A foot in both worlds

So I realize this post may come off as alot of whining and hand wringing but I figure, that’s what this blog is for, just speaking whats on my mind and bothering me without filtering it. So I’m writing it anyway. 

So I joined the Druid Network (TDN) the other day. Thus far I haven’t really felt that OBOD or AODA really reflect my view of Druidry very much and I’ve consistently liked everything I’ve seen coming from TDN. I got on their message boards and wasn’t disappointed. These are great people. However reading everyone’s posts I had this nagging feeling of Druidry still not being quite right of a fit.

I thought about this a lot (because that’s what I do), and I realized that I’ll never be comfortable with the Celtic connotations. I tried to reach out to the Morrigan, but honestly I’m just not feeling it as is probably evident from my luke-warm write up of the experience. I think things would be different if A) I lived in Celtic lands where the deities have been honored for centuries or B) I had some strong spiritual connection to the Celtic gods, but I don’t. I don’t want to be somewhat who says “I’m a Druid but I don’t do that Celtic thing”. I don’t like adopting a tradition and then changing it so much to suit my own current views that it loses all spiritual growth potential.

I realized that basically what I’ve done in my own practice is start practicing Witchcraft and slapped the label Druidry on it. I’m also tired of trying to walk both paths at the same time because I feel like I’m committing to neither of them fully, and truthfully I only have time for one (I’m the father of a 2 year old, a 5 mo old set of twins, husband, and have a career that requires mandatory on-call. Time is not on my side.  Any time I spend practicing my craft is at night and being taken from my sleep schedule).

I really love something about Druidry. I think it is beautiful and something about it does call to me, but there will always be that *twinge* there of being a square peg in a round hole. If I lived across the pond I would pursue it wholeheartedly, but as a Midwest American with no spiritual interest in the Celts I want something that I can really lay claim to without feeling disingenuous. I feel that is really the Craft. I’ve been to this exact same threshold so many times, but I never actually have crossed it or committed to it.

My mind pretty much made up I decided to consult my spiritual allies on the subject. For weeks I’ve been getting messages of letting go and fresh starts in the cards anyway. I fired up the Horned god altar, and prayed. I made offerings of pine incense, spring water from a local sacred well, and a bowl of whiskey. I also asked my ancestors to be present and made my offerings of Kanaga water to them well at their shrine. I used a different tarot deck to represent each of their answers, the Wildwood for Cernunnos and the Archean for the mighty dead.

Cernunnos’s deck spoke of the death of the old and new spiritual re-birth. This confirmed my own thoughts. The ancestors… the first card out was death (strangely appropriate). Both agreed in my mind. Leave Druidry behind for good and make a true commitment to my Craft. I thanked them both and ended the night with a good old fashioned witchcraft spell that manifested it’s goal by the morning.

Then with my mind finally at ease about this subject for the first time in weeks I settled into bed for sleep, feeling very good and peaceful about the decision. I would fully dedicate myself to this path on Samhain.

I dreamed… first was a strange dream about a war between faeries and goblins over a large rock done in 1980’s Labyrinth style! Interesting but nothing important. Then another dream strong and resonant. I woke up not remembering a bit of it at all except for the word “Nodens”. I did remember that if there was anything I remembered from the dream it was that word. Every time I woke up through the night I’d repeat “Nodens, Nodens, I must remember.”

In the morning of course I was like “Who or what the hell is Nodens?” So I googled it find it’s another name for Nuada, king of the Tuath De Danan! Coming on the heels of my Morrigan experience this is strange that another would contact me.

Obviously this was something real considering I’ve never heard the name before but it turned out to be a real god name. As of last night I pretty much decided that I’m not going to pursue anything with The Morrigan, and honestly I STILL have no interest in the Irish pantheon. But obviously they are having an interest in me…

I’m really confused. I don’t really want to delve into a new set of gods and new pantheon etc… but when they are trying so hard to get your attention is it really wise to ignore them? Not sure what to do with this. Is this them trying to tell me to continue on with Druidry? Last night my mind was made up and I felt at peace. This morning I’m second guessing myself again because of this.

