New Age Bashing

Several weeks ago, an article entitled “New Age Bullshit Part 1” popped up in “A Parliament of Owls – Spiritual & Metaphysical Chat for Wandering Owl Fans” discussion group on Facebook. Since then, It’s been on my mind quite a bit.  It’s been on my mind because I agree with some of the author’s points, but I also very much disagree about his stance on the new age movement.

In the article, the author speaks immediately about the jargon people in the new age movement use. (He calls them ‘lightworkers’ in the article).  Specifically, he speaks to how most lightworkers only talk about love and light, Further down in the article he speaks to how some of these people refuse to even consider the darker sides of the soul, speaking to how most lightworkers believe that if they don’t give any energy to that side of them, the dark side can’t hurt them, or basically, it won’t exist.   This is where I do agree with him.  Yes, there are people out there that have been in the new age movement for quite some time and don’t think about anything but ‘the light’ and preach how staying in ‘the light’ allows this and that and allows you to develop <insert touchy-feely statement here>.

I further agree with the author that many of these lightworkers are stuck in their own personal development because they only focus on the light.  But just like the minority of any religious or spiritual discipline that ruin it for the rest of the population, the same thing has happened in the new age movement, and these lightworkers he speaks of are the culprits.  Yes, we are going to get the people that are that are stuck but they claim they are not.  We are also going to get the people in the New Age movement that specifically speak to only certain practices are ‘true’ and only using certain tools are ‘right’ and so on and so forth.  And we should deal with them like we do when we find them in any other aspect under this great big umbrella called paganism:  We need to ignore them and continue our path.  Because if the lightworkers are true to form, anything we say to them is only going to get us angrier.

The author basically leaves his article there, which makes it feel more like a rant to me than being anything informative.  (In all fairness, he did say this was part one, but I could not find anywhere where he had a part two.)  Again, I see his point and can understand why he would rant.  People like the lightworkers he describes can be very frustrating to deal with.  But there are other facets to the new age movement he doesn’t even consider covering in his article, and that’s a shame.

As most of you already know, I do intuitive tarot readings.  Many of the clients that come in to see me for readings are searchers.  Some of these people are clearly out of their comfort zone, they come to me even though they have no idea how a reading works or what to ask.  Some don’t even know how a tarot deck works.  Still, they come because they are searching for something that they cannot name.  Still others come speaking of ‘talents’ or ‘gifts’ their recent ancestors had; and their visit to me is them grasping at straws trying to connect with that talent that might be innate in themselves.

In these cases, I do my best to be the gracious host of the metaphysical realms.  I speak to them and give them ideas on reaching out to their ancestors; or other ways they can start ‘testing’ the waters so to speak.  But I don’t give them too much.  Going straight into how to cast a circle, gathering spell components for a spell or talking about some of the more specific areas of the metaphysical realms are just too much for these clients.

So in short, I give them what some people would call New Age practices to start with.

If you look at some of the practices of the new age belief you will see immediately that they are very basic.  They are easy to comprehend and they can be communicated and understood in a very short period of time.  That makes them the perfect building block for me to present to my clients so they can start building their own foundations for metaphysical practice.  Also, the so called ‘light’ exercises are perfect to help teach protection and grounding; which most newbies desperately need.

The practices I speak about aren’t any that need deep oversight.  I’m also not designating myself as their ‘teacher’ by giving them suggested practices, nor do I say they MUST do them.  I simply suggest them and allow the client to make up their own mind as to whether or not the practice is right for them.  And if they choose to go deeper and want more information, then I can suggest a specific person from the list of people I have that I know to be very reputable and that can give them further information about a specific subject.

Another reason I start with new age practices is because of the terminology of the movement is so common.  Reaching for a common language to communicate to someone is the same thing I do in my day job.  As a technical writer, I constantly have to think about my audience; Is my writing going to someone with technical knowledge so I can let lose more technical terms, or is the audience a group who doesn’t know the difference between Kaizen and a Kanban?

In order to communicate anything, we must first make certain we have a common language.  New age terminology easily bridges that gap.  It also allows me to bypass terms that might scare my clients.  Sure there are things that I still must explain in more detail, but overall I have a common language that I can use to start connecting with my client and help them work through whatever problem they have come to me to get more information on.

The people that come to see me and people like them are some of the biggest reasons why the new age movement is still thriving.  These are people who could be just becoming aware of the energies within and around them and have no idea how to work with that energy.  They might be scared shitless of something they saw, felt or heard and have no idea what to do about it.  Or they are like me when I found new age practices – they are the people that feel deep in their heart and soul that something is missing, and are reaching for the piece of them they cannot define.

I am a Reiki Master, and that, to many people, is a new age practice.  Yet it was my training in Reiki that ultimately led to my being able to control my intuitive gifts and become the adept reader I am today.  It also led to me being able to use healing abilities and helped to teach me not to send out my own energy and deplete my own personal energy sources.  Reiki became my teacher in other ways too.  It was what I reached for as protection when I started doing my own deeper journey work and it has helped deepen my understanding of the Gods as I know them now.  In fact, Reiki still is a very important piece of my spiritual discipline.

