I would like to welcome The Gaelic Roundtable and those who have found their way here! To those who put in the time and energy to get this together, thank you for including me.
This month’s topic is one that I love to talk about here, in many ways: journeys. The husband and I love to travel – to just get on the road and ride – and it fulfills us in very spiritual ways. I’ve traveled further with him than with anyone else in my life – and I literally flew across an ocean with my best friend. And I’m a traveler of a spiral path as an Irish polytheist, and it’s the spiritual journey that is the focus of our topic this month.
Tell us a little bit about your practice; what kind of Gaelic Polytheism do you practice? Is it Historically Oriented or Eclectic? Are you a member of an Organization like OBOD or another one? Do you follow the Irish, Scottish, or Manx beliefs – or maybe a combination of the three? And more importantly, how did you wind up at Gaelic Polytheism? What drew you to our faith and made you start practicing?
As an Irish polytheist, I try to walk a path that balances study and historical understanding with my personal relationships with my Gods and Ungods; but I probably end up somewhere closer to the latter. I have more of a faith than a religion. I’m not averse to joining – particularly as it would give me the chance to connect with and serve my community; it just has to be the right fit. For now, I do what I can online and can only hope that the knowledge and experiences I have to share (and occasional poetry) helps and improves that online community.
My journey began in an evangelical church in south Mississippi. It began with feelings and beliefs that I shouldn’t have and a desire to connect to a divine that was always silent and out of reach for me. I grew up in the southern Baptist church in the 90’s, in a spiritual war zone. Fire and brimstone spewed from the pulpit and it was drilled into us every day that it was easy to get to hell and the only way to avoid it was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
And I wanted to be saved. I wanted to have that relationship with something that was greater than I was. That was greater than what I was going through at home. But Jesus was silent and his Father never answered me. And I was genuinely devastated that I didn’t have that relationship. That I had never felt the movement of the spirit. That I was going to hell. I even got baptized, in the hope that it would bring me that salvation that I was lacking.
It pushed me so hard, I finally reached the point where I was done. And adolescent me made the decision that, if I’m going to hell, I’m at least going to be happy while I’m alive. So I started searching and researching. I read the Book of Mormon; I read the Quran; I began to study on the difference between Christianity and Judaism (it’s huge). And then one day, I got the courage to look at Paganism. I picked up a book on Paganism from the library and brought it home in a stack of books. (if you’re wondering why I didn’t just Google it, I wouldn’t get access to the internet for another couple of years)
I took the book out to the woods and I read. And read. It was mostly Wicca, but I read something that just clicked for me. It was a basic, “the God and Goddess are in all things.” But it was what I needed to read at that time. I began to research and read everything I could find about Wicca and it was everything. It resonated with me and I loved it. And that’s when I first met Her.
The name She used when She first reached out to me was Danu. Though it took more than a decade, I now recognize Her to be Boann. She was exactly who and what I needed at that time in my life. I was uninterested in a God, but She was gentle and insistent and pulled me to an’Dagda. And I’m so glad I was dragged. They helped me and encouraged me and led my spiritual development away from Wicca and, slowly, towards polytheism. Like, twelve years slow.
What can I say? I’m stubborn.
They began my healing, brought my husband and I together, and gave me the courage and the strength to get out into the world. And then, several years ago, I got a gentle – and then not so gentle – nudge from Them to do more than acknowledge other of the Gods and Ungods, but to connect with Them and get to know Them. And so came Brighid, Manannán, and Lír.
Y’all, I had no idea what to do with so many new relationships to learn and adjust to. So I did one of the things I do best. I avoided it. But my curiosity and my yearning to know Them didn’t let me fight for long. I reached out tentatively, and in They strode. I recognized a connection with Brighid from my childhood and my ever burning inspiration for stories then. But I still took my time getting to know Them as best I could, reading about Them, reading Their parts of the lore and the opinions of others within the various Pagan and polytheist communities until I felt I knew Them, testing my UPG against what others were experiencing, also.
I’m still getting to know Lír. (If y’all are connected with Him directly and not exclusively through Manannán, hit me up.)
I’ve gotten to know Manannán and Brighid over the last few years. I made the mistake of asking my lord, Manannán to show me something I needed to see. I should have known better, but I was still fooled by what I let myself believe about Him. He brought to light the things that I needed to deal with when it comes to my mental health. Those things from my childhood that I had convinced myself I was over but that I’d never dealt with.
I was forged in Brighid’s fire. I faced the greatest fear of my young life and finally received the counseling I needed. Every time I started to falter, every time I said, “no, enough,” They pushed me on. And it was worth it. I’m not magically healed, but I’m so much better than I was.
I’m still journeying. I’m still exploring and learning. I’ve walked this particular path for 18 years, and I imagine I’ll still be searching and learning in another 18 years and on. I can hope so, at least.
If you’ve held on all the way through, thanks! I look forward to reading everyone’s submissions and the discussions ahead. If you want to join the discussion or read other submissions, check out The Gaelic Roundtable to sign up for the newsletter and follow on Facebook and Tumblr.
Thank you again for joining us today!