Shine a Light into the Darkness
by Freya Ray
What does it mean, to shine a light into the darkness? If we’re going to talk about candle magick, what more powerful candle is there than the human spirit? In the face of a wide array of conflicting information, it seems worthy to explore the idea of how best to make a difference in the world.
What conflicting information? As you’re reading this paper, you identify as some form of witchy pagan, or are at least curious about such. That’s great, but it does not automatically liberate you from the Judeo-Christian heritage of our culture. That heritage says that to be a good person, to do good for others, you suffer. You give up yourself to take care of those in need. On the other hand, there is a streak of self-indulgent hedonism running through much of today’s Wiccan culture. “Do what you will and harm none.” What’s the harm in doing this little love or money spell, to create what I want in my life? A third opinion about how to be in relationship with the world that affects many of us is the metaphysical hive mind. That cosmic-consciousness PC-police brain hums out, “It’s all good. Everything is happening exactly as it’s supposed to. We have all chosen our own destiny, and can all choose perfect abundance and love if we just, well, choose it.”
Before you get all up in arms about my brattily simplistic summaries, I’m just making a point here. Which is: Most of us feel an instinctive urge to give back, to make a difference, and it can be hard to figure out how best to do that. Following are my musings on the question, “How can I up the wattage on this little light of mine, and shine it where it can do the most good?”
Rest Your Spirit
It’s hard to do anyone any good when you’re run down, crabby or emotionally overwhelmed. Somehow, some way, find the time to restore yourself when you need to. I could run through all the cliché remedies: Take a nap, soak in the bath, be in nature and so on, but you already know how best to take care of yourself. This is your monthly scheduled reminder from the universe to actually do it.
Have Cosmic Sex
Talk about upping your wattage! Great, chakra-blowing, mind-altering sex is better than any drug for opening you up to the beauty of others, increasing the generosity of your spirit and making you more patient with everything. Not only does it benefit your partner (we hope), but the energy of divinely inspired sexual congress overflows to benefit everyone. If you have a partner, seek to actively bring God/Spirit/Goddess/whatever into your lovemaking. Call circle before you begin. Focus every scrap of your attention on the energy between you and your partner, on elevating what you’re doing to the level of art. Take hours and hours. If you’re alone, do all of those same things. Be aware of your energy, of every subtle nuance of your reactions. Get a book on Tantra (The Art of Sexual Ecstasy by Margo Anand is a good one), and practice elevating your energy as you pleasure yourself. Some of the best sex I ever had was just me, my hands and my breathing.
Have you ever considered sending a shot out as you come? As you reach orgasm, take that juicy energy and send it to AIDS orphans in Africa, or the women of Afghanistan, or your ex-boyfriend, or whatever. It can’t hurt, right?
Make Yourself Available
It’s all fine and good to talk about reciprocity and balance in our relationships, but the truth is that sometimes I give a friend apples and get back kiwis. Common metaphysical lore holds that everyone in our life is a teacher for us in some way. But some of my friends just teach me about my ability to be there for someone learning stuff I already know. These “unequal” relationships are not only okay, they’re necessary. I know I never would have made it through the last 10 years without my older (or just wiser) friends who knew the things I was learning. They freely taught, gave advice or just let me cry on them. I do the same thing for a few people younger or less experienced than I.
I believe it’s good to have a list of people who are allowed to make outrageous demands on you from time to time. For some reason, a particular friend’s emotional crisis touches you, and you give them permission to call at any hour, and you’ll be a friendly ear. Conversation after conversation ends up being mostly about them, and their struggles, and you don’t mind or feel “owed.” When energy work, ritual or a Tarot reading happens, it’s for them, not you. Call them projects, call them puppies, call them friends having a hard time. Just have some people you personally care for.
Be a Relentless,
Think of it as a meditation, as a spiritual practice: Find the upside in everything that happens in your life. I can talk for five minutes about the good things I learned from being in an abusive relationship. Talk about impulse control! I’m not condoning all the ugliness of life, and certainly I’m not saying we should perpetuate it to help others learn hard lessons, but I do believe that any situation can be interpreted any number of ways. I feel more empowered if, instead of going to the “poor me” place, I answer these questions: What am I learning here, and how is it benefiting me?
For example, I recently fell completely, utterly in love with someone who I am not currently able to talk with. My friends who have heard every blow-by-blow think he’s a jerk and offer all kinds of sympathy. But I know what I’m learning from the situation. I finally found that place in myself that was unwilling to give up on someone, just because of something they said. I found the place in me that can be mad as hell and not walk away. I’m learning some measure of patience. I have a mantra, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, you can’t make me stop loving you.” It’s my process, I own it, I refuse to feel victimized by life.
If you’re at all prone to martyr or victim thinking, I can’t begin to tell you how much psychic energy will be liberated by running your thoughts along more positive lines. Giving away your power is a huge drain on the psyche, on your ability to feel positive about your own life and on your ability to have anything to offer to others. Try keeping your own power instead. You’ll like it!
Follow Your Impulses
Between the opposites lies the path. Sometimes we need to be selfish, sometimes we need to be selfless. The best way to navigate life between the poles is to listen to Spirit, to the voice of your own intuition, in every moment. If you’re in doubt about how to proceed, sit still (or nap) until clarity comes. Trust yourself.
Find the Connections
Alienation and separation do not help us help each other. The false sense that we are all alone, that we are different from others, leads to thoughts like, “Why would I want to help those ones. They’re nothing to me.” Seek to find the connections. Do some past-life work, so you can remember for yourself how a life could lead one to be dirty and poor. Meditate, finding the dark impulses inside yourself, so you don’t feel yourself better than the one who succumbed. There is no separation. What is done to the least of us, is done to us, we do. It’s all one.
We don’t all have to be bodhisattvas in order to care. Some glimmer of the kinship between all of us will open up remarkable compassionate vistas.
Ask yourself, “How does service best manifest in my life?” As a professional psychic, shaman and healer, I find most years that much of my time serving others is done in that way. I have a collection of friends I give my professional services to, without expectation of return. From time to time, I offer my services free to a stranger. For a while, I tithed. Sometimes I do shamanic work for strangers in my dreams. Sometimes I pray or do ritual for a person or family or part of the world in crisis. Sometimes I drive my mother to the dentist.
Not everyone is cut out to volunteer at the hospice. But everyone is capable of some kind of service. Your professional expertise might lend itself to occasional gifts of time and knowledge. Your body might like to express itself in some good physical barn-raisin’ activity from time to time. You might be a fundamentally lazy person, who can still feel like a good contributing citizen by gifting 10 percent of your income every month to someone deserving. Give it some thought, and find your own way.
Everyone needs to know that their flame helped light the way for someone.