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And Knowing is Half the Battle!

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Sometimes I really miss being an alcoholic and meth addict.

It was fun. I mean really fun. My only concerns were where my next line was coming from, who was picking me up for the party, and how many people I could kiss in one night without being called a slut. I could act a fool wherever I went because I was young and the world expected me not to know any better. Anytime I felt depressed, angry or lonely I didn’t have to deal with it – I just had to take a couple of shots or do a line and miraculously things were all better.

Well, for 4 to 12 hours things were all better. Because then there was the inevitable come down. The pounding headaches, the nausea, the chemical smell emitting from the pores. The plummeting from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. And all the issues I’d been getting high to avoid still waiting at the bottom of the pit, only now they were angry and on a deadline.

I’d like to say that my drinking and drug use ended by my spiritual growth, but I’d be telling a half truth. Simply put, I grew out of it. I remember exactly when it happened, too: I was in the bathroom of a club at 2am, a drink in one hand and a cut straw in the other, three of us in a stall hovering over the back of the toilet and lining up the meth. And through the drunken haze, I had a random coherent thought: I gotta be at work in 6 hours and I can’t call in again because I don’t have any sick time and if I miss another day I’m not gonna be able to pay the electric bill.

I weighed the options in my head for a few moments. A few hours of partying, or lights and heat for a month?  And when my turn came to snort I handed the straw back, left the bathroom, stumbled my drunken ass across the dance floor and found someone sober enough to give me a ride home.

That sudden realization that I had responsibilities was the beginning of the end of my party years. And I think that’s why sometime I miss it. It signals a time before I took on the responsibility of being an adult, the responsibility of spirituality. And let’s be honest, sometimes responsibility sucks. Having obligations to family, friends and your lifestyle can seem like an anchor when all you really want to do is get drunk and go dancing. But there is rent to pay, kids to feed, etc.  To survive in this society, you have to have a job, you have to pay your bills, you have to show up and be active.  This acceptance of responsibility is all part of becoming a functioning adult. I don’t know if it’s something any of us are ever ready for, but it’s always a little mind-blowing when you realize your priorities have shifted.

When you live a spiritual life, responsibility takes on additional meaning.  You not only have to handle your own physical world existence, but the metaphysical life as well.  When you accept the path, you are responsible for the things your intuition and Universal Spirit tells you to do. It’s making the dedication to embrace compassion, to care not only for those you love but for complete strangers. It’s dedicating yourself to care for the environment, for the state of the world. And if you are a teacher or a healer, it’s the additional responsibility of guiding your clients and students in the right direction. On the spiritual path, regardless of the doctrine, you’re making a promise to maintain a level of honesty, truth, and consideration throughout your life. You take on the responsibility of loving the world.

So yeah, my drug addiction really didn’t play into that. And lucky for me I came to that realization before my life collapsed around me.

Lately, I’ve been running across a lot of beginners on the path, ‘novices’ so to speak, and those who have been embracing the sacred for a long while but are seemingly stuck at the novice level. And I’m noticing that many of these people remain at this amateur place by choice. They pray or perform ritual only when they want something, they steer clear of helping others, avoiding the knowledge, wisdom, and situations that will further their growth.

The spiritual movement currently developing in our world is filled with different levels, and everyone progresses at their own pace, as is the natural way of things. However, it’s the people calling themselves deeply spiritual but are actually wading in the shallow end who give me pause; those who have been called to do divine work but instead decide that shopping at farmers markets and reading the books Oprah recommends is enough; those who call and try to berate me into teaching them about magick and spellcasting but don’t want to learn the morality attached to it. They want the rewards and the benefits but are unwilling to do any of the labor. They pray for a change in their lives, to be something greater than they are, and then shy away from the opportunity, settling instead for mediocrity.

I was talking to my mother about this, as her council is always on-point. I wondered aloud why anyone would purposefully choose to stay mediocre, would consciously work to stay uniformed spiritually, emotionally, mentally. Why would anyone deliberately accept less than what they deserve to “play spiritual” instead of just doing it?

My mother looked at me plainly and said, “Because the more you learn, the more you are responsible for. And some people just don’t want that.”

And that statement hit me like a punch in the gut. That I understood. I flashed back to the drug use, the drinking, the sex, the deceptions, the disappearing acts – all of which I did in order to avoid the responsibility of being me. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to be held accountable. If I accepted the responsibility, it meant people were depending on me to do what I said I would. It meant I had to depend on and trust myself to keep my word, to take good care of myself, and to (gasp!) put others needs before my own.

That’s a lesson that many of us have had to learn and accept. We chose to walk this path, which means we chose to accept everything that comes with it. Even if we are overwhelmed at times, and feel as though we can’t handle the weight of yet another task. The conversation with my mother reminded me that when Goddess chose me all those years ago, I didn’t want the responsibility of it either. I wanted to learn magick and metaphysics because I wanted power. I wanted to be admired and worshipped, and I honestly couldn’t have given a shit about helping others unless it got me some kind of recognition. But I was young, and even though I was under a misconception about what my path was, Spirit knew exactly where it was leading me and what lessons needed to be taught to get me in the right mindset of healer and teacher.

But even in my current awareness and experience, I still have issues with accepting the responsibilities Goddess has entrusted to me. In the introduction to the Goddess Guide, I talk about how when I first got the idea for the book, I tried to get other people to write it for me. I wasn’t confident in who I was or my abilities for such a daunting task. I had been gifted with the idea, but I felt there were other women more qualified to put the information together. Of course, no one else would do it – and trust me, I asked. But no one was willing to take on the responsibility of something that was my job, and rightfully so.  It was a task Goddess had assigned to me. And no one else could do it the way that I could. No one else could take my place, no matter how much I wanted them to. I had to learn that if the Universe trusted me with the task, then I could trust me as well.

Remembering this, the lesson here became obvious. I can now see how judgmental I’ve been towards those yet unable to take the terrifying leap into spiritual responsibility, and I feel compassion whereas I was unwilling to before. I had to remember that I was there too once, and will inevitably be there again. It’s what we choose to do in that moment of fear that’s important – because there’s a difference between skipping an opportunity because it’s not a part of your path, and turning away from your path because you don’t want to deal with it.

The responsibilities of a spiritual life are daunting at first, and it’s sometimes impossible to imagine that you are capable of handling so much. It helps to remember that if the Universe is guiding you towards a specific purpose, then it’s something you were meant to do and Spirit obviously feels you are up to the task. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, because really, do we ever really feel ready for anything? No one else is going to your job for you. No one can replace the specific gifts you have to offer the world. Trust in your intuition, have faith in whatever manifestation of God you talk to. If you are being led in a particular direction, then surrender to it and everything it comes with. Yes, the path will be rocky, and hard, and some days you’ll throw your hands in the air and curse the heavens. But it’s those other days – when you witness the power of kindness, when you see the amazing and miraculous things you are capable of, when you feel the strength and love of Spirit using you as the instrument to positively affect/effect the world around you – those are the moments you remember. Those are the moments that matter.

Once you surrender to your responsibility, the path becomes less of a chore to whine about and more of a passion – and it happens so smoothly and quickly it’s shocking you ever doubted yourself. And then one day, right before your eyes, it ceases being responsibility. It becomes a way of life.

“So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it.
She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”
- Hermann Hesse - Siddhartha

“So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it.

She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.”

- Hermann Hesse - Siddhartha

"From the mind of Atlanta-based photographer and Noire 3000 Studios CEO, James C. Lewis comes a stunning new photography series that brings African deities to life.

The series depicts 20 Gods and Goddesses from the indigenous Yorùbá religion, which finds its origins in Nigeria.”