How Are You Viewed, Outside of the Craft?
I visited my brother and his wife this past weekend, and my brother’s twelve-year-old daughter had a gift for me, and a story to make me quite proud. I want to share it, since there was a lesson in it for me, and possibly something in it for you, too.
My niece Cheyenne is Ojibwa, and attends a school on the reservation. She has overheard me in the past candidly talking to my brother and his wife about my spirituality when they asked me specific questions, and some of what she overheard must have hit home for her. She has never approached me with direct questions, but she has learned through watching me live my path at all times and in all ways in a spiritual, service oriented and harmless way.
Cheyenne has faced a difficult childhood. With a Native mother and a white father, living on the reservation in a Native culture, she has faced outright hostility through the open discrimination heaped upon her by classmates and teachers alike. Still, she has managed to keep an open mind and good heart, and has not become cold, closed and jaded as many others would in her situation. My brother and his wife have instructed their children in what both cultures hold for them, but they have allowed the kids to make their own decisions about who they are and where they belong based on experience and intuition.
She (Cheyenne) went to school last week and there saw a classmate wearing a pentacle. She asked her classmate what the pent meant to her, and the girl told Chey it was her, “satanic symbol”. My niece told her in no uncertain terms that she was in error in her understanding of the pent, and then proceeded to tell her some of what she had heard about Paganism and Witchcraft from me. She used me as an example of service and harmlessness, those things she had personally witnessed throughout her life, and sent the girl away with a slightly different message than she had arrived with.
The next day, this same classmate came to my niece and handed her the pent, asking her to give it to me. My niece accepted the offering, and carefully boxed it up for me in anticipation of my next visit.
To the most part we are viewed and judged by others not by what clothes we wear, what our rhetoric is, or how colorful our tattoos are, but rather by how much we are seen walking our talk. The practitioner with book knowledge is a poser until he/she puts into action what they have learned, and causes that first ripple in the Universe. We all know people who talk a good game, but would you really want to be in circle with those who don’t put their words to use? Don’t get me wrong, research is an outstanding way to learn, but putting into practice what you have learned is the measure of a practitioner’s true worth. To shape yourself and profess who and what you are based on the words or writing of another is shallow and worthless; it lacks will and personality along so many fronts, and is giving far too much personal power away to the speaker or author.
Those who profess to know everything are usually scared and alone, hiding behind a facade built to keep others at arm’s length. This is the person who will tell you that his/her way is the only way, and will criticize you for doing what you feel is right for you. You will always be wrong in this person’s eyes, and they will always have a better way, the only way in many cases. We all know several people like this, and my suggestion in dealing with these people is to quickly run away from them without looking back…if you don’t, sooner or later they will be offering you cyanide laced Kool-Aid, or worse, retard your karmic progression through you not following your own path. People who do not think for themselves, yet bond together in ignorance while feigning superiority, are sadly wasting this life when they could be experiencing so much more.
There is a name for someone who purports to know everything, and outspokenly judges others who differ with them based on that unbendable knowledge, that name will too often be ‘Christian’ or far worse, ‘fundamentalist’.
There is also a name for someone who practices a, ‘do as I say, not as I do’ method of spiritual posing, and that name is ‘hypocrite’. These people become the dangerous ones when they have followers, and it is usually the followers who suffer in the long term from the lessons taught by their leaders.
When you find in your heart (and words and actions) that you feel you must always be right, and cannot accept another viewpoint or possibility, step back and take a good long look at yourself and your motivations; you just might see that which you despised enough in the past to cause you to walk away from another person, group or religion. When we cease learning our minds die, and it is only time before our bodies follow. When we settle upon one unbending and closed path, we have ceased learning.
So let me return to my story: I applaud both girls, my niece who became the teacher, and her classmate, the one who stepped from behind the wall she was building and became the student. While neither may ever embrace Paganism or Witchcraft, both have learned a valuable lesson in truth and tolerance. I only wish this lesson was available to all those who will inherit what we are leaving behind.
I will add this pent to the Western quarter of my altar, and be thankful that there are open-minded youth being raised in this country, and that there is a bright glow on the horizon of spiritual freedom. In our society of closed-minded zealots, it is nice to know that there is hope for the future.