Ego is a natural part of our psyche, existing in the conscious real world, experiencing life from a place of self-esteem or self-worth and the thinking self. Though I have no mastery of the Freudian structure of the psyche, I can safely say I've seen Ego at work, have succumbed to my own egotistical fanaticism even, and seen others succumb to theirs. And in the spiritual community, more often than not. For some, simply recognizing, or admitting to, our predisposed urge to satisfy our ego is an exercise in spiritual growth. For some, sadly, it is an exercise in futility.
Recently, I've seen behavior in the spiritual community, especially from spiritual business owners, that are neither spiritual nor professional. And this behavior is often tagged as a "spiritual calling". Imagine this scenario: "Though I didn't want to, I am feeling called by Spirit to...." usually followed by angry rants directed at individuals, paths or beliefs. Spiritual businesses are in the business of lifting up and this behavior seems counter-intuitive to that philosophy.
Is Spirit really so small-minded? Does Spirit really "call us" to use social media as a platform to express our spiritual superiority over others? When we use the phrase "I am being called by Spirit to...", is Spirit calling us or are we projecting our ego on our idea of Spirit as a justification for negativity or negative behavior?
"Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting." - Sydney J. Harris
And I ask myself if I am being spiritually superior because I am expressing my own sadness, discontent or disappointment with the prevalent nature of this egotism. It is a slippery slope, this ego of ours, and dissection of it is an uncomfortable necessity.
So, how do we prevent spiritual superiority? I'm not sure we can, entirely. Perhaps the best we can hope for is a recognition of it, acceptance of it, and a dialogue with ourselves about our spiritual motives. How do we recognize a spiritual superiority in ourselves? We can ask ourselves if we shelter negativity and anger in terms like "love and light" or "spiritual calling". Ask yourself if defensive negativity and anger can come from a place of positivity at all, and if you cannot reconcile that dichotomy, perhaps a re-evaluation of the ego is in order.
And ask yourself, would Spirit use social media to express anger? Probably not. But ego would. Ego definitely would. The least we can do is be honest with ourselves about the narratives we express.
When I discovered my passion for photography, water drops became a constant source of zen-like inspiration and, to this day, remain an unparalleled liberation from stress. The process of capturing the elements in a macro environment proved an exercise in psychological and spiritual awakening, as I began to appreciate the shapes and their messages, and how those messages related to my personal life experience.
And for more than 8 years, I have been capturing these images, collecting them... thousands of them... discovering their messages, adapting my own spirituality to understand their hidden meanings.
Prepping for, and post-processing, these images became a meditation, a religion in which I was immersed in the understanding of my own psyche. Every image pulled from me, from my very center, a study of my own emotional capacity and opened up for me a world of inspiring possibility.
Earlier this year, I began to revisit these images and study their messages, to define them by my own experience with them. They took on personality and identities and, in the end, came together as a family of observations that became a working oracle for my spiritual practice.
The colors for these images were achieved through the use and strategic placement of backgrounds, scrap papers, the photographs I'd taken of flowers and wildlife, and camera settings that allowed these backgrounds to blend and blur in a cohesive, colorful whole, so all that remained was the flow of water.
My first printing of this deck, pictured above, was an opportunity to express my own weaknesses and strengths by choosing images and keywords that best represented my experiences, life lessons and goals. Some photos used were imperfect, out of focus, and poorly executed, having been chosen from a very early collection of images, when my understanding of the photographic process was still quite raw. But.... this deck was perfectly suited to me. And from this initial exercise, a larger, more comprehensive deck was born.
This 80-card deck will be available for pre-order soon and I'm really excited to share this experience with others. It's been a passion project of mine, one which is far from over, as I work towards embracing a spiritual, photographic relationship with the other elements!
The spirit of the Goddess
is upon the winds and the fires
Upon the waters and the earth and the heavens,
upon our devotion
I wish I could say my devotion to Spirit, to the spiritual journey, was displayed with earnest consistency since I first discovered a connection to Divinity. I wish I could say my faith was steadfast, I never wavered, I never wailed and pumped my fists and laid down a shroud of ultimatums at the feet of Goddess, then quickly buried them beneath my guilt and promises. I wish I could say I have loved Goddess since I knew her, and that I have loved myself as long.
