sophiacatherine: Ruined church, County Cork, Ireland (ruined-church)
There's been a lot of talk of privilege online recently. No one's talking about what, in my humble opinion, is one of the biggest forms of privilege in online Paganism. Forgive me if I rant about privilege for a little bit. I'm not trying to be mean to anyone, or to put anyone's back up. I'm trying to say what it feels like to be non-American in internet-based greater Pagandom.

Most Gaelic/Celtic recon is, if we're really honest, very North American. (I suspect that most recon in general is very American.) It's not even just Irish-in-diaspora -- it's Irish-in-American-diaspora. This makes a lot of it seem very odd to me as Anglo-Irish, and no doubt it seems even more alien to people who are home-grown Irish. Here are just a few things that I find entirely alien in American Gaelic polytheism:

- A non-land-focused approach. My CR/GP is about the land. Well, lands, plural, really. It could never put mythology before land.
- A highly literalist approach that elevates myth to the position of a bible. (Medieval myth. That was written by Christians.) That's incredibly American, and (in my opinion) quite alien to many Europeans.
- An approach that tries to unify pre-Christian Ireland into one country, and (even worse) tries to unify pre-Christian Irish belief into one set of beliefs. That's so far from the evidence, it's ridiculous. Yet I get shouted down if I argue that, no, we cannot be sure whether ancient Gaels believed they were going to Tech Duinn or Manannan's realm, because the question is utterly nonsensical to start with.
- A majority of believers who have never been to Ireland or Britain, but who don't acknowledge that there are therefore some things they will see VERY differently to people in Ireland and Britain.
- An approach that privileges academia over mysticism in a way that doesn't work for me at all. I'm very academic. I want my religion to be rooted in good scholarship. But there are other things besides academia.

The path that feels most Brythonic to me (although definitely not Gaelic) is modern British druidry. The 'British' qualifier is necessary because British druidry is TOTALLY different from US druidry - something that is rarely acknowledged over on the other side of the pond. (I'm always being told what druidry is like. The assertions usually come from a place where the speaker is familiar with exactly one kind of druidry - ADF druidry. That is by no means the only kind of druidry out there. OBOD is *much* bigger than ADF, if we're just playing a numbers game. But still the assertions are made, using terminology that comes from Americans and based in situations that I don't recognise.) British druidry is incredibly flexible and fluid. It is NOT 'mesopagan' or whatever Isaac Bonewitz called it (presumably without having met many British druids), but it's nothing like American neopagan druidry. It is very Pagan, but it's very uniquely *British Pagan*. Modern British druidry is becoming its own thing, its own tradition almost - a new generation that has followed *after* revival druidry, rooted in it, but going in entirely different, entirely new directions. It is often very Brythonic, with a peculiarly British kind of polytheism that defies theistic definitions, but which ultimately doesn't have to be about the gods (and often isn't), because these are gods who emerge from the land, and you can believe in the land (and have relationship with it) without worrying about your theology. A lot of this is what I sort of imagine the Brythonic tribespeople were like - especially the non-priests among them. Ironic that a very real-life hearth-and-land spirituality has emerged from something called 'druidry', but it strikes me that that's what it is for most practitioners. A few are on more of a priestly path, but only with the constant consent of their community. It is very non-hierarchical, very modern Pagan, very British.

Druidry is my larger community. But I'm not sure if I can call myself a modern druid. Not yet, anyway. Partly that's because of the misconceptions the term engenders, but that's not the only reason. But that would be another journal entry entirely. The point is that I'm looking for a Gaelic path that works with this modern Brythonic one. And I'm not sure the answer is American-style Gaelic reconstructionism. So what is it?

Could there ever be a European form of Gaelic reconstructionism? What would it look like?

Ireland

Sep. 16th, 2012 09:02 am
sophiacatherine: A stone circle with a waterfall behind it - County Cork, Ireland (stonecirclewaterfall)
Thought it was worth linking here to the write-up of my recent Ireland trip that I just started for my blog. It looks like it's going to take a series of posts to cover it all.

It being a public blog, I don't want to say too much over there about the spiritual experiences I had, but I'll try to say something here about those, when I've written it all up other there. It's all incredibly hard to put into words, as ever. It's good discipline to try, though.

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Naomi J./Sophia Catherine

July 2014

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