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.

I’m Dating an Animist. What Can I Expect?

animist relationships

So, you’ve fallen for a modern animist an you’re not sure what to expect. Unfortunately, we are not a cookie cutter type of group so there will be wide variations from person to person. However, there are some things that are probably going to be common among us. If you want to know what to expect when dating an animist, read on.

We Have a Relationship With the Natural World

Most of us express our animism through our thoughts and behaviors. We don’t just restrict our spirituality to our beliefs. This means that we tend to have a relationship with the natural world. We might really love animals, talk to our plants, literally hug trees, sing to the dolphins, pray to the Sun, and dance under the stars. It’s not something we have to do. It’s something we are called to do. They are our brothers. It’s like having a family reunion or checking in on your mom.

We Have a Relationship With the Spirit World

The animist world isn’t limited to what you can see. Many of us also include the spirits of those who have passed on, those yet to be, and otherworldly beings who are not physical in this plane. We may have a practice where we tune into them every day. Or for some of us, we simply have an awareness that these other creatures exist.

We Do Things Others Consider Superstitious

Some of us have rituals that others consider superstitious. For example, you might carry iron to protect yourself against fairies or refuse to go straight home after a wake to make sure that the departed doesn’t follow you home. While they might seem silly to you, they are very serious for us. If you’re not tolerant of things like this, it could get really uncomfortable.

We Aren’t Judgy

Everybody knows what it’s like to be judged. It’s not pretty. We appreciate sovereignty, so we don’t tend to be judgy. This might be a bit of a freak out if you’re used to opinionated people, gossip, and hard lines between who is in and who is out. We won’t expect you to join us in our beliefs if that’s not your thing, but don’t pressure us to do what we don’t want to either.

Just hang loose. The world is our playground. Everyone is family, so we are more carefree about accepting people as they are, where they are.

You’ll Have Lots of Space to Be You

Dating an animist may mean that you have more time on your hands than you anticipate. We really like the freedom to be ourselves and will give you space to do the same. If you’re used to a partner who wants to be your whole world and who thinks that a couple has to do everything together, you might be in for a disappointment. We like you just the way you are. You don’t have to like everything we like.

Animism is Who We Are

Modern animists are very diverse. We live in urban high rises, drive the kids to soccer games in mini vans, breed chickens on the homestead, and live out in the wilds. Some of us show our faith in how we dress, eat, and talk. Others seem to blend right in to mainstream society. But in our hearts, we are part of the cosmos. We are the past, present, and future; masculine and feminine; sacred, mundane, and profane. We are One.

If you want to have a great relationship with an animist, just treat us with love and respect. We’re not so different.

Do I Have to Care for My Abusive Elderly Parent?

Do I Have to Care for My Abusive Elderly Parent?

At Pan Society we often talk about elders in an idealized way, but we know life isn’t ideal. We don’t live in a perfect world. Life’s pretty messy. What happens when our elders are not nice people? Or maybe they are even toxic! So, what do you do when you have an abusive elderly parent? Are you obligated to take care of them?

Why We Care For the Elderly

First let’s look at why we care for the elderly. The Riddle of the Sphinx was “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?” The answer is Man. A baby crawls on all fours. Adults and children walk upright. The elderly sometimes walks with a cane. This is a perfect metaphor for the wheel of human life.

Babies are the future. They come into the world totally helpless. They rely on others for everything – food, hygiene, social stimulation, instruction, and discipline. Children are special because they just came from the Otherworld. They carry wisdom inside of them that we can learn from.

In a healthy world, adults care for their children and rear them to be self-sufficient adults capable of reproduction so that the species can continue.

When the health of the parents decline and they become less capable of providing for their own needs, their (now grown) children care for them. In indigenous societies, the elders care for the children so that the parents can work. Elders also have wisdom that comes from a lifetime of living that they share with the family.

That’s reciprocity. The adults in the middle are the strongest and most capable so they carry the very young, old, and sick.

Why Animists Care For Our Elderly

Love is the glue that connects the babies, adults, and elderly. Love creates belonging. The only thing that differentiates caring for our elders as a burden or a pleasure is love.

When you love your parents, you want to be there for them. You can’t imagine someone else doing that job for you. Although it’s incredibly hard work and emotionally taxing, you realize that they saw you into the world. You want to see them out.

