Saturday, September 20, 2014

When Darkness Strikes

We all walk through periods in our life that seem dark.  Through those periods, we scramble for purchase, clinging to whatever we feel because we simply can't see.  We can't sort through the muddled, jumbled, occasionally crazed thoughts in our head.  We grasp for something real because everything seems like a dream.  Some of us gaze up at the darkness and wonder where the stars are.  Others retreat into their safest of places and do their best to wait for the light.  Then, there are those who recognize the dark as a time for spiritual growth, and they peer into the abyss, waiting for it to peer back at them.

This time of dark moon has descended upon my own life.  Having been though this several times before, I recognize the signs and symptoms: frustration, negative feelings or self-talk (major or minor, doesn't matter), and (most importantly) the same situations and reactions coming up over and over with various people who are not connected to each other in any way, save for me.  "Here's your lesson," said the Universe.  "There's no secret agenda, no secret plan to make you miserable, no one is out to get you.  Once you see the lesson for what it is, then you begin to understand and grow and your misery (self-righteousness, fear, ego, etc.) disappears and the soil of your soul becomes more fertile."  For me, this dark moon time has been about finding compassion, being okay with being a mirror, and recognizing and accepting that the reactions of others are their own, not mine.

I believe it may have reached its crescendo yesterday, at work.  We had our monthly meeting and 'retreat'.  Lots of good was done, but also, lots of negative feelings were aired.  One person, in particular, felt 'picked on' and felt like an outsider.  This person accused us (the rest of the staff she works closely with) of making her feel that way.  As this person is telling us all of the ways we have slighted her, made her feel unwelcome, etc., I stop her and I ask her to let me give her another perspective.  I then tell her that she came into our office, promptly separated herself from us (both physically and emotionally), began to change things in our office to suit her without giving our way a chance, and so we figured that she didn't want to be part of our team and we let her do her own thing.  None of us were offended.  We just figured that we would give her the space she needed to adjust.  However, we can all see the vast chasm between these two perspectives to the same events.

There were two of us who ended up taking the brunt of her very poor reaction to how we (as a group) perceived her.  (We all know shit rolls down hill.)  And, her reaction was very poor.  She did what most of us do when we hear things about ourselves that we don't want to hear.  She pointed fingers, laid blame elsewhere, and stormed off.  Nothing that was said to her was said with mean or negative intentions.  Nothing was pointed out harshly or in bad form.  Several of us had things that needed to be said, we said them without accusation and with the intention of clearing the air so we could start fresh the next day we all work together.  All of us were ready and willing, made the commitment to our supervisor and manager to start with a clean slate, everyone but her.  In her brutal honesty, she said she didn't know if she could.

This was, for me, a turning point.  I saw, very clearly, a few things about myself.  First, I saw my own resigned reaction.  While I didn't want to add insult to injury, I knew she needed to hear the things that were said.  When she reacted and started placing blame, I gave an inward sigh and thought, "Here we go again."  That immediate reaction to her reaction was my own putting up of a wall.  Recognizing that, I lowered that wall enough to, at least, hear what she had to say.  When my own shortcoming (yes, ONE) was having an answer to the questions she asked, I realized then, just how stupid our emotions make us.  I was a 'bad person' for answering a new co-workers questions honestly and to the best of my ability.  What?  Then I asked her, "So, you don't like it when I answer your question with the information I was given?  How else am I supposed to answer it?"  Of course, since our emotions make us stupid (not just her, but all of us), she sputtered and stuttered because she knew she was grasping at straws.  Our manager interrupted her and had some really, really diplomatic thing to say, which was nice.  I appreciated that a lot.  Then our manager asked if we could commit to starting fresh.  When she refused to commit to starting fresh and stormed out, I gave another inward sigh and thought, "If she comes back, she's going to be abusive to those of us who spoke up."

