I feel like many of the posts I have written this month are full of “common” knowledge. However, I do find that it is important to rediscover even the most common of common knowledge, because while you know it, sometimes you don’t know it, if you know what I mean. