Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - Embrace the Darkness

A Catch Up Post for the letter E:

Darkness... Through conversations either read or spoken in person, I have found that most people fall on either side of the 'barrier', either they wish to only acknowledge themselves as participating in the 'love and light' or they have themselves been through an underworld experience.

I usually sit back and don't offer my own opinions on the subject unless asked, not out of fear per say but rather out of privacy. To reveal ones journey through the dark is very intimate. To me the darkness is necessary. A year ago I was at a point in my life where I was frustrated and desired to move forward spiritually. Only I didn't realise that the only way my desire was going to come to fruition was to understand myself, who I truly am, deep down in the nitty gritty of it all. It would require I journey to the Underworld.

Our shadow is an aspect of ourselves that will only present itself when the time is right, when we are able to deal with whatever lurks deep within us with honour and respect. This though does not indicate that the journey will be easy just because one is ready for it. The dark can be disorientating and frightening but for all of that, it is a part of who we are. I know people who believe that to be happy (or at least present to the world the illusion of perfect happiness) that their life must be filled entirely of the everlasting pureness of love and it's (apparently obvious?) counterpart - the light. Love exists in darkness. It may very well bring on the most intense feelings of love and connectedness that exist, it may not obviously present itself though as it is self love that is sought there.

I am recently coming out of a period of deep and very meaningful shadow work that was undertaken over a period of about year or so. I will say that that time was well spent. No I didn't feel waves of joy emanating out from my fingertips or spend endless hours drawing white light into my body (not that that is a bad thing I just preferred to embrace my underworld experience for what it was). My journey to healing was through confrontation. In order to heal past hurts, those of others but honestly most were self inflicted, I had to stand infront of a metaphorical mirror almost every minute of every day I spent in the shadows. I confronted my true feelings about myself and my feeling about past, current and future relationships with myself. I haven't always been my best friend. In fact if I spoke others the way I once spoke to myself I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with me! I had to teach myself the art of letting it go. That was one of the hardest things I learnt to do and it took the longest. To open up and be vulnerable, even when we are alone can be one of the most terrifying experiences we can go through if we haven't already cultivated a strong sense of self. And that is exactly what one eventually achieves through shadow work. After years of suppression my emotions rose slowly to the surface, one at a time. Once I had handled those first issues others quickly followed. There were many times I cried as to the purpose of having to sift through all of my emotional and psychic detritus but it is on the other side that I see clearly now. Through all of my yearning to expand my spiritual self it would not have been at all possible for me to advance spiritually without shedding what I no longer needed (or wanted) in my life. I could not grow if I continued to put myself last, if I didn't speak or treat myself as a worthy person. My inner dialoge was a dreadful learnt behaviour I was still carrying around since childhood. A sacrifice of myself was required. What is it that they say - no pain, no gain. I intimately understand that for my desire to be fulfilled I could not carry so much excess baggage (ie: shit!) along with me.

In the darkness our biological senses take over, our hearing is sharpened, the sensation of touch is heightened, our sense of smell is potent. To be in the dark we lose our ability to see, our outward/external experience. We then are able to hear our internal voice clearly. Without anyone to reflect back to us we can release our ego. The one thing that holds us back. Once we shed our ego we will no longer need to 'see' when we return as our internal 'vision' will be what guides us.

While my post here is titled Embrace the Darkness I'm in no way suggesting that it's beneficial to immerse yourself entirely for all eternity, in the shadows. Finding our own sense of balance, that is individual in experience can only lead to a well grounded person who knows exactly who they are is a blessing! You can't live your entire life in the light, you will eventually burn, but you can't huddle yourself away, alone in a cave. To achieve true balance is to experience time in both worlds. Walking the veil between life and light and darkness and death is the path of the Witch, one who will also be awaiting their rebirth. And that is the cycle of a life well lived!

- Hekate, my Lantern in the Dark. She who guided me into the depths of the Underworld and whose fire burns for my return to above.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Without A Path

For the majority of my Pagan life I have considered myself pathless. I began like the majority of teenage seekers with Wicca. I dove wholeheartedly into the beliefs and practices with seemingly unending enthusiasm and dedication of devoting all of who I was into being the best darn Wiccan I could have been. I loved the 'balance' of deity, God and Goddess. For the first time I felt as though, as a female, I was being represented equally. I struggled with my connection with the Goddess aspect that Wicca had presented me with though, I never stopped feeling like I was trying to force myself into a tiny box with a 'Ship To Nearest Goddess' sticker slapped on the side. For years she would remain a faceless archetype to me.

My eventual withdrawal from Wicca was solely due to my beliefs moving in a different direction. I wont say that it was a simple process but I think I may have stayed there two years longer that I really should have, attached to the label of Wiccan rather than to Wicca itself. What would I be if I was not Wiccan? Simply referring to myself as a Pagan seemed like I would be stepping out into an abyss. There's too many Pagan paths! Where will I go? Who will I be? The sheer though of being out there in this huge void surrounded by so many possibilities was very overwhelming for me. I had it down in my head that the next decision I made had to be 'The One', you know the Path that I would faithfully and joyfully walk until the end of my days. What can I say, I was young - well younger than I am now at the very least. I look back on my 21 yr old self and I am perplexed about the amount of pressure I placed upon my shoulders. I see now how only a few short years can made such a difference not only in ones personality but in our level of spiritual maturity.

Because I had placed so much upon a label to define who I was going to be it led me to a four year period where I endured major spiritual confusion. At the time it felt like I had so many opportunities presented before me. A few months went by where I was leaving it up to 'fate', but me being me I became bored of just waiting around for something to fall in my lap so I went back to my roots and became a pro-active seeker! During this time I looked into many different paths such as Kemetisism, Asatru, Shinto and Buddhism, various Feminist spiritualities, Pantheism, Gaianism, various re-constructionist paths, Hedge Witchery, Hoodoo, Shamanism, and Witchcraft. Some I stayed with longer than others, never finding a perfect fit. I was trying to piece it together myself but I felt like I was never quite in sync. I was still searching for The One.

Around about a year ago, I came to a point where I just stopped searching so hard for a particular path altogether. It took a time for me to realise that "The One" never even existed.
I can be a bit slow sometimes. What was there however, was a young woman discovering herself! By throwing myself into so many different areas of study I had openen up myself to exploring, well myself! By jumping around so much I know know where I want my feet to land, so to say. I will not use the term eclectic to describe myself, but I did bring along with me small pockets of belief or practice that has combined into a very personal spiritual practice (see no path!). I spoke in an earlier post about how I feel that I am at a crossroads. At this very moment I am actually enjoying being pathless. I'm enjoying standing in the crossroads! OMG For me it has been a very liberating experience, especially during the last month or so. I'm an oddball I suppose. I have no desire to move anywhere anytime soon. What will be will be I suppose. Currently I share devotion between two 'Celtic' Deities, Gaia, though I am no longer solely dedicated to Gaianism, and Hekate, who is receiving most of my attention as of late. At the moment I would describe myself as a Pagan and a Witch. I still have the twinge every time I say that to add something extra to my 'label' but I know now it's unnecessary. I'm a student in a Shamanic Witchcraft course which I am absolutely enjoying!!! Who knows where I will be next month or in a year. Spirituality shouldn't be forced it should flow naturally. Lesson learnt! A little late but I got there eventually.