Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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Inspirationial Tuesday: Go Die in a Fire, Namaste!

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

“O Disturber who came forth from Weryt, I have not been hot-tempered.” -translation by R.O. Faulkner

This passage is listed in another document as coming from the sanctuary and with one version saying the confessor hasn’t been heated in his or her words. While I can’t seem to figure out which god is addressed in this confession, this blogger suspects it’s Hatmenhit. I guess all that matters is the idea of the confessor being in control of their emotions. I see it can go to some outrageous ends at times to appear in control. The most often way I see it is through the words used and their real intentions.

All too often I see people who will say the most hateful, vitriolic things to a person followed by some form of well-wi480317_10151292098577371_1483434193_nshing. It’s the strangest concept to me because I don’t understand how a “blessing” will somehow negate the fact one said some hurtful things. When I discussed this with my partner to get some perspective I ended up poking fun at the concept with the phrase, “Go die in a fire, namaste!” It conveys the very idea of some of these behaviors.

We tend to say hurtful things when we’re angry. It’s why it’s important to watch ourselves when we’re angry because we may come to regret it. It may be out of personal remorse either. Sometimes there are social ramifications. You could lose friends, you could lose respect, or you could lose your job or business over it. We’ve all been in that situation where a friendship was ended because of an argument that spiraled out of control over something said in a moment of passion. There are also times when we say something hurtful because we misconstrued the context. I’ve seen all too often on the Internet where discussions turned into hateful shouting matches. I saw one debate generating into a shouting match with a person leaving a forum, and it turned out the person who left was misunderstood due to missing punctuation.

I was taught when I studied Japanese that the Japanese won’t generally say something outright hateful to a person’s face. An example of this is instead of saying someone is “an interesting person” as a euphemism for a derogatory name. I’m not fully certain of the origin of this practice, but I saw it in my experience with working at a Chinese restaurant as well. When I studied Chinese in order to speak with my co-workers the explanation written in the book was it helped the offending party save face. According to the book making someone look bad is a major social faux pas in Chinese culture.

The common pattern I’ve seen with hateful phrases masked with good intentions stems from the same idea as “winning” a shouting match (I use “winning” loosely because no one really wins a shouting match). It’s about looking like a socially upstanding person. It’s understandable; no one wants to look like that(!) person. Even in the Maxims of Ptahhotep it’s advised to not be that person:

If you find a disputant arguing, one having authority and superiority to you, bend down your

arms and bow your back […] If you find a disputant arguing, your equal who is on your own

level, let your virtue be manifest against him in silence when he is speaking ill […] If you find a

disputant arguing, a humble man who is not your equal, do not be aggressive against him in

proportion as he is humble; let him alone, that he may confute himself.

It’s ill advised to argue with superiors for obvious reason, as is for someone “beneath” (with the implication they may not be on the same standing in various ways as you) or equal to you. In the case of not arguing with someone equal to you, not saying anything is the best defense. Depending on the situation it could prove unfavorable. In the case of spouting vitriol followed by some “loving message” it’s problematic because it’s not actually averting conflict to look good. Whether someone realizes it or not it’s actually ending up making oneself look just as bad to take the approach.

In addition to looking disingenuous and equally childish I have to wonder who is really convinced such behavior is acceptable. Obviously the person engaging in it finds it acceptable. They may even trick themselves into believing this is considered healthy behavior. It isn’t, and it’s a behavior which needs to be addressed. I understand pointing this out is now considered “negative”, but I figured people who use dismissive language as this have their own issues. If it’s an issue an individual wants to address there are way which work for me.

Look at your real intentions with such a statement. Why are you really saying this? Are you trying to look like “the better person”? If so, why bother making this statement at all?

What really needs to be said? Sometimes we say things a certain way just because we can. It goes back to the phrase “die in a fire”. We want to say it because it sounds clever without realizing we’re wishing a painful death on someone.

What are the consequences of saying this? We all mess up this one from time to time; we say something without thinking of the consequences. Sometimes we say something for the sake of puffing up when really we’re publicly deflating ourselves.

Does anything need to be said? Sometimes the only way to have a dignified comment is to not dignify something with a response.

It’s just a start of things to consider, and what you’ll need to consider will change depending on the situation. Thinking about our word choices will influence how we view others as well as how we’re viewed by them. It also plays a role in how we view ourselves. When we start looking at how our words reflect on this we can evolve with it.

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Keeping an Eye on Recovery and Healing

uadjat

I know I’ve gotten very quiet again, and it’s with good reason. I’m still catching up on projects, but I also had life show up in a way where I had to put some things on the backburner. One of the wonderful things to happen is I caught a bug going around. During this time and when I needed rest another life event showed up. My partner decided to casually drop a huge bomb on me.

