I’m a budding spirit-worker (well, faery-worker). I do a lot of journeying to ‘the Other Side’, which sounds way more serious than it really is. I get consistent urges and feelings from most of the gods I work with, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to even get a coherent sentence or two. (My relationship with Antinous is very different from the one I have with the Four Gods, though.) I do a lot of work Over There (my way of referring to the otherworlds as well as any internal mindscape) that translates to my life Over Here, both in terms of religious practices and daily life.
So I always feel a bit guilty when I tell people they don’t have to be a spirit worker to be important or incredibly flashy religious people. It sounds a lot like pleasant platitudes coming from my mouth, useless words that don’t actually help.
When I hear other spirit workers talk about how we need other people in our religions – homemakers, researchers, devotees who can’t hear the gods – I agree but I still feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that I’ve heard at least two spirit workers claim that they have it ‘worse off’ in concerns to doubt and discomfort in religion. Religion and spirituality are not about who is more tortured or who has the flashiest job. It’s about the gods and spirits (or, if you prefer, self-development). So, I’m going to try not to talk to such people or for them, but myself because, well, I really only know myself. I want to make it clear that I’m not attempting to invalidate anyone’s experiences, just tell my own.
It seems I am often still on slippery slopes with it comes to my place in my religion. Who am I, and what am I doing? And if I know what I’m doing, why am I doing it? Every day is a new question. I love that about my path. So many questions, endless, constant doubt and wonder. I know others don’t like doubt, find it painful – it is – but for me I wouldn’t be complete without it. And before anyone is tempted to hold me up as ‘one of those’ young spirit workers, I want to make it clear that I expect to be questioning myself years from now. If I stop questioning myself, I’m going to get worried. Sometimes the questions I ask are answered quickly; other days, I chew on them until I fall asleep exhausted.
“Is this what I should be doing? Is this helpful? Does this please the gods?”
And I have to learn what questions are helpful and which are hurtful. I could ask myself again and again why the gods care or nudge me, and I would not get an answer. I’ve gotten better at knowing what questions help hone my practice and myself and which just lead to senseless criticism and injury. “Why would anyone even care about me/what I do?” Well, heck if I know, but people do, and I have to remind myself not to beat my heart up trying to answer questions I can’t know the answer to.
Some days I look at what others do and think, “If only…” If only I was that smooth, that content, that incredible – I’m not good enough. This belief bleeds into my everyday life – I write every single day and read every single day and my mind is always on my faith, yet it never feels like enough. I measure myself against others or, worse yet, against the specter of someone who is always, always ‘better than’. Those days, it’s hard to remember that there isn’t a ‘better than’, and that my path is my own. I should own it. I should kick butt at it.
What I’m really getting at, in this big mess of words, is that we matter. All of us. So, so cheesy and sappy, but it’s the truth. I think Pagandom, as a whole, can be really good at forgetting that; perhaps not individuals or individual communities, but we’re seeing discussions of names and importance and the validity we give to names bubbling up in the blogosphere. So what I’m going to try to do more consciously now is remember that I’m important, and you’re important, and they’re important, and we’re all important. Even the people that drive me wild with anger or disgust (but that’s for another time…)