It has been a year since I started Trees in the Train Station, again. There have definitely been good and bad times, in the early articles I’m fairly certain that the bad shone through in my writing better than the good. A full year on I am sad to said that I have in fact failed in my intended goal of successfully posting each day for a year. It is the reason why I have declared today to be the completion of a full year and the anniversary of Trees in the Train Station; the maths proved to me that by the time I got to the (previous) actual end of my yearlong task, I would still need 81 more posts. Until I started writing this I honestly didn’t realise that I have declared ‘one year complete’ exactly 9 days early, which equals 81 when multiplied by itself. I’m sure someone far more knowledgeable than I can probably tell me the significance of that. I can easily tell you the significance of today though, it being only slightly more than an arbitrary choice – I have taken a leaf out of PaganPerspective’s book and made the yearly marker my birthday. Practically speaking this is so I can more easily remember when the actual year mark is, instead of having one more date always rattling around my head. I would be lying however, if I said that practicality was the only reason. The real reason is that this year, this birthday, for the first time I know that I am different.
It may seem like a little thing but for better or worse I really bought into the whole idea that each year at some randomly determined day (the actual day of your birth being somewhat up to chance because of how giving birth works) you would experience all those things that can be more readily expressed as ‘feeling older’ – smarter, wiser, more mature etc and so forth. It wasn’t really until my 17th birthday that I more or less gave up on the whole premise and even the premise of celebrating birthdays altogether. However this year, which presents another interesting coincidence in the form of: 24 Elder Futhark Runes for 24 years old, presents a pleasant dissonance in that I know I am different. I cannot wholly take the credit for my being different however; there have been so many things that have affected me over this past year. Some of these things are not the kinds of things that can be acknowledged in any meaningful way – how do you thank an experience? I can however thank and acknowledge those people who are in some way the cause of a large number of changes in me. The reason for this is that this past year has seen my growth and maturation as a Pagan and Heathen and there are people for whom I feel there is credit due.
My thinking behind this is that for a long time I have lamented the lack of various things in the Pagan and Heathen part of my life, perhaps most of all a teacher or mentor or person to posit thoughts with. It took some time to understand, or perhaps accept, this but I do in fact have teachers and mentors and people to posit ideas with. They are the Pagans and Heathens on YouTube that I have listened to and watched over the course of a year or more. It’s extremely ‘Third Millennium’ of me and I admit that I’d rather say ‘read in books’ or ‘learned from friends’ because those are the ways I would rather it had happen; however that is not always the way of things anymore. Had I not stumbled across these people on YouTube there is not telling where I would be as a Pagan or Heathen today. I certainly wouldn’t be the Me I am now. Hence, as a way of acknowledging the role these people have played I want to do one of the few things that I can do to thank them, which is to say that I wish to extol their virtues. Though there are lots of videos that I have watched, this list is comprised of those people and their channels that have been the greatest influences:
Avalon’s Spiritual Odyssey
Diana L. Paxon
‘Taking Up the Runes’
While I could leave this simply as a list, that would be personally unsatisfying…
The Fellowship of PaganPerspective
Though the membership of PaganPerspective has changed over the course of its existence and though some members feature on their own as part of this list, it is the collective or fellowship that makes PaganPerspective significant. Their sheer capacity to disseminate an idea or topic between at least a half dozen different Pagans and Heathens is invaluable to everyone that watches their videos. In some respects they function as a kind of living encyclopaedia meets panel discussion. The real strength of this rests in the different members that populate the group at any one time; disparity breeds discussion, which in turn breeds more ideas and there is no better forum for this than a channel that brings together so many different Pagans and Heathens. Consequently the prevailing ambience of PaganPerspective is the closest to a live conversation that you can get. The members have changed a lot since the PaganPerspective’s inception, with Cara being the only one I’m positive is still an original member (though there may be others) and the members range from Eclectic Wicca, Traditional Wicca (at one stage) to a Christo-Pagan, a Heathen and many more in between.
Annie of Mirth and Reverence truly embodies what it means to be sagacious. Nothing ever seems to catch her off guard and while not her only quality the wisdom that she possesses shines through whenever she speaks in her videos. In the best way possible, Annie has a grandmotherly quality in more than just her hair (which reminds me of both my own grandmothers). By the simple fact of birth she has amassed a wealth of life experience that few can truly claim. In her lifetime she has live through many of the events that have shaped the latter modern world in which we now live – as people and as Pagans and Heathens. As a result of this her ideas, he thoughts and advice are tempered by a patience and tolerance that many younger Pagans and Heathens lack from time to time (myself included). An outstanding of this is the way in which she responded to Fox News when they reported/made mention of Wiccans. As a Wiccan she has an incredibly rich Praxis and many of her skills and practice are nothing short of provocative. She is well served in being considered a teacher by others; her mannerisms and understanding certainly enhance her teacher-like qualities. Sagacious seemed the value to extol because it takes all of her qualities and combines them: Wise, Teacher, Grandmotherly, Patient, and Collected – Sage.