In the process of caring for them, you learn about what it means to be an elder. You learn how to give up power, trust others, surrender, and finally – how to die. It’s really about engaging intimately with the circle of life.

This is not a one way transaction. We understand that the very young and old are closer to the Otherworld. They have wisdom to share with us. We value that, so we nurture and respect them for what they give us.

In reality, that’s not where many of us live today. When there is no love, no wisdom, the adults aren’t very self sufficient themselves, or there aren’t enough able bodied adults to do the job, the whole system can collapse.

Making the Choice

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork and have the same understanding of why we care for the elderly, let’s look at helping you make the choice for whether or not caring for your abusive parents makes sense for you.

Sovereignty

The first thing to consider is sovereignty. There is no right or wrong. It’s your choice. You can do what you want. If you want to, do it. If you don’t, don’t. If that feels good, you can stop there. Choice made!

But for most of us, it’s not that simple. We want to be in alignment with our values, and our values say that it’s our duty.

And we have a duty to ourselves too – a duty to be healthy, high functioning people. When we put ourselves in a toxic situation, that takes a toll. So, there may be a conflict between the duty to our parents and the duty to ourselves. One way to honor your both values is to provide monetarily but limit or withhold your physical presence. There are probably other ways to create a win/win.

Or maybe we aren’t sovereign. We can’t take care of ourselves. Or maybe we have just enough to care for ourselves and nothing extra. If that’s the case, perhaps the way that you care is by visiting or calling them on the phone. So you care for their emotional needs, but not their physical needs.

Connection

Your parents are the connection to the ancestors. They are the doorway to the past. Your children are the future. If the past, present, and future are not connected, the spiritual foundation and family line fractures. If you can heal this in the physical world, it’s the healthiest thing to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you take your parents into your home and care for them. I think, though, that it almost certainly means that you come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness for who they have been. It’s for your peace of mind that you do this, not anyone else’s.

In this and all things, sovereignty and connection dance. The more independence you choose, the less connection you have. We have to give up some things to be connected. We have to let go of some things to be our own people. So keep in mind what you are getting and giving. If it feels balanced and good, go for it. If it doesn’t, get creative. Think of what it would take to something work.

It’s Your Call

Everyone’s situation is unique. Some parents have different needs than others. Some are more capable than others. Each adult has different resources, support, and coping skills. Someone who has done a lot of healing will be more ready and able to take on caring for an abusive elderly parent than someone who has done none. Having dependent children in the house may also be a factor.

Being modern animists is not easy. We are trying to live in relationship with people while while being in a social structure that hasn’t been in alignment with Nature for a long time. The choices that we make can continue that brokenness or they can repair it. Some things we will be able to fix for ourselves and some we won’t. As long as we’re in alignment with our values and moving in the direction of love, we’re doing the best that we can.

What Are the Boundaries of Sovereignty?

boundaries of sovereignty

I get a lot of questions like:

  • My boyfriend takes a long time to text me back. How should I feel about that?
  • My wife hates that I see a therapist. Should I stop?
  • My best friend gets a lot of support from her family. I don’t. Should I expect her to pay when we go out?

Where do you draw the line with sovereignty? What are the boundaries of sovereignty? How do you know what is yours and what’s not? When is it okay to act and when is it crossing the line? It’s a very big question that is not easy to answer. Here are some guidelines to get you started to think about it.

You Are the Sole Authority on Your Body

Your body is your physical domain. It’s up to you to keep it looking nice, healthy, and fit. You get to decide what to eat, when to eat, whether to exercise, how to take care of hygiene, whether to sleep and how much, and anything else related to your self care. Your body is where you live. It is how you move in the world, and is a huge reflection of who you are. So, it’s up to you to claim this authority!

If you want tattoos, have tattoos. If you want to wear flashy or subdued clothes, go for it. But your authority isn’t limited to how you look or self care. It’s also about your health care decisions. You are responsible for your choices. Research options when you are sick. Choose your health care providers. Know what you are agreeing to. Don’t give someone else – even a knowledgable professional – power over your body.

This also applies to sex. It’s up to you to say what you want, when you want it, and how you want it. This doesn’t mean you are going to get it, but if you don’t speak up, you certainly won’t. On the other hand, if someone is approaching you in a way that you don’t want, you have an obligation to yourself to speak out. Power requires assertiveness to wield. It doesn’t assert itself without you.

