Thoughts on Healing and Life
The voice of the narrative is changing; we are learning to co-create, bit by bit. Co-creating is something that is damned hard, unpredictable. Each new voice, like a new splash of color in paint, can add to the milieu or ruin it. Too many colors and you cannot discern them, too few and there are no colors. Yet sometimes all things need to be added to create the contrasting backdrop onto which the voiceless can be draped, onto which the wordless can be given Name. In co-creating, all of us painting together to find nuance between our brushes, we can find a measure of peace; our colors do not need to compete with one another, but complete the whole picture. Some add dabs, others great strokes. This is like healing. Sometimes there needs to be sweeping colors that come into the work, bringing with them mountains, or soft little pecks at the canvas, lifting trees from green. At some point eventually, the picture may be complete, for others, each time one looks at it, the picture can be constantly unfolding and evolving. Some of us paint like this our whole lives and never does a clear picture or idea come, yet we walk away, somehow satisfied with our work. Some of us live our lives like a masterpiece painter might make his signature piece; deliberately, crafted from a wealth of experience.
When I write, since I do not paint, and I create a matrix of words and meanings, a cross-referenced understanding of the world around me, crafted for myself and a particular audience that reads this blog. Through these words I strive for meaning in my experiences, understandings, hope to give voice to the liminal, give a voice from one who serves the Gods to those out there wandering in the aether of the internet. Sometimes the voice whispers, other times it screams; in the vacuum of the internet, the only noise anyone hears is the one they turn their ear to. Here is hoping that the voice speaking into the aether from here impacts people positively, that it serves a good purpose. I don’t look for fame, for recognition, but that my words in some way, shape, or form help. That is ultimately, what I tend to do. My spiritual works and advances are all good for myself; I do get something from them. However, how limited would I be if I just limited them to myself? How horrible a hoarder I would be if these experiences came into the world and died with me, clinging to spiritual experience like a miser with his gold? It is fearful to let these experiences escape into the internet, to wonder what people think of them, would do with them, but that fear is ultimately born from fear of being mocked, of being ridiculed or misunderstood, or of others’ being hurt. In the first two cases, it hasn’t happened and even if it did, the person ridiculing me or misunderstanding me without trying to attain my side of the story is not worth my time. The latter I cannot control. I cannot control, once I loosen this mortal coil and my spirit goes onto other things (assuming it does) what people do with the words, the teachings I leave behind. I simply must have faith that people will do the right things by the Gods and spirits by what I leave behind.
That perhaps has been the greatest test I have faced in the last year: faith. My faith in my Gods has been tested both by my doubts, and by the circumstances that back them up. My financial situation is rather horrible; no job for 3 years despite plenty of applications, and a standing order from Odin basically stating I won’t get a ‘normal job’ and that I had best dedicate myself to this one. Yet, I cannot plan a future based on being a shaman and priest, at least with the support the Pagan/occult community gives at the moment. So I must make a future; this is why the shop is being developed, this is why I was called to it.
There is always a reason, always a reason why the Wyrd goes where it will, why it does what it does. This was the first hurdle of my faith; to trust that things happen for a reason, even if I may not fully understand it. It doesn’t mean that I cast aside my skeptical edge, that I simply trust that all things come to me, deserved or not. It means that I consistently look for the lesson, the reason, in life, for why I experience what I experience. It means that I trust that each moment, crafted by Wyrd, happened in response or for a reason, something spun by Frigga and weaved by the Norns into the ever-enlarging, ever-shrinking, ever-evolving tapestry that connects all things. It means that I can at least see my reason, my understanding, my designation, in the moment, of why. I may not understand all things, I may not know all things, but I can know my place in things. I can know my reason for being here.
