Processing the Work

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog entry. A lot has happened. I haven’t so much as cocooned this time around as I’ve been processing the results of some powerful magick in my life. The results have forced me to hit the ground running and have given me time for little else in my life right now. It began in August with a trip to Pasadena to visit my dear friend Nick. The intention was to figure out where we were heading with our new business, but it turned into something a bit deeper than that. I can only speak for myself, but it became a trip of self-realization. I figured out more things about myself and why I was so stuck in my life.

“Know thyself”

This was probably the most difficult part of the transformative process that I’ve gone through, because I realized that there was a lot of self-hatred that I had never understood before. I brushed it off because I didn’t understand it for what it was. How often have I taken the time to write “Know Thyself” in this blog? It’s one of the reasons I was so stuck and unable to move forward. I annoy the hell out of myself and I often project that annoyance on to others. So, stuck I was and I wasn’t budging until I dealt with it.

One of the important aspects of the transmutation process is learning to love all the things about yourself, even the things you hate. It’s an oxymoron. How can you love the things you hate? But it is possible. One method is to see it in others. When you can see it in them and you can love them for it, you can look within and turn that expression of hate into the same type of love you have for the other person. We’re so much harder on ourselves than we our with other people in our lives. We don’t cut ourselves the same sort of slack we would for them. But if you’re like me, sometimes I don’t recognize how pissed off I’m getting at such minor things that I do. I build this list and it turns into a giant pile of “God damnit! Did it again!” Each little thing turns into a litany of failure to change that annoying thing I do. Then I see it in a friend or that others do it so often it’s been turned into an online meme and I think, maybe it isn’t so big after all. Maybe most of us are just goofballs and it’s nothing to get so upset about. Maybe I ought to just chill.

A Gila monster

Or maybe we actually are we’re blowing up at others and becoming screaming Gila monsters, but we don’t immediately see that because deep inside we know it’s something we do ourselves and it pisses us off. Our relationship with others is a mirror reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. When we work to repair the relationship with the other person or when we work to repair the relationship within ourselves, we repair the whole of it.

So that happened for me.

While I still have moments where I get angry with myself, I’m also much quicker to forgive myself. As a result, I’ve found my relationships with friends and family have improved. I’m far less likely to explode or act out in anger or frustration. When I do, I move quickly to resolve the problem. Mostly, I’ve learned to let things go. If I make a mistake, I learn how to correct the problem, let go of the anxiety and move on to bigger and better things.

I have much gratitude to Nick for giving me the time and space to sort that out for myself. We had a lot of fun and got into all sorts of shenanigans. I also learned that Nick was my true soul brother, so this trip was priceless. It took me about six weeks to unpack everything I learned on it. That’s how you know it’s good, it takes a while to process all of it.

The Venus by Michael Parks

In September, I had a revelation about how poorly I treat my body by not taking care of it in terms of what I eat and ignoring health care. This relates back to that self-hatred. This came through my work with Venus one Friday in mid-September when I was feeling great self-pity because I hated my work, I wasn’t feeling well and nothing good seemed to be happening.  Venus took me by the scruff and basically told me that I was killing myself! I had to get off of my ass, stop eating sugar, get myself to the doctor and start making the changes I wanted to see in my life. Otherwise, I could just walk out into traffic and die already because that is where I was headed! And she was right. Venus takes no shit and definitely has no time for self-pitying bullshit. It came through intuitively, but the feeling was quite palpable. I can feel it now as I type the words. She was angry with me and rightly so.

That Saturday I made a few appointments to visit some doctors. I started eating better and threw out all of the sugar in the house. I began treating myself better, exercising more, drinking lots of water, getting my work done on time, working out a daily schedule and just basically getting my shit together. Next Friday, out of the shear blue, I received a job interview from a third party I never heard of before. One month later I had a job that I liked that paid well with benefits. Along the way there were a number of other moments of magick and synchronicities that I won’t write about here, but it’s made the experience quite spectacular and beautiful. I put in the work, made a few sacrifices, and Venus had my back.

It’s also been exhausting and, in some cases, frustrating, but I’d rather have it this way than what went before. Change isn’t supposed to be comfortable, that’s why so many people resist it. I can’t say I welcome change with wide open arms yet, but I do see it as an opportunity rather than a sentence. That is worlds apart that what I would have said just a year ago.

