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What I am Building

I quit going to college around six years ago, and while I can't precisely say that I haven't looked back, it is not a decision that I particularly regret. I wasn't going for the right reasons, had no idea what I really wanted to do, and was absolutely terrified that I would get all the way through to graduation only to realize that I really wanted a completely different degree for a completely different career. I also allowed that fear to influence my work ethic, and fell into the same habits I had in High School. I finished assignments late, poorly, both of the above, or not at all. It's not that I couldn't do the work, or that I didn't have time--I just prioritized poorly, and my GPA paid the price. I graduated HS with a 3.23 on a 5-point scale, and the last I checked, my GPA at Parkland was somewhere in the realm of a 1.16 on a 4-point scale. Because I hate writing papers.

Odd, isn't that, since I'm writing this, and I love to write in general. Why don't I like writing papers? I used to think that it was specifically because of the requirements of style and citations, or perhaps it was because I didn't get to pick topics that specifically interested me, and while those were and are contributing factors, I think the problem is rooted slightly deeper than that. In my previous post, I talked about having non-useful habits, and a severe lack of time management has always been my biggest shortcoming. I'd rather read, spend hours typing up random factoids that have no bearing on my life whatsoever, or daydream, than do what I was "supposed" to do. At twenty-seven, it is becoming more and more clear to me that this really isn't a good way to go about my life.

This is one of the major reasons I have chosen to shift my perspective so drastically in recent weeks, and one crucially important factor in this whole process has been my spiritual life. I've said in a post or two, and for those reading this on my Facebook, I drop hints or comments now and then (along with having listed my religion in my Info) about the fact that I am Wiccan. For those less familiar with the term, it means I identify as a witch--which probably bears some explanation in itself, but we'll get to that. This does all tie together, I promise, so bear with me, and I'll try not to ramble too much here. One of the problems I have faced for a long time is a tendency to compartmentalize various portions of my life, and often in neither the most sensible nor most helpful fashion. I definitely "bring it home with me" when I come home from work, especially if something has been bothering me lately. Much of the time, I do the equal and opposite, too, bringing things in my personal life to work with me, and not letting them go throughout the day.

Now, the interesting thing about many of the things I've talked about in the last two posts is that not only do they apply from a psychological perspective, and also function in the concept of the Law of Attraction, but they are things that I have read, time and again in one form or another, in books on the Craft. While I generally dislike the reputation that Aleister Crowley gave the movement, his is one of the best definitions of magick: "The science and art of causing change in conformity with will." This is a practice I have been at least nominally studying for nearly ten years now, but I have, admittedly, not been learning much. Despite my very deep interest in the Craft, I allowed myself the same laziness in my understanding of my religion that I did in school. As I mentioned above, I needed a change--I wanted a change--I just haven't been sure of how to go about actually causing that change in my own life until more recently.

So about four weeks ago, I set myself some goals. I have been collecting a series of books by Christopher Penczak, his Temple of Witchcraft series, for about six years now, and I am beginning to work my way through the books. I also decided that it was finally time for me to buckle down and actually learn Gaelige (Irish Gaelic) rather than just having the books to do so sitting on the shelf gathering dust. I drafted a "class schedule" for myself, with specific assignments to be completed on a weekly basis.

Gaelige is mostly a fun activity for me. I am great with languages, but this one has proven challenging, due to wacky spelling and pronunciation rules (almost as wacky as English, believe it or not) and complex grammar. I like a challenge, so I've committed to grabbing this one by the horns and going for it. By the beginning of April, I will have a strong enough grasp of the language to begin using it for my daily journal, and referencing a dictionary when I need it. A friend of mine keeps haranguing me because it's not a language used by many people in the modern world, and it won't really be useful to me, but I view it as a badge of pride to do this and be successful in it.

With regard to the Craft, I have begun working through the first book, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft for what is now the third time, with the intention of actually completing the exercises, meditations, and actually learning and internalizing the content. So how does it tie in to all of the rest of my mental redecoration? I hope Mr. Penczak doesn't mind, but I'm going to quote my favorite paragraph from the first lesson in the book here (emphasis added):

"Though you don't have to do magick to follow this spiritual path, such training is part and parcel of becoming a witch. You do not have to actively cast spells to make the concepts behind their working a part of your everyday life. One part of magick that is not usually focused on in many books and classes is that magick is any change caused by your will, including internal changes. We tend to focus on external changes, manifestation in the physical world, as "proof" that magick really works. We all need to see the results of our actions, but some of the most important, profound, and healing magick comes through an internal change, a shift in perspective or consciousness. In that sense, if you choose this path of the witch, you may not necessarily be doing spells and rituals all the time, but you will undeniably be doing magick. Magick is a part of each breath we take and every action we make."

Another important point that has come up in the book, and something that I've had to really think about and work to internalize, is the concept of personal responsibility. We are the only person we can blame for the words that come out of our mouth, or the thoughts that come out of our head. For me to not only learn my path, but to truly walk the walk, I must learn to always take responsibility for what I say, think, and feel. I have spent a long time refusing to learn this lesson. Of all of the things for which I've chosen to kick myself over the years, this is the one thing both most deserving and least attended. I have blamed others for my shortcomings, and chosen to take offense where none was offered, rather than taking responsibility for who I am and making the choice to take the higher road, not just for myself, but for those I love as well. I have selfishly and needlessly hurt others in my life for no other reason than this, and it shames me.

It is my belief that the "will" of which Crowley spoke is not just an expression of the needs and wants of our physical life here in this world. It is the will of the spirit, that eternal piece of us that drives the body forth each day, that is what is really important. When we learn to look at the beauty in the world around us, and at the good things in our lives and hearts, and to focus on those things, we begin to understand what we really want. It is through this alignment of the mind and the self with our true will that we grow. This isn't just a truth in the Craft.

"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." --C.S. Lewis

So in the process of remodeling that I have begun, my goal goes beyond just getting out of bed at a better time of day, or eating more healthfully. I am tearing the whole house down, examining each piece of my life, my heart, and the thoughts with which I've programmed myself, and building again from the ground up. I'm not just re-painting the living room, or putting up a new shower curtain. I am working to build a new, better version of myself from the ground up. One that is thoughtful, sees the better side of all things, and has learned what he really wants. One who is closer to the person I really want to be. One who has these traits in all aspects of my life, and does not compartmentalize certain truths or facts to being only true when I am at work, or only true when I am in a Circle--all truths are the same truth, if you know what it is you seek.

It occurred to me as I was writing this that some of you may be concerned or curious about my religious path. Saying, "I'm a witch!" isn't the easiest thing in the world, especially knowing that the uninitiated (pardon the pun) might not understand, or might be uncomfortable with that title. It is what it is, however, and my not saying it won't change that. So, this being the case, I'd like to open this up for you: if you have questions about what this means, or questions about what Witchcraft is or is not, I want to hear them. Send me an email at ciaranruadh@gmail.com and ask. I'll put up a post at the end of next week (so around the 20th) with your questions and answers. Ask me anything you like, and I'll answer it to the best of my ability. If it's something to which you'd prefer a private answer, I can do that as well, just let me know in your email. Don't be shy, and don't worry about hurting my feelings. I want to know what you think, or I wouldn't be posting this up for the entire Internet to read.

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