Writing as a spiritual path: labels, boxes, limitations.

In my writing world, I’ve been struggling with labels and boxes, and the limitations these things create. I’m sharing here, because it’s amusing to me. I like to think that, in my spiritual practice, I am beyond labels and boxes. I’m not, of course. I’m as influenced by such things as anyone else. We all have our things, right? For me, labels I struggle with are things like, “New Age” and “Wiccan” and the like; more, the mindset that one has, that such things are “fluffy”, is something I try to un-learn. I’m not sure when I picked it up (okay, a lie: I have a good idea, I just am not sure HOW I picked it up). I am not proud that my first reaction upon hearing things like, “Reiki is part of my healing practice,” is to dismiss the speaker as a fluffy, love and light, feel good psycho-babble person. At best, it’s not allowing for an open, honest exchange or a willingness to take people as they come. It’s allowing past experiences to make me prejudice toward others. At worst, it makes me a hypocrite. I, um. Also practice Reiki and see it as a valuable tool in the healing and self-discovery process.

But, on the whole, labels and boxes within my spiritual life are tools that help aid discussion but do not limit me in any way that I’m uncomfortable with. Depending on who I’m speaking to, I’m a polytheist, a pagan, a devotee of Poseidon’s and Odin’s, Poseidon’s wife, Odin’s daughter, etc. Because of labels and boxes I can say that I’m inclined toward a Buddhist philosophy, that my spiritual practice is not exactly a Recon-flavored one, and that I lean more toward a Germanic cosmology than a Hellenic one.

In my writing? The boxes and labels are hard structures that I cannot seem to work around. I’ve been working on a novel for the better part of the year. Therefore, I can Only Work On Novels. At some point, during this time, I decided that my shorter work wasn’t as important — never mind that I enjoy the whole process more — and, for the last month or two, have been spinning my wheels.

Progress has halted, and I’m realizing: I don’t want to work on the novel. I want to work on the stories that are in front of me right now.

My interactions with the Lady of the Wetlands made me realize that, not only is that where I want to be focused on, but I sort of, kind of promised to tell those stories, and then focused entirely on different stories altogether.

So, I’m fixing it, and it’s exciting and new, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Not surprisingly, my connection to place has strengthened.

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2 thoughts on “Writing as a spiritual path: labels, boxes, limitations.

  1. I wonder. You say your world view is more Germanic than Hellenic … and then there is Poseidon. My world view has always been more Celtic, but than Persephone showed up. I still struggle with this. I do I reconcile a Celtic perspective of the Otherworld with Persephone who is embedded in a completely different world. She is literally queen of an underworld which has no place in a Celtic cosmology. Do you have any advise for me?

    • Be flexible!

      Happily, as a polytheist, I can easily believe in a myriad of underworlds and afterworlds. Heck, as one coming at things from a Heathen cosmology, I sort of have to, even if I’m not looking outside the mythological sources we’ve got. When I say my world view is more Germanic than Hellenic, I mean that the cosmology and the culture and the history (and the history more than present day culture, of which I know little) is more how I’m wired. And, too, when I say that I’m more Germanic than Hellenic in my world view, that’s really short hand for, I’m more Germanic than Athenian. In my mind, that translates into (after a few laps around the brain) I’m more comfortable with a tribal world view than a large city civic world view. What I’ve studied of Hellenic folk customs and outside-the-city religious history has fit quite nicely and, to a large extent, looks the same if one looks beyond the cultural couching.

      That said, in my experience there has been a completely different *feel* to the gods of Hellas as opposed to the northern gods. It varies for me depending on 1) who the god is; 2) what my relationship to the god in question is; 3) how much formality is required of me. Some come across as requiring loads of formality, and a formal approach changes depending on whether the god in question is Germanic or Hellenic — again, in my experience — formality takes on new heights when dealing with the Hellenic gods.

      It’s too much shorthand for me to say, “The Germanic gods are infinitely more practical and pragmatic, whereas the Hellenic gods seem to prefer more pomp,” but that’s generally the mindset I’m coming from. I suspect that a bit of that is using pathways already lain down, using what is familiar (to them, to their history of worship, to interact with humans) but that’s just theory.

      In my actual approach to the gods I have an intimate relationship with, my approach looks the same. More than anything, pushing myself to understand the history of Hellas, becoming familiar with the history of religion in Hellas, the various forms it took, etc., helped a ton in being comfortable with Poseidon’s Family. Luckily (or not?) for you, Persephone was lastingly more popular than Poseidon proved to be, so you’ll even be able to get information about her cults, which has got to be exciting. But! Be flexible, and don’t let uncertainty stop you from paying Persephone homage. Learn what you can about the religious history of Persephone in the Hellenic world, learn about their approach to religion in general. I struggled for a bit with the idea of miasma, ages ago, because my mind isn’t wired that way, for example. Reading about the concept and how it was treated in antiquity helped me understand it better and allow for my mind to get into a more Hellenic head space, as needed.

      Even in this matter, my most intense response is: let Her lead. Which doesn’t mean don’t study, don’t read, don’t try to understand the world view of our Hellenic spiritual ancestors, but ultimately, let Her lead.

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