Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peter on Tending Both Wells

Cat has been involved lately with a spiritual accountability group through our Quaker meeting. The idea is that small groups of Friends meet and talk on a regular basis to help each other stay fresh and focused in their spiritual lives. It got me wondering, what would “spiritual accountability” (or “spiritual faithfulness” to use a term I like better) mean in a Pagan context?

I have no desire to be part of a spiritual accountability group in a Quaker context. I think I do a pretty good job of holding and living out my Quaker values. I listen for God. I look for the integrity in other people. I hold myself low down to the Truth. I stay rooted in experience. I participate fully and deeply in corporate discernment. And I know when I need to lay things down to simplify my life, and one of the first things I would lay down, if I had one, would be a spiritual accountability group.

But I am not as good a Pagan as I am a Quaker. Spiritual faithfulness as a Pagan would mean…
  • Remembering always the sacredness and the energy of the Earth, and never straying very far from that connection.
  • Checking in with my Gods and staying connected with Them. Being open, not just to the Transcendent Spirit, but also to the very personal and intimate relationships with my Patron Deities. Remembering to listen for the ways They love us, support us, challenge us, kick us in the ass, and goad us to become more than we already are.
  • Maintaining some sort of regular magickal practice, whether it be Tarot or trance journey or spellcasting or whatever. Something that keeps the psychic centers of my brain pried open so that when I return to Quaker meeting, I can hear the silence better and feel the presence of Spirit covering the meeting.
Quaker readers and Pagan readers will both be confused by my talking about the Pagan Gods and the Holy Spirit in practically the same breath, but over the years of having a dual faith I have grown comfortable with using both sets of vocabulary without bothering to stop and add qualifiers to either one. God and the Gods are both manifestations of the Divine, perhaps at different focal lengths, or different levels of the Kabalistic tree. Both sets of images are indispensable to my spiritual life. But my practice of the worship of the Old Gods has withered considerably over the past decade, and along with it, a too much of the juiciness of my Quaker worship has leeched away. The two practices are not in competition for me; they complement one another. Pagan ritual opens me up to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and Quaker worship deepens and makes whole my relationship with the Old Gods. Both suffer if I neglect either one.

I remember a time at a Pagan gathering a few years ago when I was thinking, wow, it’s a full moon and I’m here at this gathering and there’s a ford in a stream that I have to cross every time I go to my tent. Wouldn’t it be cool to take my sterling silver athame and consecrate it in that ford under the full moon? And deciding, no, I’m too tired and it’s late and it’s dark and it would be too much trouble right before going to bed. And then discovering that I had lost my athame, that it had fallen out of its scabbard somewhere between the dining hall and my tent. I went looking for it with a flashlight, muttering under my breath about what a pain in the ass it was. And found it—yes—glittering in the moonlight amidst the pebbles at the bottom of the water right in the middle of the ford.

The message I take from that (if you can reduce such an experience to a “message”) is that the magick will always be with me, that it will follow me whether I pay attention or not.

But the other message is that I should open my eyes and look, now and then, because there are magickal things to see.

Note: This post arose out of conversations with Cat about her recent post, "A Ministry of Brokenness."

2 comments:

Joy said...

Thank you, Peter. This is exactly what I need to hear right now. (And I love the drawing!)

Anonymous said...

Wow...I used to read this blog daily as a way of checking in with Spirit myself. And then I pulled away from my own blog and gradually stopped reading others. I missed this, these messages that are so clear. I, too, have moved away from my Spiritual "doings" and this is a great reminder for me of how much else begins to wither. Thank you.

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