What continues to amaze me is how much I am learning along the way. In terms of magick and my work life, I’ve come a long way baby! I couldn’t have imagined I’d be here now when I started this journey back in April 2018. The changes have been felt in body, mind and spirit, and I am so grateful that the Universe kickstarted this transformation. Now I am planning to work on a deeper spiritual transformation for 2020. I want to hone my witchy skills in plant medicine, but also dive deeper in to the mystical knowledge of Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and Sophia and the Divine Feminine. I have a feeling as we head into 2020 and beyond, we will need more healers and lightworkers in the world to help with the rifts that have developed over the past few years. I feel more ready for it now that I ever have before!

The Buddha didn’t really say this, but kinda he did.

What the Spider Said

One of my great shadow figures in this life is the spider. Like, all of them. Except Lucas the jumping spider. But I’m pretty sure jumping spiders are the arachnophobe’s idea of My First Spider. They barely count. Still, it’s a good first step for me. I blame my father who told me scary tales of The Midnight Spider when I was a small child. He once told my sister and I that in the winter he comes on skis. You have no idea how that warped the mind of a little kid. So, I avoid spiders whenever possible. I ask my partner to take them out of the house or to kill them if they are poisonous.

When I dream about spiders, the dreams are generally dark and frightening. They typically show up to warn me about something terrible in my waking life that I need to address. That’s not a bad thing, but its petrifying in the dream. Literally, I can’t move.

Grandmother Spider, by Susan Seddon Boulet

Not long ago, I was lying in bed meditating and I had a strange vision of spiders all over the place. I wasn’t dreaming, just meditating but I wasn’t afraid. I knew they were not physically real; thought mentally they were definitely there. I was calm and I waited to see what happened next. Then I saw the Spider. Like the archetype of Spider. The Great Weaver sort of spider, that you don’t expect on a Sunday night. Well, there she was. In retrospect this could have been a Robert Smith Lullaby moment, but it wasn’t. She approached as a friend and told me to cast my web to help me capture what I want. I thought the word “weave” and she said, no. Cast your web. It wasn’t profound or deep. The message was simple, clear and direct.  I’m using words, but they were more thoughts or feelings. But the weird thing was the correction of “cast” over “weave”.

Something I feared had showed up as a friend and there was never a reason to fear it in the first place. Was it more shadow integration? I suspect so. I’ve come a long way. She was telling me to put myself out there and start creating my own business. Get out of the gig of working for others, cast my web and see what I catch. Maybe a spider version of “If you build it, they will come.” Sometimes the demons we fear are really angels in disguise.

So, I’m going to cast my web and see what happens. Wish me luck!

And just in case I started an ear-worm with The Cure’s Lullaby, go ahead and satiate it.

Embracing the Magic

Yeah, that’s all gonna have to come off.

For a while now I’ve been contemplating the reality that so many of us deny our own magic. Why is it that those of us who seek to recognize the magic in our soul, must go through years of intense shadow therapy to scratch the surface of our nature’s true core so that we can create a united will that will let us shine in our magical brilliance? One would expect that this shadow work needs to be done for anyone wishing to embrace the magic within, but it seems that we run into what I would term as excessive muck. Even once the outer layers of filth are removed, one must apply the proverbial scrapers and picks to skin off the tar, plaque and barnacles that have accumulated over years of systematic abuse and societal programming. The work, it seems, is never truly done.

A good friend of mine, Nick Mather of Dreaming Green, sent me a video from the movie, Samsara, that perfectly nails the visualization of how our psyches are attacked and taken over in a constant barrage of promises of wealth, happiness and beauty that give the illusion that we have some control over our lives. But this is a demonic spell we are under. The message, it turns out, is nothing more than layer upon layer of fear and crippling self-doubt, which keeps us working for the machine. We believe that if we work hard enough, keep our noses clean and don’t make too much noise, we will be rewarded. Except the reward never comes.

