Before taking any major action, I try to ask myself, “Is this my Will?” and follow it with “And to what end?” as many do in the Thelemic traditions even though I identify primarily as a Witch. It is my belief that we all have something unique to craft in the world, be it something tangible, intangible, or simply the model by which we live our life, and we should seek to embody that, and examine the impulses and motives that kindle that Will.
While requests, dialogues, and relationships can be helpful, rarely do demands kindle my Will into action. They are filled with all sorts of presumptions and assumptions that I never find helpful in the spiritual quest, but they can engage compassion towards those who feel so strongly, and wisdom in knowing when to speak and not speak, and to hopefully be more skillful when speaking. I tend not to give too much attention to the presumptions. Like weeds choking out my garden, I feed the things I wish to grow, and remove or starve out the things that block the light or steal the nutrients – time, energy, life force. If I contribute to something, it's usually because I feel I have something unique to contribute, or I need to explore my own thoughts, feelings, and motivations on a topic. If I don't, then I'm usually making room for those who do.
Anyone who has followed my work and its evolution over the last decade or so, will probably notice that I'm really interested in consciousness, and how shifting consciousness changes perceptions, experiences, our relationship with nature, and contacts with other entities. I look to older wisdom, but do not shun the new, and essentially seek out what works, as expressed in the growing culture of modern Witchcraft.
My days are filled with creating opportunities to share these ideas and provide context to explore them, through writing and, ideally, in workshops. Lately my focus has been establishing a community devoted to these ideas and practices through the Temple of Witchcraft. Though there are a lot of other facets of my life, this is my Work. I'm not here to change anyone's mind to a specific way of thinking, but to offer tools to perceive and transform. Ultimately it's the teaching, and not the personality, image, or personal beliefs of the presenter of the teachings, that is important. Just because I believe in something, or work with a group or individual, does not mean you should. My choices are my own, as are yours.
In the age of easy quick-fix answers that say everything is perfect just as it is, teachings asking you to change perception through a regular disciplined practice are not as popular, and that's okay. Things really are perfect they way they are, on one level, but we're still here to do something, and walking the path helps us find the perfection in the moment, while still striving to do our Will. We all contribute to the perfection of every moment by doing more of our Will. Life can provide regular practice, even if we are not showing up daily at the altar, at the circle, or wherever we practice. All our communities and groups can provide that light and mirror if we approach them as such. A favorite wisdom teaching I learned long ago tells us those who do not enact sacred drama through ritual are destined to experience drama in their personal lives, often unknowingly. So I usually opt for ritualized drama to make my daily life a little more conscious and clear.
So any tool for changing consciousness, awareness and perception is a great ally. But some allies, like the poisons on the poison path, are not always easy or clear. They might present as an enemy, a toxin, or they might lull us into the idea they are perfectly safe when they are not. There is always an element of danger, of risk. But in any case, they are allies in our evolution, even when they present painful situations. Does the Witch shun the Belladonna, simply because of her alluring toxicity? Certainly not! But we know when to approach it, and when not to, and when, how, and where to take it through an experienced guide. Sometimes the best medicine is to simply sit in her presence and exchange the energy of awareness, breath by breath.
Many years ago, a Wiccan elder talked to me about how “Everything serves the Goddess, whether we want to or not, whether we know it or not.” That includes us. That includes everyone and everything else. Even our "enemies." Hopefully the more aware you are, the more skillfully you can serve. But even those who seemingly barrel through life and community also serve, whether any of us know it and believe it or not.
Sometimes compassion is helping when asked, throwing a rope into the pit and being willing to pull someone up, but it takes someone on the other end of the rope willing to hold on and climb out. Jumping into the dark pit in order to help can trap you all and leave no path to change. Sometimes compassion is being okay with other people not being okay until they work things out. Sweeping in assuming you have all the answers and can solve a problem assumes a whole lot of things that are often not true, and can cause more problems than it solves.
I wonder if there is a deeper purpose there, triggering responses and conversations that we would not otherwise have. The old alchemical maxim applies to life – dissolve and coagulate. Things often have to break apart to be purified, to grow and learn, before coming together. The agent of dissolution is usually considered an acid, and these times can feel quite acidic. While this deeper purpose, this acid, is a great service to the Goddess, as Mother Nature is the foremost alchemist, I have to imagine its a hard road to walk for both those who trigger these events and those who feel their effects, and I hope they can find other ways to serve that would be a little more peaceful for us all. But even if they don't, it is all still sacred.
Perhaps at this time, to question, grow, and change, we need to be provoked. We need the catalyst of anger and pain to get to the next step. Sometimes we can only handle the smaller outrages, as the global ones are so overwhelming and numbing, but the chance to explore it on one scale, prepares us for things on another scale. If there is a reaction, then there is a need to explore it. I look forward to a time when we are deep enough into our practice that there are not provocations and reactions, just responses, and we can work through conflicts and potential toxicity in a more peaceful way. I think of that often as I sit in my poison garden, hanging out with all my deadly allies from the green world. We sit and grow in respect, love, power, and wisdom together, peacefully exchanging with each breath.