Recently I decided to start Bobcat’s Perennial Druidry course as I wanted something that would provide me with a bit of a framework for further developments and exploration of what Druidry means to me. As it happens the moon I started the course on is the thirteenth moon that is only included every few years and its one of reflection. The Quickening Moon challenges you to spend time looking back and reflecting on the past seven years. Some may think that beginning a new course with reflection is an odd idea but reflecting gives you the chance to see where you are on so many different levels.
There are several areas of significant changes in my life over the last seven years such as physical changes, family changes (this time seven years ago I had just found out I was pregnant), my separation in January 2011, my reduction of working hours from working full time as I had been all my working life to now working half time, my relationship with Neil but I’m not going to go into further detail on those things in this post. Instead I’m going to write about two areas in particular. One is my developing knowledge and experience of autism as that is a core part to all I am and do now and the other is my relationship with Druidry.
It was only seven years ago that I began to think that maybe my son was on the autistic spectrum. In March 2007 he was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for behavioural issues at school relating to anger management. At that stage professionals in the school environment involved with Rowan did not think he was on the spectrum. I wasn’t so sure. He had his first assessment meeting in May 2008 and at that initially the psychologist thought he wasn’t on the spectrum either but after thinking further about that meeting with him she thought it might be worth doing the formal assessment with him. As a result he was formerly diagnosed in October 2008. By this time Rose was a year old and seemed to developing fine but as you can imagine I started to watch for developmental markers. Rowan had a speech delay so I was particularly relived when Rose developed more normally in speech. Rowan continued to get support from CAHMS during 2009.
In August 2010 Rose started nursery and it became apparent that she was having problems. I began to wonder if she was on the autistic spectrum too. Around this time Rowan’s meltdowns at school were becoming more severe and more difficult for the staff to handle. By August 2011 Rowan had been found a placement at an autistic unit following a couple of very serious meltdown incidents at his mainstream school. By late September he had been transitioned to his new school. Rose entered year 2 of nursery that year and her problems continued although the nursery were able to cope with her very well and provided excellent support for her. Rose started in mainstream primary in August 2012 and because the nursery is part of her school campus area the transition was very well supported. In fact the support assistant who worked with her in nursery was employed to support Rose in primary too and still does so. By October it was apparent that her problems were increasing and I asked our GP to be refer for an autistic assessment. Her initial assessment with CAMHS was in December, followed by a referral to the autism assessment specialist team. In May 2013 she as diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. In August 2013 Rowan transitioned to a high school autism unit which is suiting him much better than his primary placement did. In fact earlier today he told me he likes school and thinks his school is a good one. He is gradually becoming more aware of his stress levels and beginning to be able to take action to remove himself from stress and calm down before he hits a meltdown state. There’s still a long way to go yet though. In the meantime Rose has had increasing problems in mainstream school and has recently been allocated a place in a new type of unit. She will begin her formal transition in mid February but today I took her to the new unit for a visit and she loved it.
Seven years ago I had no idea what an amazing and often stressful journey I would be going on with autism. I have learnt so much about so many different aspects of the autistic spectrum and I continue to learn more all the time. There is a saying that if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism. Yes, those on this spectum have a few general things in common to be given an autistic diagnosis but they are all totally unique just as every other person is. Learning about autism has emphasized the amazing diversity in each one of us as well as teaching me some profound lessons about our senses and my own abilities. And it’s very much an ongoing journey. I am sure I will be learning about autism for the rest of my life both through my children and others I have the pleasure of meeting and getting to know.
So how has my relationship with Druidry changed?
In April 2007 I joined the Caer Feddwyd forum. A couple of individuals whose posts on the Druid Network I had particularly enjoyed had moved away from the Druid Network and were now mainly posting in the Caer Feddwyd forum. I was starting to miss them so joined the forum to see what was going on. At around the same time the Druid group I co-facilitated in Glasgow, Caer Clud was fading away and I was having increasing issues in dealing with the amazing diversity of opinions to be found within Druidry on just about everything. In August 2007 I ran the last Glasgow DruidCon with my friend and co-facilitator. We had both decided it was time to stop running these annual conferences. There didn’t seem the same level of interest in them as when we had started and both of us were increasingly being drawn in other directions. In my case with my increasing family. Having joined Caer Feddwyd in April I was then invited to join Brython that Samhain. Brython at that time was a new development and did not have a website or forum of its own. Over the next year I began to get increasingly involved in Brython in between family and work commitments.
Samhain 2008 the Brython forum was set up. Brython increased in energy and enthusiasm of its members over the next couple of years. Material was developed and a new Brython website was formed using that material. In March 2009 I began my blog and at that stage I notice that I was no longer calling myself a druid in any way. I had moved out of the forest of druidry and had begun referring to myself as a Brythonic Polytheist. In July 2009 I attended my first Brython camp (actually my first ever Pagan camp of any kind). It was an amazing experience for several reasons and I began to feel much closer to this small group of people that made up Brython at that time. I wrote about it here.
Looking back on it I can now see that the cracks were already appearing within Brython, cracks that would over the next couple of years widen leading to more of our small group choosing to leave Brython and go their own ways. There were other Brython camps that I went to, One in 2010 that I wrote about here and another 2011 parts of which were too personal for me to write about here. All three had been in Wales and all three were wonderful experiences for me which I will not forget in a hurry. But following the camp in 2011 more of the group moved on to work in other ways and in my opinion Brython is no more now. The Brython forum no longer exists but the website and material on it still exist as a resource for others interested in Brythonic polytheism.
Even though during this time I didn’t consider myself to be a Druid I had continued my membership to the Druid Network although there were times I openly questioned whether I should still be a member. My membership did lapse in December 2012 but I rejoined in May 2013. One of the reasons I let it lapse at that time is that I was now living in a two membership household and wasn’t sure if we needed that. By the following May I had figured out that we did. During 2013 I started to get much more involved in the Druid Network community and website. I also began to think more deeply again about what Druidry meant to me. I had come back into the forest after a break away and I was looking at things with new perspectives. At the same time as becoming more involved in the Druid Network I was also able to attend a couple of rituals with the Druids of Caledon, a lovely bunch of more local Druid types.
Reflecting as I have been over the last moon has led me to realise how much and how profoundly my life has changed in the past seven years. Now I have seen more clearly the personal landscape I have journeyed through I feel I am more able to journey on with a better understanding of who I am now.