To most people, Brython will not be a familiar concept. Borne from the continuing rise in popularity of neo-pagan perspectives witnessed in the last two decades, fueled by the accessibility and widespread access to the internet, the members of Brython arrived there by a variety of methods.
The following, in conjunction with my Personal Brythonic Relationships sections, chart my arrival, interpretation and continuing perspective of my blossoming Brythonic relationship.
I have never been subject to strong religious interactions. My parents were C of E but not strongly. Therefore, my experience of religion was one through interactions with the church and was mainly related to the odd service, wedding or funeral with my religious education being sponsored through C of E schooling. This laid the foundations for my understanding of the theology of Christianity. The age of 16 saw me leaving school on the Friday and into paid employment in the form of an apprenticeship on the following Monday. Secondary education proved to be a disappointment and from passing what used to be known as the 11+ exams with the highest score in mathematics seen in a year sample of 80 in junior school, the resultant placement in a “higher” prestige school led to disillusion with both teaching methods, subjects and, to an extent, fellow pupils. It was therefore, with some relief I left the education system of the 70’s. It would be easy to place my failure at the feet of the secondary system of that period, especially when one considers the subsequent confirmation by MENSA of my well above average IQ, verified by independent testing at a later date. But that would be a somewhat simplistic attitude which would smack of the abdication of personal responsibility. When viewed now from a perspective of distance in time, it occurs to me that there were various interactions responsible for this outcome, and I must accept some of that responsibility. But as would prove to be the case in numerous examples in later life, the outcome would appear to be the over-riding necessity for the experience to occur and the subsequent changing of perspectives as life presented its challenges over the following decades.
Religion then “left the scene” so to speak as regular employment and personal relationships in the form of my now wife, took centre stage. And so it continued, with the arrival of my two kids and the responsibilities associated with the upbringing of those two, my experiences were probably restricted to one that was primarily one of a cultural aspect.
It wasn’t really until the youngest of my kids was about to enter secondary education that any form of interest emerged into the realms of the spiritual. It would be easy to speculate that this was merely a result of this change of circumstance with the immediate intense area of responsibility associated with young children being passed through. Therefore time and opportunity to consider personal perspectives thus presented themselves, but crucially, with the added benefit of that passing of time, I was equipped with more information and experiences with which to consider any and all implications.
When I view my arrival at the neo-pagan scene, it occurs to me that my initial interest was sparked through my changing tastes in music. Music has always provided me with one constant in my life. My tastes were initialized by the albums of my parents and the likes of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and the general music of the late 50’s through to the early 70’s comprised my earliest experiences. The late 70’s through to the mid nineties were dominated by the Rock opera type genre with the works of Jim Steinman and the various interpretations by different musicians being a particular favourite.
The mid nineties to the early part of the millenium saw a gradual decline in the appreciation of popular music and this prompted me to use the facilities of the local library and to sample some albums that I had not seen or heard before. Of course the beauty of this was the rental charge of 50p per week meant that any poor albums would not constitute a financial outlay. It was such an album, which was a compilation album comprising of various artists in the English Folk genre that guided me seek out what I know to represent a pagan perspective.
Again making use of the local public libraries, I began reading the basic guides as to what constituted paganism and especially neo-paganism perspectives. My interest was heightened by the guides that related to both neo-shamanism and neo-druidry. The one book that probably gave me a perspective that I realized fired both my imagination and interest was this one which I was happy to lend to another member of Brython recently. The cosmological viewpoint presented intrigued me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the author originated in my immediate locality. Secondly, the material was based entirely in Britain and it was this realization, that the religions of the world held no connection for me because of their areas of origin, that led to a period of re-evaluation. I simply could not relate to the stories of life and deliverance in the context of other countries at different times in history. This did not mean that I couldn’t understand what they represented, but as mentioned in some of my other posts, I realized that the promise of salvation, the reward goal orientated religions, went against a lot of my beliefs built up through experience of both culture and interactions with the general public. I wasn’t interested in a reward, I was interested in how my actions may be directed to the greater good and this greater good could not be a greater good if the motivation behind it was one that ultimately was self-centred.
I cannot over-emphasize how important this realization impacted in my thinking. Sit at the right hand of God in heaven? No thank you. Enter paradise to “enjoy” the company of 72 virgins? definitely not! Why should the motivations behind our actions have to be defined by this base denominator? This demonstrated to me why these religions ultimately held no appeal for me. I prefer to take responsibility for my own actions. I fully understood how these religions may have represented, in theory, a restraining influence upon a more basic society, but, as with the majority of life, the theory doesn’t match the reality. Instead of restraining the actions to create a fairer culture, the figures of power associated with these religions used these same interpretations to suppress the general populations for the benefit of their personal power base. They assumed the mantle of gate-keeper, determining by personal favours, the qualifying factors needed for them to turn the key and allow entry into salvation.
I had determined that for me, the realms of the spiritual started with a grounding in my locality. The cosmological viewpoint encountered previously resonated strongly with me. I then moved into the study of Druidry and it’s later incarnation, neo-druidry. Druidry represents a direct example of a religious worldview grounded in Britain and Northern Europe. This held out the promise of a frame of reference that held no goal as its ultimate outcome and was rooted in the fabric of my locality. And so I entered the world of the neo-pagan forum and website.My initial forays and my general lack of understanding in the etiquette of internet interactions resulted immediately in what I later understood to be a “neo-pagan flame war”, which basically is the hysterical rantings of the spiritually “precious”, challenging anyone who possessed the nerve ( or in my case, the naivety) to question their “hard-won” spiritual perspectives. They do not appreciate people questioning their taste in imaginary clothing!
I was eventually fortunate enough to be pointed in the direction of Caer Feddwyd ( may I take this opportunity to say thank you publically, you know who I am referring to Bwitch!). It became immediately obvious to me that the unsubstantiated beliefs that demanded “respect” born of personality evidenced elsewhere were challenged using the references of the modern scientific areas, specifically archaeology and it’s associated practices. Any unsubstantiated claims were met by referral to attested facts, where possible, thus leaving a basis from which to start to build a foundation for the understanding and possible reconnection with frames of reference our ancestors would have understood. A practical approach that did not rely upon a personality led practice, again evidenced elsewhere, but was in the process of being built using foundations grounded in the reality of today’s cultural and scientific perspectives. For any potential spirituality to have relevance in todays technological culture and the subsequent sceptical scrutiny afforded to the general population by the availability of the mass of information provided by the internet, this has proved to be (in my opinion) the best way with which to move forward in attempting to create a workable spiritual practice.