Without going into further detail about my partner’s history he had a few problems with drugs. He cleaned up, and I’ve known him during that process. I had full knowledge about his addiction and his recovery. I found that admirable compared to the other men I’ve dated who weren’t so honest with me nor themselves about their own addictions. In fact I supported him in his path of recovery and saw how much stronger he became and developed through it. It came as a surprise to me, then, when he casually admitted to a drug relapse.

I wasn’t completely blindsided by the relapse itself as I’d seen it coming down the road. I’ve found addiction isn’t whatever the fixation of the addiction is alone but the behaviors around it. As he headed down the road to relapse I saw the signs. He would fixate on trying drugs “one more time, just to be sure” (to which my answer was usually something to the effect of why stick beans up your nose twice. Plus it’s never “just one time”). He hung out more with people who regularly drank and used drugs (some people can handle their recovery and hang out with people who use drugs, but my partner is not one of them). The biggest sign, however, was how distant he grew with me. Even when we were together he was never fully present. At first I dismissed it as other behaviors, such as his ADD, but it grew distant in ways such as not being completely honest with me. We agreed from the beginning of our relationship that we’d try to open and honest with each other. I saw these signs and denied to myself there was a relapse. I was blindsided by his confession to relapsing as an aside rather than the topic of a conversation. I ran a gamut of emotions after his flippant confession. I felt betrayed, angry, gullible, lied to, hurt, self-blaming, but mostly angry. I knew these were natural emotions, especially for someone like me.

When I first entered a relationship with my partner I was willing to try a 12-step program. I felt given my dating history there was a common factor: I was picking these men. I felt if I entered a 12-step program for codependents I could support him and maybe learn more about myself. I also figured it would help in my recovery from bulimia and problems with self-mutilation. Even though I wasn’t purging at the time I relapsed in a previous relationship. I wanted to sort through the cause of my eating disorder so I wouldn’t relapse again and overcome my urge to self-mutilate. Neither of these behaviors were ones I wanted in my life and I didn’t want them to own me.

not selfish

I did find a support group at first thanks to the help of a friend. There were still some problems, namely how I felt like an outsider. I was always encouraged to try a different group in a different town and couldn’t really find a sponsor to guide me through the steps. Still I found it comfortable to be around namely supportive women with experience in the program and bearing on their life. When I attempted to dress my age they complimented me on my efforts. They comforted me when a family pet died. Some invited me to their going-away parties or to hang out after a meeting. I was encouraged to call some of them. They also focused on spirituality in its fullest as it was hosted at a Unitarian Universalist church, and most of the group attended or were members. Very rarely did someone actually identify a particular deity and left it at “Higher Power” or “The Universe”. When I was open about my faith I wasn’t judged, but encouraged to explore my connection to Het-Hert. I developed a very positive opinion of 12-step groups despite the drawbacks and even bought a book that examined Al-Anon literature each day. This changed after moving in with my partner.

After my partner and I moved in together we attended mostly NA and a few AA groups. There were some things I attribute now to culture shock since I moved from Kansas to Virginia. I expected some of that but I didn’t expect what is called in NA and AA “sick behavior”, which is best described as dysfunctional behavior. Though some of my issues with the heavy Christian focus were unrelated to the “spiritual but not religious” program of NA and AA it unnerved me regardless. There were times where the church hosting the group practically served as a church group, which is prohibited by NA and AA guidelines. The Lord’s Prayer was used pretty often, though the Serenity Prayer is a fairly Christian piece as well. One member actually said point blank that people who don’t worship Jesus will never recover and shouldn’t bother coming to meetings. While people verbally chided the man for stating this their actions agreed with his sentiment. As I opened up more about worshiping Het-Hert and wearing my Eye of Horus pendant to meetings people grew distant. I’m sure part of this behavior was because I felt standoffish about the strong Christian bias, but the response wasn’t helpful either at that time. The more I read the Al-Anon book the more it taught about the Christian submission that women were supposed to exhibit. It assumed that the co-dependent reading it was a woman. Other literature I encountered chided people for not being Christian and insinuated they wouldn’t get better without the Christian god. I couldn’t stomach the Christian bias and reduced how often I went. My partner continued attending as frequently as before, and I encouraged it as he still got something out of it. When I decreased my attendance at these groups the behavior got worse.

Some of the sickest behavior came when a couple of groups tried to break up my partner and I and hook him up with a group member, usually someone new. This led to emotional turmoil as I gained an incredible amount of weight and blamed his obliviousness on it. I thought if I lost the weight he’d listen to me more, maybe I could find the confidence and self-assurance I needed to know he wouldn’t leave. As my insecurities grew my resolve weakened. I fought self-mutilation; were it not for my partner arriving just in time I would have failed in that struggle a couple of times. Amongst other struggles it was growing too much for me and teetered on relapsing with bulimia again.