Office Man, from the film Samsara

I’m sure the behemoth looks like something out of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

So here we are. Just a handful of shamans and witches in a world full of demonic forces in which most of the people have been scooped up into the behemoth industrial structure. I imagine some mechanical monstrosity held together now mostly with duct tape, rust and wads of chewed gum. And as insanely terrifying as it is, people believe in it and serve it. They can’t get out of its demonic thrall. My friend Nick likened our modern fascination with ourselves to the myth of Narcissus, who wasted away in the thrall of his own image in the water. But today it’s not even our own image, it’s an artificially constructed image. I think the key is there and why it is so worse now in the digital age than ever before. It’s the deception of a false image being made to appear as our own. We’re not looking at ourselves, we’re looking at simulacrum, which is distorted with false ideals of beauty and success. If we stripped off the veneer, we’d be left with something that more accurately depicts the portrait of Dorian Gray; something terrifying and wrought with its own corrupt, corrosive forces. Basically, we’ve each been lured into the trap with our own shadow, which is why it works so well.

Dorian Gray, by Ivan Albright

So, how did we come to this and what can be done about it?

I’ve discovered that much of the spiritual work I’ve done through my whole life has left out the physical world and concentrates on the spiritual realms. That’s really been the main problem all along. Spiritually, most of us have been taught to value the higher realm of God. We ignore the physical world around us at a great cost. The feminine, worldly aspects of spirituality have been stripped away in so many belief systems because it is viewed as lesser rather than the equal partner of the masculine, mystical aspects. This has left our world with a severe hormonal imbalance that is life threatening to the entire planet.  

A colorized version of the Above and the Below. Opus Medico Chymicum, by Daniel Mylius

In Alchemy, we often hear the principle of correspondence translated to “as above, so below, as below, so above.” However, this is not how it’s written in the translations we have of the Emerald Tablet, which is reputed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus (the tablet has never been found, but many translations of it exist). The Emerald Tablet words this carefully because it is an alchemical formula for us to follow. It states, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.” 1 We too often forget that we need to start with the Below if we’re going to work up to the Above. We exist in the physical world and it is here where we begin the whole process. Acting as though we are already lofty entities of great spiritual power is not only hubris, it’s psychotic. The act of world-creating demands that we unite the Below and the Above; these two worlds reflect each other. So, valuing only the Above and treating the Below as though it is trash, leads us into the scenario we are living out today.

Embracing the Divine Feminine and witch within has allowed me to pull the physical world into my spiritual practice. Witches, warlocks, shaman, medicine men and women, spiritual gurus, light workers and warriors, all know that we start in the physical world. We begin with Gaia and connect to the Anima Mundi, the World Spirit. It is from there that we can connect to the spiritual world of the Above to create our world Below in its image.

What I’ve learned from this process is to do away with ideas of sin and shame, which are completely unproductive and only work to sabotage us. Sin and shame, these two twins of destruction, keep us immobilized and trapped in the demonic snare of our current system. This is the muck that covers us unless we commit to the work of freeing ourselves from them.  It’s taken me nearly my entire life to learn this lesson so that I can just begin the process of shadow therapy. I’ve already cleared so much of it; I feel lighter and happier. But there is more to do. I have so much gratitude for witches like Carolyn Elliott and Lisa Lister for helping me to see how to embrace my inner witch — that lushes, gorgeous, powerful. magician within — and bring her forward. They taught me that the physical world is necessary, beautiful, and magical, but we also must remember to be a fully immersed part of it.

The Magic Circle, by John William Waterhouse

1 Hauck, D. W. (1999). The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation. New York, NY: Penguin Compass.  

Money and the Subconscious

It’s been a while since I posted to this blog. Again. This time due to grading finals and then getting lost in thought on what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve concluded that I do not want to grade for the rest of my life, as that is self-torture. For the past two weeks, I’ve engaged in a shitload of shadow work to find out why it’s taking me so long to get out of my present occupation and into one that allows me the freedom to stand in my own power and love it! The problem as I see it is that I still have a divided will.

