Well, hello, there. Salve. Saluton. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. Unless I knew you already, in which case I was delighted to make your acquaintance when I first made it, and am now delighted to see you again. Hoorah!
Welcome one, welcome all, to my little Internet lean-to. You should find it moderately well appointed: the campfire keeps crackling away doing its campfire thing over there; the lounge area is there – just choose a big floofy cushion and make yourself at home (there’s a free bar and nibbles in the bowls); there’re quiet meditative spaces over there by the lake – lovely views, too. Just along that path through the woods you’ll find our little private spaceport and hangar (painted green and covered in twigs to comply with local planning regulations) – that’s where Vetr keeps her spaceship; and if you go that way (“Never go that way!“), you’ll find the deep, dark, eerie forest that I keep meaning to go wandering in but somehow keep on finding other things to do. Funny, that…
So then. Of me, I will tell you that I’m a forty-several-year-old trans-woman living in what’s currently, for the time being, the United Kingdom. That’s the wildly weathered nation off the north of France and sort of bolted on to the top-right part of the Republic of Ireland. I share my parentage between UK constituent countries Scotland and England; I live in England; but I’d rather — if I’m perfectly honest — live in Scotland.
I look something like this:
In fact, I look rather a lot like that. You know, just in case you wanted to know. I dunno. Stranger things have happened. That horse becoming pope, for one.
I’m very happily married to Suzanne, and for work I sit in an office moving files around — sometimes at night. OoooEEEEooooEEEEoooo. Yes, my firm has files that sometimes need marshalling in the dark. What can I say? It’s all terribly important to the business and a dizzying altitude above my pay grade. Mine not being to reason why, and all that.
I was born and raised in a bit of a rural locale and currently live in a not-quite-as-rural-as-I’d-like-but-not-too-urban-either-until-they-build-on-every-last-patch-of-greenery-which-shouldn’t-be-too-much-longer locale.
This is my home page in the sense that it’s the first site my browser goes to and links to some of the other sites I like to visit — but being hosted on WordPress means it’s primarily a blog. I’m slack when it comes to updating blogs, though it’s a constant quest of mine to get better at it. And just in case I do do that, I thought it would be fair to let you know what to expect on here.
First, there’ll be politics, and the complaining about thereof. Now I am going to try not to focus on politics too much: I find it all too easy to talk about, and often get really cross about, and I’d like this place to be a little less fraught and grumpy than that. That said, I’ve spent a long time in debates about political matters (I cut my Usenet teeth in alt.politics.british, gods help me) and it’s become something of a habit that’s proving very difficult to break — especially in the current climate when politics doesn’t feel like something I can just ignore. Still, as far as this site is concerned, I’m going to try very hard not to make it a focus. I will fail. Perhaps rarely, perhaps often, but I will fail, and you will see my political positions laid bare. They are what they are, as a former manager of mine used to say, and when they show through I will not be making any excuses for them. Some advice up-front: if you’re the sort of person who thinks the words ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ are insults, we probably won’t get on.
Then, on occasion there may be posts on religion, faith or spirituality — mine and other people’s. These are things I’m also quite happy to talk about (and, again, have done online since alt.religion.christian in the old Usenet days, and by crikey what a screwed-up environment that was). I have some fairly established opinions on these subjects as well, along with a subjective perspective of my own, but no more than I think anyone would.
Religiously speaking I generally define myself as a Roman Druid, which sounds like a total contradiction in terms. It is that: historically the Romans and the druids (the priestly caste of the Celtic nations with which the Roman Empire came into conflict) did not get on.
The thing is, both terms are used more illustratively than as a strict description.
First, ‘Roman’. Well, I don’t live in Rome, so I am not a Roman in the modern sense. And I’m not certainly not Roman Roman — you know, historically, Julius Caesar/Marcus Aurelius Roman — except in the same sense that any of a vast number of people in the world today could claim to be. That is, in genetic terms it’s almost a mathematical certainty that there are Romans in my ancestry.
But since I was a child I’ve loved stories of ancient Rome and its time; and yes, I realise that while it had much to be said to its credit, Rome was not a shining beacon of morality. But it’s a childish affinity I’ve felt no compelling reason to put down.
So as an adult pagan, when it comes to imagining or visualising “the gods” — as much as that phrase has meaning for me at all — putting familiar faces on divine nature is simply a shorthand way to focus on the particular aspect of nature, or human nature, that I’m paying attention to. And the faces I feel most familiarity with, most affinity for, are those of the classical Roman gods. These deities — in particular the ‘Dii Consentes’, the traditional group of twelve primary gods, to which I generally add one more for a sort of council of thirteen* — serve as embodiments of those aspects of nature, and of human nature, that most immediately concern people in the lives we lead.