You Control Your Own Thoughts

It’s totally okay for you to have your own opinions. They are influenced by your experiences, education, and maturity, so they may not be accurate. They may change. And it’s still your right to have them!

However, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily appropriate to share them. If your thoughts are not kind, necessary, or true, it might be wiser to keep them to yourself.

You Are Responsible For Your Feelings

Feelings are a reflection of your thoughts. They are not you. Emotions are not universal. Some people will laugh at an incident while others feel indifferent or compassion. If you don’t like the way that you feel, change your thoughts. It’s not up to anyone else to make you happy or comfortable. This is true even if their actions resulted in you feeling down or uncomfortable.

So, if someone wants to tell you how to feel, you can call “boundary violation” on them. If someone wants to blame you for how they feel, the same is true. We can’t make someone feel something. Our feelings are our own. They are little sign posts that show us what’s inside. Maybe they are saying it’s time to slow down, move away, move toward, or spend some time healing something.

You Control Your Actions

What you do is up to you. Do you want to take a job, go for a walk, stay out too late, or not go to a family outing? It’s your call. When we please ourselves, we tend to be more authentic. However, connection and independence are related. The more independent we are, the less connected we tend to be. It’s a dance, a trade off. So, if you do what you want without regard to others, you may have a lonely time of it.

Putting It All Together

So, now that we have some guidelines, let’s look at how to put it all together so that we can guide our lives.

First, no shoulds. It’s only about what is. If you feel something, you feel it. If you want it, you want it. Nobody has an obligation to give you anything, do anything, or feel anything because you want it. The same is true for you. We all decide how to spend our time, money, and whether to give our attention to others. It is what it is. No obligations.

Second, if it’s not yours, it’s not yours. Not your body? You don’t get to say what someone does with it. Not your thoughts or feelings? You can have an opinion about it. But it’s not yours to control. You may not like what’s happening. You can respond to that by speaking out, removing yourself, or acting in other ways, but sovereignty means freedom and responsibility. We each have to decide how to use that power.

Each of us is a gatekeeper of our own realm. When we balance our needs with the needs of others, we are good neighbors. When we don’t, we create a world that’s not easy to live in. So let’s make great choices today!

 

 

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.

Sovereignty in a Time of Disease

soveriegnty

Wayne Dyer said, “When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out because that’s what’s inside.” The corona virus is squeezing us. What’s coming out? Are you really a modern animist? We’re all being tested.  How do you practice sovereignty in a time of disease outbreak?

How you conduct yourself is up to you. Here are some ideas.

Take Care of Yourself First

Nature has a order. Children needs adults to protect them, provide for them, and nurture them until they are mature enough to do it for themselves. The elderly and sick also need this support from adults. Adults are Atlas who holds up the sky for everyone else. As an adult, your primary responsibility is to yourself. If you have dependents and animals, you are also responsible for them. If adults can’t care for themselves, the whole system collapses.

There are always going to be dependent people. When we have a society of responsible adults who can take care of themselves, the load is easier on those who bear it. “Responsible adult” means someone who provides for his own food, healthcare, transportation, shelter, clothing, water, and other necessities.

During a disease outbreak, you make the call whether it’s in your best interest to isolate or serve in some way. That choice impacts others. Choose wisely.

Remember also that sometimes exercising sovereignty is knowing when to ask for help. If you can’t do it alone, no one will know if you don’t speak up.

Reduce Your Vulnerabilities

All adults want to feel secure and competent- especially if you are to assume responsibility for yourself. The more vulnerabilities you have, the less power you perceive yourself to have. The less power you have, the more fear you have. This is not a great place to be when there is a disease outbreak. Fear creates mistakes and panic. You can’t hold up the world if you are afraid. So how to you become less fearful?

Have Resources

The most commonly used resource is money. Money buys products, services, and experiences. It can assure your safety in some cases. However, in times of disease outbreak, the things you need may not be able to be bought at any price. So what do you do when your money is useless?

There are human resources – family, friends, and neighbors are resources. If you have cultivated relationships, you can work together to do things that would be harder or impossible to do alone. It’s like Stone Soup. If we all get together and pool resources, we can share the work, food, hardship, and happiness.

Information is another resource. If you have useful information, you can make wise decisions. Of course, it’s only as good as your ability to interpret it.

Land is another resource. It gives you a place to live, provides food, and helps you to stay healthy. If you care for it, it can care for you. There other resources, but you get the idea.