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18 Responses to A foot in both worlds

  1. Erik says:

    I really love something about Druidry. I think it is beautiful and something about it does call to me, but there will always be that *twinge* there of being a square peg in a round hole.

    I’m right there with you; I’ve basically resolved the dilemma by recognizing that the things I love about Druidry – nature-centered spirituality, artistic creation as a spiritual enterprise – are things that I have always been drawn to anyway, and that I don’t have to necessarily hang a name on them at all.

  2. Ambrosius says:

    Perhaps these deities are coming to you to help you arrive at some sort of peace regarding the whole Druidry vs Witchcraft thing you seem to have been struggling with for a long while? You’ve said before that Hekate seems just chipper with the whole affair so I suppose the only ‘problem’ here is you, lol. I think you’re being asked to think beyond ‘Celtic’, beyond ‘Irish’ and so forth: at the end of the day the Morrigan isn’t just some ‘Celtic/Irish’ Goddess. It’s like when people slap on titles like ‘Hare goddess’, ‘bee goddess’ on to goddesses (it happens with Gods as well of course) as if that’s all they are: ‘idea of w/e’ + goddess = x goddess’.

    On another note, the buck doesn’t stop when and where we say. In fact, you might even consider these deities coming to you as….a confirmation of what you do and are. Maybe they took notice of your devotion and all those other qualities that at least half of the people on the same or similar paths don’t have (contrary to what they say, do or think).

    Also, are you sure that the ‘death’ spoken of in your readings is along the lines you’re thinking of or maybe something else entirely? You might wanna keep your options open. Blessings.

  3. Skye says:

    I have often had the same thoughts and struggles when thinking about whether or not my Druid path makes any sense. In the past I have rarely felt connection to any thing Celtic. As I have always understood it, for me Druidry is more a modern creation based upon the archetype of the Druid, rather than anything totally Celtic. Things like always searching for knowledge, holding Nature to be the most sacred, and seeing cycles in the year and world are things that have inspired and continue to inspire my Druidry. That being said, lately I have been thinking closer into the Celtic tradition as I have been thinking more about my ancestry…

    Anyway, I wish you luck on your journey, I know you’ll find your way eventually.

  4. Brian says:

    Hello Rick,

    This is my first time commenting on your blog, but I’ve followed both of your blogs for many months now. I just wanted to say to you that, from an anthropological point of view- “Celtic” really only describes a bunch of language dialects from a small point in time for the Irish and Scots tribes. The word is really bandied about soooo very much now days that it’s meaning is greatly conflated.

    I know many people who have been disappointed working with ADF or OBOD because the only things we know about the ancient practices of Scots/Irish people has to do with their warriors and bards. Not their druids. The beliefs are purely guesswork, and reconstructionists have to pull at straws to find anything legit, and fluff it up so much that what they’ve created isn’t a reconstruction of anything. This isn’t meant to be a personal attack, or know-it-all statement; I just think that these are some of the reasons why those called to work with “Celt” deities, or feel the pull in their guts towards druidry are often quickly disenchanted (or work alone).

    And I think that’s okay. Truth be told, what modern day druidry is now, has likely extremely little resemblance to classical druidry. That does not make it any less valid,but it’s not going to be the water that quenches your thirst.

    “Sometimes you gotta start clean; you gotta begin, not begin again”-The Weepies
    I think a fresh start is exactly what you need right now, and despite how much working with these Irish beings might rankle, give it a fair shot. Best of luck to a fellow seeker!

    Brian

  5. Sarah Lawless says:

    Sometimes it’s not that gods are courting you for worship – something/one is trying to show you threads in a tapestry. Follow them and see where they lead. Read the stories – maybe there is something you need to learn from the stories of Nuada and of the Morrigan. They will lead you to other threads and others and others until you are either overwhelmed or eventually you see the weave for the threads. Hekate and the Horned One are ancient and patient. I say this as someone who went through what you are now – don’t take it all so literally. Rewire your brain to think in symbolism and metaphor. Acknowledge your conscious scholarly learning but don’t be static, be fluid and open to contradictions and paradoxes which challenge your learning.

