Four Spiritual Self Checks to Keep You On Track

spiritual self check

If you are a growth oriented person (and I recommend it so that you can grow into a helpful elder), you’ll want to do spiritual self checks once in a while. A spiritual self check is a “how am I doing?” moment. 

You can do them periodically to make sure you’re on track. You can also do them when something tweaks you. Spiritual self checks can help affirm that you are acting within your values, you pivot when you need to change paths, and you stay connected to the people and things you care about. 

Everyone will have their own list of how they want to hold themselves accountable. Here are some common values to get you started.

Stay Humble

How do you hold yourself above others? Are you proud of how much folklore you know? Herbal wisdom? Mythology? Indigenous traditions? Are you a skilled storyteller, musician, or healer? 

All those things are great. It takes practice and diligence to develop any body of knowledge or skill. When you use it to elevate yourself above others, you create a divide of me vs. them. When you are divided, you can’t see something from different perspectives. This inhibits connection and growth. And remember too, if something isn’t good for all, it’s probably not good for one. 

The way to avoid this is to stay humble.

Be Nonjudgmental

Another way we separate ourselves from others is to judge them. Nobody is perfect. We all do careless, thoughtless, wrong, ineffective things. Some “not perfect” moments are more harmful than others. When we label others or condemn them as “bad,” we close off the path to connection and wholeness.

Nobody wants to be looked down upon. When that happens, we have two choices. We can believe the negative judgment which reduces our light. We can resist the negative judgment, become defensive, and fight back. This creates distance between us. Or we can embrace the negative judgment and become that, which strengthens the negativity. None of these are great options for the person or the world. 

Being nonjudgmental doesn’t mean you agree with someone’s beliefs or actions. It doesn’t even mean that you can’t do something about their actions (sex trafficking or trespassing, for example). It just means that you act from a place of non-attachment.

Be Truthful

Words are powerful. You have the ability to soothe or harm, create or destroy, join or separate with your words. Words create reality. Make sure that the reality you are spinning is one that is a blessing for all. If it’s not, it’s not good for anyone.

Be Yourself

Most of what I’ve said so far keeps us connected to the whole. If you give too much of yourself away in the process, that’s not healthy. So, I suggest that your spiritual self check list also include “be yourself.” You can’t sacrifice yourself and still be happy. The world needs your unique gift. You can’t share it if you’re not showing up in your life because you’ve given yourself away. 

Take time to self nurture. Be inspired. Create. Discover more of who you are. Expand. Delight in yourself. Then share yourself.

If you check yourself, no one else has to. What’s on your spiritual self check list?

How to Stop Othering and Start Belonging

other

Are you engaging in “othering?” We all do it sometimes. Many of the ways we do it are unintentional. Sometimes we even do it when we’re coming from a good hearted place. Regardless of why, it’s destructive. It creates separation that takes us out of a place of compassion, love, and belonging.

Why Do We “Other”?

  • Othering is a natural way to protect ourselves from things that we find different, uncomfortable, or threatening. The brain tends to steer us away from danger and towards similarity. So, it’s often unconscious. We aren’t even aware that we’re doing it.
  • Social conditioning. When we are part of a high status, high self esteem group, we can be intimidating to those who appear or feel lower status or lower self esteem. We can roll over others without realizing we’re doing it. This is reinforced by society and the media. So everyone acts within their role and reinforces the social norms.
  • We are unskilled. If we don’t have social skills to move towards differences with confidence, we can continue to see danger in what is foreign.
  • We are prejudiced. When we hear negative and biased stories against a profession, race, physical appearance, intelligence, nationality, sports teams, gender, or other groups often enough, we can accept those judgments without questioning them. Our ignorance leads to prejudice.
  • We choose not to bridge the gap. Sometimes we know that we’re othering and we simply choose not to do anything about it.

How To Stop Othering?

Before I get to how to stop othering, I want to point out that the goal is not “saming.” Othering and saming are extremes. Life’s not black and white. Neither extreme is effective because saming removes the uniqueness that makes us all wonderful. We don’t want to erase or ignore the differences. We want to acknowledge and love them. Everyone can be sovereign and connected.

So let’s look at how to stop othering.

