As many of my friends and family know, I’m on a spiritual quest. For so long in my adult life, I wasn’t exactly sure what that quest actually meant and how it related to becoming a spiritual person. The path I’ve taken in the last few months has twisted and turned in some very unexpected ways and lead me to understand that the very first step is to become a whole person. While this insight is wonderful…what does it mean? How does anyone become a whole person and how does one recognize when they’ve made that transformation? I had so much more questions that my Gods, physical teachers and spirit guides merely smiled knowingly and asked me more questions so the answers could come from myself instead of another person.
However, when I ask myself questions like this, hard questions that will result in consciousness shifts and change being the outcome, I don’t always get the answer straight away. Sometimes I think it’s my own mind that can’t quite face these uncertainties without a trip to the woods or work on the inner plane of the Astral world. I’m often visualizing my answers in the form of memories and pictures so these two mediums are my best sources of expression. So I got the privilege of taking a trip to Powers Bluff, just south of Marshfield, Wisconsin with a very good friend!
If you’ve never visited Powers Bluff, I urge you to do so with your thoughts reflecting clear intent and your heart in a place of reverence and respect for the powerful forces of nature that are alive and well and dwelling large numbers around every piece of bark and stone. When I went there, I didn’t know I was searching for something outside of the questions that have been whirling around my head for the past year. I stepped out of my friend’s vehicle and watched as nature greeted me from all angles. The crisp green grass under my feet, the way the tree branches broke and spiraled down next to me and the way the golden sun rays kissed my face like a Grandmother who is excited to see how much her grandchildren have grown in the space between visits. I was welcomed and I felt welcome.
Then it hit me like a ton of unruly hay spilled down from the top of a barn loft by my childhood friend. Actually, it took one of my physical spiritual teachers to say this to me in a way that has been said to me time and again by others. She has the wisdom to speak in a language I readily understand. A language of artistry and visualization, both gifts which have emanated in my life in tremendous ways however I always took them for granted. What have I lost and how do I know I’ve lost it in the first place? I took a few deep breaths and walked along a path, listening to the jingle of bells around my ankles and occasionally, my own heart beat pulsing in my ears like soft thunder. Life force, connection, deep childhood memories and the urge to walk a path that has twisted and turned so many ways that sometimes I get dizzy when I look back on my life.
A memory of being a very little girl, perhaps six-years-old in age, in the heart of the Poconos, my parent’s summer home just outside of Jim Thorpe, pushed its way in front of the scope of my mind’s eye. I saw her, the whole person, dancing in the rain with a tiny stick painted with red and black stripes and topped with a turkey feather I had found while roaming my parent’s property. I remember creating the tiny staff with a clear sense of purpose and intent. I hadn’t read a single book on Paganism, psychology or any other school of thought I am engaged in as an adult studying to be Clergy. I had only seen pictures of Native Americans and while I could read these words, they weren’t from any acclaimed Native American author; they were books that came from a library in a Catholic school in New York, one such Catholic school that forever changed the course of my spiritual path.
My youthful intent danced around the fact that I loved Native American culture and that even though I knew I was not born Native, I loved them so much, I wanted to imitate their ideas so that I could share in who they were on a personal, expressive level. Yes, I actually thought like this as a child and when I created that tiny staff, it began to rain. I first danced in utter glee at the thought that I had reached some Native American spirits and they were honoring me with an unforgettable experience. The funny part is that it rained for days after my little rain ritual and I wanted to go camping with my father. I asked the rain to stop and it didn’t. In my exuberance, I snapped the staff in half and threw it into the woods. An hour later, the rain ceased. From that moment in time on, my father who was watching from the house called me Rayne Drop. Throughout my entire high school experience, I went by the name Rayne as a way to honor the memory and him as he had passed on towards the beginning of that time period.
As I’m walking through Powers Bluff, surrounded by a host of childhood memories and the very real images of our collective human history, I am listening to the woods. They are speaking to me in every way that nature can speak to you. The trees are swaying and dancing, releasing a myriad of sound and symphony with a bark crescendo that explodes into a leafy solo. The rocks around me seem to have faces peering from them and as I throw a few handfuls of rose petals, I bow my head in respect for the people that touched the land before me and left their whole selves behind.
Their whole selves… my mind reels again. I think to all the times that we as a culture, the American culture, have to label and point our fingers at external sources of pain and suffering. I think to how this has affected me in my own life. That slowly, by being female, being depressed, being a Pagan, being a lesbian or demisexual or whatever new word there is to express desire for the being of a person instead of the physical form, all of the therapy terms and political correctness puked on me from every angle that all of this took away from me just BEING. And labeling myself every way so people can better understand my path and direction. It’s pointless…and even destructive because it further splinters the self into more pieces.
The lesson I took from Powers Bluff is that there was a time before all of these terms existed and people just were. They didn’t feel the need to overly explain where they were coming from – they just did. They sought to understand the natural world around them and each other by asking questions with thoughtful intent and keeping their minds open to what was plainly around them. By using all of these terms to describe mental illness, one initially seeks a way to build an understanding. Our words are very powerful processes and they shape not only the world around us; they also shape the internal work within that we’re trying to accomplish. We essentially build a cage for ourselves that can be very hard to escape if we’ve spent a life time culminating this reality for ourselves and never going past what those diagnoses and labels are – we think we’re expressing ourselves when all we’re doing, ALL I’VE DONE, is further splinter me.
Another teacher at Deeply Rooted had tried to explain to me that our outward perception as well as who we are internal makes up who we are to the shared reality of the rest of the world. We can think ourselves, great spiritualists, however, if we walk a path of being a jerk to everyone on the outside – we are that in the shared reality of the world. It does not matter what our internal motivations and intent may be – if you create a rain stick – prepare for it to rain! I’ve been doing this for so long that the memory of myself as a little girl haunted me and was trying to get me to remember what it was like before the madness of being an “adult” in modern America. I never understood what this teacher was trying to tell me until I walked into Powers Bluff and took in all that was around me.
So now, my ideas have changed. I am on a path to eliminate the labels, disorders, and anything I see as more splintering from who I am. I am just on my path and that thought is exciting to me. I am not depressed. I am just me. I am not bisexual, a lesbian, a married woman or any other label designated for sexuality. I just am. If people need an understanding of me, I am going to explain myself differently. It’s going to take time to figure out how to do this properly for myself. I am going to need to ask more questions of my teachers and see if they have insight. Eventually, I need to find my own unique way of expressing that idea. That may take some work to untrain my mind of the social conditioning that I have received. This isn’t going to be easy however I am willing and able to take up the work to become better not only for myself – also those who I will be trying to teach and learn from on my path to Clergy.
Thanks for reading along. These ideas aren’t easily expressed or even easy to share with so many strangers. It’s not the answer for everyone. It’s the answer for me on my path. I share these concepts with you as a way to build an understanding to different thought processes. Thank you again for being a part of that process.