Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4514
Age Group: Adult
Posted: June 4th. 2001
Living Through A Drought
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
This morning, the trip down to the little pond was like walking into a brand new world. Nothing much had really changed. As Wren tossed the breadcrumbs along the shoreline for the seagulls and the turtles, behind her the pigeons and squirrels were already devouring the seeds and the blue jays were looting the peanuts as quickly as their blue bandito wings would carry them. The Moor Hen and her Little Chick cruised along the shoreline looking for the entire world like a human family out for a stroll in the park. But something -something important-HAD changed. Yesterday, the rains came.
Florida and other parts of the country have been experiencing a drought. After four years of below average rainfall, our part of the state has a rain deficit of almost three feet. Fires are sparking up everywhere and water restrictions are in place. Florida is in a state of emergency. Every person and animal and fish and bird is affected. Life seems dry and dusty and brittle.
People who have embarked upon a spiritual quest can experience a 'drought as well. In fact, at some point it is almost certain that they will. What once was new and alive and exciting suddenly becomes a burden, a duty, and an obligation. Where once one rushed excitedly to each new coven meeting or public gathering, one's feet now drag all the way up the drive. Rituals seem empty and hollow and pointless. Just like the leaves on the drought-stricken willow tree, the spiritual life that once fluttered with vitality now hangs listless and limp. It is at this point that many Pagans may decide to turn back. They may once again return to a previously practiced religion. They may try another 'flavor' of Paganism hoping to rekindle some enthusiasm. They may attend every workshop within miles or retreat from all of the activities and connections that they once so enjoyed. They feel 'dried out' with nothing left to give. They feel as though somehow they have 'failed' or that the Gods have abandoned them.
They give up. They give up because they feel now that all of their previous ecstatic experiences must have been simply an illusion. They give up because they believe-in their drought-stricken heart of hearts-that they have made no spiritual progress at all. They give up because it has become so very, very obvious that this is not the right path for them. And they would be so very, very mistaken. It is at this very point-the place where the raging drought has burned up everything living within-that the most wondrous of transformations can occur.
Spiritual drought is not an unknown marker in the spiritual lives of other cultures or in the ancient religions of mankind. Indeed, the making of a new shaman often required a profound emotional, physical or psychological crisis. In the ancient Greek religions, the mystery schools often brought the new blindfolded initiate to a psychological crisis by subjecting the seeker to certain unexpected -and by our standards, often horrifying- encounters with strange noises, sensations or experiences. One either survived a 'night alone in the pyramid/barrow/cave' and then emerged as a genuine initiate--or one went mad. 'Going mad' is a thought that often crosses the mind of someone in a spiritual drought. It is part of the process. It is part of the initiation into a different way of being. There is no way to avoid the process if one is to truly advance on a spiritual path. No matter which religion or path you run off to in the hope of escape, if one is serious about developing one's spirituality (and not just going through the motions), it will track you down. It must be confronted. It must be endured. It will happen to everyone who sincerely strives to become a spiritually aware being. And it always sucks big time. Always.
Some Pagans have been through this process. More Pagans-because so many have entered the various Pagan Paths within the last five years-will soon be approaching that 'season of drought'. Lucky are those who have teachers or Priests/Priestesses who have experienced such a crisis themselves and can guide them through such a process. For those who follow a solitary path or do not have someone nearby who has already endured the 'dark night of the soul', it can be a very difficult and confusing time. For those, Wren would suggest two excellent books on the subject: 'The Stormy Search For Self' (updated as Spiritual Emergency) by Christina and Stanislav Grof and 'Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics' by Marsha Sinetar. It does help to hear someone say that you're not crazy. Wren can say, "You are not crazy'. She's been through it herself. She survived. You will too.
And as Wren walks back across the grassy grounds, the air is sparkling with moisture and the smell of wet earth wipes itself on her nose. The leaves on the willow bounce about on the small breeze like tiny pointed flags raised in celebration. The squirrels resemble damp frumpy little men who have been interrupted halfway through their bath and beads of dew perch upon blades of grass like so much carefully restored otherworld jewelry.
The drought is far from over. It will take several more months of steady rains for the land to become lush again and several more years of that before the underground aquifers are replenished. But yesterday, hope came down from the sky and kissed the land. Faith and endurance received their rewards. Don't give up. What you seek is seeking you. Maybe it will come today and if not today, then maybe tomorrow. But the rain WILL come. It always does.
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Anchor Photo: Although our preference would have been to place a powerful "drought image" in this position... We simply could not find one in time... This shot is a fave from the past and was taken in Salem, Mass in 1994 by Fritz during the filming of a TV special on Witchcraft for the Learning Channel Network. We don't own this expensive wand (borrowed for the shot) but believe it may be a Waterhawk piece.
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