Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pagan Values of a Druid UU

I'm flying in right at the end of the 3rd Annual Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month. Truth is, I've started this post several times and have never been happy with the results. Being a Druid UU, my intention has been to fully examine Unitarian Universalist Principles and compare them to those expressed by my teachers in Druidry and my own inner voice. But each time I started I got bogged down in the details, winding down tangled, lengthy paths of words that confused things more than they brought clarity.

The past couple of weeks have actually been one of amazing transformation for me - of new beginnings. While I have explored the path of Druidry for the past two years now, I have recently taken a new step on my journey. Yesterday, I completed my initiation into the Bardic Grade of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD).

In taking this step, I have come to realize the source of my writers' block in regards to my Blogging Month entry. It was too complex, too rational and intellectual and ultimately emanating from my head and not my heart. As Philip Carr-Gomm writes, "Only one aspect of our Being grows and is satisfied by the purely rational...Another great part of ourselves needs the nourishment of the trans-rational - the aesthetic, poetic, mythic sides of life that cannot fully be explained or described by the mind."

And THAT, I feel is the real difference between Unitarian Universalist and Pagan Values. While they share many similarities, a great majority of UUs have wrapped themselves so tightly in the blanket of reason, intellect and logic that there is no room for the mystical, magical and unexplained. And while their last stated principle is "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part," the Druid in me strongly believes this doesn't go far enough. In my experience, Pagan Values would place this as their first value or principle (not the last) and also word it differently. Instead, it should read something like, "Reverence for the interdependent web of all existences of which we are a part." 

So here it is, my 11th hour entry for the 3rd Annual International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month. May your path, wherever it leads, be filled with mystery, wonder and intimate connection to our glorious Mother Earth and the lovely universe in which she spins. 

Yours under the Sacred Oaks, 

Skybranch /|\

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Step Down the Path

While I've explored the path of Druidry for the past two years now, I have primarily utilized resources provided by the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) and joined the organization as a Druid Candidate. As time went on, I continued to read and absorb ideas and inspiration from other sources, notably several excellent books by Philip Carr-Gomm and music by Damh the Bard. Over the past couple of years, I had resisted becoming a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) for a couple of reasons. The primary reason was that OBOD was based in Britain and I felt a desire to grow my spirituality down the Druid Path on a very local level. The tree and animal lore of another continent, for example, doesn't tug at my spirit in the same way that the plants and wild creatures of my native Michigan do. The second was a more practical matter - cost. While the full training course offered by OBOD provides a much more structured system of instruction on a regular basis throughout the year than that provided by the AODA, it obviously cannot be provided for free. 
Canada Goose swimming on the Chippewa River

But I continued to find myself dabbling...drifting in and out of the Druid mysteries and struggling to maintain a more disciplined routine of study. I simply wasn't exploring the history, lore and resources of Druidry to the full depth which I really desired. I get busy and tend to let things slip. I needed more guidance on the path. 

Then, things began to fall into place that seemed just too good to be mere coincidence. First, I received an email out of the blue from Philip asking if he could use the video I produced on the Seven Gifts of Druidry for the OBOD home page. (I was thrilled and said YES!) And then just a few weeks ago, I had the amazing chance to meet Damh the Bard at the Michigan Pagan Festival. Not only did I not realize that Dave would be performing until the morning of his performance (thank you Facebook!) I hadn't even known about the festival in advance. Best of all, Dave knew about my video and was simply an amazing performer and all-around wonderful person. 

I finally woke up, realizing the Universe was telling me something. Instead of just waiting to "accidentally" run into all the other leaders of the Order, it seems it was time to dig a little deeper.

While sitting in my hotel room the other week, smack in the middle of the beautiful, rolling hills of West Virginia, I finally decided it was time for me to take another step forward down the path. And just the other day, I received my welcome packet from OBOD with an invitation to join the Order and undertake their course of study in the Bardic Grade. Much to my surprise and delight, when I opened the first page of the first booklet, I found this poem by Mary Oliver, which I had already typed into a new blog post in my attempt to express my values as a Druid UU. 

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
Canada Geese fly along the Dead Stream in the middle of Michigan's mitten.
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

So here I am. Continuing my winding journey toward understanding and connection with the natural world, my sense of place, people around me, and the long heritage of those gone before. As Mary Oliver states above, "Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination..." 

It's time to accept the invitation.