Sunday, October 28, 2012

Duct Tape and Bailing Wire: The Fixing of a Thing With the Spiritual Equivalent, or at Least Trying.

Dear Readers, if you are from the Southern United States, then you know that there is nothing that can not be fixed with duct tape and bailing wire and if it can't be fixed it's junk and needs to be trashed.  Our pagan communities can be fixed with spiritual duct tape when they need to be and they should never, ever just be tossed out with the trash as some are wont to do.

I make no bones about the fact that I come from a pretty well functioning community.  It's like one of those families that frighteningly close in public and everyone thinks they really like each other.  Our pagan community is our family.  We have those whom we are very close to, both in age and in training, as well as our elders, who are like the parents, and the children, the next generation of pagans.  We have those whom we respect, but may not really see eye-to-eye with and we have those whom we may just simply avoid because of personality conflicts.  It simply is the nature of community and the nature of family.  However, I am coming to find out that there are communities out there which are like my own blood family.  I, jokingly, say that we put the funk in dysfunctional.  We aren't close and we don't really act like we like each other too much, but somehow, it works.  We come together and have a good time on occasion and it simply works in a strange and round about way.

My current pagan community saddens me.  It is somewhere between 5,000 and 25,000 pagans in size and I know or have met maybe two dozen of them.  I have heard that there was a time when this particular place had community, a hell of a community.  Through the years, though, something (maybe things) happened and those people and their groups began to slip from the light and back into the shadows.  This community shattered like a beautiful mirror into nothingness.  There was no one to pick up the pieces, maybe no one willing to do so.

Then, some friends and elders of mine ended up here, smack dab in the middle of this community.  Then, other friends did the same.  All the while I was training and learning and enjoying being 'one of the kids' in my pagan family.  Then, personal tragedy struck (well, I thought it was tragic at the time).  For the second time in two years, my whole life imploded.  My partner at the time tossed me out of the house on my ear for no good reason.  I was nearly homeless.  I had just quit my job to help him with his small business full time, and I had very little money.

The Gods were rearranging everything!  Then, through a series of circumstances that I would have called strange were I not a magical person, I found my path pointing north, to Missouri and to my friends.  I'd figured out that my path, long-term, is going to involve the healing arts in some way.  I wasn't prepared to also work at community building and healing those kinds of wounds.  (Still don't think I am!!)

Those things said, here I am, trying to find my place within a community wrought with anger, hurt, and despair.  Daily I ponder just how someone like me, someone trained well, but just really starting down this clergy path, is supposed to affect any change.  I'm just one person.  Not just that, but I'm just one person in a sea of hurt caused by events which happened in some time long past.

I know what it's like to hold on to hurt.  I know what it's like to allow that hurt to overwhelm and eventually stop me, frighten me, and cause me to run quickly the other way.  I know how damaging holding on to that hurt is.  It's like an asthma attack, you want to take a deep breath, but you simply can't.  Maybe the Gods want me here for those who wish to let go.  Maybe not.

I know this: I have been given a good support system of Elders.  I have been given a wonderful, supportive partner.  I have been given some very difficult life experiences, which can be used as reference points.  I have also been given a pretty thick skin because of these experiences.

It also seems that the Gods have handed me duct tape and bailing wire of some spiritual kind.  Now, I am getting out, trying to be more active, and getting myself out there.  I don't know if I will succeed or if I will fail.  I don't know what will happen, or even if anything will.  I do, however, know that I am here for some purpose.  I have donned the target of a leader.  Now, I must do something with it.  Am I scared?  Yes.  Am I going to let that stop me?  No.

When I think about my fears, I think of my Elders like Terry and Sonya.  They have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into their communities.  They have done the shit work when no one else would.  Both I have heard say:

Some will.  Some won't.  So what.  Next?

They have worked tirelessly with little or no help, with little or no thanks.  They have taught me that true leaders do that, work without thanks and do so with joy in their hearts.  Now, it is time for me to step off of the proverbial stoop and begin my own work with the community.  I have faith that my Gods will clear me a path, no matter how small and riddled with stones it may be (it wouldn't be any work if there weren't obstacles, now would it).  I know that my Elders will catch me when I fall, or let me fall and then ask me if I learned my lesson.

Mostly, I know that there is work to be done and I know that no one is doing it.  I know that people have seen the same things for so long that they think it is the only way and it is not.  May the Gods guide my purpose and my work and may it be seen for what it is by those who need it.  So mote it be!

Brightest Blessings, my friends!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Circle Shapes Us: A Journey

As pagans, we often stand or sit in circle, performing our celebrations and our magic, without a thought as to what we are really doing.  Sure, magic is the manufacturing of coincidence (a definition I have to credit to Rev. Terry Riley), but what are we really, truly doing within the manufacturing process.  Are we bending the Universe to conform to our will or is the Universe bending us?

As of late, I have been going through a moderately intense growth phase.  These are the kinds of questions I ask when I find things (both outward and inward) changing quickly.  More and more, on this journey toward clergy hood, I see that life is not linear, but circular.  Life isn't just birth, growing up, and dying as many muggles would believe.  When our eyes open, even a tiny bit, we begin to notice cycles, the sun and moon, the seasons, lessons we are or aren't learning, and even confirmations we willingly overlook or ignore because they aren't what we want.

I have recently come to the realization that there are some things within at least one past life that I have been resisting and, indeed, actively pushing away.  The biggest of those is a leadership roll.  I have, all of my life, found myself leading people in one capacity or another.  I have, all of my life, despised being in the spotlight, yet doing these leadership things because no one else would.

Do I dislike the spotlight because I'm not confident I can lead?  No, I know I'm a good leader.  Am I reluctant because I'm afraid of trouble if I make the wrong decision?  No.  I am fully willing to suffer the consequences of my actions when in a leadership role.  Then why do I prefer to stand at the periphery? The long and short of it is that I can't see the purpose in praise and back-patting when something needed to get done and then it was done.  If more people just did the work, then there would be more things getting done.  Who cares about critics?  Really.  If the critics and naysayers matter, then the work is being done for praise and the intentions are not pure.

Leadership isn't about the banging of cymbals, laser lights, and other flashy motifs to get attention.  It's about looking out at a sea of knee deep mud and slogging through it to accomplish a goal.  It's about doing the shit work that no one else wants to do because it has to be done.  It's about making a wrong decision and nobly and humbly admitting it and learning from the mistake.

I recently had my birth chart done by an astrologer friend of mine.  This road I am upon was written into the stars on the day of my birth.  Do I want it?  No.  Am I going to get what I want?  No.  Am I going to surrender to this higher calling?  I already have.  Am I going to accept it?  I'm working on that.  I work daily to push my own boundaries and edge closer to the spotlight.  I accept tasks from my elders that I know are going to make me uncomfortable.  Why?  I do this because it's more comfortable for me to willingly step into the light than it is to be shoved unceremoniously into it.

So, in my many years of magical workings, I have asked for things, been given things, and grown into this person I am today.  I often find myself asking the question, "Are these manifestations the things my Higher Self wants, my true desires, and I'm bending the Universe to my will, or is the Universe laughing at my pleas and bending me to its desire?"  Maybe it's a chicken and egg thing.  Maybe I'm a lunatic.  I don't know, but I do know the road that lies ahead isn't one that I would have picked for myself willingly.

My life waits patiently for me as I fumble onward in the darkness, not realizing that I need only to open my eyes to see the light.  Yet another lesson for me to learn in this manifestation.

Brightest Blessings, my friends!