Becoming Whole: Reconciling Multiple Paths

Yup I’m posting here again. Oh come on, you knew I’d be back… didn’t you? Of course you did! I’ve actually sat on this entry for about a week now, having written it and thinking to myself “DO I really want to hit post”. Been awhile since Samhain now. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. For those following at home, I’ve been posting like mad over at my other Witchy blog Howling at the Crossroads, and have been fully engaging my Witch side. I even renewed my oaths to the craft and my gods on Samhain. In short, I’ve taken a good (and much needed) break from Druidry and all the questions of labels for awhile. Right what the (witch)doctor ordered.

Now it’s time to engage again. My ancestors have been whispering to me, like never before, louder and louder. The Morrigan? Oh she’s still around despite my best efforts to tell her to scram, albeit a bit quieter. One does not give blood offerings and expect those bonds to break so easily. Evidently she took me up on that offer to come into my life.My goal however is to become a bit more quiet about my deity relationships, having gotten burned in that arena in the past.

Now is the time for me to become whole. My biggest problem is that I seem to have a problem with walking multiple paths. As Teo Bishop recently put it:

Forgive me for my machinations, but I feel this need to find and develop a firm religious identity; one that is exactly what it is, and that functions in a clear, delineated way. I want something that simply is one thing.

I can relate to that statement, hell to the entire blog post (the comments were helpful too!). One Thing is what I’ve always wanted. I wonder why this is? Is it Christian baggage for those of us who grew up in such an environment? You are either a Christian, or a Muslim, or Buddhist, etc. Hard classifications, distinct lines, black and white. This idea is fostered on many who are new to paganism too. You must choose! Are you a recon? A Wiccan? An eclectic? Choose Choose Choose (Before all the good labels are taken?)! Also, it’s an idea I formed looking at other pagans as I was just starting, those who are devoted to one deity above all else. I am practitioner of system X dedicated to Deity Y.

But the truth is, I’m not going to get that. I’ve been working happily on my Witch path these past few months, which has given me much respite and happiness, but I still eventually got called back to walk this path, the Druidic path as well. I don’t mean in terms of a longing or pull to that direction (though there is that), I mean I literally got pulled back and told by my ‘powers that be’ I needed to get back to work, that quitting was not an option. The only way through the forest is right through the center it seems.

I’m seeing path multiplicity becoming more the norm now anyway. Jason Miller recently posted a wonderful post about his own diverse background:

Point being, that a large part of my calling in magic is based on my ability to see the common threads (and stark differences) between traditions, and also to see what lies behind them – that eternal stream from which all expressions of magic emerge as bubble from. Every time I tried to stick to one stream, I feel like I am betraying the deepest part of my soul.

“The deepest part of my soul” was what got me. Yeah, know exactly what that feels like. Recently M.C. wrote about his own work in learning Sicialian Stregheia in addition to his well known work as a grimiore magician. As a recent commenter on my other blog pointed out, even the chaos mages have branched out and dedicated themselves to certain systems (Ah Chaos Magic, another topic of interest dear to my hear these days).

Still there the two paths are distinct, though there is much overlap. The Confessions of an Urban Druid blog wrote a really great article about the differences between Druidry and Witchcraft and why she is a Druid and not a Witch.

There is such a thing as a Witch, and I am not one. That is, there is definitely a certain kind of personality, a certain flavor of magic and mysticism, a certain body of symbols and experiences, that are “witchy”. Whether people call themselves witches, Wiccans, Feri, Faery, or what have you, some people are witchy and some aren’t–and I am not.

This is something I myself agree with.However for me the balance between those two halves are what feeds my spirit. I’ve long learned that I need both those dark lunar paths, and bright solar paths to engage my magic and make it sing.

In keeping with her analogy as Witchcraft being lunar based, and Druidry being solar based (an idea I share), I would say that when I see the moon something Witchy stirs within me and I want to trance ecstatically and chant my spells to the wind. When I witness the sunrise (and having a 2 year old who likes to get up at 4:30 am allows me to do just that, more often than I’d like!) I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and greet the day as a Druid.

In the end I still find little difference. Names, What I want is a life lived in ritual, surrounded by the whisperings of the spirits who have always been there since time began, to bask in the comforting presence of my gods, and live a life suffused with spirit.

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12 Responses to Becoming Whole: Reconciling Multiple Paths

  1. aynfean says:

    I’m so glad to see you back here. While I like your other blog I find the tone here different. I don’t know… I have weird idiosyncrasies that don’t make sense unless you’re inside my brain.

    Loved the post. It’s been interesting watching your journey through your blogs and I’m glad you seem to be coming to some sort of peace with your paths. I myself am very definitely and certainly a witch but I do confess to an interest in the world of Druidry. Your posts give me hope that both paths can be reconciled and perhaps one day I’ll explore the Druid path.