When I found Reiki, it was the only thing that I could find in the pagan community that made any sense regarding my healing and intuitive abilities.  I was already pagan; I’d been practicing rituals at that point for roughly 10ish years and no matter how much I searched, I could find no one who could help me with my intuitive and healing gifts.  Reiki was the only thing that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my practice, and it was the only thing that helped me correct my mistakes properly.

Now had this article been written back then, and had I seen it prior to my decision to be attuned to a new age thing such as Reiki, perhaps I would have reconsidered my decision to become attuned.  And I would not be following the wonderful soul fulfilling path that I currently follow.  I would not be the strong person that I am today.  I would not be devoted to Loki and Odin. I would not be a member of OBOD.  And I would not be a keeper of the Sacred Pipe of my ancestors.  That’s one reason why I’m a bit upset about this article; who is going to read it and step away from possibly the very start of a very fulfilling spiritual path because of what others think about the practices they do?

The whole ‘new age bashing’ in articles like this one also makes me wonder if there is a deeper reason why it happens.  Was there a time where we, in our newbie ignorance, were like those lightworkers perhaps?  Did we condemn practices that weren’t exactly like our own? Or, are we condemning new age practices that are so simple that we in our current knowledge base would now assume that ‘ANY’ newbie should automatically know them as common sense?

Or are we embarrassed at our own beginnings, and that is why the new age movement gets the brunt of the bashing, much like pagan publishers that publish lots of beginner books like Llewellyn publishing (or bash the so called ‘Llewellyn babies’ who read said books), authors that write lots of beginning practice books (Silver RavenWolf) or why books that we once held in high esteem get joked about (Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue anyone?).

Perhaps that is the crux of it.  We all DO have to start somewhere.  Let’s stop bashing those starting points.  And while we are at it, let’s not worry about the lightworkers or other people that choose to stay stuck and help the ones who truly want to reach deeper.  Let’s help them realize that the tools they received and the skills that they learned in the new age movement can help them learn that there is much more to these paths than what they know.  And in the meantime, let’s recognize the new age movement as the stepping block that it can be into a much bigger world.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

Darkness

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Today driving into work I could really tell that we are creeping toward the darkest part of the year.  There was no sign of the sun the entire way in, and even now as I sit at my desk I still don’t see any signs of the sun peeping out yet.

I used to think of the dark as a scary place.  Often during this time of the year I suffered with seasonal depression, and struggled to just get simple tasks done.  In those days I would much rather crawl into bed and hide under the covers until yule was over.  Then at least I could recognize the fact that the days would start to get longer, and allow that fact to get me through my daily tasks.  I recognized back then that for me the sun was a guiding force, maybe not metaphysically, but its presence was calming, reassuring and gave me a time frame to go by in order to get tasks done.  But when the days were so short that I ended up waking to darkness, working, and going home in darkness, it was a significant struggle because I didn’t see that guide in my life.

Now however, things have changed.  I recognize that darkness is not something to be feared.  But it is something that is different and must be explored.

We cannot have light without the darkness.  And while darkness brings a time to rest, it also brings a time where we must change our patterns.  The sun serves as a guide to the day, so since we don’t have the sun, we must strive to look within ourselves to find the guidance to carry us through.  Since the darkness also brings cold, we must seek warmth, whether it be the warmth within ourselves, the warmth that comes from being kind or just the warmth of extra blankets on the bed.  Darkness is meant to be a struggle.  It’s meant to be a time where you have to reach deep within your resolve to get through the daily duties of the day.

Darkness is also an excellent time to look within ourselves and let go of the things that no longer serve us.  To continue to carry those things around simply means that you exert more energy.  Why not cast out that which you no longer need?  The thought of changing patterns and recognizing unhealthy truths is scary in itself.  Yet holding onto those things may be stopping you from figuring out what it is you really want, or it may be dragging you down so that you cannot reach the goal that you have for yourself.  At the very least, accepting those pieces of you that you aren’t as comfortable with will go a long way in allowing you to move forward.

For me, this year I am learning to embrace the darkness itself.  I want to learn to live within the darkness just as comfortably as I live within the daylight.  To me, that means I need to recognize I am more human than I allow myself to think I am.  I am not the perfect shape, by any means.  I have what society classifies as ‘negative’ feelings, and I’m allowed to have them.  And I recognize that I need to accept what society may classify as my shortcomings as they are.  And although some of those things may need to change in the future, for now just accepting them as a piece of me is enough.

Photo from Deviant Art

A Longing

Happy Autumnal Equinox everyone!

As the leaves start to finally turn color around my Midwest stomping grounds, I realize that the brief time for rest is up for me.  It’s time for me to jump into a new project.  Specifically, it’s time for me to build a framework around my beliefs.  this framework is going to include prayers, spells, holiday celebrations – the whole ball of wax so to speak.  The energy for this endeavor is already around and within me.  I feel an ache like I have never before in my heart and gut.  Finally, the culmination of all the work on myself is coming together.  I recognize now that I’m creating things for myself, blending my own beliefs, my ancestral bloodlines and traditions that I feel are right for me into a repeatable, workable methodology.

It will be fantastic to finally feel at home in a tradition I make of my own; a tradition I can share with others if they want to know what it is I do, but mostly one for me, where I know I’m going to make a difference by doing the practices I create for myself.

So with all of the energy spinning around me right now, where the heck is this creative block coming from?