Then, I thought, "Okay, negative self talk, instead of preparing yourself for the abuse you know is coming, start now with an attitude of cooperation, compassion, and love for this woman.  Those are the things she needs.  If she gets abusive after being given those things, you go to your boss and let her know.  Find your compassion and, if she refuses it and gets nasty, that's on her, not you.  Be apologetic.  Be sincere.  You can only control your reactions.  You are not responsible for other people.  You are not responsible for their reactions.  You can not help that you are sometimes a mirror for things they do not want to see.  Keep working hard, do what you are told, and remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease."

I don't necessarily like this particular lesson.  I haven't been liking it since it started.  That said, I know I need it.  I know I need to be able to disengage when those around me feel slighted by me.  I know it is their own insecurity and need to be important that causes this projection.  I know I have to find my compassion for them.  They are like teenagers, spiritually (and emotionally).  They look into a mirror and don't like what they see, so they blame the mirror.  They whine and stomp their foot.  They criticize the mirror and scream that it's wrong.  All I can do is wait and hope that one day they will stop screaming at the mirror.  All I can do is fill my space with love.  All I can do is hope that, one day, instead of laying blame, they will want to actually talk and listen to the other perspective instead of making assumptions.  We all know what making assumptions does...

Brightest blessings, Friends!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To Speak to Hekate: A Meditative Journey

This afternoon, while doing dishes, I spoke to my Goddess.  She told me a great many things.  I asked her a great many questions.  As of late, my heart has been heavy.  I have been going through a time of Dark Moon, fighting with myself and trying to find a new center.  I have been coming to grips with some changes I have made and some more that I know I need to make.  I actually had another blog ready to post today, but She said that this would be more important than the other.

So, with my hands immersed into the water (because water is an excellent conductor of energy!) we had this conversation:

Me: Mother, did I do the right thing?
She: Yes.  You recognize your lessons in this.  You acknowledge them.  You know what they are, even if you still struggle with them.
Me: Okay, I get that, but did I fuck up?  Is there anything that I could have done differently?
She: My dear, sweet, hard-headed child!  You could have done everything differently and still had the same outcome.  You could have done everything the same and the outcome could have been different.  You can not control every outcome.  You are but a vessel.  Does the vase determine when cut flowers die?
Me: Well, no, but...
She: What does Garry say? "Everything after 'but' is bullshit."  You, as the vessel, present the lesson.  You, as the vessel, must recognize what your lesson in this is. You, as the vessel, do not determine if the lesson is accepted or rejected.
Me: *at this point, I am bewildered at the seeming simplicity of it all.  I already know these things.  I already know I struggle with these things.  Hekate is, apparently, feeling a little magnanimous today so She isn't raking me over the coals.*
She: Dear child, you already know that you are a vessel of the Gods.  We have chosen you as such because of your faith.  We have chosen you as such because of your strength.  Remember, we chose you.  Do you believe that The Ferryman agonizes over those spirits who refuse to pay him?
Me: Well, no.  Those spirits simply don't get to cross over.  They wander the place between the worlds until they decide to pay him.
She: Exactly! So why, then, would you worry about those who beg for my presence in their life, yet reject the lessons I present?  Why would you worry for those who choose to walk the road of the Dark Goddess alone because they reject their guide?
Me: Well, I suppose it is because I have had to walk it alone and I know many of the difficulties.
She: No, child, you don't know the difficulties.  You have accepted the love of the Dark Goddess without question.  You have looked into my many faces and you have loved me back.  What you have experienced is the difficulty of accepting my presence in your life, not rejecting me.
Me: *blinks* Huh?
She: You are my voice.  You have been my voice many times over.  You have an essay being read the world over about one of my faces.  You do not question me.  You do not question the 'silly' ideas you get.  You do not fear the reaction people may have to the 'silly' ideas.  No matter the consequence, you accept whatever task is put in front of you.  
Me:  Are there truly those who doubt?  To what end?
She: The end does not matter.  What you need to see is that beating yourself up and second guessing yourself is where your ego functions.  You can not control anything.  You can not shepherd those who would try and put out your light.  You can only point this out to them, if they have an open heart.  If they reject what you show them, it is their cross to bear, not yours to silently martyr yourself upon.  That is your ego.  That is your cross.

