Paganism and the Occult: Sarah

Sarah tells us her path to the Occult:

With the benefit of hindsight, I realize I have been Pagan all my life. From early childhood I have always had a deep love of wild places and nature in general. I was also fascinated with ancient megalithic sites (and ancient sites from other cultures), with myth & magic (and also with the mysterious ‘Fortean’ phenomena in general). This was coupled with a very strong religious/spiritual impulse, the deepest sense of fulfillment and connection with something beyond myself coming from being out in the woods and meadows, far from so-called civilization.

Around the age of 15 or 16 I had a brief, vaguely atheistic phase, rejecting ‘conventional’ forms of religion. Even then I still recognized that there is Something out there, present in the very fabric of existence, and my abiding pantheistic tendencies remained as strong as ever. I was now learning about Norse mythology and Runes, and Celtic magic & Religion would not be far behind. Within 12 months I was rapidly expanding my areas of study, voraciously absorbing anything and everything that came my way. During this time I first consciously realized I was Pagan.

Over the next few years I examined a variety of paths. I discovered a close affinity with various traditions but it was a particularly Celtic, Druid-like path that spoke to me. After several years I received training under a formal Druid organization, subsequently joining others, including the British Druid Order, after which I continued to study a range of related areas. Goddess spirituality and shamanistic practice now add their own flavor to my still essentially Druid-like path.

For a long time I have been troubled by the hypocrisy and manipulation that underpins so much of organized religion, where authentic spiritual experience gets squashed under the weight of dogma, hierarchy and conformity. A couple of years ago I realized that I am in the strict sense of the word (no rule, from the Greek) an anarchist. No, I am not an ex-punk and I do not relish chaos, but I firmly believe in the absence of external structured authority within people’s inner lives and spiritual practice. Much can be learned from spiritual fellow travelers and guidance can be helpful but in the end each person has to be their own authority. Sadly, some find this outlook threatening.

My interests and inspirations are many and diverse. My practice and my path continue to develop in response to the moment, the experience of the land and the spirits of land, forest, river, sky and sea: the ever changing dynamics of life itself. I have a firm belief in the value of change and the avoidance of stagnation. These days, my Druid-force is profoundly nature oriented and shamanistic, influenced by those areas with which I have an abiding affinity, but rooted both in the pre-Celtic past and in the experience of the land and its inhabitants at this time. I am a fine artist, and my work is informed by that experience – my art and my Druid force feed into one another, and both are for me very experiential. The path leads ever onwards.

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