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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Embracing Joy in Spirituality

I talk often, I know, about the work that goes into my spirituality - and I think that's fair enough because it is work and we shouldn't underestimate that. But there's joy in what we do as well, or their should be, its just easier often times to focus on the effort instead of the fun.

When I first began on my spiritual path I think I had the idea that it would all be fun and adventure, that witchcraft was a plunge into the numinous every few minutes - and that the numinous was always a good feeling. As time went on of course I realized that this wasn't the case, that spirituality is as often frustrating as it is fulfilling, that it can be rewarding but it can also be real work. I also realized that the numinous can be take-your-breath-away-scary just as much as it can be ecstatic. Sometimes it's both at once.

As time goes on though I found that it was easy to start focusing more and more on the work and the effort, and the joy got lost sometimes. There are, as the saying goes, dark nights of the soul and there are also points I think were we get so caught up in what we are trying to build or connect to that we lose sight of why we are doing it. Trying to make our ritual perfect eclipses being in the moment of the ritual itself. Trying to get every detail of a spell correct obscures that feeling of being surrounded by magic. Trying to invoke and connect to Gods or spirits becomes such an overwhelming focus that experiencing those same Gods and spirits when they show up gets lost.

It's easy to forget as we go along and our spirituality becomes more challenging or more tedious that it's also supposed to be enjoyable. It is work and effort but it's also joy and ecstasy. We seem to lose that over time, or at least I know that I can struggle with it. I overthink things, and I can take things too seriously if they matter a lot to me. Which means that with my religion and my magic it's easy for me to get so caught up in the need to do it well as an aspect of offering it to the Gods and spirits that I forget to enjoy it in the moment.

One of my best memories of a ritual happened about 20 years ago. A few friends and I were doing a Lughnasadh ritual at one of my friend's houses, and that friend had a daughter who was around three. All the adults were trying to be very serious, making sure we had all the stuff together, deciding who would handle what, and all that. And we get going and it's a good enough ritual, very by the book 'pagan standard', but when we get to making offerings the little girl takes her share of the bread we had to offer and starts skipping around the space, tossing bits of bread very enthusiastically into the air to share with the spirits. It was adorable, and everyone started laughing; then the adults started doing it too. The whole energy changed from somber to light hearted in an instant.

Ultimately spirituality is about both effort and enjoyment. We should work at what we are doing so that we can be good at it, and we should take what we are doing seriously, but it shouldn't all be serious and it shouldn't all be work. There should be joy and enjoyment in there as well. I often say, and it's true, that my spirituality has its share of blood, sweat, and tears but it also has laughter and has layers of ecstasy. Not in balance, but in turns and shifts and unexpected moments. And those moments of joy are invaluable and are just as important to my spirituality as the effort and study and practice.

Don't stop doing the work, but never forget to have fun along the way.


  1. This is so beautiful and heartfelt.I love your words

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