But, in recent years, as I’ve explored aspects of my own self that have previously been hidden, even from me, it’s become apparent that there’s another layer of… religion? No, not quite. Belief? Again, nothing so specific. Spirituality? It’s not really all that spiritual. I suppose I’ll have to just say a layer of something that’s drawn me not away from my established gods but perhaps to a place where I see them in a slightly different light, consistent with the shift in how I’m seeing the world they represent for me. And it’s this layer of whatever-it-is that’s led me to adopt the label of ‘Druid’.
So, secondly, ‘Druid’. Well, mine isn’t a Druidism, or Druidry, that’d be accepted by actual modern pagan Druids or the existing Druid organisations. I don’t pretend that it should be. And it certainly isn’t the Druidry of the ancient Celts, about which we know very little. Nor is it about embracing the mythologies or the culture of my Celtic ancestors: I’m not entirely uninterested in Celtic mythology but I don’t subscribe to it and don’t feel any particular affinity for it. For that matter, unlike most Druids — most pagans, in fact — I don’t feel the slightest connection to my ancestors at all beyond any feelings I may have developed for those I’ve known or know personally. I have a relationship with those I’ve known, and remember those I knew who have died; but those before my living memory I feel nothing much for, because I never knew them.
Perhaps I could best put it in visual terms. I’m not a Druid in this sense:
Nor to any real extent in this sense:
But more in this sense:
That is, for me ‘Druid’ is less a detailed technical description of my “religion” (such as it is), and more a short of aesthetic shorthand. It’s a way to evoke the fascination I have with the shadows, the forests, the lakes and coasts and liminal places that suggest to me the threshold between the mundane and the wild; places where I can get closer — if still not close — to the ‘world-behind-the-world’.
Meh, I’ll probably ramble some more about this in the actual blog section, and hopefully manage to make more sense. If not so you get a bead on it, then at least so that I do.
(Also I get tuppence for each time I say ‘sense’. I’m going to be rich.)
I’m also intrigued by matters of the paranormal and the fortean, so they might crop up, too. In such things I always describe myself as a sceptical believer: that is, when it comes to ghosts, UFOs and alien encounters, cryptids and sightings of strange beasties, and suchlike, I do believe that people are in many cases sincerely reporting their experiences. They are legitimately seeing things, hearing things, feeling things. The question is what those things are, and where they come from. I have my theories, but my scepticism kicks in when breathlessly overexcited people shout OHMAHGAHDOHMAHGAHD on shaky videos of night-time lights in the sky, when it’s quite clearly a helicopter. Or when people lose their shit over utterly unconvincing photos of obvious UFO models. Or when that mysterious eerie gnome with its peculiar gait is actually a chimp someone’s stuck a silly pointy hat on and videoed in the dark, YouTube.
Actual encounters and experiences, reported by honest, embarrassed and confused witnesses I tend not to dismiss out of hand. While I don’t believe that aliens are visiting our planet, nor that the spirits of the dead hang around to talk to or torment us, nor that God or gods reach down from their lofty wherever to manipulate our lives, I do believe that there are aspects of our greater reality that humanity doesn’t have a very firm bead on yet.
Moving on, I love a spot of popular culture, particularly in the area of science fiction – though not the hardest sort. I find Arthur C. Clarke and his admirably brainy kin rather too heavy going for me, and I tried reading a Greg Egan book once and it was like banging my head on a very featureless wall. I followed the idea of the story well enough – it’s just that the book spent so much time explaining why it was really really accurate, properly hard science that it rather forgot to give me any interesting characters to care about.
Rather, give me Star Trek. Give me Doctor Who. Give me Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars: franchises that sacrifice a little (or almost everything) in the “authentic science” department, to give us instead stories about people. Modern myths that explore the perceived virtues of our age, and the examples of heroes and villains as they reflect our evolving modern moralities. (Superhero stories could also fall into this mythic category, but to be honest I’ve seen rather too many of them of late.)
Also Battlestar Galactica is my holy text. I’m only half joking. (Seriously: “All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again”. Graeco-Roman Gods. Commentary on the nature of Humanity; morality and ethics… That show had it all. Oh, and a soundtrack fit for every occasion.)
That probably sums me up reasonably well – at least as far as it explains the mix of stuff I’m hoping will eventually appear on this site, if ever get my finger out and actually post some posts.
(Oooh: I can add here that, along with Suzanne, UK Ambassador for The Asatru Community, I co-present the Frithcast podcast, which you can listen to HERE. Frithcast is focused on an Asatru/Heathen spiritual worldview, so I’m sort of the guest sort-of-Druid; but if you’re interested in Norse or Germanic religion, or ancient northern European history and culture, you might find it worth a listen.)
(* There’re essentially two lists of ‘the’ twelve Olympian gods whom the Dii Consentes reflect, but the lists disagree on whether Hestia (Vesta) or Dionysus (Bacchus) should be included. Since they both seem pretty important to me, I’ve decided to list thirteen. It seems fitting in other ways, too.)