“- What do these words mean to you? How do express these principles in your spiritual work? Is any one more important than the other? Why?”
This post is very personal and written more by free association to discuss a very important thing in my life, a mental health crisis that lead me to a crisis of faith in the middle of important and confusing changes in my spiritual life, please excuse any flaws in my unpolished writing.
I had this is in my drafts for a while and this week TPE helped to bring the courage to publish it, I had to change since it was written in the present self and now it’s on the past.
I have multiple mental illness and they are all resistant to treatment, I’m constantly changing medication, why is that important? Because those disabilities and changes affect me and my religion and the last one end up badly, my shrines were empty, I felt like a traitor, I felt betrayed and alone.
– Why are you not here?
I was mentally shouting, I asked for no healing or miracle or right medications, I asked for their presence, company.
– Are we not family? Didn’t you said you would stay by my side?
I felt abandoned and unworthy, mostly I blamed myself, I had left my depression turn me isolated and never prayed, never talked to Them or anyone else, never visited Them or their shrine, notions such as purification brought only shame which in turn made me avoid Them more, I was a failure as a devotee.
(Sshh, They were in my mind almost all day and night, my love for Them was still just as strong, my anger at Them was the same as the anger I felt for my parents and loved ones, the kind that is not serious and not really anger but fear in disguise, I kept looking for images of Them, kept the e-shrines, I never left Them behind and I’m sure I was once told my mind is capable of great devotion, I focus in what and who I love and treasure them deeply, They said it’s enough).
It wasn’t Their fault, all the anger turned to me when I notice how I disappointed Them. (Did I really? Never heard Them say that and I believe it, all the positivity can be screaming in my ears and I will throw away as self talk, funny how that works).
Suddenly I was looking to one of mine John O’Donohue books, looking for something originally for my mother and it opened in a page on the Prayer chapter, since I have a fascination with prayer, the book is on my List and I like the author so I decided to take a longer look:
From Eternal Echoes
May you be blessed in the Holy Names of those who
carry our pain up the mountain of transfiguration.
May you know tender shelter and healing blessing when
you are called to stand in the place of pain.
May the places of darkness within you
be turned towards the light.
May you be granted the wisdom to avoid false resistance
and when suffering knocks on the door of your life,
May you be able to glimpse its hidden gift.
May you be able to see the fruits of suffering.
May memory bless and shelter you with the hard-earned
light of the past travail, may this
give you confidence and trust.
May a window of light always surprise you.
May the grace of transfiguration heal your wounds.
May you know that even though the storm might rage
yet not a hair of your head will be harmed.
John O’Donohue – Eternal Echoes
I felt Their voices in that prayer.
This prayer hit me several times, it kept appearing and I avoided it’s meaning.
Suddenly I remembered being half asleep and They talked about/to me, I heard Mother’s voice and Their presence:
– Pela dor, ela vai agir, ela voltará para nós e acolheremos sua raiva. (By pain, they will act, they will come back to us and we will welcome their anger.)
I felt good then, I feel good now, I also feel like a silly child and They were kindly laughing at me, and waiting with understanding.
There were other signs, other messages, it’s hard to see and feel when you are taken by despair. Most unbelievable of all was the pride They said recently They feel about me, while also expecting me to grow and do better my failures and considered just more attempts.
I have cleaned my shrines, they are full again, but the Powers are in my life with shrines or not.
They didn’t cause my pain but saw what I could take from it, They helped me endure it, from suffering there are fruits and They tried to show me but it was painful and denial is a strong emotion.
This was not the consequences of chosen shadow work or chaos of a possible step in a spiral of healing, it came suddenly and took me by surprise into a fog of sadness and I felt lost, I couldn’t and wouldn’t see any gain from it, and sometimes there isn’t, sometimes pain is just pain, or we don’t have what we need at the moment to learn but for me there was more in that pain, even if that more was hope and trust, to see the thorn from past trauma that took advantage of my medication changes and prolonged my pain, and to see that my past and disabilities never made me unworthy or unwanted, both the Powers and corporeal people in my life were there for me.
The Powers knew I would survive when I didn’t and They showed me when I run away, for that I am thankful and have Them in my life.
I still wish to get better from the worse part of the depression, this relapse felt like the worse in my depression from many years ago, I still fear going back there again, but I’m learning to cope better, I knew more this time than at my crisis as a teenager, I have hope now and I have grown.
