Thinking About – Living a Pagan Lifestyle

I received an excellent question via my Facebook page over the weekend. It was this:

It’s a little complicated, but thinking on Paganism and Druidry as more than a spiritual belief, but as a lifestyle, in today’s modern life, is it possible to live in such a lifestyle?

Instead of replying directly I thought this might well be something that other Pagans struggle with, so a more open blog article called.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Well, my beginning to be exact. When I felt the call of the Old Gods I was already a fairly experienced Occultist. My teenage years had led me to the books of Crowley and the Golden Dawn (I’ll say it again, not the far right political party, but the old Magical Society. You might not think that’s necessary, but when I wrote that I was into the Golden Dawn once, I received an email from someone in utter despair that I was a fan of the far right. So people do make that mistake.) Yet I heard a call from the land, and that call led me to Druidry.

When I left school my second job was at a knapsack sprayer manufacturer, on the assembly line. I worked at the same firm for 11 years. Going from the assembly line, then into the repair centre, then I was promoted to the Research and Development department, then I was plucked from there, given a company car and an expense account and sent off into the UK as their Home Sales Manager. From there I was sent overseas as the company’s international training officer, and then export sales. I went to Africa a number of times. It was a good job considering I’d left school with barely any qualifications.

In 1991 we were told that the company was moving to Northumberland. I was offered a good deal, to sell the house and move, and had to give it good consideration, but in the end I chose not to. Towards the end of my time with the company I went on a business trip to an agricultural show in Spain with the then Export Sales Manager. We spoke about what we were going to do next. He had made contact with a Polish injection moulding company, and he thought we might be able to form a company and work with them. So when our old company moved, we hopped on a plane and had a meeting with them.

When we arrived we were led to the board room. Me and my buddy opened our briefcases and began to talk about our plans, but the Director raised his hands.

“In a while we talk business. Now. We drink.”

Out came ice-cold bottles of Vodka, and we did indeed drink. A lot. When there were a number of empty Vodka bottles on the boardroom table, and me and my business partner were, well, you know. The Director then stood up and said, “Now… we talk business.”

It was a very different way of working. He told me he wanted the truth, and that Vodka was a good way of getting quickly to the truth. It worked. They heard our plans and the next day agreed to work with us. We had our own business.

So in early 1992 I was my own boss, had my own business, company car, it was good.

But.

Around the same time I had found my Pagan Heart.

I joined the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. Discovered the Pagan Federation. Got involved in an Earth-centred spiritual path, and really felt it. This leads me back to the initial question.

It’s a little complicated, but thinking on Paganism and Druidry as more than a spiritual belief, but as a lifestyle, in today’s modern life, is it possible to live in such a lifestyle?

I became embroiled in the agricultural industry when I was 16 years old. It was all I’d known, and I had made a bit of a name for myself within it. I was a paid-up member of the British Society of Sugarcane Technologists. I was at the meeting where they spoke about the need for a sugar-based, low calorie sweetener. That sweetener later became Splenda. My clients were the big bad boys – Monsanto, Zeneca, the big chemical companies. I remember being at the Zeneca plant when they were just beginning to talk about developing plants that were genetically resistant to disease – the very beginning of GM crops.

And as my Paganism grew, it became harder and harder to square my work life, with my spiritual beliefs. They were out of sync with each other. In the end something had to shift.

I took my Spaniel to work with me every day I was in the office. Our office was in the countryside on a farm, a lovely place to work. One lunchtime we walked out into the Sussex countryside, and went to visit an old oak tree. I went there every day, spoke the Druids Prayer, and intoned some Awens, but this day something was different. I spoke to the tree. I said that there must be some way to live a holistic life. A life that was in tune with my Paganism. I said to that wise old tree that, if there was a way, I was ready. Bring it on.

The very next day I received a phone call that would change my life.

Afterwards, I went into the office and sat at my computer. My business partner was at his. How could I even bring this up? We had created this company together in good faith, for the long run. But I simply couldn’t do it any more. My life was going in another direction. I sat there for a long time wondering what to say. Then I just said’ “How would you like to own all of this?”

He stopped work. Looked at me and said, “Ok. Let’s talk.”

So we did, and in a couple of months all of the loose ends were tied and I was out.

I took a huge drop in wages, but that decision also led to having the space to write songs, record songs, and the rest is history.

