Last Week of Lent: Social Justice Work Comes At A Cost (Paganism, Christianity, and Me)

I want to be able to say something profound here about my working, but I just can’t. At least, not in any way that’ll make sense to people other than myself. Most of what I’ve learned this week is that I shouldn’t read any social media until after I’ve done my morning prayers, had breakfast, and done my writing for the day. I’m writing about social justice, and reading other people’s social justice stuff, or about the election, before I get into my own work makes things difficult. My wife says “Social justice work comes at a cost.” and that’s quite true.

In my meditations, Jesus keeps telling me that even He had to go find solitude while do His public work. Gethsemane, the desert, and many other times He would go alone somewhere to pray. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons from Him: that quiet prayer time isn’t a bad thing to schedule into the day. Or, rather, schedule my day around the prayer time. Public work is hard, especially when you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall.

Speaking of that, one thing this week I commented on (yes, yes, I shouldn’t have bothered, but I was feeling ornery), was a post on Patheos where Gwion Raven was ranting about his identity as a pagan. Mostly about what it is, what it isn’t, and what he didn’t like about Christianity. This isn’t anything new, really, and when I challenged him on his wording, there was a “oh, well, I didn’t mean it that way” kind of response.

Gwion made it pretty clear that he wants anarchy for paganism. But here’s the thing: that’s fine for your tradition. That’s what works for you. You don’t want institutions or churches? Ok, then don’t build any. No one’s forcing you to build any or go to any. Just like no one’s forcing you to accept Christian lore or ritual in your practices.

My problem isn’t really with any of that. My problem is with the unspoken assumption that multi-faith pagans, especially those who are Christo-pagan, are somehow less than “real” pagans. I get it. I get that you don’t want to look like Christians, act like Christians, or have anything to do with Christian ritual. (Although I think that’s tough to do, given that any Gardnerian based tradition, which is the model for most witchcraft in the US and parts of Europe, has Judeo-Christian roots. I’d say that it’s a bit too late to be complaining about that. Doubly so if you’re in a Golden Dawn tradition. But I digress.) Again, that’s fine…for you.

But don’t insinuate that Christo-pagans are “fence sitters,” or delusional, or are only Christo-pagans because they don’t want to be “fully pagan.” While being neopagan and Christian is somewhat relatively new, traditions that combine magick and Christianity are not. And, really, many of those are seriously bad-ass magickal traditions in their own right. I wouldn’t want to tell a practitioner of one those traditions that they are somehow “doing it wrong.” Never mind the Euro-centrism of denying mystical Christian traditions.

Again we have a case of someone saying “All pagans should do X.” or “A proper/real pagan is…” I know the pagan community is full of humans doing stupid human tricks, but for once, I’d really be happy if people would really take a good look at and think about what they’re saying.

These lines are familiar aren’t they? Here, let me spell it out for you: “All Christians should do X.” and “A proper/real Christian is….”

Or what about: “You aren’t really bisexual, you’re either gay or your straight.”

Or: “It’s just a phase. You’ll get over it eventually.”

*sigh*

Yeah, we’ve been down this path before. Many people became pagans to run away from this type of thinking, and yet, here we are. Saying the same things that we came to paganism to avoid.

Why people don’t seem to see that they are guilty of this, no matter what progressive community they’re in (since this happens in any movement), while they loudly proclaim that they aren’t being exclusionary, boggles the mind. It’s as if the people they are railing against are the “them” and not really humans!

Oh, wait…

5th Week of Lent: Into the Last Phase

I’ve just realized that I’m over halfway done with my Lenten working. On Tuesday I started the Jesus part of my working, and so far it’s been good. What I’m realizing, though, is that Jesus and I don’t know each other quite as well as we used to. What I mean by that is that while I’ve had a relationship with the spirit of Jesus, it’s been more as an acquaintance rather than a close relationship like I have with The Dagda and Hecate. I realized that this morning at the beginning of my morning meditation, and so instead of doing the rosary like I have been doing the last few days, I just did a quiet meditation and had a conversation. It was a good conversation, and I think I’ll need to keep doing that for the time being.

