Did you know that I don’t have a regular spiritual practice, some devotional thing or exercise that I do every day? Does that make me feel wrong? Like I am not a witch? Does it make me feel bad, well. .. .it kinda did for a little while but not so much anymore as I do not particularly want one. I tried to have a regular practice, a morning devotional prayer with the lighting of a candle and one of my favourite prayers, but it all seemed so hollow and artificial. And to tell the truth it frustrated the hell out of me for most of this year and some of last year, as I struggled to understand it
So why do I not feel bad or indeed want a regular ‘practice’ of some devotional thing now? What has changed? For one I stopped struggling with trying to fit this square peg into a ground hole, and figure that it was not something for me, so to speak. It was not until after this that I began to understand, why. Sometimes I am like that..
Over the last couple of days I have read two similar, or similar to my mind, bloggers blog posts, which for me spoke to the understanding of why I don’t have a regular practice, as such. Both posts spoke of humanity, of human, if you will. I read Teo Bishops post “On Leaving” which was about why he felt he had to leave ADF Druidry. I’ve been doing ADF drag” he says in his post, and I this is how I felt when I was trying to do a morning devotional, it was empty, morning devotional drag. Teo spoke of being human, and I quote
‘And I think my biggest challenge in being a part of ADF was that I didn’t feel like there was anyone really speaking to the challenges of being human. In a devotional religion, the emphasis is placed over there, not in here.’
I do recommend that you read the whole post though because it is worth it.. and it gives better context to some things that I have been feeling that is currently difficult to put into words. It was this ‘speaking to the challenges of being human’, and how in most ‘practice’ as it is described and practiced by many, that humanity is placed over there, somehow outside of the spirituality that we are practicing, with the divine or devotional being the more important aspect. And often when pagans practice, whether that is Sabbat rituals or morning devotionals, as such they are reading from a script, be it memorised or not, and for me there is something about that, which becomes artificial, it is prescribed, something that does not make any connections for me but rather leaves me feeling left out, other.. doing, in Teos’ words drag.
It is I believe a romantic assumption that is actually quite indicative of our current societal structure. You know, how for the majority of the world it feels like the Govt has stopped putting the best interest of the people, of humanity first. So it would follow that this extraction of humanity as also happened throughout Modern Paganism. It is after all a spirituality of its times, and thus is influenced by said times. It is also I believe a part of the fake it until you make it school of psychology, and the self-help industry as well. Of course you are broken and can’t possibly be happy without purchasing this book or paying to go on this seminar or workshop. It is all artificial, sure we are all a bit broken in various ways, but this does not mean that we can’t be humans, or that we are not a part of humanity. And to put it frankly, that fake it until you make it just flat out doesn’t work in magic, or spiritualty, whatever flavour you practice, because you have to mean what you are saying.. you have to reach beyond the scripted words into the actual magic with everything that you are, at that time.. The good the bad the human that is you.
Weirdly I am reminded of a spam comment left on my blog the other day, which said ‘remember You are a spirit having a human experience not a human having a spiritual experience!’ to which my instant thought was actually no, I am a human having a spiritual experience because I live on this earth and in this place thank you very much, and then sent said spam reply of to the bin.. (oh if that was an actual reply from someone who follows my blog.. umm.. sorry, )
Anyway there was that concept? idea again humanity, on being human, I am a human having a spiritual experience, and do not at this stage, feel in any way like a spirit having a human experience.. your millage may vary.
This all got me thinking about how romantic Modern Paganism, in its various forms, can be. In many ways this romanticism is what attracts us, and it is not just one type of romance that is portrayed in Modern Paganism either, there are several types of romantic, going on here. There is the romance of belonging to a group of magical people who practice magic and become for you your family, who stick together. I can remember reading about it years ago, in Emma Restall Orrs first book, Spirits Of The Sacred Grove. I read about a group of people who made up her grove and had turned up to her house before the Sabbat. In the book it described a group of people who obviously knew each other pretty well, and were pretty much horsing around in the kitchen, catching up with each other’s lives and generally enjoying eachothers company on that magical night. As I was reading this the first time I became very taken with the romanticism of this being an everyday or at least every week occurrence. A bunch of interesting magical people arrive before the Sabbat and that these people are really connected, in a way that ‘other’ people are not and that it has been that way for years. Oh how wonderful would that be, to be a part of that. Then there is the romantic story we tell ourselves when we are solitary, of the old woman who lived just beyond the village and was such an integral magical part of the village, the woman who everyone went to for healing, cunning, and hexes. Respected, feared and loved by all… I am quite sure that there are other romanticisms from other styles such as heathenry where we like to romanticize about being a Viking living way back when and everyone understood who Thor and Odin was and the sagas that were told of an evening.. etc etc.. You get the picture right?
So a couple of days ago I happened on Star Foresters Blog, another interesting pagan/not pagan, also stepped away from the labelling, this time the more label of Pagan. The post of hers I was reading was entitled Spiritual Evolution, Doreen’s People..
And from her post I once again got this sense of human, humanity, or the lack of humanity as Modern Paganism in its various forms is practiced? Adhered to? Done.. so to speak. I am starting to get an understanding, to be able to put into words what has been difficult for me to understand.
This time the human aspect of Star’s post was in the form of evolution, because we as humans do change, we change our views, our understandings and our beliefs as we grow older, and gain experience. Where we once believed in Santa and the Tooth fairy we next believed in the fae. And then it was belief the Elemental spirits, sometimes called fae, which evolved into the understanding that they were spirit of the land, or something similar. Our thinking, understanding and beliefs evolved as we understood more, interacted more with, and saw things in a different way. As we grow and experience this thing called life, some of our beliefs and understandings no longer hold true for us, and new ones will take their place. However when this doesn’t happen things become stagnant, we become entrenched in what we believe as though that is the only right thing to believe, and if someone else believes something different, more often than not, whether or not we say it out loud, we believe that, this other person is wrong. Entrenching like this in our spiritual beliefs, can often mean that we stop questioning, exploring, and experiencing our own spirituality and we come to a standstill on our chosen spiritual paths. It also means that we stop questioning where the human is in our practice. It could indeed become more about liturgy and saying the right words at the right time. Where are we as human in our practice and spiritual belief? Is it possible to not become entrenched in the romanticism, of liturgical practice and devotionals, and focus instead on our own humanity, with in the realms of spiritual belief?
For me the answer of course is yes, while I do not have a regular practice of devotional prayer or exercise, I now understand that it Is not what makes me a Witch. For me this happens regularly when I am with friends having cups of tea, walking to work, and noticing the changes in the sun position, when I trip, kettle up and end up on my arse, I realise the that I am present in that moment. Those moments for me are my regular practice, they remind me that I am human and live in this place, on this earth and for me, and those moments are very spiritual.