I love how Roderick starts out his intro to the exercise. He sounds almost like Jeff Foxworthy: “Do you use the Tarot cards to decide whether or not to use the bathroom? […] Are you tongue-tied by rigid insistence on political correctness? […] Do you find yourself incessantly contemplating spirituality?” Well, then you might be spiritually imbalanced. Redneck.
Roderick ultimately points out that the spiritually obsessed–the person who does, in fact, check their cards to verify their bowel sensations–needs to find a way to view all of life as “an expression of the spirit”, to see that “going to the bathroom is just as important to spiritual development as […] working a spell.” In other words, the idea is to find the holy in the mundane itself and not to become reliant on the trappings–the cards, candles, spells–to be spiritual. Roderick also acknowledges the flip side to spiritual obsession: dismissive rationality, which he defines as an exclusive focus on “practical matters in an attempt to exclude spirituality.” This is a person who “becomes mired in the density of form, the tasks of daily life, and the stimulation of the physical senses” and who may experience periods of feeling depression, isolation, and disconnection.
Roderick anticipates that most of his readers will have a list toward spiritual obsession or have a fairly balanced spiritual/practical life. I kind of think I’m on the dismissive rational side of things, though. I’ve lost my sense of how mundane things can be spiritual, and there IS a strong part of me that kind of laughs at the trappings of spell work: what really can there possibly be in some candle and oil that will really help me save a little money? Wouldn’t it be more effective to ask someone to help me set up a budget? To have a friend hold on to my credit cards?
Roderick recommends that people in my position “take time to explore something mysterious” like the meaning of existence, lay lines, UFOs, etc. If this is too heebie-jeebie, then he recommends a contemplation of “why the divine does not play a part in [my] life.” After anything like this, he asks that I explore the feelings that “underlie this defensive position.”
I don’t really think I eschew metaphysical things in general: Wicca is my religion, after all. I am drawn towards learning about things like Stonehenge and fairies, and ancient beliefs. It’s fun and fascinating. At the end of it all, though, I think I really do feel that the magic work we do operates more in the psychological medium rather than the physical. If I do that money spell, I’ve put some focus into acknowledging that I have a problem and that I want to work towards a resolution. So that might make me actually call up the friend to help me set up a budget, or it might just make me do things like not going out to dinner more than once a week.
I don’t know that I exclude the divine from my life…but I’m not always conscious of it. I don’t sustain a view of the gods in everything and often operate from a more immediate basis. If I’m hungry, and find an apple on the table, I’ll just eat the apple. I don’t give thanks or wonder at the awesome spicy-sweetness of the apple and have a transcendental experience of all the evolutionary processes that went into that apple and me meeting and our energies becoming one and allowing me to continue on the gods’ path.
There’s no real emotion forcing this, just some apathy, I guess, and a lack of training in that experience. The only time I ever said grace was at formal family suppers, for example, and even that was just saying memorized words. I want to become more connected. Maybe I should make a point to consciously have a moment of grace in my days. Take those baby steps.
I sort of did that today with my breakfast: I went and made a bowl of 9-grain hot cereal and topped it with some homemade plum jam, and as I ate it, I thought of all that went into making that moment. All the sunlight and water that the grains used in their life and the energy locked under their hulls, all the work that went into their cultivation, harvesting, and processing. All the work I did in making that jam. How all that work and energy was the gods and how the consumption honored them. And I gave thanks. It was a nice moment of connection.