I have been trying to work on this essay for weeks, and have found this essay for my 2nd degree to be much more difficult than writing the 1st degree essay. I think to sit down and truly write an honest and open essay about my path and what has brought me to this point would in fact be a small novel and to narrow it down has been difficult. For as I reflect on who I am now and who I have been, seems like two different people. So instead of writing about the whole path, which would be hitting the surface of many facets of my life, I have decided to write about the path from 1st degree to 2nd.
The journey form neophyte to 1st Degree to here, in fact the story of my whole life to this points, I feel is reflected in the quote above. I have always felt called to a higher destiny, to help hurt people, sick people, to be a spiritual leader, but never really knew how or in what capacity. I received my 1st degree in September, as the wheel of the year moved to the darkness, a perfect time for the inner shadow work I needed to do. I have discovered a lot about myself, from past lives, contacting guides and ancestors at our awesome Samhain Ritual in Cheeseman Park, to doing my first ritual at Yule, and seeing the new seeds of growth as we went from Imbolc to Ostara.
To write of the path that brought me here from birth to the present is another heartbreak, abusive, codependent, violent, borderline criminal and unpleasant story. Every witch or person that will read this essay has similar or just as painful and hurtful things in their past. But on this path I found that the pattern followed in this lifetime for me is a pattern dictated and created and brought forward from lifetimes before and conditioning of modern western society.
I find it hard to write about the transformation and journey from 1st degree to 2nd, as a lot of it has been very personal. I have had to face truths about myself that were not comfortable to accept. The beginning of this process began with the first past life experience. This past life was not pleasant to say the least, the emotional trauma and the understanding of the kind of person I became in that life was hard for me to fathom. Yet as I began to slowly and methodically dissect each feeling and emotion and the resulting behaviors, I began to see a pattern set forth in this lifetime. A vindictive nature that would in fact make sure someone pay who hurt me, in the most methodical and hurtful way I could find. To see an ugly side of myself and to realize the hurt I inflicted onto others, and the process of pushing others away and not allowing them to close, was a little shocking. For in this pattern of my behavior I had enabled myself to become a victim, in many circumstances, and to see myself as a victim, seriously ticked me off. To realize I had made myself the victim made it even worse.
Upon the advice of Stella, I began to call the people from that life to me, whether they would come to me on an astral plane or in person was to be seen. And as these souls began to manifest to me, I made a further realization, that it was not these connections to myself I needed to love and forgive and stop fearing, but the soul I needed to love, forgive and trust the most was myself. To embrace the powerful sorceress of that lifetime but to use her knowledge and insight not in self-defense but to harness that to the betterment of others, and myself how liberating that was. Once I got hold of the concept of the power, strength and knowledge that was inside me just waiting for me to call forth, I noticed an inner change on how I perceived myself. Many fears that held me back as a person in various relationships had been vanquished. I have worked with at least 5 different past lives, each having a different lesson in them that has been very emotional, but necessary to put a stop of the constant fears that have ruled me my entire life. The other thing I learned is that if I hold on to the past, whether it be a past life experience or events from this lifetime, I only hurt myself by harboring anger, unforgiveness and hatred for others and myself.
Working with past lives has been an eye opening experience to say the least, but I feel compelled to warn others that past lives are not always what we want them to be. In fact in many cases quite the opposite. Another thing about past life regressions is they are quite addictive, like reading a good fiction novel to forget what is going on right now in this space of time. A third thing to be wary of when doing past life work is to not focus so much on the lifetime that you forget, that it is past, and not to get so hung up in whatever the events were in that lifetime that you carry them into this lifetime unless it is for karmic resolution. The purpose of past life work is to break repetitive patterns, not to embrace them and let them enable you to continue unhealthy lifestyle patterns now.
Along with past life work, I also incorporated Reiki and Chakra meditations to further the emotional healing I realized I needed. For me these three tools have brought me to be okay with me and to accept who I am. With them I have a constant awareness of the elements, the cosmic consciousness, the presence of Goddesss via the opening and balance of my Crown Chakra. I can now accept the intuitiveness and wisdom from many lifetimes and not believe I am crazy for these thoughts and feelings that were at times overwhelming, because of the balance of my Third Eye Chakra. From the opening and balance of my Throat Chakra, I have found my voice. Not only has the gift of poetry returned, but also I feel I can speak my truth about who I am, where my boundaries lie, and accept those who would not agree. My Heart Chakra, is now open enough that I am willing to actually allow myself feel emotions for people, be okay to venture out and explore a new personal relationship with someone. I am confident enough now to know that even if someone hurts me, I am going to be okay. My Solar Plexus Chakra being balanced has let me see that materialistic things do not fulfill the void I once felt and that things are okay, but not necessary for my happiness. I now have passion about things in my life, for living, for feeling, for Goddess, my children, the mountains and the trees, due to balance of the Sacral Chakra. And YES, that sex is a good thing; it is not a tool for possession or manipulation, but a gift from the Goddess herself of enjoyment, passion and healing. And lastly, my Root Chakra is no longer in control. No longer ruled by fears, I have truly found my “tribe” and foundation.
