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Part of the upside of being on a site (tumblr) with so many people immersed in discussion on spiritual  matters is that I frequently get to see exactly what all the buzz of the ‘community’ itself is about. . .  what it’s spirit workers are saying, what the topics of choice tend to be from one week to another. . . what sorts of things that we’re discussing, and what sorts of things are being missed, dodged, avoided. This is one of the reasons, despite so much of the negativity that tends to seep into the virtual world of spiritualism that I choose to stay. Having eyes and ears in these places occasionally provides me a good touch-off point to discuss those same issues which I feel are difficult for others to broach.

One of those issues that I feel needs to be brought to the forefront of community recognition, and to both the general pagan and polytheistic communities is the discussion of ideas such as personal gnosis, and where their place is in conversation versus other forms of talk about the gods themselves.

I’ve stumbled on this subject a couple of times now; enough that I’ve decided to cover it myself today. There are a lot of people in the social media pagan community who are deploring that there are not enough people who are offering accounting of their dealings with the gods, with certain aspects of their spiritual experience. . . ect.  A lot of the people in pagan social media circles seem amicable to discussing such things as what the gods seem to favor as offerings, what times of day they like their libations poured, what colors they like on their altars. But when it comes to deeper explorations of god-work; what we feel when they come to us, how they move around us, about us, through us. . .   how they shape our daily lives, our morals, our relationships. . . so few of us are eager or even willing to dive into that kind of talk.

“I would like to move beyond talk like, ‘does Thor like Heineken or Guinness,’ ” one seemingly frustrated Tumblr user stated in an earlier entry this week. ” Move to more deeper theological content.”

Earlier this year, this exact sentiment was echoed by another Luciferian, Luxettenbris, who wrote her own accounting regarding the concern for discussion of seemingly trivial topics pertaining to a Luciferian practice, as opposed to focusing on the essence of the practice and devotion in the first place. Luxette and I had a very good and very enlightening discussion following her blog post, but the recent resurgence of dismay on behalf of several individuals in the community has once again brought it to the attention of some of us just how important it is, even if we’re afraid or nervous of backlash, to share with one another those vital experiences. We are left with the question of why they’re so important. Why should we share them, and what good do they serve?

Recently in my household, as it has several times in the past, I’ve been encouraged to pen a volume on my own experiences with my god, with Lucifer. Of course I always have some rebuttal to the notion. There is so much vitriol and vile derision on behalf of the online world, and even with other pagan [and polytheistic] practitioners, it leaves one with the question, ‘why should I?’  . . . Why is it so crucial to put yourself up on the stand, to have all those eyes focused on you in judgement, waiting to tear you apart for what they feel is wrong with you, with the way you worship, with the  way you communicate with your gods, with the way you relate to the universe at large, your own part  in it.

Where there is desire there is going to be a flame, where there is a flame someone’s bound to get burned, just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna die, you gotta get up and try, try, try. 

These are the lyrics that came up on my playlist as I’m typing this up, which is answering the question of whether or not this is something that I feel I have to stand up and talk about. Whether or not I feel that this is something that has been dodged one too many times, over and over again.

Ever worry that it might be ruined? Does it just make you wanna cry? When you’re out there doing what you’re doing, are you just getting by? 