I know that I’m not going to be able to pull everything together in a matter of months.  Heck, it might take me a full year just to figure out what works for what holiday.  And that is fine.  But the surprise is that I’m having a heck of a time writing a prayer right now, much less any ceremonies or spell work.

Writing down this type of thing isn’t new to me.  I’ve been in many covens and written a significant number of rituals for full moons, training rituals, rituals for high holidays, spells, you name it.  And I am longing to do this work.  I ache to do it.  The joy that I have felt over the past year finally figuring out how I ‘fit’ has been fantastic.  I am eager to play my part and move forward.

Yet, as much as I want to, I cannot put into words what it is I am feeling right now; I cannot figure out how to truly convey the simple prayers of adoration that I wanted to start with.  I am literally aching to put pen to paper, yet it feels like the language is totally foreign to me.

Perhaps I stay with this feeling for awhile and just wait for the words to come.  Perhaps I have to start with another prayer, or give up on the thought of using eloquent and descriptive wording for not.  I’m not certain what direction this is going to go.  So right now I’m just going to express my longing for this next project (and a bit of my frustration), and see what the coming days bring to me.

 

Shielding is Optional?

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This past weekend I attended my local pagan store’s monthly pagan discussion group. Every once in awhile we get a new person there that asks a bunch of questions, and this past event was no different.  This particular new person asked about what she can do to deal with all of the crazy emotions that she had been feeling over the past couple days.

I did try REALLY hard to not read her, but it was impossible.  Think about when you happen to glance over at someone who is using sign language to communicate and you happen to know the language.  You are going to pick up things that are being said no matter what you do.  That is how it was for me.  One glance and I immediately saw the problem she was having.  She worked in healthcare and was picking up the issues and emotions of the patients she was a caregiver for.  So once I had a turn to speak, I apologized to her for my very light read of her, told her what I saw, and very quickly talked about some simple grounding, centering and shielding techniques that might help her.  Others followed, speaking of other techniques.  She might have been overwhelmed by the amount of information she was getting, but I got the sense that those things were going to ‘internalize’ so that later on she would have some idea as to what it was she needed to do.

But then a very peculiar thing happened; something that I had never heard of before.  One of the local witches who runs a local lineaged coven spoke up.  He said that his tradition didn’t believe in shielding.  In his system, the theory is that if you are strong enough in your metaphysical hygiene, that shielding isn’t necessary.

Really?

Although I didn’t say it in the group discussion, I disagree.  And I have a great story involving this particular witch’s coven member to explain why.

A couple months back my husband wanted to go to the same discussion group, but I was flaring big time.  Fibromyalgia flare ups can be a combination of different things, and this particular flare up was one of the neurological nasty pain ones.  My arms and legs were full of that ‘bone’ pain, that type you get just before you are destined to get a horrendous case of the flu.  And on top of that bone pain, my aura was ballooning up around areas where I hurt, filling my energy fields with energy that I can only describe as looking like static on a TV screen.  When it gets to that point I cannot control it and it just hangs around me, stuck to my aura and body like glue.

We got to that particular function late, and the only other chair that was available was next to one of the members of that lineaged coven, whom I now know doesn’t practice shielding.  At the discussion break, I  mentioned to her that I was flaring, to which she replied that she already knew that because I was making her so nauseous by my sitting next to her.  I was shocked.  At this point I do want to note that this person is a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and practices this art for a living.

Shielding is something that most people do naturally, but those in the healthcare industry should always consider doing more.  That is one reason why I’m so flabbergasted at this particular coven member.  As someone who has spent time working in hospitals and emergency rooms, I recognize how important this is.   Even if your shield is setting spell work in a lab coat, scrubs, or in a necklace or bracelet, to me it is key to getting ready everyday while working in the healthcare industry.  Massage therapist friends of mine who are also empathic / intuitive do cleansing and shielding between each patient, especially those who are going to do deep work on someone with a chronic illness.  If I didn’t keep up spiritual shields on my own person and my work space I would be feeling many emotions of those around me, and possibly getting ‘cross traffic’ from the hundreds of people that work at the business I do.

Now some might argue that I shouldn’t have been at that particular event if I was not in control of my own energy, and I do see the point, however, my energy was only directly impacting one particular person, and that was me.  I’ve worked with other empaths and energy workers to understand exactly how my energy interacts with others when I’m in this type of flare, and in each and every case a simple shield has stopped anyone else from indirectly being affected. Further, I was going to a public space for a group talk that had no intent of doing any other workings like casting a circle, spell work or raising energy.  Let’s face it, I can’t not live my life and hide in my home when I’m in pain or when my energy flares up.  And I’m absolutely certain that I will never be a big ‘threat’ to anyone’s energy fields when I’m in a flared up state!

Perhaps I am old fashioned; Maybe because I learned the basics so many years ago now that shielding is ‘out of date’.  But I fully disagree with the non-teaching of it.  At the very least, teach it to new students and let them decide for themselves if they need to practice it or not.  There is a lot of things out there that can cause issues to those of us who understand and work with energy on a daily basis, and me in a fibro flareup is the very least of those worries.  There are people that don’t do any cleansing or grounding; the equivalent of walking cartoon characters like Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strips.  I want have something up between me and all of that ‘dirt’!  Sure metaphysical hygiene is important, but with the many interactions everyone has with the public each and every day, I’ll take that extra barrier, thank you very much!