  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the tool that will help you check yourself when you’re othering. When you notice yourself creating barriers, stop.
  • Love yourself. Be sovereign. Don’t expect others to give you your self worth. Let it come from within.
  • Gently speak up for yourself and others when you see someone else othering. Don’t make them the bad guy or the enemy. If you do this, you’re fighting othering by othering. The goal is to allow everyone to have their dignity and retain their place in the tribe.
  • Listen. It takes a lot of patience and self discipline to listen to someone say ugly, disagreeable things. Sit with the discomfort long enough to see what’s in it for you. Listen long enough to create a safe space where the other person can learn from you. Grow together.
  • Compartmentalize. Don’t judge people by one thing. If someone says or does something thoughtless, let it be one thing, not the whole of their character.
  • Allow people grace. We are all young, foolish, unwise, thoughtless, not careful, or ignorant at some point. Everyone doesn’t have the same life experience or opportunities. If someone did something foolish a decade ago, or says something foolish today, resist the temptation to blackball them forever. You can’t live in a state of Oneness if you kick everyone out of your tribe. If someone isn’t in your tribe, let it be because they chose not to be, not because you closed the door to them. Otherwise that’s one less teacher you have to learn from.
  • See the big picture. We are the totality of our existence, not one piece of it. You are much bigger than your childhood, job, gender or anything. You are the entire ocean not just one drop in it. See that. See that in others. The difference are the spices, not the entree.
  • Seek diversity. Travel. Do things that are outside your comfort zone. Eat new foods. Watch different movies. Explore different faiths. Be curious. Talk to people who are different than you. The more familiar you are with the world, the more confident you will be.
  • Look for commonalities. We have more in common with others than we have differences. When we see the ways we are the same, it minimizes the gap between us.
  • Release judgments. The quickest way to be less offended is to stop taking offense. If you look at the photo of the eggs, most are roughly the same color. There is one white one and one light one. The white and light ones are only “other” if we say they are. Don’t see the slight and none will exist.
  • Neutralize insults. Women are sometimes disparagingly referred to as jezebel, crone, or hag. I take all those as compliments. If it’s appropriate, I explain why those are powerful symbols. The power of words lies with the definer. Stack the deck in your favor and you’ll take away the power of others to hurt you.
  • Learn social skills. More skills give you more options and confidence.
  • If it’s appropriate, use othering experiences as teaching moments. If you see it happening or it happens to you, pause. Talk about your perceptions and your feelings. Make suggestions on how to improve going forward.
  • Share yourself. If you are around people who don’t know your story, they may not have imagined life through your eyes. The more versions of human experience that we have, the more understanding we can be. This works generally and with you in particular. For example, if I have never met anyone who has a Lamborghini, I may have all kinds of misperceptions about what that’s like. Enlighten me.
  • Accept people as they are. Don’t expect them to know your rules or embrace your rules. They have their own rules. As long as they don’t encroach on you, they are okay. You’re okay. Everybody is okay.
  • See the light in everyone. We all have it. We all come from the same source. Sometimes things happen to people that make them forget their light, but we all have it. When you can see it, they see it reflected back to them. This is a huge and instant uniter.
  • If you have a trauma history, get help. With trauma, all bets are off. Your body won’t cooperate with you and you may have a hard time doing any of these things.

It’s not easy to stop othering. We are taught to see reality as an antagonistic duality system that perpetuates the illusion of separateness. If you truly believe in sovereignty, connection, and Oneness, keep fighting the fight. Othering separates you from yourself.

The Animist Hack Everyone Should Know

animist hack

Creating sovereignty and connection isn’t second nature. In fact, it can be downright impossible if you aren’t aware of this animist hack that everyone should know. To make it easy from the get go, I’m going to give it to you right here.

We Are Set Up To Fail

The first thing you should know is that our society sets us up to fail. So, if you are following the mainstream path, you’re never going to break free. The system is based on competition and fear so that people in power keep power. This creates a system of master and servant.

This permeates every aspect of our society – churches, businesses, families, politics, romantic relationships – everything. The key to sovereignty is to see this dynamic and stop playing the game.

The Hero, Victim, Oppressor Triangle

In this system, everyone has a role. They are either Hero, Victim, or Oppressor. These roles are not static. They can change based on circumstances. For example, I might be the victim of my parents’ heavy handed rules, but I might be the hero of the family when I excel in school. As long as we’re playing our parts, the triangle is maintained and we stay in a master/servant relationship.

Meet the Victim

The Victim is the one who relinquishes power. It’s the “poor me” position. She sees herself as a victimized, powerless, oppressed, hopeless, helpless, and without responsibility for the situation.

Meet the Hero

The Hero is the one who takes responsibility for the Victim. He feels good, strong, and powerful by saving others. He may even feel guilty if he’s not helping, so this is compulsive behavior. Another term for this guy is the Enabler.

Meet the Oppressor

This may sound like a match made in Heaven for he Hero and Victim because they both get their needs met. Unfortunately, being a Victim can create low self esteem. So the Victim can push back against an attitude of “You can’t do it. You’re helpless.”