The second hurdle of my faith has been to let others help me. This goes from close friends, to the Gods Themselves. I do not mind serving others, but I do tend to mind people serving me. This time of sickness and poverty has forced me to truly rely on other people, from family to friend, lover to Gods, and communities I have not reached out to before but should have. If it is anything, I have learned to have my pride beaten into the ground, to where movement itself has become painful and I am forced to ask for help for something so simple as getting a glass of water or getting up. The experienced ripped through my pride, my pride at being able to do, if only for myself. Even here I have had to learn humility, to let others actually serve me, in some fashion or another. I could not even move myself between dorm rooms; I am allowed to lift no more than 10 lb. until I have recovered. It is maddening at times. Yet I was given this lesson for a reason, perhaps if for the only reason than I could pass it on. That it is a joy to have people love you so much that they would pick up your sweat-soaked pillow so you could get a moment of comfort. That people would understand your situation so, that they would move things from your old, messed-up room to your new, clean room, and even deign to clean your old one because it hurts to get up stairs. It is a moment of knowing that dammit, beneath all the shit life can throw at you, you are loved. It is knowing that sometimes the hard tests are kept at bay so you can face them fresh. It is knowing that you have been spared pain, that others take on your burdens so perhaps some day you can take on others’. Maybe even theirs.
The life I live is, when I get right down to it, with others, often, if not actually, for others. My work as a shaman began young, in research. It became prevalent in experiences throughout my life, even if it took me years and years to know them as such. Counseling has been part of it, being asked even by people who just a few hours earlier who were beating the crap out of me about relationships, them showing that vulnerability, asking me for help, healed us both. Healing, bringing people to closure, decisions, power, pain, has echoed through my life. Perhaps some would call this crazy, but I have been taught to heal my whole life, to fight when necessary, but to heal when and where I can. Many bullies in my life have I been able to call friend because of this. Healing in myself only became possible as an adult because I healed, let go of hate, let go of the rage and the pain that held my spirit in an endless limbo. The Gods have shown me a great many paths, and holding onto such things tends to soil all of them. A Warrior who hates his foe with endless passion is easily lead to doom, a Healer who holds onto grief begins to fear if not revile his own art, a Shaman who rages at being misunderstood cannot connect his community to the Gods effectively.
Violence, rage, even hate, all have their place, and they have their places in my life. Violence is effective in defense; indeed, many bullies did not stop beating me everyday until I stopped them with violence. Yet, it was violence curbed with mercy. I could have killed the main bully in my life, and it was a choice not to. The rage from that choice made it so my lesson to him stuck; I will no longer be your victim. Hate has had a place in my life, keeping my blinded to better possibilities with other people, with understanding people like my bully, for a long time. Yet, when my blinders finally came off, I truly appreciated the hell he and people like him had gone through. Is hate intrinsically a good thing? No, not to me, but when it lifts it gives perspective and allows healing. Dealing with hate, working with it, rather than fighting it, changing it by adjusting your understanding has been the way I have healed my hate. Violence does have a place in my life: the last resort. I do not fight unless pushed to. When I fight, as with casting a spell, I intend for it to work, and to have lasting effect.
Can curses heal? Yes. I have seen this through the work I have done with people. Sometimes, when you have been denied power, recognition, hope, love, safety, all you have left is the reclaim your space, your life, yourself. I have brought peoples’ tormentors into my body in ritual, bound in a circle, and had their people confront them. The pain that is inflicted onto the spirit through me, the catharsis, the release of pain and rage and hate, the cold burn of disgust and the hot flame of outrage, all have places to go other than its host. These things need to be given back to their originator, often, for these people to move forward with their lives. I had, in my own case, to give back my bully his hate and anger, his rage and pain before I could move on. It may sound very spacey, or New Agey, but doing this gave me back my power because I was no longer fueling him with rage or hate, with despair or depression. I took out the shards he stuck in me from his soul and gave them back, and likewise, took my own. Sometimes this did require violence to the spirit; we tend to get possessive of what we are used to, even if it is disastrously bad for us to have. I had grown used to my hate and rage against myself; I had to return it to its owner.
By restoring our connections with each other, by coming back to see the world through reciprocation, I think we can see new ways forward even our last generation could not see. By seeing new ways of healing, alongside instead of an either-or option, we can enhance all our healing, all our understanding of this world. We have to be willing to listen, to hear, to be humble, to do this. It will take time, but all it takes is a few steps, an accident, an “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” or “Peace” for change to happen that echoes far louder and longer than we may know. Ghandi’s march to freedom for his people began with small footsteps, and ended with a cacophony of feet marching together. The protests in Egypt started with a handful of people and signs waving in the wind, and now the Middle East is embroiled in protests. It takes the smallest steps, the small wobbles, for a full revolution to happen. Step carefully, step with determination.