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Banishings and Beginnings

[Trigger Warning for spiritual abuse.]

Blessed Solstice to you all. For those of you in southern climes, you’ll be marking Midsummer; to those of us in the cold north, it’s the Winter Solstice, and that’s what I’ll be talking a bit about.

At some point I’ll touch upon it a bit more, but according to my personal paradigm, I walk the path of a sayyadina. This is a term borrowed from Frank Herbert’s Dune (a book which was pretty influential in my spiritual development, oddly enough) that roughly means “friend of God”. The “God” in question, to whom I am specifically pledged, is a Goddess associated with elemental darkness which I call the Dark Lady. She has a great deal in common with Nebet-het/Nephthys, and plays a similar role in her own mythos, though these two Ladies are not the same entity.

Working with the Dark as I do, you might imagine that tonight was very special for me. Because of my living situation, I can’t really go hogwild with ritual the way I used to when I lived alone. My few altars are small and discreet, and most of my tools are hidden away. Most of my workings happen on the internal level, through meditation and dreamwork. Still, I resolved to do something tonight to mark the occasion, though I didn’t know quite what until the last moment when things became crystal clear to me.

The energy was very palpable. I was a bit wired all day, admittedly, but as the Eclipse approached, I found myself getting pretty antsy. It wasn’t until I stood outside and meditated on what this night meant that I understood. My personal lesson for tonight was to let go of fear.

This is yet another topic for a future post, but for now it will suffice to say that I’m a survivor of the sort of spiritual abuse that is sadly all too common in the Pagan community. For roughly a year and a half, I lived with a charismatic woman who fancied herself a guru of an eclectic high priestess, that basically took the famous Bonewits Cult Evaluation and used it as a To-Do List. I’ll call her Nancy; if you’ve ever seen that glorious bit of cinematic cheese called The Craft, she was basically that character on steroids. She was paranoid, abusive, and extremely controlling, and not only terrorized her domestic partners, but myself and the entire household to varying degrees.

Nancy did a number on my psychological and spiritual health in the year and a half or so that I lived with her. Even though I haven’t spoken to her in well over two years now, and I’ve moved back to the opposite coast of the country, my experiences still weigh heavily on me. The lessons I received were not necessarily the ones she intended to teach, and they were learned at a very high price. I’ve come into my own since those trying times, deepening my relationships to my Deities and my craft, but I’ve found myself shackled in a lot of ways by a crippling fear that if I were to assert myself magically, to really commit to and claim my path, I’ll turn into Nancy.

It’s a ridiculous and irrational fear on the face of it, really. I don’t manipulate people or abuse them, or play them against each other for my own benefit. Despite the fringe paradigm I work in (I have definite chaote leanings), I have my feet firmly planted in reality, and I’m not ruled by delusions of grandeur. But in some completely fucked up way, Nancy became the model for Spiritual Power in my head, much in the way that children from broken homes fear committed relationships as adults because their dysfunctional parents became models of What Relationships Are to them. That’s where the fear comes from, I think. It’s been hindering my growth in a lot of ways, keeping me from deepening my relationships both with Spirit and the woman I love.

Eclipse energy is very strong for banishings, and this one was especially significant, falling as it did on the Winter Solstice, a day which is fundamentally about rebirth. And this was a night when the energy I work with was especially potent. I understood what I had to do, what all this meant, when I was outside in the frigid cold, and the Dark Lady spoke to my heart.

Internal paradigms only shift when we’re willing to die, you understand. Our egos, our fears, our doubts…all of these things must die for us to be truly reborn. We are a microcosm of the Universe, in that fashion. The phoenix always rises from the ashes, but the phoenix must die, first. Many Pagan mystery traditions teach this very basic truth, but it’s one that I didn’t fundamentally understand until that moment.

Tonight’s a night of banishings, of letting go of the things that hold us back. It’s a time of casting spectres of the past out of our lives and sending them back from whence they came. I made a decision there, staring at the shadow of the moon, to free myself of those self-imposed limitations, because I didn’t do anything to deserve a preemptive nerf bat. I’m freeing myself of the fear; I surrender it and watch it crumble beneath my feet. I’m a survivor, and it’s time to be free.

I’ll leave you with a mantra that should be well familiar to the sci-fi geeks in the house, but one that’s served me very well over the years as a powerful magical tool. I hope it does the same for you, on this night of casting out.

I must not fear.

Fear is the mindkiller.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will allow it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

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  1. Roisin
    March 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you for writing this post. I too have encountered a couple of er, ‘Nancys’; and fear of either turning into, or even being perceived as, a ‘Nancy’ has caused me to shy away from amny Pagan activities in my area. Best we can do is stay true to our paths, hold our integrity close, and (hopefully) become wiser and wiser in our choice of friends.
    Also, I should just apologize now to all the lovely people out there who just happen to be called Nancy, because I think the title has stuck!

  2. March 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I have for a time been rather bored with Starhawk’s version of politically engaged spirituality, which, while very nice, is simply not as big as I need. Seems all motivated by guilt these days. So, thanks for being about articulating that connection in a way that makes it real and pushes it to the next step for me. I have long been around both activist scenes and occult/pagan perspectives and the divide between them has always been a frustration. I particularly love getting pissed on by “anti racist” northern european american cismale atheists with upper middle class histories. It just turns my crank. I’m quite sure you concur.

  1. September 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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