The God’s Whisper: Guest Post from Odin

Since Odin first contacted me back in February, he’s been hovering in the background of my life, making his presence felt, watching, and occasionally offering advice or insight. He has helped me become a better leader and a better father, and is working with me on a number of my personal struggles.

ire39He also told me a story: his own story. I offer here a shortened version, in his own words. In it, he gives an answer to an ancient riddle; and you may judge for yourself the truth of it.

[Continue Reading…]

The Future of Neopaganism in the West, Part II: Going Organic

In the previous post, I outlined a model of prestige and stigma which predicts whether a language or religion will grow or wither in a society. Now let’s take the prestige/stigma model and look at Neopaganism today. By these measures, Neopaganism is in trouble.

Stigmatized Neopaganism

ire2Imagine trying to revive the Latin language. Imagine speaking it at home, teaching it to your children, seeking out Latin translations of modern works, and using it instead of English whenever you could. What would your friends and neighbors think? Do you think lots of people would jump on the bandwagon with you? Do you think that the revived Latin movement — “Neolatinism” — would have much of a future in your society? There are no celebrities speaking Latin on TV. There are no government officials speaking Latin in press conferences. Latin is stigmatized as a dead language with no future; why would anyone want to learn it?

If the analogy between religion and language holds, Neopaganism is in exactly the same situation as Neolatinism would be.

[Continue Reading…]

The Future of Neopaganism in the West, Part I: Prestige and Stigma

Modern religions that are derived from or inspired by the indigenous polytheistic traditions of Europe (I’ll call them Neopagan) have experienced a great resurgence in the last couple of hundred years, and especially in the last fifty or so. This is surprising, because prior to that, everyone pretty much thought they were gone for good.

[Continue Reading…]

Hanged God Calling on Line One: an Unexpected Interview

Some time ago I promised my wife I would stop meditating in the car. I was sorry to do it, because some of my very best meditations happened then, but I understood her concern. I’m willing to concede that perhaps deep meditation is not really safe at 70 miles per hour…

sixarguments4aBut on Tuesday I broke my promise. It wasn’t my fault, though — I swear! I was driving along, minding my own business, and a spirit quite firmly forced himself into my full meditative attention. Here’s how it happened.

[Continue Reading…]

Interfaith Blog Event #7: Gender in Druidism: Girl Bullying

Once again I’m delighted to participate in an interfaith blog conversation held by Mike (writing from the Mahayana Buddhist perspective), Jon (a Protestant Christian), Sojourner (pagan/UU), and Matt (an evangelical Christian) and myself, a Druid. Every month (or thereabouts), we write on a topic of interest to us all. This month’s topic is gender:

What does gender have to do with divinity?

The links to the other articles in the conversation will be updated as they are posted:

[Mike’s Essay] [Jon’s Essay] [Sojourner’s Essay] [Matt’s Essay]

The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

My wife and I just picked up some amazing books on “girl bullying”, as explained in the bestseller Odd Girl Out and other follow-up research by Rachel Simmons. The gist is that bullying is common between girls — at least in US American culture, between the ages of about 10 and 18. From the LA Times review:

The code is unwritten, a conspiracy among girls to turn on one of their own. Secret pacts made among middle and high school girls to ruin reputations, to humiliate–whisper campaigns that so-and-so sleeps around; barking like a dog at another girl in the hallway; shifting to exclude someone from her usual lunch spot.

[Continue Reading…]

The Plight of the Honey Bee

Almost everyone is aware by now that honey bees are having a very, very difficult year. Bee colonies are dying all over the United States, imperiling not only the supply of honey, but also crops that depend on the bee for pollination, such as almonds, strawberries, blueberries, apples, watermelons, cranberries, and soybeans. While there are other pollinators out there, the honey bee is the only domesticated pollinator — it is the only pollinator that can be moved from crop to crop as necessary, and the only pollinator that can be depended on to serve crops that are not native to North America. As such it is essential to the large-scale agribusiness of the United States.

The death of a colony is frightful. First, the older adult worker bees begin to disappear, until only the younger ones are left. The workforce grows smaller gradually, becoming too small to care for the bees’ young. The Queen begins appearing outside the hive more frequently than normal. The bees seem reluctant to eat the food provided by the beekeeper.

Within a week or two, all the workers have disappeared entirely. They have gone away, and do not return. There are very few dead bees found near the hive. Food stores are abandoned uneaten. The babies are left growing in their hexagonal chambers, and they quickly die with no adults to feed them.

BUT WHY?