ShadowWork DrknessConsciousA divided will occurs when on the surface one wants all the good things in life, like a fabulous job that pays well with incredible perks, but deep down inside there is a subconscious need to fail. That need to fail can come from a variety of different forces, such as a deep seeded idea that money is evil, or the belief that one doesn’t deserve a good life with a stable income because of a past misdeed or trauma. Or maybe one wants a healthy relationship with a romantic partner, but subconsciously they feel unworthy of one so the unconscious mind desires a less than ideal relationship, even an abusive one. The problem is that we often don’t realize we have a divided will, because our subconscious wishes are buried under feelings that acknowledgement of them in the light of day is completely unacceptable. To acknowledge I want a crappy job because it lets me off the hook from dealing with all that evil money that I don’t deserve anyway, isn’t something most of us find suitable for our conscious mind to ruminate over. However, digging in the dirt to bring those desires up to the conscious level is exactly what needs to happen if one wants to transcend and transmute those shadowy desires into something more productive.

What I’ve found over the past few weeks is that I have profound problems with money and how to make it ethically. Through targeted meditation, I brought up childhood issues with money that stem from my parents always worried about household finances and arguing about it. I was already primed to think it was evil because it was a negative force in my life ever since I could remember. This began my life long cognitive bias that money is truly the root of all evil. People will exploit others to get more of it. They will lie and cheat to gather money to them.  And I looked for this to play out in every scenario. I was never disappointed. When you look for something everywhere, you will find it! And I was able to feel self righteous and superior in my lack of money. Subconsciously, I was reveling in it!

MoneyEvil

“I’ll eat your soul!”

 My meditation didn’t lead me to some great understanding that money is actually neutral and can be used for benefic purposes. That would make things easier, but that’s not what I found. What I discovered is that money is simply something one must have to live in this world. It’s a necessary survival tool. Money is not good, it’s necessary. One can do good things with money, I don’t deny that. But the history of money is abysmal. It’s a tool of enslavement.

However, not having it doesn’t make the world a better place, it just makes me completely miserable and unable to take care of my family. By meditating, I was able to bring up the unhealthy attitude I cultivated about money at a young age. I could see that much of it stemmed from the anger and fear my parents displayed as they worried about it daily. I could see that little eight-year-old girl terrified that her family would have no money and end up living on the streets without food or clean shelter. While the situation was never that dire, it was to a young girl who internalized the fear and anger her parents projected.

Moneygoodevil

Money shoulder angel, show me the right path!

Both my sister and I have the exact same fear of money and success. I thought it strange when I first made the connection a few weeks ago, but now it seems more impossible that we wouldn’t have the same neurotic issues around them.

For now, the shadow work continues, but I’m working to unite my will, transmute my money hang-up, and put myself in a better place financially. I’m learning to let go of the fears I developed and find myself worthy of financial stability and a happier life. I’m learning to get out of my own way so that I can experience the happiness and magic that is all around me!

(Well, this certainly helps my anxiety over money!)

Hi. I’m Stephanie, and I’m an addict (of depression).

I wasn’t going to write tonight. I woke up with a sinus headache and I felt sick most of the day. I decided instead to do a little shadow boxing to work out some internal problems, call it an early night and go to bed. Then I pulled out my tarot deck and asked it if I should write or go to bed. The deck handed me my ass and told me to get to work. I’ve been procrastinating since January, it’s time to get back to writing in the damned blog!

4 of Cups

I’m looking at you, Four of Cups! (Revelations Deck, by Zach Wong)

It’s in moments like these that I know I’m on the right path and that I need to stick to it. The past several days have been a series of synchronicities. Whatever is on my mind, I come across blogs, videos, articles, books, movies, and incidents when I’m out and about, all screaming at me that I’m on the right path and now I need to take action! It’s the action part that makes me freeze up. My mind shuts down and suddenly I can’t even compose an email to a friend. Actually do something? No. Can’t do it today. So, it gets left to the next day and the next. And nothing happens.

This isn’t a temporary rut, this is depression. I learned something interesting about it today while doing shadow work that I hadn’t considered before; I’m addicted to it. I’ve suffered from Depression most of my life and I never sought help for it. There were many reasons for that, some legitimate, some not so legitimate. Part of me was afraid that the type of drugs used to treat Depression would screw me up further. I still think that is a legitimate fear given the nature of psychiatric drugs and the not-so-scrupulous pharmaceutical companies. But there are other methods to treat depression ranging from the foods I eat to different types of therapy. My greatest move to even try to treat my depression was to take a B-complex vitamin (it does help a little). Depressed Cartoon

All of this changed last year. On my birthday I had a download from the Universe. It told me that it was time to get my shit together. I’ve discussed this a few times in my blog already. The short of it is, I was a hot mess in my head and I had a sudden and painful revelation that much of my depression was the result of trauma and abuse from my childhood. I spent a good portion of last year doing shadow work and getting at the heart of what caused my deep depression, which was constantly working to undermine me in all aspects of my life. My relationships, my work life, my finances, my faith, and my enjoyment of life are all suffering because of this depression.