Another tool that has led me to where I am now is meditation, or I guess what would be considered journeying, for in my meditative journeys, I have met and learned from some wonderful aspects of Goddess. These aspects have come to me in the form of Cerridwyn, Skadi and “Skeleton Woman”. Often considered dark, these wonderful Goddesses have helped me see the beauty and the necessity of the darker side of myself. For to not remember and understand the woman who has stolen to provide for her child, lied to keep a roof over her head, and denied self for others in this lifetime, or to not embrace the past cycles of the woman who turned because of hurt and betrayal and used her magic for her own purpose and benefit, or the woman who died instead of conforming to the politics of her time, would be to deny myself. No longer in fear of that side of myself I have seen how to positively draw upon the darker aspect to make actions happen. To use the wisdom and knowledge of these experiences to make better, informed decisions, and to react with thought instead of emotion. Through these journeys, I have also learned that another person only has as much power to use against me as I allow them to have. For it is my decision on how I allow others to effect me.
All of these combined and some recent events in my life have also made me understand that is okay and necessary to set boundaries with people, but this can be done in a loving way without cause unnecessary hurt and strife. It is okay for me not to like being around someone, but that does not mean I cannot look at him or her with compassion for where they are in there life. It is becoming easier for me to see and realize the triggers from my past that affect my relationships with others and hold me back. Though this working of self which ironically, or not, fell in sync with the Wheel of the Year, was at times painful, it was very healing.
Now the Wheel has turned again to the spring and a time of new beginnings and fertility. I am now embracing this time to put into manifestation magic to further my journey. Along with this new movement into new magic and self-healing, I am now embracing this time to take my place with in the coven. For I realize that joining the Coven of the Goddess is not only me finding my place in “my tribe” but also it is entering the service of the Goddess.
This discovery has made me look at all things differently than before. I realize that many people are going to now cross my path that I will not necessarily like or want to work with, but to truly be a Priestess is the ability to set aside personal reservations and triggers to share the light of Goddess with all who seek Her. I have also realized that when I meet people that rub me the wrong way so to speak, that I need to take some time to examine why I have reacted in this way. Often times it is an association of a feeling or emotion of the past, which has acted as a trigger. If I take time to work this out, it is easy to get past the feelings and just let everyone be who they are in whatever area of their life they are in. Also to act as a Priestess is to know when and how to use discernment in situations, when to speak and when to be silence. I also believe, to be a Priestess is to understand that though I am working on myself, I will always have areas in my life that need improvement and work and that I have to be able to admit when I am wrong and have made mistakes.
Being in the Coven has also led me to a point in my life where I am teaching and learning. I have always wanted to teach, to reach out and help others in situations like my own. I also want to share my views with others that are out of the paradox box of the pagan community, to teach my own beliefs of religious tolerance, to help people break away from the structure often still followed by pagans that is still deeply rooted in a monotheistic faith. By this I mean putting limits on what we, as witches are capable of doing with the magic we have. Also I have seen in the pagan community us vs. them mentalities towards other faiths and other kindred souls. To me this is just bringing Christian hypocrisy into a path supposedly based on the wonders of Goddess. We are taught to see and respect all things in nature as from Goddess, we are also taught to not accept or to dislike people that are part of this grand creation. We are taught to fear the vampire kindred though in reality they are just other souls on the same journey and path we are. Yet if all things are of Goddess and we as people are apart of her, are we not by acting in such fear and disrespect only acting in dysfunction?
I see the way this essay has flowed, as an evolution of myself, for before I found the Coven and found myself, I was the hypocrite I write about above. To find peace within me has changed me into a woman and witch I love. I can say honestly I like who I am, where I am at and where I am going. Without Goddess, I would not be here now, a strong and capable woman. I look forward to my studies that will take me toward my 3rd degree, and welcome with opens arms the events that will shape me into the Priestess I am destined to become.