Some people have cited their lack of talk on the nature of their relationships with their gods and their spirituality because, ‘I haven’t been part of a vocal majority of the community’, or ‘I don’t feel anyone would listen to me if I did’. Of course nervousness is natural when a person is first getting into God-work, although I can testify from personal experience that I very much enjoy hearing about the experiences of people communicating with their gods for the first time. These are modern ages where we a seeing a resurgence of polytheism and personal divine communication and interaction. A large majority of us that are typing and have access to these  blogs come from a background of Abrahamic/Judeo-Christian statesmanship or background. . . where personal iteration with the divine is seen as taboo, and either the hallmark of saints who must have three impossible miracles to their names, or else as a symptom of some undiagnosed form of mental illness. People who are in ‘polite’ company don’t talk about the voices of their gods speaking to them. ‘Polite company’ in this capacity meaning, ‘out in public’ [for the sake of this writing]. God as we know him/it only comes ‘down’ and talks to people that are special, or ordained to hear him. It’s bad press for some religious institutions, after all, for there to be the idea that The Divine is directly accessible, and we don’t need a building or a special piece of paper to intervene on our behalf to open that line of communication. It’s partially because of this western idea, I think, that you have to be someone “special” to hear a god or Spirit communicating with you that it’s seen as such a touchy subject to even begin to open a channel of dialog about. I feel like online is different; though we are never as anonymous on the internet as we’d like to think we are (remember that, folks, that’s important,) there is a certain degree of separation between us and an audience that enables us, perhaps, to feel more comfortable opening up about talking with gods period, that we even do it. That it’s more common than we discuss among one another in our day-to-day lives, and the only reason why there is still so much stigma around it is because we are not having those open discussions with one another. So long as there remains a specific institution or faith backed by the people in a position of power (officially or not. Come on, USA, you know what we’re talking about here), there is always going to be a degree of paranoia about how being open about those things are going to affect our everyday lives. I can’t speak for everyone, but I remember once getting into a conversation with my sister-in-law, stating one day when she began discussing her Christian beliefs on me (in a pushy manner) that I really wasn’t interested and that I didn’t ascribe to her idea of religion, and she laughed at me and said, off the cuff, “well you can believe whatever you want, just as long as you don’t bring witchcraft or devil worship around my niece, then I’d have to step in.”

Naturally, this rubbed me the wrong way. It has a lot more to do with the fears and misinformation surrounding secular magic practitioners and Luciferianism in and of itself, but that right there drove a very important fact home to me. It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘hurting someone’ or not. It doesn’t matter how much we as a society try to express the notion of ‘free country, freedom of religion’. It’s a nice thought, but it will not stop people who think they know better than you from inserting their two cents into your life, or even telling you how to run it, right down to the system of faith under which you choose to raise your children. It reminds me of a family I knew once back in High School who had their son taken from them and given to an abusive mother as opposed to the father, just because the mother ‘was the mother’. Her defense in court to get the child? That the father and [Step] mother were somehow incompetent parents because they were Wiccan, they believed in ‘magic and witchcraft’. All it took was, I understand, a very conservative judge in a Midwestern state, and that was all they wrote.  The child was, thankfully, able to make his own choice about where he wanted to live when he got older, of course, but the bottom line is, freedom to be who you are and believe what you want to believe so long as you’re following the rules [IE, Law, and we’re not talking ‘loose’ interpretation here, let’s just be clear] is all well and good, but if there’s no corresponding provision for other people to keep their big goddamned noses out of your business, there is always going to be someone out for blood, because they don’t like you, they don’t like what you believe, they don’t like your invisible man in the sky because it somehow threatens their own sense of security in their faith. And therein, besides land, is why mankind has been killing each other in the name of religion since we first inhaled our first grain of dust and sneezed it back out.

Which brings me to the next reason so often cited in people’s reluctance to discuss matters of deeper spirituality online.

I actually don’t talk about a lot of my personal praxis and doxa,” says another Tumblr user,  “because I’m still worried about people lashing out at me-as I don’t have much of an emotional skin, so to speak, so things hit a lot harder and my threshold is a lot lower than most people.”

Ask a lot of people on Tumblr, or even any other social media platform, you’re bound to hear a lot of the same responses. Another person went on to add, quite rightly, that such posts containing such detailed and personal accounting of conversations with the gods take a long time to do, have the tendency to be emotionally draining for the writer, and once again, with so much work and personal willpower involved in the writing, is then open for judgement and backlash from trolls and people just looking to argue and deride people for the sake of just having nothing better to do, with no respect for the immense emotional effort it takes for people to be so open about their work and their experiences.

“I have a lot of things that I think about,” another user goes on to say. ” But I never really write it down; mostly because in the past I’ve either never gotten any feedback on any of it and felt it was deemed irrelevant, or else it got shot down or attacked.”