But since I entered my adolescence, I’ve built an identity around this depression and as I grew older, my choices and actions reinforced that depression. I not only became comfortable with it; I started to crave it and resist any attempts to cope with it in a more constructive way. As with most mental imbalances, I didn’t realize I was doing it. I didn’t wake up one day thinking, I love my misery I’m gonna keep it! It was a gradual thing which consumed me. Eventually it led me to a career I hated, financial instability, poor health, deteriorated friendships, and to nearly destroying my marriage.Monsters

The realization that I was feeding the depression beast of my own volition came to me last night while reading an article (Q&A) on Existential Kink, by Carolyn Elliott, the creator of WITCH magazine. It wasn’t the first time I had this thought, though. It’s come up before on restless nights in the small hours of the morning. And it was easily forgotten after I slept. But reading it last night, after shadow work and meditation, it hit me like a sack of bricks to the face. Yes, I do it on purpose. Yes, I sabotage myself. And I do it all the time.

The misery I’ve wrought upon myself is comfortable. I know what to do with it. I built up an identity around being an impoverished, deeply misunderstood, antisocial creature. Getting out of the mess I made for myself is intensely terrifying! All of the “what ifs” come up. What if I’m really not that smart? What if no one wants to read my blog? What if no one cares about my ideas? What if I can’t figure out how to market myself? What if I’m wrong? What if I have a successful business and I can’t figure out my taxes? (Cart before the horse, much?)

I became inert, out of fear of breaking out of an identity that only served my comfort zone.

This is not to say that one’s depression is their own fault. It’s not. I had two big things going against me; abuse and a chemical imbalance. Neither of these things were in my control. It hit fast and hard once I started puberty. Then the reinforcement cycles swamped me and pulled me under. My physical addiction became sugar, while my mental addiction was the depression itself. And boy do I ever have a sweet tooth! You know those orange circus peanuts that are basically just whipped sugar? My favorite when I was a kid. I pretend I’m better now because I haven’t had them in about 25 years. Don’t let that fool you, I still have a stash of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs in my freezer.

Circus Peanuts

Don’t let these orange pieces of death happen to you!

When I found out that people with sugar addiction have the same chemical imbalance as alcoholics, I decided to get some help. I checked out a diet that assists people with leveling out the chemical imbalance. I bought books, read testimonials, and even gave it a good shot for a whopping month! And then slid right back into my old patterns. The sugar wasn’t just due to my chemical imbalance, it was also emotional support. I couldn’t give up that emotional boost. Especially when it was typically the only good thing that happened to me all day. Which landed me with a raging case of diabetes. You’d think THAT would have been my wake-up call, but it wasn’t. It shocked me and I got on the wagon for a bit. But then I got a new job and I hated it and the sugar became quite irresistible as I dealt with getting up early in the morning every day to go to a job I detested. It was only towards the end of that nightmare job that I started to wonder what the hell I was doing in this cycle of jobs I hated and eating myself into an early grave.

Jung FateI don’t want this anymore. The good news is, I don’t have to live with it! I’m learning to accept the things about me that I don’t like. I acknowledge them with my awareness, and let them go without judgement or shame. It’s about acknowledging, yes, I did this and I did that and those things weren’t good for me. This is what I learned from those choices. Now I move on.

It’s taken me a years’ worth of shadow work to get to this point and it culminated with the New Moon on April 5th. It’s been an exhausting, painful ride. Most days I feel like I’m trying to climb over electrified chicken wire with quicksand waiting for me on the other side. Still, I’m ready to move on and find a better place.

Accept ShadowWhat do I want? I’m still working on that. But I now know what I no longer want. I don’t want a soul crushing job. I don’t want to eat myself into an early grave. I don’t want to pass up good opportunities because I’m scared how I will be perceived by others. I don’t want to live inauthentically because I can’t figure out a better way to pay my bills.

I want my wife and I to be happy. I want us to not be afraid of when the money runs out. I want us to be free to live authentically. Whatever I end up doing when I grow up, I want to add value to the world. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m on the right track. I feel like I’m crawling out of the hole I dug for myself. I feel like we’re going to make it!

Which Witch – Florence + The Machine

Intuition

intuitionIf I had only one message to pass on to people as we enter 2019, it would be to develop your intuition and trust it. When we are young, we’re often not taught to listen to the inner voice we have that tells us if we’re going in the right direction or not. The direction could be something as simple as whether or not what we eat will disagree with our body or more complex like whether or not we choose to trust someone. We’re taught to give someone or something the benefit of the doubt. You never know, it might just turn out for the best! However, there are many times in my life where I hear that voice in the back of my head, and I wish I would have listened to it. Does something deserve attention in our lives just because it might turn out alright? If our reservation is only due to fear of the unknown, then perhaps it needs to be re-evaluated. The benefit of the doubt may be in order. But if we’re listening to our internal voice that speaks to us from a place of inner knowledge, then we ought to listen to it. It will tell us whether or not something is right or wrong for us.

einstein-intuitionIntuition, like most things worthwhile in life, takes some time to develop. It develops out of experience, the ability to read and assess the nuances of a situation quickly, a thorough knowledge and understanding of self/mind, and the ability to trust the inner voice that tells us the low down on what’s really going on in a given situation.

I think most of us develop our intuition to a certain extent, but it stops where fear steps in and takes over the reins. In many cases in my own life, I’ve often confused fear for intuition. I’ve missed out on opportunities and jumped into bad situations because of that confusion. This didn’t happen because fear and intuition are closely related and easy to confuse, rather it happened because I did not thoroughly understand myself.

pythiaoracle

Pythia of the Oracle at Delphi, by John Collier

The words Know Thyself or Gnōthi Seauton (in Greek γνῶθι σεαυτόν), were inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Kings, statesmen, merchants, and holy men, came to Delphi to meet with the oracle, who would impart to them prophetic messages. The oracle always spoke in ambiguous language which needed to be interpreted by the person receiving the prophecy. To correctly interpret the meaning, one had to first understand their own mind. Without this self-knowledge, the prophecy was often interpreted in the favor of the receiver, what one wanted to hear, rather than more accurately how their biases and hubris would bring problems and catastrophes upon them. Just ask King Croesus of Lydia how that all worked out for him when he went to war with the Persians after visiting Delphi.

To know thyself means to be aware of everything about oneself. Even the dark, nasty things that we don’t always want to recognize in ourselves. In other blog posts I spoke of that mean, petty part of me that can lash out and cause all sorts of hardships in my own life and the lives of others. That aspect of me can even sabotage myself from moving forward and set me back further. Understanding that this aspect of me exists, means that I can put energy toward it and transmute that energy and shift it elsewhere, to a place where it is more productive and positive.

But knowing thyself is not just about recognizing the bad stuff, it also means that we can recognize a lot of the good stuff that we bury. I’ve done this quite a bit in my life. I can recall times when I was working on a project or a task, it was criticized or laughed at, and I pulled back into my shell and opted to forget I ever tried it. That’s fear. Rather than assessing the situation, I recoiled and gave up for fear of being laughed at or viewed as an idiot. In cases like this, it wasn’t intuition that was whispering in my ear, it was fear. otherside of fear

Fear is like a noxious weed if you let it into your life. It can strangle your intuition if it’s given a chance. Had I listened to my intuition, I wouldn’t have given up, I would have kept going. I would have assessed the worthiness of the criticism and made adjustments if necessary. I would have recognized the goodness in my own vision and I would have given it my love and time.

The Super Blood Wolf Moon on January 20/21 2019, ushered in a new rebirth for many of us who have been on a roller-coaster of emotional, draining energy over the past four years. July of 2018 felt like the sudden death of the old path I was on and I entered into a healing restorative period of my life for a few months. Now it’s time to rise from the ashes. To move forward, I know I must understand myself; the good, the bad and the ugly. With knowledge of myself grounded in reality, I can trust my intuition and let fear go. I can start to live authentically.

superbloodwolfmoon

Me and My Shadow

Nice Kingdom Hearts Iphone Wallpaper the shadow knows t shirt by lamontcranstonSometimes my shadow side takes over and I get angry and vindictive with those I interpret as acting against the social good. In this case, with several atheists who set out to attack anyone expressing any sort of religious thought. I am not against atheism. I see it as a perfectly reasonable position to take in this world. I counted myself as an atheist for about a decade between the ages of 25-35. My journey has taken me somewhere else, but I still find atheism a legitimate claim worthy of attention and respect.

