Know when someone holds a part of your soul? Yeah. Sort of reeling from a strange vulnerable warmth upon meeting a friend who does. We walked by a corner that, for inexplicable reasons, is threaded into my dream-world, has been a spot of multiple visions before moving to Eugene, and standing there with him reminded me of some sort of in-folding of time, how we bear ourselves and each other within and yet embody separateness and how everything is always “okay.”
But that’s not what this post is about. Sometimes I write aloud because it’s the only thing I know how to do after such events, such up-wellings of emotions I don’t recognise because I’m not always certain they’re fully mine. Mayhaps they belong to the world, or to places, or to others who’ve gone under the earth or into the stars. I don’t know.
On a less prosaic matter, I’m not always good with words. After discussing with several wonderful and insightful people regarding my last post, I think I need to make a bit of a clarification.
When I described “self-centric” spirituality, I think I meant something different from that term. It’s been made clear to me that self-centric to many others means something equivalent to “self-work,” or the process of developing “self-awareness.” Thus, my essay can come across as suggesting people in traditions which heavily focus on self-work, who are hardly self-centered, would be swept into that definition. For that sloppyness on my part, I apologize deeply.
So, to clarify: self-centered spirituality is not the same as self-centric, or, better said, traditions which help the seeker become more self-aware are not what I mean when I criticize self-centered Paganism.
So, what do I mean to criticize? Particularly, the thread which advocates personal power as a means in itself. Again, the question “who is this for?” can be asked. If enlightenment is only for the individual, it does no one any good, and is self-ish. Consider the figure of the Bodhisattva, or monks in the Engaged Buddhism tradition, or the liberation theology-inspired south american priests, or any religiously-inclined person who sees enlightenment as being something other than a means of self-enlargement or attainment of power. That is, to quote my response when I realized my mistake:
My language is very imprecise, and I apologize. By Self-centric I meant more what you folks mean by “self-centered.” Self-work isn’t self-centered in my estimation; rather, it’s a vital process that leads one to even be able to be a tool for the gods and others. That is, “self-awareness” and “actualization” are not self-centered; rather, they’re vital to actually understanding others and The Other. By mentioning Crowley and the Will-to-Power, I meant to delineate between power that is for the world through the self, versus power that is from the world for the self.
I’m not always aware of how I am understood, so I greatly appreciate when people point out when I’m imprecise or even wrong. Thank you.
Another thing. Wyrd Ways Radio has changed their intended programming in order to present a space for folks to talk about issues of abuse within Paganism. The information is here, and the show will be tomorrow (Wednesday, 2 April) and will have Sarenth Odinnson (a FANTASTIC person) as well.