Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fear and Mistakes

This post is about something I encounter on a weekly basis that severely impairs a person on their path. It either happens via convos in my shop or I hear it from a student of mine. It is easy to spot through my shop. It's when someone has sent me 20+ e-mails asking these very specific questions about a working they want to do. What goes where? What time do I start? For how many days? Do I need to cast a circle? Do I need to take a special bath? I don't have a statue! I don't know what to say! I don't have any money! I can't buy an offering!

Then, the truth comes out;
"I am afraid of doing it wrong."
"I am afraid of offending the spirits."
"I am afraid of what will happen."

The TRUTH is that all these little, tiny, obsolete details you are obsessing over have virtually nothing to do with your working. ESPECIALLY when the only reason you are obsessed with them because you are scared. If you feel fear when you think about your spiritual path, the divine, or when contemplating helping yourself or others through divine power, then one of two thing is happening; you are on the wrong path or you have been misinformed. Most likely, you have been misinformed.

Why were you misinformed? Because society, the media, and Hollywood films will tell you that (and I am only referring to hoodoo, Vodoun, and Santeria here because other Pagan sects do not have as much fear associated with them) that we work these blood thirsty, angry, vengeful, chaotic gods and unless we do everything just so in order to appease them, they will come for us and terrorize our lives and families. This is what they would have you believe. The truth is, THEY are the majority but the majority is not always right. Especially when the majority doesn't even subscribe to our beliefs! So HOW could they know more than US?

Let's look at this logically. People often think that you can not be logical and use sound reasoning if you are a religious or spiritual person. Not so. I can logically explain every facet of my beliefs, I can use sound reasoning in a religious debate. I was am a woman of science as well as spirituality-it does exist.

We have all taught something in our lives. Maybe you are a college professor, maybe you are a cub scout leader, maybe you volunteer and teach kids how to garden, or maybe you taught your kids pre-school class how to bake muffins-whatever-we have all taught at some point. When one of the people you were instructing came up to you with a mistake did you rain fire on them? Did you throw lightening bolts at their family? Did you cause a flood to destroy their home? Or did you smile, sit down with them, and walk them through it...

Why would the deities treat you any differently? YOU are their child, their student, and you have the divine within you. You are part of them.

Isn't one of the reasons you chose paganism because you did not believe in a vengeful, angry god?

I'll give you an example. Me and my whole family cuss like sailors. If there is a heaven (which there could be, who the hell knows?) do I really believe that Jesus is not going to let me in because I say "fuck"? No. I don't. He's got bigger fish to fry than my potty mouth. So then let's apply this same logic to our deities. Do you really think that if you don't have a red a candle to offer Eleggua, instead you have a pink, that he is going to pissed and say "You know what, fuck you!". No. The intention is what matters. That we TRIED. That we had the thought, that we carried through with action, that we honored him in whatever way we could.

There were times when I did not have money to buy this or that for an altar or working. Do you know what happened? The deities sent me those items by random acts of kindness and little miracles to show me that they were there, they saw what I wanted to do, what was in my heart, and that they loved me and would provide for me.

In 15 years of working with the Orisha and Lwa I have NEVER seen an ugly or malicious side to them. Now, your heart and intention has a lot to do with this. If you are asking for blessings without honoring them, without first respecting them, I imagine it ain't gonna turn out so well for you. We all know a person like that, that is always in need of help and always taking advantage and will never be there when you need help. Don't be that person in your spiritual life. It can be easy to do, people get excited at this wealth of possibilities, this overflowing source of blessings from the deities. But you can exhaust your resources if you keep taking and never give in return.

There are very simple ways to honor and return the blessings. A simple white candle or small piece of food offered in the morning each day is affordable and full of good intention. My favorite thing to do is to donate, time money or other resources. We live by the personal philosophy that if you are blessed with something, a portion of it should be given away to those who also need help. If this is not done, I believe you will begin to see your own blessings, opportunity, and good luck run out. Now, this is not WHY I do this, because I am afraid of the consequences of NOT doing it. I do it because I want to and because I have a sharing nature. It is not difficult for me to share or give. This is something that is unusual in our culture now which I suppose is why people just ask and ask from the deities without it occurring to them to give anything back. This will be detrimental to your spirituality, growth, and to your relationship with your community and all humanity as well. Unfortunately, it comes down to this; respect your fellow humans and your deities as you would respect yourself.

We must learn to let go of the fear that stops us from finding our true path. Fear will push away everything that you want in your life. Fear is a death grip and desperation is the grease that will make your goal fly right out of your hand. To fear the divine is nothing more than fearing yourself and your very own breath.

You can not make a mistake with the divine when you are of pure intention. It can not be possible that every practitioner everywhere has every item they "need" for their altar, says each word perfectly for their petition, and does this on the right day, at the right hour, in the right moon phase-nothing would ever get done! Trust me I have had plenty of times when I've said after a ritual, "Well, I fucked that ALL up."

 I always tell my students it is better to have tried and make a mistake than to never attempt to commune with deity because you are afraid of "not doing it right". If you have to, first as the gods for some courage, stronger faith, and ask the muses inspire you! You will be rewarded for your efforts, whether you think you fucked it up or not;)

Here are some REAL books about our practices that teach the truth-that we are seekers of love and healing.

Jambalaya by Luisah Teish
Sticks, Stones, Roots, and Bone by Stephanie Rose Bird
Carnival of the Spirit by Luisah Teish
Four Seasons of Mojo by Stephanie Rose Bird
Jump Up by Luisah Teish
Finding Soul on the Path of the Orisha by Toby Correal

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