But I don’t like bullies. (there’s always a “but,” right?) I don’t like people who set out to discredit others based solely on their beliefs, unless those beliefs are demonstrably harming others (I include animals and the environment in this). This was a case of going after anyone who was trying to discuss nuanced philosophical understandings of the divine and conflating them with fundamentalist ideologies of Christianity and Islam. The shadow side of me decided a smack down was in order in some sort of crusade against religious intolerance!

But first, some perspective is needed…

Atheism SymbolIn our history, to be a self-declared atheist could be a death sentence and often it was. Even after the Enlightenment, one could face social and financial ruin if they admitted their atheism in public. And today in America, while atheism is more accepted and mainstream, there are still consequences that go with it. One only need to look at how many vocal atheists hold public office in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government today for evidence. There aren’t any. At least none that admit it. And it’s one thing a political opponent will dig through first; what religion are they and when did they establish ties to the church they claim they attend? Obama went through this when his opponents wanted to frame him as a Muslim in the eyes of the public. Just imagine if he was an atheist!

EvolutionAmong the academic and scientific communities in the nineteenth century, atheism rose up in the ranks and became respectable. This was largely accomplished through the publication On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. Many intellectuals saw Darwin’s theory as a means to put God to bed once and for all. God wasn’t needed to explain the world anymore.

But many atheists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially those who were not shielded by academia, felt isolated, ostracized and condemned for their beliefs. This still goes on in many communities in America. A number of my friends that grew up as atheists in communities that were overtly religious often felt threatened and afraid to speak their truth. In this respect, I do understand why some would take a position of attack against religion, as religion was the vehicle for attack against them at some point in their life. Was it religion or the intolerance of the community they lived in that led to the abuse and bullying? Likely both. Especially if it came from a person in religious authority.

My reflection of the history of atheism doesn’t excuse someone who had a bad experience with religion from attacking someone with religious convictions, but it does open up my ability to have more compassion for them. My need for a “smack down” says more about me than it says about them. I was ready for a fight! I wanted to show them that they were as irrational and dogmatic in their thought that they accused others of being! Basically, I just wanted them to feel stupid by showing them how little they understood religion and spirituality outside of Christianity.JungShadow

I don’t know if they were bullied by intolerant religious folk in the past or if they’re bullies themselves who like to harass people for disagreeing with them. I don’t think it matters. I wanted them to feel stupid for their actions. This is about me, not them. Could it be if I don’t make a solid defense and tear them down first, maybe my own set of beliefs won’t stand up to the scrutiny either?  Yeah, I think that’s part of it.

Psychologically, humans are messy creatures. My core beliefs are solid, but I’m still formulating what I believe for myself on this life’s journey. Not everything is on solid ground as I sort it all out. The need to lash out is strong when I feel attacked, because everything is still raw. I feel a knee-jerk reaction to protect it. When an animal has a wound, it will lash out if anything comes near it, even if it’s potential help because all the animal can feel is the pain.

In our society, I think a lot of us are feeling the pain right now. We’re trying to protect ourselves in irrational ways to make it stop. This is not productive. Lashing out only creates more tension and more lashing out. It also aggravates the wound we carry. It can’t heal this way, it only becomes more of a problem.

The main purpose of this blog is shadow work. I write to figure out what’s really going on in my head. There’s a lot of fear – when I get down to it – that needs exorcised. My answer to this is to transmute it into compassion. There is a Buddhist meditation that asks participants to rephrase what they are experiencing from their ego perspective to a universal perspective. So, for instance, instead of saying, “I have fear” or “I am suffering,” say instead, “There is fear” and “There is suffering.” This raises the person out of the individual mindset and to the understanding that all of life experiences this. We’re not alone. There is no duality; no, Us versus Them. We’re all connected. With this connection comes a greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.

Buddhism