Well life has moved on for me in ways (over the last year) that I can not even begin to fully describe. One thing that has hit home for me, in very physical, and emotional ways is how much of a fool (gaelic: amadán) I can be. I have spent so many years seeking truth and the “genuine life” and feel that in doing so, I have caused a lot of pain and suffering for myself and those closest to me. As some of you may know, I am a leader of a wonderful tuatha of friends and family here in Colorado. But over the past year, with the illness of my mother, and problems in my marriage, I have had the hardest time leading and helping others.
Sometimes the amount of pain and suffering that a person can endure can lead them into places inside themselves that were perhaps best left alone. As a Celtic pagan I have always felt that nothing should be avoided, like the old Druid teaching, “Worship the gods, do no evil, and practice courage”. Life is messy and running from it does not help. In that spirit I have thrown myself into some very fringe situations. There are times when this is certainly a good thing. After all, without challenging our perspectives and testing our most basic beliefs can we not become “hollow men”? But how far is too far? And what do you do with the oft resulting regrets?
There are a lot of facts, good intentions, and belief in paganism today. But very little in the way of theology and philosophy. What enables us to answer the question, “What is a good and genuine life”? One of my greatest frustrations with Celtic Reconstructionism is the total lack of attention to human suffering, and real questions about compassion, pain, regret, and what it is that helps us to be truly liberated beings. Instead, most of what you will find in Celtic Reconstructionist writings are discussions about practices and “authentic” practices and beliefs. These things can aid us, but alone they cannot feed the soul.
How does a pagan define the good life? And how does he or she know if they are living it?