Journeys: Thoughts from a Druid Path

Journeys through the world around us, from a Druidic perspective.

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Before the First Step, a Pause


“Hail to you, Manannan mac Lir, God of the Sea, and Master of Liminal Spaces”


I think that a call to a God is a good way to start things: a day, a journey, a new set of responsibilities. Manannan mac Lir is a part of my daily workings and I feel that he is a deity which is often close at hand. Have I seen him? I am not so sure about that. Have I spoken to him? Yes, seemingly on a daily basis. Do I feel his presence when I am in need or during my workings? Yes, assuredly so.


In ADF, we talk about liminal spaces. Liminal spaces are the spaces that are often between things, places where lines and distinctions blur. One such place is where the horizon meets the ocean. One can see that there is a line that demarcates that edge, that joining, but it is rather hard to identify specifically. The meeting of the sky and the water is an edge, but a soft one. Another such place is doorways. If one were to stand in the middle of the doorway, one would be neither in one room nor the other, but in a way, pausing in between. Finally, the place where the ocean meets the beach is also liminal. In this case, the line that indicates where these two join is often rather fluid.


We are one day away from Beltaine, one of the Druidic Fire Festivals, also described as a cross-quarter day, sitting nicely between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice. This is one of my favourite times of year: the days are getting longer, the weather seems to improve on a daily basis, and soon, very soon, the Earth Mother will be back in full bloom, expressing the glory of the growing time here in the Northern Hemisphere. For our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is in fact the case and the line that separates the two, that amazing Equator, is also one of those liminal places that we know exists, it is just hard to say “it is right here!”.


A number of years ago, it was on the liminal doorstep of Beltaine that I did my all-night vigil for the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) and become a Druid of the Third Order and thus became a priest in that tradition. My Ordination, Consecration, and Elevation in the priesthood of ADF always happened a little after this date, but in the environs of this liminal time. Now, as I am about to step into the Archdruid position at ADF, it comes at this time as well.


When I did my RDNA vigil, I became acutely aware of the liminal character of the night, with just the fire and myself, and the distant lights on the land and in the stars. So many of the spaces in between these many things were liminal – I couldn’t really define what was there or what was not. Standing on the Earth Mother, I came to appreciate that which is-not or that which is not-seen and have come to honour them for the things that they are or, perhaps, are not.


Sitting there beneath the sky, I learned to listen: to listen to the silence that surrounded me and to listen to the sparking of the fire in that delicious dichotomy of is and is-not. Now, as I sit on the threshold of being the ADF Archdruid, I once again feel in that liminal space. I will have to do more than sit at the fire all night and contemplate the Seen and Unseen, but from here, from that first step, there seems to be a lot of Unseen. Who knows what is to come? I do not, but I welcome it with the excitement of an explorer and the humility of a supplicant. I have Isaac’s Vision to guide me, as it has guided others throughout the 30+ years of ADF’s existence. ( I joined in the earliest days and I have seen ADF grow and change and I tried to change along with it. In some ways I have, in others, perhaps less so.


I inherit a church with a functioning Board of Directors, a growing Clergy Council, and a group of members who live on six continents. We will soon have priests in two countries on this continent and then, not too far down the road, a priest or two on a different continent. After thirty-two years, we really are moving as fast as a speeding oak, but the acorns we dropped along the way have grown up around us and seeded other trees in their own right.


I never thought in the early days that I would be Archdruid. I wanted to be a Druid and I am sure that somewhere along the way I did become one. A number of years ago I decided to get involved in leadership – and I did, thanks to the voters of ADF – and I have continued on that path until this day, until this step. Now, I have to provide some direction and it is going to be a challenge and a joy to do the work, because doing the work is what service is all about. We have some members who are happy with the way things are; we have other members who would like to see some things change, perhaps a tweak here or a tweak there. There are others who want to change a lot of things right now. I have to take my first step into that liminal place where all of those things meet.


Heraclitus, a Pre-Socratic philosopher of Ephesus (one of my favourite philosophers) wrote: “The cosmos works by harmony of tensions, like the lyre and the bow.” (Heraclitus 37) I will have to keep this in mind as I contemplate that first step. I hope to be the lyre; I hope to be the bow; I pray to be the music that results from the combination of the two. So, cognizant of the tensions, the ebbs and flows, the people, vocal and silent, and the stillness that erupts between the crackles of the fire and the stillness of the night, I look ahead and think once more of those who can help me along the way:


“Hail to you, Manannan mac Lir, God of the Sea, and Master of Liminal Spaces,


“Walk with me today, tomorrow, and every day:


“As I walk a new path, be with me;


“As I take a new challenge, guide me;


“As I look across today to tomorrow, help me make good choices.


“Remind me that the sea is the home of tides, storms, and calm movements;


“Grant that the sea may be my friend.”



Before that first step, I think I’ll make an offering to Manannan mac Lir. Making offerings is always a good place to start.



Works Cited


Heraclitus. Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus. New York: Viking, 2001. Print.




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I am a long-time pagan and charter member of ADF, Ar nDraoicht Fein, a Druid Fellowship. I am a Senior Priest in as well as the Arch Druid of ADF. I am a Druid of the Third Order, RDNA; Druid Grade, OBOD; and a Second Degree Druid Companion in AODA. I love Druidry!  


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