Kit and caboodle

Last week I saw a walking group on the towpath. Every last one of them had serious, outdoor gear, I would estimate several hundred pounds worth per person, including walking boots suitable for mountains, and dinky little rucksacks. All of it shiny looking, and clearly new on from the shop. They walked a few miles over flat terrain on a nice day – a walk that needed only a passable pair of trainers and enough clothing not to get yourself arrested.
But it’s not just the walkers who are succumbing to the lure of ‘the right gear’. You can’t go jogging or cycling round here without specific stretchy, got zips in it, figure hugging gear. For a short run, I’m not convinced you need anything more than the basics. It’s like the walker – if you’re hiking all day through the fells in tricky conditions, or running a marathon, then you do need the right kit. Regular commenter here, Autumn, does serious cycling and I’m sure she has appropriate gear. I’m waiting to see what she says about this blog… There are times when you need the absolutely right shoes, the all conditions sleeping bag, the first aid kit, and whatnot. For a Sunday afternoon local jaunt in whatever form, mostly you don’t. Today I have seen canal fishermen decked out like they were on an Icelandic trawler.
There are reasons for clothes that have nothing to do with practicality. There are people who have been sold kit who do not understand that it is a needless expense. What’s more worrying is the possibility of people who feel they cannot walk, jog, cycle or anything else for lack of the right clothes. If you believe you have to have all the gear, you might never risk it without, and subsequently miss out on a lot.
The other big aspect of clothing is tribal. The clan of fishermen look like fishermen even when they aren’t waving their rods about. People who want to be recognised as hardcore cyclists or joggers only need ‘the look’ not the activity. The right kind of trousers tell the world that you ride horses, and so on. If all that matters to a person is surfaces and impressions, having the right gear is the main thing. Who cares if you never actually walk anywhere?
There are plenty of people who will happily sell you pagan gear – robes, tabards, cloaks, snazzy dresses, arcane looking jewellery, wands, bags, cauldrons, brooms, big poncy shirts, re-enactment style gear, and so on. You can spend a lot of money looking the part.
Now, maybe there are people who aren’t sure if you can be a ‘proper’ pagan without all the gear. Can you do a ritual without wearing a robe? Can you talk to the gods without the right shoes on? Do you need a bigger pentacle? It can feel that if you aren’t gorgeous, slinky and clinking with metal wear, you can’t really be a pagan at all. This is (to use the proper technical term) total bollocks. What you wear only matters if it makes a difference inside your head. Be creative, or dramatic, or practical in your clothes, as suits your nature, but beyond that, there is no requirement.
There are, no doubt about it, people who are more interested in that slinky surface than in spirituality. If they’re happy, fair enough I suppose, but clothes do not make someone a witch, a druid, a priestess, or, more importantly, any source of wisdom. The man with biggest pentacle is not necessarily the one with the best ideas. Sometimes, the people most keen to get their kit on are the ones who most crave attention, rather than the ones its most interesting to talk to. There are always exceptions, in both directions. If someone dresses in a way they find resonant and meaningful, that tends to be identifiably different from the showy. One of the giveaways is if it looks like the sales tag might still be in there.
So, what gear do you need to head out of the door as a druid? My recommendations are as follows.
1) A really good pair of shoes. Walking boots are good if you’re getting closer to nature, or something that you can comfortably go a few miles in, or stand around for a few hours in, doing ritual. Painful feet and sprained ankles do not make for good spiritual experiences.
2) Dress the rest of you primarily for the weather and anticipated terrain. If it is feasible to ornament yourself and you like doing that, add the ornaments afterwards, making comfort a priority. Lugging a ton of metal up a hill is unlikely to improve your experience.
3) Carry extras – a raincoat, a jumper, whatever makes sense. Also carry water and snacks. These double nicely as offerings when the need arises, and mean that if you want to stay out longer, you can.

You probably now look like a typical walker, maybe with a few extra feathers. On the plus side, you will not draw any unwanted attention and can go about your ritual in peace. Those who see you may assume you are having a picnic with friends. Of course, if you ache to have cameras pointed at you, this will fail to deliver.
Also, I have no idea what a caboodle is, but you probably don’t need one of those either!

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

12 responses to “Kit and caboodle

  • sheblyth

    Nimue, I found your post both funny and full of insight. I hold my hand up and say over the years, I’ve been as guilty as the rest. From adolescent hippy days to wearing a mini at the Cafe Royal, I was addicted to the message that I wasn’t one of the ordinary crowd. Perhaps I still go over the top at times – although now Druidry has made me question my actions and thoughts as to why I am acting in this way.

