so-good methods of syncretism to Buddhists and Buddhist Pagans themselves, but this gives you an idea of the diverse viewpoints and resources out there. I’m also including a section- or maybe a seperate post of links of viewpoints from both Pagans & Buddhists who think the two don’t mesh well together- though this can be reflective of what types of Buddhism and Paganism they are familiar with, have practiced etc.  Note: I do not consider Buddhists or Buddhism overall to be “Pagan” it is classed as a Dharmic religion, along with Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Egregores: Top Ten Things Pagans Should Know About Buddhism

Open Buddha: A Pagan Buddhist?, Pagan Dharma blog also by same author- the top post is about Zen Druids!

Dharma Pagan (not sure if this is the same website reincarnated?) Great website, lots of resources!

“Spiritual But Not Religious” in Paganism & Buddhism– interesting suggestions on how to adapt Wheel of the Year holidays to Buddhist practice on the related blog for ex: here’s Summer Solstice

Reflections on “Why Buddha Touched the Earth: Zen Paganism for the 21st Century” by Tom Swiss by Trellia, a British eclectic Pagan who includes Shinto (with Zen influence) in her practice.

Another review of “Why Buddha...” on Blog of Baphomet

Zen Paganism group on Facebook

It All Just Is– Pagan Buddhist blog

Secular Buddhism- an interview on Humanistic Paganism

Fake Buddha Quotes– Make sure those Buddha quote memes you see floating around are actually legit!

June 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm 4 comments

Shamanism Part 2: Is Cultural “Neutrality” Possible?

One of my questions for thought and discussion in my last post was-

“Is a culturally neutral shamanism- or any spiritual practice possible? Why or why not?”

Most of my questions don’t really have “right or wrong” answers, because they are designed to make you think, question your assumptions and work on developing your spiritual path. I admit this one however, was a bit of a “trick question” intended to test what assumptions you might have of cultural neutrality.

From a social science standpoint it’s impossible to be “culturally neutral” or truly “generic”. I often see American Pagans attempting to do this, especially within a particular region- this is “generically North American Indian” or “generically Asian”. The results are often very watered down, ineffective and often offensive and mis-representative of hundreds of distinct ethnic and regional cultures, all in one ritual or book! The pan-Indian ritual will be Disney’s Pocahontas meets Dances with Wolves,  and the pan-Asian ritual in the next room ends up looking like a cheap hippie version of this Katy Perry music video.

Basically, to be “culturally neutral/generic” you need to stop being human. Humans, are by definition social animals and need each other for our physical survival and mental sanity. Culture is by definition, shared and co-created over a long period of time. If you are still thinking “But I don’t have a culture!” I suggest you read this article- Body Ritual among the Nacirema and that might help you to view things differently!

I know some of my co-religionists were wondering about my choice to include shamanism in my Approaching Paganism series. Most of them would simply state “shamanism is practiced in some Central Asian cultures, and if you’re from outside of that context, you just shouldn’t use the word”. I understand and empathize with that position, but the fact is I am explaining modern Neo-Paganism in its many varieties as it is, rather than as I would like it to be. I might have an easier time influencing people who are totally new to Paganism(s) and shamanism in any form, but by simply accusing people of cultural appropriation, I’d be shutting down any potential conversations with Western/non-indigenous people who have been following a neo-shamanic path for years. Being an American who gets politically and socially classed as “white”, I have a lot of opportunities to challenge racism and cultural insensitivity from people with similar backgrounds. But I have to find the best way to use those opportunities to calmly invite people to learn more and challenge their assumptions and sense of entitlement, rather than just shutting down conversations by playing “I’m a Better Ally Than You!” trump cards. And I realize, that I in turn always have more to learn about these issues myself!

It also seems a bit hypocritical to me to judge people too harshly about this, since after all I call myself a Druid. A lot of people in broader Neo-Pagan-dom would consider that “fair game” simply because it’s of European origin, but it’s more complicated than that. There are living Celtic cultures, and while they don’t have a continuous unbroken tradition of druids, they still have opinions about people who call themselves “Druids” particularly when they come from English or Anglo-American cultural backgrounds and think they are entitled to grab anything pretty and shiny with knotwork or tartan patterns and call it “Celtic” without bothering to learn anything more about distinctions between Celtic cultures, languages and their histories of suppression and erasure.

June 3, 2015 at 8:06 pm 2 comments

How to Tell Druids Apart

OBOD Druid Approach: There is no historical information about X. Therefore- Make Stuff Up! Ley lines! King Arthur! Stonehenge!

Reformed Druids of North America: Nature is Good! Mandatory chapel is bad! And beer is really good!

ADF Druid Approach: Screw you, RDNA. There is real historical informational about X. We can be real Druids! And oooh Indo-European studies- even more info! Hail Dumezil! I mean…Dagda!

Celtic Reconstructionist Approach:  

Traditional/Conservative Branch of CR: There is no historical info about X Therefore, don’t do anything! Or if you do, don’t tell anyone about it! Oh wait there’s a new journal article that says….

