Try the Doors
Long term trauma, shamanism, bodhisattvas. Alice down the rabbit hole sees a tiny door. Hear me when I say, "You will triumph."
If trauma is the door to shamanism, can long-term trauma make you a bodhisattva?
Yes, I made a joke. But not entirely.
What doors do you neglect?
What door is in front of you right this second?
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Try the Doors
I wrote this blog as a contribution to recent discussions of polytheism vs. monotheism on PaganSquare when I noticed several people asserting that "most pagans" are "polytheists." I do not call myself a polytheist because while I affirm a multiplicity of images, for me they all point to a single divine presence in the world. I offer the below musings in a spirit of dialogue. I am interested to hear from those who call themselves "polytheists" whether they are speaking of a plurality of images and stories pointing to a "unity of being" or whether they are also saying that there are a "plurality of (sometimes) conflicting forces" that they would call "divinities."
In Rebirth of the Goddess I noted that monotheists were the ones who defined the term polytheism and wondered if in fact there really were any polytheists in the history of the world. I posed this question because monotheists assert that polytheists not only worship or honor a "diversity of images," but also insist that polytheists believe that there are a "diversity of conflicting and competing powers" in the world. Monotheists might even go so far as to say that polytheists deny that there is a "unity of being" underlying all of the diversity and difference in the world.
For me the notion that "the world is the body of Goddess" (or divinity) is more primary than multiply elaborated images, names, and stories about divine beings. I am less moved by myths of Goddesses and Gods than I am by images of the Goddess that incorporate plant and animal as well as human qualities. In one sense I am closer to animism than polytheism. It is the beauty of the world that moves me to reverence.
In recent years monotheism has been attacked as a “totalizing discourse” that justifies the domination of others in the name of a universal truth. In addition, from the Bible to the present day some have used their own definitions of “exclusive monotheism” to disparage the religions of others. Moreover, feminists have come to recognize that monotheism as we know it has been a “male monotheism” that for the most part excludes female symbols and metaphors for God. With all of this going against monotheism, who would want to affirm it?
This is part III of what will be a three or four part series on the social implications of Pagan religion.
Some Pagans probably found my previous essay on alternative forms of economic organization, such as the Mondragon workers cooperatives, far removed from a strictly Pagan site’s expected interests. At first glance it does seem far removed. Here is why I think it is not and in fact goes directly to who we are.
Among the world’s Pagan traditions NeoPaganism is particularly open to coexisting happily with the modern world. Our roots are in this world and most of us do not look backwards towards earlier Pagan times as being in most respects preferable to modernity. But there is one important point where we clash fundamentally with modernity’s dominant attitudes, be they of the left or the right. We see, and many of us have powerfully experienced, the world as inspirited. Not only human beings are expressions of Spirit, so is the world itself. In sharpest contrast, the modern worldview treats the natural world as a storehouse of resources that acquires what value it has by serving us....
“We need rituals of memory…because a political movement, the public policy and tactics of our movement, does not come from our ideas, but from the bloody and joyful substance of our lives. We need to be conscious about what our lives have been, to grieve and to honor our strength, in order to break out of the past into the future.” –Minnie Bruce Pratt
Last year, I was feeling depressed and discouraged after reading some really horrifying articles about incredible, unimaginable violence and brutality against women in Papua New Guinea who are accused of being witches as well as a book about human trafficking around the world (I wrote about this book in a post for Pagan Families). Then, I finished listening to David Hillman on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, in which he issued a strong call to action to the pagan community and to “witches” in the U.S. to do something about this violence, essentially stating that it is “your fault” and that rather than spending energy on having rituals to improve one’s love life (for example), modern witches should be taking to the streets and bringing abusers to justice. And, he asserts, the fact that they don’t, shows that they don’t really “believe”—believe in their own powers or in their own Goddess(es).
This brought me back to a conversation I had with a friend before one of our last women’s circle gathering…does it really matter that we do this or is it a self-indulgence? We concluded that it does matter. That actively creating the kind of woman-affirming world we want to live in is a worthy, and even holy, task. I’ve successfully created a women’s subculture for myself and those around me that comes from an ecofeminist worldview. However, is that actually creating change? Or, is that just operating within the confines of a damaging, restrictive, and oppressive social and political structure? Last time I facilitated a Cakes for the Queen of Heaven series, I made a mistake when I was talking and said, “in the land that I come from…” rather than saying, “in my perspective” or “in my worldview.” This is now a joke amongst my circle of friends, we will say, “in my land…that isn’t what happens,” or “let me tell you what it is like in my land.” I have to feel like that DOES make a difference. If we can share “our land” with others, isn’t change possible? Doesn’t “our land” have inherent value that is worth promoting, protecting, and populating?
Healing a family rift is a tricky thing, especially when it’s something that you didn’t know you wanted at the time you should be wanting it. It’s a matter of acknowledging a missing piece of yourself when you thought you were whole in the first place.
I thought I was whole and ready to marry my fiancé. I thought a lot of things. And I thought I could do it without my father and stepfamily in my life. And I was wrong.
Backstory: I hadn’t spoken to my father in 15 years prior to 2 days before my sister’s wedding last year. I knew he would be there. I knew I would have to face him. Knowing I would have to didn’t make things any easier... it was something I would have to face head-on.