Being a Hero can feel like a burden too. He can feel unappreciated, overworked, and doesn’t have time to take care of his own needs. So he eventually melts down or blows up. When either of these things happen, that person moves to the Oppressor position. (The Oppressor may also be an outside third party – like a parent or political party – that the Victim and Hero take a stand against).

The Oppressor is the one who takes the “This is your fault!” position. He blames, yells, and criticizes, but doesn’t actually take any action to solve problems. The Oppressor uses guilt, manipulation, shame, confusion, and insults to maintain his power.

A Hero can’t be a Hero without an oppressor. A Victim can’t be a Victim without an oppressor. So all roles have to be established for the triangle to continue.

The Triangle in Motion

To make this more clear, let’s walk through an example to see how this works.

“Sheila” and “Guy” are “the perfect couple.” She is a princess (Victim) that Guy (Hero) loves to spoil. He works hard and keeps her in comfort all day. This makes her feel very special.

One day Guy comes home from work. There is no food in the house. Guy says, “Do you think that you could just once go to the grocery store? I cook every night. I don’t ask you to clean up or make dinner, but is it too much to ask to not have to do everything?” (Oppressor)

Sheila responds, “You’ve got some nerve! You act like I contribute nothing. What about all the times that I sit here with your mother. Do you think I like doing that? I could be spending my time in so many other ways than hanging out with her. You have no idea how much time I spend doing things for you!” (Oppressor)

After a few minutes of this, Sheila breaks down and starts to cry. (Victim) Guy responds, “Oh, baby! No, no, no! I am sorry! It’s not that serious. We can just order out. I don’t want you to cry. It’s fine. It’s fine. Let me just get some take out. (Hero)

And each person goes back to their most comfortable role and the Hero, Victim, Oppressor triangle is intact.

Other Examples

Other examples that may be more relatable to your life are:

  • One parent who is very strict (Oppressor). The other (Hero) who goes behind her back to soothe the child (Victim).
  • A demanding, disorganized, difficult boss (Oppressor). The overworked secretary is the Victim when she is working hard to keep up with the boss’s demands. She’s the Hero when she saves the boss from his poor planning.
  • The alcoholic (Victim and Oppressor). The supportive partner plays the Victim when he’s complaining about how the alcoholic is hurting her. When she’s rescuing him from his mistakes or making it easy for him to drink, she takes on the Hero role.

The Animist Hack

There is a way out of this. The animist hack is to practice Sovereignty and Connection at the same time. One without the other doesn’t cut it.

Sovereignty is about knowing who you are. Sticking to your values. Taking responsibility for what is yours without blaming or condemning. It’s stepping into your power and using it while maintaining healthy boundaries. It’s also about not allowing others to make something your responsibility when it’s not.

In victory, we allow others to maintain their dignity so that we can stay cordial and connected. In defeat, we admit our wrongs, apologize, and make it right without either going too far overboard or holding a grudge.

We’re only Victims by our own permission. You are not inadequate. You may be unskilled, unsupported, or not confident, but nobody who takes a stand is a Victim. If you don’t have skills, learn them. If you don’t feel supported, cultivate connections.

A humble Hero is no hero at all. When he cares for someone, he doesn’t do it to feel worthy. He knows he’s already worthy. When he helps, does it because he cares and is connected to his family and community. And it’s help. He doesn’t rescue. His self esteem is such that he doesn’t need outside validation to know he’s worthy.

When someone is ugly or mean, we let that be about them, not us. When we do that, they are not oppressing us. They are harming themselves. This doesn’t mean that their actions don’t negatively impact us. Negativity impacts all of us – especially the creator of it – because we are One. So have a care what you put out, circulate, and allow into your energy bubble.

Connection is about allowing others the space to be sovereign. It’s sometimes about agreeing to disagree. Sometimes it’s about teamwork and solidarity. It’s always about remembering the big picture – that is that we are all One. We don’t have to be the same. We allow our differences to enrich us, not make us insecure or detract from us.

A Tip From Nature

In animism we look to Nature to guide us. So to take a tip from nature, let’s look at horses that pull carriages or dogs that pull a sleigh. Did you see Ben Hur? It’s not natural for animals to work together in a coordinated way. They’re wild. They are sovereign. They have to be trained to do this.

While tribal humans have figured out how to do this, “civilized” ones have not. If we want to be masters of our own fate while being a part of a tribe, we have to learn how to do this too. Otherwise we’re always at the mercy of our roles, and we can’t truly, honestly, or deeply engage with other people or Nature. So let’s pull together.

