I’ll admit it, I’m a dabbler. Like so many people who come from one very rigid, organised and structured religion (in my case Catholicism) and somehow find their way to the free-flowing streams of Paganism, I’ve been tentatively hovering around the edges for the better part of a decade now without really commiting.
Now, edges are great. I’m in love with liminal spaces and liminal times, with the boundaries between the realms. Seashores, riverbanks, woodland margins, these things are at the heart of my Druidry. But there comes a time when “liminal” can become “lazy”, when initial hesitation becomes inertia. Once you’ve stuck your toe in the water, eventually it’s time to dive in and swim, or walk away.
In his excellent book The Path of Paganism, which I am currently reading (review coming soon!), Druid writer John Beckett talks about his own “get serious or move on” moment, after eight years of dabbling in Paganism. That defining moment led him to where he is today, as one of the most active, eloquent and thoughtful Druids I know.
Recently, I’ve had a similar sort of experience. While working through the Cernunnos ritual in John’s book, I had what can only be described as a religious experience. I know, I know. I’m the sceptical (read cynical) non-theist who’s the last person to talk about having religious experiences, but there it is. I won’t go into details, not least because one of the classic hallmarks of religious experience (per William James, 1901) is “ineffability”, the inability to fully describe it in words. I had a crack at using a bit of Bardistry to portray it in my “Encounter” poem, but it falls short.
What I took from that, though, was a sense that it was time to stop dabbling. Stop reading *about* Druidry and start learning to *be* Druid, in the real world, not just in my head.
Get real, or give up.
Quite what that looks like, I’m not sure yet. It will no doubt be a challenge, a long process, and a lot of hard (though I hope rewarding) work. I fear it may mean edging out of my introvert shell and actually (gasp) talking to actual people.
I must confess (and it feels like a confession, with all the attendant sense of shame and guilt) that the Bardic course with OBOD left me (ironically) uninspired. And ADF are great, but they feel alien, not rooted in the traditions of Druidry here in this land. So where does that leave my Druidry?
I have some potentially interesting developments coming up, details of which I won’t share until they’re finalised, but I think it is time for me to find, or create, my place, as a Druid, as a Pagan, as an animist, in this rich, complicated, painful, messy and beautiful world.
I will still forever love the liminal, but it’s time to get real.