So what are your thoughts on this topic?  Am I old fashioned?  Or is shielding a key component to everyday living?

Photo from Deviant Art

 

 

 

 

The Breath Before the Last Push

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The current path I walk.  The shadows are getting longer, but the trees are still green.

2016 is a year of movement and action, but mostly it’s been a year of work.  I cannot count how many pagans have told me that they have had significant amounts of work come up that they were forced to do.  But the work hasn’t been all that bad.  Most of the work that I have heard about has resulted in significant growth that pays big dividends.  It’s been a pretty good year overall, but everyone I talk to is pretty tired!

Today as I did my daily walk, I noticed that the leaves in the trees haven’t started to change yet.  This was really odd to me, as last year I was commenting that the leaves were mostly changed by mid-August.  Now here it is, mid-September, and there is barely any color.

There are those who probably dismiss this, but I see something a little more spiritual going on.  I think the ‘holding pattern’ has a bit of a spiritual connection to it.   I think it might be a message saying, “Hey, take a breather from your work for a bit.”

Summer is officially over up here.  Today we got our first colder morning.  I wore a jacket into work today for the first time, and my husbands last open water swimming race was this past weekend.  Yet most fall projects aren’t quite starting up yet.

It’s a perfect time to take a little bit of time to rest.

Now I’m not certain how long this rest period will last.  Perhaps tomorrow the trees of the nature path I walk will be awash with colors, and possibly signify that the break is over.  But if you are like me, you are going to take what you can get to be able to go into the last months of this year of action with as much energy as possible.

Roles within Activism

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This is a post I knew I needed to write, but yet it has taken me quite a long time to figure out what I wanted to say.

You see, I’ve had a very hard time with this subject.  As the media spews more hatred and death and people become more polarized, I’ve known that I need to start figuring out an action plan for me to help heal the world around me sooner rather than later.  I’ve realized that as human beings we can no longer be idle about who we are, what we believe and what we choose to do day in and day out.  We need to stop listening to others and act on what it is we believe deep down in our soul.

I’ve done the work of figuring out what I believe and what I will stand for. And while that work will never be fully done, I feel l can comfortably say what I am and what I am not.   Since I have come to that conclusion, I’ve had this deep nagging in my gut that tells me I need to figure out what to do with this knowledge.

I hear the frequent calls that other pagan blogs and by other people in the pagan community, “Become an activist!”  “Join a Protest!”  “Make your beliefs known to all and that you won’t stand for anything less anymore!” And those are good ideas, for some people.  There are people that can do that day in and day out, and I applaud them for that.  I know it is hard to be out there for your beliefs 100% of the time.  It’s even harder to keep that up and still do the things you need to in order to live.  But I already know I can’t do that.  It isn’t because I want to hide from what is going on around me.  It isn’t because I don’t want to fight for what it is I believe in.  It is because I recognize I am a highly sensitive individual, an empath and sufferer of fibromyalgia.  And I simply can’t do those same things.

I know there are a lot of people out there like me.  We recognize that when we are in a situation that is saturated in anger and hate – no matter where it is at or who it is directed to – we physically hurt from what we feel.  When we become passionate enough to speak up or defend something we see wrong, the raw emotion and power that we hold in our bodies and minds also threatens overwhelm us for hours or even days.  We feel anxiety over having to talk about our beliefs with someone that disagrees – not because we are afraid of speaking out, but because we know that the negative emotion that might leak from those we are talking to will hit our shields and stick like a nasty, dark film that is ever so hard to clean off.  And if we aren’t vigilant about keeping our energy clean, physical sickness is going to come very quickly.

People like me have to know their limits very well; We need to know when we are well enough to push through something, and when we have to immediately stop what we are doing because we are going to hit a mental and physical wall.  And if we try to decide to push against that wall, we know the consequences of that action will be felt for a significantly long time as our bodies, minds and spirits heal.

Now that would happen if someone like me was in the middle of a protest when they have reached their limit or are forced into feeling every emotion because what emotional shields they had are blown away?  What about someone like me who has limited energy and a fogged mind thanks to fibromyalgia being in a heated debate?  Or what about someone like me who is so overwhelmed with anger because they believe they are right that they start to lose their sense of logic? It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But I know any one of these scenarios could happen to me.  And if I put myself out there like I see other activists do, I would be the one getting the brunt of it and not be able to recover.

Don’t get me wrong – I still do what is needed.  I’ve done it in the past, and I can do it again.  I’ve pushed through that wall by gathering every bit of strength I can and used force of will make it through whatever situation needs to be taken care of.  And I have also paid the price for doing it.  The last time it happened I was down for a full month.  And another two months passed before I was back to the same strength and energy levels that I was before the situation occurred.  So I know I cannot properly take care of myself and still be an asset while I am on the ‘front line’ on a regular basis.

So that pretty much cancels any thought of keeping up in any activist group.  So what is it I can do?

I think I’m halfway to being where I want to be.  I know what it is I believe, and I don’t let anyone else tell me differently.  And I think the fact that I push to understand myself and listen is more rare than it seems.

I recently watched a TV Show called “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”.  In it, there was a clip of a young man, sitting next to his mother, who wanted to start a “Children for Trump” Group.  The video featured this kid going on and on about the virtues of Trump, how President Obama is Muslim, and lots of other statements that came directly out of sound bites from media reports and other politicians.  I’m not going to get into those beliefs, but I do want to point out something else that I think is even more concerning:

This kid was a clone of everything his mother wanted him to be.

He said the right things in her eyes, did the right things in her eyes, and was never taught to think for himself.  I bet you he lives in a comfort zone completed for him by his mother, and is most likely kept from anything that could sway his thinking to something that is outside what his mother wants him to believe or see.   He probably has never asked “why” he believes what he does, he just believes what he spoon is fed to him about what is going on in the world.

That is a big problem.

We need to understand why we have the beliefs we do and not just allow them to be spoon fed into our minds like this poor kid.  We need to question things, and obtain our own sources of information that we feel are right for us.  We also need to expect to be challenged in those beliefs and sources, but not in a negative way.  We need to have open conversations about things, and have the courage to change the belief patterns.

So basically, in order to help heal the divisions, we need to do some of what I talked about in my last post.  I firmly believe in what Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  If I want the world to be more understanding, I have to be more understanding.  If I want to understand why other people believe what they do, then I need to learn why they believe it.  We can’t be spoon-fed beliefs anymore.  We need to find what works for ourselves, and be ever willing to learn something new, even if it challenges the current belief system we have.

A couple months ago I would have thought that what it is I am doing – challenging my own belief systems to really dig deep into my own morals and beliefs – would be enough to be considered an activist in today’s world.

But I don’t think it is anymore.

I think it is a huge first step, and it would go a long way to healing many of the issues we see today, but it’s no longer enough.

So the question now becomes, what else can I do?  Give money?  Volunteer?  Or is it that if I am not on the ‘front line’ that I am not doing anything of value to the cause of stopping this polarization that we find ourselves in?  It’s a very tough question, and at this time I still don’t know how to answer it fully.  But perhaps the answer is different for each one of us.  Perhaps what I am doing is enough for me, and what someone who attends the protests is doing enough for them.  Perhaps those who cast spells or actively pray to make the world a better place is doing the best they can as well.

I know that if I see an issue, if I see someone who is bullying someone of a different religion or race I’m going to say something about it, and try to deescalate the situation if I can.  I know that if I hear something that is derogatory, I’m also going to speak up (and already have done that in my workplace more than once).  But perhaps that is all I am meant to do – to find the beliefs that settle my soul the best and to live by them.

It’s at least a good start.

I know that I still have to do some thinking on this topic.  The thought of being more active still stirs my soul for some reason.  Perhaps it is enough to have conversation about it, perhaps not.  but if I come up with any other ideas, I’ll write about them here.  And as always, thoughts are welcome.

Photo from Deviant Art

A Story About A Choice

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I want to tell a story about something that happened to me today.  this event was very profound, as nothing like this had ever happened, especially when I was at work.

I am lucky to work for a company that has a mile nature trail on its campus.  Many associates take advantage of this trail.  Some do it for the exercise, or just to take a break from the daily grind.  I do it for that, but I also realize that there are a significant number of spirits in the woods and in the stream near the trails.  So i frequently also send a mental ‘shout out’ to them as I walk by.  There have also been many times that I have had conversations with the ones that choose to speak to me, and from those conversations, I’ve learned a lot about the path that I am currently on.

Today however, things were very different.  I took the path at a fast clip, as there was another associate who was also walking, and my introverted self didn’t really want to walk near the associate and try to facilitate small talk.  He, recognizing that I had much longer legs than he did and was walking much faster, allowed me to pass, and off I went into the first leg of the wooded part of the trail.

And I immediately spotted a large brown and white feather right in the middle of the trail.

Without thinking, I scooped the feather up mid-stride, and never broke my pace.  The feather reminded me of one of a red tailed hawk, a predatory bird that is frequently seen where I live.  However I knew that it was not.  It also seemed beaten up, much like if the bird had lost it in a fight.  I knew that my seeing the feather was a sign of something, as there is very rarely any feathers on this trail that I walk on a frequent basis.

That’s why the second feather was so surprising when I saw it.

This one was all black, like it had come from a blackbird, raven or crow.  Again, all three have been seen around the area, so I really had no way of knowing.  However, this one, unlike the brown and white one, was perfectly formed and surprisingly longer than most.

When I first saw the feather, I walked by it.  After the third step I felt like I had to turn around and get it, to which I did.  The associate I passed was still in range, and watched me walk back to get the second feather.  I quickly took up my fast pace in order to not have any questions asked of me, and overtook a second group of associates walking the trail to get some distance.

As I was carrying the feathers, I took a trail not rarely used (it was full of mud – I didn’t care) in order to double back and make sure a proper ‘thank you’ was said for the feathers.  As I said, they are very rare on these trails, so I had thought that I was very fortunate to find two on the same day, not 20 feet from each other.

When I doubled back, I found that I was the last associate to utilize the trails for that lunch hour.  So I had it all to myself.  And after a proper ‘thank you’, I was off.

As I continued to the farthest part of the trail, I realized that these feathers were more significant than I had originally thought.  While I wasn’t told specifically what each feather meant, I was told that one of the feathers would have to go back to the trail, and with it, a choice was to be made in my spiritual practices.

The beat up one seemed to symbolize my past.  It symbolized the abuse, it symbolized how hard I had pushed through to heal from everything, but it also symbolized all of the strength that I had gained and the spiritual allies that came to my aid.  At least that is what I sort of ‘assumed’.  I was never able to get a straight answer.

The black feather I think symbolized the unknown.  And from it I could sense that there was a hint of a gateway to transform into something that I was not yet able to become.  In the metaphysical sense, I could tell this feather contained no darkness, but yet it contained no light.  The only thing that I could truly comprehend from the energy was that it contained the beginnings of something new.

At this point I was coming to the second trail, which has a bridge over a fast flowing stream.  I was told that I could not keep both feathers; that one had to be dropped into that stream.  And if I chose not to drop one of the feathers, there would be some sort of consequence that I would be choosing to face.

Now I was still at work, and even though I am allowed to take a longer lunch hour, I knew I had to get back to my desk as I was expected for meetings.  It was only within a matter of moments that I was going to get to the bridge and cross it.  And even though it was a short distance, I was surprised at how much dread, pain and longing I felt.  Even though the meanings of the feathers were never truly clear, I knew they had some significant importance, and I didn’t have any time to study or understand that importance.

So onto the bridge I went, and as requested, one of the feathers went into the water.  I watched as it spiraled down and the current carried it under the bridge and down the stream.  For a moment, I thought about going down and trying to grab it as I saw it head toward the bank, but thought better of it.  Instead, I quickly walked away before I could see if it would get stuck.

The second feather now sits on my desk, next to a feather I had found on another walk, and three stones I used for focus and meditation during the day.  the feather sits in the middle of the three stones, much like a small altar in between my two monitors.

I am unsure of all of the intricacies of what it is I have chosen.  All I know and believe is that I have chosen to step away from that which I know and into the unknowns of a new path, one that will hopefully lead me to becoming someone who knows myself well, and can utilize what I know I am for the good of myself and those around me.

 

 

 

Being Authentic and Healing the Spirit

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I realized when I was replying to comments on my last post that I was getting into a need to express something deeper.  In fact, many of my posts have to me been hinting at this deeper belief now that I realize what it is I am talking about.  It just took me this long to get the clue-by-four.

When I talk about how we need to have a foot in both worlds, hearing words about the personal flame, reclaiming my ancestry, or talking about the issues with the Pagan community, what I am superficially saying is that we need to be more authentic to our own spirits.

Let me explain by speaking about my own history.

I, like most of the people on the planet, have suffered from bullying, abuse, and hurt in my lifetime.  And also like most of the people on the planet, a lot of this abuse happened in my childhood, which is a very important time in anyone’s life.  It is what we learn in childhood that molds and shapes our values, beliefs and thinking.  And while there is a great deal on what happens physically and mentally when abuse happens to us, there isn’t a lot of literature on what happens to us spiritually.  But I believe that something does happen to us spiritually, and it is just as important to deal with that spiritual hurt as well as it is to deal with the emotional, mental and physical hurt.

In the book “The Mist Filled Path” by Frank MacEowen, Mr. MacEowen talks about soul shards; pieces of the soul that are separated and left in areas that cannot be further harmed.  This happens in response to trauma that the body is feeling.  The more trauma, the more shards are made, the less you feel like yourself and the less mental and emotional strength you have to be true to who it is you are meant to be.  It’s a precarious issue I think, and one of the underlying issues that can cause problems in other aspects of your life.

Our current medical profession speaks to healing the physical hurts of trauma, and the mental health profession speaks to the mental and emotional, but we really don’t have anything that speaks to heal the soul.  This means that the soul shards are left behind and permanently separated from us.  Further, we don’t even realize we are still suffering from those traumas because the profession tells us “we are well”, even though we still feel a deep longing, or feel incomplete.

Because there is no established healing mechanism in place to retrieve those shards of the soul, those thirsting to be healed started to receive ideas to do it their own way.  And as the ideas started to merge with snippets of wisdom that came from different shaman beliefs, with doctors and intuitives that recognized that something else was going on, and thus the New Age movement was born.

I already know I am losing some of you here.  But think about it –  Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, heck even Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Dyer all have talked about needing to spiritually heal from trauma at some point.  In fact, many of them have written books about it that blend snippets of ancient wisdom in with modern practices to do just that.  They may not explicitly use the term soul shard, but much of what they speak about has the same benefit.

However, in the more rigid Pagan community, most pagans are scared to attempt something regarding soul retrieval.   They are afraid of not having enough strength, or the fact that there isn’t a  traditional holy person/shaman/healer in the area that can help them do what they believe is dangerous work.  I’m not going to argue that if you don’t know what you are doing when it comes to magic that you aren’t going to get bitten. Often novice magic users get into situations where they try to dive in too deeply and end up causing more trauma to themselves.  However, I don’t see this happening very much in the new age community, at least when you do your best to follow what it is that some of the leading voices of the community talk about.

In my opinion, this is where  we as a pagan community can learn.  I believe that soul retrieval is much more possible than some are lead to believe.  Of course there is work involved; soul retrieval also includes a great deal of physical and mental work.  And for severely traumatic situations, a counselor is of great benefit, but it is possible. It also means however, that we need to utilize more modern techniques, as some of this work may not be available in a re-constructionist sense.  This is another issue the Pagan community as a whole needs to think about.