So, Friends, while this conversation was obviously for myself, it must also be that it is for someone else out there in Internet Land.  I would like to add, this is my own unverifiable personal gnosis, so please, feel free to take it or leave it as you see fit.  It isn't up for debate or question.  It simply is (or isn't).

Brightest blessings, Friends!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't Be An Asshole: On Being Inconsiderate

Within the pagan community, there is this general acceptance that pagans are inconsiderate, whether it means always running late to events, saying one will do something and then not doing it, and even the expectation that titles or degrees afford one special privileges.  Why is that?  Why do we, as supposedly spiritually evolved beings (or maybe spiritually evolving), fall into these habits?  Why do we accept these habits in others?  Is it a cultural thing?  Is it laziness?  Is it, maybe, ego?

People often laugh when I tell them I live my life by the phrase, "Don't be an asshole."  Yes, it is meant to be humorous, but it is also a very serious phrase.  I have come to learn that "asshole" (as a descriptor of behavior) really can't be defined by a single word or action.  "Asshole" is a spectrum.  This spectrum ranges from habitual tardiness to being the person who always says the things other people are thinking and beyond.  It's certainly perspective based.  That said, what do many of these accepted behaviors mean, when we delve below the surface?  What do they mean spiritually?

For myself, things like "pagan standard time" epitomize asshole behavior.  If someone tells me to meet them at a certain place and at a certain time, I'm not going to lollygag around and show up 30 minutes late if I can help it.  If I get held up, I call or text them and let them know.  I'm not going to wait until the appointed time to decide to start getting dressed and then show up when I am ready.  I'm not going to decide five minutes before that I don't want to go and then just not bother to tell them.  That's rude!  That's inconsiderate.

In the South, this kind of behavior is seriously frowned upon.  The habitually late person finds him or herself no longer invited to things, or worse, told to be there a half hour before everyone is actually supposed to meet.  Where I come from, arriving 'on time' means arriving a few minutes early.  Even more, those who are known for their tardiness are often looked down upon because it is perceived that they do not value those around them. Craft speaking, this tardiness leads to being left out of ritual (or having to be cut in to Circle, which means one is singled out by his or her own actions), missing part of class that may or may not be gone over with you, and the occasional 'talk.'  While the phrase 'harm none' is thrown around a lot, people forget that being inconsiderate can cause harm.

Another 'asshole' thing I find people doing is changing their mind and not bothering to let everyone else in on the secret.  It is fine to change ones mind, but if this decision effects other people, they deserve to know that ones mind in changed.  Nothing is worse than struggling along wondering what is wrong and being told 'nothing', when it really only amounts to the other person having changed their mind.  It's just not cool to leave people hanging because you are uncomfortable with what their reaction might be.  I would also like to add that in this instance, it is also not cool to lie, whether or not it is to spare said person's feelings or not.  The truth is always better.

A third thing that I find to be squarely on the spectrum of 'asshole' within the pagan community is using ones titles or degrees to define what special privileges you should get.  Titles and degrees are bestowed upon us by another due to the amount of book and personal work we have done.  Yes, those things should be recognized, absolutely.  Those things do mean something, however, they don't mean that once we reach a particular place on our path that our arms and legs quit working.  They don't mean that it is okay to bark orders at people.  Those titles and degrees mean that we have come to a place where we have acknowledged and, more importantly, surrendered ourselves to our gods and to the service of them.  In a community dynamic, this also means we have surrendered ourselves to the service of our community.