Earth and Sky Meditation

earth and sky meditation

Meditation doesn’t have to be long or hard. Here’s an easy, quick earth and sky meditation that can help you purge, ground, and connect. It is so beneficial that you may find you use it every day.

Whenever you want to start the day right or get things back on track, step outside where you have a clear view of the sky and some greenery. I find trees work best, but use whatever calls to you.

This can be modified for indoors by peering out the window to see the sky and using a potted plant. Additionally, you could also do this in your mind’s eye with your favorite memory of a special place.

Now become very mindful of your thoughts. Notice them. Are they are muddled, negative, painful, clear, or inspiring?

Slowly bring your gaze up to the sky looking up and out. See as far and wide as your eyes can see. If you noticed that your thoughts that were not what you’d like, release them into the atmosphere. The element of Air is intangible. You can’t pin Air down. It dissipates. So just let those thoughts dissipate into the Air.

Trust that the sky knows just what to do with those thoughts to transform them. If they seems too heavy, ask the wind to carry it away. Sometimes a soft breeze is perfect. Sometimes a strong wind is better. You’ll know what to ask for. Just speak from the heart and let it happen.

If your thoughts feel peaceful and clear in this moment, as your gaze goes up and out, looking far and wide just let yourself fill with gratitude. Expand that peace and gratitude so that it fills the Air around you. Breathe in the spaciousness and wonder of the universe.

Continue to sky gaze until it feels “done.”

Now bring your gaze to a plant that seems pleasing and receptive to join you in this practice. Look down at the lowest part where the plant is rooted into the Earth. Feel what it’s like to be that grounded, that deeply rooted. Linger here and let it deepen.

When you have that sensation in your body, begin to look at the stems of the plant. Notice all the details- the colors and textures. If you are outside, it’s okay to even reach out and touch it.

Continue looking upward until you reach the top of the plant. As you mindfully gaze at the plant, notice your thoughts and feelings. You may sense a feeling of being more grounded and connected with the wider world. If not, just notice what there is to notice. There is no right or wrong, and things will likely be different each time you participate in this meditation.

Finish by giving yourself a few moments to return to the here and now. You may wish to journal about your experience if the event yielded things you wish to capture and retain.

Love is the Foundation for Modern Animism

love is the foundation

Oops! I made a mistake. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about love. For me, like Spirit. it’s silent. It goes without saying because it’s everywhere. It’s in everything. Love is the foundation for modern animism, so it’s easy to not talk about it because I take it for granted. I assume that it’s something that everyone knows.

We don’t speak the obvious because we don’t have to. I don’t announce that I am breathing, I’m female, or that I’m alive. People can see that, right?

After a conversation with someone, I realize it’s not obvious to everyone. Social and cultural norms are taught. Many of us grew up without experiencing love. Or they learned an unhealthy version of it. Many have really distorted definitions of love like: love is possession; love is control; love is obligation; and love hurts.

If that’s how you’re defining love, you are not in the best position to teach it to others, think of it in positive terms, or see it everywhere. Everything that flows from that tainted well becomes tainted too. So let’s look at some of these distortions.

Love is Possession

We only belong to each other because we choose to. Love is the binder through which we bind ourselves. When our partner binds us, that’s possession, not love. Where there is possession, there can be no sovereignty. The whole animist idea of life and spirituality just falls apart at the foundation.

Unfortunately this idea is reinforced in romantic pop culture with things like Valentines that say “Be mine.” It follows the idea that our lovers are our possessions. Possessions are things. They are not dynamic beings that we relate to. When we possess our lover, he becomes the object of our affection, not someone who is engaging in a relationship with us. Animism is relational. Everything is alive and relational.

Love is Control

Everything needs some degree of control. If we had no control, we’d have no structure. Life would be chaotic. Yet, when we force our desires or beliefs on others, that’s control, not love. That’s a violation of sovereignty. We don’t get to decide what is for someone else’s good. We don’t get to pressure or manipulate people into doing things because we love them. Love is accepting that beings have the power to control their own lives.

Love is Obligation

Hopefully we all take care of each other because we want to. It flows from our love for each other, it’s not an obligation. We care for our parents, our brothers, and the planet because we’re connected. It’s a way to show appreciation and connection. This doesn’t mean I have to volunteer, cook you dinner, or donate to your cause. That’s a distortion. What is given with an open hand flows from love. What doesn’t, isn’t.

Love Hurts

If you grew up with people who let you down, cursed at you, hit you, ignored you, or hurt you in anyway, then told you that they loved you, you probably internalized that love hurts. This is another distortion. Someone who does hurtful things can love you, but the hurtful things they do are not an expression of it. The two don’t really go together.