It was a massive step, and a big change. Not everyone needs to do that. Some hold on until the time is right, but in reality that right time often doesn’t come along. It’s like having children. Sometimes you just have to go for it, and see what happens.

What does a ‘Pagan Lifestyle’ Look Like?

To answer the question. Is it possible to live a Pagan lifestyle? I guess one has to consider what living a Pagan lifestyle would look and feel like. That is a very personal thing. To some it would involve making sure to do the recycling, maybe getting an allotment where you can grow your own food. Buying ethically, and making difficult but important consumer choices. Some might chose to become vegetarians, or vegans. Like me some may feel that they need to change jobs. But the thing to stress is that these are personal choices. Not every Pagan thinks the same way, and when we chose to make those lifestyle changes, it’s important to accept that not everyone will do the same. If you don’t, you are setting yourself up for almost constant disappointment.

Being a Pagan with a Busy Life

This is a real thing right now. How did the technology we created, to give us more time, make us even more busy? How do we find time in our lives for our Paganism when we barely have enough energy to collapse on the sofa and sit bleary-eyed in front of the TV without falling asleep after a hard day’s work? These are questions my Grove are working through right now. One of the things that can help is to drop the resistance to those things us Pagans unhelpfully call mundane. I heard a great quote the other day. It came from Dion Fortune and she said something like “we have to honour and tend our Hearth fire, before we can tend the Temple fire”. Not only that, but our Hearth fire can feed and ignite our Temple fire. It’s a challenge, but it might help if we stopped pigeonholing aspects of life into boxes of mundane stuff and spiritual stuff. One feeds the other, constantly, and the result is wholeness. Life.

There are some people who are so busy they really cannot find time for a spiritual practice. But for most of us we can always find time for Facebook. How about not going on Facebook, but instead doing 10 minutes of meditation? Instead of diving into the newspaper first thing in the morning, how about starting your day in a different way. Go outside, smell the air, connect. Little changes can really help. There doesn’t have to be a massive shift that changes everything. Small things can build up. Make them habits and they can have a knock on effect on our mood and relationships, both to others, and ourselves. If we also make tending the Hearth fire a spiritual act, well, that shift in perspective can be utterly life-changing.

Having written all of that I have to come back to one thing – what does living a Pagan lifestyle look like to you? And what small changes can you make to edge towards that? Be gentle with yourself. It helps nobody if we are overtly harsh. These things can take time. Make those small changes and this time next year that imagined lifestyle may be the one you are living, or at the very least you will have made changes that make you feel more connected.

I hope that helps. Let me know your thoughts.

By | 2017-11-27T14:45:20+00:00 November 27th, 2017|Categories: Thinking About|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. John November 27, 2017 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Lovely to hear your story and thank-you for sharing it. Maybe you should have come to Northumberland earlier on – there are a lot of us pagan types up here. You are so right about uniting the mundane and the spiritual. That is basically what mindfulness is all about, I think.

  2. Nita November 27, 2017 at 11:55 am - Reply

    What a great story Dave. So glad you made the shift. My story has a similar ring to it. I was brought up staunch catholic going to convent schools and even a catholic Teacher training college and teaching in catholic schools. I spent a lot of my career in church schools but not always by choice it just happened that way. All the time it was somehow not enough.

    When I was a child and aunt of mine used to read tea leaves at family functions. I come from a very large family. She always picked me out saying ‘you can do this’. I couldn’t. She tried to get me to see the shapes and signs. I couldn’t. Eventually she said ‘you may well be a card reader.’ She showed me how to interpret a normal pack of cards 7 to Ace only. I could. I loved it and read cards for years from the age of about 11 onwards. I never saw a conflict with my catholic roots and I still don’t.
    Eventually, as a student and reading cards and holding circles, my boyfriend (now my husband) bought me a set of tarot cards for my birthday. I couldn’t do it. I reverted back to my old pack (now over 50 years old and I still have it.) Someone said that I should put the old pack away and sleep with the Tarot under my pillow and then try. It worked after a while and now I read with all sorts of cards. My original tarot pack is also almost 50 years old and still great.

    In the late 90’s my parents and in-laws became of an age where they were in need of more help and rather crumbly. I left teaching and worked in an office so I could take time off when needed to go up to Lancashire and Leicestershire from my Hampshire home. No mean feat. This did not work too well as it was a small business and I was needed in the office every day. I took a job as a carer in a college for disabled young adults. This gave me term time holidays and also I could take unpaid leave and still hold the job. They were very good and helpful to my situation. It also gave me a freedom I had not felt before. I actually worked my way back up to management level but had found that I leaned so much more to my pagan side.

