Letting Go, Looking Back

Jul 23, 2010
It seems like every time I have a spiritual crisis I respond by getting rid of things. This time, I finally admitted to myself that I'm never going to be an herbalist. It's something that seems like it should be ideal for me -- handcrafting magic, making something out of nothing, plus a solid tie to centuries of casual household magic -- but I just don't have the patience for plants. They don't do it for me. I emptied all of the apothecary jars full of rosemary and peony and jasmine leaves into the back yard and sent the jars over to Goodwill; my collection of herbal references went to the used book store. I have much more space now, and I feel much happier with that, but that still doesn't solve the original problem.

Perhaps it has something to do with something I've been reading about elsewhere in the blogosphere -- intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is why you do the things you love. It's the reason why the thing itself is enjoyable, rather than something you do because you ought to. Eating food because it's tasty, not because it's a part of your new diet plan. Shooting archery because it's fun and challenging and an excellent form of active meditation, not because I feel like I should exercise.

Praying because...?

I think the urge to get rid of things is a sign that I've lost track of that intrinsic motivation; it's been buried under a pile of books and paraphernalia and, more importantly, that which those things represent. A sense that I am obligated to practice, rather than doing so because it brings me joy, because it is the right thing to do.

I have been feeling, increasingly, that I have no right to call myself Pagan if I don't do something about my practice, and yet this thought is crippling my ability to practice. I love the idea that orthopraxy, rather than orthodoxy, is what unites modern Paganism, but somehow this has morphed into a subconscious sense that I'm doing it wrong.

I wish I had an answer to this problem, but an easy answer would be a cheat, because it's a real difficulty. I do need to practice in order to fulfill myself as a witch and a Pagan; feeling like I need to practice is crushing. Part of the problem is, doubtless, in the overly-broad term "practice;" what does that include? Do I need to perform devotions every day in order to feel right? Every week? At the dark of the moon? Is it devotions, or spirit travel, or divination, or what? I've never quite worked these questions out for myself. Now appears to be the time.

This week I visited my parents for my mom and my sister's birthdays. I slept in the room I grew up in, the room I first cast a circle in, the room I became who I am in. I can remember my first Samhain ritual, and I remember that I had a very clear sense of otherworldliness, and how it filled me with delight. I cannot remember that feeling itself anymore.

1 comment:

Melle said...

I am just getting into herbalism, something I have always been fascinated by and never really pursued. Hence, I have been ordering references from various used shops online. Wouldn't it be something, if I ended up with one of your reference works? Sort of like passing the torch. I've enjoyed reading your blog - you seem like a very open-minded and critically-observant individual. :o)