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Author Topic: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?  (Read 3176 times)

PetitAlbert

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"To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« on: August 02, 2011, 06:57:09 pm »
One of the strongest messages I've absorbed from my reading is that a good witch should know themselves before they start playing with the big toys. This makes sense: if you don't strive to know yourself, how can you judge that you are truly undertaking a magical route in good faith? If you can't control yourself (not to an unhealthy extent, but y'know...), how can you hope to work with things outside? Besides which, it's always good to have a mental spring clean and solid self knowledge.

But though I am increasingly aware of facets of my personality of which I am not proud, I'm still no closer to overcoming them. Knowing they are there does help - at least now, I have names, ideas and reasons to attach to my behavior. But I'd hoped that would be the key...

Assuming your path has incorporated some level of soul searching (if not, I'd be fascinated to hear your take on why not :) ), what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?

Cheers for any suggestions, be they mundane or magical.
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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2011, 04:42:19 am »
Quote from: Unmutual;10284
Assuming your path has incorporated some level of soul searching (if not, I'd be fascinated to hear your take on why not :) ), what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?

 
I don't have any personality fail. I have behaviour fail.

My personality is just fine the way it is. I have no intentions of changing myself in any way. However, my behaviour and patterns could use some work, if only so I can get out the door in the mornings to make it on time to auditions and such.


Yes, there are aspects of my personality that I hate, at times. But that's part of the road to loving myself. I can't change those parts (believe me, I've tried), so I must accept and love them the way they are. I still don't know myself very well, but that doesn't stop me from doing some pretty powerful magic. I know myself well enough to know when I'm deceiving myself.
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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2011, 10:23:45 am »
Quote from: Unmutual;10284
One of the strongest messages I've absorbed from my reading is that a good witch should know themselves before they start playing with the big toys. This makes sense: if you don't strive to know yourself, how can you judge that you are truly undertaking a magical route in good faith? If you can't control yourself (not to an unhealthy extent, but y'know...), how can you hope to work with things outside? Besides which, it's always good to have a mental spring clean and solid self knowledge.

But though I am increasingly aware of facets of my personality of which I am not proud, I'm still no closer to overcoming them. Knowing they are there does help - at least now, I have names, ideas and reasons to attach to my behavior. But I'd hoped that would be the key...

Assuming your path has incorporated some level of soul searching (if not, I'd be fascinated to hear your take on why not :) ), what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?

Cheers for any suggestions, be they mundane or magical.

 
Honestly, knowing yourself and figuring out what you want to do about your life is the core of FlameKeeping.  Turn yourself into who you want to be so you can do what you want to do.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2011, 11:01:43 am »
Quote from: Unmutual;10284
One of the strongest messages I've absorbed from my reading is that a good witch should know themselves before they start playing with the big toys.

 
Though messing around is a good way of getting to know yourself too. Otherwise it becomes armchair living, which I'm good at. :rolleye::

Quote

But though I am increasingly aware of facets of my personality of which I am not proud, I'm still no closer to overcoming them.


Personally, I don't find the 'overcoming' metaphor very helpful. Accepting, unifying, taming, refining, yes. Thinking of it as a struggle exhausts me.

Quote
what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?


I've actually become a lot kinder, more polite and patient by being more self-centred. I used to be nice to people out of notions like empathy and the intrinsic value of human beings, etc and so it made me incoherently angry when other people, being mostly either thoughtless or heartless, never reciprocated to my standards.

Now I'm no longer concerned about other people at all. I've found certain virtues to be intrinsically important, and so I'm nice to strangers, and better at handling stuff I used to get impatient about from friends and family, because I'm living up to my virtues - not because I'm trying to be good for them. Any douchebaggery on their part is seldom relevant.

I do think this personality shift is spiritually important, simply because by embodying certain virtues I feel more connected with whatever's out there.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2011, 11:37:59 am »
Quote from: Unmutual;10284
One of the strongest messages I've absorbed from my reading is that a good witch should know themselves before they start playing with the big toys. This makes sense: if you don't strive to know yourself, how can you judge that you are truly undertaking a magical route in good faith? If you can't control yourself (not to an unhealthy extent, but y'know...), how can you hope to work with things outside? Besides which, it's always good to have a mental spring clean and solid self knowledge.

But though I am increasingly aware of facets of my personality of which I am not proud, I'm still no closer to overcoming them. Knowing they are there does help - at least now, I have names, ideas and reasons to attach to my behavior. But I'd hoped that would be the key...

Assuming your path has incorporated some level of soul searching (if not, I'd be fascinated to hear your take on why not :) ), what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?

Cheers for any suggestions, be they mundane or magical.

 
I can't say anything specifically about my path requiring soul searching, because I don't really have a specific path yet.  But that particular commandment, "Magician, know thyself!" has stuck with since I first came across it...somewhere.  I don't remember; it might have even been in a fantasy novel. xD  But I think knowing oneself is as important (or possibly even more important) for mundane living, as for magical workings, and it rather surprises me that most people don't seem to have much of an interest in introspecting, and learning about themselves.

