Tags: catholicism

Good-Bye AODA and Fare Thee Well

Good-bye AODA and fare thee well! The picture on my side is a large painting of a Shoshone I began recently

After walking the Druidry path as part of the AODA, we have decided to amicably go our separate ways due to apparently irreconcilable differences. I do feel it was primarily just a "poor fit" from the get-go, on both sides, though I feel we could have avoided the poor fit if AODA was clearer about its lodge-style hierarchical structure. I am no longer a member of AODA but wish them well. I wish I could change my subheading of this blog, for both our sakes, but I apparently cannot make LiveJournal do that. If you can tell me how to do that, please leave a comment below.

I had always been attracted to knowing more about ancient European beliefs, from my earliest childhood, looking at the various mysterious faces amongst the foliage on the cathedral's columns, and being raised in our indigenous Native American ways. The original "Wicker Man" movie resonated with me, not the killing of poor Sergeant Howie, but the rich beliefs and rites of that place that tuned in to nature in order to survive. Being of light skin, I was always questioned by others about my Indian identity growing up. So I decided to explore my European ancestry as well.

I discovered the Druids were famous for their wisdom and knowledge, worshipping nature spirits, trees, and strange gods in their ancient groves of oaks in Roman times. But also that they were basically destroyed by the Romans. There were some contemporary people who wore white robes and went to Solstice rituals at Stonehenge, which was cool, but that was far away and I knew nothing of them (this was all long before the Internet).

I read John Muir, Edward Abbey, and John McPhee's "Interview with the Archduid." So I came to believe that the modern form of being a Druid was essentially a European parallel to our Native American ways of worshipping the Creator in honoring nature, sort of being a religious deep ecologist that actually believed in the reality of nature spirits and the holiness of trees.

I read a few of John Michael Greer's books, such as Monsters, and enjoyed them very much as a nice blend of lore and practices. When I learned he had his own Druid order, I thought it was something I should look into and maybe join. When you are interested in "weird stuff" it is always heartening to talk to other weirdos ;-) I had looked at OBOD and ADF, which are both reconstructionist polytheistic Druid groups...but although I enjoy reading the myths and legends, I already had a God/Creator to whom I owed sole worship, the same in both in my Catholic and Native American ways. By my baptism I had made that promise. I had no intention of changing that to run after strange gods. And from what I read, AODA did not require it, only requiring civility and tolerance. So I decided to join AODA and find kindred spirits who held nature sacred and learn more of the old European ways.

I became a member of AODA in May of 2006 and then became an official Candidate. After a year of study and practice, I attained First Degree (Druid Apprentice) in November 2007. There's lot of very worthwhile things to be learned. Although, over time, I ended up butting heads with some people (Email is a blessing AND a curse!) that perhaps in real life I might never have had any problems with. In real life, we might have been good friends. Virtual life is its own animal entirely, and I offer my apologies for any hurts I may have inflicted, as anyone who knows me knows I might be gruff at times, but I am too much of a softie for my own good. After a long period of mishaps and problems, I just decided to cut the cord to save all our feelings. I was looking for something I couldn't find I guess. I guess despite all my tries, I am a terrible "joiner."

So this might be a good time and place to give my own sense of what Druidry really is, the modern day version anyways, and the little I have learned of the various larger branches. This is all of course, MY OWN OPINION! ;-)

AODA is an excellent fit for those looking for membership in a revived and respected Revival Druidry organization drawn up according to a masonic lodge-style hierarchy, which determines what is or what is not acceptable, including style/routes of communication, conceptions of deity, etc. For those who do fit in, it seems to work very satisfactorily. Some members have other paths such as Buddhism or Wicca, or are exploring other paths, mostly polytheistic, pantheistic, or monist, after finding Christianity unsatisfactory. If you are one of these folks, it might well be a very good place to belong. John Michael Greer is an outstanding gentleman and scholar, and the other archdruids and officials bring their own talents and abilities to the benefit of AODA and its members.

If you are a self-described "recovering Catholic" or dissatisfied Christian, or if you are attached to Gnostic Christianity, it will be congenial as long as you don't bring up Jesus Christ in polite conversation, not in an orthodox sense...as long as you have divested yourself of any attachment to orthodox belief, you will be ok for the most part. If you still are attached to Jesus Christ in an orthodox sense as the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, etc. you will find it polite for a while but chilly and eventually you will go elsewhere. In other words, you can talk about Lugh as a god, or even Thor or Kali, but not Jesus. It's good to know before you find yourself smacking your head against a brick wall trying to figure out the pattern of why you are being subtly encouraged to exit ;-)

I think AODA probably should be more explicit on its philosophy the way that ADF is. AODA should be more explicit on what/who it is NOT looking for...and screen aspirants a little more strictly to avoid "poor fit" monotheists such as myself. Just a suggestion on this informal "exit interview." I would never join ADF (nor would they have me!) as I am not personally a polytheist...that would be a "bad fit" for both of us.

OBOD seems nice enough, but again it is polytheist in approach, and the required learning program (top notch in production) is rather spendy, a couple of hundred dollars for their very nice package. All you have to buy for AODA is the basic book (see AODA.org for the meat and potatoes) for under $20 and if you like what you read, then apply to be a member.