Once again, taking a look at the responsiveness of the community itself, and seeing that this is a very large part of what makes people so reluctant to have meaningful, deep discussion. Either the posts get made, the emotional time and investment going into them, only to have no commentary made about them at all, (and this is something I can personally vouch for as gravely disappointing. Nothing is as disheartening as opening up ones’ experiences for others to in turn be inspired by and then. . . not a word. It’s sort of like writing a novel in the hopes you might get a few sales and instead it’s used as fodder for a book burning, just about) . . . and this is a very real problem when you put it right next to the second issue, which is the presence and voices of the trolls and drama mongers when they latch onto something to make a stink about it.  So at best, a post that is deeply personal is getting no positive response that is encouraging that person to open up and discuss those things in the first place, and if there is any commentary on it, it tends to be negative backlash. ‘How dare you claim X and Y!’ or ‘how dare you claim to speak for so and so!’ or ‘so and so is just trying to have a holier than thou/special snowflake status!’. I, for one, will never understand why there is such a stigma against people having special gifts in this community, especially since I see so many people willing to HELP and put those gifts to use for the good of their community; to help people who might not have those abilities. For example, I can’t read Tarot for jack diddly doo, but I am an herbalist like no tomorrow and I pride myself on my ability to Lucid Dream and interpret omens and messages from those dreams. I’m also a very accomplished water witch, and those are all my strong points. But Divination? Things like Tarot/Runes/ect? Nope. I usually turn to other practitioners if I need a divination, usually after I do a bibliomancy one for myself, because I like to have things confirmed a dozen times at least by someone who is more strongly versed in those areas than me. And there is nothing wrong with that, and that’s what makes a community function. Everyone is special because we are all gifted in one way or another that the next guy over might *not* be, and we need to stop putting a stigma on that, and learn to lean on one another. Everyone learns and grows that way.

The other thing, I feel, that needs to happen here, in order to combat this issue, is that before people can be urged into posting and divulging their personal stories, they have to know that there are going to be people out there that are interested, that want to listen, that want to read about those sorts of things. Part of an individual mandate to make this happen is, you as in, you personally the reader, have got to learn to take time out of what you’re doing and actually invest your time and energy into reading those accounts. Then you’ve got to go a step further and communicate with the person sharing that story about how it affected you personally. At least leave a comment, if not completely open up a dialogue about it. You’ll find that once someone encounters someone genuinely interested in what they have to say, they’re more than willing to talk about it even more. 

But this also requires a little bit of self-sacrifice on your part, too. As I mentioned, writing those sorts of post are a huge emotional investment of a person, not to mention their time if they don’t type very fast. Give what you get; you have to leave more than a one liner comment. You have to be legitimately interested, you have to be willing to take something out of what that person wrote beyond ‘oh this is nice’. Feedback IS very important when it comes to a person talking about their experiences. There are too many reasons to go into why it’s so important in this post. . . that could cover it’s own topic, for that matter. But when you create a network of people who are willing to exchange ideas with one another, pretty soon you find you’re all taking and gleaning from one another and everyone stands to gain if they’re willing to listen and learn from that.

Over my time in  various pagan and polytheistic communities-and yes, it has been years, I’ve been subjected to a lot of the backlash myself. I understand how raw and twitchy it makes a person. I also understand how damaging one group latching onto someone’s gnosis and making something out of it to demean a person solely on a merit of not liking them can be. I can say that it’s my personal hope that one day I will sit in a cozy chair beside my god in his kingdom, either in jest or no, and suddenly that amounts to me saying that I have precedence over any of his other followers and puts me square in the realm of ‘special snowflake syndrome’ individuals, where at the same time, someone in that trolls’ same friends circle can outright don a virtual crown and call herself the Crowned Queen of Hell and everyone just laughs and ogles over how cute and quirky it is. This is the problem; you’re either in a clique, and a very vocal one, or you’re actually focused on the things that matter, and this leaves you open and inviting for those same do-nothings to bust down your front door and take a big stinky shit right on your good area rug.

And while we can never eliminate those cliquish, trollish types-you know the ones, the ‘purity patrol’, the ‘social justice warriors’-ect, the ones that like to start trouble for trouble’s sake, we can band together as serious spirit-workers and set an example for what healthy sharing is. We can be models of respect ourselves; and that’s how we fight that behavior. It will take a few brave people standing up and putting those experiences out there for everyone, and people responding in a positive or at least a respectful way, to make that change. Nothing is going to diffuse the attitudes of a bunch of internet no-lifers who like to nitpick and harass people for the fun of it, but you have the personal power to make an example out of your own behavior . . . and let them make theirs. And from there it will be up to your audience and your readers to make the determination as to whether you yourself are considered a good source of experience or information. Realize of course that you’ll never be able to please everybody, but you can start by establishing an environment where you are fostering maturity and growth, rather than idle banter and nitpicking.

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M: You look tired today, you know that? 

