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Author Topic: Space (and time) to process  (Read 1609 times)

Jenett

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Space (and time) to process
« on: November 24, 2013, 11:13:19 am »
I've been thinking a lot about the conversaiton in the thread about Teo Bishop, and wanted to pull out a different strand of the conversation, which is this:

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

(My own comments in a separate post on this thread, so you can see what I mean.)
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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2013, 11:29:29 am »
Quote from: Jenett;130501
I've been thinking a lot about the conversaiton in the thread about Teo Bishop, and wanted to pull out a different strand of the conversation, which is this:

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

(My own comments in a separate post on this thread, so you can see what I mean.)


I haven't talked about my progression much. It's been slow and hasn't involved any dramatic shifts, and I doubt it would be interesting to anyone else.

The biggest outward manifestation of my paganism is the myths I write, and with the exception of two I put out there early on, I haven't made them known. Now that I've finished the core myths, I'm talking about them more.

Keeping one's process out of the public eye--as Teo Bishop did not--saves one a lot of potentially awkward scrutiny.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Jenett

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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2013, 11:42:29 am »
Quote from: Jenett;130501

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

 
When I started training with the group I trained with, one of the things they talked about (and this was back in 2001, so pre-Facebook, but not pre-social-Internet) was talking about things.

Now, we are an oathbound tradition, but the actual oathbound bits are a relatively small piece of it - in general, it's fine for us to talk about rituals that a guest might have been invited to (many of them), our general ritual practices, etc. while being expected to keep private some specific trad details, but also confidentiality of members, and confidentiality of stuff specific people say in ritual. "Samhain is a time when we remember our beloved dead" is fine, but "John said [five minutes worth of detail] about his dead mother", not cool.)

But the other part went like this: that for most people, learning a new religious path (or learning how to work with a group even in a path they already know something about) can bring about a lot of change. The group's teachers and leaders generally can't predict what that's going to be precisely, just - well, chances are good there'll be change. Which is not surprising, because change is sort of part of the point.

If you limit who you talk to about those changes, you have a chance to process them before you have to explain them to other people. Or at least lots of other people.

In general, my guidelines were:

People who have to deal with the changes get to know they might happen:
I would talk about what was going on to people who had to live directly with the changes (in my case, my now ex-husband) and a few close friends who I could trust to have my best interests at heart. Because sounding boards are good, and springing major change on people you live with, not so good.

Be thoughtful about online discussion
My LiveJournal account was started shortly after the first intro class I took with the group I trained with. But I was very deliberate that there are some things I talked about only in private posts (for my own record keeping), some I talked about only with specific trusted friends where we have a substantial history (sounding boards good), some things I talked about only with people who had some religious context and could provide insight. (People with training in other initiatory traditions, f'ex.)

The stuff I talked about with a more general audience (everyone on my friends list) is mostly "We had a ritual, we focused on X. I really liked X and Y." (where my more private comments were things like "In that ritual, I found that X was very effective because it [long discussion of ritual theory]" and "Y finally made sense to me because of [major personal revelation moment]".)

You can always go back and revisit something in public later.
And in fact, I do so pretty regularly. Having a written informal record means I can go back and tug pieces into more public blog posts. Or into the Seeking site. But giving myself protected space to do the initial processing meant that it was a lot easier to change direction on something, or have later thoughts that might seem contradictory (but really were more me working through something or learning another piece of it later) and focus on the work, not talking about the work, or what other people would think of the work.

Sometimes, you get part way in, and you need to do something else
One of the relatively common restrictions in initiatory groups is "Don't talk about being a student with us outside of a limited circle until after initiation" (i.e. spouse, people you live with, etc.)

The reason for this is that the rate of "This isn't the right place" is really high (even with a very good sorting process for taking students). If you have gone around your local community making a big fuss about studying with Whoever, then it can be embarassing to six months later say "Yeah, not so much."

If you haven't been so public, it's a lot easier for either side to say "Yeah, this isn't working out, and that's okay, I hope you find what you're looking for." (Groups do expect that you'll be honest about your past experience when asked directly, and obviously, telling close friends or family what you're doing with your time is fine. It's the larger discussion that can trap you later.)

(It also has a side effect of wedding out potential students who think that saying they're studying with a specific person or group makes them more notable, but that's just an added bonus, really.)

That taking on responsibility for speaking for/leading should be done cautiously
After my initiation, I started teaching intro classes fairly early on. (I like teaching! I am competent at it!)

But I was also careful not to insert my processing into that teaching process (made easier because my group used standard materials for the intro classes.) It was only after I've been initiated for about a year that I started diverging (and of course, talking about editing things with the group, as appropriate.)

My own experience:
I'm really glad I was careful with what I said to broader spaces - it gave me time to get a sense for the whole tradition and accurately represent it. It gave me time to integrate what specific practices or things meant for me. It gave me time to figure out how to talk about it so I could present what I do accurately and fairly. And it gave me time to figure out how to explain larger changes to people I saw and talked to less often, so that they could better understand why I was doing that.

And most of all, it meant that the later times when I was chewing on something big about the next direction I wanted to take, I had a model for doing that in a way that was fair to me, fair to the people directly affected, and fair to the tradition as a whole.

