In my last post spoke about ordeals, and the fact that I was going through one. So I thought it only fair to write a post about what has happened and what I learned from the said ordeal.
What’s an Ordeal Again?
In any spiritual or religious tradition, there are times when you are tested. My belief is because we are having a human experience in a physical world, there will always be tests of some sort. I think that each struggle we have in this human existence is here to help us learn and to become stronger both physically in this world, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Many ordeals won’t have a clear-cut beginning, nor ending. My recent ordeal was a mixture of my own doing (going to graduate school, choosing to work with Odin in more of a fashion he likes), the environment (the hubby losing his job) and various other micro decisions that I have made over the course of my life. A lot of times a physical ordeal feels like it just sort of happens. You can’t point to an exact issue or decision, but all of a sudden, you think you are in one, and sure enough, you get a sign that says exactly that.
Spiritual ordeals can also be initiations, as I mentioned in my previous post. And yes, I’ve had several of these over the course of my spiritual progression. But what is interesting and what I tried to explain in my previous post is that most ordeals are actually physical; in 25 years of being an active pagan (‘active’ being defined as in one who was tied to some sort of community and came out as ‘pagan’ to friends and family) I can think of less than 10 instances that were actual all-out initiations that could be considered ordeals. But those are a lot of what we hear about in the pagan community. They are the ones that sound awesome and dramatic. It’s neat to talk about the weekend retreat where you became an initiate of something or was accepted into a specific group or underwent a rite. It’s not as fun to talk about the day-in / day-out grind of doing additional disciplines because you promised you would do them in exchange for certain knowledge (or because you are required to do so as a priest/ess or devotee…).
Darkest Before the Dawn
I also want to note something here about the worst part of an ordeal – just before it is over. There were days in November where I was screaming at Odin. Literally. Here I was, doing all this work in his name, and he couldn’t even make sure I had a stable financial base so that I could focus all my energy on what he wanted me to do in the first place. I felt left behind, alone and scared, and wanted to make sure he knew all of it was his fault.
At that point, I was angry, tired, frustrated and damn near broken. Down in every possible way but not quite out. Incrementally, in very slow, deliberate moves that made baby steps looked like a freaking sprint, I was moving. And that is another thing about ordeals; you think you are going to break, but inevitably, you don’t. You break just enough to release that which you needed to release. In the darkness, you find a faith in yourself that you never had before. It’s a faith that tells you that you CAN make it another day, and somehow you keep going.
It was after the worst of this that I reached out to another of Odin’s claimed to see if his experiences with the old man were anything like I was experiencing. It turns out they were, and he chastised me for not asking for help sooner. And that is a very good point. I didn’t ask for help. I probably should have, even though I knew there were lots of points about my ordeals that I had to get through myself. But even having an ear to bend about the frustrations thrust upon those who work for someone that is at times called “You Bastard…” would have helped. A lot. So I encourage those who think they are going through ordeals to reach out – even if it’s online – to fellow devotees. It will help you understand what exactly you are going through as well as make you feel better about the tasks at hand.
After the Ordeal Is Over
There are many times when I have undergone spiritual ordeals that I was literally exhausted both mentally and physically, but at the same time, I was emotionally pumped. Sometimes when this happens the only thing you want to do is sleep, yet that is the last thing that crosses your mind. It’s a very weird state to be in. (A fun state sometimes but a very weird state nonetheless.)
The physical ordeals are much different, especially because of the autoimmune crap that is fibromyalgia and other maladies I deal with on a daily basis. Most of the ordeals were over in mid-December (at least the largest portion of it). But even now we are almost to mid-January and in many ways, I am still exhausted as I piece together the outputs of my struggles.
My personal ordeal also has me in a bit of a state of ‘weirdness’. Although a large portion of things in this ordeal are done, I still have more classwork to do. The hubby’s new job has meant finances have been a large question mark for three months, only to be (hopefully!) settled in February when he starts getting regular paychecks. And now I need to contend with creating new boundaries for those that have changed their reactions toward me because of the changes I have made in myself.
But even though that weirdness is there, I recognize I’ve made some huge advances. My trust in myself and my skill levels have expanded. I also know a granthi has been undone. A granthi is a Sanskrit term for a knotted area of energy in the body that blocks the flow of potential. Now that this phase of my ordeal is over, I know where this particular granthi came from, why it was there, and what happened to make it go away. I now also recognize that this area needs special care in word and deed to ensure that the granthi does not come back.
And because of that change in my potential, there are now more requests being made of me. Recently I was asked (repeatedly, because I said no first) to do what I call a ‘deity reading’ for another pagan that scared the hell out of me. A deity reading is when a client is asking specifically about what a deity requests of them. I don’t like doing them because it means I’m speaking FOR that particular God and didn’t trust my gifts enough to be able to clearly relay the message. Yet a couple days ago I found myself in that position. And now I know I was meant to be there; I was meant to give the advice I did because once I started the message flowed very well. There are other advancements as well, but I expect to be writing more about those in time when I finally have words to express them.
So again, I put this all out here again for others to see for the specific reason of letting others know what an ordeal actually looks like, what the intentions are, what can be understood about them and to help people recognize that they are not alone in going through them. It is also for me; to document where I’ve been. Perhaps I’ll come back to this post in a year and recognize so much more that happened during this ordeal. Because that is part of their nature as well; the ripples in the psyche made during one of these experiences also go through every aspect of your life.
If someone reads this and thinks they are going through one, I hope they will reach out if they feel they need to so they recognize that they are not alone. Paganism may be a very personal religious path, but it’s not one in a vacuum, and many times the ordeals are shared. But you won’t know unless you reach out.