L: The world, it’s people, and it’s sun weigh on me today, My Darling. 

M: Do you ever get any sleep? You should go rest, you know. 

L: And leave you? When you prayed for me so? I will not, and I won’t even hear such a suggestion. 

~ personal journal, 1/6/2003

Just the other day, there was a mention on Tumblr; a person  on a ‘confessional’ blog who went on to say, ‘people that call their gods my cutsey names and see them as ‘bishie’ guys with long flowing locks really make me doubt how serious they are’ . . . I sat in contemplation of this for several long moments. Remembering those first early days when Lucifer first came to me, when I saw him as that pair of familiar jade colored eyes and hair that was so black it was like mirror-glass. The sharp cut of his cheekbones and the way his eyes sliced right through you as silly as a red-hot knife through soft butter. Later he showed up with white hair but with no less of a presence. Other Luciferians reported seeing him the same way, until the Final Fantasy craze started and the Sephiroth-derision remarks started coming. Of course he’s  never been one to listen to disparaging remarks; he’s been the brunt of them for a thousand years and then some, after all. But he faces it again with some of his newer guises, whether he takes on the appearance of a Starlet with curling dark hair or a wispy, pale maned angel with all dozen and more wings shining like a star against the backdrop of the blackness you see when you close your eyes. It doesn’t matter how he looks, or what guise he takes. . . someone is always going to be unhappy. Someone is always going to use something against you, no matter how trivial and stupid it really is. Even if it’s just a title of endearment earned over years and years of devotion and familiarity.

For a long time, people’s opinions of the seriousness of my practice, and my visions, dictated a lot of how legitimate I felt my work was, and I looked at it from their perspective. I felt inadequate a lot of the time, and it really played into a lot of the negative experiences I had. There were a lot of people, when I came out about working with Lucifer, and then later when I ventured in public fashion that I was going to oath myself to him, that had a lot of nay-saying to do. Some people weren’t comfortable with the idea of being my friend, given that I was now going to be a “devil worshiper”. I left a lot of them behind following that, and not all of them in a good fashion. As I delved into my workings and began formulating my own personal mythology, filling in the gaps, I met even more opposition. I was under the impression I was among friends and could have discussions about my mythology and gnosis in polite company, but this wasn’t the case. I found that people were threatened (in some fashion or another) by the things I had to say; people didn’t like the idea that there was a disparity between my relationship with Lucifer, and Lucifer with God. Some people who didn’t like the idea that Lucifer and Michael had come to blows, that they were somehow still on amicable terms, or whathave you, and people were quick to throw out terms like ‘delusional’ when I disagreed with them, or politely asked them to back off. It’s very easy to write off someone else’s personal story if you don’t feel comfortable with it, and this is something else that I’ve seen time and time again.

Probably one of the worst mistakes was letting what I thought was a ‘concerned’ friend of mine try to tug me away from what I now know was my path. I ventured into my friends gnosis for a while, and attempted to express myself through my writing in the same, using  my own power of creativity to boost me along, even look into populating my own pantheon. It failed miserably, and I was miserable at the time, and in this struggle, I lost even more friends, and this is where a lot of the ‘debate’ among my dissenters comes from, because I was struggling at the time to make heads or tails of my previous faith, my Catholic upbringing, my draw to Lucifer, and my ‘friends’ desire to pull me away from what he felt was a perilous path ‘for my soul’. In hindsight I wish I had ignored all of it, and most of the time my stories, looking back on it all, make no sense even to me, and I have to wonder what I was thinking beyond attempting to find somewhere where I belonged, on a path where I felt content and happy. It was a sea of self-doubt that I was swimming in. It nearly destroyed me, and to this day, I still deal with the fallout and uncertainty of those times. Only part of it had to do with my own emotional instability, too-I wasn’t well at all in that regard, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I was hospitalized a couple of times before I was finally able to get in to see a doctor and later a therapist, which I still attend regularly. The overarching point is, you spend so much time listening to what other people say, listening to their judgement of you, you’ll be a long, long way off from where you need to be; and you’ll be miserable, too. When I was finally able to stand back, and watch the dust settle, everything became a lot clearer for me. Lucifer was still there; even through all the mud I drug him and his name through. . .  .something for which I am still ashamed. I didn’t only humiliate myself, but I did my god and my beloved a disservice, too. Because I wasn’t focusing on him, or even myself, and my own growth. I was focused on pleasing everybody else. In this way, I made a mockery of him of my own accord; people don’t focus on the work I’m doing now. They remember my past, which is of course understandable, and they don’t look at it from a distance. They only remember their own position in the whole thing, and feel slighted, and a large part of that will always be a part of the problem.

