Are Your Relationships Helping or Hurting Your Spiritual Progress?

Are Your Relationships Helping or Hurting Your Spiritual Progress?

I posted on Instagram the other day about the power of relationships. It was a Les Brown quote: “What am I becoming because of this relationship?”

It got me to thinking. We often think of “relationships” only in terms of dating relationships. But, all of our relationships play a role in our lives. Sometimes, we are absent-minded about our relationships – meaning, we do not always think deeply about how they started, or how (or why, or IF) they should continue.

We meet people at a certain stage in our lives and, sometimes, due to nostalgia, or fear, we hold onto them long after they have ceased to feel nurturing or satisfying. It is good mental, spiritual, and emotional housekeeping to occasionally do an inventory of our relationships.

Asking the question “What am I becoming because of this relationship?” is a good starting point. If you ask this question, you will get answers. Here are some possible answers:

Because of this relationship, I am becoming…

  • More success-minded
  • More physically fit
  • More relaxed and cheerful
  • More optimistic, happier
  • More and more in debt
  • More stressed out and suspicious
  • Drained and unfocused
  • Angry, sad, and negative

Obviously, the way you answer this question can, and should, affect how you view this particular relationship. If your answers were more negative than positive, ask yourself why you are still involved with this person. Are you afraid of being alone? Are you afraid of the person (afraid of making them mad, or having them think less of you)? Do you carry the limiting belief that being in ANY relationship, regardless of how toxic or unsatisfying is superior to being single?

If so, why do you have that belief? Who told you that? Is it actually true? Can you think of examples where it might not be true? Are you willing to sacrifice your future success – being all that you were created to be – just to avoid (temporarily) making someone mad (they will get over it, believe me). Are you insecure and overly dependent upon other people? What amazing things might be possible in your life if you were willing to distance yourself from negative or unproductive  relationships?

Asking yourself these questions requires bravery, honesty, and character. This is the beginning of wisdom. After a certain age, we ourselves are responsible for how our lives turn out. We alone will reap the consequences for our life choices. It is no one else’s fault, ultimately. You cannot blame your family, friends, lover, or spouse if you’re not succeeding, even if they are toxic and negative.

As an adult, you get to choose who you spend your free time around. If you insist on spending time with people who belittle you, put you down, let you down, waste your time or money, laugh at your dreams, or encourage you to stay the same rather than evolve into the person you were meant to become – that’s “your bad.”  It is your responsibility to take your life seriously, and do for yourself whatever you need to do. If you don’t support, respect, and value yourself, please don’t expect anyone else to.

On the flip side, once you take the brave action of stepping out alone (or with fewer people) – even though you might feel lonely, afraid or insecure – the Universe rewards courage. Once you are free from any emotional or spiritual anchors, you will be surprised at what you can achieve! Some of those lingering bad habits might start falling away. You may shed all that procrastination and start working towards your dream-life. At the very least, you will no longer be limited by the mindset of your environment.

Don’t sell yourself short. You are a powerful being. You are the Greatness of Spirit living in human form. But as humans, we are sensitive to our environments. Our environments consist primarily of other people. We can love people where they are, for who they are, without allowing them to infect our own mindset, and limit our potential. It is important to be mindful about who we spend our time with. We need to consider what seeds they may be inadvertently planting in our consciousness.

People mean well. But, if they are unconscious, they are subject to the prevailing negative, toxic mental attitudes that flourish in society. If you want to break away from mediocrity and do something different, you have to do something different.

Take the brave step and set the boundaries you need to set. Allow your greatness to shine unhindered and undimmed. You’ll be glad you did!

Peace and love,

Raven

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What the Hell is a “Balanced” Chakra?

When you receive a Reiki session, the practitioner’s goal is to “balance your chakras.” But what does this mean?

Chakras are centers of energy in the body. This energy is the Life Force that animates all living things. It is the difference between being alive and being dead.  The second a person dies, their body is still warm, but the Life Force has separated from the body; it has begun its transition towards a new and different realm of existence.

