December Pentad


238 abandoned drafts, 727 posts / screenshot 9 December 2020

In many ways the posts here at A Druid Way comprise a spiritual memoir. They’re not really a “how-to” for Druidry, though I do post suggestions from time to time, if the nudge comes through persistently enough that something in my experience may hold value for others. (On the other hand, you should see my backlog of about 200+ rough drafts of posts that will never see publication.) But I don’t usually write a “How to Read the Ogham” or “Becoming a Priest of Lugh” or “Three Land-spirits You Can Work With” kind of post. Others do that more competently.

Instead, by digging into my own experiences for the energies and portals, avenues and worlds they open into, I hope to document one small part of the wild landscape we can walk as Druids. “Small” isn’t false modesty but simply spiritual fact, given the vastness of our inner worlds. I also try to ask hard questions, because to me they’re some of the most useful things for where I am now. Don’t worry — Druidry is tough enough. It can take it. And so can we. I know my practice, my amazement and my gratitude have all deepened as a consequence.


I take for a valuable triad the “Three Questions to Ask of a Deed”: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Rather than telling me what to do, this Triad turns me inward, prompting me to act with greater awareness of the spiritual identity of a person, of a situation. Often others can only see the action itself, not what led up to the moment of it, or what follows. Often I can say “yes” to two out of three points of the Triad, but that third Question will stop me in a most helpful way. And more than 33% of the time, it’s the Question of Kindness. The harsh letter of complaint to our used-car dealer I want to write, after over $3700 in repairs two months after we bought it, or the snarky comment to a stranger I just don’t need to make, especially over-caffeinated as I was — if a Triad can re-direct my energies to better purposes, it’s proven itself. All emotions are what they are — flows of energy. What I do with them, though — that’s my laboratory, my workshop, my opportunity, my spiritual arena. Molotov cocktail or spiritual illumination?


A private lane in southern Vermont/Tuesday, 8 Dec 2020.

There’s intermittent talk among Druids about signs and omens. “What do they mean? How can I tell?” I’ve noticed that the more compassionate and wiser listeners among us try to answer with some version of the following:

All things have multiple meanings. Some of them are part of consensus reality, and some are private and personal. We live in many worlds, and some of them are symbolic. If you had a bad or good experience with dogs, then a dog in a dream, or a vision, or on a solitary walk will mean something different for you than for the next person. Keeping a record of encounters, of signs and omens, can often help with understanding them, because patterns may emerge. Sometimes you will know. And sometimes you’ll need to be patient until you can see a pattern emerge.

In my more manic moments I test these responses with a potentially silly question to help me unpack them: “What does my wife mean, if I meet her unexpectedly when I’m out in our backyard?” The oddness of such a question helps reveal some of my attitudes about signs and omens. Does she “mean” anything? Yes and no. She’s a person like I am, and like the birds and trees and all the other beings in this cosmos that I may encounter. She has her own path, and while we’ve agreed out of love and shared interests and common goals to walk some of the same paths together, what she means to me isn’t all or even part of what “she means”. Or to put it another way, who she is is greater than “what she means”. Her existence can’t be contained in the definition of another person, even one who loves her, but by her going about her life, by the living of it.


While signs and omens may exist partly or even wholly in our own subjective universes, I find that much (most? all?) of the physical world reflects the inner worlds. “As above, so below” is more than just a nice theory. (Sometimes you get the sense that the gods “really mean it” this time.)

Instructions for rituals or magic often include directions to “visualize”. For many that can be a challenge, so it’s helpful to have a physical map of an inner reality, something to get into your mind’s eye.

Part of the 3-mile walk we try to take a few times a week takes us past a neighbor’s maples, and the sugaring gear remains in place for the next season. Here then are the energy lines running from tree to tree, as they do between so many beings — in living color.


From time to time Druidry (like Paganism generally) faces a critique, less common than it used to be, that it “has no ethics or moral principles”. Or if it does, they’re hedonistic and selfish. Fortunately, here we can heap some blame on old uncle Al, Aleister Crowley, with his widely bandied-about “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”, as if the sum total of all non-Christian thought amounted to a Nike commercial and “Just do it”.

That Crowley was talking about living from one’s True Will gets lost in all the noise, just like “You must be born again” too often gets turned into little more than emotional experience at a revival. That Crowley and Jesus might even be talking about something similarly transformative — that the spiritual terrain they both point to might be worth exploring so we begin to know it in person “with signs following” — such a thought might well rank up there on many people’s Top Ten Blasphemies list.

Apropos of this, you may have seen the recent ad(vert) for a video game featuring a pic of a CGI busty red-headed wench and the leering tagline “You’re allowed to do anything you want in this game!” As one commentator responded:

“Really, interactive porn grifter? I’m allowed to do ANYTHING I want in this game? Can I travel the world? Can I achieve self-actualization? Or do you assume that my imagination only extends as far as touching a cartoon boob? Because I’ll do that too, but there’s a lot of other shit I want!”

Rather than assuming all our wants and desires can be conveniently divided into pure and impure, or some other light/dark, good/bad dichotomy, why not employ the energy behind these surface manifestations to see what they look like in the other worlds? Sometimes the outer form of “what I want” overlays a very different contour on the inner map of who and what we are, and how far we extend into realms we didn’t know we walked in.

Or to frame it differently, what would my life look like if I operated under the postulate sometimes attributed to Chaos Magic — “Nothing is true and everything is permitted” — and which originates in the novel Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, also an inspiration for the book/film/game Assassin’s Creed? That theme and precept can fuel any number of thoughtful plunges into one’s assumptions and world-view.

And a Bonus SIX

Here we are, a little less than two weeks out from Yule / Solstice / Alban Arthan — that interval I keep noticing shimmers in my awareness whenever one of the “Great Eight” seasonal festivals approaches. Each of them has a pooling of forces and dynamics that calls to anyone who’s worked with that cycle of holy days — calls in varied ways. Is there an Inner Solstice taking place at or around the same time? A very good question for meditation. Would I like to join the inner celebration? Yes! Would you like to join me?

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