My Spiritual Journey.
A bit convoluted for a blog post.
Before I go too far back, say, right back to when I was eight and used to sit in church admiring a photo of Jesus on the wall at the end of the pew (yes, I thought it was a photo—an assumption that rested unquestioned in my psyche until I was about, um, forty) let me say right here that I have never publicly articulated my spiritual beliefs.
And now here I am, making Part Two of my Year in Review, all about my spiritual journey.
I said to Himself, ‘How can I write about my spiritual journey? I haven’t even meditated for SIX MONTHS.’
He said, ‘Well, write about that. Tell the people how you’ve fallen off the wagon.’
‘I have NOT fallen off the wagon! Sheesh. Just because I haven’t meditated doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my spirituality.’
And I guess that’s the thing.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the externals, the publicly sanctioned externals, we forget that a large part of spirituality (most of it, really) is about our inner life, our feeling life.
Our connection to the divine.
Our thoughts about the…ineffable.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
Opening lines, God’s Grandeur, Gerard Manley Hopkins
I like my spirituality to be threefold:
1 It needs to be intellectually stimulating.
From the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, (Jesuit Priest, Oxford Scholar, all-round Super Poet, to Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda, to the writings of Carl Jung or Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I want to be on a spiritual journey that makes my brain crackle and spark.
2 It needs to be practical.
My spiritual life must make me a kinder person, more patient, compassionate, grounded and connected. And more resilient.
3 It needs to resonate intuitively.
For me, a worthwhile spiritual practice needs to transcend the intellect. It needs to take me beyond mind (which is so inextricably beholden to ego, logic and cultural constructs), into a greater realm—the Higher Self for want of a better term.
Most Pagans see the universe and all its parts as rare, precious, and worthy of appreciation, respect and careful handling.
This year, I’ve spent much of my time contemplating Paganism.
How does this sit with my Threefold Criteria?
1 Paganism is intellectually stimulating.
I enjoy reading about it and researching it. In studying Paganism, I have broadened my ‘cosmic’ worldview and expanded my knowledge in many areas, from the history of religion, to a more comprehensive understanding of the concepts of Deity, the chakras and Magick (with a k).
2 Paganism is practical.
My interest in Paganism, and in Goddess Permaculture, plays out every day in my garden and in the choices I make in the marketplace of Life.
While I am by no means militant, I do strive every day to make mindful choices; buying second-hand, vintage or locally made whenever I can, composting, limiting and, in many cases eliminating, the use of chemicals in our home and garden.
I’ve even stopped dying my hair!
And, this Christmas when the gang said, ‘Where are the bonbons, Queen Jen?’ I told them they could bloody well clink their glasses instead, make up their own stoopid jokes and save Mother Earth from another truckload of crappy landfill.
Pagans are filled with awe and wonder at the mysteries of the universe and believe that its sacred nature imposes a burden of stewardship on humanity.
3 Paganism resonates intuitively.
Well, der. Box ticked.
Everything is sacred and alive (that is, shares the spark of consciousness or intelligence) and each part of the universe can communicate with each other.
One sunny afternoon, a year or so ago, I was on a train into the city (Melbourne). I’d been studying Eckhart Tolle‘s, The Power of Now, and I was in the zone. Totally in the Now.
I could almost ‘see’ the quantum field around me, sense the interconnectedness of every single thing, alive or inanimate.
I got on the train, and a young Japanese women sat down across from me.
She looked straight into my eyes and nodded, ever so slightly.
I returned her gaze and nodded back. Ever so slightly.
She was in the zone, too. No question about.
Talk about like attracting like.
For the next twenty minutes we sat in blissful contemplation of the ENORMOUS world around us, OBSERVING the world rather than participating in it, devoid of judgement and inner commentary, smiling quietly at each other now and then, like lovers with a delicious secret.
Only we were total strangers.
Then the train pulled up.
The clang and bustle of Flinders Street crashed in on us.
And that was the end of that.
In many ways, that experience stands as a metaphor for how I have always experienced spirit or if you will, God. As flashes of brilliance, of insight, of irrefutable connectedness in an otherwise mundane world.
Which leads me to the Tarot.
I’ve always been intrigued by the Tarot.
I love the mystery and theatre of it.
I’ve sought readings now and then, mainly when I’ve felt particularly lost or confused, and I’ve always found them helpful…
Except for that one time when I instinctively knew the woman doing the reading was a complete and utter ninny, and she proceeded to tell me a whole lot of BLETHERING CLAPTRAP. In fact, the reading was so bad, so SILLY, that even the tape recorder spat the dummy.
When I got home and tried to play the tape back, the woman sounded like a chipmunk on steroids. God it was funny.
Lesson? Trust your intuition. Honestly, I think Intuition should be a proper noun.
As an English major and an author, I’m big on symbolism. Maybe that’s another reason why I’ve grown to love the Tarot.
This year I bought my first pack.
I started with Rider Waite because, well, isn’t that where everyone starts?
I have resisted buying any other packs! (If you’re not in the Tarot community you probably won’t get this joke. But let’s just say, most of my readers will get this: ART SUPPLIES!)
Every morning this year, save one or two, I have pulled a card. Just for myself.
Then I have transcribed its basic meanings, from the reference book into a journal.
This’s how I always learn.
I read something.
Then I write it down.
I cannot miss the ‘writing down’ part. Without that part, my information retention is, hmm, about ZERO.
This has proven to be a gentle and thorough way to ease myself into the art of reading Tarot.
I’m in no rush.
And each card deserves at least a day of contemplation.
The thing I love about the Tarot is not its ‘fortune telling’ abilities.
No, what I love about the cards is the way they make you think.
The cards invite you to go deep. To dive into your oceanic psyche and think seriously about what’s going on in there. And how your thoughts, your inner life, is manifesting in the ‘real’ world.
The cards are elegant triggers.
Portals into self-knowledge.
And the Rider Waite series is so pretty.
In a creepy, Madam Zola kinda way.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Day.
In the morning I will pull a card.
I will hang my Thich Nhat Hanh calendar.
Maybe I’ll meditate.
I will definitely take a walk around the garden.
Because in the garden, Magick happens.
And the Goddess speaks.
No doubt my spiritual journey will continue to unfold, much as it always has, in fits and starts and moments of astonishing cosmic clarity.
And that’s a good thing.
I’m more than happy with that.
New Year blessings to you, dear reader. May 2019 bring you peace, connection and love in abundance.
Thank you for reading Part Two of these reflections.
Refs: Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centred Religions, Joyce and River Higginbotham, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury Minnesota