Letter to a New Spirit Worker (pt. II)

Dear You,

If the Powers and Potencies can be said to have one shared, defining characteristic, it might dynamism. Their ability to effect change manifests in more ways than we are even aware of, though we try to make sense of these sacred personalities by outlining the ways in which their dynamism is most obvious to us and our interests. This is why we say one Power is like lightening while another is like the slow inexorable pace of a glacier. This is why we say one Power is related to love spells and high wild windy places and tiny Shetland ponies and another is related to the depths of computer networks. It’s all just various avenues of potential change.

It’s helpful to remember that this dynamism is a naturally arising property of their being; they can’t not act and they can’t not cause change through their proximity. Sometimes they can be convinced to throw some weight behind a particular magickal working of ours but that’s more a matter of focusing sunlight through a pinhole than turning on a light. You’re not getting something new; you’re getting a focused measure of something that’s already there and active.

Since the Powers effect change and make things happen by virtue of their being, and not necessarily for any specific reason or motivation, we have to be cautious when assigning reason and motivation to them. The Powers have their own motivating concerns and those very rarely have anything to do with us. We as human beings are not likely to be their priority unless they’ve specifically chosen to get involved with us. Even then, but for a scant handful of savior-types, our human comfort and well-being is not a major concern. Do you care about one particular variety of crustacean endemic to a few volcanic islands? You probably care in a general sense of having concern for the welfare of the planet and you might have a more personal sense of concern if those volcanic islands happened to be near and dear to your heart for some reason but you do probably aren’t super concerned about the intimate struggles and concerns of these crustaceans on a day to day basis. Not because you’re a bad person, but just because you have other concerns occupying your mind.

The Powers are generally quite responsive to human attention and will reciprocate when approached with courtesy and kindness. However, you must never mistake affection for altruism. Your welfare is up to you. The Powers will help you and they will do so because maybe they like you and because maybe your goals are in line with their goals or maybe because they owe you a favor or maybe because they’re hoping that you’ll owe them a favor or maybe because you’re working on an interesting project and they want to get involved, or whatever. They will help you for a million and one reasons but not at the expense of other goals they have in mind.

They will, however, help you grow if you’re willing to take responsibility for your welfare and for your own decisions. Getting circumstances to transform into more a more harmonious arrangement is kinda what they do (see above). If you’re lucky and have a good working relationship with the Powers then this arrangement will have a harmony that strongly benefits you. If not, you’ll have to tough it out or maybe find a Power whose dynamism is more in line with yours.

A lot of people don’t want to step up to this responsibility. I know they don’t because I didn’t. I went through the same growing pains of developing a greater sense of spiritual and material maturity. I wanted the Gods or the lottery or a guru or *anyone* to come along and make life better for me – and by better, I meant easier. By better I meant simpler. By better I meant advantageous to me.

I got all this, but not the way I wanted. I got these things because I was given lots of practice taking care of myself. And life got better and easier and simpler and started providing more advantages for me. And yes, I had and still have a whole hell of a lot of help. The help that came my way made such a positive difference because I was already putting in effort on my own. The Gods can help with this but they can’t and won’t and don’t want to do it for you.

This isn’t a bootstrapping philosophy. This is more about recognizing your own power, your own worth, your own ability, and the utter dread power of your own responsibility. The power of choice and consequence is yours. By making choices with the weight of deliberate effort behind them, you can reap more potent consequences. Just make sure you’re actually choosing to do the things you want to do. There will always be unforeseen consequences; the only thing you can control is your ability to choose.

In an effort to make life easier and better and more advantageous people will sometimes shop around for answers. There are countless Powers and Potencies out there and each one of them has all the answers you could ever want to hear. Some of those answers might even be helpful and relevant. You must never bargain your autonomy for answers. Many Powers – even several who would be considered “good” or “benevolent” or “white hat” by those of us on the ground – will feed you answers till you burst just to get you on their team. It’s less work for them this way because you’ll be able to plug in their answers to every question and conflict you ever come up against.

Your number one loyalty has to be to yourself. I’m a Lokean, so I get to tell this particular secret. Any compromise on this point will turn your autonomy into an ante and you will loose the greater capacity for effecting change on your own terms. Without this greater capacity, you’ll never grow into the kind of worker you have the potential to be. And that’s fine – if that’s what you want. Is it?

All my love,

Me

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20 thoughts on “Letter to a New Spirit Worker (pt. II)

  1. Cara Freyasdaughter says:

    Just caught up with this now; better late than never. 🙂

    I have to say that I find the posts in your “New Spiritworker” series relieving, inspiring, confusing, and irritating in equal measures. Relieving in that I know that there are a lot of newbie spiritworkers who might night have a whole lot of *life* experience yet, much less experience in dealing with Powers; inspiring in that I feel like I can read between the lines to an extent and see the next step in my development, as it were; confusing in that, well, I’ve already wrestled with many of the things you point out, fought those demons, and am keeping an eye on them; and irritating, in that I work for a Goddess whom I love and trust pretty much wholeheartedly, who is Herself a member of a tribe of deities who love humans and for the most part give us only good things (not *painless* things; just good things), so on that level it pains me to see what appears to me to be an overemphasis in your writing on being self-reliant and trusting only yourself.