In the evening, before bed, I’ve been doing a set of Compline prayers that I adapted and redacted from the Daily Office of the Society of Saint Francis. (Out of all of them, the Franciscan prayers and theology are the ones that speak to me. It doesn’t really surprise me, given my witchy proclivities.) I’m finding that I really like the little ritual each night. It’s got me thinking, though, about maybe creating a Wiccan Christian Daily Office (as if I need yet another writing project), but it’ll have to wait until after I get the radical inclusion book done.

I still have a couple of weeks until Easter and the end of this working. I’ve been learning a lot, and I know I want to keep doing the morning and evening meditations, but right now, I’m not sure exactly what that will look like. While part of my brain wants to figure it out right now, but the rest of my brain is saying “Don’t worry about it until the working is done.”

I think that would be the wiser course. Besides, there’s still 16 days left….

4th Week of Lent: An Appreciation for Getting Things Done

Reflecting on the 4th week of Lent where I’m still in the Dagda part of my working, I realize I’ve done quite a bit. I’ve “normalized” my work day and have gotten more written on my book this week than I have in several months. I cooked a lot, and have a lovely visit with my friend River and her little one on Thursday. I created a booklet of the prayers I need for the next phase of my working and shared that with those who I thought would be interested. I called the gardener and had them come sort out our yard (before the rain started). I got a new phone and set up our fancy new lights that we can control with our devices!

In other words, it’s been a busy week.

I keep wanting to write about some of the interesting conversations and thoughts I’ve been having about the state of clergy in paganism, but it seems like I need to think about the more before I write on it. I keep starting and deleting, so…

One thing, though, is that my social media need is way down. More often than not I’m just checking Facebook to see if there’s anything specific I need to address, and then I move on. Same with Tumblr. The further I get into this working the less I really want to deal with social media. If it wasn’t good for the podcast or the way I communicate with a lot of the east coast, I’d just jump ship from Facebook all together. As it is, not being on Facebook a lot has done a some real good for my mental health.

A definite thing to come from this working is that the twice daily meditation is doing a lot for my anxiety and depression issues. I know it’s one aspect of this working that I’ll definitely keep up with afterwards. Even the wife has noticed a real difference in my mood because of it.

This is just a short update since, apparently, the other stuff I want to write about is going to be saved for a later date…

3rd Week of Lent: The Dadga and Healing my Relationship to Food

Right now, I’m in the middle of my time with The Dagda. Getting up earlier to make breakfast took a bit of getting used to, but it’s been nice to sit and eat with my wife before she goes to work in the morning. The other side of having to make food for others as ritual is that it really brings up the messed up relationship I’ve had with food and with my body. I’m facing the reality of being the one who feeds people and eating with others. It’s complex: There’s the whole idea of finding it hard to eat publicly, but yet, I have to feed anyone who comes to our house, or, as will happen next weekend, I have to make dinner for others outside of the house.

Some of this also brings up a lot of the complex feelings I have about my own body and how I look. The Dagda is teaching me to love my belly. He chides me when I think about hating it because he shows me his own big belly and laughs, saying “If I, a god, can have a big belly, so can you!”

I was looking for something to represent the Dagda on my altar, and there were a bunch of pictures of big muscle-bound bearded men with six-pack abs in the depictions of Him on Google. I raised an eyebrow, and He said to me “That is definitely NOT me!” I see Him more as I have Him depicted in the tattoo on my right leg: big fat belly, club, and cauldron. He’s a father-type figure for me, and brings about the seasons. He helps bring about Justice for those who need and deserve it. He has the ever-full cauldron that will feed those who are in need and deserving, but be empty for those who are greedy.

