Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Is your spiritual practice healthy?

Before anyone rolls their eyes and starts wondering just how awful this post is going to be, take a breath and relax.  This post is more about questions than answers.

How do we define a healthy spiritual practice?  It's not religion-specific, in my opinion, and I think it's an individual and personal question.

A friend of mine was recently accused of not being a "real witch" over something that was none of the accuser's business.  My initial reaction to hearing about that was "that's unhealthy" - which prompted this train of thought.

I think that in order for my spiritual practice to be healthy, it has to meet the following criteria:

1.  Make me strive to be a better person
2.  Remind me to be kinder to others
3.  Fit into my daily life
4.  Help me find inner peace
5.  Help me find a state of harmony with the natural world around me
6.  Inspire me to go out into the aforementioned natural world instead of just thinking about it
7.  Inspire me to make good choices
8.  Attract like-minded people, so I'm surrounded by good friends

That's my list in a nutshell.  If what we're doing is not helping us, then why are we doing it?  I know, that last statement really is open-ended and general, and applies to lots of different situations, but that doesn't make it any less valid a question.

I hear a lot of unconscious snobbery and elitism in the pagan community, reducing people into categories and otherwise demonizing them, and I just don't think that's healthy for either the snob or the snubbed.  Those attitudes put out a lot of energetic garbage, in addition to being basically unkind.  Thinking of myself as a "pre-Llewellyn Traditional Wiccan" is descriptive, and I have to confess it's because I think Wicca has changed in large part due to the Llewellyn books over the years, and not in ways that resemble what I do at all.  I don't intend it as a slight to folks who learned the Craft a different way, but I realize it may be interpreted that way.

We say a lot to ourselves and each other that "all life is connected to everything" - I think I still have a pin with that on it from back in the 80's in a drawer somewhere.  So if all life is connected, then being rude to others is a form of self-hate, but it's worse than that.  It also prompts a negative reaction in the other person, and it spreads from there.  Calling people "elitist" is just as nasty as calling someone a "fluffy bunny".  Saying that "New Age" rhymes with "sewage" is dismissing something that may be very important to someone else and reducing it to garbage.  You might as well just bend over and spread your cheeks all day if you're going to be that much of an ass in public.

So, with that rude image in your head either making you uncomfortable or making you laugh, let's get this back on track.  What does a healthy spiritual practice mean to you?  Is that what you're doing, or at least working towards?  If not, why not?  We can't all afford to eat organic or have personal trainers whip us into shape, but one thing we all can do is think healthier about ourselves and others.

Just my 2 cents.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Three-fold Fib

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Three-fold "Law" is a big fat serious lie.

I don't have to go digging up archaic historical references or try to mis-apply laws of physics to justify that statement, either.  Look at your own lives and the people you've known.  How many people who have died of cancer actually deserved such a painful, horrible death?  How many folks who gleefully run around giving others the shaft and stabbing people in the back have financial success and have a whole lot of fun?  How many people in the 9/11 attacks might have had the "bad karma" that meant they deserved that death?

Yeah, exactly.

Do I believe that what we put out we get back?  Yes.  Just not 3 times.  Do I believe that Deity punishes people according to our moral guidelines?  Nope.  The gods have their own rules, and they aren't sharing what they are.

Personally, I think Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente made the 3-fold "law" up in an effort to keep people from running around hexing everyone willy-nilly.  While I understand that it may have been for "the greater good", I also question whether they should have been teaching magic to people they didn't trust to use it wisely?  Maybe for the time period, it was the prudent thing to do, but do we really need those kind of training wheels anymore?

I think the "Rule of Three" has itself caused harm.  There are all sorts of people who won't even cast a healing spell for someone in a coma because it might "interfere with their free will".  Poppycock.  If someone is meant to die, or stay in a persistent vegetative state, or even have a really bad case of the flu, then my attempts at healing them won't make a bit of difference.  If, however, the sick person is presented to me as an opportunity to help someone and I don't try to help them for fear of negative repercussions (which many are), then what kind of witch am I?  Personally I think if you don't help, you don't deserve to call yourself a witch.  I know we can't help everyone because trying to do that would burn us out completely, but a wise witch listens to their intuition and knows when and when not to try to help, and doesn't live in fear of backlash.

So yes, I'm saying it publicly - go ahead and cast healing spells.  Cast fertility spells for friends who are trying to have a baby (as long as they're not also doing fertility treatments, or they could wind up with triplets or more).  Cast a curse on people who are raping, robbing, and otherwise causing harm.  You might help save lives that way.  Have the cojones to be a witch, for goodness' sake.