I read New Age Hipster’s newsletter this week with interest. Vix mentioned the violence in India. A famous guru has been charged with sexual assault, and imprisoned. His followers are in meltdown, he has been the cornerstone of their belief and practice and it is all unravelling. The interwebs is also aflutter, in the magical corner that is woo woo land at least, with controversy over Doreen Virtue’s decision to change her work and move away from tarot as a means of divination.
Vix’s newsletter went on to talk about the need to move away from having teachers who we see as holders or emissaries of the “truth” to finding our own path and walking it. Which made me think about growing up. Specifically, about my need to grow up.
For a long time I looked for someone to tell me I was getting it right. I did this whilst I was at school, I did it when I was in the church and then, later, in ministry. I did it in my teaching career. And as a parent. I wanted someone to rubber stamp it for me, verify I was doing ok, five stars on the performance review. When I began exploring spiritual paths outside of the church I was still looking. I loved Doreen Virtue’s work when I discovered it, I loved her calm manner, her soothing voice, she felt like a favourite aunt, clad in colourful robes and glitzy necklaces come to shed some light for me in the middle of my own spiritual tornado; she was my Glinda, good, kind, and pointing me in the right direction. I am thankful for that part of my journey.
And then I began to grow up. First of all, I had some questions, then I found that I was attracted to different teachings, maybe more earthy, maybe more witchy. I have had other teachers, people who have been on this path a bit longer than me, people who have different experiences, who teach me from their wisdom and truth. They each open a piece of the treasure, they show me what they have learned, but they don’t tell me how to do it, they just tell me their stories, and let me work out what makes sense. They are my way markers, they are the stones, standing strong in their own place and marking the path, I’m thankful for all of them. But I know now that they don’t have “the answers” any more than I do.
This is what it means to be grown up. To take responsibility. To make our own choices and to follow our own path; whichever faith we follow, whichever tradition, even outside of all traditions. Each of us is entirely unique. That’s not a platitude, it’s true. Each brain grows and develops in response to the very specific set of circumstances that it’s owner experiences. That means that no two brains are ever joined up in the same way, the neural pathways within you, within me, are mapped entirely uniquely. This will never happen again in this way, we are each one of a kind.
So, your path, your journey, your truth, really is just that. We may find common threads, we may find others to travel with us. But in the end it really is our own particular magic that we’re making. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn, shouldn’t question, shouldn’t be aware of the world and others around us, they can shed light on the journey for us. But it does mean that in the end it’s just your own wild soul and the divine mystery, sitting quietly together, in the darkness, dreaming.
It’s not always a comfortable place, we shy away from the shadows, from uncertainty. The unknown is traditionally a place of fear. But it is also the home of mystics. I want to anchor this, to ground it in earthy, earthly things. One of my teachers encourages me to stand outside on the earth each evening, letting my bare feet connect with Gaia. Or I may take a salt bath. Or breathe deeply, down the bottom of my belly. I will tune in to all the sounds around me for a stone, cold minute, stopping the day in its tracks. And then, back on the earth, in my skin, I will take my next step.