He came to me in the middle of my second degree initiation in my old coven. It was weird because I thought I had had a name all picked out for my witch name, but when it came time to say my witch name “The Dagda” came out of my mouth instead. I actually don’t remember the name that I was going to use, but after reading about Him, I started to understand why He came to me. I no longer use His name as my witch name (which He was flattered that I did), but He has been my patron god ever since.

So, if I make you food or ask if you want a snack during this time, know that it’s a sacred thing. The kitchen is my temple, the stove one of my altars, and food is the sacrifice we make for being human. I will not be ashamed to partake of that sacrifice from now on.

2nd Week of Lent: Pantheacon and What I’m Doing This For

I’ve tried to start this a couple of times because, well, Pantheacon is always hard to sum up in the week after and 2016 is no exception. In short, it was a really good convention all the way around. Time seemed to warp around the con and this week it’s been really difficult to get back into “normal” time. I know next week things will settle down, especially after I catch up on my sleep debt.

The big things:

  • My coven is super awesome, and I’m excited we’ll be adding more awesome people to our little family of weirdos.
  • “Crossroads of Memory” kicked some serious ass, and CAYA Coven was awesome! Hopefully we’ll be able to collaborate again! (Dobby is a free elf!)
  • Many excellent conversations were had in the suite and I was really happy that the Body Policing/Body Shame panel on Saturday became a really deep discussion. The gender discussion on Sunday was also awesome, and moved from gender issues to a deep discussion about gender, race, and intersectionality.
  • My workshop on radical inclusion went really well, although we ended up going overtime a little. The best part was seeing light bulbs go off in people’s minds about what radical inclusion is. That is the awesomest thing about teaching, I think.
  • We had a beautiful 2nd Degree ritual on Thursday night, and it seems it be becoming a tradition to initiate someone at con.
  • Great dinners and chats with new friends, old friends, and seeing folks I haven’t seen in a long time.
  • Much priesting of one form or another.
  • Helping out some folks when they experienced some not so nice things at con and being a safe place for people to just be.
  • Learning not to apologize for doing self care.

One thing that was difficult for me was trying to do my meditations during the con, especially since, except for Thursday, we stayed up until well past 1 AM. Hecate said not to worry about it since I was doing a lot of priesting anyway and I was following other aspects of my agreements (She had me wearing all black for the con, taking care of the north altar, and I was doing daily meditation times publicly).

I was still worrying about it when we got home, and one of the things I remembered was Sarah telling me not to apologize for doing self-care. In my meditations this week Hecate has been telling me that the point of what I’m doing is not necessarily about what I actually do in my meditations, but learning the discipline of daily practice. I’m doing this to get closer to my deities, but I’m also doing it to create the foundation for doing the other work I want and need to do. The meditation is really helping me a lot, especially in the anxiety department (although cutting out caffeine hasn’t hurt, either!), and I’m also learning a new grounding technique that was really helpful during the con and is still helping post-con to bring me more down to earth.

I also needed to change out my Hecate statue. One of the problems with being someone who works with the dying is that sometimes I can get stuck in that mode and forget that there’s life out there, too. The Hecate statue I was using was one I made when I was still doing ceramics and sculpture at home and it is Her in Her role as Death (it’s a bit similar to Santa Muerte in that respect). I needed to remember that She has other aspects (Goddess of Initation, of the Crossroads, etc), and I needed some other representation to reflect that. I got the new statue today, and we’re both pleased (if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve already seen it).

On Monday I’ll be switching over to the Dagda part of the working. It’s been interesting because there’s more logistics required for this part of the working since it requires making meals for others. I’ll be re-doing my altar for it, too. It’s always interesting to compare what kind of altar bling each deity likes when I offer it. All three have relatively simple tastes, which is a good thing!

Could I do this working without the bling? Sure. The bling is mostly for me as an outward representation of what I’m doing, but it’s nice when the Deity in question happens to like it, too. It’s also a place for me to focus, and sometimes it really does take the bling to make it work when I’m feeling scattered. Candles are useful, too, when it comes to that.

