I don't wanna.
Not only do I refuse to define my spiritual practice, I believe entirely that it would be detrimental to my practice to do so.
Spirituality is, let's be honest, a subjective word with an elusive indeterminate meaning. We might be able to come to the same table and agree that, for the most part, spirituality is an understanding that we are connected to something larger than ourselves. How we define that "something", however, is where the differences abound. These differences are sometimes expressed with interest, acceptance and understanding or, if we're unfortunate, a dithering, angry mass of judgments and denials.
Let's just skip the reactions entirely and live our spiritual lives the way we chose without the need to validate it to others through the box of definition.
"The new spirituality is that it will produce an experience in human encounters in which we become a living demonstration of the basic spiritual teaching 'We are all one.' "
Neale Donald Walsch
I am monotheistic. Some days, I'm loosely agnostic. Others, I'm a non-theist all together. I don't prescribe to a pantheistic idea of deity, and I've never believed in or utilized the energies of fairies or dragons, not literally nor as an archetype. I love the pomp of ritual but rarely practice it. I do not recognize the standard Wheel of the Year (or recognize it when it suits me) and find terms like "pagan", "wiccan" or "witch" to be self-defeating and limiting. I believe magic happens by the power of personal will, and has nothing to do with what herbs or stones or moon phases our spells employ.
And you know what? That is all okay. If you believe I am wrong, or you practice a different way.... that's okay too. None of those things define me nor my practice, nor what spirituality means to me. They are not each independent of one another and each adds a page to a story in which my journey continues. None of these things validate nor invalidate my practice. They do not, by themselves, illustrate anything about me but my undeniable curiosity.
If your practice is specific and defined and that works for you, then I applaud you and your spiritual life. I appreciate your journey, your courage in taking it... whatever the specifics may be. We should all strive for what fills our hearts and souls with purpose, with what meaningfully and beautifully moves us forward on our paths and hope that, occasionally, we may bump into one another during the journey and smile in our knowing and understanding that there is beauty in our uniqueness.
Be unique. Be you, unapologetically. And be bright and bold and ignore the use of alliteration. I'm a slave to cliche and all forms of literary devices.
Shax: 37 Danger of Loss (Fallen Angel Oracle)
This is the gem I pulled today while contemplating my tarot and oracle deck wish list. I have 45 decks sitting in my Amazon wish list, and 25 more in my Etsy shopping cart. It may seem a small thing, the desire for material possession, but almost clicking "Buy Now" on those 45 decks was a frightening moment of clarity for me and this card was a wonderful stumble towards the eternal hovering shadow of desire, the shadow of wants at the expense of needs, even, or the shadow of materialism for the sake of it.
"That feeling of freedom, open highways of possibilities, has kind of been lost to materialism and marketing."
Now, this isn't to pass judgment on those who have money, who choose to spend that money on decks or art or anything at all, really. It's more an introspection into my own experience with desire and materialism and how that relates to my spiritual journey.
I should even say I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I believe materialism can live harmoniously, or as harmonious as anything else, with a spiritual or religious life. But there is such a thing, despite all the differences of opinions we might have on the matter, as dangerous consumerism. Though at what point, exactly, it becomes dangerous is likely a matter of personal experience and circumstance.
When materialism or consumerism replaces our needs, when it becomes a risk to purchase, a risk to our livelihood and general well-being, we have entered the domain of Shax, the dark angel of theft. He hoards treasures, can remove the understanding of others and blind you to the light of truth. He can, however, also reveal things that are hidden. I think this is his real purpose in the draw: to reveal the motivation behind the materialism, to allow us the freedom to look into ourselves and assess the nature of our desires. To look into our shadow and see the light of some truth, even if that truth is an uncomfortable realization about our consumerist nature.
And this discovery does not have to be a judgment on our lives, on our self-worth, or our ability to find fulfillment. It can be a portal towards fulfillment, if we allow it. If we push past the fear of discovery and walk into the shadow of self.
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.
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!