I have a new found friend in the Depot. Ever since the past year has gone by, and sidewalks curl and circle around period lights, rounding around a duck pond, and my evening walk with Ginger, my Red Wolf/Chow mix, I walk by the greatest Live Oak trees. I stand by two of them especially, when walking, and talk, and listen and share Nyfyre with them. I walk up and ask them if it is alright to share space and lean up against them.

It has been said that if you lean a part of your body against an oak tree, and ask it for help in healing, that it will relieve your symptoms, and many years I have been following that recipe. I have recently had problems with my left arm after allowing a speaker cabinet to fall on it at a wedding that I was performing for, and it has been hurting on and off for months now. So, I go to my trees and help the pain go away. There is one tree especially that I visit, and the limb comes out into a "V" in which I can walk right up to and put my head into it. It is perfect height for my throat, and I usually go and tell the tree how much I appreciate it's beauty and that it is there to listen to me.

About 10 years ago, I had my first speaking engagement with a tree that moved me from a Shamanic path to Druidry. Actually, it seems, that Druidry is a form of Celtic Shamanism, and so, I have been dealing with trees for a while. I'll not forget the face of the truly Christian man who was helping us in our new house right after Katrina. We had found that the walls were infested with termites and they were eating the house. We had a couple of termite folks come and give us estimates as to what we would pay to kill millions of termites, and we didn't have the money. So, I went to the Pecan tree that was in the back yard.

I leaned up against the tree and explained that if the termites didn't leave, that we would have to kill everyone of them. And then thanked the tree and left. 30 minutes later, the worker called to show us something that he had never seen before. Lines of termites, 3 to 4 inches thick, on top of each other in ribbons of moving parts, out of two windows and flying away. So, I asked the tree to move the termites, and there they went. Never under estimate the power of a tree.

Well, back to last night. I haven't actually heard a tree talk to me for a while, so when I went in with a wondering attitude about the Pagan Magick Shoppe that has not been doing so well lately, my question was, where were all the Pagans that asked us to re-open the shoppe after Hurricane Katrina? Where were all the Pagans that needed supplies from a working Witch Shoppe? Where were those Pagans that signed up for the e-mail list but didn't ever show to the shoppe again? Why was I spending 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, making very little money, sometimes not enough to pay for itself, where were those people?

The tree decided to speak this time, and it was a strange small little sentence. The tree said "there aren't any real Pagans anymore as they are just trying not to be Christians, and if you want to make money, change it to a gift shoppe where everything says Bay St. Louis, or Mississippi on it." That is all.

So, the tree doesn't think there are any Pagans anymore? Well, I'm guessing that the amount of people that we have that come into the shoppe in the first place is very small. Although they come from far away places, like Florida, Louisiana, Tennesee, Arkansas, Texas. But they think the shoppe is great and we do have a website. But, no real Pagans?

We average about $350 per week in the shoppe. If you want to average it out, it means we lose about $1500 per year. We do have a few regulars that come in every few weeks and buy their supplies, and with this I think there are a few pagans left. But what is a Pagan that the tree says there is none left. Certainly not just people that come to the shoppe?

"The adoption of paganus by Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. The evolution occurred only in the Latin west, and in connection with the Latin church. Elsewhere, 'Hellene' or 'gentile' (ethnikos) remained the word for 'pagan'; and paganos continued as a purely secular term, with overtones of the inferior and the commonplace."

Okay, so we know now that Pagans didn't give themselves their own names and it is basically anyone who isn't Christian. So, that means Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, well, you get it. All of these folks are Pagans. But Paganism has turned into more than just a  name given by Christians. After all, Satanist is a name given by Christians to anyone that doesn't believe the way that they do, so at least EVERYBODY isn't a Satanist....or are they.

Neopaganism includes reconstructed religions such as Hellenic polytheism, Celtic or Germanic reconstructionism as well as modern eclectic traditions such as Discordianism, or Wicca and its many offshoots.

Many of the "revivals", Wicca and Neo-druidism in particular, have their roots in 19th century Romanticism and retain noticeable elements of occultism or theosophy that were current then, setting them apart from historical rural (paganus) folk religion.