[OOPS! Edit added 01/31/09: A Druid friend corrected me in my misperception of OBOD...so I stand corrected and here is the correction! "OBOD is not a
reconstructionists druid group, and it does not require belief in a
pantheon of deities. OBOD does in fact allow for those who believe in
multiple deities, Christians, no gods at all, etc. It is really very
much a revivalist group, and allows its members to consider Druidry a
philosophy, a religion, a spiritual path, etc."]

It is odd indeed that neopaganism and all its associated groups are often quite unstable in membership, as in "high turnover". I think what happens is that the originators of most of these groups have a vision of what they want, and in these PC-times, promote themselves as bastions of tolerance. However that tolerance is often quite shallow for those that do not subscribe to their views in toto. So those who cry out for tolerance are often the same ones who end up building their own walls of intolerance.

The problem seems to be a variety of the Utopian flaw, that is, perfection cannot be planned, but only inched towards...one step forward and two back. Personally I LIKE the idea of multiple "Druidries," and let history and natural selection do the weeding out!

So farewell to my AODA comrades, may your path be shining and fare thee well! :-)
Don't forget your curmudgeonly mostly-orthodox-and-always-struggling Roman Catholic animist brother!

This is a painting of Jesus Christ I am doing for my room. I've been working on it on and off for a year or so, when I feel so moved. It's not quite done. I have been doing it through applying multiple glazes. The painting combines iconography of the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy.

What Do I Believe Anyways?

So people are confused by my saying I am Native American, am a Roman Catholic, and yet also walk the path of Druidry and of Heathenism.

I guess I kind of don't fit in anywhere. I believe in God the way the average American used to, as in the Pledge of Allegiance or "God Bless America". I never found a need to break it down and get too specific. God made everything, God made me, etc.

There's no conflict with the Native American world on that score. The Creator made the world, etc. My God though is not very much like the one in the Old Testament in killing everyone who doesn't do it the "official approved" way. God to me is much bigger than that.

The difference is in the details. To me everything has a soul, which is not how the average Catholic believes. I do believe in Jesus, and the Holy Trinity. Even those times I am not sure, I choose to believe with my free will. I took an oath as part of my baptism and confirmation, and despite certain things I don't agree with, I just try to stick with it. So yes, I am a practicing Catholic, but I am not untroubled.

See, I just don't trust what everyone is selling, hook line and sinker. I probably go with the Catholic way up through the Apostles Creed. But I don't believe that if you don't believe the exact way you are supposed to, that you go to hell.

I have no doubt there may be other gods and goddesses. I just haven't experienced any of them. Why would I turn my back on the God I know that has seen me through life so far, to run after some other gods I never had dealings with? However I don't think they are demons etc. I guess I really don't know anything about them because they never talked to me in any way. I just go with the vague, generalistic "God." I may have lots of issues with the religion, but I try to worship only the God I was raised to know.

What I DO focus on, that agrees more with Druidic, Heathen, and Native American ways and might be called heretical by Catholics, is a focus on ancestors and on the spirits of the land (hills, creeks, trees, wind, thunder, etc.) I don't "worship" them, but I give them gifts and food out of friendship and respect.

Maybe I am sort of on that "cusp" of belief that the ancient rural pagans dealt with for hundreds of years during the slow conversion of Europe...the blend of Catholic and pagan ways, where you go to Church and Mass and say your prayers to the Most High and His Son Jesus Christ, and pray through Our Lady, but make offerings of tobacco to the Thunder and the Fire, speak to the Wind, and thank our Mother Earth and Father Sun, and leave plates of food for the hungry spirits in the dark.

I worship only God Who Made All Things, and I confess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but as the Lakota say "We are all related"...for God made us all..the Sun, the Earth, the Bear..."All Things Seen and Unseen"...and you can never have too many friends. Ultimately, I put my trust in Divine Providence and my family, with my hand on my pistol for added measure.

Ave Maria by Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Much of the postings I see here refer to sites which have the lyrics for Bach's Ave Maria, not Schubert's.

The lyrics, as sung in German, are as follows:

Ave Maria! Jungfrau mild,
Erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen,
Aus diesem Felsen starr und wild
Soll mein Gebet zu dir hinwehen.
Wir schlafen sicher bis zum Morgen,
Ob Menschen noch so grausam sind.
O Jungfrau, sieh der Jungfrau Sorgen,
O Mutter, hör ein bittend Kind!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Unbefleckt!
Wenn wir auf diesen Fels hinsinken
Zum Schlaf, und uns dein Schutz bedeckt
Wird weich der harte Fels uns dünken.
Du lächelst, Rosendüfte wehen
In dieser dumpfen Felsenkluft,
O Mutter, höre Kindes Flehen,
O Jungfrau, eine Jungfrau ruft!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! Reine Magd!
Der Erde und der Luft Dämonen,
Von deines Auges Huld verjagt,
Sie können hier nicht bei uns wohnen,
Wir woll'n uns still dem Schicksal beugen,
Da uns dein heil'ger Trost anweht;
Der Jungfrau wolle hold dich neigen,
Dem Kind, das für den Vater fleht.
Ave Maria!

The English translation:

Ave Maria! Maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish'd, outcast and reviled -
Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair,
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!