  • autumnbarlow

    You say I do “serious cycling” and have “appropriate gear”. Well… there’s a hell of a lot of snobbishness about having gear and somewhere along the line “appropriate” becomes “the right brand”. HOWEVER I think this is created by advertising and media. When I pick up a cycling magazine it’s full of shiny people in incredibly expensive stuff, and I’m left with the impression I “should” have all that, and that people will judge me if I don’t.

    But of course…anyone judging me on having the “wrong” stuff isn’t worth listening to anyway.

    I’ve just got back from a cycling event. My first one ever. I was really worried because I wasn’t on a racing bike, and I didn’t have those fancy cycling shoes, and I have a clumpy enormous helmet that makes me look like a mushroom. And guess what? It was FANTASTIC and everyone was lovely and who cared what anyone wore? I got chatting to a man about his bike, and he said, “what’s the point of a £3000 bike if you’ve got 50p legs?”


  • Jayne

    Does it really matter what other people kit themselves out in and how much money they spend on it…each to their own I say!
    I struggle to see the link between this and Druidry!! Sounds more like sour grapes to me, but then what is to be expected from some-one who makes a senseless comment about the Christian faith on a public site!

  • Nimue Brown

    Autumn, I think the £3000 bike versus 50p legs may be quote of the day. Brilliant!

    Jayne, there is nothing in the world that is unrelated to Druidry, this is perhaps the most basic tenent of my druidry, I know I’ve said it before, and know you don’t get it. And, for anyone who was wondering, I made a crack on facebook about ‘zombie Jesus day’ and I’m going to blog properly tomorrow (all being well) at the importance of being able to laugh about religion. All religion. Any religion.

  • Nimue Brown

    Jayne, I’ve re-read your comment, I can only sugest that you read the blog again becaue you’ve mostly missed the point. I’m concerned about the marketing of activies, the way in which kit, and the cost of kit can become exclusive, the idea that you maybe can’t go for a walk without spending hundreds of pounds, or go to a ritual without the right cloak. I can’t see where you get the ‘sour grapes’ component from, perhaps you would be so good as to take the time and clarify? I want to make paganism, and for that matter walking, accessible. I have absolutely no problem with people doing what they want to do, and a lot of trobule with people feeling, or being exluded over superficial things. My interest is in the essence, the heart of things, and in understanding that better. If your interest is in surfaces then you might do better following someone else’s blog.

  • Jayne

    I think i hit a raw nerve or two!..

    • Solitary Druid

      Well Jayne, since I’ve also blogged on the issue within a druidic context, I’d say she has it right on. As someone who is typically only moved to comment when disagreeing, it is likely you who have had the raw nerve pinched by somebody else’s opinion.

      On zombie jesus day, yesterday my partner said to me, “Tomorrow’s easter,” to which I replied, “says the Jewish pagan to the excommunicate druid”. “Well, yeah…” 🙂

    • Nimue Brown

      Only frustration at dealing with your persistent inability to comprehend that druidry should be part of everything, and the frustration of dealing with your reading habits. You don’t seem interested in, or perhaps able to, deal with the content, you seem more interested in finding holes to pick. Now, when you challenge me about things that require me to tighten my arguments, express myself better or go deeper into a subject, this is entirely welcome.

      I’m afraid I don’t have any raw nerve for you to hit, but I am entirely capable of feeling frustrated. If I felt that it was lack of intellect on your part, I would be keen to try and make myself clearer, but the style of your posting suggests that you skim read in search of material to feed a personal habit. I don’t want to give fuel to your negativivty, but if you are determined to hang about on my blog and post in this way, I can’t stop you from doing that to yourself.

  • Jayne

    I rest my case 🙂

  • Nimue Brown

    I hope that means you will find some happier and more meaningful way to spend your time. To be honest, I have no idea what case you imagine you’ve made, but, if it makes you happy, that’s got to be a good thing, right? Do somthing beautiful today. Do something that inspires you. Dwell on the things that give you reason to feel blessed and joyful. Do something that adds richness to the world. And if you do not know how to do any of those things, spend time with a tree, or in a lovely place, and try and let something softer, warmer, kinder come into your heart. Point scoring is not a faith position, and the more I read of your comments, the more sorry I am for you. I’d offer to work with you on changing your view and finding a more meaningful way through life, but I do not currently get the impression that you are able to hear anything of that ilk. I sincerely wish you well in your journey and hope that henceforward you will either engage gracefully and in a way that adds – which can readily include valuable criticism, or that you will find the means to do differently.

  • Autumn Hazelhewn

    For all those interested….it has been discovered that jesus was, in fact, not a zombie (mindless ghoul who consumes people) but a Lich.
    (There’s a meme running around facebook that explains it, which my christian priest friend actually linked xD) (found by doing a google image search)

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