For this sort of thing, I love personality typing systems.  While any one system can't give you a detailed explanation of your entire personality, figuring out your personality type in any system will give insights into how your personality works, that is, if you take the time to learn how the system works, and closely examine your own personality and which type fits best, rather than just taking an internet quiz or three.  It's not so much about changing my personality, or fixing personality!fail, but rather about being able to play to my strengths, and counter my weaknesses.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 07:39:54 pm »
Quote from: Unmutual;10284

Assuming your path has incorporated some level of soul searching (if not, I'd be fascinated to hear your take on why not :) ), what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?


Fundamentally, I think that being a witch and being a priestess requires being aware and active in deciding how I live in the world - and I can't possibly do that without knowing as much about me as possible.

(At the same time, it's a continual process: as humans, we will come around to similar topics over and over again in our lives, and have different responses, because specifics have changed, we've grown and learned from past experience, and because new things come up for us.)

This kind of self-knowledge is a part of the required work in my tradition - at all levels, but particularly for people working towards their 2nd degree. How can we use magic and ritual effectively in our lives, if we're not honest about what's in our lives and what that means for us?
 
Stuff that's been a part of that for me:
- an extensive series of questions/journal-style prompts during my initial training (most journalling books will have tons - how do you communicate best? worst? What really frustrates you when interacting with other people? What do people around you comment on about you that you'd like to change? Things like that.)

- Some extensive work using divination tools to poke at the things that were and were not working for me in the ways I wanted. We used Christine Jette's book _Shadow Tarot_, but there are certainly other options out there.

- Ritual work (meditation and other kinds) to look at patterns in our lives and what we might choose to do differently.

For me, a lot of that work has centered around two different things: things that are very much a part of me, but where the implementation is not what I'd hope for. (Examples: I speak very quickly, which is hard for a dear friend with hearing loss to work with. I am an academic geek of the first order, which has made some friends with less formal education feel uncomfortable or inadequate. I am, especially when under stress, very time centered in ways that make enjoying myself (or enjoying time with friends) very challenging.)

I don't necessarily want to change the fundamental parts of my personality (I love a lot of things, and sharing them with others. I care deeply about knowledge and information. I have a lot of stuff I want to get done, and there's only 24 hours in the day.)

But I can use the information from all that self-awareness work to help me figure out ways to preserve what I love, while making it more possible for the people I care about to enjoy those things with me. (Working with my friend to change my habits so she can follow what I say more easily. Being clear with friends that I think  they're awesome, that they know stuff I don't, and that I don't expect them to know what I do. Learning how to set the time focus aside for a period of time (and I can now manage a couple of days easily, with a little prep work.)

The other part are things about me that really, I would be fine with changing: a tendency to a particular kind of procrastination and untidiness. The tendency to run somewhat unbalanced between intellectual aspects of my life and physical ones. A particular push/pull interaction in relationships, where I'd both prefer and be happier with a more equal one. As I identify those, I can do ritual and magical work to support changes - and in all three cases, have made some significant strides.
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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2011, 06:38:01 am »
Quote from: Jenett;10664
Christine Jette's book _Shadow Tarot_

 
When I first started Shadow work, this was the first book I bought. I really like this book. It has been very useful for me and allowed me to delve deeper into understanding and accepting or healing those parts of me that need attention. At the moment I am working on my temper. In the past I have used it for depression. Of course this is all along side professional help where needed ie: drs, counsellors and the like.
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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 07:00:33 am »
Quote from: treekisser;10366

I've actually become a lot kinder, more polite and patient by being more self-centred. I used to be nice to people out of notions like empathy and the intrinsic value of human beings, etc and so it made me incoherently angry when other people, being mostly either thoughtless or heartless, never reciprocated to my standards.

Now I'm no longer concerned about other people at all. I've found certain virtues to be intrinsically important, and so I'm nice to strangers, and better at handling stuff I used to get impatient about from friends and family, because I'm living up to my virtues - not because I'm trying to be good for them. Any douchebaggery on their part is seldom relevant.

I do think this personality shift is spiritually important, simply because by embodying certain virtues I feel more connected with whatever's out there.

 
Reading this really struck me (in a good way), I think that change between doing things because it reaches your own standards for yourself, and doing things that you value and expecting others to act in the same way is a good one. I still struggle with that, I find that people who act rudely or thoughtlessly still annoy me unncessarily because I expect them to act in the same way as I do, with the same values.
Really that doesn't make sense, though I still have to wonder why so many people are so downright rude in the first place, how can I expect them to act with the same values that I do? Some things seem like common sense to me, but then perhaps they're not and that's just my subjective view of it.

I hope this comment makes sense! I feel like it seems a bit garbled but the more I reread it the worse it gets.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 02:30:59 pm »
Quote from: Unmutual;10284
Assuming your path has incorporated some level of soul searching (if not, I'd be fascinated to hear your take on why not :) ), what methods have you found helpful in defeating your personality!fail or better embodying your own ideals?

 
For me, knowing myself and knowing the way were one, in a sense. I'm not sure that I really need to work at it overly.

