I occasionally attend pagan rituals in my area around Los Angeles County. Not as often as I should, indeed it’s not as often as I want to. The main problem for me is that rituals and retreats etc. take place on weekends. My career choice involves weekend work so I am effectively excluded from most rituals and celebrations. The cares of the mundane world hold me back and work gets in the way of life. That may well be the subject of another post but, for now; I want to write about the Pagan rituals I have attended here in this part of America.
Frequently before the ceremony begins, the participants are smudged. Drums are played to a Native American beat. In discussion with Americans who are seeking out the ancient path I hear talk of “Karma” and of “Chakras” These things and more make me uneasy and it took me a while to figure out why.
I am Welsh, nothing but Welsh as far back as I know. Most people in America are a mixture of many things. I have become convinced that it is this mixture of cultural heritages that make Americans in particular, more at ease with a mix and match of ritual and doctrine than I can be comfortable with.
I am an old Welsh Druid and that is it, simple and straightforward. I don’t go along with Karma but I understand cause and effect. I have a view of my physical body and its relationship to the spiritual energies that has nothing to do with “Chakra” These concepts are part of the spirituality of India. Valuable and worth knowing about, just not a part of my way or my views on Life the Universe and Everything.
I have a number of Native American friends, my wife is Apache Nation. From time to time we attend drumming circles and I always enjoy the Pow-Wow trail when we can get on it. Nevertheless there has been so much taken from the native peoples I feel that if I were to take an active part I would be just another European moving in on their land again. So I get uncomfortable when, at a Druid ritual, I am smudged. I can accept the gift gratefully when done at a Native ritual but in a European Pagan context it doesn’t sit well. I have come to realize that this is because my life, my heritage and my cultural roots all revolve around a distinctly Brythonic culture. For those who see themselves as new to this long and winding road we call the Pagan path it seems natural to explore various “Traditions” and include them in practice. For me personally, mix and match does not work.