Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dual Relationships

A long time ago, between the time rocks were soft and fire was "Ouch, ouch, hot thing..." I had a very intense sexual(I wouldn't say romantic, there was a bit too much BDSM for it to meet my romantic needs) relationship with the person that was doing spirit and energy work with me. I learned a lot. But I came away with the idea that this was the way relationships between workers and clients were constructed.

However, my... I'm not sure what to call it, my vision of what is right in the universe, or my conscience or my honor, let me know that despite my early modeling, relationships with the people you worked on weren't right.

My mother was a mental health worker and when I was in my late twenties I picked up one of her books on ethics. Surprise, surprise, there where some great guidelines on the worker/client dynamic and relationship. It gave me a starting point to construct some personal guidelines.

1)There are intense feelings that occur between worker and client. You are sharing energy and experiences that are painful, sorrowful and transformative. It creates a bond. But it is your responsibility as the worker to know that bond is NOT romantic in nature. And I know this from personal experience, if you try to turn that bond into a romantic relationship, you will not be happy. Pity kills love just as surely as if you stabbed it through the heart.

2) There are some people that you just can't help. Not because they are bad people or you are a bad worker, but because there is some sort of energy between you, good or bad. Rather than get elbow deep in the problem and find you are stuck, take a step back when some one comes to you for work, meditate on it, ask your gods or wights or spirit guides if this is what you should be doing. If any indications come back to you in the negative, refer, refer, refer. That's why you have a network of colleagues, even if its only your local Pagan Meetup.

3)If you get stuck in a dual relationship(and it happens, despite your best intentions) ask for help to get perspective on it. It doesn't mean you are a horrible person. You made a mistake. The sooner you confront that mistake and work out how to make it right, the less damage you will do, to yourself as well as your client.

Now, I have the added sticky wicket of using sexual techniques to heal. That makes feelings harder to separate out for both parties. And despite the honest stated and exhaustively discussed intentions that this is NOT relationship but healing oriented, people's feelings still get tangled up and that euphoria of pain relief,either emotional or physical, or depth of gratitude gets confused with love. If that happens, stop using sexual techniques with that client. If it continues to be a problem, refer, refer, refer.

And get help yourself. It's easy for us to blame ourselves when things go awry. We assume because we are the workers, we should never make mistakes.We do. So own up to it, work to make it right, learn from it and MOVE ON. There is nothing sadder than a worker that has crippled themselves or stop working because they made a mistake. We are just as human as our clients, with all their needs and desires. We try to treat them with the utmost compassion and care. We need to treat ourselves with the same.

But what if you are both energy workers that are trading work back and forth?
This one is more of a grey area for me.
We live in a society where finding a person that doesn't think we are totally and completely whackadoo is difficult and fraught with the twin perils of scientifically based disbelief and spiritual apathy. So that other person or people we find as helpmate and lover usually work with energy/spirits/gods/wights also.
My current beloved is a ceremonial magician, Reiki Master and massage therapist. He teaches me as much as I teach him. Dual relationship? It could be construed as such. But we didn't approach the relationship as worker/client or teacher/student. The relationship is primarily romantic with working aspects on the side. The intent is different, therefore to me, it makes the relationship different.

Your mileage will most certainly vary.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Energy Exchange, Gratitude and Teaching

There is a very interesting discussion happening on Face book in my area(Denver).

A Wiccan priestess and mental health care professional that I respect very much is
asking the question, "how do we live in a alterni-culture that expects a lot from us, and mostly for nothing. I know this has been an ongoing discussion in the larger community for years, and I'm not looking at the idea of money so much as what happened to gratitude and the notion of caring about our priestesses and how they live. Or what about gratitude and willingness to be aware of give and take, and how do you convey that to students in ways that work?"

For the record, I do not have an answer. It's been something I've been thinking about lately. One of my colleagues is writing about guidelines for practitioners and healthy boundaries between energy workers and clients, so obviously the thought is in the ether and therefore should be addressed by as many people as possible.

I'm not Wiccan now. I'm technically a priestess( I preside over rituals both seasonal and transitional), but most of the work I do now is more personal rather than congregational.
I did get my 1st and 2nd degrees in a Neo-Gardenarian tradition, so I know how the student/teacher paradigm works. It is a very solemn, oath sworn teacher responsible for student relationship with strict controls over what the student is doing magically and spiritually.