Kelly-Anne is well described as an enchantress because her force of charisma and personality is overwhelming. The accent helps. Her manner can best be expressed as a scalpel, cutting straight to the heart of the subject with minimal fuss before slowly withdrawing and going through all the details. Though she is based in psychology and I in literature, I see a kindred mind in her that is especially well expressed in her blend of psychological theory and praxis. Her preeminent talent is in Tarot, which in some respects is unfortunate given my lack of practice/interest in Tarot, however that does not preclude her ability to mentor. To her credit one of the ways in which she stands out above the great majority of other channels is how she approaches those mundane issues that aren’t typically made mention of within the Pagan and Heathen community. One example that stands out in my mind from her recent videos is one she made about how to deal with detrimental relationships to food. This is something that really I’ve found is unique to Kelly-Anne, her mixing of mundane problems with solutions based upon your Praxis. Something aids in her delivery of which, is her very refined intellect combined with scalpel like proficiency.
The Equitable DrawingKenaz
TheFourQueens has an intellectual approach to her Praxis that really strikes a chord within me and in a similar fashion I find myself drawn to the academically oriented DrawingKenaz. There was, I admit, some internal debate regarding DrawingKenaz. Do I call her dispassionate or detached? Indomitable? Though she might seem to be these things, what I feel best describes her is equity. Whether the product of her personality of the academic situation she finds herself in, DrawingKenaz never seems to fail to come to her videos informed and well considered on what she is talking about. In this respect, she could be described as dispassionate, but I don’t feel that it takes on a negative light in the face of her academic slant. Similarly to MrShadowbwoy, DrawingKenaz’s Praxis comes from a Traditional standpoint – though this time it is Traditional Wicca. Alongside Annie of MirthandReverence, DrawingKenaz is the only person I know that practices Traditional Wicca as part of her Praxis and the perspective that this brings to her videos is invaluable. Although it would seem that Traditional Wicca receives a lot of stick (or actually does), DrawingKenaz is either unperturbed or otherwise very graceful under pressure, and never fails to navigate the complexities of talking about Traditional Wicca.
Fervent Avalon’s Spiritual Odyssey
Avalon (whose name I think is Allison, but I don’t properly recall) is unusual amongst the population of this list in that she is one of only two Australians on it. While I’m not above showing favouritism for that, Avalon is here because of the incredible enthusiasm she exhibits in her videos. Every video it is like a crate of firecrackers has been set alight and can’t go anywhere so they just explode. The fervour this woman possesses is common across all of her subjects: Tarot, crystals, elemental magic, being a mother, ritual etc. Her Praxis is another that stands out amongst those already mentioned in the list in that she came from Brazil and a long standing family tradition and practice there, and has worked together elements of modern magical practices with her family’s. There is, amidst her fervour, a gentle solemnity whenever she talks of her experiences with deity or in ritual and there is never any doubt in my mind that she has come away from those experiences with a wealth of new understanding. That she chooses to share a part of that with the rest of us is something that she truly ought to be thanked for.
The first time I watched a video by RavenNightsong, I utterly disagreed. I didn’t just disagree, I was left wondering how on earth someone could simultaneously be Christian and Pagan (a member of the PaganPerspective identifying and a Christo-Pagan notwithstanding) and so many, many other things. To her credit however, she really has a knack for explaining how she reconciles the two parts of her blended path in her Praxis. It is because this and the sheer fact that she is so different to any other Pagan and or Heathen I’ve come across that she has been a distinguishing force in the past year. Something I really admire about her is that she has no problems what so ever with saying ‘No’. It might seem strange to be influenced by someone that you really have little in common with and regularly finding yourself disagreeing with, but that is really why I enjoy RavenNightsong – she provides disparity. In a community where there are so many ways to interpret the exact same thing and so many people agreeing (not that that’s a bad thing) it is helpful in the extreme to have someone that provides that other perspective, that voice of dissent or disagreement. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that a good decision can only be made when there is someone that disagrees – while not a good translation from that phrase, RavenNightsong provides that aspect through her radically different approach to praxis.
