Go Rogue This Valentine’s Day. Be Your Own Valentine

be your own valentine

There is a lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day to splash out on thoughtful gifts, showy flowers, and an expensive dinner to prove to your person just how much you love him or her. If you’re sick of the commercialism, are alone this year, or just want to rebel against expectations, go rogue. Be your own Valentine.

All love begins with self love. Yet from birth we are taught how to conform. If we’re wearing the wrong clothes, we get picked on. If we enjoy our toys too much, we’re called selfish. Ads are thrust in our faces telling us that we need to smell better, have straighter teeth, and drive certain cars to belong.

When we get to school, the feedback on every paper we turn in tells us what we got wrong. Our work performance is about how we can be more productive. If we are too exuberant. we’re told to tone it down. If we’re not enthusiastic enough, we’re chastised. There are so many ways to be wrong.

Today I am throwing down the gauntlet. Let this Valentine’s Day be the day you step into your sovereignty and say, “No more judgments! I am good enough just as I am. I am love.”

We make mistakes. So what? This doesn’t make us bad. It just means we’re still learning. As long as we’re learning, we’re growing. Don’t stop making mistakes. Just stop making the same ones over and over.

We are all beautifully different. Some of us have freckles, red hair, big noses, tiny feet, or high pitched voices. It makes life interesting. We don’t have to look the same, feel the same, or believe the same to belong. We don’t have to purchase anything or change anything to be okay. We already belong to this Earth and to each other. If you meet someone who doesn’t remember this, be kind. They will get there some day.

The modern way of life is so disconnected, but we don’t have to be. We don’t have to buy into that story. We are free to write our own story and walk our own path. We can take the road that celebrates our struggles and our triumphs, the ways that we are the same as well as the ways that we are different.

We all need to remember little things like this. Society gives us so many messages and judgments that prompt us to forget and shut down the love inside. We go about looking for love on the outside while forgetting that love begins within. As Native American writer Linda Hogan said, “You are the result of the love of thousands.” You were created with love. It flows through your DNA and has for millennia.

So, if you are someone who is used to looking outside of yourself for it, how about starting within this year? Restructure your lens so that love comes from within and flows out before returning. Celebrate the love that is you and be your own Valentine.

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.

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 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.

Animist Revival, Duality, and Spiritual Boundaries

spiritual boundaries

I recently discovered that there is an animist revival happening! Lots of people who lost touch with their animist roots are now being drawn to reawaken this part of themselves. Mixed culture people are deepening their knowledge and practice of their animist side. Tribal people are benefiting and recoiling from this explosion.

To navigate this in a healthy way, it’s good to look at where we came from. When we do this, we can move forward in a more mindful way.  So let’s review our past.

The History of Cultural Destruction

Throughout history, conquerors have taken territory, killed people, and changed cultures. We can see the evidence of this in language. In modern times, we see that English speaking areas that weren’t originally English territory were conquered by England. Spanish speaking places were conquered by Spain. Portuguese speaking places were conquered by Portugal, and so on.

The British Empire was the last huge empire and the one that conquered the land where I live, so I will focus on them as they are the one I know most about. Please be aware that this didn’t just happen to Native Americans and people of color. It happened to aboriginal Australians, the Scottish, Irish, and others as well.

British strategy was to systematically destroy the culture of the local people to reduce opposition and impose control. They forcibly removed them from their lands dislocating them from their ancestors. In many cases, they forbade them from hunting and forced them to farm, starve, or subsist on the government handouts that were theirs by right of the peace treaties. So in essence, they took away their lifestyles and government became their benefactor.

The British also took children from their parents and sent them to boarding schools. In these schools, the children experienced rampant hunger, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Children were not allowed to wear their traditional clothing, speak their language, or engage in their spiritual practices. In the case of Native Americans, their hair, which was a source of power, was cut.