I inherently give respect to those who are of higher degree than I am, simply because they have done the work necessary to achieve that degree.  In giving this measure of respect, I observe their words and deeds and see just what they expect from those who are below them within the ranks.  I do not turn myself into a slave to their every whim simply because they are, by degree, 'my elder'.  If we are working shoulder to shoulder in the trenches to do a job, I will do my best to make sure they take care of themselves while we get the work done.  Respecting my elders is making sure they don't have to work harder than me.  It isn't sitting them in a chair and treating them as though they are helpless.  Respecting my elders is anticipating that they need something, not because they demand it, but because I respect them enough to want to anticipate it.

I have worked diligently, shoulder to shoulder, with both initiates and non-initiates in spiritual matters.  Titles aside, we come together to do the work of the gods.  In the eyes of the gods, we are all children.  That makes us equals.  We all have more to learn.  We all have more to do.  We all have something to contribute.  Some people are leaders.  Some people follow.  The key is remembering that no matter what, our thoughts, words, and deeds create ripples in the pond.  Are we inspiring others or are we being assholes?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Being: Being Right, Being Wrong, Simply Being

"It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we're alive--to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are" Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

It is a rarity that I begin any writing with the words of another.  However, this quote describes something I have been struggling with recently in the people around me, this need to have a facade and to wear masks denoting exactly what kind of person someone else (a parent figure, friend, enemy, society?) determines one should be.  I tend to surround myself with people who have broken that particular mold and have chosen to be their own person.  I surround myself with people who have taken a pretty honest look at themselves and determined that the limits others have put upon them are not sufficient.  They have chosen to follow the axiom at the Oracle of Delphi, "Know Thyself."

In surrounding myself with those who have recognized and chosen to shed as many of their own masks as possible, I have come to see, very clearly, when others choose to wear a specific mask or another.  In some instances, I accept these masks as who a person really believes him- or herself to be.  It is simply easier to allow that person to live in the tiny box of limitation he or she has built.  For those around me who tend toward this, they end up being acquaintances.  I do this, not because there is something 'wrong' with them or they are 'bad' people, but because people who live with self-imposed limits tend to project them upon others.  Those with self-imposed limits often can not comprehend why I would take the 'risks' I take and then, good or bad outcome, do my best to accept the consequences of my own actions.

I see those who need to be needed, the "yes-men" of this world.  I deeply admire these people for trying to be all things to all people, but I also understand that if one keeps adding balls to juggle, eventually everything gets dropped.  I see these people run on empty for months or even years and then something tragic happens, an accident, a grave illness, or worse.  Once that happens, these people are left with little to nothing to sustain them.  Their world shatters to pieces, that box they have lived in and been so comfortable in for so long is suddenly gone.  Maybe this person is lucky enough to have people to help them, but often they don't.  The people they so generously gave so much time and energy to simply disappear.

Then, I see those who fall into the media trap.  They want so desperately to be 'normal' that they will do nearly anything to have that appearance.  We live in a culture where women are supposed to be sexy or a mother and if she's both, all the better!  I reject what the media tells me about how I should present myself.  My hair is long because I don't like it short.  My fingernails are long because I like a good, hard scratch on that mosquito bite.  Yet, I do not exude femininity. (At least, I don't think I do.)  My fingernails are often dirty in the summer.  My long hair is pulled back in a ponytail or a bun.  I say "Fuck". A lot!  

I often see people in my life who hide behind masks.  I see these masks and then I see the person behind the mask and I see the potential he or she has and refuses to acknowledge.  When I see these things in spiritual people, I often wonder if this person is really spiritual or if this person has taken on another label that society has told them they must take on.  Any spiritual path walked with curiosity, bravery, and honesty is the 'right' spiritual path.  It is walked so that we, as the spiritual beings we are, can grow beyond our mortal trappings.  It is walked so that we can look back at our own experiences and our own brokenness and nod confidently at those horrible things, recognizing that they were things that happened to us, they are not us.  It is walked so that we may recognize that same brokenness in others and help them if they so choose.  