Well, maybe the tree meant that there were no real Pagans as "Neo=Paganism" has taken over, and they are just folks trying to reconstruct religions from the past, based on what books that they can find. Well, in that case, there are probably NO Pagans. Now, I sort of consider myself a Pagan, although I consider myself more of a Druid. Now, when trying to find out something about Druidry, you are left to the mercies of the Neo-Pagans, yes, those people who have made up religions as they went along, based on what they think Druids used to do.

So, the tree is right. There are no Pagans, and those Neo-Pagans of today, if you look at what there are, they are very late in coming. The oldest religion being the Ancient Order of Druids of America ( AODA ), and that is 1700's stuff. So, the Neo-Pagans are left with deciphering the old ways, the truth, the light, the Way. But, there are no teachings from that point other than people like Aliester Crowley, John Dee, Gerald Gardner, Ross Nichols, and oh yes, the guy that created Mormonism........The term derives from the Book of Mormon, a sacred text published in 1830 regarded by the faith as a supplemental Testament to the Bible. Dictated by Joseph Smith, Jr., the text claims to be an ancient chronicle of a fallen and lost indigenous American nation, compiled by the prophet–warrior Mormon and his son Moroni, the last of his Nephite people.

So, there are no Pagans, and that leaves us with a splintered number of Neo-Pagans. As I was collecting data a few years ago, a lady told me that trying to get Pagans united was like 'Herding Cats". And it goes. There are different types of Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, Discordianism, Celtic Reconstructionism, et al. So, we get it. The major way they look at each others religions is a lot like, which one has the Mythology lesson of the day. Whose God or Goddess is the color or flavor of the day. But, after being a Druid for over 10 years, and a shoppe owner for 5 years, I can tell you now, that the tree is right.

Religious thought was something that pervaded everyone's mind, each day of the week. Something needed to be done at all times, or things wouldn't go right with you. This means, giving thanks for what you have, working and respecting everyone and everything around you because you all worked together to survive.  When you were young, and not because the church taught it, but you had respect for animals because they worked right along side of you, or were your food. Things you planted you gave thanks for because that was food, housing, work implements, furniture, and you didn't just go out willy nilly and slaughter everything because you could. This was a religion, without all the things brought about by those outside of your home.

Today, people are so afraid, and yet so mad at religions, especially Christianity. Gay people feel left out so they go to a Dianic Wicca, so that their Goddess will be in charge. Recovering Catholics make up the most of Wicca because the difference between them is very symetrical. In both you have a Priest, with and altar, and a bell, and a sensor, and incense, and wine and bread of some sort. Only now, as a Wiccan, YOU get to wear the black robes and talk to whomever you want.

The basic problem that I see with Neo Paganism today is that there is no respect being taught. Children are left to their own devices until around age 14 because we don't want to seem too Christian. Same reason we won't go to a church, we only go outside. If it's raining we bypass it. If it's Soccer, Football, Hockey day, we bypass it, if it's a weekday and we have to work, we bypass it.  The tree is right, there are no real Pagans, no churches, no respect, nothing. There is just a bunch of people wandering around, devoid of Spirit because they haven't learned how to connect with it. Hiding in TV and Video games, drinking or drugs because we cannot stand to be in the now. Music or noise, take your pick, something to go against the grain, whether it makes people sick or not.

Life imitates religions. As the religions draw you away from Spirit, they have you in their traps. Feed the kitty so that they can continue to spew crap and keep you separated. Pagans are gone, and too few Neo-Pagans can find a path that they are comfortalble with. The tree was right, and that is why I listen to trees.

But, a Gift shoppe?? Again, the tree was right. If I want to make money, open a gift shoppe. If I want to be a Priest and minister to those people that need it, whether they know themselves or not, and keep the one shoppe open for those few that do need it, then I need to shut up, think positive thoughts, and keep trying to make a profit, or at least break even, without becoming a gift shoppe. But just remember all the time, there are no more Pagans.


Michael Blue Eagle is a Druid Priest and owns Mystik Spirit in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi