Poem: Blessing of the Sun

Standing in the meadow
The sun high above
It reaches all around me
No surface is untouched

The light touches my soul
It reaches every piece of me
The brightness radiates
Blessing my sight with clarity

The light touches my past
I see that which was kept hidden
The light touches the present
That which is true for me now

I see now, the many sides
How multifaceted gifts are
Life grows in many ways
Always nourished by the sun

Now understanding,
It’s time for gentle rest
Hearts open, accepting all that is
I am thankful and happy

 

Photo from Deviant Art

Shifting and Shedding Skin

I lost my title of “Documentation Subject Matter Expert” at my place of employment a couple of weeks ago.  The title and duties were a holdover from the previous position that I held in the company, but I still did them.  But because I have been at my current position outside that department for several years now, it was time to let those duties go.  However, when I did, I was surprised to find a sense of loss.

It was cool to be a Subject Matter Expert, but there was a lot that went with the job.  On a monthly basis I had to teach classes on documentation.  I also was ‘on call’ when I was ever at work to deal with questions and issues.  This meant that the role regularly bit into my time to do my current job duties.  And unfortunately, it just got to be too much.

The whole thing reminded me of a hard lesson that I feel like I’m still learning.  This particular lesson started for me once I got back into the pagan community on a more active basis.  I have a lot I can offer people, so I wanted to jump right back into a role of teacher or priestess pretty quickly. But it never really developed for me to do so, and I found that very frustrating.

I came to realize that while I had a lot of experience, knew how to steer and work with a group (and had done so many years previously), doing those things weren’t a good ‘fit’ for me anymore.  I had committed to too many things that I needed to take on for myself.  So adding teaching a study group or even having an individual student was something that I just didn’t have time for anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I still feel I am an elder, and I absolutely help people on their paths by my intuitive readings, but I’m not the one who leads the entire group.  At least not right now.

The realization of this is something that was akin to my losing my work title, but it hurt a lot more.  I am very proud that my previous forays into pagan communities had consisted of my being the one writing the rituals and the lessons for the coven to follow.  I led the cones of power, the chanting and spell casting.  But those things weren’t my calling anymore.

Looking back, so many of my previous posts on this blog have dealt with roles and titles, how they fit and don’t fit, what they actually represent, and the work that you take on should you accept one.  Perhaps were so many posts on this because  I was still trying to find where I fit in.  But in order to figure out where I fit in, I needed to understand what those roles and titles meant as well as let go of my assumption of jumping right back into a place where I was previously.

In other words, it was finally time to shed my old titles and roles so that I could grow into new ones.  Just like the Pagan community as a whole has evolved and become so much bigger than what it was.

I don’t think I’m alone in assumptions about roles and titles. I think that there are frequent assumptions made by newer pagans as well as us ‘old-timers’ at roles that we think or expect we need to be in that actually aren’t true.  I’ve met many people who automatically assume that they are meant for a specific role in the pagan community only to find that they were mistaken. And now, years later, they have found something that better suits who they are as a person.  I guess it was time for me to do the same.

I am not really sure if there is a name or label for what it is I do; there are so many facets to it now that I think only the label “elder” would encompass them, but that title in itself is very generic.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  And perhaps I need to consider not even looking for a specific role or title anymore.  Maybe I just need to be me, focus on that which I need to focus on for myself, and let things move forward as they may.

And speaking of shedding, I have updated my ‘about me’ page to better reflect who I am and what I feel I do.  I think it fits very nicely now.

 

The Work of Introspection

The past week or so has been rough for me again.  But part of it is at my own choosing.

A couple months ago I realized that there were some behaviors and beliefs I had that were bothering me, so I set out on some psychological and introspective work to figure out why I had them and how I could change them.   Now I feel like I’m a little over half way through that process for these specific behaviors, and it’s getting to the part where it becomes tedious as the process has me focus on deeper and deeper issues.  On most days when I do the work, I get very tired.  At worst, on those days I feel like I’ve been run over by a big, emotional truck.  Do this on top of a normal work day and you can see how many people would consider stopping because of the complexity.

But I still continue.  Because I know I will be a much better person on the other side of this process, not just for me, but for my spiritual community.

I have been told by several people that I do more work on myself from a spiritual and mental level than the average person.  In many ways I feel like I’ve had to; I had a lot to recover from over the years and doing this work was the only real way to allow me to become authentic to my true self.  But because I held true to the belief that I could do this work, and pushed myself through it over the years, not only have I become more true to myself, I have also raised my energy levels to the point where I can now be of more service to others.

Introspective psychological work is very important and it is a key part of spiritual work.  However, especially because of the significant conflict I see in the pagan community, I wonder if there is a lack of this introspective work being done today.  My belief of this stems from the myriad of posts from people willing to tell others how their thoughts are wrong; or how we are moving in a wrong direction, very rare are the posts that discuss any compromise or any discussion or offer understanding as to why there is such polarization.  We are too quick to sprout facts for or against issues, but never take the time to understand why someone else believes differently.  So instead of building bridges by reaching understanding, we become even more polarized; much like how politics has become.

Perhaps this lack of introspective work in the Pagan community isn’t on purpose.  Many people in today’s pagan communities find the internet or a book as their first teacher.  That isn’t a bad thing – the very nature of paganism offers significantly different beliefs and systems, and I believe everyone has a place under this umbrella of belief.  But how many ‘how to’ books speak about how shortcomings and outdated beliefs could affect your magical work?  Sure, many speak about discipline of the body through proper diet and exercise as well as discipline of the mind through meditation; those are very important things to know when following a spiritual path.  But knowing why we have those shortcomings, those bad habits and why we carry the issues we do are just as important.

Many spiritual teachers that I’ve discussed this subject with over the years have told me how they do incorporate some sort of psychological work into their student’s magical studies.  It only makes sense to do so.  We need to know ourselves before we can take possession of the energies of the world and wield it to that which we desire.  And by not doing that work to truly know yourself and yet progressing with more advanced studies and spell work, you leave yourself open to unintended consequences.  And those consequences won’t be just for you, but for those around you and the community as well.

Although psychological work is a huge benefit from a metaphysical perspective, it is also beneficial in other ways.  The understanding you receive about yourself from introspective work moves throughout every aspect of your life.  You become a more solid person, not only in magical understanding, but in your career, in your relationships, in your family and in the community.

At the very least, doing psychological work will allow you to better tolerate those that intentionally try to carve up the pagan community , as that type of work provides tools for yourself when dealing with those that intentionally divide.  But depending on how deep you decide to go with this work you might find the other, deeper benefits that come from it.  For example, thanks to the significant amount of work I have done over the years, I can now understand better where some of the negative beliefs that people have come from.  This allows me to respond with empathy and put up firm boundaries with those that wish to bring the challenge to a more of a personal attack.  At the very worst, I am protected, but what may also happen is that my empathic response could deescalate the situation.

An even bigger benefit that I feel I have achieved through my own psychological work is being able to see what specific energies are at play in different conversations and situations.  Perhaps it is simply the Lokian perspective to which I subscribe, but I feel like because I was willing to look into those things that were destructive in me and learn to work with and through them, I can now see that energy better in the world around me.  I have a deeper understanding of the creative and destructive energies around me; how they move, how they react to stimuli and how they balance themselves out.  This understanding has given me a bit of comfort in this polarized world, and I am very grateful for it.

So back to the grindstone of the introspective work I go.  And I don’t plan on stopping this particular work until I am at my goal of at least understanding where these particular issues came from and why I still carry them.  Yes, it’s hard.  But good things never come easy.  And there are too many benefits to me, the energies around me and for my community to even consider stopping.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

To Carry a Pipe

It’s been about two years since I was gifted a personal prayer pipe.  And in all that time I’ve had a pretty healthy fear of it’s power.

Well, at least I thought it was a healthy fear.

As someone who can’t document my Native American ancestry, some may consider my want to carry a pipe as sacrilege.  And others may say that even though I’m native, because I didn’t grow up within the native culture that I am disrespecting the pipe by even owning it.

This is something that I have fought against for a great deal of my life, and I know I’ve spoken of it here many times before.  Growing up, when I would find new information on my spiritual heritage I became very excited.  A new book, contact through friends with tribal elders, a new nugget of wisdom to ponder and treasure was something that comforted me.  But continued searching would most inevitably lead me to others within the native community who would bash what I had found; claiming either that the teachings were watered down or not true teachings at all.  I went round and round like this, until early in the 1990s when I finally just gave up and tried another spiritual path. But the native ancestry always called me back, even though for many years I was afraid to answer the call.

Fast forward to several years ago when the pipe came into my life.  Here is where I thought I would finally get somewhere; that I would finally be able to fit the pieces of what I learned so long ago into my current practices.  Here, I thought, through working with the pipe I would find more about my ancestry and how I could become a part of it. The naysayers and limited information still remained, however, the root cause of that problem changed.  When I thought it was the naysayers that still held me back, it was something different.  It wasn’t because they judged me as unworthy.  I was judging me as unworthy.    I didn’t find myself native ‘enough,’ or worthy and strong enough to hold such a valued item.  All of the talk from those that I looked up to years and years ago stuck with me, and not in a positive way.

I didn’t realize this problem until this past evening, while on a phone call with a friend who is dealing with the same issues.  My friend is someone who I trusted, and who gave me advice about the pipe before.  So when I asked him more specifics about how he worked with his pipe, I think he realized what it was I was dealing with, and therefore he opened up to me more than he had in the past.  He told me about his own fears; that in the past he never felt like he was ‘enough’ of the blood for his pipe.  He spoke about his fears of being judged by peers in the community, or his fear of being called insensitive and unworthy outright.

When I heard about these fears, I was shocked.  This is a man who is respected in our local native community, someone whose mother is full blood, and here he is telling me he didn’t feel like HE was enough?  I have seen many things that this man has done for the native community.  I have seen this man rescue older pipes that have fallen into hands who did not know what they had.  I have seen him lead spirit fires.  Yet here he was, saying he felt like he wasn’t enough to hold a pipe.  How could this be?  Even now, after the conversation I’m still in a bit of shock.  But now I understand why he and I have felt this way for so long.

The whole issue that repeats itself for many people like me (and for him), who are called to do the work of a pipe or to walk the ‘red road’.  We become afraid of doing so because in some form or fashion we have been told that we do not carry the proper paperwork that we are told we need to allow us to walk within Native spirituality.  Or we are told that we can walk some of the road, but we will never be allowed behind the ‘buckskin curtain’ to know the true ways that we seek so desperately in our hearts.

I am not saying what full blooded Native Americans do is wrong.  What I am suggesting is that there is more malice towards some of us that are mixed than perhaps there should be. Those who love their traditions dearly and want to see them continue just as they are may not be looking at the full picture of the world becoming a global community.  Or perhaps instead of wanting to embrace that global community, they feel that they need to protect the purity of the teachings to ensure they are kept alive.   And while I fully understand some teachings are only meant for specific people, some teachings can be shared – NEED to be shared – for the good of the global community.  This means that those who have pressed for so long to keep these teachings under wraps and only available to a select few may need to reevaluate some of the things that they hold as secret.  And perhaps, in their zeal for keeping things secret, they may be doing more harm than good, as they have done in the past with me, and with my native friend.

I am going to say again, I don’t feel like going to the other end of the spectrum would be of any benefit.  Opening up ALL of the teachings is also not the solution here.  Already we have seen people use even small pieces of the teachings for personal gain, something that I doubt the elders and spirits ever wanted to happen.  And worse, others have used the teachings to invoke power over others.  The teachings must be protected from this just as much as other people must be protected from this abuse.

Another point to consider – the ceremonies of the pipe are very sacred.  The knowledge needs to be treated with the same respect that the pipe itself is treated with.  Flooding the world with this knowledge would not be respecting either one, and would only make the entire ceremony and pipe useless.   And with as dire need as the world has right now, by putting these things out there for everyone to see is to remove some of the sacred from this world.  We would also lose another very important tool of community, healing and strength. The pipe goes to they that treat it with respect, and those who are willing to stretch themselves to do good in the world.  This I understand now.

