From A Druid’s Journey – The First Step

Cross-posted at A Druid’s Journey.

It feels right to start this blog with a summary of where I’ve been and how I got here. This is the barest bones outline here – the details of my training would take a long time. Questions/comments about details are welcome, of course!

My formal training started in 1998 when I met up with a Gardnerian priestess in Arizona. Prior to that, I’d been self-educating, reading everything I could get my hands on and doing solitary eclectic Wiccan ritual a la Scott Cunningham. Starhawk’s “The Spiral Dance” was (and remains) one of the most influential books I read. I was serious about my study and practice, but I knew I needed structure. At that time, there were no Ár nDraíocht Féin groves in Phoenix, though I investigated meeting with a few locals. I also met with Todd Covert in Southern California, though I understand he has since left ADF to form his own tradition of druidry, FoDLA. I was looking hard for a dedicated and experienced group of people to work with. Around this time, I found Boudicca.

It’s funny – back then, it was common to hear “when the student is ready, the teacher will come” in Wiccan circles. My circles were primarily online, far flung and varied in devotion and intensity. Still, on this one thing they all agreed. If I was ready, I’d find a teacher. I cannot begin to express how frustrating that was. I studied for almost a decade on my own before someone showed up. That study included ADF’s program among others. I was strongly called to the Irish pantheon.

Boudicca and I embarked on a very Gardnerian (read: traditional and lineage-based) course of study. Her home coven was in Virginia and we kept in close contact with them. I received my second degree initiation in December 2001, days before my 31st birthday. Boudicca and I decided to create our own tradition at that point, based on our concern that spiritual training should be more all-encompassing. I had been working with the Reclaiming tradition at the same time I worked with Boudicca, as well as attending events at Diana’s Grove in Missouri. The ecstatic ritual model worked well for us and we felt that politics were personal and spiritual, so we set out to put it all together into a tradition that provided the structure and rigor of British traditional Wicca, the ecstatic ritual model and political responsibility of Reclaiming and the attention to scholarship of the druids and Celtic Reconstructionists. It was quite ambitious. We called it the Cassandra tradition.

I began a coven in Illinois based on this tradition in early 2002. My co-priestess and I worked very hard to pound Cassandra into a workable model. We mostly met with resistance in the areas of structure and scholarship – unsurprising, I suppose, given that many pagans are attracted to the practices due to the lack of these things. We continued successfully until my departure in 2004 – the coven is still in existence, though I do not believe they are following the Cassandra tradition.

From 2004 – 2005 I worked with the Greeks in Arizona as co-priestess of a coven, following the Reclaiming model for the most part. We did have a structure very loosely based on Cassandra, but not quite as rigorously as I’d done in Illinois. I attended several Reclaiming witchcamps and taught classes in the tradition locally. Several things happened during that time and I slowly drifted away from Witchcraft and Wicca after leaving the coven in late 2005. The detail required to really tell this portion of my story could overwhelm this post and is really deserving of its own entry, so I’ll leave that for later.

I spent quite a bit of time working with the Feri tradition in 2006 via T. Thorn Coyle‘s books. I’d had several classes with her in the previous five years and much of Reclaiming is influenced by the Anderson Feri tradition. Through sitting practice and a good friendship, I also began exploring Buddhism, particularly Zen Buddhism and the practice of mindfulness. I stayed in this pattern for the next three years.

Sometime this past spring (2009) I felt like something that had been sleeping inside started to awaken, like I’d forgotten who I was and now I was starting to remember. I strongly considered a return to Reclaiming or some other form of Witchcraft. This summer I went to Seattle and whatever had been sleeping sat up and became fully awake. I knew at that point it was time to return to the druids, to the Irish. The tipping point came this past month when I randomly ended up in a conversation at a concert with an ADF druid from Tucson. I renewed my ADF membership. I decided to start again with the Dedicant’s path, particularly now that there is so much support for solitaries.

That brings me to now, pretty much. I’m eager to get started. A little shy about getting re-involved with the local community, but hopefully that will change.

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