Stumbling Blocks to Following Your Own Path
Author: Alfred Willowhawk, MMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman
In my last article I spoke on how to choose and began the discussion on following one’s chosen path. As we defined this earlier a spiritual path is one where an individual is taking a route whether physically or metaphysically that pertains to the non-physical being of a person. The most important part of such a path is that the individual grows, learns, and expands and comes to reconciliation with their understanding of the metaphysical realms and their understanding of Deity (s) .
Stumbling Blocks to Spiritual Growth
As one researches, and gets in tune with their path they may find some stumbling blocks to their growth. Dictionary.com defines a stumbling block as: “an obstacle or hindrance to progress, belief, or understanding”. In other words, something that stops the movement on a particular path. These blocks are usually temporary unless an individual chooses to make them permanent.
These stumbling blocks may be in the form of lack of understanding, fear, abandonment, (by friends and family) , rejection, (personal, or societal) , pressure to be normal, or even unfortunately, pressure from people in the Business of Paganism, to keep people to themselves. Take this example:
An individual feels a connection with Kali. A cursory search of the literature shows Kali as a terrible aspect of a goddess. In fact some say that she is actually a demon that eats people alive. Interestingly enough, in the definitive work, The Magic of Kali, translated by Michael Magee, it states that this interpretation of Kali comes from the suppression of a group called the Thuggies, who were such a problem for the British during the empire days. In fact, Kali or Mahaprakrti, is “ the destroyer of anxiety, giving boons, seated on a corpse, and gives all desires.”
Similarly, the Morrigan, of Irish repute, is sometimes considered a “Battle field Goddess” when instead she is actually a Goddess of prosperity and peace after war, and according to some other traditions, while she may indeed release the two ravens that are depicted with her to her followers, she morns and guides the dead of BOTH sides to the Summerlands.
As you can see, this could become a stumbling block to an individual who has neither the time nor the inclination to do proper research.
Fear, Abandonment, and rejection
Fear, abandonment, rejection and pressure to be normal are related to our culture and society. In the first article in this series (Choosing and Following Your Own Path) I stated that we are social creatures that desire acceptance. As the nature of a personal spiritual path is not necessarily the same as those around us, these pressures can be intense. It is only by being truly grounded and committed to our own path that one can stand up to these pressures. In my time as a Spiritual Coach one thing is constant. In the beginning parents, friends, relatives, and spouses can be frightened by, (what they perceive) , as a rejection of their values and ideals. Sometimes these loved ones exhibit psychological projection.
As cited in The Language of Psychology, (a psychology dictionary) : Psychological projection (or projection bias) can be defined as unconsciously assuming that others have the same or similar thoughts, beliefs, values, or positions on any given subject as oneself.
According to the theories of Sigmund Freud, it is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one’s own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings—basically parts of oneself—onto someone else (usually another person, but psychological projection onto animals and inanimate objects also occurs) .
In this particular example, a loved one projects their own fears, abandonment issues, and rejection onto the individual who has chosen another belief or spiritual path than what they perceive is acceptable. In most of my clients, over time, these same loved ones come to realize that the person in question becomes more peaceful, happy, and balanced as they settle into their own spiritual path.
The Business of Spiritual Growth
As for those who are “in the business”, this is unfortunately what happens to spirituality, when it is replaced with business. In my personal opinion, jealousy, prosperity, (monetary) , and mean spiritedness has no place in ANY business. As a facilitator of spiritual paths, I have no investment, or agenda, that I am following, and neither does ANY spiritual coach, facilitator, reader, shaman, or other worker in the field, who is truly following a Spiritual Path.
According to the Ethics Research Center, in 2005, 75% of those polled said they saw NO unethical behaviors in their workplaces. It is incumbent upon us as individuals to understand that ethical behavior is generally demonstrated in the workplace. Unethical behavior, when demonstrated is more easily spoken. Individuals who have been mis-treated by business people are more likely to share their stories than those who are treated well. Any competent businessperson will tell you that their employees are trained to be pleasant to customers. This is true in the business of Spiritual Growth as well.
First, investigate a potential spiritual guide with individuals who have actually worked with the individual, who can honestly evaluate if this person is worth perusing as a potential coach. Remember that not everyone is happy with the messages they receive from a spiritual worker. Your best choice is to speak to as many people as possible who have worked with that individual. One source of this type of information is testimonials from these actual clients.
Secondly, be cautious of individuals who are susceptible to gossip, or rumors, as these individuals tend to exacerbate and exaggerate issues that may or may not be present. After all, most individuals who facilitate spiritual paths that are not in the mainstream religions/spirituality don’t fit the traditional mold of a leader.
Thirdly, listen to your own guides and intuition. These are your BEST guides for YOUR path.
Each individual that truly facilitates or teaches within this discipline knows that bringing together individuals of diverse backgrounds, and paths to bring about the individual’s highest spiritual enlightenment doesn’t waste time bashing other workers. Many of my associates, follow Wiccan, Christian, Hindu, and First Peoples, (Native American) , paths and we all work together, as there is room for all. After all, since a person’s path is INDIVIDUAL, a particular facilitator cannot help everyone.
Everyone has financial needs in this society. In tribal societies, the shaman, or spiritual worker is cared for by the community he or she serves. However, the individual in question is not doing this work as a JOB. Most of us, have been called to do this work, and are happy and honored to be able to facilitate other people’s paths. This isn’t to say, that a spiritual coach, teacher, or facilitator, should never accept support from their clients. It is all about intent. If the remuneration is paramount, then the work is secondary. I for one, and all those I work with, while we accept the funds that are offered, we don’t turn our backs on individuals who are guided to us, who do not have the financial wherewithal to “support” our work.
As one progresses in their particular path, they find various combinations of these and other stumbling blocks. Remember, it is YOUR choice what you follow.