My native friend talked to me about his own fears for a long time.  Then he told me how he how there was a reason why I was called, just like there was a reason I was having the conversation with him.  There are reasons for why things are as they are.  It didn’t matter whether or not I was full blooded, or even if I didn’t have any native blood.  The reasons for the pipes coming out into the world can only really be guessed at.  But they ARE coming out. That is the truth of the matter.

And he went deeper with this truth:  The pipe came to ME.  The call was there, and I answered it.  And because the call was there, and this pipe came to me, I was meant to carry it. And as long as I give it the proper respect and do my best to continue the tasks I have been charged with, that is what truly matters.  And that was what I was not doing before we had the conversation.   I THOUGHT I was giving it proper respect, But further introspection made me realize that the ‘respect’ that I was giving was actually fear.  For too long I had confused ‘fear of’ with ‘respect for’ the pipe.  So instead of respect empowering me to utilize what I had been given, I was frozen in fear of the pipe and its powers.

Regarding the entire situation, with mixed Natives and full blood Natives, I don’t know the way forward.   I am not in any place to suggest any path for the tribes to follow.  But I do think that we have to learn to understand situations where Native teachings are being given on a case per case basis. We need to learn to stop condemning that which we come to learn about in a respectful manner.   But more importantly, and for me personally, we need to learn to look inside ourselves and undo the damage that was done.  It doesn’t matter if the damage was done 20-30 years ago or just yesterday.  If we feel called to learn to carry the pipe, we must consider that pull seriously, no matter what lineage we have in our DNA.  And we must not be deterred from that duty should we choose to follow our hearts.  To carry a pipe is to bring hope to people, to bring blessings and to bring a powerful vehicle of prayer and intersession.  We cannot turn away this call lightly.

After the phone call with my friend, I felt compelled to journey.  So after the appropriate measures were taken, I journeyed to meet my Gods and to discuss with them what it was that I had learned.  I discussed my fears, my hopes, and their expectations for me.  I was given cleansings and some appropriate trials.   Finally, I was allowed to be a part of a pipe ceremony where I was spiritually given the pipe whose physical form laid beside me as I was doing my journey.  I was also given more instruction on the pipe ceremony itself and how I was to utilize that ceremony.  Today, the fear has subsided some, but I know that I may still have work ahead in order to deal with it better.

Moving forward, I have been given plans on when I am to keep ceremony, and how to work with the pipe outside of ceremony.  And most importantly, I have accepted it much more deeply into my life than I had before.  Now my hope is that someone else may read my words and get some solace out of what it is that I have gone through.

Picture from Deviant Art

Speechless

It’s been almost a month since my last post, and almost two months since the world turned upside down here in the United States.

Since then, so many things have gone through  my mind; things I want to write about, things I need to figure out on my own, things I’d love to get other opinions on.

It isn’t because I haven’t TRIED to write, it’s just that the words right now aren’t coming. And I think there is a reason for that.  I don’t think that the changes that we have seen so far in the world are finished.  And this especially goes for myself.

In the next week, I want to do a reading for 2017 and present it here.  The more information we can get about what we are facing this next year I think the better.  For me and may others, 2016 was the year of work; the year of action.  Something tells me that 2017 is going to be the year of facing that which we have hidden; the year of the cleaning out the proverbial skeletons in the closet.  All 2016 did was get us ready for what we must face in 2017.

But that is only speculation at this point.

So I know what my next post will be, we will see if I’m still speechless after that, or if I finally find words to speak about that which I need to get out.

Everyone have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Taking Action

I didn’t want to start writing political posts.  I didn’t want to be a political activist.  For most of my adult life, speaking up when something mattered to me as well as voting in each election was enough.  Most of the rest to me was just noise.  But now in the political and polarized society that is now the United States.   I can’t just be someone who just watches what happens anymore.  Too many people are using this election as the excuse to demean and downright bully their fellow man.  I can’t stand idly by and watch that happen.