But, while we are alive, the Life Force within us has several central energy points, called chakras. There are many, many chakras. However, seven are commonly recognized: The root chakra, the sacral chakra, the solar plexus, the heart chakra, the throat chakra, the third eye, and the Crown chakra. Ideally, these energy centers are in perfect balance with one another. No one chakra is more important than any other. All are interdependent and necessary for life on the planet.

However, internal and external forces can affect our body’s Life Force. When we are sick or injured – physically, mentally, or emotionally – this can distort the flow of life energy in the body. Trauma – physical, emotional, and mental –  can cause areas of stagnation, or stuck energy. This stagnant energy can register as actual pain, or as something more subtle. Subtle, stuck energy can proceed to quietly damage the area of stagnation until, eventually, it manifests as a chronic emotional problem, or an area of limitation in one’s life.

For example, the root chakra controls our connection to the earth. It affects our ability to use the earth’s resources and our own inborn talents to make a living. It is most associated with ego, the survival instinct. If the root chakra is damaged and weak, a person’s life may be very out of balance.

The person with a weak root chakra may be highly spiritual and very sweet. But they may be unable to hold down a job, make a living, or thrive independently. An unhealthy root chakra can make someone incompetent at the skill of daily living. They might even become physically unhealthy, as their connection to the planet is often weak or dualistic. They subtly disdain the things of the earth in lieu of “heavenly” things. They embody that saying “He’s so spiritually minded, he’s no earthly good.”

On the other hand, a balanced root chakra is one in which the ego is healthy and strong. There is no perceived separation between spiritual matters and earthly matters. Making money is viewed neither as an obsession, nor as something to fear or push away. Money is, therefore, used for the benefit of the person’s physical and spiritual well-being. And, because they are healthy and balanced, they can turn around and help others. They can be a beneficial presence on the planet, and not a burden.

People are negatively affected when the chakras are out of alignment. Each of the chakras has a pathology if they are not all balanced and integrated with one another. There is no “good” and “bad” in the natural order. The “higher” chakras (heart, throat, third eye, and crown chakras) are not better than the “lower” chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus). All are one. All are necessary. All must be in flow and communication with one another.

Aside from receiving a Reiki attunement by a practitioner, you can balance your own chakras through meditation. If there are areas in your life you recognize as being “stuck,” you owe it to yourself to give those areas the love and attention they deserve.

You’ll be glad you did!

Peace and love,

Raven

Spiritual Detox – My Story

I had a Reiki attunement on Monday of this week. I’ve actually been attuned before, but it has been a few years, so the classes I’m taking now are refresher courses.

Because I’ve been attuned before I knew what to expect. I’ve been attuned in person and I’ve had a Distance Attunement, in which the practitioner doing the attunement is not in the same location. In each case I felt a light, wonderful feeling. I was conscious of the feeling of being “blessed.”

This attunement, however, was different. This was a cigar-smoking, tattooed, f-bomb-dropping attunement. What I mean by that is that the after-effects were not sweet, syrupy, nor lovely.

On the contrary, my deepest failures came to mind. It was gut-wrenching and painful. And that was just during the attunement.

For the rest of the day I felt like I was going to cry. I felt fragile,  and I had zero confidence. I had a run-in with my toxic roommate, and my landlord gave exactly zero fucks about my problem. I still had to work, so I had to lie to each student who asked me “How are you today?” “Oh, fine,” I said. Pure bullshit. I was not fine. I was sad, depressed, insecure, and shaky inside.

But, eventually it passed. By the end of the day I felt my insides sorting themselves out and going back to normal. I was left feeling a sense of awe at the spiritual journey.

I believe that the reason for the spiritual detox is similar to a physical detox. If you have ever fasted or done some type of cleanse, or simply improved your diet radically in a short period of time, you may have experienced physical symptoms. If you were accustomed to eating whenever and however you wanted before the change, you likely ingested many toxins along the way. When you either stop eating temporarily, or bombard your body with good stuff, the body goes into a type of shock.

