I read a book. (I’m not telling which one, so as to avoid spoilage.)
In this book, a boy from a very spiritual culture experiences a cataclysm of epic proportions, winds up alone, and questions his gods. Then he meets a girl from a very scientific culture. They become friends, and eventually, her people show up and teach science, and the gods are abandoned.
I’m summing up and being very liberal, but that’s the gist.
What does this have to do with Kyeli?
I’m a Witch. As I said in my silly video, for me, being a Witch is like being a girl. It’s not something I particularly chose, nor is it something I feel I could un-choose.
A few weeks ago, Pace said something about being more spiritual on the blog and in our work, and I flipped out. Share my spirituality? No way. That little video is as close as I get to publicly sharing my spirituality. No way, nuh-uh, no how.
I’ve never talked about seeing Faeries. I don’t mention the visions I’ve had. I don’t talk about my Guides. I haven’t discussed how I came to be devoted to the Goddess, or what that means to me. I don’t talk about it.
And because I don’t talk about it, I don’t know anyone else who has experienced anything like anything I have.
And because of that, sometimes I have doubt.
A crisis of faith.
So then I read the aforementioned book. An epic crisis caused the spiritual nature of the boy to change and become more scientific. He started saying, “Why?” He stopped trusting in his gods, and eventually stopped believing in them altogether.
I finished the book and burst into tears. The message I’d received was, “Faith is silly and unprovable. Science wins in the end, so you might as well give up and give in.”
Then I spent a week in crisis, unable to talk about it because no one I know had read the book (and Pace hates spoilers). I locked it up and started asking “Why?” and looking for proof.
Proof that the Goddess is real.
Proof that Faeries are real.
Proof that my Guides are real.
Proof, proof, proof.
“Proof” is a science word.
Finally, Pace read the book. When she finished it, we talked. Three hours later, and my faith was not only restored, but strengthened.
Sit down, ’cause this is really funny.
I forgot about paradigm. I’m a paradigm-shifter. I talk about paradigms all the time in my work; I teach people about paradigms for a living, and I forgot.
In the book, the author made the usual error. In our dominant culture, science is the dominant paradigm, so if the events in the book had happened today in our reality, it would be only natural for the boy to turn to science.
But in the boy’s paradigm, that would have actually been completely impossible. He might have asked “Why?”, but the answers would have come from his gods. His people would have re-written their stories to explain the crisis in their own paradigm, with their own gods.
Proof is a science word. In a spiritual culture, in a gods-centric paradigm, the word is meaningless.
Imagine an Aztec boy.
He’s very smart and clever. His mother is taken for a sacrifice to make the crops grow, and he looks at his baby brothers and older sisters, and wonders “Why?” He asks his father, who tells him that it is their way. Unsatisfied, he manages to ask the tribe chieftain. Again, he’s told that it is the way of the gods.
In our scientific culture, we might write the story thus: The boy, being very smart and clever, manages to rescue his mother and run away with her. From afar, they discover that this action doesn’t anger the gods at all. Together, the boy and his mother continue rescuing intended sacrifices for a year, and they discover that the crops are no different than with sacrifice.
Eventually, they go to the chief and are able to convince him to stop sacrificing humans, and the tribes-people are safe! Hooray!
…but in reality, the boy would’ve been next on the block. Asking “Why?” was tantamount to sacrilege. And if he’d somehow managed to get to his mother, she would have refused to leave with him, because being a sacrifice to the gods meant her people would eat better for the rest of the year.
The boy had done an experiment and had been able to prove that sacrificing didn’t make a difference one way or the other. But that’s scientific, and against his paradigm – and therefore, not likely to have happened at all. And in the unlikely event that it had happened, the boy is speaking an entirely different language from the rest of his people. He’s saying “Experiments! Evidence! Proof!” And the rest of his people would be making stories to explain what the gods must’ve been doing while the crops grew without sacrifice.
In truth, it likely would never have even occurred to the boy to try and change things.
Science isn’t the only way.
So in my personal epic crisis, I was shaken and upset because I felt like, when you start asking “Why?”, science is the only eventual answer. Science can “prove” things.
And since I don’t know anyone else who lives in my personal witchy paradigm, and I can’t answer “Why?” with proven things, I must be wrong.
In my paradigm, there are Faeries. I can see them. I talk to them and sometimes, they talk back.
In my paradigm, I pray to the goddess in many forms. I walk in the hands of the gods, talk to them, and listen when they talk to me.
In my paradigm, I was born a Witch. It took me a while to get there, but I found myself and my path.
In my paradigm, science is fun. It answers questions that we curious humans want answered with answers that sound and look right – and to some extent, they are right. And I’m a philosopher – I ask questions all the time! I love to learn and I seek out knowledge.
But “question everything” doesn’t mean “believe nothing”.
Just because a planet is made of gas doesn’t mean there are no gods there.
Just because we can see the entire forest doesn’t mean no unicorns live there.
Just because we think we know everything doesn’t mean we understand anything.
I am a Witch.
I am an Edgewalker. I choose to live a magickal and spiritual life, full of mythical creatures and Guides and gods and discovery. I choose to ask and to seek, and to listen to what my soul says is true. I choose to be both spiritual and seeking, a Witch and a Philosopher in harmony. I choose to dance in the moonlight and cast circle and create sacred space and trust my intuition and leave milk out for the Faeries.
I choose to believe.