Develop Skills

Skills allow you to take charge, do things for yourself, help others, and be independent. Some skills can help you to acquire money if you use them in employment. Other skills- like emotional regulation- help you to get along better with others.

The more skills you have, the fewer problems you have because if something comes up, you can just deal with it if you have the appropriate skills. Otherwise you struggle.

Skills also give you options. If I can weave a basket, I have a choice whether I want to weave one, buy one, or sell one. If I can make natural medicines, I can go to the doctor, care for myself, care for others, or do nothing. Choice is a huge component of stress. The more options I have, the more secure I feel.

What skills you cultivate are entirely up to your values and desires. Some suggestions are: communication, emotional intelligence, wild crafting, sewing, hunting, medicine making, cooking, writing, leadership, driving, food storage, carpentry, auto repair, small engine repair, energy healing, conducting rituals, and gardening.

Help Others

Now assuming you’re healthy, can take care of yourself, and have skills, you’re in a position to help others. Situations like disease outbreak overwhelm the system. Too many people have the same needs all at once. Too many people need help all at once. If you are in a position to serve, how can you help so that everyone else can stay safe? Here are some suggestions.

  • Make grocery store or pharmacy runs for people who are in isolation.
  • If it’s safe and you are well, go to work so that products and services continue to be produced.
  • Care the for sick.
  • Check on your neighbors, the homeless, or other vulnerable populations.
  • If you have food or supplies to share, share.
  • Care for the animals that belong to the sick.
  • Can you fix something for someone who is unwell?
  • If you are unwell, you can voluntarily isolate and ask for help meeting your needs so you can stay in isolation so that you don’t expose others.
  • Can you house others so that someone can stay in isolation?
  • Are there kids who need care so that their parent can stay in isolation?
  • Are you leading, helping, healing, and inspiring – or creating panic and anxiety? Calm and joy are great healers.

A disease outbreak is not my problem or your problem. It’s our problem. We can all get through if we do our part. When we show up in the world as our highest, best, and most skillful selves, we all benefit.

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.

Breaking Up Over Religion

breaking up over religion

When you come out as animist, some relationships may end. Many spiritual paths say that theirs is the one and only way. Their history is “kill or convert” so they don’t tolerate or try to understand outsiders. This could lead to breaking up over religion. If this happens to you, here are some things to keep in mind to soften the blow.

Compatibility Is More Important Than Love

I know we’re all taught that love is the end all be all in relationships. However, harmony comes from compatibility. If you don’t have a good blend of differences to keep things interesting and sameness to find common ground, your relationship has a high possibility of unhappiness. When one person has strong religious conviction, and that path isn’t in alignment with your own, it’s going to create values conflicts. This is especially true if there are shared children.

Love Yourself Enough to Be Yourself

Love can only flourish when we have the space to be ourselves. If we’re not expressing ourselves fully or honestly, we aren’t allowing ourselves to live. What is life if not an expression of our emotions, beliefs, and gifts? Love often means that we want that for our loved ones and ourselves.

If you feel you have to hide your crystals, altar, or that you have to not talk about your communion with Nature, you may feel diminished. If you can’t talk about your spiritual highs or questions with your loved one, you may feel there are huge gaps in your relationship. Sometimes we feel judged for going out under the moonlight or hugging a tree. So we hide. Or stop talking about it.

Love Your Partner Enough to Let Him Be Himself

Sovereignty is the foundation for all relationships. Letting go can be the most unselfish way to express love and respect for sovereignty. Sometimes two people can be the best expression of themselves by being apart. It doesn’t mean that someone is wrong or bad. Sometimes two good people just aren’t a match. And that’s okay.

Breaking up over religion can feel like a petty reason for letting go. Or you can see it as the ultimate kindness and act of love. Wisdom isn’t just about how you feel. It’s also about doing what makes sense. The best relationships balance effectiveness with feeling.

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.

What is Connection?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Pan Society path of modern animism is sovereignty, connection, and Oneness, but what is “connection?” Yesterday it came to my attention that some people might not know.

We have the post of the glossary of terms sticky posted on our blog to facilitate communication. Sometimes when someone says something, we are not talking about the same thing – particularly when it comes to spirituality. Culture and life experiences influence how we see the world, so our understanding could be different from the mainstream or niche view.

