Be Kind Rewind
Part Three in my series doesn’t come with a disclaimer about abuse or triggers. Primarily, this is because my journey over the past year and a half should be hallmarked with where I stand now. Though, to be fair, if you are jumping into my articles and find yourself in part three before reading parts one or two, just know there are some heavy topics.
We have examined how three factors uprooted my belief system and left me with expansive emptiness. These outside impacts were a history of physical and mental abuse, abuse from within the local Pagan community, and my involvement in Utah’s pandemic research. It would be unfair to say that these factors solely were responsible for the downfall of my faith. What these factors did manage to do is eat away at a belief system that was already rotting within.
My fervent belief is that I could have continued practicing in the capacity I was (though it was maddening at times) and eventually I would have run out of steam. This could have been years or decades down the road but that is not what happened. I was fortunate enough to experience life-altering moments, all with the assistance of those close to me, and the help of a therapist. In an essence, I was able to reincarnate my beliefs. I use this term because it feels closest to how I view reincarnation. The essence of my beliefs carried into a new form and the shell/structure it was housed in no longer lives.
So in this final piece of the series, I am going to examine my role in the breakdown of my beliefs and the return to Wicca. I’m adding in some 90’s quotes to help keep things light (Try and catch them all!).
Did I Do That?
So how did I wield a part in the downfall of my belief system? What actions did I consciously or unconsciously do that gnawed away at the joy in my practice? The answer to these questions and others is lengthy and could take up another series (don’t tempt me, I will do it if asked). Some of the answers are shallow, vapid, and maybe even narcissistic. That is what I have had to work through on my own. We call it shadow work in many Pagan conversations but it definitely has a heavy hand in cognitive behavioral therapy and skill development.
Consciously, I fell into the stereotype of someone who converts to a new faith or spiritual practice. We tend to let things become all-consuming and deeply literal. Having this mindset limited my conversations with other practitioners but also my ability to ask bigger questions. Questions like, “how does science play a part in my spirituality?” or “do ancient beliefs validate spiritual practice?”.
Unconsciously, my exposure to social media flared a sensation to create beautiful pieces of art that would be liked by many. This wasn’t my exact thought process but when you strip it down it was my desire. I just wanted to be seen. I wanted to be seen as intelligent, rare, equal in the Pagan community, and all of those tasteful words that dress our egos. My ego was at the center of this unsatisfactory sensation and it is something I will likely never stop battling. Even by writing this, I could be accused of wanting to be seen. It’s true! I still want to be seen and the reasons may be different now but the desire is still coated in the same sweet arsenic flavor.
My “tree of belief” was becoming hollow and that was in large because of me. I wasn’t practicing in a way that brought me joy. I was certainly growing in my knowledge and exposure to various areas under the large tent of Paganism but that meant little on a spiritual growth level. Yes, I have scholarly exposure to Modern Pagan history and can quote sources from various journals. What good would that actually do though? Especially if I was not walking the walk.
Did You Deduct Sixteen Pounds for Your Shoes?
So I wasn’t meeting a standard of beauty in social media presence and my posts aren’t astounding. Why didn’t I just cut myself some slack for the discipline I did have? When we kill ourselves to be a singular enigmatic personality, we find ourselves alone. I mean, yes, I was alone because of the pandemic but I also began to lose acquaintances as well. People don’t usually enjoy being around someone who is well versed and begins to have a superiority complex. Yes, that was a hard pill to swallow.
Throughout the self-examination, therapy, and meditation I somehow forgot to deduct sixteen pounds for my shoes (a novel way to say stop being hard on yourself, right?). After eating some humble pie I was able to also cut some slack and realize my errors had some virtue. I may have dived headfirst into OBOD’s training materials or began to do outer court studies with various traditional Wiccan and Witchcraft groups but I also gained a good deal of insight. Beyond insight, I learned some fantastic skills from Buddhism and ways to ask questions while keeping my ego in check.
The larger question is, how do you take what you learn and apply it to your life? In my case, it was taking these lessons and neatly compartmentalizing them in my library of knowledge. It was also time to go back to what brought me joy. To speak little and listen much. There is nothing wrong with wanting to know more and to grow. It is what you do with that knowledge that matters.
Well, What If There Is No Tomorrow?
So why come back to Wicca? Why not just do Modern Traditional Witchcraft or some form of Mahayana Buddhism? I think it was Thorn Mooney who said something along the lines of, “Wicca is no longer the cool kid at the table” in one of her videos (I hope I am quoting correctly). This idea stands out and is true in today’s culture. We are seeing a surge of different types of Witchcraft and Pagan practice. I had an entire tent of beliefs to explore, question, and consider. So really, why did I choose to plop down here again?
The truth is ridiculously simple. I feel the most joy and sense of wonder while practicing Wicca. All of the discourse and inspection took more than it gave. I was exhausting myself by trying to find a path that might fit me better. The reality, for me, was that I needed to reexamine the path I had chosen so many years ago.
Admittedly, Buddhism did come very close to landing that Goldilocks sensation and the same with Druidism (OBOD’s path in particular). My issues were to do with sexism in one path and a general sense of personal ineptness with the other. This isn’t to criticize either path but to emphasize how neither truly nourished me. I also don’t believe I would have brought a lot to the table with either of these paths.
Wicca offers something that just makes sense to me. I don’t know if it is the ecstatic sensation of seeing nature as alive and equal or the electricity of doing ritual. It is also likely the connectedness I feel whenever I am in a group of like-minded people. The list goes on and on and, well, if there is no tomorrow I wanted to make sure I was doing something that made me happy today.
My Exercise for You:
Forgiveness Meditation & Spell
This meditation is not about forgiving another person but forgiving yourself in order to grow.
- Paper & Pen
- Cauldron or fireproof container
- 1 candle (simple tea light works well)
- Half of a cleaned-out eggshell (crack the egg in half and wash out the shell)
- A small packet of wildflower seeds
- A small amount of dirt (enough to fit in the eggshell half)
- A small amount of tap water
- Before your altar or in a comfortable space where you can sit and make a spell, take three deep breaths to set your intention.
- Light the candle and then meditate for 10 minutes. This can be breathing techniques or guided.
- After meditating write down a list of items you could personally improve on. Example: reduce my ego, be kinder, eat healthier…
- Fold the paper away from you and then hold it to your heart. In silence or out loud you can say, “I forgive myself and am worthy of kindness to myself”.
- Burn the paper in your cauldron or container.
- Scoop the ashes into the eggshell and fill it with dirt.
- Using pen or pinky, create a small hole in the dirt, and add your seeds.