When these kids went home to visit their families, they could often no longer relate to them because they were so culturally different. They could also no longer speak to them because they couldn’t understand each other. The last residential boarding schools closed in 1973.

President Grant’s 1868 Peace Policy allowed the forcible conversion to Christianity. By 1872, sixty-three of the seventy-five Native reservations were administered by Christian religious denominations. Despite religious freedom being one of the founding rights for all Americans, Native Americans were denied religious freedom until 1978. The United States government was able to do this because did not recognize them as citizens.

“Culture” is defined as the shared language, customs, dress, laws, art, spiritual practices, beliefs, and traditions of a people. So in essence, the conquerors imposed cultural genocide on animist peoples around the world.

Animist Revival

spiritual boundariesIn recent decades people around the world feel a hunger for something different. We feel the disconnection from the land, from their ancestors, and from Spirit. We’re yearning for what’s wild, natural, magical, and spiritual. At the same time, we want to distance ourselves from the horror of our ancestors and identify with what our ancestors once oppressed to “prove” that we are not the bad guy. We’re finding the solution to all that in pagan and animist spirituality.

We’re bringing it into our lives in the only way we know – through the lens of western values. Westerners buy what we want, consume, sell, adopt, and merge. We use the pagan values of “We’re all One” to justify our acquisition. We use our habit of taking only the choicest bits to rationalize our buffet-style of belief and practice.

Duality

Duality is the idea that opposites are required for either to exist. We know in because there is out, light because there is dark, and male because there is female.

Antagonistic duality views thing in terms of good and bad. They fight the bad and promote the good.

Complimentary duality says that’s nonsense. Since both are required for the other to exist, you can’t eradicate one without obliterating the other. Each is purposeful.

What does this have to do with spiritual boundaries? It means that east needs west, old needs new, traditional needs modern, in needs out in order to be whole. Complimentary duality is a component of animism. You can’t live in the web of life without it.

That’s why we have Pan Society. To honor that. We offer people a way to live in complimentary duality in the community of others. To do that in a way that is respectful and constructive, we have to have spiritual boundaries.

Spiritual Boundaries

So, we have some problems, don’t we? We’ve made some mistakes, haven’t we? Let’s start today to remedy that by creating spiritual boundaries between native and non-native people, and just people in general, so that the animist revival doesn’t result in the second wave of cultural genocide.

Here are some possible solutions. Take whatever works for you and feel free to add your own.

Change The Way We Speak

How do you feel when someone calls you by the wrong name or mispronounces your name? Let’s change the way we speak. Let’s call things by their proper names.

Christopher Columbus called the people of the New World “Indians” because he mistakenly thought he was in India. They already had names. They are Montauk, Cree, Pima, Wintu, Matan, Macorix,  and many more. When we call them by their names, we show respect for their individuality and give them back their identity. (Keep in mind that for some people  “Indian” has become their identity. So it’s best to ask).

We use terms like witchcraft, pagan, animist, and other words to talk about our understanding of those words. Others may have different understandings so we aren’t communicating effectively. It creates confusion. I might be talking about an ancient practice belonging to a particular people at a particular time. Meanwhile you’re talking about the girl next door who has no cultural or spiritual knowledge of the roots of a belief or practice.

We can clear that up by using correct terms. If you’re talking about Wicca, say Wicca. Is it Neo-paganism? Say that. If it’s modern animism, say that. It will enhance communication and create healthy boundaries around what is X and what is Y.

We use the term shamanism to refer to all the mystical spiritual practices of indigenous peoples because they all look the same to us. We don’t know the differences, or perhaps don’t care. Or maybe we water it down and strip it of specificity to justify taking from tribal people.

“Shamanism” is the mystical practices of the Tuvans. Using the term generically erases individuality and culture.

