Planet Alice

The value of the Old Craft today is that in it lie the seeds of the Old Mystery Tradition. Through this the witch may perceive the beginnings of that ultimate in wisdom, knowledge of themselves and their motives. The genuine Mysteries are open to all, because anyone having experience enough can understand that basic message.         Robert Cochrane

For every action we make in our lives, we are so often unaware of the emotional energy that fuels that action. I think Robert Cochrane is absolutely right about the Craft (for me this includes Druidry too) potentially equipping us to move towards a greater self-awareness.

It is hard being honest with ourselves, not merely because we might be in denial about our own self-destructive or self-sabotaging behaviour but because we live within the landscape of our being and not outside it. We are there at ground level, staring out over a limited view, so much of the territory beyond our field of vision. Knowledge of oneself is an ongoing process of discovery – it’s a continual unfolding of who we have been, are, and are to become, and yet, so often the picture we have of ourselves is so ridiculously incomplete. How often is it said that others see more clearly our potential and our flaws? We are in a constant process of drawing up and redrawing maps, our spiritual practices playing a great part in our being able to successfully negotiate the unfamiliar ground of ourselves, providing useful signposts when we feel lost. However, the complexity of the many living experiences – the input, or lack of, which brings any of us to any point in our lives – makes the path to self-understanding and self-knowledge a tricky one. Living sometimes feels frustratingly hard, difficult to judge and impossible to grasp.

This year has given me the (frankly unwanted) opportunity to ponder what negotiating oneself is like if we suddenly find that the signposts are not making sense. I still feel that my path is a Pagan one and I believe in the potential that Cochrane speaks of but struggling with my health throughout most of this year has brought the unexpected arrival of an annoying existential angst that, despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to shift. My health issues continue to throw up challenges and I can’t quite get my head around the fact that, just at the point I could do with the comfort of my spiritual practices, the connection I feel to them appears to be hanging on by the weakest of threads.

Reaching for that self-knowledge seems crucial right now but I discover the more I reach, the further away it becomes and so, I figure – like Alice trying to find her way around the illogical Wonderland she has unwittingly fallen into – logic will not work; the landscape I now find myself in has a different set of rules. Trying to learn them feels a little humiliating, a bit like a maths puzzle whereby I am forced to use skills that do not play to my strengths.

The Mysteries that Cochrane writes about, their gifts to us, cannot be forced or thought into being. They come about by an organic process that is actually a bit of a Mystery in itself, one that often we can only understand in retrospect.

And so, amongst the ongoing confusion, I am left to ponder two quotes by Stephen R. Covey:

Quality of life depends on what happens in the space between stimulus and response.

Live out of your imagination, not your history.

Laurie has recently bought a very interesting book entitled The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat –Zinn. I have just started reading and it looks extremely helpful with regard the questions that have been bothering me of late and that I have been writing about here: how do we stay mindful and present when we are in the midst of suffering or when we are ill or depressed?  The book appears to mix techniques from cognitive therapy and Eastern philosophy. Will let you know!

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