My own introverted self would much rather go back to talking about my own self-improvement and my own spiritual exercises.  I would also much rather continue to stretch myself by providing intuitive messages to help others in their own quests for knowledge and improvement.  But that isn’t the world we live in anymore.  And that is something that I become painfully aware of the minute I get on social media and see the news.  We are a nation that is more polarized, angry and full of fear.  And we have to do something about it.

It took me more time than I expected, but I have been figuring out things that I can do to help matters.  I already know my activism will be much different than someone else, and that’s alright.  We all need to be able to help in our own way.  So what my activism is going to look like is below.  I offer it as ideas for others to shape their own.

I don’t care who you voted for anymore. People might not like to hear this, and I understand.  But the truth of the matter is that almost half of the people in this country voted for someone whom almost the other half believes to be immoral in some form or fashion.  Another group voted for someone else whom others feel is immoral.  And another significant portion of this country didn’t vote.  Now we can choose to continue the polarization of the United States by just trying to side with 1/3 to 1/2 of the nation that believes exactly like we do, or we can try to give the benefit of the doubt that some people voted the way they did because they felt like they had no other choice.  Some of the long conversations that I’ve had since the election include those who call themselves republicans, and yet are just as upset as I am at the violence that they see happening.  In those conversations we have acknowledged that violence has happened on both sides of the political spectrum, and that violence against anyone isn’t getting us anywhere.

If someone clearly disrespects someone else based on their creed, race, gender, belief or ethnicity, that is a different story entirely. In that case we know why they voted the way they did and they don’t have my support.  And I will do my best to keep my eyes open to prejudice and do what I can to combat it.   But until someone’s actions tell me otherwise, I’m willing to do what I can to provide support to anyone who needs it.

I will respectfully listen to what you have to say, but you better back it up with credible news sources.  In turn, others need to respectfully listen to me and should I bring up an incident, I better be able to back it up as well.  Media spin is crazy, and it’s keeping us polarized.  Everything is getting spun depending on who it is that is writing the story.  Even this weekend, there is already lots of spin regarding Vice President Elect Mike Pence being ‘bullied’ and ‘called out’ when he went to see the musical Hamilton.  He wasn’t ‘bullied’, as some still believe.  There is a video of the actual situation that is floating out there that I’ve watched, and the most accurate story that I have seen that matches the video is here.  If you won’t be respectful of me, then I have no choice to put you in the group that I spoke about above, and you aren’t worth my time or energy to address.  And in that case, you have probably made up your mind a long time ago, and refuse to think anyone else could be right.

It’s time to be active on what the real issues are. We are going to see lots of memes, hear lots of talking points and discussion on what is said by the elected leaders in the next four years.  But none of that matters until it gets into the actions of the government when they take over January 20.  Even the proposed attorney general needs to have confirmation by the United States Senate, and he didn’t pass a confirmation previously because of his racial comments.  So instead of posting memes and replying to comments, perhaps it’s time to start calling our current and new senate leaders and start voicing our opposition now.  And if that doesn’t work, volunteering or giving money to the ACLU and other civil rights organizations so that they can continue to fight on our behalf are other good ideas.

I’m not saying protesting is a bad idea.  Protesting is utilizing our first amendment rights, and it’s very important.  But we need to have a multi-faceted approach to our political work now.  And where I may not be able to protest, I’m going to at least make the calls and write the letters.

It’s time to be active on a metaphysical level. One of the things that has been very effective in the past is when pagans unite at a specific date and time to send prayers and energy to help overcome a situation.  If we can do that more often, even once a month, it may help to lessen the effects that we have to deal with for the next four years.  So I’m working with some friends in order to figure out how something like that would work.  Perhaps if we start organizing these types of things a week or two in advance, more people can participate.  This would also allow us to focus our energy on what is needed the most at a specific time.  Further, any network that is put together I want to see done on a private level.  That way each person has a choice to promote the event or not, and are not immediately ‘outed’ by joining a certain Facebook or Google+ group.  I will provide more detail as things progress on that front (or comment here if you would like to have that information when it is ready).

 

One thing is clear to me; here in the United States, we will need to fight to keep the things that we have achieved.  We are not going to win on everything, but if we can stick together, we can help lessen the effects of this administration, and perhaps become more united than we are right now.