I don't think that the answers above are the only way to do that - but I do think they're a way that's been pretty well-tested, and that is largely successful for a reason, and I think diverging from that is something that people should consider very very carefully (in part by looking at what happens when people do a lot of public processing and the change direction. If you're up for those conversations, go for it, but be really aware what you might be getting into first.)
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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2013, 01:08:36 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;130501


How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?


 
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. In meatspace I am the sort of person that tends to keep things very close to my chest anyway so unless I'm very close to someone I don't tend to talk about the more personal parts of my life . With reasonably close friends they know I'm doing "pagan stuff" but they don't know the details. I talk about aspects of my path, storytelling, folklore, poetry, gardening, my professional work, my community work, but I don't make it explicit how those things fit together within my path

There's only one person who I talk at length about my path and that is because she is both one of my "tribe" (Chosen family) and an eclectic Witch. The rest of my tribe I talk about stuff relevant to my path as and when it seems necessary. My partner, I talk to about the practicalities of my path because we share the same living space and it's a sensible and thoughtful to do so.


Online, is a really different thing. I tend to be way more open about everything (sometimes  inappropriately so I think) I use my blog as a place to put pretty much everything I'm working through/out and although it only has about three readers I'm coming to the conclusion that there's stuff I don't want publicly available or that the entities I'm working with don't want publicly available.

I think with my blog though that its really obvious that I'm still working my path out, but I also think more and more of my posts will become private or password protected

This place (The Cauldron) is really important to me because I do need pagan community, and reasons to do with geographic location and just who I am generally means that that gets complicated in meatspace. This is a place where I feel I can talk about my processes and the connections I'm making in my path and get thoughtful, honest answers. But still its not a private space and anyone can stumble across my words
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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2013, 05:18:22 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;130501
I've been thinking a lot about the conversaiton in the thread about Teo Bishop, and wanted to pull out a different strand of the conversation, which is this:

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

(My own comments in a separate post on this thread, so you can see what I mean.)

 
Aaand, this is why I've been largely gone since the summer.  It's really easy to get drawn into conversations and realize too late that you've intellectualized everything and haven't really helped yourself in any significant way.  

It's actually not so much a matter of what I communicate as it is a matter of what is communicated to me.  I suck at not letting things get to me, so if someone somewhere is having an argument about something, even if it doesn't really affect me in any sense, I end up getting worked up over it and then I start making decisions out of the desire to not be like whatever side I like least . . . .  

It's difficult because, fundamentally, it's really hard to do things completely on your own; you have to be absorbing information from somewhere.  But I'm trying to take a step back and filter, to only actually go looking for things that are relevant to me, because otherwise I'll get distracted by a huge mass a shiny things and ultimately have nothing to show for it.

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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 04:54:55 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;130501
I've been thinking a lot about the conversaiton in the thread about Teo Bishop, and wanted to pull out a different strand of the conversation, which is this:

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

(My own comments in a separate post on this thread, so you can see what I mean.)

 
None of my paths have had any guidelines about it, one of them was a Recon path and the other one was/is more of a personal thing. How much I share and with whom is up to myself and what feels right to me.

In the past, I've shared information with people I wanted to share it with and in the amounts I felt comfortable with. Just like I won't tell friends who don't watch the same TV shows and don't care about a funny fandom meme, I also won't try to force a conversation about my spirituality with someone who isn't into that kind of thing, unless I think it's important. I may mention something like, this weekend I'm going to do something relevant to my path, or tell them what the path is, but I don't go overboard with details about the learning process. Maybe I'm just lucky but I've never had an issue with non-Pagan friends accepting changes of paths and things.

With Pagan friends, I may use them as a sounding board if they're ok with that since we're also more likely to discuss things and it's more likely for something like a special holiday or a certain aspect of practice coming up in conversation. Even when they have different paths I think we end up benefiting from each other's feedback, since sometimes we've read about each other's paths or been interested in it or because there are some things in common between both and getting a different perspective can be helpful or at least interesting.

I'm a bit of a private person so I mostly keep it to myself unless it comes up in conversation or unless I need an opinion, or if it's something major I really want to share. Otherwise I don't really tell them step by step about everything I'm learning or doing since it doesn't feel necessary and I don't want to bore them unless I have a good reason to do so ;). Nowadays, I've been doing it a bit more, since I'm taking my path in a direction that is very new to me and it helps to keep track of my skills and what I want or need to do while also getting an opinion. I post it to a private blog where only people I've allowed can read it, so some of my friends can read it if they wish and give me their opinions. It's been very helpful, since sometimes I'm talking about something that I thought none of them would be interested in except out of curiosity, and then someone inevitably comes up with an interesting idea.

I don't really post things in public communities or blogs, I don't feel the need to. I may post questions or share a bit that is relevant to a question but I'm not a very regular blogger so I don't have a blog and I'm not very eager to share more personal information than what I feel is necessary somewhere online, not just about my path but about anything else.

