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Intro to a Series: “What I Am Not”

April 22, 2010

I’ve been tinkering with fitting a ton of ideas under a post of this title for a week. By the time I finished the initial portion, I realized I’d maybe get it posted sometime in July (if I was lucky) and that I didn’t want to let it linger that long.  At this point it seems like a deep enough set of related topics to justify breaking it into a series; please consider this post an overall introduction.

I’ve been reading a lot lately from passionately devoted mystics, both within and outside of the Heathen tradition. Some of their discussion of what they are has clarified – and contented me – with what I am not.

That may sound like a very simple thing, but I find it deeply profound. Comparison has long been a means of assessing self-worth in American society, and it’s as true in the spiritual realm as it is in the material one. It’s quite easy to get caught up in considering who is working with what pantheon, and who has a cooler totem, and who has the biggest book collection, and spending a lot of time trying to figure out what it all means and triangulating one’s place in relation to others considering all the “factors”.

It’s funny, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that some of my ideas of who I wanted to be were less based in who I am than in the kind of person I thought aesthetically should exist, who was abstractly necessary. At first I was usually the closest candidate so I tried very hard to be that person. Eventually I’d meet someone who was being that person, and far better than I ever could. It was an immense relief to realize I could leave it in their hands and stop trying. It left me with a big question: who am I if I don’t have to be who I think I “should” be?

Some of these entries may have more gravity that others, but all will be focusing on a characteristic that is held to be inherently “Pagan” by a number of people. . . and how I don’t color inside those lines.


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