In recent weeks, I’ve been faced with an incredible series of events which have each taken me deeper into a sort of… Initiation. I’ve written about this in earlier posts and have said about how I feel like rituals and initiations should really be a natural occurrence and should be in-keeping with our culture and lives to a certain degree. By which I mean, using symbols and symbolic gestures which speak to a place deep inside of us rather than to a relatively distant or foreign world-view – like that of our ancestors.
I recently let go of a part of my identity that I had spent a very long time believing in and attempting to fill-out (for lack of a better term). It was like a mould that I hadn’t got enough clay to fill. Or something like that. I dunno. Do we use clay in moulds? Anyway, for years now I had been building up this idea that I “got” something that other people didn’t. Or that I got it better or faster or younger. That in some way I was better than everybody and that was why I was allowed to be a spiritual teacher.
It’s clear that this misguided idea that I was worthy to fulfil such a role – and bestow it upon myself – wasn’t the only motivation for assuming this label. If all I wanted was to feel better than everybody else then why did I choose that profession? There a lot more less noble choices of career which would enable me to feel much more superior than others. So why that one? Well, it could be that you can’t get much more superior than someone who claims to have all the answers to life’s problems. This might be the driving force for some self-instated ‘spiritual teachers’ out there – not naming names – but for me, there was always some sense of care for others. Some deep sense of never wanting to see another person going through unnecessary suffering again. So I took the title and took it seriously.
In hindsight, that was my first mistake. I took it as a serious appendage to what I was. And that caused a fair few problems internally. Internal conflict over just about everything I did and an awful seriousness which significantly eroded my ability to play. I just didn’t feel like my playfulness and my role as a spiritual teacher could ever occupy the same space. So I ended up playing a whole bunch of roles. One with my wife, one with my family, one with the people I spoke to online and then the “teacher” which eclipsed them all. It has to be said though, this happens to most teachers – spiritual or otherwise. They just start acting weirdly with people who remind them of their students. I know people who speak like a teacher all the time. Teacher tones, you know the cadence. Others though, take on the role of teacher and aren’t so affected by it. Teacher, aspiring teacher or neither, we could all learn a lot from those who have stepped into the role but not had their entire personality dominated by the role.
As you’d guess, despite my intention to not let the role end up defining me, it started to feel that way. Everything I did, I did it through the filter of “Andey The Spiritual Teacher”. A heavy burden shouldered, if you can empathise. Self-inflicted it may have been, this heaviness of spirit I’d carried, though there was a lot I gained from it. I was able to make a positive impact on the lives of some people and I was always found in a position where I relentlessly dropped my own bullshit and went in search of a greater truth. This meant that, while the advice I had been offering to others had been well found and effective, my own experience of life was limited somewhat. Relentlessly ruthless approach to problems aside, a lot of what it meant to be alive and living as “Andey” had escaped me somewhat. The more I managed to fulfil what my idea of a spiritual teacher was, the more I disconnected with living a life to live it and enjoying my days as a human exploring the world.
I would wake up every day and consider how I was going to be this thing I wanted to be during that day. I would make my choices of food and activity based on what I felt was right for the identity role I had constructed. I would speak to people as I felt someone in that role should, right down to the word choices I made. And when I would do things I didn’t feel were very spiritual teacher like, I’d bully myself inside my mind because of it. It was only recently, in fact, that I finally gave myself permission to enjoy video games again.
Now, I’m not telling you this for pity or anything like that. Far from it. I’m telling you this to highlight a few points I’d like to get across. The first being ‘whatever the role we think we need to fulfil, things can get out of hand and it’s always worth getting as much clarity as possible whenever possible. Turn to friends and family who get you, or to someone who’s been through the shedding of skin I’m talking about here. They’ll look out for you and keep an eye out for red flags if you ask them to. Or, if you don’t feel right about any of that, seek help from the invisible realms. Rosa and I can help with that, just let us know what you need and we’ll do what we can.’
Moving on to my second point – which is somewhat more personal than the previous – given the effect that trying to fulfil the role of spiritual teacher had on me, letting go of it was pretty huge. Pretty huge but surprisingly easy. It wasn’t the giving it up part that hit me quite so hard as the sudden lack of direction I felt. As I’m sure you can imagine, if you spend your every day focused on this thing and then suddenly, that part of your life is over… It calls for a bit of re-evaluation to say the least!