I arrived at Paganism a long time ago as a twelve year old girl without doing any reading or being specifically introduced to it. I was lucky enough to have been raised in an environment that was accepting and inquisitive when it came to theology so I felt free to start exploring my beliefs and compelled to act on them. I definitely think that an overall interest in theology and in the history of man's relationship with divinity has helped to make life easier and more interesting, but 'better'? I have a problem trying to process what 'better' means. I'm not sure I put it on any kind of scale.

There are people I enjoy having in my life who don't tick a lot of the typical boxes for 'good person'. I mean, for me, if you're interesting, unpredictable, deeply inspiring and a bit like an anti-hero from a post-structuralist work of fiction you're probably going to be better company for me than someone who's overtly attempting to be balanced, selfless, generous, calm, diplomatic.. Plus, a big part of the Pagan path for most is the acceptance and reverence of both 'light' and 'dark' sides in all of nature. So, if I was to sit down and write out a list of my supposedly undesirable or incorrect traits and then attempt to spiritually zap them it wouldn't make a great deal of sense to me.

I look at people who are addicts, criminals, famous celebrities, politicians, comedians, prostitutes or nuns and all I see is a plethora of different paths and lifetimes that I want to learn about and take into myself to some degree or another. I definitely don't believe that anyone is necessarily on the wrong path.

Lately I've been reading a lot about nihilist theory and it's helped me to cement this idea. Of course I have goals for my own path and striving towards learning the next thing or being more active in the community or whatever - those goals make me feel good and I enjoy them. That's why I do it, not because it's 'right'. If someone just wants to chill out in front of some mindless TV and never think about the nature of god, that's fine too. I wouldn't consider it to be a waste of their time.

Massive tangent. Sorry! :)
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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2011, 02:40:25 pm »
Quote from: treekisser;10366



I've actually become a lot kinder, more polite and patient by being more self-centred. I used to be nice to people out of notions like empathy and the intrinsic value of human beings, etc and so it made me incoherently angry when other people, being mostly either thoughtless or heartless, never reciprocated to my standards.

Now I'm no longer concerned about other people at all. I've found certain virtues to be intrinsically important, and so I'm nice to strangers, and better at handling stuff I used to get impatient about from friends and family, because I'm living up to my virtues - not because I'm trying to be good for them. Any douchebaggery on their part is seldom relevant.


 
I used to be a massively bad people pleaser and I read something along the lines of what you just wrote that snapped me out of it. Basically, it was that people-pleasing is pretty much a selfish method of control. You try to please others so that you can manipulate a positive response from them for your own benefit, rather than actually pleasing them because you care and value the individual. I was all "damn, that's kinda true." Changed my perspective for sure.
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"To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2011, 10:16:37 pm »
Quote from: Morag;10343
I don't have any personality fail. I have behaviour fail.

 
THIS.

If something is really a personality thing, all you (generic you) will ever get from identifying it as "bad" and trying to get rid of it is a sense of failure and inadequacy.  The thing that can be changed is how you apply your personality traits - as Morag says, behavior.

I've never agreed with the idea that personality traits can be divided neatly into "strengths" and "weaknesses" - any personality trait can be either (or even both at once) depending on how you apply them.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2011, 08:56:51 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;10881
THIS.

If something is really a personality thing, all you (generic you) will ever get from identifying it as "bad" and trying to get rid of it is a sense of failure and inadequacy.  The thing that can be changed is how you apply your personality traits - as Morag says, behavior.

I've never agreed with the idea that personality traits can be divided neatly into "strengths" and "weaknesses" - any personality trait can be either (or even both at once) depending on how you apply them.

Sunflower

 
I agree with this, I spent long enough trying to force parts of my personality to change to learn the hard way that it's impossible (at least for me). The way I see it, your personality is who you are whilst your behaviour is what you do and what you do with who you are. It's much easier to choose how to behave and to the best of your ability behave how you want to, than to try and cut out parts of your personality.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2011, 09:10:17 am »
Quote from: faefawn;10766

I hope this comment makes sense! I feel like it seems a bit garbled but the more I reread it the worse it gets.

 
No I know exactly what you mean. And often it's the little things which are the most annoying - because they're little, you'd think people would do them!

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2011, 09:11:07 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;10815
I used to be a massively bad people pleaser and I read something along the lines of what you just wrote that snapped me out of it.

 
...would reply but am guessing you're not around anymore.

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Re: "To Know Thyself Is To Know The Way" - how?
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2011, 09:17:34 am »
Quote from: faefawn;11122
I agree with this, I spent long enough trying to force parts of my personality to change to learn the hard way that it's impossible (at least for me). The way I see it, your personality is who you are whilst your behaviour is what you do and what you do with who you are. It's much easier to choose how to behave and to the best of your ability behave how you want to, than to try and cut out parts of your personality.

 
goodness me, the breadth of emotionality in us can't be forgotten. as there is the darkness there is also the light. the shadow work we do starts and ends with speech. the whole person is first intellectually one with him or her- self and their needs. this is the key to all other manifestations. you cannot run away from what you put out. do not ever wish ill on another.

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