Constructing a Local Cosmology: Two Recommended Resources

By the way, this is one of my paintings..click it to see a larger version...you can learn about it, and see more of my work at The Lance M. Foster Studio.

In addition to the excellent AODA essay Wildcrafting the Modern Druid by Gordon Cooper, I recommend you take a look at two additional resources that can help you get started in constructing a local cosmology.

1. The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci

First, look at The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci, by Barry Patterson, as well as his website, Red Sandstone Hill. I bought this book a few years ago, and return to it over and over, not only because of the information there that resonates with my own experiences, but also Patterson's wonderful lyrical writing. A Genius Loci is of course, the particular spirit/intelligence (genius) of a place, that resides or animates that location/land/site (loci). The concept and experience of the Genius Loci is essential to not only my spirituality, but my own work as a landscape architect, landscape historian, and archaeologist.

Here is the table of contents from Patterson's book The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci:

Foreword: The World by Gordon Maclellan.
1. The World of the Laughing Gull - An autobiographical piece.
Poem: Whitley Grove
2. Basic Approaches - Finding a Place - Other People - Know Thyself - Really Being There - The Power of Giving - Labour of Love - Standing & Sitting Still - The Power Principle - Earthing the Charge.
3. Going Deeper - Working with the Circumstances - Firelight - Games to Play: The Magical Mystery Tour, Tell Me a Story, Mythago Wood.
Poem: Water Worn Stone
4. The Great Directions - What is Actually There? - The Numbers Game - Attributes of the Directions in Different Systems - The Cross Quarters - The Centre - The Temple & the Glade.
5. The Hamlet Syndrome - The World of Animism - The Tree Man - A Warning? - Little Things - The Hamlet Syndrome - Dualism & Mysticism.
6. The Mantic Moment - A Little Bird Told Me - Divination - The Inkblot Test - Oracles of Place -
The Mantic Moment.
Poem: The Edge
7. A Statement of Intent is Not Enough - The Art of Magic - Stuff Happens - Tying Knots - The Western Way? - Approaches to Magic - Singing a Rune - Ecology & Magic - Holistic Magic - Working on Ourselves - A Statement of Intent is Not Enough.
8. The Living Bedrock of the Land - Science, Art & Magic - What Makes a Sacred Site? - Geological Maps - Minerals, Crystals, Stones & Rock - Types of Rock - Shapes in the Land - Practical Work - Danger - In the City.
Poem: In the Yew Wood at Night
9. The Plant Powers - The Barrier - A Relationship of Abuse? - Conscience - Talking to the Trees - The Oak Replies - Getting to Know You - In the Garden.
10. The Animal Powers - Contradictions - Ethics & Awareness - Animal Spirits - A Bigger Picture - Power Animals - Boundaries - Lions & Tigers & Bears! - Honour Living Things - Field Study - Harmony.
Poem: The Hunter
11. Down Between the River & the Railway Lines - Post Industrial Panic - The Old Ones are Among Us! - The Hilltops of South East London - Satori in Blackfriars - Don’t Fool Yourself - City of the Phoenix - This is not a Quest! Dakinis, Djinns & Duppies- Urban Ecology.
12. Another World? - Trance -Questions - Drumming - Exercises - Going Deeper - Taking a Journey - Mediumship - Grounding - Other Worlds? - Faery Lore - Telling Tales - This World & the Next - Little & Big - One World!
13. Weasels, Ghosts & Phobias - The Bogey Man - Shadowy Perspectives - The Spider & the Fly- The Dark Side- Weasels- Fear of Fear- Try to Remember- The Guardian of the Mysteries - Lovelock Meets Lovecraft - Down to Earth.
14. The Art of Memory - Gifts from Faery- Preparation & Uses- The Art of Memory - Overcoming Attachment - Green Wood - The Heart of the Matter.
Appendix 1: Singing a Rune
Appendix 2: Contacts
Appendix 3: The Country Code
Appendix 4: The AsLan Charter
Poem: The Ringses

2. "Bioregional Animism" Blog/Website/Video

I came to find the attractive and provocative Bioregional Animism blog through Patterson's site. There is also the companion Bioregionalism Animism website. The website has a nice Bioregional Animism video worth watching as well. So far, I like what I have read, although it sometimes overthinks and uses too much academic rhetoric to express very elementary concepts better expressed in traditional stories...and stuff I learned as a kid through our traditional Native ways and my time immersed in the outdoors. As a Native American and instinctive animist from childhood ( but aren't we all instinctive animists? --except most seem to trash their inherent animism by the age of 7-9) ...I also don't like the deconstructionist attempt to create a more intellectual neologistic "neo-animism" more compatible with a more rationalist viewpoint, but that would probably appeal to many others in the larger part of our contemporary society who are trying to (re)connect to nature from the intellectual/skeptical mainstream.

