Mind-altering substances, even the kind sanctioned by a licensed medical professional, are not to be trifled with. The power of the chemicals we so cavalierly put in our bodies these days is truly frightening, when you think about it--a single pill taken every day for a month can turn you into a completely different person, keep you alive, keep you out of pain...and taken with the wrong things, even just one or two in combination, can very easily kill you, as the recent loss of Heath Ledger illustrates.
My heart still breaks over his death--he was truly talented, and just barely beginning his real career after finally choosing to play roles that meant something instead of being just another ruggedly hot face. Every time I think of the final line of Brokeback Mountain I get tears in my eyes, and despite the eerie undertones that no doubt shadow his last performance, I can't wait to see The Dark Knight.
I wouldn't presume to compare my own experiences with his, but I can say that I know quite intimately how the effects of even something as seemingly benign as an antidepressant can toss the boat of your mind around in a tempest of emotions and leave you functioning, yes, but also weary and raw.
The last few weeks here at Sylvan have been rather hellish. I won't go on about the details--the short-short version is that adjustments to my meds were required, and the subsequent side effects came dangerously close to the crisis point. I won't say that all is well now, but I thought it was time I at least gave some form of update, since bloggers tend to vanish from their kingdoms and never return, and I don't want to be one of those once-a-month fair-weather writers. My intention here has always been to write about my life as a Wiccan for better or worse, and at the moment I think life qualifies as "worse," but I waited until things started looking up at least a little before reporting in so that I wouldn't get three hundred frantic emails telling me to put down the gun. Don't worry, I'm still here.
Now, onto a bit of business.
I was a bit taken aback by the response to my post on priorities, also known as "Witch, Please." I had no idea a fit of spiritual pique would resonate with so many people, Pagan and otherwise. As I've said before, feel free to post links to any post you see here; in most cases I permit short quotes but not full-on reproductions of posts, but this once I'll make an exception. You are welcome to repost that piece as long as it is credited © 2008 by Dianne Sylvan, and a link back to this site is provided. You don't have to ask me, nor do you have to ask just to link to any of my work.
I also thought it was interesting that a number of people thought the post was aimed at "fluff bunnies," which incidentally is a term I hate almost as much as I hate "Neo-Wicca." (The latter being used mainly as a pejorative, usually used by traditionalists to distinguish themselves from "those people" and almost never used by anyone to describe themselves. Wicca is less than a century old. It's all Neo.) In truth, the post was inspired by my experiences with the online community, especially "longtime" Wiccans who use the anonymity of the internet forum to spew their spite and superiority all over seekers and anyone unfortunate enough to ask a dumb question. There is far too much posturing and bickering in the Community and not nearly enough actual religion.
My conclusion: there is nothing spiritual about an asshole. The vocabulary words and trappings make no difference. If your faith has not helped you become a better person and helped you live a more joyful life, you're doing it wrong.
Wicca is not a way to make yourself feel smarter than Christians. It's not a role-playing game. It's not a hobby. It's not an excuse to lord your Phenomenal Cosmic Powers over mere mortals. Honestly, people. Stop using our religion as a weapon and a crutch. Claiming to practice a religion whose essence is a relationship with the natural world and then refusing to grow is not only bad for you, it's an insult to those of us who are here for the work as well as the reward.
We're human. We stumble, we fall. We ask dumb questions and give dumb answers. We look for the easy way out and find it's not any easier in the long run. We're fallible. We get on our high horse (obviously) and trot around town with our willies hanging out. But most importantly, we grow. We change. We pick up the pieces and make something new from them. We take the tomatoes life throws at us and make bloody marys. That, to me, is the beauty of the human race, and the only thing that keeps me from giving up on us at times: we have the capacity to do anything, and we can always, always do better.
This is why I write about the things I write about, and parade my skeletons around for all to see, even though it probably leads a lot of people to think I'm a basket case or hypocrite or whatever. Meh. Think what you like. The important thing is that everyone reading this blog knows that I'm trying. I have a lot of knowledge, yes, and a lot of experience, but I'm every bit as screwed up as anyone else trying to walk this path, and I can be mule-headed and feather-brained and a bit of an asshole myself. I have a way with words and a lot of opinions, and I come up with cool ideas I want to share. I've been a Wiccan for fourteen years, and the fact that my life is not perfect should tell you two things: one, this path ain't for wusses; and two, for all our faults and foibles, we all have the potential to do something wonderful--author, priestess, accountant, secretary, Witch, ditch digger, president, every single one of us has work to do in this Earthwalk.
So get off your ass and do it.
I'll be right beside you.