I feel like it’s important to share more about what de-colonizing my spirituality means to me.
I don’t know how much to share about my spiritual practices because they are intimate and not a marketing tool. At the same time, I want to share things that may help others because all spiritual communities today seem to be rife with the same issues present in the rest of the world, namely racism, cultural appropriation, spiritual bypassing and hatred of queerness.
I am Irish, English, Welsh, Swiss and have a few other European bloodlines running through my family tree. Some of my ancestors killed Native people while colonizing North America. Some were Irish dissidents who were hanged for opposing England. Some of my ancestors were the English passing sentence on the Irish and Welsh. At least 50% were women and femmes living in times without equal rights for women. All were white in a history where whiteness subjugated black, brown, asian and native American people.
There was a time before Christianity. That is a fact. The effects of Christianity’s spread across the world have justified some of the greatest horrors in human existence: inquisitions, assaults, abuses and genocides. That slow march which began two thousand years ago with Jesus, a peaceful but political dissident, continues today with a warped view shared by modern so-called “Christian” believers forcing manipulative agendas of queer hatred, ecocide, misogyny and racism into our courtrooms, into legislature, into poor towns and recovery centers full of people in need of resources. These resources cost the price of conversion, each instance of which is considered a feather in the cap of the person who influenced them to convert.
I wanted to know who my ancestors were, good and evil, Christian and pre-Christian, so I can understand who I am. What has been forced on me and what am I forcing on others through my ignorance? “Pagans” are nothing more or less than the ancestors of every Christian person in history. To vilify countless cultures for the “sin” of nonconformity is a white supremacist ideology, plain and simple.
Spirit and Science
I have always been open to the idea that magic and science could be synonymous, inextricable or intertwined. Those who are critical about the existence of magic say that the things we experience can easily be explained by brain science or natural phenomena, but when you observe a sunset, gravity, the spiral of a galaxy, when your brain allows you to sense the world around us with such splendor and detail, how can we truly separate the magical from the scientific? Such an attempt comes from a colonial “scientific” urge to dissect and mutilate everything in the universe to achieve ‘understanding.’ Why do things have to be separated and broken to be understood?
I don’t know if coincidence is spiritual or statistical and yet it unfolds in incredible ways. I feel awe looking at a waterfall and in that moment there’s physics and life force and psychology all at play. The ancestry in my blood and bones, in the water itself–because we all come ancient watery ancestors–the mysteries we still can’t explain are ever-present.
I believe in “real” magic that can’t be explained by science or Western colonizer ways of thinking. I believe in trees talking to one another and spirits giving us messages. And I think science is real magic too.
Spirit and Nature
The wisdom of the earth is available to everyone. You don’t need an intermediary (a priest, a priestess, a teacher, a book) to connect to nature because you are from and of Nature.
All you need to connect to the spirit of the land, sea and sky is your own body, which is made entirely of earthly materials. The iron in your blood is the same iron roiling at the core of the earth. The air in your lungs has been passing through this atmosphere for millennia. Your skin and bones and brain and heart are nourished by everything you eat from the sweet soil and the salty seas. Just sit still and use any one of your senses to notice the presence around you. When we start internalizing the message that everything comes from this one source, and will go back again someday, including each of us, we will be one step closer to understanding spirit without feeling any need to have spiritual or earthly superiority over anyone or anything. Humbleness and reverence follow.