The body is pleased that it’s getting good nourishment, or being given a break from digestion during a fast, but it’s used to dealing with whatever crap you give it. So, as your body happily excretes all the toxins you’ve ingested over the past weeks, months, or years, it’s a lot to deal with all at once. Even though you’re healthier, you feel worse than ever.

It’s a passing phase. As you get rid of all that doesn’t serve you, and continue giving your body the good stuff, your system will normalize. You will recover from the tough period and eventually feel better than ever. But you have to go through the detox to get there.

Similarly, when you – and a practitioner  – infuse your soul with positive energy (I was meditating deeply during the Reiki attunement), it’s a lot of Goodness all at once. The soul is pleased, but it’s shedding all the thought-forms that are unlike the new positive energy.

I know this applies in my case. I have been making a lot of transitions in my life lately. I’ve been shedding negative people left and right. I’ve been diving deeper into my spiritual practice and focusing on the things that matter most to me.

With no negativity to block the energy flow, and a bombardment of positive energy from both myself and the healer, I was at the top of what I could handle energetically. All that was unlike that positive energy was forced to the surface. It came up so that I could look it square in the face, and release it to the Goddess to be healed.

Today, after having gone through that experience, I am in a better place. My circumstances have not changed, but that’s not what it’s about. I’ve been cleansed on an energetic level. I am on a new plateau that is higher than my previous level.

But just like with a physical detox, the work is not done. If you do a physical cleanse, or a fast, and then go right back to your old, crappy diet, the positive effects will be lost. On the other hand, if, after wiping the slate clean, you begin a new program of healthy eating and physical activity, the effects of the cleanse will last, and you will continue to see progress.

So, for me, this is only the beginning. The attunement – and the spiritual detox – were confirmation for me that I’m on the right track. Now I must maintain this higher level of awareness by continuing my spiritual practices and allowing the insights to go deeper. I am being called out of complacency and mediocrity and urged to be of service to those around me.

I am honored and humbled to have a closer relationship with the Goddess than I’ve ever had. I am blessed to be able to share my experiences with open-minded, mature people like my readers.

I wish for all of you the life of your dreams!

Peace and love,

Raven

Why Being Too Nice is Unspiritual, Deceptive, and a Hindrance to Others

When most people come into any particular religion or spiritual discipline, they tend to have a mental image and perception of what it means to be “spiritual.” For example, what comes to mind when you hear the term “spiritual?” What do you think of?

If you’re like most people, you picture a thin person wearing flowy clothes and a dreamy smile, perhaps sitting still in meditation or walking around saying “Namaste” and reeking of patchouli. They probably have long, messy hair, or locs, or a bald head, wear no make-up, and speak softly in quiet, measured tones. They utter long, confusing sentences filled with New Age jargon. And they never, ever – ever – get angry.

This is a fictitious character. A stereotype. Like any stereotype, there is some truth to it. You will find “spiritual” people who fit this image. But it’s dangerous to purposely adopt this stereotype in an attempt to be “holy.” Why?

Because spirituality does not have a uniform. And there is nothing noble about being “nice.” When I use the term nice here, I am NOT referring to being a good and decent human being. You don’t even have to be “spiritual” to be a good and decent human being. What I’m referring to is the stereotype of “nice” that many “spiritual” people aspire to.

There is also nothing good about never getting angry. If injustice doesn’t make you angry, you are not spiritual. By angry, I do not mean screaming, cursing, or hitting. That is an undisciplined, out-of-control fear-response to the emotion of anger. Anger is a visceral response to something we don’t want to be happening. The anger itself is neither good nor bad. Like any emotion, it is just information. The anger is informing us that something is wrong, according to our own value system.

