Welcome to The Balancing Path, my little space in Patheos Pagan. I contributed to The Agora blog for a time before being given this space, and you can find all those articles listed here.
Choosing The Balancing Path as the name for my blog was one of the easiest parts of deciding to even have a blog. Balance has always been profoundly important to me, enough so that it is in my micro blurb about myself.
Sidney Eileen is a nonbinary, asexual, animistic, polytheist witch. they acknowledge divinity and unique natures in not just the gods, but in all manner of ephemeral and supernatural beings, spirits, living beings, and the souls that embody the physical objects and spaces around us. Their practice is lifelong and of an intuitive nature, seeking fulfillment through mutable asymmetrical balance.
When we think of balance, most people tend to think of something static, like a long stick perfectly balanced and unmoving on a fulcrum point, or perfectly balanced scales. But when you are talking about spiritual, emotional, and other more abstract kinds of balance, it is never static. Balance is always a moving target, which you might be able to find for a bit, but usually spins back away from you again as life inevitably changes.
Balance is mutable and asymmetrical because balance in the moment is always relative to everything else going on. The more extreme the circumstances that life throws at you, the greater the distance from center you must usually go to achieve overall balance in life. This is exemplified in the prolonged protests for Black Lives Matter after George Floyd’s death. White supremacy and bigotry have a stranglehold on American society, and more extreme measures have proved necessary in order to have any chance of tangible change. Those changes are necessary to achieve balance in society, so people of color are not continually subject to structural violence and discrimination.
The Binary Illusion
Western culture loves to model things in binaries, or along spectrums between binary points that are seen as oppositional. These kinds of models are clean, easy, and in most cases erroneously oversimplified. When followed closely, binary models tend to encourage a sort of static, adversarial way of approaching life, work, community, religion, and spirituality. They throw you out of balance because they trick you into only seeing one dimension, when in reality life is about balancing multitudes of things in all dimensions, and those things are usually not as oppositional as they seem.
“Am I gay or straight?” No.
“Am I male or female?” No.
“Is my magic good or evil?” No.
“Are you a logical person, or a creative person?” Yes.
The binary models fall apart when you exist outside the parameters they define. They limit and blind their adherents to everything else that exists. There is light and dark, but light and dark define and amplify each other, and you need both to see. Life is never “black and white”, and good and evil is usually subjective.
If you are into astrology, you can easily point to my natal chart as informing my interest in mutable asymmetrical balance. My sun is in Pisces, but both my moon and ascendant are in Libra. This creates a situation where I am typical for neither Pisces nor Libra, but also have strong overarching influences from both.
Like everything else, though, I do not see my motivations as being that simple. My interest in balance comes out of having an existence that is inherently outside the confines of socially defined and approved norms. I am not alone in that by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been rare for me to meet other people who already see, understand, and experience the sorts of things I do. According to most metrics used to define people in American society, I defy definition.
I do not fit in binary boxes, not because I chose that, but because it is an inherent part of my lived experience and who I am. That means where I find balance is going to be nowhere near the places that most people find balance. The further out you are from social normativity, the more unbalanced you become when you try to bend yourself to where normative society finds balance. It just doesn’t work.
When you defy definition by the cosmology in which you are raised, the most common answer is to try to conform anyway. That is part of being a social animal. We tend to want to fit into the society where we live, so that we have friends and a sense of belonging. At a very young age, life proved to me that it would be impossible for me to fit in no matter how hard I tried, so for the most part I didn’t bother.
Instead I focused on being true to myself, no matter how baffling my truest self was to other people. They did not like me anyway, so I believed my path to fulfilment and belonging lay in being happy with myself. If I were truly happy with myself, on the occasions when I crossed paths with people who could see and appreciate that, I felt I would have the ability to find truly meaningful relationships. I felt that relationships based in lies of conformity would be hollow, farcical, and unfulfilling.
Balance as an Expression of Change
Balance is an infinitely complex web of all the situations and influences of life, mental, physical, and spiritual, going both forward and backward in time. It is different for every person, and at every time in life. The pursuit of balance is a feat that is well worth attempting, and in that pursuit it is important to acknowledge the fluid and elusive nature of balance. If you look for a static, immutable balance point, you will doom yourself to perpetual failure and frustration.
When you accept that balance is an ever-changing dance, the goal becomes finding your rhythm, so that you can move with life and change along with the changing tempos and melodies. It becomes possible to accept that stumbling and falling out of balance are inevitable occurrences which simply must be dealt with. Losing your balance does not prevent you from continuing your dance, even if circumstances require your dance to dramatically change. Change is the only constant, and if we want any hope of achieving a sense of equilibrium, we must work with change rather than running from it in fear.
Balance Requires Open Eyes
Another significant obstacle to balance is the inability or unwillingness to see many of the things that influence our lives. That which exists outside the neatly defined binary boxes can affect anyone, including those who do not want to see or accept such things. We cannot know everything, but we can be aware and conscientious about that lack of knowledge.
Insisting that nothing exists outside of binary models is like declaring that purple cars do not exist. Sure, purple cars might not be common, and you may never have seen one, but purple cars can and do exist. Denying the existence of, for example, nonbinary people, is like refusing to acknowledge the purple car stopped on the road in front of you, and then crashing into it because you convinced yourself it was imaginary. Purple cars genuinely exist, and so do nonbinary people. Those are simple facts.
There are a lot of things that genuinely exist in life which we have no experience with or knowledge of, and they can unexpectedly influence our lives. When you acknowledge that fact, it gives you the ability to see beyond the limited models normative society is built around, and even those models which you build for yourself. It allows you to approach or receive such unexpected influences with conscious respect and good will. It allows you to shed fear of the unknown, and instead embrace it so you can live your most free.
Balance is a Complex Web of Influences
Balance is about more than just routine. Routine can help with maintaining a sense of balance, but it is not necessary for all people or at all times. Balance is about the interplay of personal needs and desires, and the needs and desires of loved ones, community, and greater society. No one can satisfy every need and desire. There simply are not enough hours in the day, no one has enough emotional energy for all of that, and those various needs and desires tend to conflict. Instead we must seek balance in how we approach satisfying those needs and desires that are most important, while taking care of our overall well-being and protecting ourselves from that which would cause us harm.
I cannot tell other people how to achieve balance, because balance is different for every person. What I can do is advocate for inclusion and acceptance and awareness. I can advocate for the celebration of diversity, and appreciation of all the complex infinite notes and threads of life. I can warn against the dangers of enforced homogeny, and advocate for the acceptance of personal truths and personal paths. I can speak out against those who would prefer to shove everyone into boxes and deny the amazing and glorious diversity of human experience and individuality. I can offer magical and cosmological models which speak to the beautiful interconnected diversity I see in the world around me.
I do those things because true, lasting, adaptable balance and harmony is predicated on acceptance of the stunning variety and amazing diversity of life and existence. Balance is most stable when we have families and communities which support and nurture everyone in them, equally and happily. Balance is most fulfilling when we accept our truest selves and the truest selves of others, no matter what that might mean.
And because it sadly must be explicitly stated, I give zero room to racists, bigots, transphobes, xenophobes, misogynists, and other hate-mongers. It is impossible to create inclusive environments when you allow access to those who are intolerant and hateful. Hate-mongers create imbalance and hostility, seek to center themselves above all else, and their core motivations preclude the possibility of respect and acceptance.
To everyone else, no matter your gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or path, I bid you welcome! May we all find balance and fulfilment in this insane ride we call life.