February 8, 2012

Authenticity

An identity crisis has haunted modern witchcraft practitioners — a sudden instability turning into a search for validity. Surrounded by Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) that unfold from each other over thousands of years, there is a fear of inauthenticity.

While the history of modern witchcraft is still under discussion, practice as it is done today is not a direct descendant of the old religions. The early developers of Wicca created false histories to cover the newness, perhaps to intentionally garner a mysterious reputation depending on who we are talking about. While folk traditions preserved practices and imagery, and literature, myths, and art saved old ideas from extinction, we cannot escape it: an unbroken line is most likely not true. Contemporary manifestations have been influenced by cultural context and information access. At the current publication and distribution level, modern witchcraft is becoming something other than the ancient.

But this does not mean it is inauthentic.

The major religions, the Abrahamic, Buddhist, and Hindu ones, are also contemporary, co-created expressions. They have a more continuous and cohesive history, with sometimes a simpler range of influences. This does not award them an unchanged status; for example, Catholicism has adjusted for its audience and its generation, whether informally by absorbing local culture, or as formally as Vatican II.

Each worldview, religious outlook, or personal philosophy, is constructed; that is not a value judgement, only an observation. We are all inspired and affected by the external. The manifestation we take can be grounded in a particular faith tradition, we can even identify with a particular group or path. The danger is in suggesting that one is more “real” or “authentic” than another, that it exists objectively, externally from society and its practitioners.

I hope that the work can leave behind counting centuries for validation, and become seeking self-awareness and authenticity-from-within.

February 1, 2012

The Pagan Blog Project

In the attempt to refocus my writing to fight my mental energy’s dissipation (lost to the effort of living in a foreign culture), I signed up for the Pagan Blog Project.

Every week, participating blogs write articles on an idea that begins with that week’s loose connection: a letter of the alphabet. And I, of course, am far behind… as in, haven’t started yet.

November 7, 2011

A Particular Thought

How deeply do we let spirituality into our lives?

So much of being a contemporary earth spiritualist means to be directly in dialogue with modern life — its expectations and normalcies, the ways we think, move, define space, understand ourselves and the world. Such a linear way of thinking, a box-like hierarchy of undifferentiated perspectives. And it is so demanding. College life packed with exams and  papers squeezed away my wellness until I, forgetting until the last moment, tried to force some spiritual space back in.

That sort of life builds habits, and mental frameworks.

By building spiritual focus, giving time for our own development and goals, I don’t mean worshiping a deity or performing religious rituals. I mean giving space to that feeling of  connectedness and inspiration, a powerful excitement mixed with calmness that makes life so clear — whatever it is that brings us true and deep joy and fulfillment. That kind of time, work, dedication. For ourselves, for our own wellness.

Of course, I turn to nature, cycles, plants and trees to tap in, to feel the greater things at work of which I am a part, and to reach that spiritual well within that gives such meaning and beauty to my life. It is so easy to forget, to let mundane things sweep in and obscure what really inspires you. I hope for a fresh awakening, as many as it takes in my stretch of life.

October 10, 2011

Earth Immersion

We so frequently limit ourselves to our minds, denigrating the physical, losing that knowledge of being. I feel as if I am constantly trying to remember the deeper complexity, working to acknowledge the seasons or tap into my environment.

Earth connection. I am staring at the screen, trying to figure out how to offer advice on something that isn’t quite touch or sight, that comes from practice but can also flow naturally. Scattered attempts to describe a form of meditation (or is that quite it?) that invites you to reach down into the earth, to submerge your mind into the soil and open yourself to the quiet pulse.

An easy route to earth awareness is to find mountains. Which is exactly what I did, here in India. I spent roughly six weeks in the Himalayas, mostly in the Tibetan Buddhist town McLeodganj, but also in Gangotri, where you can see snowcapped peaks in the distance.

I clung to them, the heavy rocky fingers forming valleys for rivers and villages, hoping that I could attune myself, find something more in their presence.

Gangotri’s sharp cool air and youthful Ganges smashing over rocks stuns, but the craggy peaks reaching high high high around you overshadow them with their awe-inducing beauty. Every time I came out of my ashram hut, I would stare, light yet grounded, at them.

I couldn’t tell you what beauty is, exactly. But they are it.

Even now, in the jungle heat of hectic Mumbai, I can bring back the effect on my body and spirit. There’s a gentle weight, never oppressive, simply quiet. That’s it. A quietening. That slow easing of the mind, where it slides down into the earth, relaxing into groundedness. Earth warmth, like a woman’s body holding a child or the entangled arms of lovers. The remembrance of our humanity, our physical manifestation, our aliveness known through the connection.

 

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