For example, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was angry about racism, bigotry, and segregation. He saw the grave injustice of racism, and he knew it was wrong. Everyone knew it was wrong, but the power structure benefited from this unjust system.  King did not look upon racism and simply tell people they should “think positively.”  He did not say things like “Racism isn’t a part of my reality. I live in love.” No, he saw an injustice and, while LIVING in love, he absolutely used his anger to motivate himself and thousands of others to DO something about it. The Bible does NOT say “Anger is a sin.” It says “Be angry and sin NOT.”

When so-called spiritual people adopt the stereotype, and pretend to feel nothing other than love and joy, they do themselves and others a grave disservice. Not only do they practice deception (and, more importantly, self-deception), they render themselves unfit to help people who may genuinely be suffering. People who are suffering need authenticity from the people trying to help them. I can’t count how many times I’ve either experienced or seen someone try to share something painful in their lives, only to be turned away and rejected by some spiritual person who can’t sully their pristine ears with anything “negative.” The uncomfortable expression on their “spiritual” face, along with their quick exit, informs the hurting person that they cannot be helped, and that no one really cares.

The result is fake people with fake smiles, hiding their true feelings from one another. It leads to inauthentic communication, lying, secret or double-lives, and self-deception. It causes people to downplay their real problems because they don’t want to be rejected by all the “positive” people around them.  Instead of being of real service to hurting people who need spiritual help, the “spiritual, too-nice” person can only spout pious platitudes, and hide from any reality that bums them out.

This inauthentic behavior often backfires, leaving the “too nice” person vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous people who understand the deceptive game they are playing, but know how to play the game better.

Narcissists, sociopaths, con-artists, etc. prey on the “too nice” folks. These predators understand that the Too Nicers are just fearful people who care more about what other people think than about their own authentic experience. The predators understand that the Too Nicers get an ego boost from their “spiritual” personas. The Too Nicers talk a good game, but their lives, attitudes, emotions, and behavior do not reflect a deep knowledge of spiritual principles. The predators can then use a fake spiritual message to lure them in.

This is how many people get sucked into cults, predatory religions, and even abusive personal relationships. The “spiritual” victim falls for the superficial words of the con artist – because both of them are playing a similar deceptive game! The predator makes the “too nice” victim feel “more spiritual,” by appealing to their ego, making them feel elevated and special, separate from the rest of the negative world. Two fake facades interact, but only the predator is aware of what’s really going on. The Too Nicer ends up being exploited, abused and discarded. Sadly, in abusive relationships, some Too Nicers even conclude that God Himself WANTS them to suffer!  It’s their “cross to bear.” Suffering, then, gets elevated to the status of spiritual practice, rather than the red flag that it really is.

If you find yourself feeling superior to others because you are just “sooo nice” and other people are not, it’s time to rethink that. Whenever you can be nice and authentic at the same time, you are doing great! Wonderful! But there will always be times when, to do the right thing, you must stand your ground and oppose what someone wants to do – or what they want YOU to do.  They might not “like” you when you refuse. But, to say “yes” in that moment would be a violation of your own standards and boundaries, an act of self-abandonment and low self-worth. If you discover that someone is using or abusing you, and you go along with it just to “be nice,” you are co-responsible for the abuse. You are not to blame, but you are responsible.

The world does not need any more “nice” people. The world needs principled, strong, moral, disciplined, and courageous people who are willing to hold the world to a higher standard. Spirituality is reflected in the overall progress of our own lives. It is not a fictitious character that we play on Sunday.

In order to become spiritual, you do NOT have to:

  • Shave your head (or grow locs)
  • Wear flowing robes
  • Speak in a soft, affected voice
  • Allow people to abuse you
  • Get people to like you
  • Go along with what others want you to do
  • Eat any special diet
  • Avoid wearing shoes
  • Stop wearing make-up
  • Or pretend you don’t have the normal range of human emotions

And, it is PERFECTLY OKAY to:

  • Get angry
  • Cry
  • Feel bored sometimes
  • Not smile 24/7
  • Have occasional financial trouble
  • End a toxic or unfulfilling relationship
  • Not be skinny
  • Not do yoga
  • Laugh loudly
  • Be friends with those who are not “spiritual”

As long as you have a daily spiritual practice, and are seeing genuine progress in your own life from month to month and year to year, you are spiritual. Don’t pretend that you have no problems. Find safe people to talk to – people who will actually listen to you – people who will not slap you down with pithy sayings, or tell you to “stop being negative.”

