Why Did I Agree to Do this Workshop?

Fire and law enforcement people gather as the Sand Guch Fire spreads.

Photo from April 29, 2011. All the gray in the background is smoke. I am in the yellow shirt, lower center, trying to get a word with the sheriff. (Photo from the Wet Mountain Tribune)

I have spent much of today being nervous about the weather (warm, dry, windy) while yet working on a workshop presentation on nature religion.

Nature is making me nervous. Ironic, eh? Even though M. and I have been back in our house for a week, we are still jumpy. After all, lightning season has not yet really begun.

At least my little volunteer fire department is suddenly taking training very seriously. And we have some new members.

Last night, when the festival was starting, I was at the fire house, working up an equipment order for the General Services Administration.  More hard hats! More yellow Nomex shirts! And what’s your size?

So today I had to finish the workshop for tomorrow. It’s too much like preparing a lecture.

The problem is, I’m not really a Pagan festival workshop guy.

I used to think I knew some things. Now everything is complicated, nuanced, and requires further thought.

A couple of months ago, this Pagan podcaster was after me and after me to appear on his show.  Finally I told him, “You have to understand that I don’t have a ‘shtick.’ I don’t go around to festivals (other than Florida Pagan Gathering two years ago, where I was  mainly on panels about Pagan history). In other words, I don’t do ‘how-to’ or ‘how ancient wisdom can make you a better Witch’ or anything like that.”

Never heard from him again.

If I had a shtick, I would be like my friend Thorn Coyle. I would walk out in front of a group, and inside of five minutes they would be breathing and moving and chanting and visualizing and liking it. That’s what she does, but it’s not what I do.

So I will try to talk about the ways that I defined “nature religion” in Her Hidden Children, I suppose. And give people an exercise or two to do. Maybe try to convince them that even if they are not capital-N Native (in some legal sense) they can still be “native” in an earth-based spirituality sense.

I have also decided that I am sick of the phrase “spiritual path,” at least on even-numbered days of the month. Being on a “path” sounds like you are trying to get away from something, but as that 1970s wall poster said, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

(Did the same people who said “Be here now” also say that they were “on a path”? And if so, did that mean that they were in fact trying to leave here and go elsewhere? Inquiring minds want to know.)

So, yeah, a workshop. Forty-five minutes worth of blather and then dismiss class early? That might work. This bunch will probably be talkative though.

4 thoughts on “Why Did I Agree to Do this Workshop?

  1. I think you should start with your questionnaire about nature (you know, the ‘can you point out the four directions without looking at the sun?’, ‘what phase is the moon right now?’, ‘where does your water come from?’ one.) Then talk about how Nature Religion is about being mindful of these things, along with being mindful of divine nature within it.

  2. Well, when you don’t have a path and you don’t have a schtick, what do you have? What do you do? Or not do? Maybe talk about fire fighting as a spiritual investigation. Or maybe buy a joke book for when you got to tell one or fall flat on your face.

  3. I don’t associate being on a path with running away from something but with being on a journey. I think of it as being more process than goal oriented. I’ve never thought about it in terms of what I’m moving away from, although that is something I’m thinking more about as I notice how things I learned as a child continue to influence my religious thinking. I don’t usually think of myself as being on a spiritual path, since I have no particular tradition (nothing more specific than being Pagan). I’m not so much wandering in the wilderness (without a path) as I am sitting in place and seeing what comes up. 🙂 I think that fits with how I see nature religion — if I’m on a path it is one that meanders through a particular territory, which is not about getting anywhere else, escaping anything, but about the place in which I find myself.

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