Finding the Pagan Way

Spiders, and the path to a wider understanding of the world.

Thanks to a growing interest in shamanism in New Age and Pagan circles, many people now speak about their animal guides and totems. An increasing number of people have had personal experiences of meeting some of their animal guides in meditations or simply bumping into their totem animals.

Even those among us who are more attracted to mainstream culture, and perhaps are less interested in the wider aspects of spirituality, have been enchanted by “Aesop’s Fable” and the tales of Beatrix Potter.

Stories like “Jungle Book” and “Call of the wild” have charmed readers since the last century. Many films such as “Frozen” and “Ice Age” have been hugely popular, showing the readiness we have to accept wisdom which has it’s words placed in the mouths of creatures who can easily be interpreted as animal guides.

My own earliest remembered vision was of a huge Emperor Dragonfly. I watched in fascination as it spread it’s multi-coloured wings in front of my “eyes”. It seemed much larger than life and hung in the air in front of me for ,what seemed like, ages. There were no words, but it opened a wider connection to the earth that was to benefit me for my whole life.


image: Boysoblue.com Bill Oliver



The gentle beating of you silken wings,
Calms my mind and lets my spirit soar,
It takes me to a place of never-ending spring,
Where Beauty Shines like Golden Light.
Where peace abounds and trouble is a distant shore.

You were my guide to mystery, to many thing unseen,
The long, warm, happy days of childhood summer,
spent in many wistful, secret Dreams.
I watched you fly and in my eyes I shared your flight
and on the water watched the sunlight gleam.

And now I’m old, or so they say,
that childhood seems so far away,
The summer passes Quickly now,
But I will find you in that far off place
where Summer’s just a single day away.
Patrick W. Kavanagh

It is quite likely that early man studied his animal neighbours carefully. That he felt they had spirits is indicated by cave paintings and the work of many anthropologists. Much of what is depicted by the cave paintings is survival orientated, but I believe that early man found more than mere tools for survival in his awareness of his connection to the world around him, he. When we go inside ourselves to open up to the ‘inner’ worlds,- there is a huge source of wisdom to be touched. This wisdom is wordless, and it is invariably distorted in the attempt to remember and organise it. We squeeze the small amount of our visions that we can retain, into whatever cultural misconceptions we have inherited.

I was fascinated to see the re-emergence of ancient ideas in many of the cartoon characters that my own children were entertained by. All were given new names and costumes suitable for the age we live in. I once heard that there are no new stories. Much of my study of religion and the human mind has convinced me this is true,- as the same symbols and stories reappear time and time again over history with different names and locations.

I watched the serialisation of the Mahabharat in subtitles recently. It is probably one of the oldest recorded stories in the world. In it I saw many characters and stories which are widespread in Faery folklore.

Many of the ideas on which mainstream religions are founded were shared by early civilisations in their attempt to formalise beliefs and govern society. To question these precepts is to invite anger and irrational responses. However, by going back beyond these prescriptions for social harmony and the protection of wealth, we can touch Spirit in a way that allows us to develop our own unique spiritual awareness. We can do this without conflict with any, but the most reactionary, of our cultural preconceptions.

I often describe myself as an armchair pagan, mostly because I dislike getting cold or wet. This obviously, puts a restriction on my willingness to get out into nature on any but the most pleasant of days. Added to this, I used to struggle with the idea of handling various bugs,- especially spiders.

However, this was to change in a way that I would never have expected.

I was a passenger in a car one day and on a long journey. I was sitting in the back seat quietly and mulling over a problem in the family, for which I could see no obvious solution. Then a new animal guide came to me, unbidden. I became a spider in some sense, whilst another part of me tried not to have a bad case of the “screaming abdabs”. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

As with all experiences of this nature, there were no words other than my later interpretation.

However, it gave me new insights and abilities that allowed me to deal with the situation from a fresh perspective.

The time has come for us to be our own “gurus” and decide on our own path through life. There is much help to be had from the universe. That help will fit itself into whatever form we choose to place around it. By returning to a simple ‘earthbound’ approach and accepting responsibility for our own interpretations of the messages we get,- we can begin to evolve as unique individuals.

Naming the Goddess

My Goddess comes without a spoken name,

For it is written in our flesh and blood and bones.

In the glow of time’s first dawn, we slept within your womb,

Born into your loving grace, beneath the guiding light of your sweet moon.

Since our early stumbling steps upon the earth, we felt your love within our hearts.

Until the blazing sun became too hot and burned your sacred forests to the ground.

We were also victims to the unrelenting flames,- who kept your mystic arts,

It seemed the world itself might burn, as temples rose where woodlands once were found.

Et In Arcadia Ego” was the cry of those who sought to tear your veil.

Some would see the Virgin Goddess pinned beneath grasp of empires overpowering lust.

Our Eternal Mother cried to see her children die, as deserts bloomed and forests failed.

The Crone gave comfort as she could, as many of her brood were laid beneath the dust.

The Lord and Lady danced in love, before the very dawn of time.

Each will share their gifts with those who seek their loving care.

Those who dance among the Fae are blessed with music and with rhyme,

Those who touch the earth with love, will find their wisdom there.

Timbers rot and steel will rust, while towering walls will soon be turned to dust.

All except the spirit, grounded deep within the earth, will pass away.

Man may dream, and plan, and scheme, and struggle as he must.

Until the Goddess comes again, to sweep his futile, heartless toys away.

Patrick W Kavanagh 25/01/2015

Art by Boy So Blue Graphic Arts and photography