Spurred by the discussion of how best to help people obtain needed social services, I have uploaded a PDF file of Emergency and Community Resources for my local area. This file is creative commons, and you may distribute it as needed, even if all you use it for are the national resources or the notion of how to organize your own local community resources.
I’m making a separate post about it so that people are aware that it is on my site navigation now. I will probably add and delete over time as needed or as I find new things that may be of use to my community. Blessings,
Now, having discussed some of my own experiences in physical and mental illness, I’d like to talk about some troubling attitudes toward holistic health and healing. Beth Lynch wrote her own entry about this topic and received a troubling comment that pretty much embodies everything that Camille and Beth were talking about in their respective posts. I’m not going to rehash everything that I said in my comments to the person there, but I would like to discuss what really worries me when people start going on woo alone.
Is there a mind-body connection? Yes, absolutely. However, the people I know who are /actual/ healers working with the mind/body connection [in my personal experiences with hypnotherapy, reiki, etc.] have never discouraged me from using western medicine. You know why?
BECAUSE THEY KNOW IT’S UNETHICAL, RECKLESS, AND DANGEROUS ADVICE.
if you go to a practitioner who tells you to stop taking your meds because their techniques will insta-heal you, THEY ARE A FUCKING QUACK. RUN, DO NOT WALK OUT OF THEIR OFFICE.
Any reiki healer, hypnotherapist, chiropractor, etc worth a damn will tell you that you will get maximum benefit from conjoint therapy, and in my experience, this is the truth. The other thing that I will say about this is that any healer worth a damn would also acknowledge that mind and spirit can help heal your body, but that you will still require a guide. I am not a hypnotherapist. If I want hypnotherapy to help me with my PTSD, I need to see a professional.
Gentle readers, if you’re clergy or even just a friend of someone with a disability, telling them that they can just think their way out of an illness is irresponsible as fuck. It is not your place to make the call to remove a person’s doctor-prescribed medical regime. If you’re clergy or laity leadership, I would even make the argument that it’s a person’s ethical duty to refer or suggest western medicine if you think the person’s behavior is dangerous to themselves or others. Whether or not they take your advice is up to them, but if you really think they’re in danger of physical violence or suicide, calling for a wellness check is entirely appropriate. Pastoral counseling or chatting with a friend cannot cover everything, and if it’s outside your scope of practice, you need to say so in a firm, compassionate manner. I don’t want someone coming to me when they really should be in therapy. I’m not a therapist. I am not familiar with the techniques to guide someone else through that healing process.
Caveat: physical or mental illness should not be a bar to participation or leadership, so long as the person is taking care of their illness. I would also advocate for any given group to have enough leaders (read: depending on size of group) that no one person being out of it due to a bout of severe illness knocks leadership out. In my own study group for example, I am not the sole leader, and when I am ill, there are three other mods. Our group membership holds steady at about 20-25 people, and that’s by group consensus. If I’m out sick, there is still good, capable leadership. We keep our group small so that squabbling is minimal, and so that everyone knows everyone else well enough to feel comfortable with the types of discussion and work that we do. I am comfortable enough with the other mods if I should ever feel like I had to step down entirely, the group would still be in good hands, and I would still be happy as a member there, even if we don’t all practice in the exact same way.
In regards to mental illness, we absolutely reserve the right to remove a member if their illness becomes disruptive to group activities, and said person is refusing treatment. We’re more patient if the person is in the process of getting things sorted, but if someone is booted for untreated mental health, we generally do not ban them for life if they come back later and have settled into a regime that works for them. Your group needs and mileage may vary.
If you do work as clergy or laity leadership, I would urge you to make up a master list of such things as:
- Social work agencies, both public and private. The United Way’s 211 is a good place to start in finding these resources.
- where to find free and low cost health care
- where to find free and low cost medication and medical supplies
- Homeless services
- crisis unit contacts and organizations for people have had severe trauma and/or depression
- Pagan-friendly addiction treatment or 12-step groups
- free and low cost counseling centers for follow up care
- food insufficiency resources
- free or low cost childcare services
- domestic violence centers
- safe spaces and shelters for GLBTQ youth, who are often thrown out of their parents’ homes for being gay.
