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Yasmine Galenorn


The Evolution of Our Spiritual Paths
by Yasmine Galenorn

A couple years ago, about a month before Samhain, I found myself wanting to go in and tear my ritual room apart.  I felt overwhelmed by stuff.  All my tools and spell ingredients and knick knacks felt like they were anchors, weighing me down.  Claustrophobia loomed like an enemy just out of sight, and I was the target.  As I began to try to decipher what was going on, I started talking to a friend about my feelings.  As we spoke, I realized that most of the tools I wanted to get rid of were made of wood, bone or fur.  He said something that clicked, that turned on the light switch.

He told me: "Perhaps the spirits of those things which were once living are getting tired.  Perhaps they have served you to the end now."

This made sense. I immediately got that "aha" vibe and thanked him.  I ventured into my overflowing ritual room and meditated on the possibility and asked my Matron Goddess, Mielikki, about it.  The answer was quick in coming.

Yes, the spirits of those objects were ready to go back to the earth.  Some of them I'd had for twenty years, others were relatively new but they were all ready to rest.  However, there was more to my feelings than just that.  I realized that I'm always evolving along my path, which is one reason why I'm an eclectic and which is why I write about eclectic Witchcraft for my readers.  As my path narrows and broadens, twists and turns and changes, so too will my need for this tool or that tool. 

As we evolve in our spiritual growth, rituals, tools and practices can become outdated; they outlive their usefulness.  Traditions that once held meaning for us can become rote and stale after we've learned what we needed from them and are ready to move on.  That which once held organic life has a time in which it needs to go back to the Earth, to complete the cycle of decomposition and renewal...and many of the tools I'd been using had reached their time when they need to fade back into the arms of Gaia.  I realized that I was no longer attuning to their energies in the same way and by keeping them alive, by keeping them in action, I was preventing them from completing the journey which all organic life makes.

With that thought, I began to seriously contemplate the evolution of spiritual practice.  It occurred to me that change is the only stable force in the universe.  That which does not adapt, will not thrive.  We, as a race, are geared towards the pursuit of knowledge and understanding and as we continue to seek enlightenment, we must alter our actions and beliefs according to that which we discover along the way. 

While my beliefs today are still based on the same eco-centric foundations that they were when I first met the Goddess back in 1980, they have changed and evolved as I've grown in my spiritual quest.  My magick today is far stronger than it was back then, but only because I honed my skills as I learned what did and what didn't work for me.

For some people, this process of evolution is frightening.  They feel that if they sacrifice certain beliefs or tools or rituals, they are being a traitor to their tradition.  To free oneself from this fear, we must cease seeing our religion as dogmatic.  Unlike many of the monotheistic religions, our belief system encompasses a wide variety of practices and deities.  We have no "rule" book, no set of laws for how we approach our spiritual practices.  Perhaps certain groups have a set outlook, but overall, there's no dogma stating you will go to hell if you decide to use a crystal instead of an athame, if you decide that East is akin to Earth and North is akin to Air, if you stop casting Circles and merely focus on creating sacred space.  It is true that if, like myself, you decide you're a Witch but not Wiccan you may not fit in with an Alexandrian coven, and it is true that once you pledge an oath, you are honor-bound to keep it, but the beauty of our path is that you don't have to fit in with anybody if you don't want to.  You must listen to your inner guidance and follow what path works for you.

By listening to your heart you can judge whether or not a particular ritual or tradition has meaning for you.  If you don't have passion for your spiritual path, then the meaning of what you are doing will be lost.  Allow yourself to adapt, allow yourself to evolve without berating yourself for the growth cycles you are going through.

I started college when I was fifteen years old.  My first year, I took a philosophy of religion class that was taught by a minister.  He gave us the most valuable advice I've ever been given.  He told us, "Examine your beliefs.  If they don't hold up, get rid of them."  I've held his advice close to my heart for years and it never steers me wrong.

After I finished a month-long series of meditations, I realized that I really did need to set many of my tools free.  I spent an entire afternoon deconstructing wands, pulling antlers off my altars and smashing bones to release the spirit energies that might still be contained within.  As I took apart Mielikki and Tapio's wands, I almost cried...but I also got a glimpse of what They wanted to replace them.  As I took the antlers and horns off my altar, I cried again because it isn't that easy to find antlers and horns that are so beautiful.  But when I tuned in, I could sense their need to return them to the Earth, to return to the energies of the land and to quietly slip into the full sleep of oblivion.  How could I deny them their right to rest just because of my desire?

On Samhain Eve, 1999, I held a huge bonfire at my friend's house-the one who gave me the original advice.  I burnt a three-foot tall pile of tools and antlers and fur and feathers, and as the fire grew so hot that we had to move back away from it, I watched the energy spiral back to the universe.  It was like watching sparkles of light burst out of the burning objects and spin off into the sky. 

When the fire died down, nothing was left except a few cracked and shattered crystals.  I turned away and breathed a sigh of relief&ldots;and a prayer of release.

Copyright 2001 by Yasmine Galenorn unauthorized use prohibited.