This blog is very compatible with Gordon's essay in many ways. The author(s) of the blog are really trying to connect bioregional ecosystems with animistic thinking. One thing I like about it, is that while it retains the animistic recognition of Persons in nature (as they term it "Other-Than-Human-Persons"...though I read the use of Persons (capitalized) in the same usage as a nonhuman spiritual being back in high school while reading Plenty Coups, the story of the Montana Crow chief, written by Plenty Coups and Frank Bird Linderman...great book! Plenty Coups used the term "Persons" when speaking of spirits up above, underwater beings, and the like). I also like that they have recognized that you cannot have shamanism without animism; that has always bugged me about contemporary self-styled "shamans"...they neglect the theological underpinnings of bioregionally-based cosmologies. So at least that is being grappled with at last. The other part of shamanism "neoshamans" have not gotten right yet, is that traditional societies are not me/I focused to the ridiculous extent that the neo-shaman/New Age people of our society often are (me, me, me is their mantra...thou in me, all nature in me, God in me...me, me, me). Traditional societies are about US, not me...me only in the sense of essential to US.

Here are a couple of quotes from the Bioregional Animism blog I like:

Animism is the view that human beings on the earth live — whether they know it or not — in community with persons who are not human beings. These other-than-human persons may include animals, plants, trees, rocks, clouds, thunder, and stars. The phrase other-than-human persons was coined by anthropologist Irving Hallowell to describe the world of the Ojibwe, in which humans, animals, fish, birds, and plants — and some rocks, trees, and storms — are all relational, intentional, conscious, and communicative beings. ...Other-than-human persons may be helpful, harmful, callous, malicious, indifferent, or tricky, just like human persons. It is often helpful or necessary to enter into personal relationships with them; such relationships with other-than-human persons may be comforting, demanding, or dangerous, just as with human persons. As a result of such relationships, other-than-human persons may provide information, insight, power, vision, healing, protection, songs, and ceremonies. The receipt of such gifts entails reciprocal obligations, just as with human persons.

Remember, not all spirits are nice. And there is always a price...they that rhymes! A new mnemonic for the seeker... "Not all spirits are nice; there is always a price." Another good quote:

...Modern culture has lost its animism because of the emergence of the text. In the Phaedrus, Plato quotes Socrates as warning that writing “will introduce forgetfulness into the soul,” because people will come to trust in the static, written word, rather than “the words of an oak,” or a stone. When text replaces the world as the communicator of truth, then the text is treated animistically, as having its own voice, its own spirit. "The animating interplay of the senses has been transferred to another medium," says Abram, "another locus of participation. It is the written text that provides this new locus. ... The 'inert' letters on the page now speak to us. This is a form of animism ... as mysterious as a talking stone. And indeed, it is only when a culture shifts its participation to these printed letters that the stones fall silent." As an alternative to being "hypnotized by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect us back to ourselves," Abram proposes a return to animism. "Only by affirming the animateness of perceived things do we allow our words to emerge directly from the depths of our ongoing reciprocity with the world."

Reciprocity is one of the most ancient of human values, as old as our species itself...sharing meat, to bond with the other, and ensure meat will be shared with you when the other has, and you have not. I am continually astounded at the lack of reciprocity, this essential quality of humanity, in our contemporary world of me, me, me. One last quote (you really need to visit the blog!):

"I have long struggled with the conflict between the imperialism of my European heritage and the need to reconcile with a foreign land. the truth is that our DNA is a construct of thousands of ancestors before us who walked upon the land. For Native people this land is the same land their people have inhabited for thousands of years, which gives them an inherent intimate relationship with it. Those of us of colonial ancestors have a different dynamic to deal with, in that our genetics may not be of the land, but our experiences and culture is. We are the accumulation of personal experience, ethnic experience, of not only our ancestors but the living we interact with on a daily basis. We are more a result of our culture then our DNA.

This is where new animism diverges from the attitudes of modern paganism. The ancient culture simply do not exist, and the are brutal aspects of it that are no longer applicable. Animism is the base for all human expression, and it is buried in the mythology of our genetic ancestors, whether it is the Celts, Germans, Norse, Slavs. Romans, or Greeks, Africans, or Chinese. Animism is preserved to be rediscovered by the new animist. One has to be mindful that culture context these mythologies were persevered in, no longer exists but gives us valuable information on HOW to develop an animist model that is distinct to all that we are. Many look at the old myths and think "this is what we do and believe to express earth religion" - the animist sees in them "this is how the ancient came to their conclusions and world view, and this is how we can find a unique world view that reconciles our genetics and culture with the land we inhabit." This may seem a subtle to some but it is a very fundamental difference between the modern pagan and the new animist; However, a modern pagan can be a new animist."

Few people are speaking of these ideas, except for native elders trying to remind us that we are missing the point when we adopt another's traditions. Most teachers of shamanism aren't teaching this point of view, they skip the entire process of becoming animist and go straight to the power, the healing, and the mystery. They forget that shamans are healers and diviners employed by animist people with preexisting cosmologies developed by first hand experiences with their land as a bio-region. Bio-Regional Animism addresses this, attempting to inspire us to develop a Bio-Regional Animist cosmology from our personal relationships with the land and its people through communing with them.

...If you want to learn about healing and divination ask the teachers that animist peoples have asked for millions of years - the spirit of the land and sky and all of the other-than-human-persons that share the land and sky with you. If you want to learn how to live in harmony with the land, and sky, and all the other-than-human-persons you live with, then ask them. Don't ask those that live somewhere else, ask the locals! find your own way, create your own relationships, and do it with a community of friends and family. Bring all of the-other-than-human persons in your bio-region into your concept of family and friends, by developing relationships with them, you will find quickly that you are already related, interconnected, and one.