[Continue Reading…]

Midsummer – Interview with Apollo

If you’re a regular reader, you know that Apollo is one of my primary guides, and was the original inspiration for this blog. Over the past year, I’ve worked at improving my connection with him, to become a clearer conduit for solar energy. It’s been an amazing ride…

Midsummer is the point of Apollo’s maximum power, and it’s also the first anniversary of this blog. There seemed to be no better time to share some of Apollo’s thoughts and reflections. This interview was gathered together from a number of separate meditation sessions as well as automatic writing.

The setting is a grassy, windy hilltop in the sun. We are sitting on a stone bench just outside Apollo’s temple — a small Greek affair, little more than a dome supported by columns, covering a small pool with water rippled by the breeze and dappled by sunlight through nearby trees. The temple is at the edge of a dark green wood, but we are facing away from that, watching the wind play in the tall grass, and the sunlight glittering on the sea beyond the hills.

Like many famous people, Apollo is not as tall as you might have expected. He is muscular, but certainly not overbuilt, and he rarely wears anything. His skin at this time is bronzed, glowing as though with a recent tan; earlier in the spring, when he was as new-born, his skin was actually flowing molten gold. His hair is brown and curly, short-cropped; and his eyes are black as night, studded with swirls of stars.

DJ: Good morning! Thanks for coming by today.

Apollo: Thank you! My pleasure.

DJ: First off, let me ask you this: was this interview your idea, or mine?

Apollo: The very fact that you’re asking that question means that you’re making a lot of progress in aligning your energy with mine. Congratulations! The answer is: it was my idea. And it was also your idea. As you open yourself up more and more, you will find it harder to distinguish your thoughts from mine.

DJ: That seems a little… uh… creepy.

[Continue Reading…]

The Nature Church: A Place for All Pagans

Our Druid grove has recently become involved in a really exciting (and daunting) project that could provide a real boon to all Pagans here in western Massachusetts — and all down the Atlantic Coast of North America, for that matter.

ire2For the most part, the Pagan community here in western Mass can be described as reasonably large, out in the open, and close-knit. But no one knows how many Pagans here are practicing alone, eschewing contact with the rest of us, for whatever reason. And there could be entire communities of Pagans that keep themselves to themselves and never reach out to the larger community.

A Natural Enclave

The Nature Church was that kind of community. Founded in the 1970’s by a close group of friends, it grew slowly, not seeking out or advertising for new members and not communicating with other Pagans nearby — not out of enmity, but simply because the community was whole as it was.

The Church, which is a recognized non-profit organization, owns 2.6 acres of land, the focus of the Church’s activities for thirty years. Here the members gathered on full moons and celebrated their community; here they came together on feast days to worship together and share a meal. They had no dogma: while in general the congregation followed the Celtic Pagan path, there were members of Abrahamic religions as well, — polytheists and monotheists, God worshippers and Goddess worshippers. All were welcome, and all were committed to developing a personal, individual relationship with Spirit.

The Church property is mostly forested, but includes an organic garden, a dilapidated shack (de rigueur on land that was once farmed), a sauna, a barn, and the charred remnants of the meeting house, which was destroyed by arson at Imbolc this year.[Continue Reading…]

Interfaith Blog Event #6: FAITH (Faith in Druidism)

I’m honored to have been invitied to join in an interfaith blog conversation held by Mike (writing from the Mahayana Buddhist perspective), Jon (a Protestant Christian), Sojourner (pagan/UU), and Matt (an evangelical Christian) — all bloggers I hold in high esteem. Every month (or thereabouts), we write on a topic of interest to us all. This month’s topic is faith:

What is your view regarding the meaning and the role of faith? What importance does it play in your community and in your daily life?

The links to the other articles in the conversation will be updated as they are posted:

[Mike’s Essay] [Jon’s Essay] [Sojourner’s Essay] [Matt’s Essay]

Faith in Druidism

Faith in Druidism is a tricky topic.

ire430eThere are plenty of polytheistic druids, who try to adhere as closely as they can to the pantheon of gods worshipped by the ancient Celts. I am one of those. Then there are duotheistic druids, who believe in a God and Goddess, much as many Wiccans do; and panethiestic druids, and animist druids… There are druids who worship a pantheon of gods who were admittedly made up (or discovered?) out of thin air by college students in the 1960’s. There are druids that practice a mixture of Celtic mysticism and Buddhism (which are not nearly so far apart as you might think — in fact, the similarities are frequently striking). There are even Christian druids, who practice a form of Christianity native to Scotland and Ireland in the latter half of the first millenium (known as “Celtic Christianity”). For all I know, there may be agnostic or atheistic druids as well.