It may hurt when someone you love romantically doesn’t love you back. You’re hurting because love isn’t returned. Love and pain are two different things.

Intergenerational Deficits

When you grow up in a family or community with these types of distortions, you learn them. Then you pass them on to your kids. And they pass them on to their kids. The distortion becomes an intergenerational heritage of distortion that seems “normal.” You don’t know that it’s wrong so you don’t seek to correct it. Even if you did, you wouldn’t know how because you don’t know what you’re looking for.

This is where elders come in. This is why we need people who did learn this to teach us. Culture is taught socially. It’s experiential. You might be able to learn some things from books, but ideas need to be brought into the world to bring them to life. We need a community to live and reinforce them.

This is why people use words like, “I am a practicing animist.” It means that it doesn’t flow instinctively yet. I am still learning.

When love is the foundation, sovereignty is easy. Connection is easy. All the things that Pan Society talks about are understood from a completely different mindset. Things become simpler and clearer because the distortion is removed.

If you would like to deepen your practice with animism, we invite you to join us at Odysseys.

 

Why Teamwork is the Key to Getting Through the Contagion and Life

teamwork

Have you heard of the “Red or Black” game? It’s perfect for showing why teamwork is the key to getting through the corona virus contagion and life. It’s very simple. The objective is to finish the game with the most points. There are two teams and five rounds. All each team has to do is choose red or black.

Points are awarded as follows:

  • If Team A and Team B choose red, both teams lose 5 points.
  • If Team A chooses red and Team B chooses black, Team A gains 10 points, and Team B loses 10 points.
  • When Team A chooses black and Team B chooses red, Team B gains 10 points, and team A loses 10 points.
  • If Team A and Team B choose black, both teams gain 3 points.

In the game of life, red is a vote for me, black is a vote for we.

We are all playing this game every day whether we know it or not, only with a multitude of players. Let’s walk through it to show you what I mean.

Round One

A goes into the store and buys a truckload of toilet paper that sits in a closet. He’s reserving the option to sell it for $5 a roll. He is effectively choosing red.

B either doesn’t have any because A bought it all or takes one pack so that others can have some. She’s choosing black.

Score at the end of round one. A: 10, B: -10.

Round Two

A and B are both stir crazy. They can’t go to the gym because it’s closed. They have both heard that sunshine is good for the immune system.

A takes the family to a crowded park, let’s the kids play on the swing set, then stops off at the grocery store on the way home to save time. He is effectively choosing red again.

B goes into her backyard with a chair and a book and sits in the sun. She’s effectively choosing black again.

Score at the end of round two. A: 20, B -20.

Round Three

A and B are feeling isolated and alone.

A calls a couple friends over to drink beer and watch a movie. After all it’s just three people. A is choosing red again.

B hosts a virtual watch party with friends. B is choosing black again.

Score at the end of round three. A: 30, B -30.

Round Four

It’s been two weeks now of social distancing. They both having mild symptoms, yet both live paycheck to paycheck and need their jobs to continue paying rent and eating. A didn’t contemplate calling a doctor. B did but was told that she wasn’t sick enough to get tested. Both continued to go to work, effectively choosing red.

Score at the end of round four. A: 25, B -35

Round Five

Both A and B have elderly neighbors. A has a stockpile of food and supplies, but doesn’t share. He also doesn’t offer to go to the store for them or help them in any way. Once again, A chooses red. B doesn’t have a lot to share, but checks on them and helps them out when she can. Once again B chooses black.

Score at the end of round five. A: 35, B-45.

Winning the Game

Now, it may seem like A won the game. He did what he wanted to do and has the most points. However, the objective of the game isn’t to see which team ends the game with the most points. It is to end the game with the most points. That takes teamwork. A gained 35, but B lost 45, so the net total is -10.

If all it takes to “win” is +1, A lost the game for everyone each time he made a play because he consistently ignored the big picture. He chose “me” over “we” every time.

Sovereignty is about me. It’s about carrying my weight, making myself happy, stepping into my power and truth, and being the best I can be. Connection is about living in relationship with everyone and everything else.

I can’t have connection if my sovereignty comes at the cost of the team. I have to give as much as I take and support as much as a lean on them. Every time I choose me over we, we all lose. If I give it all away and take nothing, that’s a loss, too. It has to be me and we. We are in this life together. We need a balance of sovereignty and connection, not one or the other.

Life is teamwork. As children we are dependent. The adults carry our weight. When we are adults, we carry the children and pay it forward so that when we are elderly, we can lean on others without being a burden. We’ve already provided those behind us with the guidance and resources to help them help us. That’s teamwork. Everyone is cared for.