    So, for an alternate point of view on the whole “never give your autonomy away” thing, let me talk a bit about my experience as a hard polytheist in a 12-step program. A lot of the personal, spiritual, emotional, and other -al benefits I have gotten both in my program and in my spiritual life I only received when I “Made a decision to turn [my] will and [my] life over to the care of God *as [I] understood Him* (for me, Freya). (3rd step, verbatim) That’s the point; that’s how all 12-step programs work. The context that most people miss if they are not coming from a 12-step perspective themselves, however, is that having done so, we do not get to sit on our ass and wait for the Gods to fix things. In fact, all we *do* is work (or avoid doing the work; but then getting our lives together takes much longer and is more painful to boot, so really, YMMV), but at least we are all very clear on the fact that there is Work we should be Doing and life is not going to get better until we get started on it.

    It is also pointed out to us that our best efforts and thinking were what led us to our bottom, which then led us into our various programs. So by the time we hit the program, or soon thereafter, we have come to the realization that no, really–I *can’t* do this on my own with the tools I currently have, or the tools I’ve begged, borrowed, or stolen from somewhere else. For myself, I sure as hell was not going to give another human the power over my will and my life (not that the 12 steps recommend this, mind you–we are supposed to reach for a *Higher* Power, not a human power), so I decided I might as well turn my will and life over to a Goddess I know and love and have been working on deepening a relationship with for over ten years (at that point). Though, kind of like Ember, it was extremely unlikely that the deity I trusted enough to do this with would have been Odin, or a deity with similar issues, so maybe I did luck out in that sense. Then again, maybe it was all part of Her grand plan to recruit me, so the “choice” might not have been a choice at all–which is just as likely, honestly. But, also like Ember, I bet whether this whole situation works out or not has as much to do with the deity and person and relationship in question; it isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. I sure as hell don’t know either way. (Yet.)

    The Gods are avaricious, yes; some more actively, and with a clearer endgame, than others. No argument there. Some care more about my welfare, for example, and the welfare of humans as a whole, than others; also yes. And you can’t go latch on to a deity and expect them to fix your life–yes, yes, and more yes. In fact, that is just *asking* for a bunch of painful lessons to be handed to you, imho. But, on the other hand, having a close relationship with one *can* be amazing and humbling and well worth your while; enriching your life, increasing your “luck”, and allowing you to receive all manner of good things that you could never have hoped to get on your own.

    Just my (unasked for) two cents.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Silence says:

      Yes, that latching on and hoping for a quick fix is exactly what I was speaking to. I’ve been guilty of that myself; that’s what I was referring to when I talked about bargaining one’s autonomy for answers. I know I’ve been so desperate for answers that I was willing to do all kinds of things just for the assurance of information I could depend on. Only later did I realize that just because a set of answers could uphold me didn’t make them necessarily right or even helpful in the long run. Sometimes they were but not always. Not in every circumstance. Further, trusting in my self above all doesn’t mean that I distrust others, human or not. I do; I have to. To live in a perpetual state of distrust is simply not conducive to the giving or receiving of compassion. It’s also a pretty unfun way to live.

      There are certainly times when turning over one’s trust to greater forces is called for. The human will is simply not the most powerful thing in the universe and so it’s to our advantage to become allies with other Powers who can help us when we need. I’ve been able to accomplish some pretty important things thanks to Their help and support and it sounds like you have, too.

      The autonomy I’m hoping to emphasize here isn’t a generic sort of self-reliance where one is able to entirely meet one’s needs (that’s a fairly silly and unachievable goal; we are each permeated by our environment and social structure so imagining that we’re discrete beings who receive no support or aid is, well, inaccurate). Rather, I’m talking more about seeking answers and information under your own power, and not displacing responsibility for your choices onto other agents. I have found that strengthening my own autonomy and personal sovereignty has allowed me to be of greater help to others. Naturally, such a perspective may not be a perfect fit for every scenario I might find myself in – but giving myself the power and agency to reach my own conclusions allows me to adapt in a compassionate and hopefully fruitful way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cara Freyasdaughter says:

        Nods, thanks for the clarification. I’ve run into quite a few people who actually *do* think that they can be Completely Self Sufficient, and then I get the fun job of cleaning up their mess and helping them to understand that even if they don’t want to be, we’re still all interconnected. It seems to be one of my jobs this time round.
        My community has also had its share of “But the Gods made me do it!” and “Why aren’t Gods fixing my life? They must not be real.” dramas over the years, so I completely understand the need to underscore personal responsibility and agency, and I think it’s a really good idea.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine Berger says:

    I would like permission to share some of this with credit to you to a company of non-Pagans who are coming to a reading of my poetry, which is hard core Polytheist. I was struggling with how to present my relationship with the Powers in the book in a way that was clear and understandable without them having any frame of reference.