So what does the work of soul retrieval have to do with being more authentic?

When someone does the work of retrieving a piece of the soul, something wonderful happens.  Your beliefs start to change, you become more settled within your body, and your energy frequently starts to change.  All of these changes within yourself are then reflected in your environment.  You might change the friends you have, leave a romantic relationship, find a romantic relationship or even lose weight.  I have also seen physical and financial opportunities open up thanks to soul retrieval work.  Simply put, by retrieving the piece of soul that was missing, you are becoming more authentic by putting yourself on a path of growth and becoming more of the individual that you were meant to be in this lifetime.

If this sounds too much like someone who has taken too many new age philosophy classes and is on something, I understand.  I think I am one of the few pagans who look in many different areas of religion and philosophy for tools and tips (I know some people think I have fully lost my marbles when I bring Oprah’s name up!).  But in almost every culture there is a myth of death and rebirth, and the rebirth tends to be a transformation.  This death/rebirth fits directly into soul retrieval, the death being the loss, and the rebirth being the soul made more hole.

Gong further, perhaps some of the reason we see so much conflict in paganism today is because too many people are carrying their spiritual scars from lost pieces of soul that are left over from their stint with organized religions.  Perhaps some of the reason we cannot walk with ‘a foot in both worlds’ is also because of how we have learned to protect ourselves from further hurt and soul splitting by being afraid to succeed.  And perhaps we do not fully accept our ancestry because of the deep rooted pain that still exists from years of our ancestors not being able to fully heal their soul before they cross over.

I don’t have the black and white answers here, but I feel like I am onto something.  I have seen this truth in my own spiritual work and how I have transformed myself over the years.  I have also seen remarkable things happen when someone takes the first step in soul retrieval.  The transformation is unlike anything you have ever seen-you literally are reborn in the process.

Of course, being human, we will never be finished with this work.  I find myself doing the work again over and over, sometimes the same lesson, sometimes large lessons, and sometimes small ones.  I like to think that I know how to heal now from trauma, but then things throw me for a loop and I find I am back to square one again.  But that is what is meant to happen.  We wouldn’t be on this Earth if we didn’t have lessons to learn.  And perhaps one of the tools to learn those lessons includes becoming more authentic by healing the soul.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

2016:  A Year of Work

This past weekend I kept some walk in hours at my local pagan shop giving Intuitive readings.  It was a busy day, and I found many of the readings I gave were very intense.  Intense readings meant my clients were getting some good information.  However, throughout the day I noticed that there was an underlying theme of the readings.  The theme was that this year is going to be a year of getting things done.  I am not talking things coming into fruition, I am talking that this is the year of getting your hands dirty – of learning new skills, changing habits and of learning to step out of the comfort of what we know and move into the unknown.

Usually when I get an underlying theme like this, it isn’t just coincidence.  Instead, it is a message for anyone willing to heed it.  Right now is a time for work,  And for all of the work that is put into this current cycle there will be many benefits and rewards that will make all of the effort worth it.

Of course work is hard.  But there are ways to make it easier.  Approaching it with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making work easier.  Not overdoing the load and giving yourself time to get comfortable with new patterns is another thing.

In my own personal life I have already started to see rewards manifest from the work I have put into this year.  I feel better, more connected to the spirits around me and am all around happier in my life.  I feel more like myself than I have in a long time; like I am welcoming an old friend back that I have not seen in many years.   I don’t know if these feelings will continue as I work, but I am thankful for them now.

My plan is to work on different things each month,  this month it is getting a habit of regular offerings to my ancestors and to the Gods and Goddesses that I currently am working with.  I am not certain what next month’s goals will bring.  Perhaps I may start writing more detailed posts about my magical work,  I don’t know.

But for now, I recognize I am doing my work and I am very happy about it.

The Ethics of Divination

IMG_0039-0When someone asks me for an intuitive or tarot reading, I feel honored.  Someone is asking for me to give them insight into their life, and that is serious business.  Even the ones that come in for the fun of it realize that divination can bring good insight and information.  Therefore it is my job (and my honor) to give them the most accurate reading I can.

When I first started giving readings roughly 20 years ago, there weren’t many people that had a set of ethical guidelines that they followed.  But over the years I realized one was necessary, so I came up with my own set of guidelines that I follow for each and every reading.  I take this stuff very seriously, and I hope other readers do the same.

  1. Readings shall be confidential
    A lot of the readings I have done over the years involved very personal circumstances.  While the reading itself may not pick out specifics, the client many times will volunteer further information when they realize what it is I am talking about. Once the client starts to recognize the reader understands the situation, they relax.  Many times, that means the lines of “reader/client” relationships starts to blur into to one where two friends are discussing a problem.  In those cases, we become trusted advisers and counselors.  It is for this very reason that I keep all readings confidential.This is also why I try to speak in a lower tone while doing readings in public.  It may mean that I have to respectfully ask another potential client to wait deeper in the store or somewhere away from the area I am reading.  It also means I have to respectfully bypass any questions by anyone else other than the client.  In those cases, keeping business cards available or asking a friend to keep your appointments during public reading sessions is a good idea.    Any prospective clients eyeing you will recognize the level of professionalism you bring to your work, and that you truly care about your clients.One disclaimer here – Should the client openly speak about committing actions that are clearly against the law, the reader should report these actions to the authorities.  In most states, rules of confidentially only apply to licensed clergy, doctor/patient privilege, spousal privilege and attorney/client privilege.  Should the reader keep serious crimes they are aware of their clients committing (or considering committing) to themselves, it could be considered bad karma, and in rare cases, the reader could be subject to prosecution.  For those of us with legal clergy licenses, it is something that you also could be bound to do, depending on the oaths you took regarding your specific clergy designation.