- legal aid for immigrants, family law, religious discrimination, and other forms of discrimination
I am still working on one for my local community[EDIT: Finished my local emergency services PDF], and I would still like to make a national one. In the meantime I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the submissions that I’ve received thus far. And while I wish this didn’t have to be said, but it does: If there is domestic violence or child abuse in the home, you MUST make that call to a social worker. They are the people who are trained on the safest way to extricate the victims from a dangerous situation. Most of all, if a child tells you that they are being physically or sexually abused, BELIEVE THEM. If we’re gonna be a real religion, we’re gonna have to address some real-world problems.
And this fear that if you actually talk to your therapist about what you believe, they’ll think you’re mentally ill? Were you aware that there are actually people out there that don’t do that? Therapists are just like any other healing professional, and you’ve got to find the one that fits you. I’ve not talked about all of my religious life with my therapist, but at the same time my religious and spiritual life aren’t causing me any problems currently. She does know, however, that I believe in some pretty non-mainstream things, and I laid it out for her at the first appointment knowing that if she couldn’t handle it then I would need someone else to work with.
via On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community | Foxglove & Firmitas.
I am a firm believer in the notion of using both holistic and western medicine to treat my own physical and mental health – and I still find it odd that we separate out mental – that is stigma, right there. Isn’t your brain in your head, which is part of your body?
I have used both conventional and hypnotherapy to treat my PTSD, because my therapist uses both methods, and I picked her for her woo-friendliness.
Yes, therapists can be asshats about mysticism. You know what? So can doctors and specialists. You know what you do to a doctor or a therapist who doesn’t respect your opinions about your body? You fire them and go find another. During my long stint of WTF is wrong with my lungs, it took me four years to get an accurate diagnosis, and that is actually a short timeline for someone who is a zebra like me.
Caveat: I know that “find another” is difficult for the un/under-insured or those who live out in rural areas where there is not an array of choices. It is much harder for them to find a good doctor, specialist, or therapist. We all do the best we can with our given resources, and I would encourage anyone in that situation to keep searching because someone may leave town and a new person can come in who is a much better fit. I would also encourage anyone in this situation to report the behavior if they’re rude to the appropriate state board or regulatory body. I have had rude physicians who didn’t want to listen to me because ittle woman’s health problems were all in her head. I reported them to my insurance company and to my state board.
So what happens when we have mental illness? Camilla suggested talking openly about our experiences, so I’ll talk about my own PTSD. Last fall, I was stalked, and during that time period, I also was giving pastoral counseling to someone who shared their rape experience with me, and it was enough like my own to give me flashbacks. I’ve been pretty open about discussing my rape, and at the time, I didn’t want the person to see it on my blog and then feel like they couldn’t talk to me about their needs anymore. I don’t regret that decision either – it’s not X client’s fault that I have a trigger, and it is my responsibility to take care of said trigger. Reiki calmed me down enough to keep me steady until I could see my doctor, who prescribed therapy and medication.
Note: said meds didn’t screw up my godphone at all, and helped it because the general low grade anxiety that I didn’t even know that I had was calmed, and it made it easier for me to focus and listen to Loki.
Now, during this period of stalking and rape triggered anxiety, I was not the most pleasant person to be around – being stalked is very triggery for me, because in essence, you’re saying no to the person and they are disregarding your request for no contact. Your “no” means nothing to me is the trigger. Litigation has since solved the problem, but I still have the trigger, and it’s my job to deal with it. I found a counselor who is comfortable with holistic therapy, hypnotherapy, and conventional therapy with medication. I am able to be candid with this person about my spiritual experiences, and I count this as a blessing. I am incredibly grateful to the friends and loved ones who behaved with compassion toward me during this period. You know who you are, and I love you.
I am going to stop here, because this entry is already long, and put up part two shortly.
Pardon me while I squee!
Originally posted on The Serpent's Labyrinth:
Because I love all y’all I decided to push hard and get these out for the equinox, as a gift to my audience.
So: I am pleased to announce that my book Walking Between Worlds: a survival guide to life touched by the Unseen is now available for purchase.
In addition to this, I have re-released my Frey devotional (published originally in 2009 under the name Svartesol), entitled Peace and Good Seasons – a revised and expanded version. (This is one of the secret projects I’ve been talking about.)
Walking Between Worlds(322 pages, Ravens Hall Press): A book of helpful tips for managing a more intensive spirit-touched practice, based in over twenty years of experience and many lessons learned the hard way.
Topics covered include (but are not limited to) psychic hygiene, etiquette in dealing with spirits and the Otherworlds, finding discipline and the ability to…
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I have some personal doxa in regards to Loki as a King in His own right, so this article by Dagulf Loptson is a fascinating theory to me.