At first I just sort of milled about the house for a few days. It took a little while for it to sink in that I’d just finally let go of this thing that had been the source of such a confusing mix of emotions for so long. I spent a decent while grappling at words, trying to define what I really was if I wasn’t actually a spiritual teacher – knowing fully well that on an epi-physical level I actually am nothing at all. And that having a name for it means nothing… The closest thing I found – that didn’t sound far too Hollywood – was “mystic”. And I haven’t found anything better since.
After dropping the whole mantle of “spiritual teacher”, things began changing drastically. Although this has all been for the better, it’s clear that all it’s transpiring as part of an unfolding initiation into something I have yet to fully embody within myself.
First came the sacrifice – a necessity in all initiations. It’s like an exchange we make with the gods – the figurative shopkeepers of greatness in this instance. We don’t expect to receive someone’s services or acquire their products for free, there has to be some exchange. And with personal growth and the transcendence of the old, it’s no different. And this applies to the process I am being moved through right now too.
For me, the sacrifice is what set the wheels in motion on this path. I gave up the mantle I had used to blind myself and strengthen my ego paradigms. In so doing, I also surrendered those ego paradigms – those ideas of myself and the world which I had invested a lot of time and energy into building and maintaining. Since doing so, my vision has cleared up a fair bit and things have started to move in a better direction, or at least a direction I’m enjoying more so. A direction wherein I am finding more and more benefits. I know I still have lots to learn – as we all do, all the time – but I do find myself with a greater clarity than I had before.
After the sacrifice, came the journey. This is a journey on a path which continues now and upon which everything else – all the way into and back out of the realm of realisations – will unfold. New things came into my life – understandings, friends, feelings I’ve never really known before, opportunities to learn and grow in a whole new way – all of which have helped me to chisel away the stuff I don’t need in my life.
One of the first steps on this journey into deeper realisation has been the recognition of a natural affinity with magic which I had not recognised the extent of until now. I’ve mentioned this several times in recent posts so I won’t talk too much on this now. It will suffice to say that a more tangible experience of magic has been something I’ve been gifted recently. This has taken loads of forms included by not limited to: eggs appearing in our front garden ready to be buried to mark the transition from winter to spring, relentless messages coming through the runes and other divination techniques, cats going mental at me when I was trying to film a video with content that the Norns clearly did not want me to speak about, direct contact with the Norns, discovering incredible new insight into Old Norse mythology on YouTube, intense long and sleepless nights where I have been given vision after vision, naturally knowing exactly what’s needed to be done to lift a spell which had been cast on Rosa, so on and so on.
This phase of the more tangible recognition of magic seems to be part of my current initiation – details of which I’ll explain further below – as well as part of a larger more long-term initiation which I am being taken through. This long-term initiation is an initiation into magic beyond natural affinity; into the deeper esoteric occult mysteries. Through which initiation has come the insight into the principle of energetic influence which I have mentioned previously: “If you want to affect the course of things, pay attention to the current of the river.”
Another part of this current initiation is the recognition of what a worthy war is and what a pointless or futile one is. When I had the “spiritual teacher”garb donned, I was in regular conflict with my wife, Rosa. I’d get all high and mighty because I was “a spiritual teacher who knows things”. And I’d drill at her in such a way that wasn’t conducive to solving any problems or finding any real sense of understanding. I was very aware that my capacity for compassion was limited but by what was a mystery at that point. By some magical miracle, when I took off the coat of that label, my access to compassion tripled. And it seemed that the very title that you’d expect implied compassion, understanding and consideration had become something that was causing limitations on my compassion and understanding to occur.
In hindsight, I suppose it was just me thinking “I’ve taught you this. Why haven’t you learned?” But I was missing an important piece of the puzzle: “People don’t learn because you teach them. People learn because they are ready to learn; because they want to learn.” And all changes come internally anyway. Nothing we can do can ever actually change or alter another person. Any time it looks like we are affecting them it’s because they’re allowing it to happen. And if it’s only happening because of external influences then it won’t be sustainable anyway. If the conditions are removed, what changed will revert.
However embarrassed or guilty I have felt by this lack of compassion towards the most supportive person in my life, I have to realise that there is another lesson in this. The lesson of learning which battles to fight and which to not get too involved in. And also the lesson of being a considered, tactful warrior rather than a big-headed battle-axe wielding barbarian. Since releasing the ego-laden title of spiritual teacher, I have been very much more able to connect with Rosa in a compassionate and considerate way. I’ve been able to feel a deeper empathy for her and for what is happening when we disagree. Never have we argued really though, we just disagree and get emotionally charged. Respect remains in tact as best as we can keep it that way. I feel that it is this greater accessibility of compassion and empathy that has enabled me to develop more grounded and authentic friendships too.
