You may remember that once upon a time, back when I called myself Wiccan, I wrote an entire book on spiritual practice.
It was pretty well-received, if I do say so myself, and in fact 15 years later I still get emails and messages from people saying they’ve just discovered it (or have had it all this time) and it’s been instrumental in helping them develop their own practices.
That’s right up there with the folks who tell me that my novels have helped them face and evolve past homophobia in the top ten warm fuzzies I could get as a writer. Seriously when I hear either of those things, or that The Body Sacred helped someone overcome self-hatred, I get misty ’round the eyeballs. (The fact that I hear all three fairly often has helped me keep going in more ways than one.)
You may also know, however, that I have to take a “do as I say, not as I do” approach with The Circle Within now, because I haven’t considered myself Wiccan for a long time, and in fact for years I was nothing at all. I had some deeply negative experiences that drove me away from my path, but even before that, I was already in spiritual distress. I managed to shed the label and embrace my Spiritual Nomad-hood (again to the positive reception of the outside world), but before long my remaining spiritual enthusiasm drained away and I was left, again, with nothing.
Well, that’s what I thought anyway. Isn’t that what we always think?
I’m not sure exactly what changed, but something impelled me to start reaching out again – slowly at first, dabbling in my Tarot studies, rebuilding my altar last year. I started doing the shadow work I wrote about several months ago, and I uncovered the roots of a big part of my spiritual crisis. Once I’d stared that in the face for a while I started doing some meditative pathworking, and wham! some things in my mind came together and I realized that after years and years of longing for a matron Goddess yet feeling unworthy and disconnected, it turned out She had been quite patiently waiting in the pages of my own novels for me to wake the hell up and notice.
Things have been a little different since then.
Right about the same time as all this was happening I finally managed to commit to my vegan practice as well – I did some of my first spellwork in a long time and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work like a…well, you know. Suddenly not only was I able to keep vegan, it was fun. There have been plenty of challenges, and I’m sure there will be plenty more, but overall, I’m getting comfortable with this part of my identity in a way I haven’t ever been before. There’s a deep, wonderful relief in finally living your convictions.
I am slowly cobbling together a new path for myself, and it’s far from cohesive or even consistent yet, but I want to talk about it here on the blog because I know that for many people it’s a familiar story. You break down, you spend months or years trying to stand back up, and once you’re on your shaky baby-deer legs again…then what? How do you start walking?
When what used to be welcoming, or at least comfortable in its consistency, falls apart, and you’re left with a giant pile of soul-Legos at your feet, how do you decide what to build in its place?
It’s more straightforward if you have some kind of big epiphany or conversion experience. Maybe you found Jesus and now you’ve got a faith community to join and all sorts of resources, classes, literature, and affirmation in front of you – great! Maybe you read a book on Buddhism that grabbed you so hard by the mala you ran down to the local meditation center and took yourself some refuge in the Dharma. Awesome!
For a lot of people, including myself, starting over spiritually ends up being less a heavenly angels’ chorus and more of a series of enlightened burps.
The cosmic 2×4 of reawakening is swell, but once the swelling goes down, what do you do?
That’s what I hope to explore in the coming weeks here at CrazyBeautiful. I want to talk about what’s working for me, and some things I want to try out. My writing has always been a way of figuring things out as much as conveying them to others; I learned more about spiritual practice writing The Circle Within than I ever had, and I worked out a ton of body issues while working on The Body Sacred. It’s when I started feeling like I should be some sort of authority that blogging became work instead of exploration.
Heck that. Let’s rock some ReBeginner’s Mind.