At this time I was a member of the Kemetic Orthodoxy, but I hadn’t felt drawn to practicing that way after my move. I still kept in contact with fellow members, many of whom were very supportive and loving during those times. While I had a community that I needed at the time I didn’t have a practice. I felt as if the more I tried to practice one of the member shrine practices, called senut, the more disconnected I felt from Het-Hert. I felt compelled to research the daily morning ritual as practiced in the temples initially out of curiosity. I found an outline and began to piece together how the rituals worked based on what information was available. I hadn’t completed my research at the time, but I started to practice with the little information I pieced together. Despite an incomplete ritual I found serenity in the few parts I could act out. I felt the presence of Het-Hert and Her love again in those moments. On the days where I could practice this makeshift ritual I didn’t have the urge to cut or harm myself.

meaningofpeace

In due time I had to move out of my partner’s apartment due to finances, but I found a comfortable stopping point with my research and continued my daily practice. Sometimes I didn’t perform all the stages because I needed to keep it at a bare minimum due to time, my emotional needs, lack of resources, or something else entirely. My shrine ritual didn’t always keep some urges at bay, but I found the serenity I couldn’t find in NA or AA. The literature of those groups were replaced by wisdom literature which I read so often the pages fell out and I had to rebind myself. I found the tools I felt I needed until I slipped into self-mutilation again.

I self-mutilated during—what I will call for now—a panic attack. My partner found out and encouraged me to seek help. Given this was around the time when I discovered my pulse was through the roof during a doctor’s visit I realized he was right. My anxiety was part of the problem and I didn’t have the tools to handle it. I sought mental help. I spoke with my therapist, worked on a few exercises with him, researched other methods to handle these issues, and added more tools. At one point, though, I couldn’t afford personal counseling. My therapist suggested a support group, but didn’t feel comfortable with that option due to my foray into the12-step program. I got the boot afterwards.

I’ve found prayers that work for me during my attacks and encouraged myself to visit my shrine during those times. I won’t into exactly which methods worked for the time being, because those methods can change. I also want to encourage people to seek professional help as I know with the little I got I was pointed in the right direction. A toolbox of methods that a therapist helped me devise and discuss my research helped my on my road of healing. I’ve made some peace with the idea I will never see myself as the person I want to look. It doesn’t negate my loveability. I learned new ideas and started falling in love with myself. Even though I sometimes need the encouragement of my partner he’s there.

As I worked on my healing my partner grew tired of NA and AA. He got tired of the improprieties, the strong Christian overtones, the general group drama, and read about the inefficacy of these programs. He decided after some time he would quit attending despite my protests. There was some backlash and the groups blamed me for his decision. Even though I was mildly annoyed at how much power they assumed I held over my partner, I dismissed it as ignorance. At first he looked into alternatives to 12-step programs, such as the SMART program. Looking into them was all that came of that endeavor. It was about that time he considered trying drugs and alcohol again. After our discussions, and the assurance he would discuss the issue further with me before any further action, he tried them behind my back.

His actions reminded me of what I experienced with the previous man I dated. He’d act in ways which were quite questionable about his fidelity during our relationship. The only reason I knew about it is because his family told me he did things behind my back. It wasn’t just that behavior alone. He’d drink every day, get into fights with me, use that as an excuse to break up, then date someone only to make up after it didn’t work out. I had an extremely poor self-esteem at the time and took him back only to re-experience the draining cycle. At one point I stopped trying to discuss with him and just screamed into the phone because he’d accuse me of something or put me down for every minute transgression. It was clear the guy wasn’t interested in changing. This is what it would always be. I would never pass snuff and he’d find some way to harm me even if he didn’t touch me. Alcohol was only fuel for his abuse. When I finally came to the realization I could do better he and I were going through another cycle. I felt nothing. No anger, no hurt, no emotion whatsoever. I knew then I was done and broke up with him. Many chide me for how frank I was about it, but it was the only way I could do it.

In some ways my breakup reminds me of a common question I’m asked. I’m often asked as a worshiper of Het-Hert how I reconcile the aspects of Her and Sekhmet. My answer has been very much based on Their epithets of the Eye of Heru. While one is not designated to certain associations with the Eye of Heru over the other I’ve found in my experience I associated Sekhmet more with not only protection but making a way, albeit a more violent and chaotic way, for Ma’at to prosper. While Het-Hert can also protect I found I associated Her more with protection in the sense of preserving Ma’at. It’s something I’ve felt I’ve never expressed well, but it seems to work and it’s something I understand enough. I know that when I need to remove things in my life which go against Ma’at it must be quick and oftentimes without mercy. Sometimes this serves me, but with people it’s been trickier. Sometimes it’s because it seems hurtful and is an emotional affair. In the case of my partner it led to my own personal turmoil.