Another way to look at it is trust vs. fear. Making a black move is living in trust. Red is living in fear. Fear is infectious. Fear makes people move into their protective, taker space. It contracts our hearts and spreads mistrust. Trust opens, inspires, connects, and encourages growth and happiness. Where do you want to live? Who do you want to be? Think about that the next time you make a move. It matters.

Practicing Connection During the Outbreak

practicing connection

When fear breaks out, people can respond by lashing out, becoming emotional and irrational, and hiding from the world. Don’t forget your humanity. Humans are social creatures. We need each other. Together we can get through anything. So here are some ideas for practicing connection during the outbreak.

Spread Hope

I saw a video that was shot on balconies in northern Italy. The people were singing to each other. Italy is suffering a horrible medical catastrophe and people are singing to each other. Things like this keep hope alive. Laughter, smiles, love, and song keep the immune system strong. It keeps our connections strong. No matter what, love each other. We all have a choice whether we are going to be Badluck Shleprock or a beacon of hope. Spread hope.

Check on Your People

How are your people doing? Do you have elderly neighbors who need food, medication, or their grass cut? Can you help? What about your distant family? Do they need something? You know, sometimes something as simple as a phone call can brighten someone’s day. Is there a senior center nearby that needs something? What about a homeless shelter? If you don’t know of anyone personally who needs help, check out Pine Ridge. The needs there are always desperate and grow even moreso in times like these.

Do Your Part

We each have a mission in life. Doing your part helps to keep the wheel of life spinning. If you opt out, someone else will have to do their part and yours. Participate. I know it’s tempting to give up, but we need everyone to show up.

Share

I’ve been paying attention to social media posts and comparing it to what I see in my local area. It seems that there are great disparities from place to place. I am not 100% sure about what’s going on, but it seems that low income areas have higher incidents of shortages and panic. If you have resources, skills, or knowledge that you can share with people who have less, share. It’s really that simple. There is enough to go around if we share.

Practice Kindness

While grocery shopping recently, the store was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. The shelves were more bare, and yet people seemed to be going out of their way to be kind. Cashiers were cheerful. Customers were patient. Some held the door open to others. No one was hoarding or grabbing for anything. There was plenty for everyone.

One brusque person can set off a storm of ugliness that infects the whole bunch. Fortunately, a single act of kindness can do the same thing. Practice random acts of kindness. It helps us to stay connected.

Believe

Jim Butcher said, “Magic comes from what’s inside you. It’s part of you. You can’t weave together a spell you don’t believe in.”

It’s easy to descend into negativity when under stress. Darkness can test your faith. Believe. Darkness is the womb that births new things. If you go dark now, what is birthed will be more darkness. Believe. Believe in a brighter day, connection, love, health, life, hope, kindness, and renewal. The sun always returns. We all create tomorrow together. Staying connected in a loving way births lovely things.

Practicing connection is always part of the modern animist lifestyle. Practicing connection when the chips are down defines us. It’s easy to do anything when it asks nothing of you and when you are doing well. It’s not so easy when there are reasons not to. Connect because it’s what you believe in. It’s who you are.

Sovereignty and Connection While Traveling

sovereignty and connection

Engaging in conversations about sovereignty, connection, and Oneness, it becomes clear that people don’t really understand those concepts. Or maybe they do intellectually, but they don’t know how to put them into practice. We are going to be hitting this hard to help you bring it into your life. All you have to do, really, is observe and be present with what’s happening every day all around you.

Take traveling. I recently returned from a trip. While traveling, I encountered a lot of people who clearly do not have these values. Here is what I mean.

Clean Up After Yourself

I hit the loo in the Charlotte airport. The first toilet seat I saw had urine all over it. The sinks had water splashed all over the place so there was no dry place to put anything.

We all have the option to do whatever we want. That’s sovereignty. I get that some people might not want to skin contact with a toilet seat and so they do what they have to do to avoid it. When it makes a mess for someone else, that is violating someone else’s desire for cleanliness. So, if you want to avoid contact with the seat and respect the person who comes behind you, clean up after yourself.

If you want to splash water all over the sink, or just do it inadvertently, clean up after yourself. Give the person behind you the same clean conditions that you’d want. Do this even if it wasn’t clean before you got there. That’s living the values of reciprocity, respect, kindness, sustainability, gratitude, and love.

If You Are Sick, Stay Home

If you have an illness that can impact others, stay home. I was once on a flight where we had a delayed departure because a passenger was not fit to fly and refused to disembark. Consequently, we had to wait for a doctor to confirm this and remove the passenger before we could leave.