    I now have a regular Gathering, do circle casting and read cards. I do house blessings and naming ceremonies. I don’t usually charge at all but the energy I receive is worth its weight in gold. I stir my cauldron well, chant my words and sing my spell. I hear the Goddess Ceredwyn call. ………And all the others too.
    By the way……………GUTTED about no Witchfest in 2018…………..stamp foot and scream…

  3. Kevin Rowan-Drewitt November 27, 2017 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Another great posting Dave! Blending the mundane with the spiritual is a very personal thing and we all have to do it in our own way. I have visited ancient sites, wrote about them, sung about them, listened to your albums, read books, been in covens, done meditation, worked on my little garden, attended moots, gone to camps and conferences etc. done talks and workshops. Its all about making your own personal connection and I think one of the best is to network with fellow travellers on your or their spiritual path, both in person and on the net, sharing ideas, practices and beliefs. Blessed be.

  4. Cathie Rayes November 27, 2017 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I don’t necessarily correlate things like recycling with being Pagan because I did my best to live a responsible, earth-centered life while I was still trying to be Christian. For me, a Pagan lifestyle has to do with how I think. Over the decades I’ve learned to recognize the ingrained religious attitudes beneath people’s assumptions and words, which gives me the opportunity to decide how I will respond. With fellow Pagans I sometimes point out the underlying assumptions and where they come from, but quite often my response to others is to let it go. I consider Pagan to be what I am from the bedrock of my soul as well as being how I think. There is no thing I do without consciousness of the gods, and very few situations where I’m not talking with one or another of them. I do have to be careful not to talk out loud when others are near… although these days with Bluetooth devices everywhere I can get away with more! And living with a Shaman, I can talk out loud to our Allies all the time at home.

  5. Sonia November 27, 2017 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Hmm great question. And thank-you for sharing your story Damh.

    I’ve always worked with birds and animals in some form or another, so I think they have kept me where I feel at home. I also am boringly bookish, so reading and writing also kept me where I wanted to be. I mean my avid search for wisdom, and interest in magic and paganism, paranormal, anthropology, archaeology. Head in the clouds, and feet on the earth.

    I became more and more in my head so to speak and became a ritual magician, leaving behind Wicca and witchcraft. Although still doing animal rescue work. Then something stirred within me, a calling, yes, you used that word, that is what it was. A calling to the Land again. Something deep in my heart cried out for it. So.. joined OBOD. Not sure if I have a lifestyle. Just know the land is in my bones, Nature speaks as She always did, I listen. So yes, there is a wholeness, a peace within.

    In ancient times the Temple Fire was started by the burning woods from the Hearth Fire, and then the Hearth Fire was ignited from the Temple Fire. And so it was. And neither was allowed to go out. This just about tells us that as we sip our wine, or eat the bounties of Nature we are being just as spiritual as if we were involved in a magical ritual. In fact, we could say both were magical rituals. As are any pleasures, as long as we honour them for what they are in gratitude. Listening to music can feed the soul as a meal sustains the body. We are living that way everyday if we just but wake up and realise it. But if we go into negative ways of existence, we find the feeling of wholeness, happiness, disappears. Dissatisfaction creeps in, and a sense of hopelessness.

    Well there is my perspective. I look forwards to seeing what others have to say.

  6. Chris Whitford November 27, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    This has helped me hugely, as a stedent in England, and one who is new to the path I have often wondered what changes I could make to my life, and how a pagan life looked like. So thank you for the advice..

  7. Kagan Pittman November 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    This post really helps me. For a very long time, I’ve struggled with balancing the “modern life” with my Pagan beliefs. Technology especially has been VERY distracting from my spiritual life, and I’ve often fallen out of practice for long periods because of it and the more mundane things I’m concerned with. I like what you’ve said about not being overtly harsh on yourself, a problem I have, and to take small steps at developing a more connected, spiritual way of life. I was actually reminded of how I’ve been doing on my new years resolutions for the past few years (excellently, by the way), and December is coming up. I’m going to take what you’ve said here as inspiration to make this years resolution one about rededicating to the simple acts involved in my faith and live more authentically to how I feel. It’ll be difficult, but I know I can do it. Thank you, and may the Gods bless you.