I would suggest that there is nothing incompatible between Christianity and animism...I have reconciled them for myself anyways. Has to do with the fall of mankind bringing about the fall of nature...man caused the fall of nature, not the other way around...God created it all, "and it was GOOD"; fall in this sense does not mean damnation, but loss of perfection. A diamond with a flaw, is still beautiful, but certainly less so. And the flaw, once there, can be the point of the diamond's fracture...so it is with both mankind and nature... the flaws provide the breaching point for possible destruction. But that's another post.

'Nuff already. Good stuff, Maynard! I will be visiting both of these sites often. This is getting to the meat of existence...

Catholicism and Druidism Part I: The Ancient Druids

What does it mean to be both a Catholic and a Druid? Is it even possible to be both? Both have a reverence for learning, tradition, and a regard for the beauty of the natural world, which is what sparked my interest in Druidry to begin with. But there are also conflicts I am trying to clarify for myself, seemingly irreconcilable differences. This will be an essay in three parts.


The "paleodruids" (Isaac Bonewits' terminology) of the ancient world were contemporaries of the Romans, and what little we know about them was written by their enemies the Romans (who were not Christian at that time, but still worshipped the old gods of Rome). The Romans saw the druids as a problem and made it policy to destroy them, so the Romans destroyed the sacred places and oak groves, as at Anglesey in Wales in about AD 63 (Christianity would not be legal in the Roman Empire until several hundred years later, under Constantine's Edict of Milan in AD 313). The Roman destruction of the Druids was based on politics rather than religion, as the Druids were the power behind the indigenous Celtic resistance to Roman occupation of Celtic lands, and imperial Rome did not like freedom fighters (what empire does!).

We also know that renowned Catholic saint, Patrick of Ireland (ca. AD 373-493), had immense political and spiritual conflicts with the druids a couple of centuries later, in Ireland (ca. AD 433-493) (the druids of England, Wales, etc. had long since disappeared under the Romans and the religious path turned to Christianity). The druids were the real keepers of the traditional ways of the old Irish and other Celtic cultures. The hostility of the druids to Christianity, and of Patrick to paganism was fundamental and irreconcilable. The old cultures, both Celtic and Roman/Catholic, did not separate religion from politics, and that was also a part of the conflict. And in fact, the introduction of Catholicism to Ireland did spell the end of the "paleodruids" in Ireland (the pagan Romans spelled the end of the Druids of Wales and the rest of the Celtic world). Patrick did not destroy the oak tree groves as did the Romans, but he did destroy images of Celtic gods, as at Magh-Slecht, where he is said to have destroyed the idol Crom-Cruach, to which human sacrifice was implied to have been made.

And so with the conversion to Catholicism of the Irish under Patrick, and the destruction of Druidism by the Romans in the rest of the Celtic world, the "paleodruids" disappeared from history by about AD 500. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 says:

"With the Roman conquest of Gaul the druids lost all their jurisdiction, druidism suffered a great decay, and there is no reason to believe that it survived long after A.D. 77, the date of the last mention of the druids as still in existence. ...Some of them remained scattered here and there in Gaul, most of them were obliged to emigrate to Britain. The Emperors Tiberius and Claudius abolished certain practices in the cult of the druids, their organization, and their assemblies, but their disappearance was gradual and due as much to the romanization of the land as to any political measure or act of violence or persecution on the part of Rome. Yet there can be no doubt that Rome feared the druids as teachers of the Gallo-Roman youth and judges of trials. ...Our information concerning the druids of Ireland is drawn from what the Christian hagiographers have written of them and what can be gathered from the casual references to them in the epic literature of Ireland. We have only fragmentary notices of the matter of their teachings, but it is clear that there were the most striking resemblances between the druids of Ireland and those of Gaul. In both lands they appear as magicians, diviners, physicians, and teachers, and not as the representatives of a certain religion. In the saga tales of Ireland they are most often found in the service of kings, who employed them as advisers because of their power in magic. In the exercise of this they made use of wands of yew, upon which they wrote in a secret character called ogham. This was called their "keys of wisdom". In Ireland, as in Gaul, they enjoyed a high reputation for learning, and some Irish druids held a rank even higher than that of the king."

So as far as the ancient Druids go, we know little about what they believed from their own perspective. They left no writings and they were gone from history by about AD 80 in most of the Celtic world, and by AD 500 in Ireland. The conflicts they had with Rome were because of their political power in terms of Celtic identity and resistance against Roman hegemony over Celtic lands. No religious persecution per se in England, Gaul, or Wales was perpetrated by the Romans who were also pagan. All the persecution was essentially political. The real religious battles were in Ireland, when Patrick began his mission. However, Patrick was also an emissary of Rome, as the Rome of that time saw religion and politics inextricably tied together. Although Patrick himself may have battling on behalf of the Church what he saw as idolatry, superstition, and magic, he was really the vanguard for the Roman Empire, a wholesale cultural change, political and religious. And the druids, having had the experience they had in Britain, Wales and Gaul against the Romans, saw the writing on the wall, and resolved to fight to protect their ancient way of life from the coming changes, whether the newcomers professed Jesus Christ, Mithras, or Jupiter.