I’ve been on a flight where a passenger had food poisoning. He fouled both bathrooms before leaving the aircraft before take off. So there was no working bathroom on the flight.

I was on an international flight seated next to a passenger with a really bad cold. It was a ten hour flight with no escape. Needless to say, a cold is a gift that keeps on giving. I ended up really sick, and probably a lot of other people, too.

People get sick. Things happen. When you know you are ill, consider others. If you need emergency care, die, or spread disease so that you can do what you want, the cost to others may be very high.

Consider The Impact of Your Choices

When you buy a seat on an airplane, you have the choice whether to pay for checked bags, choose your preferred seat, or fly with more comfort. Naturally we all want to be the most comfortable that we can. That’s sovereignty. It’s all good. Do you.

If you are flying with a buddy and one of you chooses an aisle and the other chooses a window, any interaction that you have will impact the person in the middle. So, if you are sharing food, talking, and passing things back and forth, you are encroaching on the middle seat passenger’s space and comfort. If it happens once or twice, no big deal. If it happens for the duration of a four hour flight, you’re grossly violating that person’s sovereignty. You’re definitely not promoting connection.

Go With the Flow

I am the first one to say, “Be yourself. Do you.” When you are in a crowded airport where people are rushing to get to their flight on time, it’s a time for “other awareness,” not individuality. Go with the flow – I mean, literally. Don’t stop in the middle of the walkway or stand on the left. You prohibit people who are in a hurry from moving around you. The left side is for movers, not standers. Maybe you are not in a hurry, but others are. Consider their needs. This is shared space.

If you are getting into a shuttle, don’t step inside and stop, thus blocking the entrance. Move out of the way so that others can get in. Move your belongings so that they aren’t obstructing the walkway. Flowing is about considering other people. If you want to stop or move more slowly, do it to the side where you don’t impact others.

We all make the world that we live in one choice at a time. The balance of sovereignty and connection is ongoing. When we give too much of ourselves, we can lose ourselves. If we don’t pay enough attention to our needs, we suffer. Yet if we don’t make an effort to connect, we can feel lonely and isolation. If we connect too much, we can be exhausted and depleted.

To be in balance, we have to weigh our needs with the needs of others. It’s not always easy, but it’s a really important concept to learn if you want self-esteem, confidence, connection, and intimacy in your life. Once you learn it, expand it to include the animals, plants, mineral, and spirit communities. You will see your sense of aliveness soar.

Animism Won’t Give You A Purpose

animism won't give you a purpose

I think lots of people are drawn to non-mainstream spiritual paths because they feel it gives them a purpose. Animism won’t give you a purpose. You have to look within and find that for yourself. It can, however, give you a path to go about living on purpose.

So What’s a Purpose?

I think a lot of people want to know why they are suffering. They want their suffering to have meaning. So when a psychic or mystic tells them that it’s because they are a healer, it feels good. It feels like they are special, and who doesn’t like that? Some pursue the healer path for a while and some stay on it forever, but it’s often a diversion from their own healing.

Some feel that they are meant to do something big, so they go about building something or becoming something. Maybe they accomplish this and maybe they don’t. I think what most find out, though, as I did, is that there is always another mountain to climb. We’re not ever “done.” Someone is always on our tail threatening to outdo us. What we’ve built is always in danger of crumbling. After all, everything dies. It’s a natural cycle.

When the purpose is something to do, become, or acquire, it’s elusive. We can’t hold on to it because it’s always changing. It’s always in front of us. So we can end up feeling like we’ve failed.

How Do I Live on Purpose?

Your purpose is just to be here. To choose. To live consciously and enjoy the experience. You don’t have to be or do anything. You can live on purpose regardless of what you do, achieve, or become.

When you live on purpose, you live mindfully. You engage in the dance of life. Sometimes you do that with joy, sometimes it’s with fear. Sometimes you do it with grace and other times it’s with profound awkwardness. It’s all a wonderful experience if you let it be.

All you have to do is surrender control. Accept life as it is. Choose based on the options, resources, and knowledge that you have in this moment. That’s the sovereignty part.

Now, if you also consider all the plants, animals, minerals, spirits, and people who share this adventure with you and engage with them, that’s connection. How do your choices impact others? How can you include others in a way that honors them? Do you live with Nature and within the big picture of life? See, it’s not all about you. It’s about us.

What’s In It For Me?

If that doesn’t sound sexy or meaningful, try it. How liberating would it be if you felt “okay” with having a 9 to 5 that doesn’t save the world, yet it allows you enough money to live? You could have dinner at night with your family. Maybe you plant a garden. If you like hiking, you could do that on the weekends, or maybe go fishing. And you could love people, provide for them, and laugh with them.