How can this be? What unites all these belief systems?

[Continue Reading…]

A High School Student Asks About Druidism

Last week I was surprised and delighted to get an email from a high school student who is curious about Druidism. In particular, for a school project, she wanted to know about the relationship between Christianity and Druidism, and what factors led to the rise of one at the expense of the other. She sent me a list of questions and asked whether I might be able to answer them for her.

The questions were:

  1. In your personal experience, has anyone of Christian belief or other religion told you your belief system was bad?
  2. How did you discover Druidry? Was it easy to find information on it?
  3. In your opinion, do you think Druidism being replaced by Christianity so many centuries ago had to do with the religion itself? Or was it caused by other factors?
  4. Why is Druidism your chosen faith? What do you like the most about this belief system?
  5. And finally, what is your opinion of Christianity? Do you personally think it’s a good religion? If not, what weaknesses within the faith can you point out?

ire24I found something remarkable about her questions. Some of them were good, solid, and straightforward — like (2) or (4). These were the sort of questions that might be used to spur discussion on an interfaith forum. But others were more daring — like (3) and (5). These are questions that few people ask, because they go beyond simply “asking about Druidism” and get into the thornier area of relationships between religions. They are perfectly natural questions, and they deserve answers; but they’re also dangerous and insightful, because they skirt close to the questions at the heart of religion itself: why do some religions rise, and others fall? Is there such a thing as a true religion — and if so, could it be pushed off the world’s stage by a false one? If Druidism is a true religion, how come Christianity replaced it? And how do you, as a Druid, feel about that?

So I was delighted to answer her questions; and she graciously agreed to let me turn our little dialogue into a blog post.

[Continue Reading…]

Running with Cernunnos

Along with all and sundry, I’ve been tagged by Slade of Shift Your Spirits to talk about money — everybody’s favorite topic. Slade’s got a neat twist on it that’s worth exploring: an exercise he picked up from Morgana Rae. Since money is such an abstract concept — for many of us, it simply flows in and out of our lives, and we’re never sure exactly how much we have, or why — he suggests we personify money and establish a relationship with it. Give it a face, give it name, and think about the relationship you have with it. Is it a healthy relationship? Is there plenty of give-and-take? Is Money someone you’d want to take home and meet your mother?

[Continue Reading…]

Why I Blog (or: I’m on a Mission from a God)

In my post on the Purpose of the Universe, I talked about how I came to believe that the purpose of the universe is beauty, and that beauty is the highest purpose of my own life, too. So how does this blog fit into that purpose? Blogs, after all, are not often thought of as beautiful things.

wheredoideascomefromSimply put, I’m blogging because Apollo asked me to. Here’s how that came about.

[Continue Reading…]

Impact of Druidism on Everyday Life: Requited Gratitude

“How has your religion changed your daily, everyday life?”

In my original post on the essence of Druidism, I wrote about how gratitude was the essence of what drew me to the religion — gratitude for our ancestors, our teachers, and our gods. I have found, though, that since beginning my practice, my whole experience of gratitude has changed.

[Continue Reading…]

Children in Paganism

This past Samhain, my family and I went up to New Hampshire to attend a festival thrown by the Spiral Scouts of Peterborough. The Spiral Scouts are a sort of Boy/Girl Scout group for non-monotheistic children, and the event, to be held in the Unitarian Church, was geared toward all ages, with crafts, music, drumming, a costume contest, storytelling, and ritual. We figured it was the perfect opportunity to plug into the local Pagan community and meet some other families with children that we can build relationships with.

purposethroughcompassionWe succeeded; but I have to say we were also a little disappointed. There were clearly over a hundred people in attendance, but only a dozen of them were children. Four of those were mine.

[Continue Reading…]

The Essence of Druidism

Not long ago Ellen Evert Hopman, a druid priestess with whom I’m acquainted, was asked, “What is the essence of druid practice?”

The asker was a very old friend who had just had a powerful mystical experience, and came to her for help. They talked for most of the day, having tea, walking in the forest, and so forth.

Asking the Priestess

wheredoideascomefromAt first, when he asked her this question, she was speechless. Ellen is a priestess of great experience, a master herbalist and researcher in the old ways; so if anyone knows Druidism, she does. But Druidism is not a cohesive faith. There is no World Archdruid, no Universal Grove; there is no Druid Bible or Founding Father; there are no druid missionaries carrying the True Faith around the world. Each druid is called, one by one, alone, to the path, by whatever gods, guides, or spirits there be. So naturally there’s a certain amount of disagreement about what the essence of Druidism is.

[Continue Reading…]