Being a Druid while being a Catholic

It helps me to put my Catholicism on the table sometimes and look at it. I especially enjoy dialogue with folks who differ, because it helps me understand my own beliefs better. I do the same thing with Catholics and other Christians as well...only I put my love of nature, Druidism, Native traditions, and magical interests on the table, and that sure helps me understand what I believe there as well. Trial by fire sometimes (haha!), but it helps me :-)

Yes, the Mass is beautiful, as is the symbolism and the cathedrals. The feminine
is recognized in Catholicism much more than it is in other forms of Christianity.
Our Lady is the one who really brought me back to being a practicing Catholic after three decades. The Catholic church has had lots of problems, because people with their failings and ambitions have been involved from the beginning (even Peter denied Christ three times, and he knew Him!) Though I respected the other forms of Christianity as possessing various aspects of the faith (the music in the Episcopal/Anglican, Congregational, and the Lutheran is so beautiful, and the spiritual vigor of Pentecostalism and the various black churches breathes the power of God), there was never any real attraction to any but Catholicism, because of Our Lady, the richness of the Mass and the various devotions, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

I think it was seeing the Green Man in the Church as a child, and the experiences of the magic of nature that interested me in exploring the magical path for many years. My main problems with Catholicism, what took me from it originally, were some of the unloving people I met, the idea that if you did not believe you were going to hell, the history of the Church's persecutions of native peoples (or at least some of the people doing so under the name and complicity of the church), and the lack of the place of nature and all its spirits. I have finally resolved those things, to my satisfaction anyways.

There is nothing wrong in finding common ground between ways of life, to find the things we agree on, yet we should not feel compelled to give up the things we feel strongly about. To use the new words I learned in this discussion, I personally am much more in agreement with eirenicism (a positive movement towards peace) than latitudinarianism (ultimately a surrendering or watering down of faith).

Many of the Catholic missionaries to Native Americans were struck by the strength of their beliefs, the reverence for the Creator and the Earth, the beauty of the ceremonies, their lack of hypocrisy and strength of character...though they did not agree with other parts that were in conflict with the Catholic faith such as multiple wives, infanticide, etc. We can find common ground and appreciate the path of others, without surrendering those things we feel to be essential about our own beliefs. Many other forms of Christianity dislike Catholicism and say it is pagan (anyone ever see those little Chick Christian comic books for example?) because the Catholic faith did incorporate much of the pagan cultures and symbols into the expression of the faith, in Easter, Christmas, Halloween. But the elements that were incorporated were those not in contradiction to the faith, those elements that were meaningful to the cultures they came from, good things and helpful to living the faith.

Whether a person believes in Catholicism or any other types of Christianity or not, there is much beauty in the arts, music (much of classical music was written for the Mass), ritual, architecture. Beauty is essential to our spiritual nature. The Catholic faith is incarnational, both flesh and spirit are necessary, the material world is good. Jesus became flesh to materially and spiritually redeem humankind and the world. God saw that it was very good, indeed. And in Jesus's life on earth, God became flesh and blood...and He is still with us in the flesh and blood of the Eucharist.

Deities and Fortuna

I think your post indicates much of what I have felt. Although I was baptized and raised a cradle Catholic, I also had my tribal traditions I was raised within, descendants of the Late-Woodland culture that transitioned to Upper Missippians (the far reaches of the Cahokia-centered trading system) who made the Effigy Mounds. The Catholics (as their Judaic trunk did before them) posited a Supreme Creator that existed before anything. This agreed with our tribal stories of Earthmaker, we called "Ma'Un" (ma (the earth/ground)-'Un (to-do/make), and the Power we called "Wakanda" (wa(that-which-is)-kan (a mystery-beyond-age-or-understanding)-da (to-be-located-in-a-place). Beyond my Catholic or tribal teachings, my experience was eminently and undoubtedly animistic, everything was alive in some way and could be related to.

Later I understood that gods and goddesses were of many sources, and I came to dislike the word god or goddess, or even deity...too loaded. I also still felt the One Source, Creator of all that is seen AND UNSEEN. But these other-than-human. some older, some younger (yes! some "gods" are YOUNGER than human!)...whether angels (fallen or unfallen), powers, elemental forces, thunder, stones, winds, rivers, genius loci, a little man under the water, a white deer, a strangely acting bear, a raven trying to communicate, a mystery with a sense of intelligence and connection and communication...I followed the Absarokee (Crow) convention, and called them Persons, with a capital P. Some seen, some unseen but seen through their actions as wind bows a stem of grass.

And of course as I learned of my ancestors, the ones I knew when they were alive, Uncle Marvin, great-Grandpa and great Grandma, Grandma Head, Mee-maw, and later Grandpa, Grandma, Uncles, Aunts...I knew of their love and I knew them as persons, and though I knew they were dead, yet there was something of them that was not dead, both in the mirror when I looked deeply into my eyes, heard in the way I laughed, and "out there" somehow. And the chains of generations extending back into the past, people whose name I did not know, but who lived both in me and "out there." These too were Persons. Persons who knew me, who were me, and who I could talk to and ask for help.

