What evokes the sensation of connection for you? Some people may feel connected to nature while walking in the forest, or sitting silently beside the ocean. Others may experience it while performing music, or writing, or creating art, or kneeling to pray. Many others gain connection through making love, sharing a meal with family, or laughing with friends.
While we might find many of these activities pleasurable, it is the presence of this sensation of connection to your own core, or to something larger or beyond yourself, that differentiates a pleasurable experience from a spiritual experience. Only you can tell which things are simply, if delightfully, pleasurable and which things hold that unique sensation of connection.
“Wakan, Wakan, every creature
Wakan, Wakan, every rock.”
One of the basic tenants of Native American belief, and one of its most beautiful, is that everything in life has a spirit and is Wakan, or sacred. Our First People honor the primal force of life, the stream of existence in which each of us swims.
In witchcraft, when we look within ourselves to seek the nature of spirit, we often use the concept of “As above, so below. As within, so without.”
The Dalai Lama used the analogy of a pebble, dropped in the middle of a pond, whose ripples flow outward all the way to the edges of the water. Unfortunately, people sometimes swim around in their little spot of water, largely unaware of the larger cosmos in which they are involved, and the miracles it can bring them. But you have to wake up and stretch your feathers to see the whole pond!
Jean E. Charon, a French physicist, philosopher and author of the book, The Spirit: That Stranger Inside Us, says, “There are microscopic individualities inside every human. They think, they know, and (they) carry Spirit in the Universe.” He calls these bits of intelligence eons, also known as electrons. “An electron that was successively part of a tree, a human being, a tiger, and another human being will thus remember for all time the experiences it has collected during these different lives. The electron will maintain within itself all of its experiences as tree, as human being No. 1, as tiger, and as human being No 2, to whose organisms it belonged.”
The ancient Celts had a word for this concept, tuirigin (TOOR’ghin), a very precise word for which there is no English equivalent. The nearest we can get to a translation is, “a circuit of births,” according to Caitlin Matthews, a Celtic historian. She says it’s, “not quite the same as reincarnation. In tuirigin, the soul or spirit moves between the otherworld and this world in a series of journeys.”
The Gaelic word for God is Cruithear, which means ‘creator’ or ‘shaper,’ and the ancient people in Scotland, the Picts, were referred to as the Cruithne, “people of the shapes.” Roman accounts, as well as Scottish oral tradition, tell us that the bodies of these ancient ones were covered in elaborate blue tattoos of various animals and other shapes. According to Matthews, it was their way of honoring the sacred world that had shaped them.
How many of us live our lives as ambassadors of the sacred spirit in all things, be it human, plant or animal? If we do not remember our own sacred standing, we may do things that are not in alignment with ambassadorship. Rather than fostering harmony and living an inspirited life, we may instead create discord and destruction.
What if the soul that is our current self came into this lifetime for a specific purpose? First, however, we must recognize that purpose and consciously act upon it.
So this week, I turn my attention inward to my personal work. I take to heart the Dalai Lama’s analogy of a pebble dropped in the middle of the pond, whose ripples flow outward all the way to the edge. My actions ripple outward, having impacts I may never know.
For the rest of this year, whenever I find myself in a crowded place, whether it’s a football stadium, a Yule ritual, a movie theatre, football stadium, or driving in traffic, I’m going do the following activity: I will look at all the different people and whisper to myself, “Every man, my brother. Every woman, my sister. Every crying child, my child. Every old woman or man, my grandmother or grandfather. Every wounded soul, my soul. Every animal and creature, under my care.”
Will you join me in this exercise in conscious connection?
In my mind, your spiritual path makes no difference. The witch’s path, the tribal path, the Buddhist path, the Christian path. Your path. All of us make ripples that radiate out around us. Let’s make the biggest loving ripples we can.