Finding one’s own understanding of life is always a challenge, but it’s an even bigger challenge when it’s understanding life in the context of addiction and religion. There is no fable or myth which fully addresses this behavior (while sometimes it feels like someone is married to an addiction, conflating infidelity and addiction is fallacious), there’s no passage about it in any wisdom literature which focuses on it without conflating it with gluttony, nor is this addressed in the Negative Confessions. I had to trust myself to make the best decision. I consulted a friend about my issue who advised I wait until I’m healthier to decide. Even though this was sound advice I couldn’t put the issue out of my head long enough. I had been down this road far too many times before and knew it like the back of my hand, but I couldn’t emotionally figure out if my partner was willing to change. Part of me wanted to believe the relationship could be salvaged. Part of me didn’t want to bother.

I contemplated everything I experienced with addiction and living with others’ addiction. I turned myself into pretzels and committed other mental gymnastics. I wavered on one decision after another. As I distracted myself with no real avail by focusing on other tasks I found myself finally admitting I had no idea what to do. In that desperation an epiphany popped into my mind. What am I ready to do? Am I ready to walk away from someone who may prefer to live as an addict? Am I willing to hold firm on ending the relationship, no matter how much I loved him, for my health and possible safety? This rolled around in my head for some time. I admitted to myself while I wasn’t ready to walk away I was ready to do what was best for myself, and that meant I might have to end my relationship.

That night we spoke on the phone I told him my intentions to end the relationship. I got many of the canned responses of how he wouldn’t do it again, how he loved me and needed me, etc. He plead for me to stay. Not expecting an answer I asked him what his plan was to make sure he didn’t relapse anytime soon. I didn’t hear a plan outright, but I heard him fumbling about to piece together an answer. We argued. I couldn’t express myself rationally at one point and let all of my emotions take over. I broke down crying. He broke down crying because he didn’t know how to start over after years of recovery. We tried to find the words through the tears and came up with thoughts while unintelligible struck an emotional chord.  I had a few breakthroughs in that moment.

During all of that time when I was working on myself it never occurred to me that he needed support in his recovery as much as I needed support in mine. I assumed with at least the 12-step groups and the various sponsors he had someone was looking out for him. I assumed that encouraging him to go and to keep on his path to healing was all I needed to do. I also assumed I was fair to him by feeling I needed to walk away after his first relapse while in a relationship with me, whereas I’d messed up several times in my own. I remembered all those times how I felt I failed myself and how I wasn’t always certain how to regroup. He could have left during any of those times and he didn’t. My struggles with an eating disorder and self-mutilation took a toll on him as well despite never voicing it. He tried to be strong for my sake. He stuck by me while I tried again. What I chose to see at that time was only the healing that focused on me. I also realized because of this I was not ready to leave at all.

Do Not Take Folks for Granted

I’m staying for now. We decided we’ll take baby steps in moving past the relapse. We’ve agreed that since he’s had his “trial” with drugs and found he couldn’t manage they were completely prohibited. If I find out he’s tried them again I am gone. It’s true he may still relapse and try to hide it from me. I honestly have no guarantees about these things. He knows it will take time for me to rebuild my trust provided it’s not irreparable. I’ve asked him to be more vocal about his needs. I’ve also agreed to give him a guest spot to write about recovery from the perspective of an alternative faith because he knows there isn’t a lot of information about it from an alternative faith perspective. I’ve prayed a lot about guiding us through the best outcome and to write what needs to be said.

I know that recovering from addiction isn’t an easy road, and it’s one that is toiling at lightest sometimes. This is provided someone with an addiction is willing to get help. If they want to let addiction rule I encourage the person in the addict’s life to leave. It doesn’t get better in those instances. I know from experience a person with an addiction—be it to alcohol, drugs, or whatever—will drag everyone in their lives down with them. It will take lots of healing even in the hands of a therapist. It can be done, and it’s scary. It requires feeling around in the dark, but you will find a light source that will help you see.

As I’ve prayed to find the best way to write this blog post I keep focusing on Het-Hert.  One of Her epithets is the “Eye of Ra”, and it led to my contemplation of the Eye of Horus in a roundabout way. Some people associate the Eye of Horus with healing. It amuses me not only because I wore an Eye of Horus pendant to NA and AA but for other reasons. There are some theories how the Eye of Horus was also the model for fraction measurements for things like medicine and land. I’ve found my way of healing consists of many pieces and methods cobbled together.  The same could be said about my partner’s healing and recovery.  It’s been fractured and incomplete at times, but the different parts he managed to make work pieced together cohesively as a whole.  My medicine has consisted of many attributes and possibly fractured, but I managed to make my way whole.

steppingstone


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A New Perspective: Why Sometimes I Don’t Want to Be Associated with Pagans

“There are moments where I throw my hands up in the air because I’m so disgusted with the Neo-Pagan Movement. Much of what I’ve observed in this past year are things I observed (and subsequently felt disgusted by) occurred in Christianity.”

