So I’ve been home for a few days now and have had a little time to reflect on my time in the USA. Thinking of the Pagan Spirit Gathering I have one overriding impression – that there is a worldwide Pagan community. Some people say that Paganism is so diverse that it has ceased to be anything more than a word to describe a fractured spirituality. That there is nothing that holds it together. But for me that view was proved utterly wrong when I crossed the Atlantic ocean to play music, and offer a couple of talks, to over 900 American Pagans and find that I feel utterly at home – that the rituals, the chants, the viewpoints being discussed, the general vibe of the camp felt just the same as our Anderida camps, and that these also share much with other camps and events that are happening throughout Britain. Maybe it is just that Paganism appeals to people on a spiritual quest, and that after a while their path might lead away from it, so they can continue their Journey elsewhere. I wonder whether those who see Paganism as fractured are just being called away from it, and rather than just open to that new path, they see their old path as broken, rather than their new path as a continuation of their life quest – who knows. Any relationship can end in either co-operation, or anger, and I guess spiritual relationships are no different… So I’ve come away from the PSG feeling a renewed hope, a renewed connection with my own quest, and a revitalised energy to do even more in service of this community I love so much.
The PSG also gave me time to reflect on my appointment as Pendragon of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. As darkness fell one night I walked to the ritual field to see a massive candlelit Labyrinth. Some people were sitting, just looking at this beautiful thing, whilst others had been called to walk it. I sat for a long time, looking at the spiral path laid out before me. Thinking of it as my own path that, although it has appeared to take sudden twists and turns throughout my life, had been just one path, spiralling, but leading me directly to where I was sitting now. The decisions I’ve made, the changes I’ve undertook; learning to play the guitar, sending off a stamp for the OBOD course, giving up my own company in the Agri-business as I just couldn’t square it with my spiritual beliefs anymore, relationship changes, making friends, and losing some along the way, had all led me to this point, and to taking up the sword for the Order.
The peace of the night was enticing, and so I stood and walked across the threshold into the Labyrinth. Around the outer edge altars had been set up in the four directions, so at each I stopped and made my offerings and prayers. It was a long walk to the centre, with plenty of time to think, to remember, and eventually I came to the centre. Here I sat, soaking up the night, feeling the circling, spiralling people who were either walking into or out from this still point all around me. And there I opened even more and listened.
The Pagan community exists, without doubt. I think it is coming of age and is calling out for a rite of passage. But just as our modern society has abandoned these so we no longer mark when a child becomes a man (other than being able to drink legally), or when a girl becomes a woman, it’s up to us to guide it though this process. After all it is us who are the Pagan community – our spirits make up it’s body. Although we can sometimes see our own bodies as separate from who we are, just a vehicle to carry us around, it is good to recognise that the body, the community, is not separate, and if it is nurtured, honoured and loved, it’ll serve the whole, and the individual.