The idea that Loki could be considered Múspellheimr’s ruler may shed some light on Óðinn’s pact of blood-brotherhood with him. Perhaps this bond was not a simple blending of blood between friends, but a blood truce between kings. Njörðr has often been viewed as a king within Vanaheimr, while his son Freyr is the king of Álfheimr. Both of these individuals are brought to live in Ásgarðr as hostages in order to keep peace between their nations. Identifying Loki as a hostage king of Múspellheimr may explain his presence in Asgard, as the Muspilli demonstrate no threat to Ásgarðr until after Loki and his children have been imprisoned, thus breaking the truce between the two nations.
A further connection between Loki and the giants of Múspellheimr can be found in the Eddic poem Svipdagsmál. This story makes mention of a mysterious figure named Sinmara (“pale nightmare”), who is generally believed to be Surtr’s wife. In the course of this poem, Svipdagr asks the giant Fjölsviðr what weapon can kill the rooster Víðófnir who resides in Ásgarðr. Fjölsviðr responds,
26. Lævatein it is called,
and Loptr, knowledgeable in runes, forged it
before Nágrind [the gate of the dead] below;
In an iron chest Sinmara keeps it
and holds it with nine strong locks.
The name of the sword which Loki forges in Helheimr, Lævateinn, literally translates to “damage twig”, which itself is actually a kenning for sword and may not actually be the sword’s name. The fact that Sinmara guards the sword for Loki is interesting, and one might suppose that as she is the guardian of Loki’s sword, her husband Surtr is the guardian of Loki’s realm while he is away in Ásgarðr.
While reconstructionists of European traditions can rely upon textual survivals and those of the African Diasporic Religions have more significant bodies of oral traditions (and oftentimes continuously-practiced iterations of Animist spiritualities in Africa), and many traditions accept some degree of personal revelation (often dubbed “Unverified Personal Gnosis”) which often succeeds in later becoming verified through practice or eventual discovery. But in all cases, though, one must again ask why “reconstruction” is important at all? That is, since most polytheisms accept as an unstated axiom that ancient gods persist into the present, why place any sort of importance upon the older forms of worship and belief when those same gods reveal themselves in the present?
…attempts to revive older social and cultural relations is an act of protest against Modernity. But it is not enough merely to label it thus without speaking to precisely what it is about Modernity that is insufficient, alienating, and “in-authentic.”
It is this where we must tread carefully. There exists a significant trend within both Heathenism and Celtic Reconstructionism (as well, to some degree, within Hellenic Reconstruction) unquestionably to adopt modern notions of identity and transpose them into the reconstructed past, a process historians and philosophers call “re-inscription.” Re-inscribing modern political and social ideas into the past is quite often critiqued, particularly within CR, but less susceptible to rigor are nearly-invisible notions of race, genetic ancestry, and cultural exclusion. It is incredibly common to hear unchallenged (and vigorously defended) negative statements regarding “non-Celtic lineated” peoples speaking about “Celtic” gods, as if the gods in question were subject to modern conceptions of race and lineage. Worse, some even pervert anti-Imperialist and Post-Colonialist theory into a defense of racial deities, linking criticisms of cultural appropriation of subaltern peoples to CR insistence that worship of Celtic gods is either more authentic or appropriate by Celtic-lineated peoples.
The difficulty lies precisely in the re-inscription. Race-theory is a very new (that is, Modern) idea, birthed during the very Enlightenment which anti-racist Liberals praise. Iterations of such classifications of peoples have always existed in multiple cultures, but, as Hannah Arendt argues in The Burden of Our Times, these ideas don’t become ideologies until found useful by State and political actors. That is, the division of peoples into racial classifications did not become a “thing” until it proved to be a practical ad hoc justification for European imperial ambitions. An intriguing aspect of this is the notion of “whiteness;” those of European descent did not see themselves as “white,” but rather as part of specific cultural and ethnic groups (Slavs, Welsh, etc.). National identities did not exist until the creation of the modern nation-state: there was no “German” people until there was a Germany, nor American until there was a United States of America.
Rhyd Wildermuth’s article on polytheism, race, and modernity is an excellent and well-thought out piece, and I’m linking to it for its candor on Paganism and Heathenry’s troubling relationships with racial issues, particularly in reconstructionist traditions.