Only as an adult as I began to study magical traditions of the GD and others did I learn of egregores and servitors and of the experiment people did in Canada where they "made up" a ghost...and it came into existence with rappings, and sounds. I could begin to see how either consciously a group could create a being...or even UN/SUB-Consciously through intense events, needful things, and generations of habit, culture, belief, assumptions. And these things could come into existence...as gods, spirits. And perhaps some would experience these as gods...or reactivate half-forgotten gods and goddesses. As long as there have been humans, this would have happened.

So I have come to feel that _for myself_, I worship only the one Creator of all, for I am not an oath-breaker, I did take baptismal vows and I will see them through. And in fact, all the traditional Indians I know of believe in one Supreme Creator, but that that Creator has helpers designated for certain tasks. Just as I make friends with human beings, with thegood ones, fellow creatures under the Creator (some stronger and older than me, some seen or unseen), I will make friends as best I can with all good Persons. I respect all these as fellow creatures. Now the bad Persons, by that I mean the ones who seek to do me harm, but their actions they have chosen to be Enemy, and therefore I will not disrespect my Enemy, yet will I fight him, alone or with the aid of the good Persons with whom I make friends. Some we think of as bad, we merely need to follow rules of conduct (offerings before crossing streams for example). A vision quest is nothing more than seeking to make friendship with a Person.

As far as Greco-Roman mythology goes, I like Fortuna, so real still. Fortuna was even recognized into the middle ages. "O Fortuna" (Carmina Burana...the MIDI...you may recognize the tune from the film Excalibur...the words)...

O Fortuna (O Fortune)
velut luna (like the moon)
statu variabilis (you are changeable),
semper crescis (ever waxing)
aut decrescis (and waning)
vita detestabilis (hateful life)
nunc obdurat (first oppresses)
et tunc curat (and then soothes)
ludo mentis aciem (as fancy takes it)
egestatem (poverty)
potestatem (and power)
dissolvit ut glaciem (it melts them like ice)

Sors immanis (Fate – monstrous)
et inanis (and empty)
rota tu volubilis (you whirling wheel)
status malus (you are malevolent)
vana salus (well-being is vain)
semper dissolubilis (and always fades to nothing)
obumbrata (shadowed)
et velata (and veiled)
michi quoque niteris (you plague me too)
nunc per ludum (now through the game)
dorsum nudum (I bring my bare back)
fero tui sceleris (to your villainy)

Sors salutis (Fate is against me)
et virtutis (in health)
michi nunc contraria (and virtue)
est affectus (driven on)
et defectus (and weighted down)
semper in angaria (always enslaved)
Hac in hora (So at this hour)
sine mora (without delay)
corde pulsum tangite (pluck the vibrating strings)
quod per sortem (since Fate)
sternit fortem (strikes down the strong man)
mecum omnes plangite! (everyone weep with me!)

I also like the idea of coming up with your own "deities." Nature deities, sure, of thunder, the ocean, of snow, hurricanes, etc. But what about deities (and this relates to the "offices" of spirits perhaps!) of modern times...the God of the Car (Ogun serves in this for the Yoruba), the Goddess of Oil (Oh Thou Most Desirous, Black and Shiny One...do not seek thy peak as yet!), the Internet God (I'm sure Hermes has a hand in it), ...can we personify Global Warming (The FIFTH Horseman of the Apocalypse)?

A Roman Catholicized version of the LBRP

Every system depends on some form of grounding and/or banishment to deal with the energies/entities/mental states on conjures when dealing with the Otherworld. AODA uses the Sphere of Protection for example.

I have reworked the LBRP (Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram) to suit my own theology more closely. I believe Joseph Lisiewski's "Subjective Synthesis" is right on. I think that magic and prayer is more effective if you match it closely as possible to your Soul and deepest held beliefs. As someone raised both as a Catholic (and still practicing) and as a traditionalist of my tribe (and still practicing), I cannot fractionate myself any further, but only perform this "Subjective Synthesis" as best I can.

Lisiewski's Axiom 9 notes well: "Do not reject the religious tradition in which you were raised, nor the commonsense found in what religionist call the Commandments of God. The use of these precepts is crucial in devising an effective subjective synthesis and producing a corresponding coherent, integrated subconscious belief system. It is also the one fundamental axiom every Practitioner of magic rigorously avoids, which accounts for more magical failure than is realized." Although Lisiewski may also well decry my synthesis of the LBRP and Catholic belief, I present it here as...

__A Roman Catholicized version of the LBRP__

[Bow, facing East, and cross yourself]. In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1. Our Father
2. Hail Mary
3. Gloria

4. Prayer of Intention: "I pray to thee, the Holy Trinity, in the
name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, through Our Mother Mary, that I do
this only insofar as it accords with Thy Will, by the Holy Spirit,
and not my own, as an exercise of strength and purification, so that
I may therefore be made more fit as a vessel through Thy Grace to do
Thy Will, Abba, Our Heavenly Father."