This quote is what I used for what I now call my “rant heard around cyberspace” (in reality a few forums and a site or two posted a link, but given I had more spambots reading my blog than readers it was impressive). When I first wrote this post I dealt with my umpteenth Pagan political crud on the internet. When faced between online behavior and real life Pagan behavior I had enough and ranted. A bit of time passed, a few links to my rant were posted, and I’ve had a few more life experiences to go with those rants. I think there are a few I want to add to them based on some of the recent events in the Kemetic community.

It’s becoming a clique. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

“I’m seeing this trend where unless you’re one of “them” you don’t get to make the same remarks, dissent, nor practice with ‘them’. It’s natural to form groups, but there’s a point where the “group” starts to hurt the religious dynamic.”

I’ve come to realize with cliquish behavior in the Pagan community I was naïve. There is no disagreement, even amongst the clique, because that goes against all group-think. If one does anything to rock the boat within the clique backstabbing ensues. This is the key difference between an organization and a clique. Organizations settle their differences and problems in a way which is respectful, healthy, and promotes growth. Cliques gang up on people, plot revenge against dissenters, use dirty methods to get their ways, and eventually ostracize anyone not like them. It’s usually the cliques who are…

Ruining communities with stupid witch wars. Witch wars divide communities like nothing else. From my experience it’s usually a dispute between metaphysical stores, but that doesn’t make the chaos and ensuing damage to the local community less. I’ve seen an entire community divided with parts gone underground because of witch wars. It’s not only damaging to communities within, but from observers as well. It makes it look as if Pagans are incapable of handling squabbles or personal disputes without resorting to ofttimes sophomoric behavior. When we spread gossip intending to hurt other parties, “spy” on “enemies”, pressure people to involve themselves with this dispute, boycott for no reason other than you’re having a dispute with the person, shun for no reason, it ends up looking as if we aren’t mature enough to sit all the parties down and solve it like adults. Maybe we aren’t mature enough for this type of dispute. One of the reasons I say this is because the biggest causes of witch wars stems from…

Too many jealous or resentful people in the community. One of the biggest issues that started the screams for the pettiness to stop in the Kemetic community right now stems from the success of Tamara Siuda’s kickstarter for a book. There was a bunch of spiteful backlash about the issue that eclipsed what should have been a positive moment overall. I’m not saying that Tamara Siuda should be free of criticism, I’m just saying that nastiness is best left for one’s journal and not in the comments of celebrating a big moment for many in the Kemetic community.

The sad reality is the resentments and jealousy of this nature isn’t just an isolated community issue. As I said in the other point this behavior is one of the main causes of witch wars. If we wish to have a thriving community we need to have a healthier way of managing resentments and jealousy.

Too many rabid fundies. What I originally wrote:

I know this seems odd to write about with a movement reputed to be so open, but I can’t believe how many times I’ve had the Rede shoved down my throat. Many pagans cannot accept the fact not every pagan is Wiccan. This is a troubling trend, especially for Neo-Pagan religions that don’t adhere to such things. That isn’t to leave out the ones who, despite any scholarship, want to deny other groups. If this trend isn’t abated in any way I may see a Pagan Religious Right in my lifetime.

I have a lot of people who honestly rolled their eyes at my thoughts on the fundamental Pagans. The thing is when one insists on everyone practicing exactly the same way regardless if one is an adherent of that religion it actually damages the community. It’s one thing to expect a Tameran Wiccan who is a member of a coven who believes in the Rede to expect other members of the coven to believe it. It’s another thing to expect a Kemetic Reconstructionist to follow the Rede, and vice versa about historical accuracy (yes, it’s a different issue if something wholly inaccurate is claimed to be accurate). I have a difficult time believing this, with other behaviors, occurring in the Pagan community this isn’t the foundation for groups going around promoting hate “in the name of (insert deity)”.

If the bar isn’t too high, it’s too low. I originally wrote:

If it isn’t strict “us vs. them” cliquishness there’s this seemingly low standard to allow anything because it’s pagan [sic]. This means allowing pewter items to be sold as amulets and crude artwork marketed en masse. The outrageous standards are going to kill the movement. Which leads me to my next point…

The point I was trying to make is we have far too nebulous standards, and I’m not sure how effective it is to have nebulous standards across the board. I’ll address the other aspects in the next point.

Consumerism is rampant. I originally wrote:

How long have we, as those belonging to alternative faiths, blasted Christianity for its exploitation of people’s dollars? I know it’s hypocritical for one who will open her own store soon to say such things, but there’s a difference between selling a ritual kit for a holiday and selling an ugly pendant as an alleged amulet. Have we forgotten some things, or just became hypocrites?