Just because one person is not open to the messages I have to give them does not mean they are not open to the messages another has.  I recognize this and I have no problem in taking care of myself and moving forward.  I have been told that this makes me a 'bad person' because I will not invest time and energy in someone who, very obviously, has no interest in what I have to say.  I have been told that my reticence to try and save everyone makes me a poor leader.  Maybe these things are true.  Maybe I recognize that not everyone can be saved.  Maybe I recognize that some individuals can't be saved by anyone but him-or herself.  Once that happens, then people like me can help the individual pick up the pieces and either discard them or put them back in the proper order.  This is something I have come to realize and to recognize in my dealings with people.

In the same vein, I have been told that I am not approachable and that all leaders should be approachable.  I, mostly, reject that notion.  I do not appear approachable to those who would keep their own illusions.  I do not appear approachable to those who fear change.  I do not appear approachable to those who are satisfied with the status quo.  Typically, I appear unapproachable because I show no fear.  I walk through this world confident within myself and my choices.  It doesn't mean I am not scared.  It doesn't mean I won't fight change tooth and nail.  It simply means I do not show my fears to others.  That lack of fear within me is often misinterpreted as arrogance by those unable or unwilling to see past my own mask.  While I don't, necessarily, like that misinterpretation, I understand that we all view other people through our own filters, so it is more a reflection of the other person than it is of me.

Those to whom I am approachable are usually those not scared of life, or who no longer want to be scared of life.  A good example of this is my sweet, little Christian friend at work.  She is this lovely lady, full of passion and conviction for her chosen path, without being overbearing and pushy about it.  Life terrifies her.  She is scared to do a great many things.  She is scared to think a great many things.  The threat of Hell keeps her 'in line', but she has a burning need to experience more than she has.  Despite our vast differences (and they are vast), we get along like peas and carrots.  We share, quite openly, our spiritual and life experiences and how they have made us a better person.  She knows that, despite our different spiritual paths, we have come to many of the same conclusions and that she can say most anything to me.  She admires my fearless attitude about most things (except that I don't have a fear of Hell and that puzzles her greatly).  Just as I admire her deep passion for what little she has experienced, I also encourage her to get out and experience more.  She, obviously, doesn't want to be scared of life any more.  Something deep within her knows that there is more to life than just what she has experienced thus far.  Even through her fears, she looks forward and tries to do things that scare her.  I greatly admire that.  That is fearlessness.

I look at this amazing world and all of the amazing people within it.  I recognize that it takes all kinds.  We all have our dysfunctions, our weaknesses, our faults.  Sometimes we are right.  Sometimes we are wrong.  Sometimes we are both and neither at the same time.  I look at those around me and I look to those around me.  I see those who struggle to make the changes they know they need and I do what I can to encourage them.  I do what I can to listen, if they want to talk or whine or cry.  Everyone needs a little push in the right direction, on occasion.  I look at those who don't seem to want that push, or don't know how to ask for it, and I mourn them.  My heart breaks for what I know they can achieve.  My soul cries out for the mortal injustice that our culture has imposed upon this unique spirit.  Yet, I also know that unsolicited advice is often met with scorn, so I send up a thought or two in the hopes that this limitless being will one day see what I see in them.  My eternal hope is that the spirit within does not allow itself to wither away behind a facade of cultural and societal expectations and limitations.

Namaste, friends, the spirit within me honors the spirit within you.  Until next time.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Plants and the Joys They Bring

Greetings dearest readers!  It has been a good, long while!  Life has happened since my last blog (and I'll be posting something later about it), but for this moment, I want to relate to you an adventure I had this morning.  Since moving to my new place (I have moved twice since June 6), I have found myself being surrounded by plants that I couldn't have before, because I was in an apartment.

