Skryclad: Clothed In Visions

Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.

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Patience & Fury, Part 2

 

This is the second of a series of blog posts on how to move more gracefully through the turbulence of current events in the world. Each post can stand alone, and the order does not matter, but I suggest reading the whole series as they support each other. I am calling this series “patience and fury” though I could just as well call it “empathy and apathy”, “mercy and punishment”, or “hope and despair”.

 

I will admit that keeping up with news, current issues, and public debates can encourage despair, pessimism, and the sort of frustration that leads to unproductive anger. It can also lead to depression, passivity, and sinking into the swamp of sadness like Artax in The Neverending Story. Breaks from the fray are healthy and useful, but avoiding awareness also has its costs and dangers. So what is the counterforce to the dragging pull of despair or despair’s more socially acceptable sibling pessimism? One of the traditional remedies for gripping despondency is hope.

 

Hope? Well, there is growing evidence in psychological and sociological research that hopeful  people are more resilient and fare better in most life challenges. Most religions and systems of spirituality also have their take on the value and the virtue of hope. So all you need is hope and the problem is solved. Regrettably, when we need hope the most it is in short supply, unless you have cultivated a long lasting and renewable type of hope. There are many types of hope. Sometimes hope is more akin to trust when it’s founded on your belief in the strength, worthiness, or opinions that come from other people or that you find in sacred texts. Sometimes hope is a variant of compartmentalization, the tight rope walker’s don’t look down maxim, then hope is about fixing attention on the possible positive outcomes to keep moving and prevent paralysis. Sometimes it is the mysterious hope that arises from instinct, innocence, or spirituality that can’t be bought or sold or courted or called and simply is. Sometimes it isn’t hope at all but rather foolishness masquerading as hope. There are many more types of hope. I’d like to share the type of hope that has been my enduring and trusted companion throughout the years.

 

The type of hope that helps us move with purpose through adversity is not based on wish fulfillment but upon two observations: that change is still possible and that you have the capacity to engage with shaping your part of the future. So long as change is possible and ongoing, then regardless of the current circumstances there will be more opportunities to change future outcomes in the direction of our desires. It is not a matter of faith, belief, or wishing to assert that the world is in perpetual flux and that with time everything changes. Every change is a fork in the road and so long as it is possible to make a choice, then there is reason to believe in a reliable and enduring hope that bends patience and fury into positive action. With this hope of equanimity, your actions and choices are meaningful regardless of temporary outcomes. Over time this type of hope builds courage and the calculated daring that allows us take what look like leaps of faith again and again. Over time this type of hope reconciles us to the limits of our personal power and the limits of the rate of change as we strive for more.

 

This type of hope is compatible with both a theistic and a non-theistic worldview. You may or may not be one, but I am a believer. I believe in the process of evolution, and I believe in Goddesses, Gods, and spirits that are participants in the matters of the world. You don’t need to be a believer for the type of hope espoused here to be helpful, but if you are then take some refuge in this quote:

 

"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

- Theodore Parker, Transcendentalist and Unitarian Minister, from Ten Sermons of Religion, 1859

 

If this does not move you, then consider this teaching tale. A teacher and a discouraged student are walking along the shore of a lake. The teacher asks the student to pick up a pebble and throw it as far as they can into the lake. The student does so, and is asked to observe the lake. The teacher asks them if it has changed. The puzzled student finally answers that there is no difference. The teacher explains that though neither of them can see it, be assured that the level of the lake has risen. Trust in the weight of the pebble.

 

Be aware of your own choices and actions as they are all you need to generate the hope that you lets you move gracefully through challenging times.

 

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Ivo Domínguez, Jr. is a visionary, and a practitioner of a variety of esoteric disciplines who has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978. He serves as one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition and the folk religions of Europe. He is the author of Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide to Psychic Development, Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, Casting Sacred Space: The Core Of All Magickal Work; Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine; Beneath the Skins with other books in the pipeline as well.
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