That’s disrespectful. It is like saying all _____ people look alike. The differences matter! Just because anthropologists do it doesn’t make it right. This is the same type of conquering mentality that took children from their parents and essentially said, “I’m the expert. I know what’s best for you. You are who I say you are.”

spiritual boundariesMy mother’s people take pride in not being among those whose who lost their language, culture, and spirituality. If you go to my mother’s village and ask about shamanism, people will know right away that you’re an outsider who has done zero homework. (There are mystics. There are no shaman). Consequently, they probably won’t trust you.

So one of two things will happen. If you come upon someone who wants to take advantage of you, you will probably be suckered. Otherwise you will probably be corrected then ignored.

People are sick of having their culture distorted, ruined, and sold. They know the value of what was taken and don’t want to give up anymore. Not for any amount of money. They don’t want to be prostituted to tourists because they are poor. They don’t want their spiritual practices reduced to a few reproducable rituals that can be packaged and sold in a weekend workshop.

And that’s what it feels like.  So they protect it, by not sharing it.

If you approach with humility, respect and boundaries, the story would probably be different. Many tribal people have shared with outsiders who are humble and respectful. It’s not a matter of elitism or hate. It’s a matter of respecting the value of what we have. Both sides benefit from respect.

Lose the Entitlement

Outsiders can come in with an attitude of entitlement. They don’t understand that even people within the culture can’t do or have everything. There are boundaries. Sometimes it has to do with timing, age, gender, or readiness. We can’t just do whatever we want whenever we want. Why should you?

Obey Natural Laws

The sun does not shine at night. Salmon don’t spawn in the winter. Everything obeys natural laws. When you don’t know what the cultural boundaries are or follow the flow of Nature, you will make spiritual mistakes.

Womb circles are for women. This doesn’t mean we are not sympathetic towards people who identify as women. It doesn’t mean that they are not honored for who they are or can’t participate in other activities that are women only. It means that this particular event is open to those with a womb. Certain rituals are open to specific genders, ages, or people with a certain condition or have undergone a specific rite of passage. Those boundaries exist for a reason.

I’ve seen people literally lose their minds because they weren’t ready for the experiences they sought. People who don’t have the cultural knowledge to benefit can get nothing from an experience, engage in spiritual bypass, or be completely unprepared for it. So boundaries aren’t about keeping you out. They are about keeping you safe and maintaining the natural order.

Be a Student

When creating a mini dairy goat, you mate a mini with a full sized goat. The first generation offspring are called “experimental.” It isn’t until the fourth generation that those goats are registerable as minis. All that is to say that it takes a while to create change and stabilize that change. So be a student.

In today’s society, people take a workshop and emerge an expert. They teach or share as if they are knowledgeable about a subject. Because there is no on to contradict them, they become the expert. Real wisdom and context is lost.

Animism is a lifepath. It is always in the process of unfolding because every moment is new. Life’s always changing. Nobody becomes enlightened or awakened because it’s an ongoing process. We can have moments of enlightenment or be in the process of awakening, but that’s true of everyone. No one is spiritually better or further along. We’re all in it together.

So who is to say that “that guy” is the expert? Who’s to say that the child doesn’t see more clearly than you? This doesn’t take away from your wisdom or life experience. It just suggests that you never lose the ability to laugh at yourself, give the other guy credit, and remember that we’re all always learning.

Be Trustworthy

If you are invited to participate in a sacred ceremony or are given sacred knowledge, hold it in trust. Treat it with the same reverence that it is held within the native culture. If you alter it (and unless you are deeply steeped in the culture you probably will do that unknowingly if not intentionally), call it by a different name.

Don’t share it with people who would not have the right to it within the tribal context. Don’t teach it if you could not do so within the tribal culture. By all means, never sell it. In most tribal cultures, spirituality is never for sale. Treat is as wise ones within the culture treat it so that you don’t contribute to its destruction.

Respect the Sovereignty

If someone doesn’t want to share with you, that’s their right. They don’t have to. Like westerners, many tribal people are trying to get in touch with their lost roots. We are relearning our languages and reviving our customs. We’re regaining ourselves.