If you get angry about something, that’s okay. Figure out why you’re feeling angry. Is it really just a bruised ego, or are you noticing a true injustice? If the anger is justified, learn to transmute the anger into effective action. Go ahead and sit in meditation, but then get up, and see if you can do something to help the situation.

All of our emotions – positive and negative – are valuable. They provide information. They allow us to participate in the full human experience. Our struggles teach us valuable lessons and make us stronger. If you try to share the burden on your heart with someone, and they blow you off with a condemning “Oh, wow, how did you manage to manifest THAT??” Ignore that person. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing a particular problem. Maybe you did “manifest” it through a series of negative thoughts and habits. Or maybe not. Maybe that experience is a blessing and a gift, which you will only understand in hindsight.

Real spirituality is not for the simple-minded. It is not a dress-up game or something to impress others. It is challenging, life-altering work, and it requires our full, honest, authentic participation. Being too nice is a way of hiding from that. It’s a coping mechanism that may have protected you from abusive adults as a child, or gotten you friends in school. But, now that you are an adult, you can choose to let go of coping mechanisms and step into a more authentic expression of YOU.

Peace and love,

Raven

Why Meditation is So Important

Meditation has become fairly mainstream. And, while it’s good that no one looks at you funny anymore if you say you meditate, the mainstream-ness can water down its true power. If you’re serious about spiritual growth on any path, but particularly on the Wiccan path, then I strongly recommend implementing a daily meditation practice.

Yes, daily. Like anything we do daily, meditation becomes a way of life, not just something we do when we “feel” like it, which is usually when the pain of doing things the world’s way has caused so much pain and stress that we’re not sure what else to do!

There are many, many, many ways to meditate. One of the simplest ways to get started is to light a candle and stare at the dancing flame for 1-5 minutes. Let all thoughts go and just train your eyes on the beauty of the flame. No need to comment on it or judge it in any way in your mind. Just look at it, keeping your breath steady and regular.

But this article isn’t about HOW to meditate. It’s about WHY meditation is important. Meditation is important for several reasons.

  • It teaches you to train your mind. An increasing number of people are self-diagnosing as having “ADD.” Attention Deficit Disorder is a genuine disorder. Many people who claim to have it, however, simply have untrained, undisciplined minds.
  • A trained mind is necessary during all the hours we spend not meditating. We are often surrounded by stress and negativity. Meditation trains us to bring our thoughts back, again and again, to that which really matters in life.
  • Meditation teaches you to know – from experience – what deep peace feels like. Eventually you’ll become so accustomed to this feeling of peace, you won’t settle for anything less in your daily life. You’ll make different choices in friends, companions, jobs, etc. Anything (or anyone) that makes peace impossible will gradually fall out of your life, or you will be able to approach the situation in a new and peaceful way.
  • It allows space for the Goddess to send direct messages to you because you are open and receptive during meditation.
  • It allows space to integrate everything you have learned, studied, and read. It turns head knowledge into A.W.O.L. (a way of life).
  • It allows you to tap into your intuition, which is essential to: witchcraft, healing practices, counseling, relationships, and life in general. I’ve gotten many ideas during meditation, and had countless revelations. Even though – or perhaps because – you’re not thinking, wisdom from the Higher Self gently enters your consciousness.
  • Meditation allows you to start the day from the highest point of view possible. You can then respond to life, rather than reacting to whatever is thrown your way. You can even set the tone for your environment at work or home by bringing your peace with you, rather than being sucked into the negativity around you.
  • It teaches you patience. The benefits of meditation come over time. When I was a new meditator I did have some immediate positive benefits. I saw colors and lights, and I grew a lot. But then there were dry spells, where all I had was the routine. Nevertheless, the breakthroughs happen when they happen. In order for them to happen, you have to have a regular practice. Haphazard attempts at anything – including meditation – are unlikely to bring many rewards.