It also makes me think about the how all things can be sacred if you let it. The kitchen stove will be my altar for a couple of weeks. My altar is a repurposed microwave stand. I use coins for offerings. If it’s a sacrifice I can make, I will. If it something I need to negotiate, I will. If it’s something I can’t do, I’ll tell my deities so. This is a relationship, and relationships are meant to be based on communication and respect. And so it is…

Noodling About My Lenten Working

I’ve mentioned it in a few places, but I’m doing a Lenten working so that I can get closer to the Spirits that I regularly work with. I’ve been feeling lately that I’ve been…neglectful of? distant from? my deities, but I’m also in a change state with my ministry. What I thought I would be doing after I graduated has morphed into something different. This isn’t a bad thing, really, as it seems I’m being polished and honed into what feels right.

Maybe my “not being settled” in my own spiritual work is what is contributing to my not wanting to read theology. There are times where hardcore theology just makes me want to scream since it seems like way too much noodling about what’s “right” or what the theologian thinks. I suppose that’s the point of the more hardcore systematic theology (which, in most circumstances I do actually like). It frustrates me because I’d rather be “doing” my theology than just thinking about it. I did plenty of thinking about it in seminary, and now there’s a restlessness to be doing things.

Not that I haven’t been doing things, but I think I’m finally coming into the “right” things for my own ministry. The podcast, writing, teaching in my coven, teaching about radical inclusion in the pagan community, and teaching about about body shame and how not to do it in a spiritual setting. You know, when I look at that list, that’s a lot of stuff to do.

But, to do this work, I need to be more grounded in my own spiritual work and spiritual self, which I’m not really so much so at the moment. I’ve always had a monastic, contemplative bent, and so the big parts of my working are going to be daily meditation (at set times), and specific daily work pertinent to the deities I’m working with.

I’m kind of nervous about it since I’m not sure what I’ll be or have when I’m through the other side of this working. I’m hoping to have a stronger relationship with my deities (Hecate, The Dagda, Jesus), and come out with a daily practice that works for me.

One note about this: Part of the agreements I have with the Spirits about this is that I’ll be doing minimal social media during this time. I already block Facebook and Tumblr on my devices between 10 am and 6 pm Pacific. I will have Facebook Messenger on my phone and other devices, but the best way to reach me is to email me. I’ll be on Twitter, too but not quite as much. People can also text me, but the overall best will be email.

We’ll see where this goes, but I think, overall, it’s going to be a good thing for me.

A general post of New Year’s goals and putting out my shingle

It’s a new year, and there are many posts and memes about New Year’s Resolutions going around. I tend not to bother with resolutions because, when I make them, I end up feeling bad if I break them. I have enough of my own anxiety that I don’t need to add more on top of it. Instead of resolutions, I like to think about projects and goals for the new year.

The first project this year is to finish a book. I realized the other night that I actually have two books in the works: one on radical inclusion for the pagan community, and one about our coven’s traditions and teachings. I’d like to get the radical inclusion one to at least a finished first draft by the end of the summer (earlier if possible). I’ve probably got about 1/4-1/3 written, so this is do-able if I knuckle down and just get on with it. If I can get a first draft of the Cerridwen book done this year, too, that would be a bonus, but I’m ok with shuffling it into 2017.

The second set of projects are around TWIH: First, I wan’t to try doing quarterly live Google hangout panels about particular topics. I’d like to shoot for doing the first one in March, and I hope I can get the folks I’d like to get for it. It’ll take some logistical wrangling, but I think it’ll be interesting. Second, I need to revamp my Patreon page and make more interesting goals and incentives. (Although, feel free to contribute any time, if you feel so inclined!) I’m also considering maybe a Patreon contest or fund drive, but I’m not sure. The third one is probably a long-shot, but I’d like to do a live interview (or interviews) for charity. I’m still thinking about who to ask for that one, and if anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

The last goals, as far as online content is concerned, is to keep writing, at least weekly, for this site. I had thought about doing a vlog on YouTube, but doing both a weekly audio podcast and a video would be a bit much for me, I think.

