Dealing with the Grey

My new friend, Tchipakkan, just published an amazing post on her blog entitled, “Why is anyone still surprised that human beings are fallible?” It reminds me of several topics that I’ve thought about over the past few years. One of them is dealing with the “grey areas” or our humanity.

Even though I see myself as having pretty good instincts and some psychic ability, there have been numerous times when someone whom I thought I knew well would do something totally out of left field and I’d think, “Why didn’t I see that coming?”

When I was younger, I thought, in these instances, that I had been “wrong” about a person or had used poor judgment or that I was a failure as a psychic. That’s because I wanted to see people as being one way or the other, as good or evil, right or wrong, victim or aggressor.

Life would be really simple if we could place all people, places and events into piles labeled good, bad and undecided. But, NO ONE is all good or all bad and life, in terms of human relationships, is rarely simple.

One of my favorite sayings is that there’s no such thing as a one-sided coin. In the moments of being thrown off by a person’s negative actions, it’s good to take a deep breath and remember the good things about them. The good and the positive aspects of that person aren’t suddenly less real or rendered invalid because we finally got a glimpse of the other side of the coin. The good in them is really genuine and so is the bad.

Whether one is psychic or not, we have to allow people their humanity and acknowledge the grey areas. When we do this, we are less apt to be “shocked” by the actions of others or to have unrealistic expectations of someone because of their “goodness.” For all you psychics out there, you weren’t “wrong” about John or Jane, you were simply picking up on their positive attributes which aren’t suddenly meaningless or unimportant now that everyone knows that John or Jane is a human being.

Whether or not an individual is a good person who sometimes does bad things or is a bad person who sometimes does good things is a matter of opinion. Truth can be a matter of perception. I can’t tell you how many times someone in the Pagan community has “warned” me about someone else who is supposedly evil or unethical.

I took these things to heart when I was younger but I don’t anymore. Having been the victim of people’s perceptions and assumptions and the gossip generated by these, I am now cautious about causing the same harm to someone else.

As Tchipakkan said, someone’s religion doesn’t guarantee right action or make them immune to dark desires. In the end, we’re all on our own path, accountable for our own actions. A religious or spiritual community can give support but in the end, whether someone walks their talk or not depends on them.

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Developing Psychic Talent is NOT Necessarily “Spiritual”

This is the first in a series of random posts about mistakes I’ve made over the years with regard to my spiritual path.

When I was young, I walked away from the church and immediately began running here, there and everywhere to obtain information on how to develop my psychic ability. This was before the New Age so I did not have the New Age shops and bookstores as a resource. I was also interested in a variety of topics from unexplained phenomena and hauntings, to world cultures, etc.

As we moved into the 1980’s, more resources became available. I have a lot of time and money invested in psychic development workshops, books, lectures, etc. If you had asked me, at the time, why I was doing all of this I would have told you that it was my “spiritual path” and that I was trying to develop my gifts and increase my knowledge so that I could “help people.”

The issue is, when I was in these learning modes, there really wasn’t much spirituality in it at all. I wasn’t actively praying or humbling myself to any higher power at all. I was on a path of self-improvement, strengthening my talents and gaining knowledge. The Divine did not have a lot to do with it but I would have been offended if someone pointed this out to me back then.

In my previous post, I stated that my spiritual mentors were able to distinguish between intellectual knowledge and spiritual knowing. I was well along in my path before I made that distinction and I am sharing this in hopes that one day it may benefit someone else.

I love books! I’ve been a voracious reader and an almost compulsive collector of books since I first learned how to read. But they can only take you so far.

Back in the early 1990’s there was a young girl in our community who developed Leukemia. Some of the neighbors got involved with the Leukemia Society’s Team in Training program in which you train to run in a marathon to raise money for Leukemia research–each runner participates in honor of someone who has the disease.

I decided to sign up! It was just after the new year and I had nine months to prepare for the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC that fall. I was in terrible shape and I had never been a runner.

Of course, being the queen of reading, I ran out and bought half a dozen books about training to run, training for marathons, fitness and nutrition programs for runners, etc.

I’m not kidding when I say that I would sit on my couch with a bag of Doritos and a can of Pepsi READING about becoming a runner! I did this for a couple of weeks before I finally had to face the reality of putting on a pair of WALKING shoes and taking a walk around the neighborhood as that’s all I was capable of when I started.

As the weeks went by, I walked farther and faster until the day came when I bought my first pair of running shoes. Then I started adding short bits of jogging to my walks until I was completely jogging.

By that fall, I was running about 50 miles a week and was in the best shape of my life. The point of this story, of course, is that reading about runners never could have made me a runner. Only walking until I could run accomplished that.

Reading about running made me knowledgable about running. Walking until I could run made me a runner. This applies to spiritual disciplines as well. Reading about ceremonies cannot take the place of actually participating in them.

Just a simple walk alone in the woods can bring one to profound encounters with Spirit. I still enjoy books but I’ve definitely become someone who prefers to learn by direct experience.

Thanks for reading! Spend some quiet time with the Divine today!

Saints Alive ~ Another Perspective on Catholicism

Like many people raised in the Catholic church, I walked away as a young adult to explore other paths and interests. I was definitely a pantheist at this point and had interests in magic and the paranormal.

I was young and searching for meaning and purpose in life, to become a more self-aware and enlightened person and to find answers to all of the unexplained phenomena I had witnessed thus far. I didn’t see the Catholic church as the right vehicle for my journey to discover my life’s purpose. My spiritual questing and hunger for information brought me here, there and everywhere.

When you have a strong Christian background, especially Catholicism, but you are also earth-honoring and magically inclined, you can start feeling like you belong in the land of misfit toys. Both Christian and Pagan friends are uncomfortable with some of your beliefs and practices. Although most of them claim to be non-judgmental and ecumenical the truth is usually that they like to see themselves that way but aren’t able to put it into practice in actual life.

In 2010, I really felt the need to get away–not to think, as thinking hadn’t gotten me anywhere, but to pray without distraction. I hadn’t been out to Pine Ridge since 2007, so when my friend Bernie asked if I wanted to come out and support him in Sun Dance, I jumped at the chance.

I had a lot of experiences there that I can’t write or speak about, but there was one conversation I had with a friend of the family that really had a huge impact. It was, in part, about my Catholic upbringing and since this is a difficult subject for a lot of people I thought that I should share.

We were talking about the spiritual power that you can feel coming off the Sun Dancers on the last day of their ordeal. My friend pointed out that one of the reasons they are such effective vessels for spiritual power is the fact that they employ pathways that were forged by their ancestors for generations.

He also pointed out that white people often do the opposite– turn their backs on their family and their more recent ancestors and their religion thereby giving up the power of their spiritual and blood lineage.

I felt like I was hit in the head with a hammer. I knew that I was meant to hear this! We talked about how wide and deep spiritual paths become with repetitive prayers and practices, and how each generation can tap into the roads forged by the ancestors who came before them.

Catholics especially, because of their belief in Saints and Guardian Angels, are already accustomed to petitioning spiritual intercessors and already have practices (rosary, novenas) that keep the pathways open and strengthen ones connection to spirit.

I totally understood what he was telling me about spiritual legacy and inheriting the keys to the spiritual highways paved by your ancestors, but I come from a very dysfunctional family with a lot of alcoholism and other issues, so I didn’t understand if this would work for me.

We talked at length about what I might do for my ancestors and myself and I got started as soon as I returned home. Here we are almost four years later and I am more grateful for that conversation than I could ever express.

I LOVE where I am now and will post more about that another time.