I believe that one of the strengths of OBOD is that it offers an inclusive space where members can – if they feel drawn to do so – blend their Druid path with other spiritualities. Some prefer to focus purely on their Druidry but we have many members who combine their practice with other belief systems such as Buddhism, Wicca, even Atheism.
Rev Shawn Sanford Beck – an OBOD Bard and an Anglican Priest – blends his Christian faith with a Druid path. I include here a lovely guest post from Shawn and also an interview with him on Tapestry (a Canadian radio program on spirituality), talking about his blended ChristoPagan path. To listen to the interview, please click here.
“Put out some of those green scotch mints … those are the ones they really like.”
This was the advice given to me by one of my friends from the First Nation community which borders our farmstead most closely. My friend’s father is a Cree elder who remembers the old ways of honouring and communicating with the mimikwisis, the little people who dwell along the steep shores of the lake on which we live. Candy is one of the treats they like the best, and this is what used to be done to keep up good relations with the local neighbours of the spirit world.
So as I pace out the circumference of my sacred grove, I place the green mints in a small pottery dish at the far edge of the circle, with a word of acknowledgement and affection for the trickster guardians of the shoreline. Having called out peace to the four directions, I kneel at the half-buried stone in the centre of the grove, lay my hands on it, and begin my ritual of blessing our land. In my spirit, through the mind’s eye of my imagination, I travel to the various fields, pastures, garden plots, orchards, underground streams, as well as the underwater realm of the lake, and spread a golden-green light of blessing. I look inward toward the cattle and horses, the goats, pigs, chickens, cats, and dogs, as well as the human people, the barn, house, and wood wights, and the ancestors who lived before any of my people arrived on Turtle Island, but who still dwell in the land. To each of these various beings, I direct blessings in the name of the Holy One, and ask that the Spirit surround and uphold them all, binding us together in Her vast Web of Wyrd. After a time of quiet contemplation, I pray as Jesus taught: Abba, Father, Mother who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name … then I close the circle and leave the grove.
Later that afternoon, after chores are done, I will lead a bible study for the farm community, put the finishing touches on the sermon I’ve been working on, and send out an email reminder about the full moon ceremony coming up on the weekend. Another day in the life of a homestead chaplain, Anglican priest, and Sophian druid … never a dull moment!
For many people, perhaps even most people, one religion or spiritual pathway is more than enough. The traditions, practices, and disciplines of Christianity, NeoPaganism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or any of the other great religious ways can keep a person grounded, fed, and challenged for a lifetime. But for some of us, especially in the context of a pluralistic and multi-cultural world, the blending of religious paths (or, as Philip sometimes calls it: spiritual fusion cooking!) is an irresistible calling. I have been a Christian since late childhood, was ordained as an Anglican priest 15 years ago, and have a deep and abiding love for the Holy Trinity, and for Jesus as the Incarnate Word of God. AND, at the same time, I have been profoundly transformed by my encounters with various NeoPagan paths such as Druidry, Wicca, Heathenry, and various forms of shamanistic and animist traditions. In short, I am a ChristoPagan.
In general, ChristoPagans tend to be scorned by both parent traditions. We are often seen as heretical by the wider church, and derided as wishy-washy or deluded by other Pagans. And in some ways, I can see why: a superficial pick-and-mixing of Pagan and Christian elements can lead to a bizarre or even spiritually dangerous brew. But for those of us who are called to it, a disciplined and reflective fusion of these two traditions can be life-giving and redemptive. Think of how many centuries of bitter division our religions have undergone … do we want that to continue? I think not. As a ChristoPagan who seeks out the depths of both traditions, I have hope that this new and fragile blended path might be a sign of hope and an agent of interfaith healing in our fractured and fractious world. And I give thanks for the safe space of communities such as OBOD, which provide a place for druids of all religious paths (and none) to live and work together in harmony. May it ever be so.
Peace in the Grove,
Shawn has also written a book about Christian Animism which can be found here.