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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2013, 06:44:14 am »
Quote from: Jenett;130501
I've been thinking a lot about the conversaiton in the thread about Teo Bishop, and wanted to pull out a different strand of the conversation, which is this:

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

(My own comments in a separate post on this thread, so you can see what I mean.)


I don't talk about my current path with anyone in physical life other than telling my husband that I was a Pagan.  I've told him a few things, but he's never been interested in anyone's religious journey.  I'm lucky enough that my house has an extra room that I can for my altar, offerings and such without bothering anyone.  I don't know if my husband has even seen my altar.

I want to talk to a few of my friends, but I think their general reaction would probably be, "That's weird, but I don't care about religion."  I used to talk about my former religious beliefs with others who held somewhat similar views, but I don't think they would be keen on a discussion involving any forms of active Paganism.

I haven't run into any path restrictions about talking.  I tend to be a very private person.  Sometimes I get really excited about something basic or insignificant and it comes out without enough forethought.  I'm a little embarrassed by a few posts that I might not have made here if I'd had another outlet or someone to bump me on the head.  Journaling seems to help, but I would probably live completely in my head if I could.  I need some sort of outside input.  I don't, however, want to be too open with my close circle of family and friends until I have somewhat of an idea where I'm going.  I know my family will want to know all about it to try to show me the "error of my ways", and I'm not ready to deal with those challenges.  I want to let my beliefs and knowledge develop a little bit more before I have to face my critics.  This process is actually showing me how much of a loner I am and have been.  I have some good friends, but I would say my husband is the only person in my inner circle at this point.  I haven't decided what I think about that.

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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2013, 06:56:50 am »
Quote from: Jenett;130501
I've been thinking a lot about the conversaiton in the thread about Teo Bishop, and wanted to pull out a different strand of the conversation, which is this:

How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

(My own comments in a separate post on this thread, so you can see what I mean.)

 
My general path doesn't have a specific prohibition on talking about 'things', but then I'm not part of a GP group, and the rules might be clearer if I were. I do know a lot of Gaelic polytheists who are careful what they talk about, and how.

I'm an initiated member of an OBOD grove, and there are certain rules within that group about what we do and don't discuss, both inside and outside the group. I find it helpful that this is made very clear. I actually have a problem with what 'confidence/confidential' means - in the past I've been a member of groups where the outward rule was 'don't talk about anything we say outside of the group', but the covert message seemed to be 'it's OK to talk about certain types of things'. I would then get into trouble when I didn't understand the covert rule, or where the line was between the things we could talk about and the things we couldn't. I much prefer having it made clear that, for example, the specific content of ritual is not to be talked about, but the themes or subject matter can be. Or that if I'm working on OBOD lesson 51 and Jane is on lesson 22, I don't tell Jane the content of the lessons she hasn't covered yet. Nice, clear rules. Very helpful for Asperger's types, and I'm sure for many other people too.

In terms of my own wider spiritual practice, though, it's obviously up to me what I discuss, and that's trickier. I'm trying to learn the wisdom of keeping quiet, but I find it useful to discuss general things with other people. I tend to do that through my blog. But some things just don't end up getting written about - they're too personal. If I talked about every bit of UPG, every ritual, every reading, I'd end up with nothing for me. There need to be some things that are just between me and the gods - not least in case I change my mind or my perception shifts. There's definitely wisdom in silence.
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

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Re: Space (and time) to process
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2013, 11:02:15 am »
Quote from: Jenett;130501
How much do you talk about your current, emerging process of learning a new religious path (or a specific group's methods of that path)? Why? Does your path have specific requirements or guidance about that? Why do you think that is? Do you think it works as intended? Have you had problems or challenges based on what you talked about or when in your own development you talked about it?

In real life, face-to-face interactions, I almost never talk about the actual *processing* process; mostly because there's no one who's interested!  My husband likes to know about the big or practical things (hey, I just joined this organization; or hey, I'm going to be gone Tuesday nights for classes with this other group now) but has very little interest in talking about actual beliefs or anything deeper.  My group mates in the various things I take part in have little interest outside of their own spheres of work: for instance, when I joined a Heathen group I told them I was exploring Heathenism and that I primarily honored Nerthus; beyond that only a smattering of stuff has come up in conversation.

Online, I do have a blog that I talk a bit about my journey on.  There are some local people who read it, so I tend to not go too in-depth unless it's something I'm okay with everyone in the local Pagan community knowing.  I do write more in-depth about my practice and seeking, but that's mostly reserved for hand journaling where no one else can get at it.

Mostly, I'm a pretty private person; made more so by the relative disinterest of most people.  I do have plans to pursue further education in religious studies, either as clergy or academically; and I imagine there will be many more people in such a program who'd be interested in 'personal journey' stories - but hopefully, I will be in a fairly stable position at that point, since that stable base is what I am working to build at the moment.

Oops, forgot to add: neither ADF or the Troth, or my local Druid or Heathen groups, have any official constraint on talking about your work.  The Wiccan group that I work with hasn't laid out any official "don't talk about" stuff, but there are things we do in private ritual that definitely don't happen at public ritual, and I get the feeling that the general consensus is that those things are not to be talked about outside the group.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2013, 11:04:58 am by Aiwelin »
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