I’d also like to get some more freelance projects for either writing, editing, website work, or even some A/V work. If you need this type of work done, or know someone who might, please let me know! I’d also like to do some more workshops and speaking at other conventions/festivals, so if anyone runs some of those things and would like me to be there, send me an email!

As far as priestly work goes, besides my work with the coven, I’m planning on doing a big personal working for Lent. I’ve felt a bit disconnected from deity and devotional work for awhile, and my wife had the suggestion to use the Lenten season to do it. It should be a pretty intense working and of course I’ll be starting the Tuesday before Pantheacon. (So if you see me run off to go do something at certain times, that’s why!) There’s also an ordination this weekend (yay!), and maybe even doing a wedding at some point in the future (well, it may or may not happen this year, we’ll see).

Heh…now that I’ve written this all out, it seems I’m doing a lot more than I thought. The wife has a lot of new stuff going on, too, and so far, 2016 is behaving. Hopefully, the rest of the year continues this way!

 

Changing Genre

A few months ago, I complained to my wife that I just wasn’t into reading anymore. Actually, I think it was more like I was bored with the reading I was doing. I was initially blaming my lack of reading on the three and a half years I spent reading theology in seminary. I told myself that my brain was too full and I need to get stuff out of it to get back into the swing of things. Problem with that was that I get inspired to write by reading. It’s a thing that writers are also readers, and that’s very true of me. To put it another way: I wasn’t reading, but I wasn’t writing either.

So, when I complaining to my wife about it, she asked me what books I had been reading. It was mostly what I like to call “brain candy”: light, fun, not very deep stuff and mostly scifi and fantasy. The only books that had really made me think and fed my soul up until then were Julia Child’s memoir about her time in France and Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking.” She knew what my problem was: my reading tastes had changed and I needed more meaty books to read. How about some classics? Have you read things like “Animal Farm?” or “Catcher in the Rye?”

I shook my head. I knew that a lot of the books she was suggesting I was supposed to read in high school, but I ended not doing so because I had teachers that had particular, and peculiar, tastes (my Junior AP English teacher had an unhealthy obsession with William Faulkner, who I can’t stand!). I started with “Animal Farm” and plowed through it in two days. Then I read “Catcher in the Rye,” and got through that pretty quickly too.

My wife, as always, was quite right. My tastes have changed. I’ve since been drifting more outside of my scifi/fantasy comfort zone and finding things much more interesting. I’ve also been getting into more of the memoirs and non-fiction, especially if they’re about travel and food. I’ve even read some brain candy romance (don’t judge me) when I needed some fluff. (My wife also, around this time, got me a Kindle Paperwhite, which is super awesome to read on, and much easier on the eyes than my iPhone, which has also helped.)

The weird part for me is this feeling that I’m betraying my scifi/fantasy roots. I mean, I’ve read a couple scifi novels here and there (“The Martian”, “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet”), and several short story collections since I’ve been branching out, but it’s mostly been non-fiction, history, classics, and other genres of fiction (oh, and the occasional erotic novel thanks to Forbidden Fiction). It’s like scifi is sitting there in my Kindle like an ignored puppy saying “Why aren’t you reading me anymore? Why are you reading that other stuff?” Or maybe it’s like I’m abandoning my childhood stuffed animal that I always slept with because I don’t need it anymore? Like it’s been relegated to a special shelf in my room, where I can look at it and be all nostalgic, but I’m ok without it.