Sometimes the easiest way to do that is with the love and support of others. Sometimes it is by shutting the world out. Respect the process. It’s not about you.

At the same time, it’s totally okay for you to have your own process and own ideas. If you want to return to your roots, fabulous. If a revival style practice works better, do that. Perhaps you want to start something totally new. Fabulous, do that. Or join us. You are welcome here.

The world’s ancient spiritual traditions have remained alive despite radical efforts to eradicate paganism. Thanks to the passion of dedicated people and the mystics who were entrusted with sacred knowledge, it thrives today.

There are many prophesies about the west eradicating the old ways. There are also many prophesies about the old and new combining to create something new and wonderful.

Yang has a history of dominating, distorting, and annihilating Yin. If we want to choose the path of wholeness, we have to learn to trust and respect each other’s ways and wisdom. That requires safety first.

Animism is a blessing that is meant to be experienced and shared. Healing the divide means that east and west, old and new, traditional and modern need to be friends. So let’s show proper respect and boundaries so that it can work for everyone.

Be Careful What You Listen To

be careful

I created a video a while back about asking great questions. If your questions don’t reflect what you really want to know, you can walk in circles not really getting anywhere.

The compliment to that is to be careful what you listen to. If the source of your answers is tainted, not knowledgeable, unreliable, or not helpful, you know to give less weight to that response.

As we’re all here to grow in our modern animism practice, these really are the best two tools that you have. All points of view are valid. Not all points of view are wise or correct. Let’s look at how to tell the difference.

Objective vs. Subjective

If are evaluating subective statements, feel free to discard them. “Subjective” means it’s an opinion. So if someone says to me, “you should really let your lawn grow so that the wildlife have a place to live,” that’s an opinion.

Should is always an opinion. I can take it or leave it. I don’t have to feel offended or judged. It’s just someone else’s observations of their inner world.

I don’t have to live there. They do. So, I am completely free to be a sovereign person and walk away from that. Or I can embrace it if it works in my world too.

Who Is the Authority?

We all have white coat syndrome to one degree or another. We give more weight to the person we feel has the authority to speak. In animism, everyone has authority and YOU are the ultimate authority. That’s sovereignty.

That said, the person who is closest to the problem may have more wisdom than you. It’s not always true. Sometimes being close to the problem gives us blinders. This is just something to consider.

For example, someone asked me about animism. I gave a position that contradicted anthropologists – people who study animist cultures. Who is the authority? Someone who is looking at it from a scientific, outside perspective? Or someone who was reared in the west by an animist parent who didn’t have their language and spirituality destroyed by conquerors?

It would depend on the question, wouldn’t it? If it was a scientific question about data, the anthropologist might be more accurate. If it was a question about values or meaning, I’d probably pay more attention to the person with a foot in that culture.

Don’t be fooled by the resume! Sometimes the “authority” is the child or person with no experience. People who “know” can be tainted by their experience and knowledge. They may miss or dismiss ideas because they are innovative. Always consider option C.

Is It True?

I have just recently become aware that there is a modern animism movement. A lot of people who didn’t grow up in animism are positioning themselves as authorities in this and are cashing in. They are saying things that are second or thirdhand “truths.”

I urge you to investigate this deeply before believing what they say and following them. We live in a world where if someone says something long, loud, and poetically enough, it becomes the truth because we don’t think for ourselves. We don’t investigate for ourselves. We want to follow rather than exercise our own sovereignty.

If you want a meaningful animist practice, my suggestion is to find out if something is true before you accept it. Otherwise, you may end up poorer in the pocket and spirit.

It Is True Now?

Is it “opposites attract” or ‘”birds of a feather flock together”? Either could be true. If we’re talking about magnets, opposites do attract. If we are talking about birds, this is also true. So, you can hear something that is true, but perhaps not in this particular instance. To know for sure, you have to zoom out and see it in context. Sometimes generalizations work. Sometimes they don’t.