One thing which irritates me is how some items are marketed as occult or Pagan simply for its own sake. In the case of pewter amulets I’ve actually seen amulets meant to bring out elements of Mars made of pewter, a material which is considered mercurial. If there’s an occult practice which doesn’t have this mixture of planetary alignments as bad I’d love to learn more about it. I suppose if one is eclectic enough it doesn’t matter.

However, I’ve learned a few things about the nature of these products while running my etsy store. Simply put these pewter amulets are everywhere because they sell and people don’t want to shell out the money for the proper amulets. It’s not the amulets alone. If it’s labeled as Pagan, no mater how dubious the label there is someone who will buy it, someone usually less experienced with these things. I don’t know what it’s testament to more in our community, but it certainly needs to be addressed.

The inability to organize for most things. I originally wrote:

I know this issue has been addressed constantly, but if Neo-Pagans are to be taken seriously they’re going to have to treat certain things seriously. This means arriving to events in a timely manner, coming together to protest and inform the public, and respecting differences. I’m starting to question if people have come to this religion for the same reason I came to it.

I think “Pagan time” is still an issue even after countless people explaining why this is rude and distracting. There’s another issue that isn’t fully discussed, though. It’s the lack of commitment to a community. When a quadruple homicide happened in a town where I lived the police blamed it on occult sacrifice. When I not only spoke to the police force, books in hand, to explain why their reasoning wasn’t sound, I found a local church who was elated when I suggested the local Pagans have a question and answer discussion panel to help dispell some of the myths. The Pagans were on board, but no one wanted to tell me when they were available. Sadly, the panel never happened.

It’s the lack of commitment that is going to be the biggest killer of the Neo-Pagan movement. It’s why I was excited to see Tamara Siuda’s kickstarter have such success. To me it’s a sign of possible change from the herding cat mentality for which Pagans are famous. It’s a sign that we’re starting to understand on some level if there are things we want in the community we must support it in a meaningful way.

The god complexes. I originally wrote:

It seems like one isn’t a true pagan unless they lead all sorts of groups, despite being the only member. I understand with some paths one may ultimately practice solitary, but it’s starting to seem like everyone and their goldfish is a high priest/ess. When I question these people, these “clergymen” become indignant or try to negate me in some way. It’s part of the reason why many people don’t take the Neo-Pagan Movement seriously, and it needs to be more stringently addressed. Not everyone is meant to be a clergymember, and the few seminaries already started is a great way to address that.

I feel the god complex is another cause of the witch wars. Someone believes they are some incredible gift to the community with an overblown sense of self then foster resentments when no one else acknowledges their genius. It’s actually one of the reasons I love Ziltoid the Omnisicent as he embodies this very aspect.

35ctxf

I sure do, Ziltoid. I sure do.

Don’t be Ziltoid. Just don’t.

The Party Pagans. I originally wrote:

Reader, I trust you know the type: they’re in it for the shock. While many of them will go their own way by the end of adolescence, there should be a better way to address this issue to repair the reputation. People think some become pagans for the image or to “get back”. It’s probably why a few still venture to say when one has a rough life they sink lower by pursuing paganism.

Apart from amusement at how I sounded like an 18th century author, I was trying to address how there are some who want to be considered Pagan without any discernible clue of being one. They don’t contribute to the community, they don’t practice, or if they do they show know real depth to their practice. They are Pagan in name only, and only bring it up to impress people. These folks are usually called “playgan”, I call them “party pagans”. Some do eventually grow more serious with their practice, but from my experience it’s not that many. I don’t know if there’s a solution to weeding these people out because we need to have some idea of how to settle what makes anyone a follower of a Pagan path other than a name and a personal affirmation.

I think the part that bothers me the most about these rants isn’t that they exist, but I’m not the only one, nor the first person, to have these complaints. These are the same issues constantly reemerging. I think we need to have some real solutions, but even I don’t have an idea of how to solve all my rants. I do feel maybe something like a truth commission would benefit for resolving witch wars before it destroys a community would be helpful. Resolving issues should be a community effort anyway.


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How to Deal with Needy Reiki Clients

It’s inevitable in any business one will have a needy client. It is very common in alternative paths to encounter needy people. Sometimes they come in the form of energy vampires, people who lack self-assurance or reliance, people traversing a new path completely foreign to him or her, or even just overly demanding. They may demand the session go exactly as they want (as they hand you a detailed outline), constantly call or email you with questions (it’s good to have questions, but not when it disrupts your business), habitually ask you to forgo your policies, or unabashedly criticize your practice. Whichever form (or forms!) this client manifests it leaves you, the Reiki practitioner, exasperated, drained, imbalanced, and sometimes ill. Ultimately no one truly gains with an unchecked needy client.

I will admit this isn’t really the focus of my blog, but after dealing with a few needy clients I decided to look up how to handle it and found little for Reiki practices. While I found quite a bit on dealing with energy vampires not every needy client is an energy vampire. Some people are just excited to find someone to help them they get overzealous.  I feel there isn’t really much in respect to this for Reiki practitioners or energy workers, and it’s one that would have been useful a few times. I decided to take it upon myself to provide some ideas that worked for me when I had to deal with needy clients.

1. Set clear physical boundaries. It seems silly and obvious to suggest it, but energy workers are sometimes too willing to help a client that this area is neglected. Sometimes we go to great lengths and will circumvent our own boundaries to that end. The willingness to help isn’t necessarily a weak trait, but it leaves energy workers vulnerable to needy clients. It doesn’t take much to set up physical boundaries. Things like clear times you will answer emails (and setting up away messages when not available), business hours, and a clear policy will mitigate some issues.  Some boundaries, however, you won’t realize need establishing until a situation arrives that could violate it.  I had to set up a boundary with one client because she was so enchanted by our session she wanted to camp in my yard and study Reiki under me.

2. After setting the boundaries keep firm on them. Everyone has or will experience both sides of the “but can you make an exception for me?” argument. Exceptions can’t always happen, and it’s important for the practitioner and client boundaries exist.  When the client who wanted to camp out in my yard I established a boundary with referrals.  I don’t teach Reiki at this time (and that incident is an example as to why) and set up a list of referrals of people I know who do teach and find superb.  If you must, explain why the boundary exists, but in most cases reiteration is only necessary.

3. Shield. This is another seemingly obvious one. With Reiki it seems unnecessary since we aren’t using our energy as well as counterintuitive. It doesn’t matter with energy vampires. I found some use Reiki sessions as a backdoor. If one identifies as an empath it also adds another level of protection from the client’s emotions.  Creating an energy shield for yourself is just another level of creating a boundary.

4. If a client sucked energy from you, check your body. Despite all precautions some needy clients manage to get your energy. I had an experience where one client managed to drain me of my energy during a session. I knew this because I suffered a headache well into the next day after the session.  If you’re unfamiliar with Reiki a practitioner shouldn’t feel drained after a session.  If one does it’s usually a sign personal energy was used.  When the client complained I didn’t use “enough power” I had my confirmation. I left a professional reply and then performed energy work on myself. Sure enough I found a cord tied to this client. Once I removed the cord the client left a surly last word and ended contact with me (though I suspect I would have received a surly word anyway). Even if the needy client doesn’t use similar methods I advise performing energy work on yourself after an encounter.

5. Give the client tools to self-empower. This advice is especially useful for the needy client who isn’t self-reliant or feels insecure. It provides you another boundary, it provides the client with a tool to better his or her path, and it is a wonderful professional move. It also upholds part of the purpose of any work in this field: to give people a method of empowering themselves. I suspect at the heart of every needy client is that lack of self-empowerment. These self-empowering tools can be anything from a breathing exercise to as complex as showing them how to make a stone grid.

6. Know when to end the relationship. You’ve shielded yourself, you’ve set clear policies and business hours, you’ve done everything imaginable for the client. The client still insists it isn’t enough and the client-practitioner relationship is going nowhere in a best case scenario. If you’ve done everything you can and the client isn’t happy it’s time to cut your losses. You’re not able to provide what the client wants, and it may not have anything to do with you or your practice. If you can send them off politely and professionally such as, “I’m sorry but it seems you are looking for something which I can’t adequately provide you. At this point I’m ending our relationship.” Give a refund if necessary. If you can refer them to other practitioners, do it. If the client chooses to end it before you can,  let them. It’s not important to have the last word. Ending it as professionally as possible not only helps the client, but sometimes leads to more business in the future.

The gist of dealing with a needy client is to honor yourself, honor your work, and honor the relationship. While needy clients exist in all fields with Reiki and energy work it’s essential to utilize more safeguards against them not only for ourselves but to work for the ultimate good of all clients.


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Devotional Tuesday: Turning Away from the Truth

Mandatory Disclaimer:  This is just my personal take on some of the passages and may or may not pull from academic sources.  In other words, this is just my interpretation of things.  Take it or leave it.

“O Youth Who came forth from a Heliopolitan nome, I have not been deaf to words of truth.”

I started writing this post a few months ago after dealing with folks on Yahoo! news. The gist of it was a biased source was cited, I pointed this out, and I was accused of being some sort of basher. Bear in mind this accusation came with foul and inflammatory language followed by how I needed to “mind my language” when I used no such language myself. I wanted to dismiss the whole thing as a troll, being Yahoo! and all, and possibly shame myself for bothering with Yahoo! That incident kept eating at me, though. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I realized after a few strings of other events that it was my frustration with an ongoing issue: ignoring the facts for the sake of a “truth”.