I realized that paradigm didn't work for me as a student(stemming from my own lessons about control, cults of personality and discernment), so I have been reluctant to impose it on anyone else. So I started a study group a few years ago. Since heathery is described often as the religion with home work, the first year was split equally between studying the Norse world-view and elementary energy work, sensing energy, sensing auras/chakras/wheels/energy centers, grounding, shielding, centering. The second year we spent studying the world view as it applied to present life, runes and more advanced energy work, sensing auras and working with elemental energies. Now in our third year, we've moved on to spell work, journeying and healing.This evolved practice has resulted in I don't have formal students along the Wiccan paradigm as much as I have students-colleagues.

I teach the skills I've learned over many years of trial and error, supplemented with books like Diana Paxson's Trance-portation or the Eddas or Blain's Nine Worlds of Seid Magic. They read, do the work and come to me if they have problems or issues. But there is no intimate life entanglement that I have seen and experienced with the Wiccan teacher/student model. They take responsibility for what they do and they try to work out their problems themselves first. I only get consulted or asked for help if they can't find their way through the issue themselves. Sometimes that makes me nervous, sometimes that makes me relieved. I'm still working it out in my heart.

So what does this have to do with the original question?
To be fair, the person I'm quoting is a very prominent person in the local community. Therefore I'm sure she gets called upon much more often than I do, as I am not a prominent member of my local community, either Wiccan or Heathen.

I believe there is a great deal of gratitude shown by my colleagues, just by the fact they continue to show up to rituals and classes. They are all professional people with very busy lives. If this wasn't important to them, they'd find something else to do.

As far as give and take is concerned, I get as much as I give. They are all kind, generous people that are willing to help me out if I have any problems or issues. The year and a half I spent unemployed they were all very encouraging. I got job interviews with two of their companies based on their recommendations and my son and I never went hungry.

Perhaps the reason that my colleagues understand the give and take is that they were not students in the traditional Wiccan sense. That by leaving them with their sense of self-reliance, they are then more able to and comfortable with giving and taking as part of learning.

Or perhaps my colleagues are different from normal people. Aliens or higher evolved beings or Colorado School of the Mines alumni :)

Like I as at the beginning, I don't have an answer.

As usual, your mileage will most certainly vary.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ordeal vs. Ecstasy

Despite my many years of working with our world, other worlds and other people, I am still learning and growing myself. It would be a darn shame if I wasn't, for the highest thing we are called to do is "Know thyself" And thyself, that slippery little concept, changes rather regularly.
I started my journey in this life from an ordeal space. Trials to overcome and work through include but are not limited to; mental, emotional and physical abuse, abandonment, rape, depression, paranoia, heartbreak and despair.
I'm much better now :)

A colleague of mine is doing a wonderful thing. He's taking a mental health inventory of all the land mines and razor wire that lie buried in his psyche.
He's embarked on an ordeal that will make him a better person. And I am very proud of him.
At the same time, I am obscenely grateful that I am not in that space now.
Mind you, I still go through periods where I get complacent and the universe has to clue by four me with hideous amounts of pain. Or where I take things for granted and the universe then proceeds to yank those things out from under me.

But the ordeal is not my current primary mode of learning.
It doesn't have to hurt to be meaningful.
That may seem like a no-brainer to most people. To me, it was an epiphany, a revelation so
fundamental to my self and my practice that it stole my breath.

I am at this point in my life surrounded by hedonists. My beloved is a hedonist, many of my friends are hedonists and a whole new world has opened up to me.
For ecstasy is their goal.

Not ecstasy that is from a loss of will or consciousness, but rather a deepening of the awareness of the spiritual in all things, in sex, in food, in joy, in avoiding pain.
It has illuminated a deep conflict in myself. I work with ecstastic trance with my shamanistic techniques, to travel to other worlds, to retrieve parts of people that they have lost or left, to see the web of Wyrd as it surrounds us, permeates us, ties us together to the gods, to wights and beings and to one another. But that was the only place where that kind of letting go, feeling deep joy was permissible.
If it felt good, it couldn't possibly be meaningful.
Yet now I am surrounded by people that can reach that deep joy regularly.
That make everyday life ecstatic and in touch with the spiritual through simply
making a fantastic meal.
Or having fun sex.

It is an interesting and illuminating experience for me, an experience that made me really look at my definitions of joy and laziness, pain and ecstasy.

So I wish my friend well as he journeys on the ordeal path.
And dance with joy as I journey on mine.

As always, your mileage on your journey will most certainly vary.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Apology

I apologize for not posting more often lately.
My life changed in a drastic way and I'm still trying to work out the details.
So everyone breathe.... And talk amongst yourselves(teehee)