For example, there is a lot of talk about planting trees right now. Deforestation due to natural and unnatural causes is a big deal. So lots of people are advocating tree planting. This is generally a good idea. However, it might be good specifically.

To know for sure, you need more information. What trees? Where? How many? How will they be cared for? If you plant trees and that require care and have no one to tend them, it’s not an effective idea. If you plant water loving trees in an arid environment, it’s not an effective idea. If the grown trees roots will ruin the asphalt or grow into your septic system, that might not be a great idea. Details matter.

So what was true, may not be true for this time. It may not be true in this specific incidence. It may not be true for you. Or it could be true, but not effective. Mind the details.

A lot of spiritual fads have come and gone. There was the New Age, then Buddhism (or maybe it was the other way around). Animism could be the next fad. Not because it’s not a useful spiritual path, but because it’s not being understood. If you are viewing it and applying it through a mainstream lens, you’re not understanding it. So, you may discard it as not useful without ever really knowing what it is.

So develop your ability to evaluate what is true. You are the final authority in your life. It’s up to you to make it meaningful one.

Independence is Spiritual! How Are You Celebrating Your Independence?

independence is spiritual

Independence is spiritual? What? How? What does independence have to do with spirituality? If those are your thoughts, read on!

Modern animism is a holistic spiritual path. It puts sovereignty, or independence, at the bottom of the pyramid. I know lots of faith focus on community, or togetherness. We do too, but in order to make that connection happen, you have to be a sovereign person. Otherwise, you could be someone who has to be carried.

Taking Care of Me

We always look at Nature to tell us about the natural order of things. If you look around, all animals rear their young to be independent, self sufficient adults. When they are, they leave the nest and live their lives so that the species can continue.

That’s what being sovereign, or independent, is all about. You can take care of yourself. You know who you are, where you stand, what you want, and can provide for what you need. If a problem or crisis occurs, you can deal with that too. When someone crosses your boundaries, you assert yourself.

Living In the “We”

That sets you up to be in partnership with others. See, adults stand between the children and the elders. Someone has to be responsible for producing or procuring resources and reproducing so that the species continues. Children are not yet able to do that. Elders are still productive, but not as much as they used to be. Without those independent, capable adults holding up the sky for the young and old, the whole system falls apart. Humans are social creatures, and this is how interdependence works.

Now, adulthood is also a time for coupling. If you aren’t an independent adult, you aren’t in a great position to be in a romantic relationship. If your partner has to take care of your emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual needs, that’s a lot of work! It’s an unequal relationship, and those tend to be unsatisfying. When we come together as equals, we are in a better position to grow together. This keeps love alive.

You’ve seen people who habitually complain, blame, criticize, stonewall, or defend themselves, right? These people often have problems with connection. Nobody wants to be with someone who can’t connect. These are the things that destroy connection. When you are a sovereign person, you take responsibility. These things don’t happen. You may notice things that aren’t to your liking, but they don’t become your issues.

Independence is Spiritual

So, how does all that mean independence is spiritual? Well, a spiritual life is a holistic life. You have to have independence to live in the full expression of yourself. My mother was an immigrant. My father is a person of color. So, even though I didn’t personally know what it was like to not have choices or not have equal rights, my parents did. I’ve traveled enough to see this is other places. So I cherish the free expression that we all have. When you are powerless or can’t live in your fullness, you can’t live naturally or spiritually.

Birds don’t own the sky. They share it. They take what they need and no more. Nobody tells them who they are or how to live. They follow their nature. Other creatures do the same. The oak just is. When people live in the same way, they are their natural selves too. When they reach out and connect to the world around them and the All That Is, it’s the deepest expression of spirituality.

So, if you ask me “How are you celebrating your independence?” I will tell you that I am going to be showing the world my highest and truest self. I will be connecting to the big, wide worlds- people, Nature, apparent and Otherworld. I’d love to hear your plans.