 

  1. Readings shall not be biased
    In smaller communities it is very common to read the same person multiple times. It might be hard, but it is very important to go into readings with repeat clients in a non-biased manner.  If the reader comes into the reading remembering the previous month’s reading with the client, they may miss something new and important that is happening now.  Circumstances change frequently and unless the reader is aware of every moment of the client’s life between readings, it is very hard to connect one reading with another.In smaller communities it is also easy to overhear gossip about other people.  We are human, and whether or not we participate in that gossip, having it in the back of your mind when you do a reading for someone whose issues are well known can also cause bias.  It is very important that should the reader be aware of possible situations that they try to be as unbiased as possible.  This may mean that the reader has to excuse themselves instead of possibly giving a biased reading.  I would much rather do that than to try and push it with someone I have strong feelings toward, or if I know something about a question than to deal with the karma (or the client’s patrons/guardians/spirit friends!) that a biased reading would cause.

 

  1. Each client gets 100% of the attention, 100% of the time
    At least once every other month I get a request from a client that wants to “test” me. This person may not believe in divination, or was ‘put up’ to getting one from their friends as a joke.  Or, someone might be testing my ability before they recommend me to a friend.  In every one of these cases it is very important that the reader treats the clients with the same respect as they would treat someone that is taking the reading very seriously.  There have been many times I have turned skeptics into believers because of my professional attitude and accuracy.Does this mean that all readings must be done with the utmost seriousness?  Not really.  Humor has its place in readings too.  However, being humorous should not also mean being disrespectful to the client, their guides, your guides, the tools and gifts you have and the Gods and Goddesses in a reading.

 

  1. Readers shall not diagnose health issues unless they are properly trained and certified to do so
    This is BIG TIME important. As a medical intuitive, I have on occasion gotten information about medical issues my clients are having.  But I fully recognize I am not a trained nurse or doctor.  Therefore if I am seeing someone having a medical issue, I will phrase it as “have you talked to your doctor about….?”  If they have not spoken to their doctor, I tell them the indicator that I am seeing, the level of intensity that I see it at, and suggest that it might be something they look into.  I NEVER, EVER try to diagnose something.  It’s not my place, and I don’t want to be liable.If a mental health indicator comes up repeatedly, or if I recognize a possible mental health issue (a field where I do have training), I might GENTLY suggest to the client discussion with a licensed mental health professional.  This is an area where you have to be very careful.  No one is going to be happy with you if you tell them that they are crazy and need professional help!  Instead, you could mention that speaking to a professional might alleviate some stress or pent up energy that they have regarding a specific issue.Another disclaimer – if someone is threatening to hurt someone else or themselves, take it seriously and report it.  You don’t have to let the client know you are doing it.  Just get as much information as you can, and report it to the proper authorities after the reading is completed.

 

  1. Readers shall not internalize the client’s reading and/or the client’s issues 
    This was SO HARD for me to learn.  Most readers have an empathic nature, if they are not a full blown empath themselves.  So when serious issues come up during readings, it’s hard not to internalize problems.  We want the best for our clients.  Therefore it’s hard not to get upset when something comes up.  But the reader has to do everything that they can to release that energy.  This has serious consequences for the reader, especially if it is allowed to build.  Regular spiritual cleansings, taking breaks between readings and letting go all of the information about the reading after it is over are all good ways to release that energy.  The reader should also recognize their own endurance here.  If I am constantly giving readings for several hours, I know I am going to need significant time the next day to rest and recharge.

 

  1. Readers shall forgive themselves for readings that appear inaccurate
    I have seen this come up a couple of different ways. First, I’ve had clients whose energy reads like a black hole – there ain’t NOTHING coming out of the cards, nor is there any energy coming from the client.  A second way is that I feel like I didn’t properly communicate the information or a concern that I was trying to explain to the client.  In both of those cases, I need to trust my guides and my gifts to do the reading and accept what is happening.  It’s happening that way for a reason.  I have to pull my feelings out of it and do my absolute best.  That is all I can do.
    Finally, I might be reading for a child, a person who speaks broken English or an older client that only accepts Christianity as their true religion.  In those cases I do my best to use terminology that I know the client understands.  I know I need patience, and I also may need to explain the same information in multiple ways using different terminology.

 

As well as adhering to those guidelines, I also try to present myself in a professional manner.  I dress comfortably, but in a more formal manner, as I would for a day at the office.  I also try to wear clothes that are lighter in color.

So that’s my list!  It has changed just a little bit over time.   I’m happy to know that there are tarot organizations out there that have guidelines similar now, but I still think these fit for the experiences I have had over the years.