It might sound like a modest dream, but how many of us have that? How many of us grab take out on the way to or from work or eat standing up? How many exercise in a gym? Do you know anyone who puts their hands in the soil? Do you smile at people you love and actually talk to them? That’s not a small thing. That’s everything.

Every day I conduct past life regressions where people see themselves living lives of quiet desperation. Then they die without having lived or loved.

Connection is everything, folks. If you don’t feel safe with people, connect with animals or plants. Let yourself see the wonder that is life. Let others see you. It’s all that matters. Not your luxury car, your six pack abs, or your travel photos. Try going small and quiet. See how your life changes. Or use Thoreau’s eyes:

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,—that is your success.”

Modern animism won’t give you a purpose, but we will give you that framework to achieve it. Our path is sovereignty, connection, and Oneness. Won’t you join us?

I Am That

I am that

Have you ever had your DNA analyzed? If so, you know that it can be a great way to realize “I am that.” “That”, of course, is everything. So, it can help you realize the Oneness that you already are. How?

Recent Ancestral Story

The first thing it does is illuminate your recent ancestral story. If you get your DNA run by ancestry sites, they really focus on the last two to three hundred years. The accuracy depends on the amount of data that scientists have to compare your DNA to. For example, if you are light skinned, they are going to have lots more data to compare than if you have more melanin. Still, many people can only go back two generations, so this provides a lot of new illuminating information.

For example, a friend’s mother told her that her father was Middle Eastern. Her DNA revealed that her recent ancestors were 100% from the British Isles. Another friend’s family lore said that they were Native American. Nope! She actually got her tawny huge from the Middle East. Many white supremacists are surprised to find that they actually have pigment in their family tree.

Nobody is “ethnically pure.” There is no such thing. In fact, the last two hundred years of our family history is often very different from what our oral history and imagination tells us. Knowing the facts can help to erase misconceptions, broaden your view of identity, and anchor you in your bones.

Get the Stories

Once you have some hard facts, you can research the stories. If your ancestors were a part of literate empires (versus pre-literate tribal cultures), there are often great records that can be uncovered.

I am fortunate that my father has uncovered thousands of family connections stretching back a thousand years in one line. If you are lucky, you can connect to someone who has done the same and save yourself a ton of work. Check out ancestry.com or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

As I look at my family tree, I see criminals, incest, philanthrope, genius, slaves, slave owners, people who successfully resisted colonialism, soldiers, generals, poverty, wealth, business owners, unwed parents, alcoholics, musicians, and religious zealots. I see strength, beauty, and challenges. The rainbow of stories that suggests I am everything. I am that.

Archaic DNA

If you pop your raw DNA results into Gedmatch, you can analyze your archaic DNA. This story goes where the paper trail dies. It can provide a fascinating look at human migration as well as your ancestral story. For example, as I look at my archaic DNA, I see that I have Denisovan ancestry. Denisovan people lived in a cave in Siberia between 55,000 and 287,000 years ago! That’s a long way from where their descendant’s footsteps lead.

I also share DNA with the Kennewick man! Kennewick man is the remains of the oldest Native American DNA in North America. He lived in what is now Washington state 8,500 years ago. That goes back way before oral family history or recorded records. This type of data can give you such a broader picture of who your people were and who you are.

For me, it’s humbling. Although I deeply connect to my culture and recent dead, this stretches my roots much deeper into the soil, my bones, and eternity. It brings to mind a quote from Caligula.

I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night.

Wow! I am that. …and you are too.

If you look at your family tree and all you can see is nuts, look beyond that. There is much more to you than your recent dead. There are apples, oaks, cedars, yews, mimosas, redwoods, pines, hawthorns, cherries, and everything imaginable.

The next time you have a bad moment, remember that within you is the DNA of people who traveled widely, escaped misery, loved, died, and conquered fear. Within you is the love of thousands who came together to create you. Before that, we were all stardust. So imagine what adventures lie ahead!

For me, remembering my ancestors is about remembering who I am. Staying connected to who I am keeps me grounded, humble, and compassionate towards those who are suffering with ignorance, want, greed, and fear. I am that. Sometimes I forget and live there too. Many generations within me did too. All it takes for me to change things up is to remember that I am light and dark. I can then choose where I want to stand today.

Note: Scientists took DNA from Havasupai tribal members for a diabetes study, then used it for other purposes. FamilyTreeDNA secretly used information in its database to catch criminals. Be sure that you are fully aware of how your DNA can be used before signing consent for any DNA test.