There’s times when it all seems easy. There may be a lot of work that needs doing, and the odds to be overcome may be monumental. But.. the way ahead is clearly defined, you are excited, and you can strongly feel the presence of your gods urging you on. You feel like nothing can possibly defeat you, because you know that you are here because this is the path you are supposed to walk, and hence one way or another you will get to your destination. All you have to do is walk the path, and then the rest will take care of itself.
And then there’s the days when you question it all: what the fuck am I doing here? What if this is all one big illusion that I am wasting my time on?
And I am not even talking about that infamous ‘dark night of the soul’ thing. My gods are not exactly silent at the moment. I can feel their presence around me very strongly, in fact.
And maybe that is just it. I am not doubting them. The one I am doubting is myself. How did I ever get involved in all this? Why did I ever have this illusion that I could probably be of any use to them? Tiny small me, who is shouting from her little corner of the internet, most likely being heard by nobody at all. This is all a mistake and you’ve got the wrong person, right? Instead of me, you must be wanting someone who never screws up, who actually knows what she is doing rather than drifting from illusion to illusion…
That is what I shout to them.
Help. I am nobody. I cannot possibly ever be worthy of you.
You keep calling to me, but I barely even understand what you expect me to do??
Or is this perhaps the whole point? Scraping away those final illusions I have about myself? Seeing how I cope with not knowing? If I were some big spiritual teacher, this is probably the point where I would be expected to say something deep, something about how it is all worth it, and how it will make you stronger and blah blah blah.
Maybe some day. But right now, it actually more like scares the hell out of me. Join me on one of my recent meditations, if you would like to see some of the scenery.
Artemis comes to fetch me. She leads me to a temple, in the deep dark end of the forest. A few of the temple priests arrive and bring me to a round room, which has a dark pool at the center. They leave me there, and I notice that the place actually has no doors. The only possible exit is through the dark waters, a place where I insinctively know that my shadow self resides in there. I notice that when I put my hand in the pool, it dissolves into nothingness. After I retract my hand, it begins to reform, but if I dip it in again it dissolves again. I know I need to go in there, that the alternative is being stuck in this illusion forever, but I am so scared. I feel my ancestors forming a circle around me and the pool, as if encouraging me not to be afraid. In the end I decide to jump in, and that is where the meditation ends.
It feels like something that is supposed to teach me something, a hint about what I am supposed to do, how to deal with my feelings, but…
Sometimes you wish they would just write you a note in plain English spelling out exactly what to do, instead of ambushing me with vision after vision where I feel like I am, once again, failing because I do not get the point?
Or are you just trying to tell me that I won’t be getting anywhere if I dare not look my doubts straight in the eye and interact with them? Take the risk that they will dissolve my illusions and take my whole worldview and sense of purpose away from me as well?
Damn. Just… if you take away my illusions, can you please give me something in return?
I’ll try. Please forgive me my millions of failure.
At least I am not alone in this. While writing this, I felt a presence as if a hand was resting on my shoulder. Cernunnos. Coming to bring me that plain-old-English written note that I had hoped for. Only, it just tells me what I know realize that I already know. That learning to cherish doubts and seeing them as the teachers that they are is an integral part of my path, and that is actually just as important as all those other things that feel so much more tangible and accomplished…
This is Cernunnos
Cherish your doubts. You should not fear them but rather see them as the times when the mystery deepens, and when you can check the strength of your foundations. When the stormy winds risk blowing everything away, when all that remains is just the bare skeleton of your practice, look behind you and take in the world around you.
Why are you at this crossroads? What drove you to this point? When given the chance to start over, would you make the same choices again? Which things did not go quite as you expected they would go? Are these the reasons of your doubts?
When you encounter the black beast, look it in the face, make it your ally. It is something every hunter knows: with certain wild animals, the most dangerous thing you can do is try to run away from them. Instead, hold your head high, and let yourself be seen. Allow the beast to witness your courage. More often than not, it will back off and the way forward will become clear again.
You have to doubt. A person who never doubts is a danger to themselves and their community. It is only through doubt that you will identify your misconceptions and keep your practice healthy.
Enjoy your encounters in the wilderness. They have much to teach you.
And so I’ll try. And fail. And try again. And to my gods: thank you for not minding that I need to yell and shout at you every once in a while…