This wasn’t what I had planned on writing about today. I’m not sure if I ever planned on writing about it, not directly at any rate. The subject came up and since I feel that it’s important to discuss, I might as well begin.
We aren’t told that failure is possible on the devotional path. This is not due to any conspiracy of silence or tendency towards reticence on the subject. It’s just that most people haven’t experienced failure or, if they have, have assigned the blame to themselves rather than seeing failure as just one of many potential outcomes inherent in this path.
I’ve frequently told myself that failure – on this path and most others I suppose – only comes when I stop trying. And, well, I did.
Like virtually every other practitioner closely aligned with My Lord, the first several years were quite turbulent. Adapting to a very new, very strong presence in my life was more difficult than I could have anticipated and I had no guidance to suggest that I wasn’t going crazy. Now I recognize that I was just experiencing something very new and intense but at the time my entire sense of reality was in flux. I didn’t think I could handle it on my own and rightly or wrongly I begged for help. Hela and Her immersive potency responded. I made the promises requested of me and went forward.
It wasn’t easy. I struggled with this new relationship as much as I had the first one. I fluctuated between contentment and extreme agitation and anger. I was not a pleasant person to be around. After a couple years of this I underwent an intense and transformative psychic death experience that entirely altered my sense of self. I came out of it feeling quite literally like a stranger in my skin. I didn’t identify with the memories from before that moment (I still have difficulty recognizing those years as my own). I lost so much of the person I had been that the name attached to this form was entirely foreign to me. Hearing it was repulsive and deeply troubling.
As you might expect, I felt a lot of resentment and anger towards My Lady after undergoing this involuntary death and revival, and I felt entirely burdened by the weight of the identity transformation that had taken place. This path will take from you things you never knew you had. It will give you a weight to carry that you will never fully learn to bear. The price naturally exacted by the Work is your fundamental transformation into a vessel that suits Its needs.
The devotional path has been a central part of my spirit work and indeed, is the means by which I typically interact with it. When that aspect of my practice fell apart as a result of my emotional distress and anger, I decided that a decisive change was needed. It took a seven day ritual cycle involved some plant spirits and thorns to break me open and make my pliable in Her hands. The effort paid off and I was initiated into spirit work in Her service. I worked hard and studied hard and loved hard. After around three years of being a nameless and newborn non-human being I was given a new name.
I didn’t choose the name I use. It didn’t choose me. It was given to me as an implement of Work and so it remained.
Unfortunately, when My Lady terminated my service as a result of my inability to complete a particular task She had asked of me, the sense of belonging and identity that had come along with that name was removed. That’s how the Work works sometimes. These things don’t belong to us, not really. The powers, the abilities, the skills, the insights – these aren’t ours. We simply hold on to them for a while. We carry them around so that they might serve others. When we cease being a functionary, the tools are taken back by the company.
This name is not mine. I continue to use it because I don’t have any other. When people speak it I no longer hear myself referred to but when I see it written my heart still jumps to attention in recognition. Sometimes, sometimes I recognize myself when the Gods speak to me but I don’t have a designation in this world. I don’t have a firm designation in any other except insofar as I can list my meager and humble titles: Emissary for the Green World, Spouse of My Lord, Your Most Humble and Discrete Cloakroom Attendant.
This story is sad. It took several attempts to write. It is tragic but not unfair. The Work is not unfair or unjust; the results it metes out are all perfectly balanced by the effects that It interacts with. Though My Lady and I have sort of, kind of, just a little bit kissed and made up and even though I have sort of, kind of, just a little bit gone back to work, I have not earned the right or privilege of a designation. I may not and I have to be alright with this fact.
The Work will take things from you that you never knew you had. You will lose things that you will never get back. You will not recognize the weight of things left behind until your heart suddenly breaks from the realization of profound loss.
The Heartroad will carry you forward because love is a flowing, evolving emotive experience. The Heartroad will bring you to the realization of deep, irreconcilable deprivation. The Heartroad is one possible manifestation of the Work in this world because in few other things are humans so fundamentally responsive than when their emotions are in play.
Thus I continue.
4 thoughts on “Trial, Error, and Evolution on the Path”
Nothing useful to add, but this also breaks my heart for you. I am grateful for you, for speaking about this at all, though I admit that I want to put my fists up and go defend you to All and Sundry, just because. Which is admittedly not useful, and so obviously, I don’t. but . . . still want to. (((hugs)))
Reblogged this on Strip Me Back To The Bone and commented:
Seeing this after my last post, I need to add that i’m not trying to sound like failure isn’t a hard or bad or difficult thing, or that it doesn’t exist, or that it can all be spun into something useful or light-hearted or, you know, something. This post is beautiful in that Silence is sharing much with us, and it talking about an extremely difficult and not-often-spoken-of subject. I want to rally around him with cries of, “No, you are awesome, you are great, you did not fail, you can never fail, you are inherently awesome!!” because those are my feelings, but, you know . . . I’ve got no business doing that, because it’s not my business, period. In my view, mistakes and stumbling and failures along the way are all slightly different, though oft-times related, and while I will throw my weight soundly behind the “you only truly fail if you cease trying” concept, I will agree that yes, failure is a possibility. But, too, it also need not be a permanent state of being. And, too, too, I don’t think there’s anything wrong, necessarily, with discovering that maybe these paths are not for you.
This is a very valuable, if sober, read.
I don’t think I had heard this story before, in full. It makes my heart break for you, but oh my goodness, are there people who need to read this.
Talking about failure in any aspect of spiritual practice – Work-related or devotional or not – is very difficult. Part of it is due, perhaps, to not coming from a cultural paradigm of religious failure. It’s simply something that you can’t really get wrong, not on a level that your practice simply ceases to function. But this is an outcome that has to be recognized within a paradigm that grants the Powers their own agency and agendas. Relationships can cease to succeed. Practices can cease to be fruitful. The changes wrought can be too drastic to cope with. These things happen. There are any number of possible responses to these and other scenarios and I feel entirely certain that I made some wrong choices along the way. At the same time that I acknowledge the possibility of failure I have to also acknowledge that this path is exceptionally adaptable, way more than we perhaps give it credit for. The Work is very powerful, very responsive and we’re not going to break it. We have permission to learn because there is absolutely no way of getting it right. Since there can be no perfected expression of the Work, we must all accept our individual states of imperfection.
Like I said, the only way to really fail is to stop trying. And I did. To cease acting halts any possibility of the Work’s co-manifestation with the worker. That prevents the Work from entering this world and that, I believe, holds back the refinement of compassionate evolution and the release from suffering.