Endemic issues

I am in the process of completing my post-Masters degree (I got my Masters degree last May)  in Professional Counseling (read: friendly and wellness-oriented shrinkology – well, as friendly as shrink work can be given that healing is work, messy, and can suck some times).  I’m taking a course right now with one of my favorite professors who is a super cool person in addition to being a great teacher. Over the course of his career, he spent time in South Africa working with people there around apartheid-related issues and basically doing shrink work. While he was there, he worked in coordination with the area’s traditional healers/shamans and came to learn about them and respect them and their work a great deal (one of the many things that has me liking him as much as I do).

During a discussion in class last week, he mentioned something he had learned while he was in South Africa that struck a chord within me – the struggle of developing the spiritual self while still  living in the world is a core challenge that all traditional healers/shamans/witches face and deal with. Others may spend some time around this issue, but with people of this path, it is not ever done, as it is something that lives at the very center of their being. It is a struggle endemic to the path they walk and something they must work at every day. As I listened to him speak so plainly, so objectively, so matter-of-factly about this issue, something in me just shifted, and it felt like I breathed for the first time in I don’t even know how long. 

What I have been experiencing for the past year has been a series of crises, a challenging and testing of everything I thought was secure; every I idea I thought, every thing I thought I felt or believed; every thing on every level – no element has been left out. From my spirituality to work to school to relationships to money to career stuff to housing and the idea of home – every thing has been called into the arena like some bizarre, cosmic inventory taking and quality control testing and assessment of my existence and the way I have been going about existing.  Earlier on in the whole process, I found myself repeatedly thinking, ‘I can’t deal with one more thing’, and then another thing would explode into creation, would be called to the mat. And I would say it again, and not too much later some other new thing I hadn’t foreseen would show up like it was announcing itself present for roll-call, only I wasn’t the one holding the roster. 

I don’t know how much longer the roster is, how many more things or people or issues or situations or ideas/beliefs are on the list. I have stopped saying that I can’t deal with one more thing, though. Because what I’ve found is that I can. Earlier last year, I completed my classes with my Teacher and, despite our not being affiliated with a specific tradition, was tested and initiated in my coven. What I’ve been experiencing this year feels in my space as though it is my test and initiation by the Goddess and God, the very Universe Itself. The one from my Teacher had to come first and paved the way for this one.

If I boil down everything about this year (as it continues), though I don’t have, can’t see, or don’t know all of the dots that connect from one point to the other, it feels very much in my space as though it is the epitome of what my professor was speaking about – that extreme issue of duality that is not only an issue endemic to the path I walk, but rather parallels the very healing work I am called to do – to heal by bridging the mundane and the magical; the physical and the metaphysical; the profane and the sacred.

Over the past week or so, despite (or maybe because of – who knows?)  the extreme stress I’m experiencing, I’ve been manifesting very quickly and rather effortlessly. I’ve thought, ‘You know, it would be nice if…’ and then, within a few hours or days, that thing would happen or show up. It’s something that caught my attention after the second time it happened, and I’m working right now on focusing it into specific areas instead of more superficial things, but in my belly, I get the sense that it’ll work if I focus it on the “right” thing(s) (I’m not sure what those are yet). While I was driving to an appointment early this evening and reflecting on all of this, I began to see something I hadn’t quite seen before.  Up until this point on my path, I’ve been much more entrenched in the physical, the mundane than the spiritual. I’ve spent more time thinking like a muggle instead of like a Witch. I’ve looked at the physical and thought that it was solid, concrete, permanent. What I began to realize and put together deep in my belly this evening is that the physical is not solid, it’s not concrete, it’s far from permanent, and it’s not where my home is. It’s not where my focus belongs, and it’s not the foundation in which my being, my thoughts, my beliefs, my “yes” needs to be grounded. It is illusory, despite seeming more tangible than the spiritual if we’re speaking concretely.  And none of this is “new” – it’s not even something that I didn’t know already in my head, but I didn’t know that I know it to be True. I didn’t know it in my belly, couldn’t roll it around in my mouth and taste it in all its complexity. But I’m starting to know that I know it now, starting to re-member it from before, from ago, from beyond time,  from beyond space. And I feel the beginning of an opening within my Self, an opening that will allow me access to pieces and parts of me that I have not had access to before. An opening that, knowing myself as I do, would probably not have been possible for me to reach had this year not looked exactly like it has.

And for that, I am beyond grateful and honored to all those who surround me, who have lived with me or alongside me through this year and played even the smallest part in the world in which I live. It has been hard and messy and painful for you as well to varying degrees I imagine, and I know my interactions with you have been strongly influenced by my own struggling and more self-focused than anything else. To you, I offer a very genuine and most sincere ‘thank you.’

Still standing…

I am determined on my good days and stubborn on my more contrary days. Typically (though this is certainly a pattern I am working on changing), I pass up the easy way of learning lessons in favor of the harder, messier way. But not always.

Much has changed and been changing in my world over the course of the last year, and I had posted about a year ago marking an end to that chapter of my life, intending on creating a new blog to officially begin the next chapter. I did. I went to that blog the other day and saw that I had written one post. But, as ever, my Teacher in her return to her own blog helped me to re-member (in so many words) that everything new is built on what has come before. I paused as I was reading her post and examined my original intention for the blog I had set out to create a year ago, and I realized that my intention was to take the easy way – it was more about getting away from everything that had come before, feeling embarrassed about what or how I had written what I wrote and wanting to distance myself from it, rather than embracing what had been in gratitude and moving toward what was to come. Perhaps that’s why I never wrote there. 

My element is Fire (one of the things I’ve learned over the past year and a half or so). The phoenix is a creature associated with Fire and with whom I have resonated for a long time – continually transforming, changing, dying, and rebirthing itself from the ashes of what it was. When I think now about this space that I created, that I have changed through many times over, I see it as a pile of ashes, left from the last death simply resting and waiting for that spark of my will to rebirth it once more.

As challenging as the past year has been, as jam packed with huge lessons and steep learning curves, as much as I have bitched my way through it, it has been about change. I may crave a boring day now and again (admittedly more frequently over this past year), but change is not just something I do, it is a piece of who I am, my very nature. And so while it may be best for others to stand outside or nearby or never go near the Fire of change, it is where and how I live.