  8. Boardman Rebecca November 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    This is an excellent post. The best one I have read yet. Very profound. And yes, I agree with the first commentator, mindfulness is all about being in the moment, no matter how “mundane”. If we ignore the normal, we are missing a big chunk of life, aren’t we? For me, a pagan lifestyle means being more mindful of the already many ways I connect every day with nature and the world around me. I am surrounded by animals, and it is easy to start to lump them into the mundane. They are not. And if I am simply mindful of them, I connect in ways most people never get a chance to. I am so very lucky in that way. We recycle, but I could do more to support our Mother. While I am very connected with my animal neighbors, I am also very practical in things like meat. I am not thrilled about eating commercial meat (yes I know exactly what and how the things happen to the meat I eat), but also know with a family to feed, affording organic or Kosher is not really an option. Not at this point. I am also educated on the general scams of that industry – suffice it to say unless you buy local where you KNOW what they GROW or what they raise and how they raise them, you are likely being lied to at some point about your produce or meat. Enough of that soapbox. I should spend more time connecting with plants. Trees in particular. They have a peace and profound wisdom that cannot be found elsewhere. The stars at night can sing if you listen. There are so many ways…so many. All one need do is take a moment and SEE. I need to do that more. Not do, just BE.

    Thanks for making me think.

  9. John Davis November 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story Damh. When I moved from a professional Christian perspective on life (I was a Vicar!) and was feeling my way along the Druid path I also had to face uniting the mundane and spiritual. Actually, I came to realise that the separation was illusory, it is we who make such a differentiation. My devotional life had been based around the church buidling, the Bible and written prayers….to put these aside after so many years was a tall ask but the sense of connection when going for an early morning walk rather than being confined indoors was a “revelation”. I have come to understand the truth of one of the Bardic triads: “The hearth becomes the altar, our work is worship and the service that we give and receive is the sacrament”…..John /l\

  10. Anne November 27, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    As always I enjoyed reading what you have to say. I started one my Pagan life when I was 14 & at the same age became vegetarian, it made sense to me that the two went hand in hand. By the way my parents said of both things that it was “just a phase” well the “phase” has lasted 46 years now! Anyway back to the question, I believe it is possible to live a Pagan lifestyle. It doesn’t take much effort to be aware of & to do our best for the environment; to respect others both humans & animals; to take time to appreciate the world in which we live & to take care of ourselves. I practice yoga;I meditate daily, sometimes more than once; & I am part of a group which is studying Mindfulness. About 18 months ago I decided not to replace my old worn out TV & I don’t miss it I listen more to the radio or CDs, I read, knit, sew & I’ve started to write again, poetry & what I hope will eventually be a novel. I live simply & enjoy the simple things in life, the sound of a song thrush early on a spring morning, the sight of geese flying overhead. I don’t buy newspapers, I do use Facebook, but only once a day in the evening & sometimes 2 days can go by when I don’t go on it at all. I find that since giving up TV & newspapers & limiting my use of technology in the form of my pic, I am more content. The point of this rambling comment is that I do believe that it is possible to live a Pagan lifestyle. Blessings. Anne

  11. Tina November 28, 2017 at 4:50 am - Reply

    Baby steps. Just about everything I do is accomplished in baby steps day by day. Connection to spirit via nature, writing a novel, learning a new song on the guitar or lyre, building a vegie garden, community work, caring for my animals, meditating. Tiny increments done by by day will build you anything you truly want. People tell me they don’t know how i manage to fit all the creative stuff into my days, but that’s how. Making sure these things go on my daily to-do list along with all the mundane chores, to show that they matter too. Five minutes here, twenty here, an hour there. The will to turn away from social media and to keep it off my phone, the knowledge that these creative and connective things feed my spirit in a way that the brain suckers of modern technology never will. It’s the same with living your path. Yes the Buddhist concept of Right Work is very relevant to us too, and it is great to be able to do it, but if you can’t right now, you can still take baby steps in the direction you want to go. Enjoyed reading this, Damh! (Well worth the time it took! 😀 )

  12. Lesley November 28, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Very interesting, thank you for sharing your experiences

  13. Brigit December 2, 2017 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Great Subject 🙂 Thanks for the Sharings…

    I was fortunate to have parents that took us kids to the mountains often, & I grew up at the foot of Mt. Timpanogos, where trees, gardens, flowers, & natural surroundings enveloped our home. I was raised with a respect & love for nature, so when I was a teen, the mountains & lakes (& later the ocean in Califia) became places of meditation & peace for me.