    I would never do so without permission and credit.

    Christine

    Like

    • Silence says:

      You can certainly share what you think would be helpful though, as Ember’s comments below suggest, my thoughts are hardly representative of a greater polytheistic mindset and may not even be that helpful to non-Pagans. But you’re welcome to use whatever you find useful. 🙂

      Like

    • Silence says:

      Hee, I imagine it’s quite different. My Rokkr-flavored training has quite ruined me. I really do try to speak from a more neutral perspective on a lot of topics but when it comes to spirit work I’m very much a product of these forces – for better or worse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • EmberVoices says:

        Yeah, I don’t think it’s true to say that the Vanir only care about humans incidentally, for example.

        But the Rokkr are very different in many ways. The more primal a deity, I suppose, the more a factor that seems to be.

        -E-

        Liked by 1 person

      • Silence says:

        I don’t want to suggest that the Powers (Rokkr or otherwise) are incidental in their affections or incapable of personal affections but I’m personally cautious about accepting divine attention without knowing something about the motivating factors. I suppose that comes from getting my heart broken (le sigh) or from finding myself in unpleasant circumstances as a result of assuming altruism on their part. Though I suppose I can acknowledge that many such circumstances were for my own good (and therefore helpful in that sense) it was certainly a very different sort of altruism than I naively had hoped for.

        In a way, I find the Rokkr quite easy to understand. It’s Powers that are – erm, refined, nuanced, subtle, etc. (whatever the opposite of primal might be in this instance) – that I find more difficult to comprehend. I have an extensive devotional history with various subcontinent Powers and I simply don’t understand them in the same way. Although I’ve been wondering if this is less due to how primal/not primal a Power is and more due to the nature of the relationship I have with them. I work/have worked for various Rokkr Powers in a way I simply never will the subcontinent Powers. I have a need to understand motivating factors in one instance where I’m more concerned with refining devotional and worship practice in the other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • EmberVoices says:

        It’s probably some of both, of course – your nature, Their nature, the nature of the relationship between you, etc.

        Even with the relationship I do have with Odin, for example, I find it nearly impossible to trust His intentions at face value. It’s too much part of what He is to be… complex.

        Freyja, on the other hand, I find very trustworthy, and most of the folks I find who have difficulty with Her, it’s not Her so much as Her domain (usually love, or beauty, or both) that bother or frighten them.

        I do have some understanding, though, that what makes a large, old, powerful entity a God, per se, is Their interest in human affairs. Not necessarily benevolent interest, I suppose – but we don’t generally call Them gods if They’re not benefiting us somehow when we interact with Them.

        -E-

        Liked by 3 people

      • Silence says:

        That’s interesting; I feel pretty confident in Freya myself (She’s one of my oldest allies and spoke up when I didn’t expect it). In a general sense I think that the Gods wish to benefit us though I also strongly feel that we (humans) aren’t their purpose, if you know what I mean. Our outcome – good or ill – is not the point and purpose of their existence. This might shape their willingness, ability, or inclination towards working with us to achieve advancement.

        Liked by 1 person

      • EmberVoices says:

        Purpose in existence is not the same as purpose in agenda, no. I don’t treat God as an existence category, so much as a career path. Not all god-powered entities are actually engaged AS gods.

        Does that make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth says:

    Reblogged this on Wytch of the North and commented:
    Part of my work with Odin has been focused on turning *myself* into a dynamo, into the kind of person who is always working towards one of my goals, always plotting and planning, always moving forward and doing *something.* He teaches me how to recognize when I actually need rest and when I’m just trying to slough off work, how to know what needs doing and what’s needless motion, how to make my actions count more. (Sometimes I feel a bit like a shark, like I would actually die if I were to stop doing, stop Making.) My own choice is involved in these things; He shows me *how* to make these decisions but He doesn’t (usually) make them for me. And even when He does, I still have to do the actual work. He encourages and helps me strategize; He can’t (and wouldn’t if He could) do the work for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heather Freysdottir says:

    Reblogged this on Loki's Bruid and commented:
    “This is more about recognizing your own power, your own worth, your own ability, and the utter dread power of your own responsibility. The power of choice and consequence is yours. By making choices with the weight of deliberate effort behind them, you can reap more potent consequences. Just make sure you’re actually choosing to do the things you want to do. There will always be unforeseen consequences; the only thing you can control is your ability to choose.” –Silence Maestas

    Liked by 2 people

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