There’s a wonderful phrase in the Neopagan / Wiccan text The Charge of The Goddess, that states “If that which you seek, you do not find within yourself, you will never find it without. For I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of all desire.” Most recently I have come to identify with this sentiment more and more, and it caused me to put much thought into my spiritual path and where I am headed with it. Earlier this month, my partner Eric and I cruised to the ABC Islands in the Southern Caribbean, and it was in Bonaire, where we visited a desert and explored caves, that I realized I needed to go completely solo on my spiritual journey. Being surrounded by such natural beauty, feeling this deep connection to nature, made me feel that I was spending too much time seeking the unseen, when there was lots around me that I could already see, hear, taste and touch. And it just felt right that after all this time seeking advice from others, in a wide range of different faiths and practices, that I have a go at it…. alone. This meant saying goodbye to an online spiritual community lead by amazing individuals, with equally amazing members, whom I had come to love and enjoy. So a difficult decision was made.
I’ve learned many things since I was a young child and started making my own spiritual choices. My mother and father weren’t big on organized religion, and although they were Greek Orthodox and Catholic respectively, the furthest they pushed their views on us was in the form of saying the Lord’s prayer and a Hail Mary before bed. I think this had lots to do with my Serbian Grandfather, who died a year before I was born, that witnessed so much devastation due to religious conflict between Muslims and Christians. He never went to Church, as he said it was full of hypocrites and that Church was indeed inside his own heart. He followed his faith, basically on a solo path as well, something I’m just now realizing I have in common with him. This didn’t fly very well with a local priest that refused to say his name at mass unless my grandmother paid him off. Thus my mom felt very comfortable in letting me make my own choices, even when it involved a group of Mormons visiting me when I was 10. I wasn’t baptized until I was 14 and the choice to accept Christ and become a Southern Baptist was entirely my own.
I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the almost 40 years of choices I’ve made, is that your spiritual path is unique and relative to your existence. Which in very simple terms means it’s perfect for you and no one else. I think that’s largely where so much of the conflict arises with religion, as you want to share the amazing experience you’ve had with others which most definitely has to feel better than their own. Sometimes this is actually true, but mostly it’s not and it leaves both parties feeling angry and hurt. Many times the teachings of an entire faith seek to be dismissed, no matter how accurate or helpful they may be. As you can tell by my opening reference within this post, this is not the way I live my life. Of course, fear and religion are often mixed together in order to control the masses, and sadly this happens even to this day. But the part of a spiritual path being so specific to a single individual is all too often overlooked. Even in the most liberal of communities and belief systems, there will always be someone present that will attempt to invalidate your experience because they are an expert, through no fault of their own. And that’s when I have a huge problem accepting and fitting in.
“…a spiritual journey requires… staying humble and not being afraid to admit you don’t know all the answers.”
Spiritual guidance is of course extremely important to many, and I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from seeking as it were, to try and find a group of loving people that share your beliefs. However, I think it’s immensely important to always remember who you are in these communities, and not to take anything as fact just because someone says it. Take what resonates and walk away from everything else. Spirituality should be a lot like a good therapist… it should guide you to find your own answers, not spoon feed them to you. This point continues to be made clear to me by a statement made by his Holiness, The Dalai Lama, whom I’m had the honor of seeing speak at Florida International University in 1999. In his opening statement he said with much laughter from the audience, “I don’t know what the meaning of life is… if you do, please let me know because I’m still searching for it.” Indeed an enlightened individual stating the obvious… no one is an expert when it comes to such things. These words seem to pop into my head whenever I feel utterly confused about anything, and I’m extremely grateful for it. Perhaps his response is the greatest indicator of what a spiritual journey requires… staying humble and not being afraid to admit you don’t know all the answers.
So that’s about it. I’ve packed up most of my angel cards and I’ve tucked them away in a safe place. I’m spending more time with the physical beauty that surrounds us all, and noticing it where it was previously overlooked. I still enjoy the connection of reading for myself, but only because it puts me in touch with my inner being and who I am. I don’t have to worry about the advice I give because it’s my own. My answers, my questions, my situations, my life… my journey. I’m still exploring the Universe, although with a very open mind and even a deeper connection to what some call God, Source or (insert your deity here). I’m still asking questions, seeking and sharing… and the experience is completely perfect in every way.
Just for me.