Today's sojourn began about 0740 this morning with me (not paying attention to the time) and heading out to the Farmer's Market.  My intention was to buy some good, local produce and some good, local honey (Bonne Femme has lovely honey).  So, I wound my way through the deserted streets of the city to the ATM for cash (a whole 4 blocks!!) and then back to the Market that doesn't open until 0800.  Still I wasn't paying too much attention to the time.

When I arrived, there were a few people milling around, but it was mostly vendors setting up.  So, I wandered.  When I tried to make my first purchase, I was told it wasn't open for another 20 minutes or so, so I wandered some more.  I took in the colors, the smell of coffee wafting invitingly across the lot, the scrape of tents on asphalt as more booths sprang up from the backs of trucks, wares and fresh produce sitting patiently in boxes for their turn to be taken home.  Greetings of "Good morning!" echoed as I passed by.  The early rising vendors smiled happily at this early rising customer.

As it edged ever closer to 0800 the parking lot began to fill.  Mothers with their young children filtered down to the market area.  Young men with their reusable shopping bags marched purposefully toward the waiting shopkeepers.  The low rumble of the early market quickly turned into a cacophony of greetings, squeals, and footfalls on the asphalt.

I immersed myself in this din of urban life, having already spotted my own pending purchases before opening.  I went back to the booth of a little Asian man.  My intention was to buy a small bag of mint from him to use in water and other things.  As I stepped up to his booth, a bail plant shivered just the tiniest bit as it reached out and touched me energetically.  "I want to go home with you," it said.  As it spoke, so did one of the mint plants, the one farthest back from the edge of the table.  "Please, take me home," the mint begged.  It was obviously very stressed, too thin and 'leggy', leaves yellowing, and not happy at all!  I bought them both.

Quite happy that I had two plants who were also happy, I moved on to the next booth with the intention to buy some soap.  They didn't have the scent I usually buy, so I moved on again, but this time I was pulled to a booth I'd bypassed earlier.  I was greeted by a plump, kind-faced grandmotherly lady, someone who (by the look of her plants) was very in tune with the land.  As we exchanged greetings, I feel a gentle energetic push to my left arm.  I look down and there is a lovely little sage plant.  In a very mellow tone he says, "Take me home with you."  So, I bought him.  As I am giving the lady her money, I get zinged from across the table and look up to see a lemon balm quivering almost imperceptibly.  I touch one of its leaves and it giggles as though I have tickled it.  This joyous little plant declares the sage her friend and that they must go together.  So, the lady tells me the lemon balm is another $3.  As I pull my money out, though, she smiles and says, "Just give me another dollar and you can have it." I think she knew the sage and lemon balm were friends.  So, $4 for a sage and a lemon balm who both cheer as I squeeze them into my own reusable shopping bag with my other plants.

On my way out, I bought a bottle of honey and some bees wax and I came home.  Today I bought happiness.  Today I saved a living being and kept two friends together.  Sometimes I am so disconnected from even myself that I forget everything is connected.  Then, on days like today, I get out of my own way and remember that we are all one.

Brightest of blessings, friends!!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Ego: Shall We, Again, Rehash this Topic?

Ego has been on my mind as of late.  Not just presented as arrogance or aloofness, but what happens when the ego presents itself in the form of a title?  What happens when the ego presents itself in the form of laziness?  What happens when it presents itself in a form other than what many of us have been trained to pinpoint?  What happens when it is pointed out in that alternate form?  Do you really think declaring shenanigans is going to change things?  Of course not!  The ego is a wily being, just waiting to jump in and 'save the day'.

I often look at myself and how I handle situations.  I often wonder if I allow my own ego to get in the way.  I look at people I know, people I used to know, and sometimes, people I don't know and I recognize certain things.  I recognize those who may need help in one way or another.  I recognize that some of those people don't know they need help.  I recognize that some of those people don't want help.  This is a frustrating thing.  How can I help those who don't want it or think they don't need it?  The short answer is, I can't.  At this point, my own ego gets in the way.  

