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Ivo Dominguez, Jr.




To Be A Witch is to Strive for Wholeness
By Ivo Dominguez, Jr.
ŠJanuary 2005

The quest for wholeness is one of the greatest ideals held in common by a sizable portion of the pagan community. One of the measures of progress in this quest is often phrased as "walking one's talk", in other words acting in accordance to belief. It is my belief that this can only be accomplished through an integration of one's spirituality, religion, and politics. I speak as a witch, but much of what I say may apply to you as well. As a Wiccan who sees their path as an outgrowth of the Western Mystery Tradition, I also see this process of growth and integration as a reflection of the cycle of spirit descending into matter, evolving, arising, returning to spirit, and once again turning the wheel and repeating the cycle. As such, it is generally a lengthy and arduous work filled with progress achieved by both error and insight in turns.

Our spirituality, which by its nature is both unique and intensely personal, finds its outward expression through our religion. In the same manner that our spirits express themselves in the physical world through the vehicles of our bodies, religion is the outward, observable, manifestation of our inner world of spirituality. Religion is how spirituality incarnates... and as we all know incarnation is not an easy journey.  Before I go further, I'd like to say that I have found that for some members of our communities the words religion or politics have become tainted. In part this comes from the reality that many have had bad experiences with one, the other, or both. However, to reject these as intrinsically tainted is to throw the baby out with the  bath water.

I have also heard some make the suggestion that politics and religion are both dirty and that they prefer to remain in the loftier realms of their path and their spirituality. This suggestion that politics or religion are dirty is at odds with the tenets of most earth-centered faiths.

Spiritualized action in the physical world is our work. Religion is messy because it is collective spiritual action in the real world which means it is subject to the vital, smelly, organic truths that come of humans struggling with others and with themselves. By extension, the world of politics is one level lower, one level denser, one level more detailed and much more complex as it is the interaction between communities who hold to different beliefs. Politics is more than voting or legislation, that is merely one strand in the weaving that produces the fabric of society. Virtually every action has a political consequence that contributes to the overall design. Everyone is a political being whether they know it or not in the same sense that everyone is a spirit having a physical existence whether they know it or not.

There is no question that much harm has been done in the name of religion and in the name of politics. However,  it is also true that much harm has been done in the name of love. Anything that is powerful and rich with layers of meaning can generate both healthy and/or perilous outcomes.

Paracelsus wrote that all things are poisons or medicines, it is a matter of the proper dosage. I would agree that the same applies to spirituality, religion, and politics. I would also add that it is a matter of proper boundaries and appropriate relational contexts.

In America, one of the enshrined boundaries is the separation of church and state. This boundary must be firmly maintained if there is any hope of fostering a multicultural society. However, this boundary should not be internalized as it is not meant to apply to individuals. If an individual is seeking wholeness and integration, then their spirituality should influence their religious life which in turn should inform how they use their political power. This sequence is reflective of the normal flow of essence into form that is a part of the great cycle I spoke of earlier. This great cycle is a cycle and hence a circle, but when the direction reverses other qualities change as well; form and detail become abstracted into principles and essences. Our experience in the realm of politics (also known as the real world) provides the material from which the stories of human strength and frailty arise that breathe life into our religions, and our religions (also known as spiritual community) help us to climb upwards so that  we can reach for our higher self and beyond.

Trouble comes when spirituality, religion, and politics are moved out of their proper plane of action or out of their context. Air in the lungs is a wonderful thing, but a bubble in the blood can kill. It is easy to see in the current affairs of the world that when religion writes the laws, misery follows. Less commented upon, but just as tragic  is the damage that is done to religions when they are burdened by the task of government or are regulated by governments. For the individual the goal then is to be mindful that they are a citizen, a member of a spiritual community, and a seeker after enlightenment. In that state of mindfulness, which is related to that of being centered, then they can determine which role, which mode of being best informs their next action. Sometimes it means wearing one hat at a time and sometimes it means juggling them all while standing on one foot. It almost goes without saying that the ethics and clarity of intent have much to say in these matters as well.

We are spiritual beings living in matter and we are social beings living in society. There are planes of being above and below us and there are interlocking circles of communities that surround us. The quest for wholeness, which began this article, requires us to attend to the integration of that which is within us and that to which we correspond and correlate. To my understanding of things, this means an active thoughtful life that includes spirituality, religion, and politics.

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