Thursday, June 2, 2011

doing the work

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be my broken record, the subject that I harp on again and again, but since it is something that I am currently quite passionate about and am striving hard to manifest in my own life, I cannot help but want to talk about it.

Claim your path. Do the work, develop a practice, and make it yours.

Some of the podcasters I like to listen to have been talking about "Doing the stuff" lately (this is one link of many who are part of this discussion), and I couldn't agree more with them.

After all, how the hell are you ever going to be any good at things like magic if you don't take the time to hone your skills? How are you ever really going to have a relationship with the divine if you don't take the time to get to know them? How will you know yourself enough to live a life of spiritual intention if you don't spend time getting to know yourself and contemplating what your spiritual intentions are? How can you ever hope to notice the cycles of the world around you if you don't go out of your way to observe them?

Seriously? I'm not asking the question to be rude or confrontational. Because honestly, these are questions that I ask myself on a regular basis, every time I fall off the wagon and let every day mundane (muggle) life draw me away from my practice. And it's harsh but honest, and it keeps me in check. These questions keep me doing the stuff and developing the path that I am commited to following.

I agree that we can all be pagan and there is no such thing as being pagan enough. But I do think there's something to be said in terms of qualifying our practice in regards to Sunday or Holiday Paganism (to borrow a Christian term) or Armchair Paganism (to take from Pop Culture). Because there is a difference. It doesn't matter if you're 101 or 1001... if you're still stuck in your armchair, you're not going to get as much from your craft as you could.

In this week's art journal prompt, I asked: what do you want people to know about your path? And my answer was this: that it requires serious levels of commitment and self-discipline. It requires that I do the work. Often without support systems, often at odds with the materialism in the world around me, often despite my own personal laziness and apathy. Because more often than not, I am my own worst enemy and as a member of a "fringe" religion, I don't have the benefit of mainstream culture keeping me accountable or reinforcing the value system I've "created" for myself. (Which sounds like a lot of big pompous words to just say that sometimes this path is a bit more challenging because it isn't necessarily aligned with what the world around us is doing and how our society is encouraging us to live).

But more importantly, a Mystery Tradition, by it's very nature requires a great deal of inner work in order to understand it. No one expects a yogi to reach enlightenment without yoga and meditation. So why do so many modern pagans expect to being able to do magic and understand the divine without doing the "pagan variation" of the same things? Exercise and contemplation (or rather, if you will, practice and meditation). If we can't discipline our minds enough to focus our will on the intent of a spell, how will we actually create strong and effective spellwork?

And more importantly, beyond the magic, how do we complete the "Great Work" of our Mystery Traditions if we don't understand what the hell that means?

Don't just take my word for it. Pick an area and focus on it, work it. Get to know the feel and shape of it. Study it like you'd study a university subject. Be dedicated to learning your craft on a daily basis (or at least somewhat regular basis). Be it doing the sabbats and moons, or meditating daily, or taking time to observe the lunar cycles... start small and build up. Don't try to do it all at once because that's a recipe for failure. But pick one thing, get that down, then add another.

At this point in my practice (in loose, ambiguous terms that you can read between the lines of), this is what my daily practice includes:

Prayer
Meditation
Exercises
Dream keeping
Paying attention to lunar cyles through the horoscope
Study
Weekly Classes
Art Journal
Journaling (reactions, thoughts, questions, emotions, etc)
Tarot

Not so daily:

Puja
Rituals

On average, I spend at least 30 minutes a day devoted to my practice if not double or triple that. If you'd asked me in August last year if I'd be capable of that, I would have emphatically denied my ability to be that self disciplined. I am not good at self-discipline and never have been. But I started slowly. I have a buddy system. I am accountable to others when I fall off the wagon. And all of these things are things that help me stay focused. And it's been worth it. Because trust me, if you don't know it already, this path is amazing in terms of what it can bring into your life. In the few short months (since Sept 2010) that I have been doing the work... my world has been turned upside down, inside out, and the things that I have learned about myself and the people in my life have been phenomenal. I returned to this path after years in academia feeling jaded and wanting to believe but having a hard time reconnecting. Now I don't just believe. I know again.

And knowing is half the battle!

:P


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7 comments:

  1. Well said lovely lady. Maybe it is a universal thought at the moment but we have been "devoting" time to honing our craft as a fam. It has proved to be one of the most enjoyable things that we have done together as a group and solitarily for ourselves. Makes for better communication on so many different "levels" as well.
    The Olde Bagg

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  2. Thanks Linda. It's a topic that means a lot to me but can come across as so arrogant that I was leary of really going into it. But I really think it's worth talking about.

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  3. One of my goals through the art journal is to to get more involved and active in my craft because through the craziness of life that happens sometimes I have lost that immersion that once was. I am so hoping to get back there. Because you are right our path is an involved, passionate and practiced one. It should be more than a religion, but a part of how you think and live.
    Blessings.

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  4. @AlphaBetsy, I think it's totally normal and easy for life to lead us away from our craft. We all struggle with it. The trick, IMHO, is to stop beating ourselves up for what is normal and just keep getting back on the wagon.

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  5. I know I am guilty. I dont spend enough time doing what I should. I do spend a lot of time reading and researching on the net but things like my book of shadows I am doing get forgotten. I keep saying when I am in the mood but it seems these days I am never in the mood. I must set aside an hour a day, which considering I am a housewife youd think would be easy. Thanks for giving me a nudge to get on and do it. Hugs Sara

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  6. @Sara,
    I just wanted to be clear... that I don't mean my post to be about being guilty or not. I think that this idea of guilt makes us feel worse and does more damage than good in terms of investing the time. I don't how eloquently I'm expressing myself but here's what I mean to say, straight up:

    1. where you're at is all good
    2. think about what you want from your path
    3. if you want more, do more
    4. but be realistic, have goals that you can achive
    5. if you fall, get back up and start again.
    6. don't judget your ups and downs, they're normal. and don't judge other's ups and downs.
    7. where you're at and the way you go about your personal spiritual journey is all good as long as you're happy with it.

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  7. Aridia, thanks for the reply. you are so true. I do have guilt complex issues, I wish I could get past them. On the plus side, I did do some on my BOS and the time was just right as it inspired a creative spark in me. Hugs Sara

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