    Blessings on your path brother of art, may it be illuminated,
    Sarah

  6. Patch says:

    From my somewhat limited knowledge on the subject, Nodens was a Romano-Celtic god with cult centres on mainland Britain. Perhaps he presented you with that name because he does not intend for you to view him in his Irish context?

    Secondly (this is just me being devils advocate), why would these deity’s appearances necessarily have anything to do with continuing Druidry for you? There are many other contexts from which to honour the gods of the British Isles (witchcraft could be one of them, perhaps that is why Hekate featured with the Morrighan?). Modern Druidry seems to be a minefield of Arthurian legend and eastern philosphy sometimes…

    Aaand finally, what is it about Druidry that really appeals to you? Boil it down to the very basics and examine whether you can retain what resonates without going the whole hog and adopting an ill fitting label and set of practices. I am not encouraging outright ecclectism, but perhaps right now you should focus on building a tailored path from the ground up; and then worry about what you are calling it later. 🙂

  7. Sarah Lawless says:

    Oh, and to me (for you) the death card means you have broken the molds of the denominations you were trying to follow and you can never go back to them now – you know too much and will never be comfortable within them again. Judging by the other cards a lot of transformation is in your near future. Most definitely time for wine.

  8. aynfean says:

    I don’t have a lot to say on this. Personally I feel a very deep connection to the Celtic gods despite living on the West Coast of Canada and having no Irish ancestors lol.

    However I will say that while I work with the Celtic gods I’m not a druid. I very comfortably practice witchcraft while worshipping the Morrigan. For me I’ve given up trying to classify my path and very happily tell people I’m a hedgewitch. Is it important for you to have a label? Or would the freedom to study things that interest you and are relevant to you (like the continued appearance of the Celtic pantheon) serve you better?

  9. Shodo says:

    Others above have hinted at this as well, but I’m curious as to why you feel witchcraft and celtic deities are mutually exclusive? Maybe I’m misunderstanding and you are just talking about two separate issues — feeling it’s time to leave druidry and frustration with being called to a new pantheon, but you’re dream of the Morrigan and being left with the name of Nuada don’t seem to have a druid “flavor” to them so it doesn’t seem the dreams themself are about calling you back to druidry. Have you thought about exploring forms of the Craft that work with those deities somewhat such as Scottish witchcraft or the Feri tradition? Also, maybe the issue is less choosing a label for your tradition and more focusing on a specific aspect of either craft to specialize in at the moment? This is something I myself have been struggling with lately, for example rather than trying to decide whether to work with druidic techniques or witchcraft techniques, spending time mastering healing forms in both. Good luck and many blessings!

