Elders in Odd Places

So I got inspired by a blog post from the fabulous Magaly who in turn was inspired by an equally fabulous post from fellow Stew Chef, Adelina. I could go on (and on and on) about how certain experiences I've had in the Pagan community were a big let down for me and how jaded I've become at the idea of Pagans holding hands and singing Kumbaya (at least at the idea of it happening for more than a minute without some
sort of in-fighting breaking out). But I do try not to dwell on those things. In fact, I really, really was drawn to this idea in Adelina's post: do not convince yourself that the Elders you meet who will teach you about your Craft will only be those who practice your Craft. It made me look back at some elders who made a big impact on how I follow my path today who are definitely not Pagan.

First, there was this wonderful priest in the Catholic parish I grew up in. He was a bit unusual for a priest in that he had been married first and after his wife passed away, he took up the priesthood. I rather liked the idea of that at the time; I thought someday I might do the same - marry first and when my husband died become a nun. That idea definitely fell by the wayside (I'd make a horrid nun for one, plus I've found you can lead a very spiritual life while being part of a couple and a parent - though it's certainly more challenging this way) but one thing that stuck was that priest's joy in his path. It formed the seed for my later thought process that spirituality must contain joy, otherwise what was the point of it all?

Second, there was a sweet older woman who was a seasoned lay Eucharistic minister when I first became one. Her belief that magic was an essential part and parcel of this world was infectious. Now, she saw it a bit differently than I've come to see it - she felt that the Magi kneeling before the infant Jesus was an allegory for the idea that magic exists but ultimately kneels to Jesus - but to find a normal adult who felt that magic existed, well, that was a big revelation and inspiration to me.

Thirdly, speaking of revelations, I need to acknowledge the Catholic school teacher who said the fateful words that got me started on this path, "Our Mother Who Art In Heaven".  The idea to question what was traditionally thought of as holy, to rethink assumptions about the nature of Deity - it was nurtured and encouraged in that Catholic school classroom first.

Fourthly, and most recently, I was inspired by the previous rabbi at the Reform Jewish congregation my husband and I belong to. The rabbi never tried to convert me (though he admittedly was quite glad my kids were getting a Jewish education) and, like the priest at that Catholic parish I grew up in, seemed to really embody the idea of joy in his path. He also planted the idea of taking a disciplined approach to observances. If some observance wasn't useful or helpful in my desire to reach a spiritual goal, discard it. But if it added meaning, by all means, keep it close.

Last is my oldest and dearest inspiration, my father. My dad often would talk to me seriously about spiritual things. I learned about compassion, justice and critical thinking while growing up. There are quite a few fine details of faith we disagree on. But, when my dad waxed poetic about the beauty he finds in nature a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that we still have some things in common after all.

My song for this post was a no-brainer. One of my favorite saints was St Francis of Assisi. I especially loved the hymns made from his writings. They were one of the first I committed to memory. The following hymn, sung by Sinead O'Connor, was always one of my favorites. Even though there are several lines in it that really don't work for me, I still find it comforting to listen to from time to time, and yes, I draw inspiration from it as well.


  1. I have several Elders who were not pagan who influenced me deeply. Not sure I am doing their teachings justice sometimes. lol.

  2. Wisdom, like energy, comes in no defined shape or form... it just is. We would be foolish not to acknowledge it just because it comes from places (people) we were not expecting.

    I'm glad you can see "joy" where it lives ;-D

  3. LOL, my apologies ladies, as this template seems to be blocking my ability to reply in a nested/ threaded format.

    I don't know if I do my elders justice all the time either Nalaya! But when I'm lucky, sometimes their words and actions will come back to me at just the right moment.

    Magaly, I remember reading someplace that everyone has something to teach you even if that may be - yuck, I want *nothing* to do with that! But by and large, I try to come away with something positive from my interactions with others.