Cat Treadwell — professional Druid and nature-mystic - gives us a perspective from the English countryside.

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Cat

Cat

Cat Treadwell is a Druid Priest living in Derbyshire, England with her partner and animal family. She is a professional ritual celebrant and multifaith worker, travelling throughout the East Midlands and beyond. Her first book, 'A Druid's Tale', is out now. Cat is a Trustee of The Druid Network, as well as Regional Coordinator for the East Midlands Pagan Federation and member of OBOD. She is a regular speaker on BBC Radio, and has appeared on BBC News representing The Druid Network and East Midlands Ambulance Service. Cat welcomes questions and comments - please feel free to get in touch!

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Sometimes, as a public Druid, I get frustrated. Because over and over again, I seem to be saying the same thing. 'What's a Druid?' 'What do Druids do?' and so on, and so forth. I suspect we all get this at some point or another, if we're 'out of the broom closet' in any way. We just smile and get on with it as part of life.

But I do worry. Is this because nobody's listening? Am I actually trying to con people into following this mad 'cult' of modern Paganism? And of most concern, am I on the take?

I'm not - but it's easy to see why people would think that.

Spirituality is a deeply personal, heartfelt thing - a state of being, mind, emotion... so much contained in a such a complex state that it's virtually impossible to put into words. Especially, I might add, when someone asks me suddenly to explain my Druidry in two minutes or less.

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(Yes, this is me - in the woods near my home)

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  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    There is a world of difference between standing up and saying 'this is what I do' and saying 'this is what you should do'. So many

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Today is Samhain. Not yet the longest night of the year, but the time when we’re forced to face the reality of the darkness drawing in at dawn and dusk, with less daylight inbetween. Some breathe a sigh of relief, looking forward to the ‘hibernation’ period of quietness and introspection; others gird their loins against inner darkness, SAD and the loneliness of closing the curtains on another day.

I’ve talked about Samhain as a festival many times in the past – I’d rather not go over that again here. Rather, some personal thoughts about this time, this date, here in 2013.

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(Image ©Tom Brown)

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I am sorry to hear of your bad news. I am inspired by the grace with which you carry it.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Treadwell, Thanks for sharing! Your post was very touching. I'll check out your book.

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Every so often, I'll get asked about Gods and Goddesses. Who 'my' Goddess is, my patron, my chosen pantheon... you know the sort of thing.

I've pondered the deeper meanings of deity often, as I think you must if you are to travel a Pagan path at such a level. Does deity have existence outside of human belief? Are they just energy forms? Is it not presumptuous to just 'pick and choose'? (My answers, briefly, are 'Yes', 'Not exactly', and 'It depends who's doing the choosing'...)

But recently, the multifaceted nature of Goddess has been on my mind. From the sad passing of my oldest animal friend into the arms of Bast, to the focused dance of the Morrigan, via the peaceful mysteries of Kuan Yin, this week has seen many aspects of my Lady pass through my life.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat - congratulations on having a HUGE number of likes and reads on Facebook for this post. Our FB feed shows that over 11,000 rea
  • Cynthia Savage
    Cynthia Savage says #
    Hmmmm......I don't think I've ever been asked about deities.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Very nice knitting! As a Platonist, I have noticed that individual 'soft'/'hard' polytheist self-identification is one of the lar

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In recent months, I've been lucky enough to witness some fairly ancient traditions replayed by modern folk in my local community. Rather than taking the cynical, culturally-superior, post-modern 21st-century approach, villagers across Derbyshire have delighted in the creation of Well Dressing ceremonies and presentations.

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Well Dressing is thought to be pagan in origin, but now crosses social and faith boundaries in the simple act of creation. An offering is made from natural materials - such as petals, seeds and leaves - ostensibly to celebrate the local community and the various groups within it. But it is known that Well Dressing was also an act of thanks and celebration, to honour the spirit of the Well for providing clean water to that community, allowing it to nourish and thrive.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    That is very, very cool. Thanks for sharing.

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Inspiration is at the core of my Paganism, through my chosen path as Druid. This path might just be a label to some, but it's the one that suits me best. It might not be exactly as our ancestors practiced... but I think there's a good chance there'd be common ground and understanding.

Because as human beings, don't we all wish to be inspired? From that 'light bulb' moment, the 'Eureka!' cry is sought after by any number of magical methods. From chewing the end of a pencil, to small prayers as you stare out of an office window, to the blinking cursor on a computer screen... Inspiration is to be sought. Inspiration is valued.

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  • Melissa Stansbury
    Melissa Stansbury says #
    Thank You for posting and I hate to butt into your nice post, BUT I Need some advice AND HELP!! I live in Gettysburg, PA and we a

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There's been a lot of talk lately in the blogging world about the idea of 'Pagan Community'. I've written a little about it, from my point of view of course. But more ideas are coming as the year moves forward, and it's interesting to see how things are developing, based on both the evolution of the Pagan 'world' and the everyday one.

Generally speaking, Pagans are a social bunch. We like to get together and chat, whinge a bit, put the world to rights over a drink or two, and generally feel the comfort of like-minded folk. Nothing wrong with this at all.

But there are also those of us who prefer solitary practice, working alone, perhaps communicating over the Internet with specific friends, but more comfortable walking our own path in our own way, thank you.

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  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    If we were to nurture our poppies instead of cutting them down, we would get a lot more done. That being said, I have learned tha
  • Donald Cutler
    Donald Cutler says #
    Hello Cat. I live in Denver Colorado, USA, and have been a solitary for almost all of my practicing life. I have been to a few cir
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Alas, my dear Cat, "Tall Poppy Syndrome" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_poppy_syndrome) is as much a problem in the Pagan wor

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There is lots of talk in modern Paganism about 'holding space'. It's an idea I rather love - the focused intention and purpose of a (usually ritual) act. But how often do we consciously realize the holding of space in the everyday as well? How far do we become beholden to it as we take it for granted?

