Loss – the fact or process of losing someone or something.
– Oxford Dictionary
We all have experienced a loss at one time or another. Whether it be loss of your beloved pen or indeed a loss of a dear friend, or a loved one. Loss can be significant or insignificant, however great losses are one of the most painful experiences a person can endure. There is a reason why “loss” originates from Old English ‘los’ – destruction.
As with many things in life, something must be destroyed in order for another thing to emerge. As pagans, we see this in the change of seasons, the never-ending life and death cycle, as well as in our ancestral teachings.
Significant physical loss can be overcome. Painfully. Over time. As they say “time heals all wounds”. But today I want to talk about another type of loss. Loss of faith.
How? We? NEVER!
Are you willing to be brave and truthful? If so, you must admit, at one point or another, you experienced a loss of faith. Whether it be questioning your beliefs, converting to Paganism, or indeed, questioning Paganism (*gasp*).
If you have formally studied, you will know, that in order for you to be objective, you must be a critical thinker, thorough researcher, and most importantly, diligent fact checker. However, with faith, we accept that some of our questions will not be answered, and we believe what we believe because “that’s how it’s been” – tradition. After all, faith is
- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
– Oxford Dictionary
So, how can we therefore NOT have questions? Why SHOULD we just accept and move on?
I believe loss of faith to be a very strong part of building foundations for your path. One cannot be blindly believing without having questioned their belief first.
I remember the very first time I questioned my faith. I was a teenager, driving past a church, and made a sign of cross. Then I thought about what I’ve been believing as a Christian. And I quickly came to a conclusion, that I have always subconsciously just done what I had to, without agreeing to the doctrines.
And so I set off on my path to discovery, being a believer in “something”, but not quite knowing what it was…
Then, I realised that I have always had a deeply profound respect and connection to nature and Earthly denizens. So came my exploration of the Earth-based religions and eventually Wicca, and eventually Paganism and later Green- and Hedge-witchery.
I felt like I had finally come home. Like I belonged. Like…I didn’t need to search any longer. And so I studied… Year and a day. And longer… I leaped head first, and was happy with it all.
However. The dark night of the soul had loomed silently and unannounced. I felt betrayed. Lost once again. The expression “silence is deafening” is probably the only verbal way to describe it accurately.
It was a hard lesson to learn. To keep believing, even though I had questions that would never be answered. But I also learned another lesson then.
YOU SHOULD NEVER STOP QUESTIONING.
The day you do – is the day you’ve lost your faith.
Religious belief, like history itself, is a story that is always unfolding, always subject to inquiry and ripe for questioning. For without doubt, there is no faith.
– Jon Meecham
And the faith that grows out of questioning is stronger than the faith born of blind acceptance. It can withstand the shocks of circumstance. Only he who questions it in utter honesty can grow in his comprehension of the truth.
– James Dillet Freeman
There are a few cornerstone moments in our lives – birth, marriage, arrival of children, death. We celebrate these using our religious/spiritual/folk rituals, in circles of friends and family;sharing the joy among the nearest and dearest.
Arnold Van Gepp described Rites of Passage as having three stages: “separation, liminality and incorporation”. At first, one must separate form a group (separation) to become a part of another group. The Rites can be pre-liminary (e.g. birth), threshold (e.g. confirmation) or post-liminary (e.g. death). Around the conventional religions, you can see these as a part of the religious journey e.g. communion in Christianity, Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Judaism, the Shahada for Muslims etc.
For most Pagans, Rites of Passage are few and far between – initiation, handfasting, death. As most on the Pagan journey are solitary practitioners, these Rites of Passage are also celebrated very intimately, and are not widely acknowledged.
These spiritual Passages often signify a deeply intrinsic, conscious change for the Pagan practitioner, and thus should be celebrated and acknowledged. The Rites signify a change, and as humans, we need significators to fully embrace change.
So, wherever you are on your path – take some time. Celebrate your path, your choices, your change. Share it with others and let the World sing with you!
