I thought I was going for a meditation workshop, but when I arrived on that cold night, we were locked out of the building. I shrugged – perhaps it just wasn’t my night for spiritual practice. Then someone asked: “Do you want to do a fire ceremony instead?”
Sure I did.
As we gathered around a small fire across town, he told us we were going on a journey to meet our past selves. We began by meeting our “spirit animal” – a creature that would journey with us. A moment later I was staring into the eyes of a mountain lion, and we fell into step. After journeying downwards for many miles, we finally came upon a room where my past self was waiting. What accosted me as I opened the door was a vision I have seen many times: I saw myself being tortured for being “a witch”.
As my former self writhes in pain, I see her holding out a note. Glancing at the paper with trepidation, I read the words:
F**k. I know instinctively that I have to. But if I’m honest, that scares the crap out of me.
You’d think I’d never been through this before, but if you did, you’d be wrong. This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked to trust my inner voice. And the funniest thing is that it’s always worked out in the past. I trusted last year when it told me to put down my books and travel the country, interviewing women for my PhD. That turned into a miracle of connection and co-creation. I trusted again when I thought I was supposed to be “analysing the data”, and my inner voice told me I needed to get quiet instead. So I holed up in my own personal retreat and manifested a month of mind-blowing intimacy with myself, with nature and with the world. I even trusted when it told me I should explore something more with the man I had been friends with for a decade, a decision that has led to the most intimate and joyful partnership I have ever experienced.
So why am I still not willing to fully surrender to this voice? Why am I still questioning Her?
Perhaps it’s because She speaks through my body, my desires and my own inner knowing. She doesn’t come as a booming voice from the sky, as a choir of angels or even a wise human teacher. And she’s not a man.
She is me. I am Her. As Kathy Schaaf, one of my mentors and close friends has said: I am whole and holy. I’m just having trouble accepting that right now. And, in my more cynical moments, I also wonder how exactly my inner fairy-princess is planning on paying the bills.
Really, I’m in a place where I’m not ready to say “yes” to this, but I’m also not willing to give up and go back to how it was. So I’ve been doing the only thing I know to do: I’ve been calling on my network.
My mantra for the past week has been: “Hello, this is Laura. Can we talk? I need help.” Each time I call another person, I spew my fears into the air and watch them fall as glittering love drops that seep into my soul. The simple act of getting vulnerable, of speaking Truth, and of connecting, has been life giving. Each person thanks me for my openness, identifies with me, understands. Indeed, many of my sisters find themselves in a similar situation. We are collectively being asked to trust, to go with this knowing, to buck the rules and social expectations we’ve become accustomed to following. We know that it’s time to embody something new, and to trust that what we need will show up.
She says that she knows this to be true. And at the same time, I feel her relief as she discovers I am in a similar boat, that my intuition is in harmony with hers.
It’s so much easier to do this with company.
“Let me tell you a secret,” I say to my friend. “This is scary s**t. And if I had any other option, I would take it. I’m not doing this because I’m courageous. I’m doing it because my body won’t let me do anything else.”
“I knoooooooow!” she squeels. “I feel the same way! I’m not a hero. It’s just do this, or die.”
Yup. It’s true. I’m going to keep on following the gentle directives of this voice, not because I’m brave, or because I have total faith in it, but because it’s do this, or die. And today at least, I choose not to die. I choose to keep going – with my sisters and brothers by my side.
And so we walk on. Groping for solid ground, looking for signs, following the bread crumbs that our inner selves drop.
Right now, I guess that’s as close to trusting myself as I’m going to get.
Laura Paskell-Brown is supposedly a PhD student in psychology, but is surrendering to now knowing how that will turn out. She is, however, clear that she’s a member of the core circle at Women of Spirit and Faith, a national network of incredible female spiritual leaders.