  10. Nellie says:

    I’m a bit late to this conversation, but I hope I have something useful to add…
    I can’t feel any sort of attaction of Nuada, or get any hold of what he is about at all from the Irish stories… but Nodens, that’s another story 😉
    Maybe the way you might relate to this deity is NOT the way the ancient Irish may have related to this deity. You were deliberately given the Brythonic (and probably older version) of His name and I think this is an IMPORTANT distinction.
    It’s hard to chase the shadows of Nodens because so little iconography and real evidence is left. I’ve been chasing for a while!
    What my study and bits of UPG tell me about Nodens is slowly building up a picture. Nodens was once the head man, king of the gods. The loss of the hand appears in His Brythonic name (Silver hand) and is also present in the figure of Tyr of Norse mythology as well (Squishy polytheism anyone 😉 ) As far as I am able to be certain I think Nodens is one of those deities with a real care for human kind, and the loss of His hand in all these myths is down to His willingly battling of the forces of chaos to sustain the world. He had a Romano-British healing shrine in on the banks of the river Severn, overlooking the famous Severn bore – the healing is apt as depending on the stories, he was either able to regenerate his own missing hand, or a new hand was created for Him (after the sliver hand!) and dogs are persistantly present at Lydney (the name is thought to mean Luds – the name Nodens changed over time to Nud or Lud -island) usually a wolf hound sort of dog, which can be taken to be Noden’s companion or Noden’s himself. With the Celt’s fondness for animal deities I’m more inclined to think the hound was one of Noden’s forms himself. But the dog was a symbol for healing and also hunting. Nodens probably (UPG from study!) originated as a sort of All-Provider Father of the Tribe sort of figure. I see Him as a quiet sort of fisherman 🙂 and he certainly had links with the sea – the Romans went all sort of Neptuney with Him, but tbh that’s not how I see him from the Brythonic perspective. He has links with the sea, and I think this is about the fisherman/provider rather than being a god of the sea. A god of fisherman – yes, god of the sea – probably less likely. There’s no doubt in my mind that He was (and is!) an awesome god. You could ponder if He had connections with the river Goddess Sabrina with His temple overlooking the Severn, but that’s a matter for UPG to figure out!! I can’t make out His relationship with Lugus (Lugh if you like, but the Irish names just don’t provide any connection for me) with I have this abiding feeling there is one. Sometimes I think maybe a brother type of relationship, sometimes a father/son sort of thing. I just can’t pin it down… and just for the record my own UPG and studies (which is not to say more learned people than I would come to my conclusion – as far as I’m aware most of ’em don’t LOL… but Kondratiev does infer this may be the case – the article is available online if you want to check it out, REALLY interesting reading-, and Cunliffe suggests that when the worship of Lugus was imported into Ireland the ancient Irish were already worshipping the same deity as the Dagda and didn’t realise they were the same god – DEEP BREATH,I’M GETTING THERE! – and the Dagda has been proposed before as another possible name of Cernunnos having sometimes been portrayed with horns, AND the Morrigan in the role of sovereignty goddess mates with the Dagda as She straddles a river. Which isn’t relevent to the Nodens side of the conversation but might interest you due to your recent adventures 😉 ) have lead me to believe that Cernunnos is the primal version of Lugus… just incase you were interested LOL!!
    Did ANY of that make sense in a sort of convoluted way??

    ~Nellie

    • Rick Derks says:

      Nellie, I just wanted to say what an absolute pleasure it was to read your comment. Really well done! Your insights always astound me. It did indeed make much sense! Thanks so much my friend!

  11. Nellie says:

    Very pleased if it helped 🙂

  12. Pingback: Blood Spilled, Oaths Renewed « Howling at the Crossroads

  13. I just came across this post, small word indeed that I’m visiting your second blog. ;o) I keep thinking of what you said in your dream about the word Nodens being in the forefront and strong. I believe in what another said as far as reading any stories/information you can find on Nodens and see where the twists and turns of this road will take you and/or lessons to be learned.

    Another thing that came to my mind while reading your post was the fact of getting *past nets* or *past labels* as some put it. Nodens has your attention, see where it leads.

    Your post reminded me of an experience I had years ago of a god who visited in dream but for some reason I was at a complete loss of just who he was until months later I purchased a book from Edred Thorsson. The a-ha moment was intense, there was a short silence and then the loudest outburst of laughter. The laughter happened after I was shown by reading this book just how literal I took the encounter and didn’t see the symbols and where they were pointing to for me. It was a lesson well learned! That dream was the beginning of many twists and turns that have led me to where I am today.

    I pray that this path will be illuminated for you, my best to you always!

    • Feral Witch says:

      James, thank you for your comment. For some reason I didn’t see it right away (ah a month later!) so please accept my apologies in not posting it and replying right away! Thank you for sharing your experience as well. It is indeed funny how the gods work eh? May your path be illuminated as well.

  14. Stevo says:

    Hi Feral,
    I had fun reading this entry because I went through something similar this week. I’m of Germanic heritage, but never really felt called to be Asatru. So how do I proceed with my spiritual training? I thought long on it and began to realize that spirituality may be like the changing sound on a drum head. If you are interested to read my thoughts, I recorded my reflections at my blog, Slippery Spirit, here: http://spiritslip.blogspot.com/2011/12/pagan-in-strange-land.html

    • Feral Druid says:

      Very interesting Stevo! Thanks for giving the link. I read your post with great interest, with lots of “yeah I’ve been there” head nodding. It’s a delicate issue isn’t it? I wish I could say I’ve resolved it for myself, but I’ve come to a very similar conclusion as you, trying to dodge the labels and just getting on with the work! 😉

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