    In about 1970, my Guides advised me to become a vegetarian (& later Vegan) for spiritual, health, & animal rights reasons. I have given workshops, was a member of a Vegetarian organization’s Board of Directors, & teach this way of life to my clients, etc. For me, it was the right choice for my Own personal Druid practice. I also respect Other’s choices for Themselves. I feel that our Inner Guides & Teachers can Guide us to what is best for us Individually. My adult work interests have centered around Music, Dance, Art, Children, Herbal Medicine, Spiritual Healing, Hypnotherapy & Physical Health, Oracle & Tarot (which is perfect for my Druid life & work). I have worked in all these areas through the years.

    When I did the Bardic section of the OBOD course, it went quickly, as I had already written & performed Pagan/Druid songs, & had participated in & led Ceremonial events with my music/poetry. I had begun my serious Spiritual study in the 70’s, & had daily practices through the years in Neo-Paganism, Buddhism, Path of the Masters, etc. The course was Perfect for me & my life. During the Ovate section, I was working on my “Master of Herbology” degree, which magickally coincided with the course. I had previously created a variety of Hypnotherapy CDs, with a hypnosis session on one side & affirmations on the other, (with music that channeled through me). I had also been working with Tarot/Oracle previously…etc.

    I created a Faery Journey in 2000, where Brighid, Dana, & Morrigan give Guidance & Blessings. This went well with my later Ovate work. I purchased the Druid Plant Oracle, & the Druidcraft Tarot, & gave some of my earlier Goddess & Faery cards to others, just starting out. When going through the Druid Grade, I loved the information & experiences, & created some of my own Guided Journeys specific to Druidry. I had studied Astrology since the 70’s, & enjoyed the OBOD section on it. I became much closer to my Druid Guides during the course, & began to educate others & lead some Druid Ceremonies, after completing the course. I had experienced past Lives as a Druid, & my Guides were still with me.

    I am currently working as a Wellness Consultant/Master Herbalist, so all my Healing work & study is involved. I play & sing my music @ Spiritual gatherings & may create a Druid Grove, when I move back to Northern Califia (or where ever I am Guided to move next, which currently, I am told is Califia). I would LOVE to come to Glastonbury @ some point! Right now, I live close to the mountains, & go there often, to meditate & commune with nature.

    I was Guided to place specific Crystals in certain spots in the mountains here, to help bring more healing & balance of the Divine Goddess energy to this area. I send energy to my Large Crystals, & it flows out over the area. I also work with The “Stargate Experience,” focusing on multi-dimensional spiritual experiences & work, for the ascension of Gaia & Humanity. It flows well with my Druidry & Faery work.

    Brightest of Blessing to ALL, on your Journeys towards Alban Arthan /l\

  14. Nicky December 9, 2017 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Brightest blessings dear Damh,

    Many thanks for your beautiful words and honesty.
    I guess it’s about living your truth, seeing what sits well with you and following that.

    I shall follow your blog with interest

  15. Jeannetta December 15, 2017 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Damh, for sharing another portion of your journey and path. Your words resonate for me. Long ago I came to a thought and feeling space that everything was Divine, that everything was birthed by the Divine from the Divine. More recently, that has focused into the thought that if everything is Divine, then no matter how wonderful or challenging the moment, no matter that I’m performing a ritual or changing a diaper, All is holy. As everything is Spirit I am always on my spiritual path. I need only tune in and focus to appreciate the ever-present magnificence of the Divine…which can be challenging when you’re up to your elbows in poo and perhaps wishing your sensory receptors were less acute (the Divine does have a sense of humor), but then there’s this amazing little being before you that continues to evolve from just two cells…and maybe the sunlight coming in the window captures your attention as it shines on the soft baby skin beneath your fingertips, and you look to the window and see beautiful, blue sky and fluffy, white clouds and the branches of a tree moving gently as a breeze caresses its limbs. In the moment of Now, you feel the gifts of Knowing and Peace and Joy. You feel blessed and can move into your next moment with equanimity and resilience…glad in heart, mind, and spirit for the little things that illuminate our way.

    Bright Blessings on All Beings /|\

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