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  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    "If you take out the oven, the bed, the bath... surely space just IS, until our intention gives it purpose." There is a great conc

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Last Summer, I was invited to speak at the LinDhu Gathering in Lincolnshire, UK, on the topic of Modern Druidry.

A recording of the talk has finally been found - so here, for your entertainment, is a spoken blog post, so you can hear my actual voice and what I have to say... enjoy :)

 

...
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There's a lot of changes going on in the Pagan community in the UK lately. Boundaries are being pushed, people actively questioning where they fit into their own community and the wider world. By and large, this is A Good Thing.

However, I've been involved in a few conversations with other (relatively) 'old hands' - which I think means those who've been around the Pagan block long enough to get over the initial enthusiasm, become cynical, and then rediscover their practice as an actual way of life. And the same frustrations are being raised, time and again.

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(Handfasting performed by the author, Stonehenge, May 2011. Photo copyright PeacockPix)

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Sweet. Thanks, Cat!

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Do you remember when you first stepped onto the Pagan path? Perhaps more years ago than you care to recall, perhaps only recently. But no doubt books and websites were raided for information, ideas, ways to practice, paths to investigate. We truly are blessed with a wealth of information these days, after all.

My quest began before the Internet. My recollection is of picking up 'A Witch's Bible' - that lovely, slightly scary-looking black tome, scavenged easily enough from the shelves of Borders bookstore - and seeing the pictures inside. The photographs from the 1970s of Janet Farrar, beautiful and resplendent in ritual, performing the symbolic Great Rite proudly and publicly. And, of course, very very naked.

Then came that word: 'Priestess'. Not just in Wicca, but everywhere I looked, the goal of all Pagans appeared to be the Priesthood. You were still just learning until you had finally achieved the right to that title. This was just around the time when folks were starting to self-initiate, so the controversy was relatively new.

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  • Lauren DeVoe
    Lauren DeVoe says #
    I'm curious about the books and articles that you've come across. I would love to read some of them for myself, suggestions? Thank

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It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).

I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.

Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.

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One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

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Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    I ventured to make "corn" dollies from corn husks, only to realize that they are made from the wheat or barley. Amazing what can b

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I've returned today from performing a Handfasting with my partner - not unusual at this time of year. But this was our first on a beach.

Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.

It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.

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Paganism is one of the most democratic of spiritualities, right? It allows each of us to maintain and explore our own relationship with deity, practice pretty much as we like, and generally find like-minded people to work with along the way.
Except that it's not that simple (of course). We like to think that it's all sweetness, light and friendship, but as with any human philosophy, there are speed-bumps on the road that we're travelling.
 
Something that I've been really coming up against in recent months is the issue of hierarchy. If Pagans can each hold their own method of worship, then why do we even need leaders? Perhaps rather naively, I used to assume that each person understood that following a spiritual path involved investigation, constant challenging of the self and their chosen Way - otherwise it'd be far simpler to just find one of those other faiths with a set doctrine and follow that (less thought and effort required all round).
 
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I've just come back from a busy trip to London, on a three-day signing and workshopping visit. Hosted by the gorgeous Treadwells bookshop, I met many new people, caught up with old friends and talked a lot about my own particular style of Druidry. Lots of anecdotes and a few practical tools. And I sold out of the copies of my book that I had brought (hurrah!).

Years ago, I studied at a University just outside London, on a site that sadly no longer exists as teaching space. I found a job and a partner and stayed for about 8 years, commuting daily into the Big City, to offices in St Pauls, Oxford Circus and other such bustling locations.

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  • Michael
    Michael says #
    Cat, I am only now beginning my path into Druidry, I am studying for my Bardic.I must say I enjoy your articles and have become a

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This week, I was acting as Public Druid at two (fortunately) well-attended events. The first was a talk I was giving on Paganism at a local University, as part of their Equality & Diversity initiative; the second, the launch of my first book.

Two very different situations, but in both, I was clearly The Pagan in The Room. Even though I was dressed relatively normally at both (jeans and neutral blouse), people were aware of me and my role, and viewed me accordingly.

Now, I'm not just trying to give myself airs, as my ancestors might have said. I try my damnedest not to be one of those egotistical 'Big Nose Pagans' that everyone knows about; I'm just me, doing my thing, and trying to represent Druidry and Paganism as well as I can, as a real person, not a stereotype.

Officiating at a Handfasting (photograph © J. Baxter)

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In your dreams, dawn on the Summer Solstice is a beautiful thing. And it can be, certainly. Watching the colours change in the sky, clouds parting to reveal the sun as the Earth moves beneath your feet... marvellous.

However. This being one of the wettest Junes on record in the UK, I woke up on Solstice morning to discover that I had somehow been transported to Silent Hill. My partner and I ventured out - and 200 metres down the road, we could no longer see the house.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Sounds like our Oregon (ahem) summer. Growing up in the Pacific Northwe(s)t, we always knew that summer didn't arrive until (at le

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It's almost Solstice time - Summer here in the U.K. Which means, inevitably, that there's simultaneous water-limiting hosepipe bans in one part of the country, and flooding in another.

You may wonder why the British talk so much about the weather? Because it's a force unto itself. But we're a Nature-based spirituality on this page, so we can get away with it, right?

Anyway. With the Summer Solstice comes the inevitably publicity around Stonehenge, and the many thousands of people who go there to watch the sunrise. I've never been to that huge free-for-all, but have often been asked about it (this was last year). It's an event that people associate with Druids, after all.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat, you make me laugh! Your response to the journalist who wanted to film three days in your life is exactly what I told a realit

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