Ever since I took the name, Teo Bishop, and made it my own — both in a religious sense and through the proper legal channels — I’ve had cause to explain what it is that I do on this blog. My writing, as well as my deepening engagement with my own spiritual work, are both major influences on my decision to undergo this transition.
Identity is interesting, and something that often goes undiscussed. What we are, how we identify, is often more experienced than it is questioned. That is, this seems to be true for many people I know.
Then there are people like me, my queer compatriots, and my Pagan brethren who appear to always be in a rich, complicated, and often conflict-laden dialogue about what it means to be us; always debating which words are right to use, and which are out-of-bounds. In fact, it was my little inquiry into identity with publicly not-Pagan, totally world-adventurer, Drew Jacob, back in May of last year which led to his firestorm-post, Why I’m Not Pagan, and my followup piece, Pagan is the New Gay. The whole back-and-forth put my lil’Druid blog on the map.
When I started writing Bishop In The Grove, my intention was to have this blog be a place for me to document my studies through a training program offered through the American Druid fellowship, Ár nDraiocht Féin (ADF). This was going to be my Dedicant Journal, a series of writings that charted my progress on the Dedicant Path. But, it wasn’t long before my focus shifted, and questions of identity began to surface.
How was I to reconcile the Christianity of my youth with this burgeoning practice of polytheistic Druidry? What, exactly, did it mean to be a “Druid?” How could I avoid falling into the trap of allowing this new religious expression to become a kind of role-play? How was I to remain authentic, both to myself and to my community? (Dig through the Post Archive and you’ll find evidence of all of this….and more.)
The conclusion I’ve reached, which is still very much an idea to be examined, is that my spiritual and religious life is intended to be more of a dialogue than a single state of being. Any religious moniker I take, be it Christian (as it was for two decades), Druid, Neopagan, or Pagan, it is most important to me that this title is representative of an ecosystem of practice as well as serving as an introduction to a discussion on belief. The latter may not be paramount, but it is important to me. Practice also means more than how I approach my home shrine; it also extends to the way I navigate my internal world, the world of ideas and emotions, and which methods and approaches I use to engage with my thoughts and inquiries.
Druid, then, is not simply a title which connects me to ancient Celts, or to other Indo-European peoples; it is a word that is representative of a very modern, very immediate, and very personal religious expression which is influenced by a variety of modern, and possibly ancient religious technologies, some Irish, others American, and some completely unique to me; and at the same time, the word points to a practice of deliberate and persistent inquiry, introspection, and contemplation.
This resonates with me personally, and so this is how I intend to use the term.
But would you say that I have, what a friend recently called, “a Druid’s perspective?”
In an interfaith setting, where individuals are often called to speak as ambassadors for their religious or spiritual traditions, how does my definition hold up? Patheos is an interfaith blogging website, and my blog is the lone Druid’s Grove on their servers, but what I’m talking about is real, person-to-person, interfaith work.
How does the description I’ve offered of Druid resonate with you? Does it make sense? If you use the word to describe yourself, does it feel accurate to your experience? If you reject the word altogether, could you explain why?
Second, could you imagine a situation in which a modern Druid is acting as a representative for the wider community of Druids within an interfaith setting? How would you feel about there being an “Ambassador of Druidry” to other faith traditions?