The Jovial LittleRavenPrince
Alongside Avalon, Brendan the LittleRavenPrince is one of that rare breed of Australian YouTube Pagan and or Heathen. Again, just for that he gets points because I’m corrupt but he also shares something in common with Avalon. In the same way that Avalon’s fervour is virtually a physical aspect of her being, Brendan’s levity or joviality is virtually a physical aspect of his being. In a strange way, it works out that the majority of his videos directly dealing with Paganism and Heathenry are done as part of the PaganPerspective. However, much like the others from PaganPerspective that are on this list as individuals, it is his personal channel’s videos that have been the source of his influence. Though the only really remarkable thing about his Praxis (compare to the rest of the list) is that he openly uses blood and I am fairly sure has talked about an animal sacrifice at one stage in his practices, it is his effervescent happiness that makes him special. In the face of many Pagans and Heathens having an almost dour approach to talking about making magic and doing ritual, it is always comforting to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
A Tranquil Cutewitch772
Cara was, I dimly recall, the first video I watched about Paganism (Heathenry being a word I had yet to come across) some years ago. I’m fairly certain that it was a video about things people say to Pagans. Since then I have rarely failed to catch up on her latest videos and Cara has never failed to disappoint in terms of the breadth of her subjects nor the care with which she handles her topics. What really makes Cara unique is that in her videos more than anyone else’s it is clear how much a part of her life her Praxis is. Though this shouldn’t be seen as a criticism for others Cara, and also Brendan, really demonstrate how much Paganism and Heathenry (though the latter doesn’t apply to Cara, strictly speaking) is not just a ‘thing’ in her life but actually her life. She really epitomises the idea that Paganism and Heathenry are a way of life rather than just an additive or extra feature to your mundane life. Although of late she has been commenting that her responses to questions tend to always be ‘it depends’, that comes I feel as a by-product of her rational approach to topics in videos.
Charliesaysgo with Serenity
I originally came across Charlie of charliesaysgo when she was a host of PaganPerspective, however it was not until I started watching her own videos that I really came to see what she was really all about. Charlie is, in a word, angelic. There is honestly no other adjective to describe how utterly serene she is. Much like DrawingKenaz, I really couldn’t say if this is because of her personality or because of the components of her Praxis but even when she is talking about or discussing that is troubling for her she remains serene. It is hard for me to really say what she is, in terms of her practices and an appropriate noun for them, because she has combined a lot of eastern philosophies with crystal work and levels of meditative and visual practice that I can barely scratch the surface of. I do know that she has a magical practice that is similar to that of Wicca, however even then I could not swear to her being Wiccan. Charlie’s greatest talent, or so it seems, is in having an extraordinarily altruistic approach to magic. Alongside this there is a powerful focus within her videos on being spiritually unlimited.
If TheFourQueens can be likened to a scalpel then MrShadowbwoy can be likened to a well-placed punch. A better way of putting it would be that he is the raw to her refined. His no nonsense manner of expression is something that really lends itself to the subjects he touches upon. Mature would be another way of phrasing it; he is very mature in terms of both the material he talks about and the implicit expectation that those watching his videos are equally mature. His Praxis unapologetically revolves around Traditional Witchcraft and really stands out from the majority of other praxes. He really comes into his own through very matter of fact discussions about doll magic and using blood in praxis that, in turn are counter-balanced by book reviews and ‘information dumps’ on particular spirits and beings, interspersed with invaluable personal experiences with fairies and fetches (and more, oh my). What really ties all of his topics together however, is his candour. The candour to simply say ‘this is how its done’ without excusing himself for having an opinion (or feeling the need to say every step of the way ‘this is only my opinion’; to explicitly discuss what it takes to do this or that magic without hesitating. Though his kind of magic won’t be for everyone, he presents and almost sardonic challenge that is difficult to resist.
Diana L. Paxson
Diana L. Paxson gets special mention because she is who has been my guide and teacher in the past year of taking up the runes – indeed I have yet to come across a manner of expressing that particular verb other than by using her book’s title “Taking Up the Runes”. It may seem strange to say, but I hope that I never have the opportunity to meet her. This is because even to this day I have no idea whether she is living or dead; searches online have turned up contradictory details. I was once in the process of writing a tribute to her, thinking that she had passed almost a decade ago, and in that tribute I wrote “I did not know you in your life, nor can I know you in mine…” Really I feel that I would prefer to keep it that way. Her guidance in my taking up the runes has really been perhaps the most major directing force over the last year and I definitely would not be the Pagan and Heathen I am today without it.
Though these people are by no means the sole contributors that have influenced me over the past year (or more), they are the ones that have had a lasting impact or otherwise left a lasting impression that keeps me coming back for me. The start of a new ‘year’ presents all kinds of chances to change things and get better and such, so here’s hoping.
There has to be a better collective noun than ‘Pagans and Heathens’.