I know some refuse to see any Power in that light and say religion is not therapy but I wanted to show that religion is a relationship between us and Them, that this is also possible and that this is one side of how our relationships can be, I also serve Them, make sacrifices and other things that are also part of relationships but with less explanations, more mystery and chalenges.
In the end, I am thankful.
I have three main Powers in my spiritual life, one is a Qilin that so far doesn’t appear to be named by lore, the other is Hsi Wang Mu, Queen Mother of the West. Those two are a group apart since They come from a different culture and I need to take great care to respect the living cultures that exist today and it’s people, it’s the least I can do for Powers who are so important in my life.
The third deity is a complex mysterious horned God, a man with stag antlers.
Who? I’m still not sure but had some glimpses into who He is.
He finds it all very amusing and while I love His sense of humor it can be very annoying sometimes, He only asks my patience and that I already gave Him.
I do have three main possibilities:
– Herne The Hunter
– An unnamed stag deity
There is also those two to take in consideration:
– They are all the same entity
– the first two are the same Power
I don’t trust those two ideas very much.
Obviously all of this has complications of their own if we are not sure where Horned Deities come from, who is who and who is not who.
In spite of all the doubts and mystery I believe He has been in my life a long time, when He suddenly show up my first feeling was -I know you.
(It all turned into an obsession with antlers later and before too probably, antlers everywhere)
I have memories of being a lonely child trying to escape an abusive home and school and going to nature and strange daydreams and tunnels that went through my garden into worlds beyond this. Child imagination? Perhaps, who knows really? About any of this?
For me that feels like happy and strange memories of a safe haven.
Now my current encounters are different, there is friendship and intimacy, I have much to learn about Him but I consider Him a friend and lover.
I never expected that to someone like me, not sure of what “like me” is supposed to mean here, but there are better and more capable actual spirit-workers out there, I’m not like them, not even close, I’m lost in my path, I have been a pagan since I was around 10 years old but all this time it was just searching and making mistakes, what happens to them doesn’t happen to me, right?
So, why me? What’s going on?
I don’t know, I am walking on a labyrinth without any idea where I’m going and this labyrinth has a sense of humor and irony.
Other problem is one of trust, go to most sites about this and two points of view you can most easily find is:
-Trust no one! They are after you. It’s all pain.
-It’s all love and light! Trust everyone.
Now I’m suspicious by nature, the light and love doesn’t work in my world view or life, my problem is more with the other view, I’m too paranoid for this already, how can I go on in my path like this? It makes me feel lost, afraid of everyone, everything and hopeless.
I like the balanced realistic view, They are people, not human but people, this is life, like people and life, there is good, bad, gray and everything else, work on your boundaries, have self-respect and limits, take risks too, you will fail, you will succeed, you can do everything right and get into problems, you can make mistakes and get it right or do nothing and never live, the Powers are not perfect, They are greater, powerful, wiser and all of that but not perfect and still people, maybe that’s a good thing for us.
The same counts for G., that’s why I took the risk, my instincts were telling me okay, my thoughts were telling me okay, so far I have no regrets.
He could have messed with my head, instincts, my feelings, heart or any combination above, They can do that, especially make you unable to see what you most need to be aware of when things are dangerous, but I’m being careful with my trust, He has to prove Himself to me and I think I have to prove myself to Him. We take our time.
He has watched and protected me and taught me, I don’t know for how long He has done this.
He appeared as a deer, a stag, a horned man covered in shadows, a younger man with antlers, as a half man half animal “monster”, I write monster but for me He was handsome and I have some of monster within myself, it was familiar and safe.
He scares me a little, I fear that spirit everyone warns about that will harm you and trick you.
One thing I don’t understand is why expecting Powers to always have interests is a proof of selfishness or distrust, I’m sorry to say but everyone is like that, the greater saint has their own inner motivations, this is nature, but apparently few think like that. I’m getting off topic, this is a subject for another post.
Both Y. the qilin who I know for longer and the Queen Mother of the West have not stopped this and They have rules about where can I go and Who can I deal with, I’m learning to trust and I’m learning to love, while still fighting the process on my way.
The prompt for this pagan experience week is earth.
I have been doing something I never thought I would be able to, I’m taking a new spiritual practice of walking in the woods as a devotional activity for G. (who apparently is deciding to show who he is).
I’m actually getting out of the house, covering my hair as by their suggestion and because it helps, picking up my cane and going, and I like it.