5. [Then an adapted Ritual of the Lesser Ritual of the Banishing
Pentagram]-As one makes the sign of the cross, one visualizes
Christ's light spreading through each area as it is touched, until
one is a part of the cross, identified with the corpus on the

a. Raise the right hand to heaven, with the forefinger and middle
finger together, in the sign of blessing..then draw down from God the
Touching the forehead, say "Ateh" (ah-TEH)(Unto Thee).
Touching the breast, say Malkuth (mahl-KOOT)(The Kingdom).
Touching the right shoulder, say ve-Geburah (veh-geh-BOO-rah)(and the
Touching the left shoulder, say ve-Gedulah (veh-geh-DOO-lah)(and the
Clasping the hands upon the breast, say le-Olam (leh-oh-LAHM), AMEN
(ah-MAYN) (To the Ages, Amen).

b. Turning to the East, make a pentagram (that of the banishing
pentagram of Earth) with the sign of blessing, as above, write (from
right to left) the Hebrew characters for and vibrate YHVH (yod-heh-
vav-heh), seeing the blue light as you write the characters. Without
lifting the fingers, trace the circle to the South, and see the blue
light as you draw it.
Bow and Pray (your fingers never leave the circle you are drawing
throughout the four quarters):
"O Lord thou art holy, indeed; the fountain of all holiness.
In the name of the resurrection of Thy Son Jesus Christ, do we ask
for the intercession of St. Raphael, Heavenly Physician, Guardian of
Air, to pray to you O Lord for us, for healing and strengthening of
our spirits, souls and bodies."

c. Turning to the South, make a pentagram (that of the banishing
pentagram of Earth) with the sign of blessing, as above, write (from
right to left) the Hebrew characters for and vibrate ADNI (ah-doh-nah-
Bow and Pray (fingers still maintaining the circle):
"O Lord thou art holy, indeed, the fountain of all holiness.
In the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ on His Heavenly Throne do we ask
for the intercession of St. Michael, Prince of Angels and Protector
of Thy People, Wielder of the Fiery Sword, Guardian of Fire, to pray
to You O Lord for us, and to protect us from Our Ancient Adversary
and all his lies and deceits. Lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from the Evil One."
Still seeing the Hebrew characters in the air before you at each
direction as you draw them, continue to draw the blue circle around
you, as you go from point to point, so that it remains unbroken.

d. Turning to the West, make a pentagram (that of the banishing
pentagram of Earth) with the sign of blessing, as above, write (from
right to left) the Hebrew characters for and vibrate AHIH (ay-hay-
Bow and Pray (fingers still maintaining the circle):
"O Lord thou art holy, indeed, the fountain of all holiness.
In the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ in His Triumphant Return in power
and glory do we ask for the intercession of St. Gabriel, Thy Herald
of the Heavens and Guardian of Water, to pray to You O Lord for us,
and to ask the aid and intercession of Our Mother the Holy Virgin
[Here one may cite the Memorare: "Remember, O most loving Virgin
Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your
protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left
unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we turn to you, O Virgins of
virgins, our Mother. To you we come, before you we stand, sinful and
sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, do not despise our
petitions, but in your mercy hear us and answer us. Amen."]
Leaving the Hebrew characters then continue to draw the blue circle
as you go from point to point, so that it remains unbroken.

e. Turning to the North, make a pentagram (that of the banishing
pentagram of Earth) with the sign of blessing, as above, write (from
right to left) the Hebrew characters for and vibrate AGLA (ah-gah-
Bow and Pray (fingers still maintaining the circle):
"O Lord, thou art holy, indeed; the fountain of all holiness.
In the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ's Victory over death and sin do
we ask for the intercession of St. Uriel, Guardian of the Earth and
Conveyer of Souls, to pray to you O Lord for us, to remove all
darkness and fear, and to reconcile us to all Thy Creation, Our
Mother Earth, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and all Thy Creatures in
communion with Thee, seen and unseen."
Continue to draw the blue light, with all four of the Hebrew names
for God blazing at each cardinal point, from the north to the east,
until the circle is now closed.
Say: "As above, so below. This circle is sealed with Thy Holy Names."

6. Facing East, extend the arms to indentify yourself with Christ on
the cross, seeing the light of the cross about you as before, and say
(as you envision each of the Archangels standing and watching over
you), and then stand with your legs about 2 feet apart:

"Before me Raphael (vibrate RAH-FA-EL);
Behind me Gabriel (vibrate GAH-BREE-EL);
On my right hand Michael (vibrate MIH-KHA-EL);
On my left hand, Uriel (vibrate OOH-REE-EL);
For about me flames the Pentagram
And within the Column stands the six-rayed Star" (your head
represents the upper point of the pentagram, while your extended arms
and legs represents the other four points of the star).

As you say this you can see the blue circle about you extend up and
down simultaneously, as from the globe's equator, spreading north and
south to the poles, until you are within a blue globe or sphere of

7. Repeat Step 5a above(the cruciform blessing). End with a bow,
facing East, and cross yourself. "Thy Will Alone Be Done, O Lord God.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Middle Pillar Exercise is another one I have also adapted for my
own use, but I will submit that one later. Such exercises should be
considered purifiers and strengtheners, and ways of focusing the mind
and spirit. They are ways of visualized prayer I find useful, but are
of course subordinate to approved devotions such as the Mysteries of
the Rosary, let alone the highest form of worship, the Liturgy of the
Eucharist. The most important thing is that one must always seek and
be open to the will of God, rather then oneself, and one never
summons angels (that is the province of God Alone) but one may ask
for their intercession, aid in praying to God. God Alone is
worshipped. One must always accept and trust in Divine Providence.