2016 has been a really interesting year for me, all across the board. I think what I appreciate about this year we just exited it how much I ended up growing because of my willingness to step away from what I knew to embrace the unknown.
Embracing the unknown is a fundamental part of magical practice.
For 2016 I created the theme of respect. At the end of 2015 I called out the Pagan conference organizers on what I considered a lack of transparency around which presenters were compensated for their efforts, and which were expected to pay to present. That choice made me realize that I needed to reevaluate my relationship with respect, and so 2016 became a journey into respect. I learned 5 magical lessons as a result that I'll carry with me through the rest of my spiritual journey.
Lesson 1: Respect begins with you and you must hold to it, if you want others to respect you.
If I wanted respect from other people, I needed to respect myself and I realized that in some ways I really didn't. I made compromises because I wanted to fit in or because I was told it as better to toe the line and not stir up trouble. I disrespected myself and my feelings on certain matters because of that and in 2016 (and the end of 2015) I realized I could no longer disrespect myself, especially because it was clear I wasn't getting the respect that I felt I deserved.
I confronted the Pagan conference organizers and then stepped away from the Pagan conference scene because it was clear that the desired changes and the requested transparency wasn't going to be provided on their part. And in doing that I made the choice to respect myself and my work instead of continuing to toe the line and go along with the status quo.
And you know? It's forced me to become more creative, challenged me to step up my game as an author and presenter, and I love it. I am happier (and more profitable actually) getting away from the Pagan conference scene than continuing to be a cog that is basically used, instead of being a person that's appreciated.
Lesson 2: Create a space for your tribe and they will come.
Part of my journey toward respect involved recognizing that I needed to capitalize on one of my strengths: Creating and sustaining community. Instead of going out into the larger community, I decided to create my own communities around the interests I have and focus on working with those people. My first attempts weren't very effective, but I learned and ultimately came away with two online communities where people are engaged and actively working on what excites them, and where the space is safe, because the focus isn't on tearing people down, but rather on helping them become better at their magical practices.
Creating community showed me that the best way to reach the people I'm called to serve is to provide them a space to gather. I'm already thinking of new ways to continue creating that space and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens as a result.
Lesson 3: Sacred time and space for yourself is essential for divine connection and inspiration.
I took the last couple months of 2016 for myself, to really drill down into some work I've been needing to do, both internally and process wise. Stepping away from writing and content creation was good for me because it really helped me get clear on what the purpose of any and all my activities should be for. I still have a lot of work to do, but you'll soon be seeing some of the fruits of my work and I'm really excited about this year will bring.
Lesson 4: What you feel resistant toward learn from.
This year I learned how to work with the temple of memory and the value of correspondence charts and oral chants. I felt some resistance toward working with these concepts, and so I decided to challenge myself to learn about what I was feeling resistant toward. The end result: It's provided me a new approach to how I work with spirits that feels more intimate and connected. I still have a lot of experimentation to do around what I'm learning, but opening myself up to what I felt resistant to lead me to some new magic, some new work that really excites me.
It's important to honor the resistance, but its also good to challenge it and see what you learn as a result.
Lesson 5: Embrace your shame to discover your respect.
This was perhaps the biggest lesson I learned this last year. By choosing to really sit with and embrace the shame I felt, I could respect myself. This internal work was hard and it really put me face to face with some of my demons and made me recognize how I had hurt other people in my life, as well as myself. But out of that work I could make changes and respect myself as a result.
This is why a consistent regime of internal work is so important. When you put the time in to take care of yourself, to really see who you are and how you show up and then make good changes, it frees you from the burdens of guilt and regret that can other wise hold you back and keep you mired in the muck.
What lessons did you learn from 2016 and how you are applying them to your spiritual work and life?