Thing is, I’m still pretty steeped in scifi fandom when it comes to TV shows and movies. Doctor Who, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Arrow, The Flash, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, among others (and, this weekend, the new Star Wars movie!). I guess maybe the video side of scifi is more interesting to me at the moment rather than the book end of scifi/fantasy. I’m sure there’s scifi/fantasy books that I should be reading that would be juicy and feed my soul that people will want me to read (and you can leave recommendations in the comments), but a lot of it has been, very, well….formulary. It’s weird to read the same type of story over and over and realize that they are all written by different authors and have the same kind of characters that are just dressed differently. That didn’t seem to matter in my teens and twenties, but now?

Maybe I feel weird because scifi/fantasy books are what helped me through childhood. Or maybe it’s because the genre has a pretty hardcore fanbase? It always seemed that most scifi fans read only scifi for their recreational reading and that any other genre was inferior. That was my perception, anyway. I don’t think I ever really fully believed that, but I felt like I’d only been interested in that genre and nothing else for a very long time. Maybe seminary broke that in me, and now I’m looking for a wider world of books to feed my soul?

Maybe that’s it. No matter what, though, I’m glad I’m branching out.

I’m Wiccan and Christian. Does that bother you?

In the last few days I’ve seen a lot people in several forums say things like “you can’t call yourself a Christian and practice witchcraft” or “you can’t call yourself a Christian and practice traditions from other religion’s holidays.” The typical reason given is that it’s somehow evil if you do. I’ve heard similar things from the pagan end of the spectrum as well, although usually it’s more of a “consorting with the enemy” type of approach. There have been well known pagans who went back to Christianity and were called opportunists because they didn’t stay in a path that wasn’t speaking to them anymore. The typical reason from this end is that “Christians do bad things.” I can confirm from my own experiences with an abusive leader that pagans do bad things as well. Believe me, Christianity doesn’t corner the market on church burn.

If religions have both good and bad people in them that also do good and bad things, then what reasons are we left with? The main one that I see is fear: fear of the unknown, the other, of things we don’t understand. Fear that maybe we might be wrong about our faith. That if someone doesn’t practice their tradition like you do and are content in it, then there must be something wrong with them. Or, maybe they’re delusional? Maybe they’re in denial of the Truth and just need someone to tell them that Truth so that they can believe the Right Way. Maybe it’s that they learned from the wrong teacher, or all they did was read a book and self-initiated themselves, so they’re not a proper witch? Isn’t it too confusing? These sentiments are so common when multi-faith practice comes up, I need to remind progressive communities that there are people who have multi-faith practices in their own community.

My questions for those who want to condemn multi-faith practice, or even just practices that are different from their own, are these:

  • Is your faith in your own religion, your own tradition, and your connection with Spirit so fragile that you can’t handle someone doing something different from you and having just as strong of a faith and belief?
  • Do you feel that your faith necessitates you be right, even if it means bullying someone else?
  • Are people who are different from you such a threat to your own sense of self you feel the need to act violently in words and actions towards others?
  • Are you so afraid of looking outside your comfortable bubble that you can’t accept that other people do things differently than you?
  • Are you so sure about your own practice that you can claim that it is the One True Practice?

I am Wiccan and Christian. Both sets of rituals and deities feed my spirit and give me joy, comfort, and, because of my calling, purpose. I am a priest of both traditions because I have been called by my Wiccan deities and Jesus to do the work of a priest. I work to build bridges between the pagan and Christian communities and facilitate healing. I don’t always get it right, but I try my best. This is my path and I walk it with agreement between me and the Deities I serve.

Let me explain it another way. Let’s look at when Jesus came before Pilate:

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

(from Biblegateway, John 18:33-37 NIV)

When Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews, Jesus asks him if he came up with that idea, or was it something he learned from others. Jesus never claimed anything other than someone to speaking His truth. He was charged, by God and Spirit, to bring a certain truth to this world. In most of the Gospels he never fully admits to being a Messiah, either. He is a man and he had a mission. He cared for the sick, fed the poor, and did the work that God had set for him to do.

