Welcome to my new blog, Sage and Starshine. My name is Ellen MacInnis and I am, among other things, a Druid – a member of Ár nDraíocht Féin, to be precise. This past Ostara marked my fourth anniversary beginning one of the greatest adventures of my life as a practicing Pagan. In addition to solitary Druidry, I’m also the member of an eclectic Wiccan coven and a member of the Unitarian Universalist church.
Religion is a vibrant, vital part of my life, although it wasn’t always so. I’m a lifetime Virginian and was raised in a Baptist church where I always struggled to believe as I was told. By the time my family moved to a smaller, rural town and we started attending my father’s more relaxed Presbyterian church the damage had already been done; I didn’t believe in the Christian God or Jesus anymore, I didn’t trust the church, and I felt I couldn’t trust my own inner voice. I considered myself nothing for about a year and began voraciously reading everything religious I could get my hands on. I sped through myths like nobody’s business and developed an affinity for Daoist philosophy that still impacts me today. (The Tao Te Ching is, hands down, my favorite religious text; I own three copies, all well-loved.)
I found Paganism via Ásatrú, not Wicca as so many Pagans do. I found a book on runes at a large book fair, discovered the worship of the Norse gods was alive and well, found a few websites, and the rest is history. Though I’ve never considered myself heathen at any point and am now distant with the Aesir and Vanir, I still hold a thankful place in my heart for the doors they opened. From Ásatrú I found my way to Wicca through Scott Cunningham, and Margot Adler opened the doors to Druidry and the wider Pagan world. I’m a junior at college and I founded my school’s Pagan Fellowship: an important (and gutsy, if I do say so myself) step at an evangelical Lutheran campus in southwest Virginia. My keen interest in religion has led me towards a Religious Studies major and a minor in the Classical and Ancient Mediterranean World. One day, I want to be a minister within the UU church and continue interfaith work.
Why did I start this blog? Paradoxically, it’s because I’ve got a poor track record with blogs – with just about any project I start, really. The interest for Sage and Starshine began because I’ve been starting, stopping, and re-starting work with the Dedicant Path, the first round of ADF’s training programs. Since I joined ADF in July 2010, I’ve started the Dedicant Path (DP) three times, and within a matter of weeks my effort petered off each time. I have a grove in my area, but due to a variety of reasons – being an overstressed and introverted college student is only one of them – I’ve never managed to connect with them. Most of my interaction with other Druids takes place solely online, and I feel that it’s time I stopped idling and neutral and finally opened my practice to the internet, for all to see. I’ve drawn up a posting schedule – at least three large entries a week to start with – and I’m hoping that having deadlines, structures, and an audience of friends (and others eventually!) will encourage me not to quit when the going gets tough.
Thing is, I’m 21 years old and have been a Pagan more than four years. Yes, I’m going to be tough on myself right now and express dissatisfaction with my progress. I don’t feel like someone who’s explored a path for four years (though granted, there are tons of paths to explore in the larger, undefined category of “Paganism”), and I feel that while I have a lot of intellectual knowledge, spiritually and emotionally I have a long way to go. There’s always been a great yearning in me to have the deep spiritual connections I read about online or in books, and I’ve struggled for years with the feeling of not having my prayers listened to or wanting to live a magical life but never quite convinced my spells or rituals could work. To top it off, I was recently diagnosed with minor depression in October 2010, though hindsight tells me I’ve been depressed at least since my sophomore year of high school, which throws an extra variable onto the “how to successfully live out my spiritual life without looking ridiculous or setting myself on fire” thing.
When I found Paganism, it didn’t feel like the homecoming so many of my peers describe; it felt like venturing into a brave new world, the kind I’d glimpsed before in the kinds of fantasy books that are the pinnacle of their genre, where every word is saturated with meaning, every forest a haven for witches good and bad, every beggar a possible god in disguise. When I think about the ideal of my spirituality, it’s of crumbling abbeys on mist-drenched Irish moors, the mysterious and eternal longing of the ocean and shore, the quiet initiations of dusk and dawn as they solemnly mark the stations of the sun. There are moments, brief, when it’s like a cloud parts in my mind, and my mental, emotional, and spiritual states align like an astrological miracle, and I utterly, completely grok everything. And then there are times I can’t imagine a single part of the universe is sacred, much less myself.
Fox Mulder says it best: I want to believe. I’ve never asked for a burning bush, or to be a chosen one, or any more special than any other human being on the planet. I feel caught in an eternal chase, and most times I’ve completely lost sight of my quarry. Am I after shadows? Am I being toyed with? Or is Pan up ahead in the next glade, waiting for me to push myself and catch a glimpse before he runs off again into the woods?
I feel like I’ve gotten ahead of myself; after all, this is just supposed to be a welcome post, and here I am spilling my life story on day one. Beyond spiritual musings, there are more mundane reasons for starting a blog like this. Summer break has officially started for me and I’ve quit my old supermarket job for one that’s more to my liking. Now that I’ve got spare time and less job-related stress, I need something productive to do that’s not exploring Azeroth or bagging groceries. Plus, I was heavily into writing before going off to college, where writing for pleasure has all but disappeared from my daily routine, and I feel like returning to my creative source.
While Sage and Starshine will be a blog about my life, my musings, and things that catch my attention, I certainly look forward to any comments, suggestions and advice. Excuse the dust as I learn my way around WordPress the next few days, and never, ever be shy about making a comment. Some things you can expect from this blog:
- Weekly updates on my progress with the DP
- Monthly New Moon updates on my progress through Kimberly Sherman Cook’s In the Shadow of 13 Moons
- Musings, prayers, and devotions to Brighid, the most important Lady in my life
- Posts about Druidry, Wicca, witchcraft (green/natural, garden, kitchen), divination, and magic
- Living out Pagan ethics and values through respecting the environment, my fellow living beings, and my own body
- Book and movie reviews
Sage and Starshine is an experiment for me, but one I’m willing to put a lot of work into. My love and gratefulness goes out to all those who inspired me on my journey, and to all those I’ll walk with in future days.