When I’m speaking of Connection in the Pan Society context, I am not talking about socializing. It’s bigger than hanging out with friends or being a part of a family.

I’m not talking about sex, hooking up, or romantic relationships. It’s bigger than the body or touch.

In the holistic, animist world, everything is already connected. The things we most easily relate and connect to are in our inner circle. These are things like our families, friends, and culture.

The next closest ring may include things like our communities like schools we went to, neighborhood, ancestors, church, gods, past lives, and the land around us. These are also part of us, but they affect us less as they are not as close to our day to day awareness.

The next ring could be our state, country, or our religion. At some point, we start to include things like plants, animals, the mineral kingdom, space, and the Universe. Keep in mind that everyone prioritizes their rings differently.

The things in the inner ring may or may not be healthy and stable. If they are not, we may not know how to have healthy connections because we didn’t grow up with them. We also may put our effort into cultivating connection with things that are more distant from our center.

Barriers to Connection

Lots of people don’t realize that they don’t know what healthy connection looks like. We may have learned barriers to connection and engage them habitually. This can block our experience of connection.

So, let’s look at them. If you have these patterns, you may not be experiencing healthy connection.

Stonewalling – this is refusing to engage and not following through. It could look like avoiding conversations or just saying things like, “I’m not going to talk about that.” This is invalidating and frustrating to the person who is trying to connect. You diminish yourself by not speaking your truth.

Defensiveness – this is feeling the need to guard against danger. It could be that you see confrontation, insults, or rudeness where none is intended. Or it could be that you react to intended ugliness by protecting yourself more strongly than is required.

Avoidance – if intimacy and connection came with pain, we might have learned to avoid it. So, we shut it down by avoiding it with body language, spacing out, escaping, or creating too firm boundaries.

Dependency – this is basically clinginess. If we fear abandonment, we can cling to people just to have someone near. We may engage in people pleasing and manipulation to stay in the relationship. This can also make us vulnerable to abuse. This isn’t healthy for others or us particularly if the relationship isn’t balanced.

There are other behavioral habits, but you get the idea.

So What’s Connection Like?

I have to thank people who are willing to be vulnerable and share their experiences in places like Talking Circles, therapy, tours and just general conversation for enlightening me about this. When something is obvious to you, you don’t talk about it. I don’t going around announcing that I am human or female. We all already know. So I didn’t know how connected I was until I could peak inside of someone else’s existence. It’s hard to language what it’s like to be female or human because you don’t know anything else. There is no duality within. I will take a crack at it though.

Connection is like a game of ping pong. I serve. You can hit the ball back, swing and miss, or stop playing. As long as we’re both in the game with each other, we’re connected. If we’re playing parallel games, we’re not connected. When we’re both in a groove of moving the ball back and forth and exchanging energy, we’re deeply connected.

I said nothing about touch, conversation, or even people necessarily. You can have connection without touching, speaking, or even being in the presence of another person if you’re connecting with your feelings, the sea, or the past. Everything is available.

People are the hardest. They have sovereignty. They can say no and not play. Plants and animals can too, but they have fewer defenses and barriers. They are almost always a yes. Ancestors are pretty easy. Children are easy.

How to Practice

So you want to practice? Great! You can do this without the other partner knowing that they are playing a game.

The first step is to adopt an Observer stance. No matter what happens, stay present, objective, and observe without reacting or judging.

Now attempt to engage with something. This is your “serve.” Notice if they engage back. If so, this is them hitting the ball back. If not, they’re not in connection mode. You can either try again or respect that they don’t want to play and move on.

If I am distracted, busy, tired, hungry, irritated, or not interested, I might decline to engage. If I am unsure of what is being offered, likewise, I might decline to engage. When you feel it’s the former, it’s best to respect the boundary and try later. If it’s the latter, that’s a better time to try again in a different way.

Practicing is easiest when you have a strong sense of sovereignty. This keeps you safe enough to stay in the game. After all, you might be the one who leaves the field.

I didn’t realize it until I had been leading tours for many years, but connection is what I was offering. Connection to the land, feelings, and each other. In a place of safety, we just go their naturally. If we know how, we can create it with anything or anyone that wants to connect with us.

So, if it’s easier to practice with non-people, try that. Let yourself be in a mindful space and tune into the space around you. Let it be as it is. With practice, you will sprout roots in your body, home, ancestry, faith, and all of life.