I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create. – William Blake
I will reason and compare, of course – it’s in my nature, just as much as the need to create beauty, care for my family, or make bad puns… but I’ve reached a point in my journey where I just have to recognize that not being completely comfortable on any established path is probably also in my nature. All the paths that I have tried to walk – Christianity, Zen/Ch’an Buddhism, Wicca, Judaism, Revival Druidry, Hellenismos (more or less chronologically… am I missing anything?) – have taught and still teach me great and meaningful lessons; likewise the systems that have enticed me to learn about them without actually trying to practice, most notably Shinto and the Sanatana Dharma. All have molded my thinking, and the way I live my life, to greater or lesser degrees.
I’ve been trying for decades, whether I always realized it or not, to find the faith that I could join, and that would sustain me and nurture my spiritual growth for the rest of my life. To none of these, however, have I ever been able to assent fully: to say that I believe one or another speaks enough of the truth to me to be sufficient on its own, to completely hold my heart and soul.
Judaism and Druidry probably come closest, and have warped my growth the most over the last 15 years; but there are stumbling blocks to both. For Judaism, in the end my mental furniture, the set of filters through which I see the world, is too relentlessly pagan(ish). I may or may not believe in various gods, nature spirits and the faerie realm, but I am absolutely certain that we would be worse off as a species (and I, in particular, would have a much poorer quality of life) without their stories and their magic; I could not take on a faith, as much as I love so much of it, that denigrates these things and calls them bad.
And Druidry, as much as its upholding of nature, story and artistic creation as primary manifestations of the religious impulse resonate with my way of being in the world, is in the end, I fear, too Celtic-centric – even in the Revival traditions that claim not to be, it’s still the default setting. I have tried, and I just don’t do Celtic; it doesn’t speak in any way to my soul… and a Druidry completely divorced from that would likely no longer be Druidry in any case, it’s part of the package.
And so I have gone along my syncretistic way, often with my head in one place and my heart in another and my hands doing something else altogether… and I have seen that most of my growing has come about in the spaces between.
Now, though, I wonder if I’ve been asking the wrong question: not “What should I be?”, but “What should I do?”… and that question, I can answer! I should do what it is in me to do – to sing joy, to create beauty, to try to bring laughter that heals, and to think about everything too damn much. So may it always be!