 

 

 

Feeling Through Things and Taking an Inventory

IMG_3040.JPG
Sometimes it seems like even though the path is clear, it still might feel like the right path

Recently I have looked through the posts that I have done on this blog and realized that some of my beliefs have changed since I first wrote them down.  Some of them are because of what other people have written in response.  Others have changed because I realized I feel differently now.

Feelings are hard things to reconcile sometimes.  I think some of the biggest obstacles we see in the Pagan community are due to feelings; Either we aren’t listening to our feelings and focusing too much on what other people say, or we think too much on a subject and try to outmaneuver others with our grasp of the material. Another thing we do is we get angry because someone else ‘dares’ to give themselves a specific label or calls out something they feel is an issue and it ruffles feathers – this I think being the biggest thing we see in the blogging community. The Pagan community, especially in the United States, is so broad and deep that no one person is going to hold sway over the entire belief system of a particular aspect.  We forget that when we feel like we are under attack because someone says we are ‘right wing’ or ‘left wing’ or whatever.  When in actuality, the label is actually fitting a very small group of people

I realized that in past posts I’ve not been as true to how I feel. Instead, I’ve tried to reason my way around what other stances are with my own knowledge of the subject.   I’ve tried to push my voice out there; to either agree or disagree with the argument du jour, and hope that enough people will get behind me and listen. Now however, I understand that the particular strength of debate is not in my wheelhouse, and probably will never be.  And thanks to that realization, I know now that what is most important for me is to look at the material presented, see if it feels right for me, and if it doesn’t, let it go.  I don’t need to form a rebuttal, nor do I need to agree.  Others who feel like it is their place can do that and get into the arguments.

So by not forming my own rebuttals, or putting my own significantly different point of view out there, I fall in with the biggest group of people in the online pagan community; the ones who either feel left out, or stuck in the middle.  They are the ones that can’t get 100% behind what someone else writes down in a post about their particular faith or religion. They also can’t get 100% behind what someone else writes in a rebuttal to the first post.  And since they usually don’t speak up, they then get roped in with the ‘you are not listening’ or the ‘you are ignoring the truth’ crowd, to which isn’t the case either.  One pagan blogger found this out the hard way, when in a comment on his Facebook post he classified the middle ground group as the “I’m going to ignore what you say and do it my own way” group.  He quickly was overrun with people hot under the collar regarding his comment.  He apologized, and said he would try to understand better before classifying one way or the other again.

Those who do not put their path out there for others to see are not lost.  Neither are those who choose not to defend their path when others perceive it under attack.  We watch, we listen, and we take that which is right for us and cast aside that which is not.  And I believe I can speak for many when I say that we have some very strong tools that can help guide us on the paths that we are on.  Our own communication with our Gods and our own instinct can go a long way in helping us figure out where it is that we are supposed to be to do the most good.

I am not a ‘lost soul’ that needs direction from someone else who knows the heathen histories better than I do.  I  am not someone that needs guidance from a human mentor, or teacher to teach me how to be a caretaker for the traditions that have been handed down to me by blood and by lineage.

I know now that I need to ‘feel’ my way through concepts and thoughts.  And I bet that I’m not the only one.  Others who may be feeling lost may need to do the same.  We cannot rely on the current group of published writers and founders of traditions to spoon feed us something that will fit our daily lives.  Yes we can listen to them, but that doesn’t mean we can take everything they say and become that which we are called to be.  It won’t fit.  I know that there are already countless traditions out there, but they will never fit everyone. Countless more are still needed – lineaged, solitary, eclectic, personal gnosis, political or no, it doesn’t matter.  We need to find our own places, and they may be places we have to make our own in some form or fashion.

This blog going forward is going to be making that place for myself.  I want to talk more about Chronic Illness Spirituality.  I want to talk about myself and how I fit into my own beliefs; and how my beliefs have changed from previous posts.  I want to talk about my successes, and I want to talk about my failures.  And perhaps others will comment and help shape what it is I practice.

These words describe things that have been within my heart for a while now.  But I didn’t have the courage to put them out in the open.  I’m hoping that this post will help me gain the courage to keep going.