This year I’m taking part in the Pagan Blog Project – a year-long post-a-week alphabetical challenge. Here we go…
How did I get to this point?
I don’t ask myself that question often enough. It’s an important one, though. It’s easy to get on a road and keep going. It’s harder to be critical about who you are and where you are heading. And key to that, for me, is how I got where I am right now.
The antecedents to my Pagan path are fairly simple. I took one road, then another, then another.
Right turn. A visit to my family in Ireland, about fifteen years ago, when I had the strangest sense that the mountains were in my blood. And an encounter with land spirits.
Left turn. NLP – neuro-linguistic programming – the approach that models human behaviour and communication, which I’ve been using for ten years to work on the effects of my ‘dyspraxia with aspergers features’ that I’d rather not have to deal with all the time. The more I learn magic, the more I realise that NLP has a lot in common with it. I was casting circles with NLP long before I knew what I was doing. One day I’ll get my ‘master’-level qualification in it and start teaching the damn thing. It’s too useful not to share. Once I started studying NLP, my thinking was never quite the same again.
Right turn. The influence of my father, the shamanic practitioner, a spirit-worker of the land. And fan of crystals. My new-agey stuff is entirely his fault. I used to think he was crazy. I have a growing appreciation for the depth of his spirituality and – though he wouldn’t call it this – magic. I don’t really believe in reincarnation or past lives (or necessarily even afterlives – more on that next week) but if I did, I might wonder if we’re not together on this good earth for a reason. But I’m a sensible person so I shan’t.
Straight on down a very winding lane. Sociology of religion. I started with an MA in Disability Studies, which I loved. I intended to focus on sociology of medicine and health, but it’s a depressing subject. One summer at Greenbelt, the very progressive Christian arts festival, I decided I needed to research Christianity and disability. That led to informal, related research on other religions. I started reading. Buddhism, Hinduism, even Shinto – but I get nervous about cultural appropriation, and they didn’t *feel* right, anyway. Meanwhile, I thought the increasingly narrow track I was on was signposted ‘atheism’. I was wrong. In desperation I read all the Christian theology I could get my hands on, went to increasingly liberal churches, was confirmed at church, considered myself something of a Gnostic (although I still don’t understand Gnosticism very well), focused on the social justice work that I considered inherent to my Christianity. Still nothing, and eventually I realised Christianity no longer made a great deal of sense to me. Yes, I’m still working out whether I ever got off that road entirely.
Roundabout, and straight on to Paganism, via Celtic Christianity. On a podcast, someone mentioned the words ‘Celtic Reconstructionism’ and I went “oooh”. Wicca had never made a lot of sense to me. Reconstructionism, it turned out, did. But I soon found out that I was never cut out to be a Reconstructionist. I take as much as I can from it, though. It feels authentic enough that it makes sense.
And then some gods called me.
There’s no map, no GPS, no bird’s-eye view. I wonder what I’d have thought if I’d had any of that. Would I have turned around and gone back home to the Pentecostal churches and Christian fundamentalism I came from? Maybe. Is it better that the road ahead is hazy, disappearing into the mists of Manannan? Absolutely.
Take the ramp onto the Druidry highway, and straight on till morning.