Have you had amazing experiences? I mean really, have you had what they would call mystical experiences…that you either can’t believe really happened, or you are afraid to talk about? If so I think it is because of the woo woo wall we have built in our minds as a result of living in a world where material science is understood as the foundation of reality and everything else has to be built on top of it and sustained by it.
As a result of this when we experience true connections to higher sources and maybe even mystical healings, or extra sensory experiences, we find that we want to avoid the shame of being called woo woo. We don’t want to be like those crazy looking people you see at the shops with all of the crystals on TV or in movies, who are depicted as unintelligent, superstitious freaks. We don’t want to be identified with them so we keep what is happening to us secret, or we try to damp it down. Truth is that people who are Pagan and who practice Earth Based Traditions usually have experiences that are what the general public call mystical frequently if they are open to them. Blocking that out of our lives is like killing a part of ourselves that is as natural as the sun glinting off a smooth, still lake.
The Naturalness of Mystic Experience
If we practice Earth Centered Traditions mystical experiences are not anything strange for us, they are very natural. They are what the practice is all about. Even as I say this with conviction, I realize how I have been conditioned to know what I have said, but not to feel it in my heart. I don’t talk about many of my own experiences and cringe as I hear some people who talk about their experiences openly because I have been having the same ones and have been afraid to talk about them. This all leads me to the firm conclusion that we who practice earth centered spirituality have to always be weary of adopting the overarching thought processes of the day. The brainwashing is very subtle. Feelings unaligned with what you know to be true, are usually a sign that those feelings came from ideas planted by someone else.
This conditioning causes us to dampen our true experiences so we don’t receive the messages that we would through ritual or meditation. If we don’t believe our experiences, how can we explore them and the psychological processes behind them happening within ourselves? I think the way to do so is to talk with members of your group, or with other people who have had similar experiences in a safe, caring environment. We, however, have learned to look through the archives in our heads and accept or reject them before talking with our peers. We have an archive of scientific theory and research in our heads. It includes what our mothers, fathers, families and friends would say and what our teachers and maybe the ministers would say if they heard what we have experienced. If we get past them we mention it to others.
We are full to the brim with scientism (note that I have not said science.). One of the main tenets of scientism is that we can’t rely on our own experiences for information. We have to verify it with a legitimate source…perhaps a psychologist, or some other social scientist, to see if it is real. Sometimes we look at research and books, quantum physics, anything the scientific community offers to validate it and tell us it could happen and then, while teaching, we quote scientific theory like people in the middle ages quoting from the bible to validate their experiences. This may seem radical, but practitioners of earth based practices didn’t have to validate their experiences that way in the past because they were the scientists.
The mystics are the scientists exploring the real foundation of reality. The mystics know that science is a great methodology for understanding that which is observable and measurable, but they know it ends there. Spirituality goes much further. It is the exploration of those things, yes, but also that which is not visible and not measurable by any material means. Mystics have been experimenting on how to interact with the unknown for more than 200,000 years while the type of science present in the US now is only about 300 years old. So do we depend on the lessor, the one that has excelled in understanding a branch in the tree of life, or that which has excelled and still does, in understanding the whole tree, the roots, the soil and every other thing with an understanding that is experiential and sometimes beyond words and measurement.
This is something for all of us to begin to consider in our practices whatever our tradition. I have been overly skeptical for many years to the point where I have had to be hit over the head to get that my spiritual experiences were real. I still struggle with believing my own experiences because I have been socialized not to. This socialization can hinder one’s growth and cut one’s path short. The greater work for me right now is getting beyond the limitations of my own mind and imagination. If you haven’t done so, or haven’t even thought about it, I suggest you try it and you may find that there is more magic in the world than you ever thought possible.