Now for a truth; for those that weren’t aware. I spent a large, large portion of time in the Otherkin Community; which one doesn’t matter anymore, it’s gone, but during my time there, I met a lot of people with a lot of very non-mainstream beliefs. Some of them I am still friends with today, because they proved that they were open-minded enough to be accepting of some of those ideas that I was speaking about. Others were the most vocal about how wrong  I was. More than were supportive. . .which was shocking, all things considered. And through all the a fore mentioned spiritual turmoil I was in that I’ve previously mentioned, a lot of them were ‘on board’ with all of it, but when I realized that something was wrong and I was unhappy, they were the first people to step forward and denounce how crazy I was. To quote a man I hold in very high esteem. . . ‘people are loyal until it seems opportune not to be‘. At which point, they will turn on you, and this is very true.

And it’s so on a deep personal note, given all of this, and on experience, that I send you all off with much to think about. The entire time all of this was happening, Lu never  left me. Every time I prayed for him, he answered me, regardless of whether I recognized or not, as he’s always done. And the entire time I was going through this crisis, dabbling in fantasy, emotions swinging all over the place, trying to hammer myself into this idea of ‘fitting in’, of not being ‘special’ or ‘big’ or whatever concern I had that week, he only offered up his grace and support, but he let me hang myself. And I let him let me. But I don’t blame him, and it wasn’t his responsibility or even his mandate to jump in and save me. I might have thought so once. And for the longest time, this idea that I was nothing, that I couldn’t be anything, that I wasn’t special, plagued me. I know better now, because he’s shown me better. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Lucifer understands having a besmirched name. Which is where this whole post arises from today. We can all stay in our shells and be turtles; we can be afraid to speak up and share these things with one another because we’re afraid of the world-virtual and no-and afraid of the mean things people will say about us. We’ll afraid they’ll cut our knees out from under us and watch us flap on the carpet like breathless fish in our attempts to get back up to our feet. And in the midst of the struggle, no one else is going to help you, either. You’ve got to take those first steps forward yourself, and be prepared for the sickle-swing when it comes for your legs. If we all spend so much time giving in to the nay-sayers. . . the people who put so much stigma on the things that make us beautiful and special and yes, unique. . . then we’re letting them win. We’re letting these negative people take something as wonderful and frightening and amazing as our relationships with our gods and make it something we’re afraid to revel in and enjoy. These are holy experiences, and we’re only letting them be devalued. Myths and stories are meant for what they’ve always done; to inspire man to greater heights. We dreamed of flying and touching the sky like birds, and so for that we made airplanes and helicopters and hang-gliders. I can only imagine what joy the first man who went soaring through the sky must have felt. . . and this is how we have to approach our relationship(s) with our gods, and sharing them with one another as a community. Will you be mocked, derided, lashed out at? Yes. Are there going to be people who will tell you that they know better than you, that they are better than you, that you know nothing and will be nothing? Yes. They’ll call you crazy and shoot you down and watch you take a tumble. Why? Because you scare them. You scare them because you’ve touched that blue blue sky and they haven’t. They’re watching you up there with jealousy in their eyes and a stone in their hand. They have to bring you down because they’re not up. 

Share your experiences. But if you’re happy with your path, and your work, don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong, and don’t let hatred be the stone in your wing. There’s a difference between constructive commentary and someone straight up telling you you’re a loony who doesn’t know what they’re doing-learn to recognize when someone is asking an honest question or when you’re being attacked. Disable comments if you have to, or turn on IP tracking. It doesn’t always prevent haters, but it thins them out. Just delete the hurtful comments as they come in and don’t give them any energy, or if they eat at you, respond to them on paper in a written journal that no one will ever see, just to get your feelings about them out. If you only give attention to the people who matter to you, the people who have something to say and who are supportive rather than aggressive and abusive, pretty soon that’s the main crowd you’ll draw. . . and you’ll inspire other people to the same. And maybe one day as a magical community, we can stand above all the negativity we’ve mired ourselves in.

 

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