    • Feral Druid says:

      Thanks Aynfean, and thanks for sticking with me :) I know what you mean however. While I enjoy both blogs, they feel totally different. With my other one I alwasy feel like I’m speaking to an amphitheater while here it feels like having a chat over a camp fire. The tone here is very different indeed.

      • aynfean says:

        Yes that’s exactly it. This blog feels a bit more personal and tangible while the other feels more like… I wanna say lectures but that sounds a bit mean and I don’t want the negative connotation lol.

        I follow both because I really value what you have to say.

  2. greycatsidhe says:

    I can understand your struggles. Personally, I find that the two work well together. In ancient Celtic traditions, the Druids were the wise ones. They knew how to work with the spirits but also served the tribe as educators, judges, healers, etc. Although I’m part of ADF and they allow for a variety of IE hearth cultures, Druidism for me is culturally rooted in Celtic lore. I’m not saying it’s wrong for someone with a Hellenic practice to be involved with Druidism, but for me on my own personal path – it’s very rooted in Celtic culture, particularly Irish. The magic I do may be considered witchcraft by many, but I’m doing it within a Druidic context – day and night. But for you, the “mental key” of associating with one or the other may be very helpful.

    • Feral Druid says:

      Hi GreyCat! Thanks for the comment and the insight! Your comments are always helpful and appreciated. Indeed, the mental key you spoke of is something I do use. I’ve actually come to much greater peace on the matter as of late. My best to you!

  3. >>I’m seeing path multiplicity becoming more the norm now anyway.

    If this turns out to be true, I’ll be deeply pleased; I’m tired of getting shit from people I know about my own path multiplicity.

  4. sanil says:

    I’m trying to think of things like witchcraft, druidry, and reconstruction not so much as paths, but as methods. I’ve struggled a lot about wanting to be one thing too, and I think that’s because religion today is an identity rather than something you do. To move it to my own context, I’m always a little confused when I meet Hellenic reconstructionists who don’t want to mix in anything that wasn’t present in ancient Greece, because the ancient Greeks absorbed everything they could! When they encountered new gods and new ways of doing things, they built them right into their practice. There don’t really seem to be these major distinctions in the way people worshiped, as long as it could all fit under the umbrella of acceptable state religion. We don’t have that anymore, but I think something similar could still apply. My “path” is to follow my gods. If I wind up integrating druidry, witchcraft, and anything else along the way at their guidance, that doesn’t mean I’ve split my path in different directions and have to bring them back together, it just means I’m doing what works for me and brings me closer to my spiritual goals. I don’t get bent out of shape trying to nail down any of my other interests or skills, and I don’t think the ones that fall more squarely under religion should be any different.

    I’m sure that doesn’t work for everyone, and over time I might change my mind too. But that’s where I’ve landed for the moment, after 3.5 years at a Christian seminary trying to make myself fit and try to twist what I’ve learned here to fit my own path. It’s only now starting to work, since I’ve stopped struggling with it and needing it to be a perfect fit, or thinking I can’t have any part in wisdom and practices that aren’t part of my specific path. At the core, there’s something universal in human experiences, and of course when we meet someone else and find a different way of doing things, parts of that are going to call out to us. I think that’s what made the ancient Greeks want to pick up the gods they found elsewhere – they saw the truth in it without worrying that it negated their own truths.

    Oops, enough talking about myself. I love seeing what you share about your journey, and this post was no exception. I look forward to seeing how you continue to work on your path/s.

    • Feral Druid says:

      Really wise words here Sanil. I actually respect you tons for being at a Christian seminary while having pagan beliefs. It must be very hard and rewarding at the same time.

      Funny you mention the Hellenic recons not wanting anything non-Greek, while the ancient Greeks adopted much. That’s often been my own thought on the matter. In Robin Herne’s book “Old gods, New Druids”, on the chapter on the gods he has an example of how the gods don’t fit into neatly defined pantheons we moderns like to put them in. Interestingly enough he uses the example of Hekate, and how her worship was adopted by almost every culture in the ancient world, so how can she be “just” a Greek goddess?

  5. Erik says:

    I can certainly relate to this struggle! Particularly since one of the paths calling me is polytheistic, and the other is Judaism… I’ve learned that, at least at this point, I need to clearly separate ritual practice while many other aspects synthesize in my daily life (by necessity, since they’re all in the same head… :) One thing I have definitely learned is that once you get past theology and into the day-to-day business of living, the two are not as incompatible as they seem at first glance.

    • Feral Druid says:

      Erik, many thanks for sharing your own struggle. I’ve always respected your path and the components of it you choose to share with us. I can see how their would be both discord and harmony between Judaism and Polytheism. I like very much your explanation of living in the same head :)

  6. Pingback: The Ditzy Druid

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