Instead of doing the sensible thing and simply being, gathering information for when that person does want help, I get impatient.  This is a function of ego and I know it.  I know better and yet I do it anyway.  I feel quite fortunate that I have surrounded myself with those more experienced than I am, so that they can point this out to me.  I don't necessarily like it, but once it is pointed out, my own feelings are then narrowed to a specific source and they tend to make more sense to me.  The light bulb comes on and, suddenly, I can navigate these feelings from a different place. 

What happens when we are presented with someone who believes him- or herself to be 'greater' because of a title that has been bestowed upon him or her?  What if this title only means something in ones group or local community?  A good example of this would be the title of Elder within a regional community.  Elder status is not something that is given by the other Elders within the community (though in certain places, the Elders would have people believe this).  It is a status bestowed by the people in the community, whether a person wants the status or not.  Yes, it helps when the Elders accept the will of the community in regards to said person, but they can not foist Elder status of a person upon the members of the community if said members do not want it.  This is as much a function of the ego as is holding Elder status back from a deserving individual (and ignoring the will of the community).

What about the public shunning of individuals, or leaving them out of group activities, or making a commitment to a person and then reneging on that commitment without so much as a word to the individual?  All of these things have the potential to cause grievous harm, if the individual allows it.  These are all functions of the ego.  Of course, on occasion, the person shunned moves past his or her own ego and sees the shunning for what it is: The will of the gods for them to move on to greater things. Then, *poof* the actions of those who are doing the shunning seem silly and childish and another illusion has been dispelled. 

Another thing the ego does, especially while in a position of leadership, is strokes the ego of those it sees as 'beneath' it, so they do not see themselves as being used.  Have you, dearest reader, ever watched someone turn into a slave?  I have, many times, unfortunately.  People want to be seen as important, worthy, more than they are and they allow themselves to be manipulated right into slavery.  They allow those whom they perceive to be wiser or more than they are to stroke their egos with feelings of importance, saying things like, "You are special." or "The gods have great plans for you." (And many other manipulative placation's.)  

I have always felt myself quite fortunate that I have never had delusions of grandeur.  I do not want to lead vast hordes of people.  I do not want people hanging on my every word because I am 'somebody.'  Yes, I still have issues with wanting to prove myself to others, but not to the point of changing my own will to match that of another person's or allowing them to plant certain suggestions.  I have long figured that if I make a difference in the life of one individual who goes out and does the same, then I have accomplished a great purpose in this life.  If, by writing these simple thoughts down and leaving them on the internet for anyone to read, one person is moved, changed, or even questions anything they have been told, I have accomplished something greater than myself and doing the work is what is most important, not who delivers it or how it is delivered. (And, it is certainly not important for me to jump up and down or do the "Look at me" dance...)

This world has enough 'somebodies' in it.  There are more than enough important people out there who want to stroke each others egos and tell each other they are doing the good work.  They want to tell each other how important they are to the masses and how the masses need them to keep doing the work.  There are more than enough people out there with title and status.  Jesus wanted neither title nor status.  While he is not my god, I do believe he is a good example.  Buddha did not want title or status.  While he is also not my god, he is also a good example.  Both did the work they believed they were sent here to do.  They did what they did and many lives were changed for it.

I walk a path of service: Service to my gods and service to my community.  Let no man's words or deeds hinder that service.  Let no man's will or desire transcend the will of the gods.  So mote it be.

Brightest blessings, friends!!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Making a Shadow Mask, Accepting your Shadow

This is part 3 in working with the Shadow Self.  Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here. Once again, this is not work for those new to the Craft.  This is more for intermediate to advanced practitioners and if you would like to discuss with me what or how you are doing in this process, feel free to email me via the contact form to the right.  I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

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At this point, dear reader, you have been working with your shadow for a few weeks.  You have met and, hopefully, come to an agreement you can both live with.  Your shadow self is enjoying no longer being chained and no long having to live in a dark, empty space.  So, now what?  Now is the time to make your Shadow Mask.  It is time to own this piece of your Self, accept it for what it is.