Where are you? When are you? How long… How much… How many…
In a world obsessed with measurements, we find ourselves constantly striving to do more, be more, source more, give more! So when we finally stop for a minute, we are often faced with immediate questioning – where, how, when, why?
So… where have I been?
This little Witchy has been brewing up a storm. I have been reflecting, growing, changing – both physically and mentally – preparing to pass my knowledge on to someone who is yet to learn the weird and wonderful ways of our World.
The more I think about it, the stranger it seems…the concept of time and our obsession with it. As well as our everlasting need for more (of everything).
The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.
Oxford Dictionaries: Time
Just as above, we are progressing. As individuals, as population, as World, and as a whole. However, is it fair to measure this? How can something so abstract be measured by the tick-tocking of a clock? Are we not capable of taking things in their own stride, and stop worrying? Would a World be in a better place if we were not so obsessed with measuring and scaling everything?
And then we come to my favourite – more.
Why do we need more? Of what do we need more of? Can we not be content with just enough?
So today, I invite you to express some gratefulness over what you have, and mindfully accept that that is enough.
“In the beginning, when God created the Universe, the Earth was formless and desolate…” [Genesis 1]
So here we are…a Witch talking Bible verses…
Before you go head over heels in dissing my pagan ways, STOP and think! Creation happens every day – we take something formless and desolate (like clay), put an intention to it, and voila – we’ve got ourselves a vase!
Why am I talking about this? Well.
Thinking about all the things that happens around us every day, I stopped for a minute and realised – if I am to make a new beginning, I must first create something myself. We create food, and have a new taste; we create a child, and we gain new love; we create a garden, and discover a new life… and examples could keep going on.
So here I was. What can I create? And the decision was to re-invigorate the old with the new! What a better way to celebrate creation! And with this, my mantra will be:
“Let the old be new,
New be great.
We’ll work hard to make
“The action of changing or the state of being changed into another form”
So here we are again friends! As I was brewing this blog post, SO MANY words came to my head – change, envy, empathy, transformation, growth, path, bigger picture…and I couldn’t put my finger on it. What was it that I wanted to articulate so badly?
*Enter Epiphany Here*
TRANSMUTATION. It’s much like a change, but so much more! Change is simple – stimuli occur and the response to it is change. It can be temporary or permanent, but it is simple in it’s entirety. However, transmutation brings alchemy and magic into the mix, transmutation implies a complete change from one state to another.
I digress… The reason for me wanting to talk about transmutation is that I have recently went through this process myself, and OH BOY! has it been an eye-opener. Going through the process I didn’t realise how deep will the changes be, and how the process is influenced indirectly by the state of mind of those around you.
So much like the stages of grievance (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), transmutation happens in much the same way.
At first, you deny that there is anything wrong. You look around and see that you are comfortable (or not…but you convince yourself that you are), because you are scared of change/transmutation. What-if’s, but-why’s and how-can’s take a hold of your consciousness, so you start denying the need for change. But you know what they say…
“The only constant is change” (Heraclitus)
so you get…
You wake up each morning, brush your teeth, get ready, do what you do…all the while lacking the greatest thing in life – happiness. Instead, you’re like the grumpy old Uncle Joe down the road – bitter, grumpy, forever muttering under your breath, despising happy people and smileys in your text messages. And then you get angry with yourself, because you are stuck. Same routine, same environment, same, same, same… But inside, your soul is craving for you to pack a backpack full of Pringles and climb Mount Everest!
Then you start the process of…
And this is where the real journey to transmutation begins…
You barter with the Universe – you promise you will work out EVERY DAY for the next three lifetimes, just so you get to do what your heart desires. You make deals with yourself, about what you will give up to gain some extra Karma points on some imaginary scale, that you have created yourself. You deconstruct all your past actions and thoughts and promise you will learn from your past, and will do differently in the future.
