The Blackbirds of Change

(Generously contributed by Darkcryst - an OMS/RDG Druid)

I grew up the son of a minister in a very conservative branch of the Christian Church. Overall I had a happy childhood and was loved and treated well by my parents, siblings and church family. Those were simpler times and as a boy I was very creative and adventurous. Most people cannot relate to the experiences of preacher's kids, or PKs as we are often called. There was a very high expectation that was set for me and my brother and sister. We were constantly under the scrutiny of the church and if our behavior was out of line, my parents always found out about it. There was a part of me that resented this. I couldn't understand why people couldn't accept me for being me, instead of wanting to mold me into the next Billy Graham.

I was never comfortable in the church, but always felt like I could never measure up. I just wasn't quite good enough for their idea of God who was very stern and strict. I was always afraid of stepping out of line, that I would be punished by this Divine Judge who was just waiting for me to make a mistake.

While I did not enjoy the long sermons and the endless prayer meetings, I did find a solace in nature. I spent as much time as I could in the forest back behind the house where we lived. I had so many questions back then. "Why can't we have church outside?" and "If God made the animals, why can't they come to church?"

It didn't help that I was drawn to faeries, mythology and especially magic. Magic was absolutely forbidden in the teachings I received, and was always called "The work of Satan". Yet it was a part of who I was, even though I denied that part of me for many years. Along with the expectations and the stories told about a vengeful God came the guilt and fear. I was afraid that I would not make it to Heaven when Jesus returned for his church.

I remember vividly a dream that I had as a young boy. I was outside walking through the grass and my family was ahead of me. They were all dressed in their Sunday finest, and for some reason I was running behind. Suddenly, the trumpet sounded. God was calling his people home, and there was my family, all holding hands, ready to be taken up in the Rapture. I wanted to cry out to them "Wait for me!" It was like they didn't even realize that I was there.

To make matters worse, blackbirds began to circle around my head, swooping at me, preventing me from going to my family, and so they went on to Heaven without me. I awoke, very shaken and lonely. This dream haunted me for many years.

I left the church a few years ago and have since found peace in my own personal path as a Druid. I traded the image of an angry and jealous God for a loving and comforting Mother Goddess who accepts me for who I am. I enjoy divination and one of my favorite oracle sets is the Druid Animal Oracle by Phillip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm. I usually draw one card and meditate upon it's meaning, drawing comfort and wisdom from the spirit of that animal. I recently drew the blackbird, and images of that dream I had as a boy came to mind. The blackbird is called Druid Dhubh in the Celtic tradition and represents Enchantment, The Gateway and The Inner Call. The blackbird is a twilight creature, sacred to the Goddess. He calls to us from the gates of the Otherworld, encouraging us to follow our own spiritual path.

After this reading it finally came to me. After all of those years, worrying over the meaning of that dream, I found understanding and I was quite surprised. The blackbirds were not Messengers of Doom as I had feared. They were messengers of the Goddess, sent to show me that I had been chosen to walk another path. I wasn't being denied entrance to Heaven, but was simply being pointed in another direction. I was not meant to be a sheep, following the instructions that were drilled into me without question. No, I would be a wolf, playful, adventurous and secretive. Sure, there would be those lonely times when alone I would howl at the moon. But this was the path that called to me, in the deepest depths of my being.

I smiled when this realization began to sink in. Things would have been easier if I could have understood as a boy, but I guess I had some growing to do first. I have come a long way on my spiritual path. The exciting part, no longer laden with guilt, is that I still have a long way to go. My journey is not over, but just beginning. I can only guess at what lies ahead, but I do know one thing that I have learned as a result of my reading: I no longer fear the blackbirds.

"Blackbird" Oracle card came from the Druid Animal Oracle, which can be purchased here