You like strawberry cheesecake.They like strawberry cheesecake. They think Spring is the coolest time of year and so do you. You are a Pagan and they’ve always been Pagan, and you even practice in the same tradition. The organic cherry on top of the Pagan Sundae is that you and they have made a life together. Walking the same religious/spiritual Pagan path is awesome. Or is it?
Although our routes and approaches to Paganism were quite different, we’ve ended up walking a similar path.We’ve been initiated into two of the same traditions. We often teach magical studies, not always together mind you, but our work does overlap from time to time and the core tenets are the same. We find ourselves at rituals together, sometimes holding Priestessing roles. More often than not, this is just fantastic. There’s a richness and depth that develops when partners share a common language. Communication, especially of esoterica, or tradition-specific lore, becomes much easier when everyone involved has the same cauldron of understanding to draw upon for reference.
However, it’s also challenging because at times we are put into the position of being competitors. It can be hard to be supportive of your partner’s accomplishments when those accomplishments represent the same thing as your failure. We cross this bridge over and over again. Sometimes we have to face the ugly feelings of envy or jealousy when one of us is offered an opportunity and the other isn’t. It is because of these moments that we’ve had to learn different ways to cooperate, communicate, and support each other.
What can partners, friends, or covens members do to avoid the challenges of being on the same path and having their nearest and dearest as their competition? Here’s some of our thoughts.
Phoenix: It is important for me to remember that no matter what, we are a team. Before we ever starting dating we were business colleagues and often paired together for special assignments.. We work extremely well together and enjoy being on projects, ritual teams, or teaching classes. When I notice that I’m feeling jealous or when I’ve lost out on an opportunity to my partner, I remember that I am on his team and he’s on mine, we help each other move forward on the path. I also ask myself why am I feeling envious of my partner’s accomplishments? What does this have to do with my own self worth? Someone else’s success has nothing to do why my own. There is plenty of success to go around in this world, plenty of opportunities. And because Gwion is particularly talented there are many chances for me to look at my own shadow and the motivations for why I do things.
Gwion: I find it important to have a separate identity – I’m not talking about a double life or anything like that! I mean, that it’s important for me to be valued as an individual person with my own worth and my own body of work to stand on, outside of my relationship with Phoenix or a coven or a group. For a while, I was in a really active coven. We went everywhere together and folks began to refer to us as a pack. While it was true that we were often found in the same places, we each had our own experiences of the rituals, camps, conferences and festivals we attended. Our closeness was incredible for our group magic, but that same constant proximity gave rise to rumours and jealousies and tensions within our larger community. As we each grew in the Craft and developed our own unique skills, based on the hard work each of us was undertaking, we were seen less and less as one solid, giant magical conglomeration and more as, well, you know, individuals. So while I love to be Mr. Phoenix and laugh when folks call us “Gwinix” or “Pheon”, I work diligently to honour the very separate person I am and the distinct people that we are.Phoenix: Making time for each other is a requirement. We are both busy with our careers, our community, and our family. When we don’t make time for Phoenix and Gwion to be alone, we tend to be more irritable, more easily frustrated, and rough around our relationship edges. Making time for each other sounds so totally simple, and I suppose in reality it is, but we have so much going on that it isn’t always possible. Our agreement is that Saturday’s are our days, but even this isn’t always possible and sometimes scheduling on “our” day happens (not without it’s resentments of course). Having “couple only” time is necessary for the health of our relationship and it doesn’t take long before we both start to feel off when we aren’t making time for ourselves.
Gwion: Reveling in the other’s success is a real key for me – Phoenix is a published writer. She’s been asked to teach the Craft in Australia. She’s created “The Goddess Gatherings” and has grown that into something wonderful and uniquely of her making. These are all places where she shines brightly. I’ve had a few successes myself and folks from that “pack” coven I mentioned have also contributed something of themselves to the greater Pagan community. I’m not going to tell you it is always easy, and there’s plenty of shadow material there, but I do find it incredibly important to revel in the successes of others. If I can step back and view their work for what it is without overlaying what I might know (or think I know) of their process, then I can appreciate it all the more. Watching beloveds engage with the Mysteries reminds me of the profound depth they bring to rituals. Relentlessly supporting them as they step out into those scary places and watching them face back fears and tears and self-doubt has to be part of my practice. I trust that if I am supportive of others, I’ll learn how to hold myself dear when I have my moments of doubt and fear and the “I can’t do this” voices in my head are all too loud.
So those are out thoughts. What works for you? How do you and your partner, partners, covens or groups navigate these waters?
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