The world has seemed pretty chaotic for the last few years, and when the upheaval is unrelenting, you tend to either sink or swim, and sometimes do both in the course of a day. For myself, I can feel overwhelmed, like I’m in a boat that is navigating the rapids, while I am desperately trying to stay afloat and on course. A few things help when I am in a space like that, and it occurred to me that my regular litany of self-talk helps me course-correct, forming what I consider a Pagan Manifesto of sorts. Use mine to springboard into your own, or use it as a foundation to add in whatever works for you.
I will stay healthy. This is a mantra that governs my choices daily. Drink water, move my body, breathe, meditate. Some people take their health for granted, but I can’t, as I have taken care of many family members with serious diseases. It leaves a lasting impression. To stay healthy is also a defiant act these days, a statement against the world at large that treats being healthy as an oddity rather than the norm.
I will honor my deities and ancestors. Their altars get dusty, and I sometimes shy away from spending time with them, but ultimately, honoring my deities and ancestors is fulfilling and necessary in my life. They lead me to face things I may avoid, and provide the foundation I need to move forward in life. With them, I feel connected and strong, and able to build upward from their presence in my life. To remember and honor both is to be able to face forward and do the work.
I will follow my purpose. It’s not always easy, and I have to make conscious effort to get back to center, and stay on that path. So much can distract focus, from world news to personal issues, but I love that feeling of rightness when I am firmly moving forward on my path. Some days, I may feel as if my purpose remains a mystery, and that’s okay, too. The light will shine again in the darkness, and I will follow in that direction.
I will tend to my spirituality. When I am attuned to the Wheel of the Year, and moon cycles, it just feels right. It feels like water flowing smoothly, like everything is in alignment, and that I am focused and clear. Is it like that all the time? No. There are some days where I can barely summon the energy to light a candle, and to sit at my altar feels like I have to face some unpleasant truths about myself, so I run in the opposite direction. Making an effort to connect with my deities, to honor them, to observe, to be still and listen…that is what keeps my inner fire going.
I will spend time in nature. It feels sometimes as if I can only breathe when I visit an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my world seems simpler when I hug a tree, and my troubles literally wash away when I am wading in the nearby creek. Dealing with daily stress can be exhausting, but I know that once I connect with nature, I feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better? Yet it can seem insurmountable when all you want to do is hide out in bed and away from everything. One foot in front of the other, and I am out the door to relish that feeling of connection. I will do it as often as I can. I am the better for it.
I will revel in community. In a time of hearing “social distancing” at least twenty times a day, it can be challenging to be around people at all. Yet two people can make a community, so on days when I can’t handle much more, reaching out to someone is “community” for me. Sending a letter to a friend recovering from surgery is community. Using technology to buy someone a meal online is community. Participating in an online ritual or in online workshops is community. Volunteer time (also done online) connects me to others. Getting outside myself and my own head by being part of community is vital. Whatever defines community for you, do it. If you don’t know what community is for you, take time to figure it out. It can be as simple or as multi-layered as you’d like, but do take some time to ponder that.
I will keep learning. When my brain feels like mush, or life feels stagnant, I will keep learning. To add to my knowledge, and to satisfy my curiosity about the world around me invigorates me. Knowledge is power and momentum. I will learn more about the things that interest me, the areas of interest that I’d like to expand, a skill to add to my tool kit of life.
I will stay true to myself. I find that when people put me into a box. forming opinions of me without really getting to know me, our association doesn’t last long. I am who I am as a person, and if you see that, you won’t be threatened by any changes I make. There have been times I have not been true to myself, following the “shoulds” of life, and most of those times, I end up miserable. Being true to myself is good for my emotional, spiritual and physical self.
I will make myself happy. We get told this is so many ways: put the oxygen make on first, prioritize self-care, if mama ain’t happy, then no one is happy. So why don’t we?! Making myself happy is a priority, not at the expense of someone else, but in order for me to thrive. No one else can make you happy. They can bring you joy, but that is not the same thing. Know the difference. Some consider it selfish, but selfishness is letting yourself deteriorate because of a misguided notion that everyone else come first. I am not talking about children, ill family members, or responsibilities. You can’t take care or love others truly if you’re not taking care of yourself and your own needs. It’s an investment into the person that you are, which is so very worthy of your time and effort.
This manifesto is a changing, evolving entity as life itself evolves. What is in your manifesto? Which foundational pillars make up your own personal declaration? It’s a decisive, affirming action in these turbulent times.