Ok, now I’ve gone and done it! In the last couple of weeks I have only gone and joined a political party and accepted the nomination to become a trustee!
The political party bit came as a result of watching the second referendum debate on BBC Scotland. The Scottish Green party leader Patrick Harvie was one of the speakers and I thought he spoke that well and because my natural political inclinations are now more based through the environmental platform, I decided to join the party. This is the second time that I have joined a political party in my life, the first was for a period in the mid to late eighties when for a period of five years, I was the union convener for the construction section of a local authority. That involved attending TUC meetings and being a member of my local Labour party, back in the days when Labour members were self identifying as socialists, communists and left-wing thinkers and not the bunch of Tories in red ties as they appear to be now-a-days (does anyone else consider the idea that the “leader” of the Labour party should be a millionaire public schoolboy to be anathema?).
My green credentials were probably established when I took an interest in solar photovoltaics. I have been interested in the production of electricity from several years back when I learnt the basics of solar production. Within the last 18 months, I have gone on to self install a PV system at home, as shown here and continue to be fascinated by the various ways of energy production being developed at the minute (that’s an engineer for you!).
The road to the trustee bit is much longer. I think it started 15 to 17 years ago when I started to develop an interest into spiritual perspectives. Up to then, I hadn’t really much interest in such things, being married with two kids tended to focus my attentions away from such things. I remember going to my local library (remember the days when doing such a thing was everyday for most people?) and checking out the section on religions. Christianity didn’t interest me at all, I’d seen enough of that at close quarter to be bothered with that and Islam just seemed to be irrelevant to me. I remember taking three books on loan, one on Hinduism, one on Buddhism and one small handbook on Druids ( I think it may have been a condensed version of one of her earlier books maybe) written by a certain author whose name was Emma Restall Orr.
I found certain aspects in the first two books to be agreeable and to connect with my thinking. I was unprepared, however, for the third. Underlying internal connections from a spiritual perspective within me were now highlighted gloriously within the pages of this, all too short, book. I seriously had no idea that someone else would either have a similar outlook to me and more so, that they would be gifted enough to have committed to writing how these connections could be manifested through the practice of druidry.
The hook that was druidry was embedded within me. Around that time I had brought my first computer with dial-up internet (that’s aging me) so decided to use this “new technology” to explore further. Learning to navigate both the computer operating system and then the internet itself, took some time (as much as anything else because of demands on me by both work and family) but after what must have been around a year, I started to encounter websites concerned with druidry. I think I finally stumbled upon the Druid Network around 2003. I was happy to have found this because it seemed to be just what I was looking for and because it was, at that time, the active outlet for Emma.
I think I loitered around the site for a couple of years, as much as anything because the other external demands didn’t leave me with enough time, energy and, frankly, inclination to get further involved. Eventually though, I took the plunge and joined, I think around 2006. I enjoyed that first year and I recall my first question posted on the forum was one that expressed my surprise at the number of women who consider themselves to be Druid and asking why that should be. I remember being somewhat surprised by some of the hostility some of the people who answered appeared to direct against me for asking such a question, but as is the case with me, I clarified why I had asked the question and didn’t apologise for asking it.
I spent a couple of years on the site along with a few others concerned with more general paganism, before stumbling again (if this was real life, I would appear sometimes to be incapable of holding my alcohol) upon a website that concerned itself with a more specific aspect of ancient British religion, specifically Brythonic aspects. The approach was one that was more rigorous because it incorporated using archaeological and scientific evidence and then attempting to reconstruct (though we later realised and thought of ourselves as reconnectionists) an ancient British spirituality. There was some very good stuff there and it did tune my “bullshit-ometer” in regards as to some of the claims seen on the internet. There was also to be another reason why this particular website and community became very important to me from a very personal level, but it is not my intention to go into details about that in this post.
As is the case with these things sometimes, the group slowly disbanded (to all and intents and purposes, it is now only there as a record) and I began to move back towards Druidry. In my time with Brython I had distanced myself from druidry because the approach of Brython was one that attempted to frame themselves a spiritual construct using the “facts” that both the archaeological and scientific communities were presenting around the artifacts and theories of those specific times. Upon its slow disbanding, I came to realise that, for me, I was attempting to round off a square peg to fit a round hole. I was using the wrong framework when approaching what modern druidry represented on the most fundamental level.
I also have to admit that I also missed the aspect of community that was now not present with Brython but, fortunately for me, was still present in the Druid community. So I returned to the Druid Network (though I never let my membership lapse) hosting both a new perspective and newly formed connections both within and without of me.
Last weekend saw the next chapter in my relationship with druidry when both myself and my partner travelled down to Birmingham to attend the Druid Networks AGM. My partner has written a very personal perspective around this, one that I will not attempt to compete against (not that I neither want or need to). We were both invited to accept the post of trustee for the Druid Network and we were both honoured to be asked and happy to accept the post.
As I look back over the years with this, somewhat self-indulgent post, I have come to realise that what I have experienced was my journey to a metaphorical base camp. There has been a lot of journeying to get here, with a myriad of connections whose odds of forming the right circumstances to form the me and the place I am at at this time, must be so fantastically long as to be described as almost statistically impossible. I give thanks for the journey and for the guides and influences upon me that have gotten me to this point. At this point in time however, I can only admire and contemplate the view before me.