Liberal/Innovative Branch of CR: There is no historical info about X. Therefore, look at a neighboring culture and see how they do it, then adapt it to a Celtic culture. Ooh, here’s a journal article about shamanism in the Amazon…

Trad/Con- But that’s cultural appropriation! And eclecticism! 

Gaelic Traditionalist/Sinnesreachd: We don’t need to reconstruct anything. We are True Authentic Gaels. Those Celtic Recons are just a bunch of hippies with fancy-book-learning. Look at my new gun! I put Celtic knotwork on it! 

August 13, 2014 at 5:52 am 9 comments

Celtic Polytheism- Online Discussion Groups

In my last update of the Celtic Polytheism Resource page, I mentioned my disappointment that online discussion seems to have greatly decreased. I have since discovered that much of it has migrated from Livejournal and Yahoo groups to Facebook. The only constant thing is change- before LJ and Yahoo there was PODSNET, USENET, and before that Pagans communicated mostly with mimeographed newsletters! Anyhow there are so many that I am making this separate page. Each group has its own focus, and slightly different rules, so please keep that in mind in your participation. As always with my resource lists, this is a work in progress.

Facebook Groups: Some are private/closed, so if you prefer you can keep your membership hidden, or create a profile that uses a religious or other assumed name. Since almost all are closed, I’m now only making note of the public ones!

Pan-Celtic, Pan-British

Celtic Paganism, (Celtic Recon focus)  Celtic Paganism & Druidry (broader)

Celtic Polytheists (Public)

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism/Polytheism

Irish/British Celtic Polytheism (Public)

Alexei Kondratiev’s Lorekeeper Course study/discussion group (Public)

Celtic & Germanic Paganism

Gaelic

Creideamh Duthchasach nan Gaideal– This group is a place to share resources on Indigenous Traditions of the Gaels, its about documenting what our ancestors valued so that we can determine what if any of those values we continue with or which we alter or toss out.

Gaelic Polytheism This is the group you need to join in order to join Gaol Naofa

Sinnsreachd- Gaelic Polytheistic Tribalism: Note this group associates more with modern Gaelic cultures rather than Neo-Pagan subcultures

Sinnsreachd Hearthkeepers- Practical Gaelic Polytheism

Loachra nan gaidheal– Gaelic warriors guild- Laochra Cuallacht of Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan Gàidheal

Irish-specific

Irish Polytheism/Paganacht/Gentlidecht/Gintliocht

Practitioners of Irish Polytheism

Irish Magic & Spirituality– moderated by Lora O’Brien

Teanga na draoithe– Language of the Druids- Irish language learners

Brythonic

Welsh Polytheistic Reconstruction

Brython

Continental Celtic/Gaulish

Gaulish Polytheism Community

Touta Galation

Deity-Specific

Clann na Morrigna  For devotees of the Morrigan- of all genders

Ban-gaiscedach na Morrigna  Warrior women of the Morrigan (trans-inclusive)

Call of the Morrigan

Clann Bhride: Children of Brighid Religious order devoted to Brighid (co-ed)

Ord Brighideach International– Religious order devoted to Brighid (co-ed)

Forge & Well- Keepers of the Flame– Brigidine order, all women

Nigheanan Brighde Order– Celtic Polytheist flame-keeping order, all women

Cuallacht na Brighid– Order of Brighid for Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan Gàidheal, co-ed, not solely flame-keeping

Coire an Dagda– Cauldron of the Dagda

Song of Oghma

Druid

Druids

Contemplative Druidry– focus on contemplative practices in Druidry (big tent definition)

Not the Druids you are looking for

Specific orgs

ADF- Ar nDraiocht Fein (Closed) Open to non-ADF members. There are other FB groups and lists for specific ADF groves and subgroups- I’m not listing them all!

AODA- Ancient Druids of North America

The Druid Network

Druid Grove of Two Coasts

Henge of Keltria

OBOD Friends (unofficial)

Reformed Druids of North America

Sylvan Celtic Fellowship– Located in Lincolnton, NC but welcomes folks from other areas, inclusive of all Celtic-based paths

Regional

Northwest Druidry: NW United States and SW Canada

Non-Facebook Groups

Paganacht Reddit– This one is active!

Celtic Reconstructionist Livejournal Community– in the 2000’s this was the main hub of online discussion- less active now, but lots of good material!

Cauldron Forum’s Hazel & Oak: Celtic Polytheism Special Interest Group

May 30, 2014 at 11:24 pm 5 comments

Clarifying Callings

Part of the reason I wrote that long post on Functions of Clergy was to develop ideas on what role(s) I feel called to play in my communities. Among Pagans, there is sometimes an assumption that anyone who is a “serious” spiritual practitioner has the goal to be clergy. In Wicca, getting a 3rd degree initiation generally means you are considered a priest/ess, and it was once assumed that was the goal for all Wiccans, but it’s not necessarily the case these days. It’s even trickier when your entire religion is rather misleadingly named after an elite caste of educated clergy/judges/magicians etc- Druids. ADF has a clear definition and training system in place for our clergy, and we have many other roles that are greatly valued within our organization. We have the Guilds- Bards, Warriors, Brewers, Artisans, Scholars, Liturgists, Magicians, Seers, each has its own training program. We have Orders that focus on particular deities and mysteries. You need to go through the basic Dedicant Program to go on to these other types of training, but we try to be clear that the DP is not required to be a good upstanding ADF member.