He didn’t ask for the label of “King” nor did He ever force anyone to follow Him, or call them traitor for not believing like He did. He preached, people listened, then made up their own minds to follow Him. Jesus never asked anyone to give up their sense of selves in order to follow Him. In short: He never claimed to be other than He was. He was a Jew. He also practiced this new Way of Love, which frightened the establishment. He never claimed to be anything He wasn’t.

Just like those of us who have multi-faith practices.

I am a witch and I am Christian. That is who I am. If it bothers you, is that your own idea, or did others tell you what to think of me? I was born to be who I am and this is my truth.

When Things Fall Down

To be honest, I’ve been trying to write this post for about a week now. I was planning to do this whole exegesis about Job 2:11-13 where Job’s friends come to see him. They basically see what a state Job is in and all they can really do is just sit there and be with him. Then I was going to try and write about the sephirot of Binah. Binah is, and I’m using the occult version of Kabbalah here (not strictly Jewish), simplistically, “understanding,” but in my experience this sephirot is where all sorrows, beginnings, and endings are. It’s usually equated to the divine feminine or Goddess energy and in my experience, when I’ve gone there it definitely feels womb-like.

I’m writing this now, and I’m realizing that both of these are applicable to the last three weeks. A good friend was in the hospital, and, especially at first, I felt like Job’s friends. All we could really do was sit and wait with her wife and do the little things to help. It never really feels like enough, but, at least intellectually, there’s not much else one can do. (Thankfully she’s home now!) A couple other situations had me feeling like Job, where I was doubting myself and wondering if I had done something to warrant punishment from the Spirits. Then, at the beginning of this week, I was feeling as if I was in Binah, most firmly and completely so.

But my mistake was trying to figure it all out on my own by keeping it to myself. Or, to put it another way, I’m extremely bad at taking my own advice. Coming out of that state this week got me thinking about the fact that we are programmed this way, especially here in the US. We’re taught that we’re supposed to do everything ourselves. Our independence, and ability “to do it all,” is lauded as some grand virtue, and yet we suffer needlessly for it. Sometimes I think maybe what we’re seeing on the internet is a result of this and not the technology itself. We’re so indoctrinated to have absolute opinions that we’ve figured out by ourselves that when we’re confronted with the global community of the internet, we just don’t know how to handle it. We start to see that we’re not the only people who have feelings, heartache, and bad things happening. We’re not the islands of specialness we thought we were. The indoctrination we’ve received then translates this as us having no value or that we’re no longer interesting.

The hardest part of this, though, is that what we’ve been taught is a lie. Asking for help, or emotional support, or taking refuge in community isn’t a failure of independence nor does it mean that we don’t have a uniqueness that is valuable to said community. The only thing that it means is that we’re human. This is the hardest idea to accept because of our drive to do everything ourselves or to be the one who is “right” all the time. Mistakes, disappointments, and failure is going to happen regardless because we can’t avoid it.

Thinking about this in terms of social justice, we all fail miserably. We want inclusion, justice, and change, but we demand perfection instead of compromise. We demand immediate change from people instead of working with our mutual humanity. We see people as failures if they don’t see things exactly our way. I know I’ve failed spectacularly in this myself and I’ve let these failures take on a proportion that was far larger than what I actually did. I know I’ve expected people to behave in the way I wanted them to instead of how they are. While sometimes it’s necessary to challenge people about their actions, expecting people to “get it” or change overnight is futile because they, too, are human beings. Sometimes the “truth” isn’t the most compassionate way to handle a situation. Sometimes we have to walk away from people, and sometimes we have to rethink our ideas of how the world works. Our human-ness is a shifting and moving thing and we’re always having to learn, or re-learn, what being human means.

OK, I’m getting pretty deep here. Most of this is navel gazing, really, and I’ll have something more interesting next week. I did need to get it out of my system, though. Thanks, and if you have thoughts about this feel free to comment.

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