When I came to this point in my own Shadow work, I was struggling mightily with myself.  My Shadow and I were having lots of fun, most of the time.  She, then, would throw fear, unattached to any trigger, at me.  That wasn't such a difficult thing to deal with, however, when she presented to me the feeling of superiority over others, I struggled.  The notion of being 'better' than anyone (not in a prideful way as if I won a game or competition, necessarily, but feeling superior) caused me never ending repulsion at myself.  Those who know me in real life can see that I am confident and that I know a fair amount of things, but if I come upon something that I don't know, like astrology, I freely admit that I am quite dumb to the subject.  I know what I know and I seek to learn more.

When I found myself looking at the muggles around me and feeling superior because I had experienced some of the mysteries of the world around me that they did not even know existed, I was appalled at myself!  However, that is Shadow Work.  Thankfully, I was learned enough at that point to recognize it for what it was (after the first time it happened, at least).  One day, the feeling persisted.  My Shadow was really putting it to me, and I asked her, "Why?  Why are you doing this to me?  This is not me and we both know it!"

Her response gave me pause.  "You have spent your life ignoring this feeling.  If you do not feel it and recognize it for what it is, then how can you ever keep yourself in check?  How can you keep yourself humble if you don't know what it feels like to think yourself superior?"

Of course!  It made complete sense when put in that way.  It was a horrible lesson.  I was uncomfortable and near tears.  I spent days afterward wondering if that was how the horrible people in my life always felt. (You know the type, those who think everyone is 'below' them and seek to punish those who might overstep their bounds.)  I gained a new perspective on myself and those around me.

This lesson came around the time it was to make my Shadow Mask.  The Shadow Mask is the physical manifestation of the Shadow.  We all wear various masks in life, but this mask is representative of the particular lessons your Shadow is teaching you right now.

Making the Shadow Mask

Making the Shadow Mask can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be.  The most important thing here is to carve out enough time to sit and do it.  This can be done within a ritual circle, if you would like, or you can sit at your crafting or dining room table.  Be sure that there are no distractions!  This is a time for you to go inward.  As you craft, bring your Shadow to the fore and ask him or her how they want to be perceived. 

Large craft stores have the plaster crafting strips that you cut, wet, and apply to your face to create a mask that will fit to your facial structure or, as I did, you can use a cheap paper plate (not the styrofoam kind).  From here, use paint, markers, glitter, feathers, beads, jewels, ribbon, or any other crafting supply you have on hand.  

This is your time to be creative and loving toward your Shadow.  In this process, remind your Shadow that you will never chain him or her again.  Remind your Shadow that you seek to come into balance and that he or she has a voice that will not be silenced again.  Build up your Shadow.  I told my own Shadow something like, "Today, we begin to work together in earnest.  Where we were getting to know one another before, building trust, today I manifest you into the physical via this mask.  I do this in acceptance of you and in acceptance of my whole self.  I will wear this mask to honor you.  I will acknowledge this mask in honor of you.  We are one.  We work together.  How would you like to be perceived?"

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Often, this acceptance of our own shortcomings is the most difficult part of the work.  Listening to our own darkness and the wisdom it holds is frightening.  However, if we do not hold counsel with the darkness, we become stagnant.  Only ever standing within the light can cause blindness.  This is why balance is so important.  This is why learning to work with our own negative qualities is needed.  We can not turn 'greed' into 'ambition' if we refuse to believe we are greedy.

Take this time to listen to your own darkness, but remember that you must not become your darkness.  Take your completed mask and put it some place where you will see it every day.  Acknowledge it and reaffirm to it that this is only the beginning.  Ask it how to get around, through, or over certain blocks you have on your path.  Sometimes, we find that it is the Shadow who put those blocks there and it is the Shadow who can move them.

Brightest blessings, Friends!!