Today’s world is a crazy, zany, and confusing place. The political parts of the world bleed into nearly every part of life. Yes, even into my daily Spiritual life. Honestly, it can suck the happy right out of one’s world – if you let it. So how do I get around it? Well there are a variety of things that fit into that question. Originally, I titled this post as “The Care and Feeding of A Solo Polytheist Pagan” but I realized I cannot really speak for anyone else. So I changed it from “A” to “This” to more reflect that this is what works for me.
In a manner of speaking, this is really about how I manage to keep my sanity in what sometimes feels like a world spinning out of control, headed right towards the Sun for a moment of final destruction. Of course, there’s always the question of whether I do keep any sanity, but that’s a discussion for another time and place. 😉
Dealing with Politics, News, Infighting, and Intolerance
Perhaps the most difficult thing for me these days has been parsing politics and news. Never having been a fan of the current President, his juvenile antics and head-scratching political statements can sometimes send me on a real bender. Couple that with news on climate control events, issues relating to the varied treatment of non-whites throughout the country, the abridgment of rights and lands of First Nations peoples and tribes, and trying to decide who can and cannot use this or that restroom….my state of mind can move from being fairly well balanced to sheer anger to complete despair. And sometimes all of that can take place within the span of five minutes. And no matter how well I have managed to ground and center myself for the day, just a few moments with the news of the day has the potential to smack me off-center for hours on end. And none of that addresses the infighting that takes place within the widely varied perspectives within the Pagan community that occasionally make it to my ears. I am not a particularly empathic individual. I can relate to feelings and emotion of others to an average degree, but that rarely overwhelms me. But intolerance really sets me off quite easily. So what to do?
My primary means of wider communication comes from Facebook. Lately, I have taken to turning off Facebook in the evening hours. Sort of like a Southwest Airlines method – you know the commercial slogan, “Want to Get Away?” But that’s only part of the equation. I have also stopped watching the news in the evenings and even ditched my bad habit of listening to talk radio whenever I was home and coding in my baseball database. Now, I am more likely to put on some Loreena McKennitt or Mary Black, depending on my state of mind at the moment, and just writing. Or if I am not in the state of mind to write, I’ll grab a book and read. Anything to allow my mind and nerves to get away from hearing about this or that from the news.
Another way to bring my focus back to the things I need to be focused on – such as my Ovate Gwers studies – is that I have some set rituals I perform throughout the day. Well, these are more “set” in the fact that I try to do them daily, rather than a rote set of instructions. Every morning, regardless of whether I make the sunrise or not, I greet the sun. Mostly, its a matter of stepping outside and spending a few moments grounding and centering, and then saying hello to the sun. Sometimes I manage this at sunrise, sometimes I don’t. And when the weather is bad, I do this from under the backyard patio overhang – or if its way too cold to be outside in my PJ’s, I do so from within my office where my window looks out on my backyard stone circle.
There are other daily rituals that I manage throughout the day: walking around the college campus where I work to clear my mind. For some reason, walking allows me to do just that – clear my mind of thoughts and regain my center and focus. If I were to try this sitting in one place and just grounding and centering, I achieve nothing, and find my mind to be a somewhat scrambled mess.
And the place where I manage these doesn’t matter either. I have walked the aisles of an aircraft in flight to just clear my mind. Granted, the distance wasn’t all that long – but the momentary stretching of the legs can bring me back to focus. When I travelled overseas to the UK these past two winters, I lifted the shade on the window seat to greet the sun on the trip over. Little set patterns like this are critical for me to handle the rest of my day – whether on vacation, at work or at home.
Remembering My Place
There are times where I will find myself overly engrossed with something – typically its the news coverage. When this happens, I will spend some time remembering who I truly am. I’m not a purveyor of the news. The news is nice stuff to stay in touch with the wider world around me, but my personal focus is different. I’m a Priest of Crow. I’m a Druid, in my Ovate grade training, I have a daily job that pays the bills and requires my attention 8+ hours of the day. But being outdoors is where I should be, not indoors looking at a computer screen (though that is what I am doing at this very moment). I write, I read, I am working towards being a Storyteller because this is where I see the future (and the past and the present) of the world: telling the stories that connect us, our environment, the animals, the Gods – all of us – together. My place is not to worry about what the fake-Donald-Trump does. Certainly, it is best to keep an eye on him, as well as the rest of my representative government officials. My place is elsewhere. Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that.
Don’t Beat Myself Up When Things Fail
This last part is one of the hardest things for me in the care and feeding of myself – not being too hard on myself when I misstep, stumble, or fall. And it happens. I’m fallible. I make mistakes. I misjudge things. I am also my own worst critic. And sometimes I have to remind myself of all of that. Its not a competition between myself and other Pagans as to who does what better, or how often, or more mistake-free. My Path is mine to walk. If I trip on the roots or rocks in the Path, I need to bandage up my wounded pride, check myself for injuries and tend to those. When all that is done, its time to stand up and continue walking along the Path, reminding myself to be a little more careful of steps. When I need to stop and rest along my walk, I need to do so. I don’t need to beat myself up over the fact that I needed to rest so much sooner than this other Pagan or that person over there. They know their own limits; I know mine. We are different people, and therefore different in our limits in walking the Path. This is not a race or competition over who completes what training faster than others or who is more pious (who the fuck measures this?) than another. Rather, I managed to get this far on my Path before someone else – I can reach back and help them along as well. I can point out where the roots and rocks caused me to stumble, hoping that these are the only points of difficulty that they might have. I can point out the marvelous vistas that I saw along the way, hoping that they find that view just as enchanting as I did.
Each one of us walks our Paths in life on our own. I know what works for me. I can provide advice on these points, but in the end – its what works for you that really matters. And to that end, what works for me might not be useful for you. Pay attention to your care and feeding. I haven’t even discussed how reading, podcasts, and just making it to some Pagan gatherings can provide nourishment, inspiration, and energy to my daily walk. Because, honestly, my own care and feeding manual is long, varied, and constantly changing and evolving. I am sure, you will find that yours does to – though maybe not nearly as much as mine does. Happy walking!!