For most people this would be easy but not for me, not only my depression makes having motivation a battle there is also fibromyalgia pain and lack of energy, a few other problems and my shameful secret that few have felt compassion for, I have severe entomophobia, that means, phobia of insects and similar animals.
Most don’t take that phobia seriously, many laugh, some are confused, the one who respects and feels genuine compassion is a rare creature.
My phobia is severe enough to give me contant panic, anxiety, locks me inside the house with paranoia of the bugs who might be inside too, it’s connected to child sexual abuse in my mind and to my PTSD, it’s not just the “girly” fear of bugs everyone has (that should also be respected).
Now can you think of a place where there will be insects? The woods, the trees, nature, places I love and fear and where my Lord is.
I didn’t always feared insects, I admired those small fascinating animals, I watched them when younger, life was truly everywhere and I respect them, bad things happened, I lost that.
Now I walk on the earth of the woods, I see them there but I also feel the presence of my spiritual family, here especially G., I see insects and spiders and other animals that crawl on the earth and trees and dead leaves and I’m again reminded that life is everywhere, I feel fear and fascination, I feel G. presence like a gift and a warmth energy walking with me, not a serious but a casual comfortable presence, we talk like friends and I lose a little of my fear of authority and increase my respect for Him.
There I feel the earth, I always felt disconnected from earth but His presence reminds me of it, just like the the Queen and Y. remind me of sky, air and stars, G. is earth and wood and majestic animals and insects that crawl under the leaves and inside the trees and worlds in our own world that we can’t see but are there, My Lord, if it’s right to call G. that, is earth, connects me to earth and brings me courage to walk on it again.
I hate humanity, I love humanity, I hate humans, I love humans, I have hope for them/us and I have none, humans are just another species of animals and as sacred as them, humans have divinity within them, just like any other part of nature, we, humanity, are part of nature, part of divinity, both mean almost the same.
Every human possess a spark of the Divine within them, many religions talk about this in different terms, I’ll admit the ones that strongly left their views on me were shinto and konkokyo, some quaker views too.
Sometimes I feel like an older being watching humanity and seeing how they make mistakes over and over again in their short lives and limited views and I understand the Powers who have little patience with humanity, other times I feel myself making those same mistakes and completely feel my own humanity, why we make those mistakes and follow our paths so destructively and make such beauty and love at the same time, as a human who sometimes feels other and older I understand.
There are too many humans to judge humanity.
Humanity is beautiful, humanity is horrible, but as long a single fragile human carries hope in this world and has love and kindness in their heart humanity is worthy, I believe many Powers might see things similarly but who am I to know except another human?
I spend more time thinking than doing, too much time inside my own head without interacting with others, both corporeal as non-corporeal people, I have problems trying to have conversations even if I deeply want and need them, this affects my life in so many ways but right now I will focus on my spiritual life, that is not so clearly kept apart from the rest, everything intersects, I don’t pray easily, I don’t talk to the Gods and spirits in my life as much as I want and need and I assume they know me better than they should considering my lack of communication, maybe they do, possibly a lot more than a human does but they are not all-knowing and rationally I don’t expect them too.
I wish to change, it helps me and enriches my life to invite them in to my life, their presence changes me for better, whatever painful challenges they brought were what I had to go through at my life, it was something that I couldn’t avoid if I wanted to learn to live, I was living in a cage and the door could no longer be open with a key, they helped and are helping me break the cage from the inside out with strength I didn’t know I had.
I have been surviving for so long and without knowing a time of peace and serenity in my life that is hard to live, to have relationships with others, it’s hard to know if this is worthy of the pain of trying, because I have been trying for many years and I am tired but now I’m also longing to be free, it’s no longer a simple lonely battle for surviving a little longer, now even with all my challenges, wounds and painful issues, it’s a time to recognize my freedom and life, my own worth as a person, I believe the Powers in my life have decided to show me that I am worthy of them, that I am accepted while also expected to change for better now that I’m no longer trapped in a cage, they are compassionate and understand my hardships, I live with disabilities, physical and mental pain, my depression and PTSD make everything harder, what happened in my life can’t be erased, they have compassion, they have anger with the unfairness of it all (and were the first to openly display it), but they know I must change, they will wait with patience and force me on my own way because I’m probably too slow for my own good and like many others I avoid changing, especially painful changes, but it must happen eventually, I need to trust more, talk more, let them get to know me and get to know them as well, like in any relationship, I need to move from the stagnation I find myself in and work towards what I want, this is a long process and I can see the beginning, now I need to take the first steps.