But I can't. I can't say any of these things.
And that's okay.
I don't have to be spiritually perfect to experience spiritual purpose. And spiritual purpose does not have to be a constant to be defined a personal achievement. I only need to be present in every experience, good or bad, spiritually fulfilled or devoid. I only need to acknowledge and accept that I am an imperfect soul, that my journey will always be imperfect and therein lies it's sorrow and joy and it's meaning.
Honesty about spiritual resistance is important. I journal about it and experience shame. I journal and feel release. I journal and know acceptance. I have conversations with Goddess even when I doubt she hears and I am sometimes only consistent in my faithlessness.
And that's okay.
It's okay to recognize that our journey can (and should) open up to us all avenues of experiencing grief, happiness, love, joy and yes, even Divinity. Even if these avenues are devoid of Divinity entirely. Because the moments of spiritual abandonment, no matter how long, how angry, how utterly devastating, can awaken in us an understanding of ourselves, our relationship with Spirit, how we internalize and externalize Spirit and what that means to us. Every step away from Goddess is also, in some way, a step towards her. It is an uncanny acceptance of our fallibility which opens our hearts to the experience of spirituality, even if infrequently, even if begrudgingly. And in those moments, Spirit steps in and fills the void we created, and when we create another void, Spirit will step aside and allow us that experience as well.
I am sometimes spiritually absent. And that is okay. I sometimes neglect Goddess. She forgives me. I sometimes deny myself the gift of release and the freedom of self-awareness and I forgive myself.
I am, you are, we are a collection of imperfect experiences which are (oddly) perfectly suited to a spiritual journey and purpose. And the journey is just beginning.
I've always had a preference for the written word. Before all the arts, for me, there is pen and paper and an insatiable desire to express myself, even within the confines of my own limited vocabulary. As a child of 10, I used to walk to the local gift store with my hard-earned allowance (who else cleaned grout with a toothbrush and Comet?!) to purchase a beautiful, stark new journal, with which I would sit on my driveway and write Thoreau-esque about the nature of spirit, the connection between spirit and body, and rather unsophisticated, though sincere, musings on religion and the power and purpose of faith.
And this practice continued into my early teens, recording my first experiences with Quija, Tarot and Wicca, with automatic writing and the relationship between the living and dead. But it wasn't until my 20's that I really invested, in my writing, my spiritual process, practice and personal beliefs.
Beyond how my relationship with Spirit manifests itself internally, I've never much cared for the idea of defining to others my religious or spiritual practice. It was always on the edge of practices, characterized by modern esoteric religions with words like "Wiccan", "Pagan" or "Magician".... which were all less than. Less than my faith. Less than my self-empowerment. Less than my internal divinity. And because I was on the fringe of "acceptable" new age practice, understanding it (even for myself) became a difficult endeavor.
Despite my indifference to defining my practice and beliefs to others, I began to experience a soupy, dim confusion regarding my relationship with the Divine and how that translated into practical worship. Journaling then became an extremely integral part of my personal process. It allowed me the opportunity to discuss with Spirit, in a safe and meaningful way, my thoughts and feelings, and receive those messages from Spirit in turn.
These days, this type of journaling is often referred to in (again, limiting) terms such as "Shadow Work", "Book of Mirrors", or, as I like to simplify, spiritual reflection. Though these are not all-encompassing descriptives regarding the purpose and place of journaling in spiritual practice, I think, at the very least, it captures the basic essence.
And though I still use pen and paper every day, to discuss my relationship with the Divine Feminine or, as the unfortunate truth may sometimes be, a missing relationship with Spirit, my thoughts have often translated themselves into digital format, which is how we arrive here, to my blog, "The Points of Five", the five elements, the star, the five corners of Spirit, sometimes hidden, sometimes embraced.
I hope you embrace your own journey while I embrace mine and we can share in the discovery together!