Nietzsche has a famous phrase that says: “God is dead”, as pagans we know that the Gods are much more than alive. But something tells me that in that sentence I have to replace “God” with “empathy”, perhaps the empathy is not completely dead yet, but it is dying, and we are killing it a little bit together.
A few days ago I was interviewed in Yasss, which I am referring to in this article. I define myself as a wizard and what was my surprise when sharing an article that was positive for me, because I think I was dealing with spirituality and witchcraft in a normal and daily way, they start to comment on Facebook that I can not say that I am witch because I’m not initiated. Regardless of the use that those people made of the etymologies and of the use that for them was the correct one of Wicca, witchcraft and spirituality they offended me directly.
At that time the first thing that was active in me was the pride, which had hurt me, not so much for his speech and his vision, that he can be respectable even if he does not share it, but for what he could read between the lines in his words. They asked me to retract my use of the word sorcerer because I had no right to use it. Am I less valid? Among those things they said without saying they expressed ideas such as that he was an intolerant, that he misrepresented the facts, that he was ignorant and that He preferred to remain so and that he was deceiving others. All this only because he did not assume his version or his vision as his own.
I have been researching, learning, experimenting and living in witchcraft and paganism since I was 11 years old. More than half of my life making mistakes and apprehending my mistakes. They have been many years and many hours of dedication so that now someone, in a few minutes they tell me that they are not worth anything or that they are not worth enough to access a “category” that they think is superior. Being trained to start in Correllian Wicca and not yet started does not mean that I could not live the wonder of the spirit from witchcraft and that I can not recognize myself as such. Witchcraft right now is for me, among other things, a form of personal and spiritual empowerment.
In the end, seeing that this discussion led nowhere but to feel offended, I closed the comments. Soon after, someone who had nothing to do with the discussion apologized to me on behalf of those who were responsible, even if they did not. The fact is that after that I began to question how I had acted in this whole affair and I felt guilty feelings and rationally did not understand the reason of those feelings.
A few days later I had another discussion with a woman about abortion. She had shared an image with which she personally disagreed, especially for the tone of wanting to blame and criminalize women. His first response to my comment was “I did not expect such comments coming from someone spiritual like you”. Throughout the conversation that type of comments was repeated more than once. It was late and I needed to vent and put in my own Facebook status: “Now it turns out that because I am spiritual I must be in favor of prohibiting and penalizing abortion …”
The problem here again was not an opinion different from mine, but they tried to impose their opinion on that of others. The meaning of that publication was not that I was bothered by an opinion different from mine about abortion and its legal status. It is an important and delicate issue and I believe that there is not a single vision and / or solution to this, although I find certain tones very repochables at the time of dealing with the subject. What has bothered me about all this is the subtext of several comments that implied that I was less spiritual or that my type of spirituality was worse because of my position on this topic.
Phrases like: “Spiritual goes beyond what you believe!”, “What is worse is that you do not continue with the dialogue and the debate in my publication but continue with this topic and becoming the know-it-all and not prove it when you should be “,” It distresses me even more to see those behaviors of those who claim to be spiritual. ” They ended up being part of a more extensive comment in the publication that I made on my wall for the purpose of venting myself. Perhaps having published that phrase directly on my wall without saying in the other publication that I was already talking about the conversation or something else would lead to a misunderstanding but the new comment affected me again. (In case you’re curious that person deleted me right after commenting on my wall.)
The problem here again lay in a single closed vision and taken as the only possibility. And although he never said it openly in many of his comments as he implied that it was less spiritual or that my type of spirituality was less or wrong. Again I felt guilty, not because of my opinions, I was not really sure why. Precisely all those things that were not said openly but that are inherent in the words were penetrating in me.
Fortunately I already have a dynamic in which when I do not understand exactly what happens to me emotionally I do a work of introspection and meditation with Eros, things of being a devotee of a god related to emotions. Really all that feeling of guilt was caused by the subtexts, by the things that were said without saying directly. That goes on sinking without you noticing and although in a rational way you do not see it, it filters through the layers of your heart until it creates a feeling of anguish and guilt.
In my case this happens because I have to work more on my self-esteem, strengthen my internal mechanisms of acceptance and not depend so much on external factors because then things like this can happen. It is a long process and one that requires a lot of time and dedication and although I am already in it while I get to where I want, there are potholes like these. I am really proud of many things that I am right now, of what I have achieved despite the difficulties, but that pride can crumble in the blink of an eye with a series of unfortunate comments. In fact I got to ask at a certain moment if I had not acted with arrogance. Now I know not.
No, I do not like disputes or I’m looking for problems or conflicts. I like to debate, exchange opinions, study philosophy and think in common is one of the most fruitful things that I know I can do. The problem is when, in a discussion, it is more important to win than the other person feels, to attack the opinion and not the opinion. Today I have more clear that I simply have some ideals about some things and I refuse to certain behaviors try to censor me or cross me out of something that I am not and from experience I can change my mind with more information or with a different vision, but what ever I’ll do it if they try to convince me by blaming me for thinking differently.
At this point in my life and my path in paganism and witchcraft I know who I am and where I come from. In the past I made mistakes about exaggerating or telling things in a way that they were not. But I was 12 or 13 years old and I was just a teenager trying to fit in. With the passage of time I have learned that the validity I was looking for was in many ways I can only find it in my interior. I do not speak of initiations, that this has another meaning, if not of experience and of knowing where and in what way I can fit in with others.
There is a phrase by Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex that I like very much and that fits perfectly in this: “All oppression creates a state of war. And this has no exception.” We are so immersed in that our opinions win and that they are validated that we forget that there are others behind the screen, beings with feelings and emotions. I understand that many times the opinions or beliefs about something are very important for many people but if we are going to defend them from any person and any argument at any price, that belief may not be as strong as we thought.
I think it’s time to re-exercise empathy, to try to put ourselves in the other’s shoes, not only to not hurt others and not make them feel bad in an unnecessary way (which in itself seems to me a reason more than enough); if not because it would help us avoid unnecessary conflicts. As a Peace Weaver and member of the Order of Peace Weavers of the Correllian Tradition, I know how important it is to work peace from within to make the world a more peaceful place and I believe that one of the first steps we must take is to work the empathy.