I hope you will embark on a meditation practice as soon as possible and share your results here or on my YouTube channel. Much love to all!

Blessed Be,

Raven

Morality and Wicca

Oftentimes, people following non-traditional spiritual paths (meaning anything that is not one of the book religions: Christianity, Judaism, or Islam), feel a little lost without ancient books and angry men telling them what to do. (I know I did!) They wonder what their moral code should be now that they are “on their own.”

The Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as thy will.” This is great. And simple. The problem comes with figuring out what “harm” is and isn’t.

Other issues surrounding morality are: Does it matter? Is morality outdated? What do we mean by morality? Who determines whether something is moral or immoral?

I can only answer for me, of course. But I wanted to share how I go about determining these things.

By morality, I mean living by a set of self-imposed rules that are in line with my deepest-held values, that I could easily defend against criticism if I had to, that are a match for how I wish to be treated, and are a match for how I present myself to the world.

I believe that morality matters for the following reasons:

1) Violating our own morals affects our emotions. This is why lie-detectors work. For non-sociopaths, lying is generally perceived as wrong. When we do it anyway, we feel something that can actually be registered by sensitive instruments such as those on a lie detector. Our insides tell the truth even when we don’t.

2) Because violating our own morals affects our emotions, it also affects our spiritual practice, spell work, and intention-setting. We cannot meditate properly, cast effective spells, or set uplifting intentions when our emotions are out of sorts.

3) Because it affects our spiritual practice (or even our desire to have a spiritual practice), violating our own morals affects the level of respect we have for ourselves.

4) Because it affects the level of respect we have for ourselves, it affects the level of respect we demonstrate towards others.

5) Because it affects the level of respect we show towards others, it affects the level of respect they have for us in return, and the level of support others are willing to provide us.

So, morality matters. But how do we determine whether or not something we want to do is “harming” someone?

I try to be very honest with myself and ask myself if the action I’m considering is necessary. If not, then maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not it “harms” someone. If it’s not necessary, maybe I just don’t do it.

Another question I ask myself is “Does the action serve a higher purpose?” For example, what will be the outcome of my actions? Will it be positive for all concerned or just me? If it’s just for me, will it improve my life in some way? If not, maybe it’s not something I need to do, especially if it will cost me time and money.

A third question I ask myself is “What are the ways this action MIGHT be harmful?” Sometimes we think an action is innocent, but if our motives are selfish or impure, we might actually be causing harm and not realizing it. For example, if we’re only helping others to make ourselves look good, to gain a favor from someone, or to receive praise and applause, perhaps this activity is just fattening our egos and starving our spirits.

Lastly, and most importantly, the reason for having a moral code is not to avoid hell. Hell is an ancient concept used to keep people in line. It is effective, the same way that threatening kids with being grounded is effective. But it is not for the spiritually mature. If the only reason you avoid doing something is fear of hell, I would say that your moral code needs some work. The spiritually mature do things because they are beautiful, beneficial, or beneficent. They avoid doing things that are hazardous, hurtful, or hateful. No never-ending flames are necessary.

On the contrary, living according to your own moral code gives you confidence, freedom, and an inner Light that no one else can put out. When you’re living in integrity, you don’t care so much what other people have to say about you because you fully approve of yourself. No guilt equals true freedom.

But if you are living out of integrity, no affirmations of self-love, no amount of sermons, and no amount of positive memes will help you feel better about yourself. Fix the problem at the root and get back into alignment with your Higher Self. Then you are a candidate for real intimacy with the Divine Presence.

Peace and love,

Raven