I understand truth is a very subjective concept. In some philosophies truth is seen as how the person observes and perceives their surroundings. Even what is seen as a current truth may change at a later date. It was considered “truth” the world was flat. It was considered “truth” we lived in a geocentric universe. It was considered “truth” there was a call to destroy Ancient Egyptian ruins until the creators of the hoax revealed the truth and the intentions.

So what happens when the truth changes? What happens when we find out we live in a heliocentric system or that something is a hoax? For many the answer is simple: you accept it if there’s strong evidence to support the new view. For that individual his or her truth changes. This applies to religious growth for me. The truth is constantly changing for me as I learn new things. When I learn more about my world I grow into a different person. It’s, for me, a way of becoming something better in the face of truth.

I see a personal reason that this confession is associated with the nome associated with the primordial mound. The act of creation, as I see it, takes action and takes knowledge. This is much like the Wadjet’s alleged purpose to help the pharaoh. When faced with the truth and what isn’t he could discern the best course of action. If one turns away from truth in this matter chaos ensues. What I see on a personal level is one doesn’t grow into a better person.

There’s a case that I encountered with this. There was a man who insisted that women shouldn’t “dress immodestly” if they don’t want to be ogled. I pointed out for large-breasted women this is almost impossible (citing my own experience) and suggested self control as a more viable option. We argued about this where I cited a study supporting my point and pointed out when called upon said violations individuals tend to act aggressively. The conversation degenerated and the man, upon further suggestion he not look at a woman’s breasts, acted aggressively. The irony isn’t lost on me, but that’s not the point. The point is the man took it personally that such violations of social norms are an individual’s responsibility. As a result of not facing one possible truth nothing was gained from either party except resentment. He’s resentful that I implied he lacked self control and I’m resentful that someone scoffed at empirical evidence and personal experience. The incident, however, demonstrates exactly what happens when I see people ignoring a truth.

When we don’t face a truth, when we ignore it for the sake of convenience, I’ve found nothing changes for the better. Instead things stay the same at best or worsen in a more likely scenario. When faced with a new truth it means we have to make a decision, one which changes our beliefs. That’s uncomfortable at times, painful at others, and sometimes the easiest thing to do. Most of it is contingent on the willingness to change and how willing we are to scrutinize new information. I’m not saying one should accept all information wholesale nor without scrutiny. What I am saying is just because the information may be unpleasant or come from an unpleasant source doesn’t negate a strongly supported idea. In the Maxims of Ptahhotep it’s written:

Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge, but

confer with the ignorant man as well as with the learned, for the

limit of skill has not been attained, and there is no crafts-

man who has fully acquired his mastery.

There is no such thing as the penultimate master. There’s always something to learn or at times relearn and from a source to learn it. Sometimes we let bias get in the way of that. Sometimes we believe we have more life experience than others, or our age determines our knowledge, or that our upbringing, or even education, gives us more value in skill or knowledge than others. It’s possible, but that doesn’t grant full expertise. We’re all knowledgeable in some areas and less knowledgeable in others.

If one is to listen to truth, how does one ensure openness to the truth? I don’t have any ultimate answers, but this is what’s worked for me most of the time:

Be aware of personal bias or biases. Tallying personal biases is probably one of the hardest things to do. It means swallowing our pride and admitting to ourselves we aren’t likely as kind or impartial as we hoped. It’s still vital to the learning process, just the same. If we turn a blind eye to our shortcomings we can never grow honestly. Don’t ignore biases which lean in a positive direction either. A bias is still a bias.

Examine why the new information should be rejected or accepted. Is the new information biased? Does it come from a biased source? Is the information dated? Or is the new information coming from a source from which you are biased against or towards? Sometimes we like to hear information which supports our bias or confirm an idea we’ve already formed, regardless if the information is sound.

Consider the changes the new information brings. Sometimes people reject new information not because it’s biased, but because it brings a change. Some people fear change for personal reasons.

Be open to the change the new information brings. If it clears all biases and any reason to reject the change is overcome then accept it and let the change or changes happen.

It’s not an easy task to consider new information and changes. It’s not easy to change based on new information. If one wishes to continuously grow, however, I feel the willingness to accept it needs to happen.


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Budget Thursday Suggestions

Admittedly I wanted to post a craft project, but it’s not going to happen.  I hope to have it next week.

In the meantime I realized when preparing blog posts that I’ve gone through all of my notes for Budget Thursday.  I’m fresh out of ideas.  I know, however, all my readers have their own ideas.  So let me have it in the comment section.  If you’d like to see an idea for Budget Thursday as a blog post leave it in the comments.