And while you’re busy doing all of this…
sets in… You think you have begun losing it. Every plea deal you’re posing to universe is going unanswered, but to you it seems it goes by unheard. You think the Universe has given up on you, or Karma has too many “bad” points on your scale. The actions you have taken in the past, the bad words you’ve said to the
asshat that cut you off at the roundabout the other day have somehow blocked your path to transmutation.
And at this point you have two options – you roll back to step one, start denying there’s anything wrong, because you slowly convince yourself that the current way is the right way. Or you move on to…
You shake yourself up. Make a to-do list. Re-evaluate your goals. Set up a plan. And make it happen.
Because you have accepted that transmutation comes from WITHIN. The Universe listens (and wants to help you) and will respond, but only if YOU take the necessary steps to put your life into motion. Kick-starting yourself is the ONLY sure way to make a change/transmutation and reach your soul’s potential, fulfill your dreams and goals.
Final thought – live in the moment, enjoy it. Accept every experience and learn from it (be it good or bad), and pass it on, for you do not live forever…
Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli […].Because it is a complex, subjective phenomenon, defining pain has been a challenge […].(Wikipedia)
Today, I want to talk about pain. Mental, physical, spiritual…
We all go through periods in life when all we feel is pain, so we begin to identify ourselves and see ourselves as a walking wreck, in a great need for relief and support. And then there is the usual:
“There are many more people in the world in a worse situation than you!”
Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity. (Albert Einstein)
EVERYTHING IS RELATIVE. For one person a lifetime can mean 15 years, for another it is 80, but it does not mean that they have any more or less experience or right to say what you should and should not feel like. Pain is there for a reason. Pain is individual. Pain does not discriminate.
Religions teach us that pain is a test of strength, resilience, patience, and ultimately of faith. Medicine takes pain as a distress signal, body’s cry for help, a sign of not-so-well being. In art, pain has been the reason behind some of the greatest paintings even made – think Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh.
And here we are. Looking at pain from a prism of emotions, feelings, spirituality.
In my experience, pain has been something I have lived with for years now. I have accepted it as part of me, a sort of uninvited friend that has overstayed it’s welcome. It has definitely made me stronger, and able to accept and sympathise with everyone else’s position in their journey of pain and suffering. However, I am by no means the one that keeps her mouth shut and lets the pain go by unheard. Every person suffering from pain (be it mental, physical or spiritual) needs support, help and most importantly an ear that will hear them out.
Pain is a journey you must take yourself, however that does not mean that everyone else is a passer-by. There MUST be friends along the way, there HAVE to be cheerleaders and well-wishers! That’s the only way to keep taking a step after step, and finish the journey. Suffering from pain calls us to immerse ourselves into taking care of our body and soul, ask for help, be more humble, and be able to ACCEPT help.
People suffering from pain more often than not get rebuked, making them go inward into hiding, which usually makes everything worse. And when there is not outlet, the build-up of emotions, pain and loneliness does not allow them to take the next step towards recovery.
But there is another side to this. There are some people that view their own pain as weakness and shame takes over them, making them unable to ASK for help, thus unable to GET help. So, my advice is to accept the situation, make certain amount of peace with it and then TALK ABOUT IT. Talk about it with you spirit guides, with your gods and goddesses, yourself. And then take the next step, have a conversation with the people you trust and respect, and who in turn trust and respect you. That is the only way forward. In their hearts, minds and should they might have felt your pain, and been unable to ask you what’s wrong. Accept, that sometimes YOU have to make first steps towards recovery yourself.
Think of the AA – the first first step in their programme is admittance and acceptance.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.” (The AA)
So, let’s take that first step together. You and I. On our journey to recovery. This is my mantra that I am putting out to my Spirits and the Universe.
“I am in pain. And I accept that. You might be an unwelcome visitor, but I will greet you with the same hospitality as the friend I have invited. We will walk together – you and I. And we shall get to know each other, and part our ways when the time is right. But for now. I am yours and you are mine.”