The long haul

“The problem though, is that too many of us are convinced we’re already at the endpoint, that we already know all that we need to know. Bullshit. That’s like seeding a quarter of a field in exactly the same way year after year and then wondering why the yield becomes less as time goes on. Eventually, the field becomes barren and those that engage in that particular tradition of seeding the field starve. We can do better.” (“The Line in the Dirt” by Seo Helrune, which is worth reading in its entirety for her call to up our game with magic and ritual)

I’ve been at this a long time. At least, a long time by the standards of modern polytheism.

I’ve been a devotee for twenty years, and doing intensive spirit-work for about ten (although it was always some part of my practice). In that time, I cannot begin to count the number of people I have known who were at one point completely devoted to spiritual and magical practices above all else, who eventually either stopped entirely, or began focusing more on some tangentially related interest. This may be perfectly reasonable and understandable in any given case, but as a whole, I often wonder why it is that so few people stick with this stuff  – at a high level and intensity, the way one must in order to pursue it as a vocation – for the long haul.

Then there are the people who seem to have gotten only so far, and then stopped. Oh, they still practice of course, but they no longer push to go further, deeper. They pile on titles and get comfortable. They think they know what they are doing. They think they’ve gone through the hard training period and now can relax into their familiar role as witch/priest/shaman/etc.

Several years ago I almost fell into this trap myself, and the spirits did not hesitate to chastise me. It never ends, They said. You will never be ‘done’. 

I have worshipped a god of madness for two decades, and whenever I get one part of my crazy under control, a new kind surfaces which compels me to return to my god again with prayer and sacrifice and in search of healing ekstasis. When I got used to being a mainad, He gave me a new role. When I started to get used to that one, it changed again. Every time I think I know Him, He shows me a new face. Every time I think I have let go, have been sufficiently loosened, He finds a new way to tear me apart and show me I was not free. I expect Dionysos will be destroying me till the day I die and He takes me completely, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Many are the wand-bearers, and they serve a real purpose, but we still need a few bakkhoi to push the boundaries further.

I have spoken oracles and horsed spirits and invoked gods in ritual and spend the bulk of my time engaged either in direct spirit-work activities or those that support such, and still I know I am not even really past the beginning stages of what could be. Still my spirits challenge me with new assignments out of my comfort zone. Still my relationships with my various gods change and grow and deepen (and even, rarely, end). Still I learn new techniques, or understand better the old ones after a decade or two of use.

Do you know the power a ritual can accumulate after a hundred repetitions, or a thousand? Can you even imagine what you could experience after a lifetime of service to a deity? What magic you could effect? What might happen if you refused to be satisfied with the rewards of a little effort, with the same old stuff everyone does, and kept looking behind every door, peeling away every preconception – if you launched yourself on a neverending quest to do, feel, know, serve, create, explore, worship and practice more? What paths you might open for others to follow? The effects of the powerful connections you could make with gods and spirits, that might ripple out far past your own limited lifespan and sphere of influence?

This is the Work of a lifetime. And it is holy Work, and necessary for our collective wellbeing, which is why there have always been shamans and mystics. It is, absolutely, not required (or even possible) for everyone. But someone must take up the torch. Could it be you? Can you endure both the sacrifices and the ecstasies? Are you ready to give your life to the gods?

~ by Dver on February 27, 2016.

6 Responses to “The long haul”

  1. […] Source: The long haul […]

  2. Our soul is Immortal & so are the Deities we love & are devoted to. They are endless, with so many different facets in their personalities. Also, they reveal themselves to us on a daily basis. We can never think we truly know them. For they are endless as the universe. If we stop learning about them, or think we know all that is needed, we will be stopped in our tracks. We have to keep our communication flowing. Prayer, whether silent or a daily rituals to them draw them near. Let us continue in this life time to drink from the fountain of knowledge they offer us.

  3. Thank you for challenging + inspiring…this is powerful + essential. Keep on🙂 … warm winds.

  4. on the one hand i have. every day is devoted to Them. i think about Them all the time. strive to hear Them. to serve better. to be better. to be more useful.
    on the other hand i haven’t even begun. i pull back when it gets hard, i’m scared to let go, i second-guess everything. i give up too early, let vows drift away, fall into apathy.
    i dunno. i’m in it for the long haul. but i’m also a pretty sucky priestess on a lot of levels.
    khairete
    suz

    • Well frankly I think the best priests/etc. are the ones who think they’re failing in some way, if only because that pushes them to constantly be trying harder. I’m pretty sucky at everything I do on some level, because I can see how much better I could be. But you are one of the few people I’ve known on the internet that have been in this for the long haul, all these years, and who are clearly extremely devoted, which is so inspiring and awesome!

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