Anyway, back to me- after my numerous attempts at involvement in Pagan ritual groups, I’ve found that leading and participating in them doesn’t seem to be working out. There may be a right situation, with the right people that comes along, but I am not going to force it out of desperation for community if that community is dysfunctional or just doesn’t fit with my schedule/transportation needs.  This situation reminds me a lot of being single but open to relationships that arise (quirkyalone), vs. compulsive dating even when you’re burned out because you feel like you “have to” be in a relationship. Or staying in bad relationship for the wrong reasons.

I am interested in being possibly being involved with broader groups like Paganicon and discussion/meetup type groups (a friend of mine is thinking of starting one up) I am interested in helping with projects in ADF and various polytheist groups. I am interested in working one on one- or in small groups to help seekers and solitaries learn more about various polytheistic religions. This may involve teaching a class or leading a workshop. In other words- peer solitary ministry. Because guess what: 80% (or more?) of Pagans are solitary and lack access to many of the social functions that organized religion provides- then again so do most Pagans who belong to ritual groups.

My biggest interest right now though, is to help empower other adults and teens on the autism spectrum.  To help them live happy, full successful lives- and by success I mean as they define it, not as hyper-capitalist society defines it. Pursuing their interests, connecting with other people in healthy ways (friends, romantic partners, family) finding work that is economically, emotionally and intellectually sustainable, stable housing, healthcare etc. And finding a spiritual path and perhaps community, if that is what they seek, that suits their needs as an autistic person. To do this work I will need to partner with many different types of communities and organizations. I would love to use my skills and experiences as an autistic adult to help people in Pagan, spiritual and geeky subcultures because I believe there are many people with autistic traits who are not getting the help that they need. Many of these people are not identified or do not identify as autistic, and I do not consider it my place to label them as such. I will educate other folks about autism, and ways of coping and working with it, and if people recognize traits in themselves or others, and they see solutions that might help them or their loved ones, then awesome. If they need services and accommodations that require a documented disability, then I can help refer them. But for some folks recognizing, “I’m an introvert, or have trouble with non-verbal communication, or sensory issues- and that’s OK! There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just wired a little differently, and here are some ways I can deal with a world that isn’t designed for people like me.” is a huge first step.

 

April 8, 2014 at 12:35 am Leave a comment

Eloquence

Eloquence was held up as a great virtue by the Celts, whether it be for Druids leading ritual, princes inspiring their men before entering battle, a satirist publicly shaming a stingy king, or a poet reciting the king’s ancestry.   Poetry is often seen as an effete “extra” in modern Western culture,  but in oral cultures, poetry is used to remember history, myth and other types of knowledge.  Even in this era of the pervasive written word we still do that – Khronos knows how often I mentally check “Thirty days Hath September” when I don’t have a calendar in front of me.  (Actually I usually do recite it aloud- as those who know me well can attest my internal thought processes don’t stay very internal!)

There is a misconception that some people are just really good speakers, and the rest of us aren’t. While there may be some that have a natural talent for eloquence, like an “ear” for music, it is a talent that must be constantly honed and practiced. Most politicians, ministers, actors and comedians start out as nervous public speakers and improve with time, practice and usually coaching.

How is eloquence a virtue? Having a talent is a personal trait, but not one we typically think of us moral. Well, that’s how virtue ethics differs from conventional morality- it’s not just about being honest and kind. The stuff they taught you in kindergarten, those aren’t really virtues. Eloquence is a virtue both for its own sake- its intrinsic beauty, its reverence for the spoken word, and the powerful social role that it can play.

A leader who continually bungles speeches is seen as a bad leader by the public, even when he or she makes good decisions when off-camera. And a leader who makes bad decisions for his or her people can still be seen as a great leader if he/she is a fantastic orator. Playing your social role well helps maintain the social order, which is a part of the cosmic order. This is the underlying basis of virtue ethics in Indo-European cosmology- it can most clearly be seen in the concept of dharma in Hinduism.

Recommended Resources:

Toastmasters– this is a secular service organization whose members dedicate themselves to the craft of public speaking

Wellstone Action, Take Action Minnesota– these are both progressive organizations that provide activist training (including public speaking and lobbying)

Girl Scouts- the Cadette’s rank specifically has a public speaking badge. It’s an important aspect of other levels of scouting. Boy Scouts does as well.

Ar nDraiocht Fein– in general and in the Bardic & Liturgists Guilds in particular, eloquence is greatly encouraged in ADF. There are great articles on speech and ritual performance in our magazine, Oak Leaves, workshops at our festivals and discussions about it on our lists.

February 28, 2014 at 10:35 am 1 comment

Older Posts


Calendar

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Posts by Month

Posts by Category