Bringing the thread of embarrassment from the previous point forward into another… Another phase of this initiation – and in particular regarding ego – has been embarrassment and humiliation. This has come in many different ways in the last week or two, one of which I’ve already shared with you. Another, has been the feeling I’ve had when remembering various little things I’ve said and done thinking back over the last few years before this process began.
The constant desire for recognition that I felt while trying to be a spiritual teacher makes more sense now, embarrassing as it is. Along with this, I’ve had a few conversations with people I know which have gone quite similarly. A fair few people have told me that they aren’t surprised I gave up the teacher thing. A bunch have said things along the lines of, “I knew it wasn’t quite right.” Or, “It never felt right to me.” Or, “I always felt like you shouldn’t have been doing it.” Or similar. And the interesting mix of emotions I have off the back of reading or hearing these replies from people is rather curious.
The first response that comes to me is “If you knew, why didn’t you say something? Instead of leaving me to embarrass myself.” Of course, though, I’m well aware of the fact that nothing anyone says can change us or our course of action. So even if I had been told that, would I have listened? Probably not. Would I have been able to take it without getting all defensive? Probably not.
The second response that comes to me following this is, “Surely you’re just saying that, though?” Now, I know that some might be just jumping on the ego drink. Seeing someone who is going through a change in which they are admitting they were wrong about something is an easy time to appear cleverer than that person. Chiming in with remarks like, “I knew it wasn’t right for you” is a perfect way to get an ego rise without being too much of a dick while still seeming encouraging and compassionate. It has to be said though, there are some people I know who are intuitive enough to pick up on it and wise enough to keep quiet and let me figure it out on my own. Those are the people I can rely upon to give good advice when I need it even if I can’t always believe that what they’re letting on is all they know.
The third response then is one of embarrassment. The question, “Was it really that obvious?” is one I ask myself. I question and question what I must’ve seemed like. Appearing like a know-it all when I knew I only knew some things. And despite knowing those things well, these things were and still are only a sliver of possible known facts available on earth in one human life. Embarrassment comes so naturally, humiliation so readily, when we see that we have been a fool so obviously. The image of standing naked in a public space comes to mind. Standing naked in a public space and not realising you never got dressed, more accurately.
Well, whether you think it was obvious and noticed it or never noticed it and are not surprised by the whole thing or really don’t care too much about the specifics but are empathic enough to feel bad when others get embarrassed… I ask you not to worry too much about my ego here and now, with this. Why? Because this embarrassment is necessary for me right now. Not indefinitely or unendingly. Just right now.
The embarrassment right now, although I’m not consistently feeling it or perpetuating it, is an important part of humility. When things like this happen, we can either strengthen our ego or break a bit off of our identity – or in some cases soften it and then harden it again later. I always tend to opt for breaking pieces of my ego – dropping as many ego paradigm sandbags as is possible in any given moment. But it’s like a tangled ball of string. You have to sort some knots before others or else you will end up with a tighter more unpleasant knot. Embarrassment is like butter on the string. A lubricant to help me to drop what I don’t need and become more humble; to have a lower and more accurate view of myself and how I fit into the larger picture; to better watch which way the river is flowing and understand that I am but one leaf on it – at least within one potential frame of the metaphor.
And that brings us up to date on what’s been going on with my current initiation. One of the many I will experience and one of many which are ongoing in my life and the lives of so many people on the planet. It’s safe to say that we’re all being initiated into some greater learning or awareness in any given moment. Sometimes those initiations take a lifetime or two because we’re just too damn egotistical to realise that we’re being guided by a greater hand. We might get all wrapped up in “I’m in control of my life” and “I choose this or that”. I mean, that’s true to a degree. But control is only relative and it’s all illusory anyway. There’s always a greater, wiser more objective guiding hand involved. Though to personify is with wisdom or objectivity seems insane. Rambling now.
Let me just tell you what the initiation I am undergoing right now is for and then I’ll leave you to your day. We’re well over 3000 words now after all! Longest post I’ve written on here ever I think..?
Anyway, yes, the initiation I am undergoing at the moment is a sort of double initiation at once. Two combined. The first, an initiation into true manhood, masculinity in its truest form; recognising what it truly means and being able to embody it. The other, is that of a warrior. To understand valour, honour and justice along with protection, considered action and just aggression in balance. It’s an unfolding that I’m yet to fully comprehend the depths of. But I am open and willing.
On that note, I’ll say thank you for reading. I hope you’ve gotten something from this and that is has been helpful in some way!
Big hugs from me!
Keep it real!
Live, love and play!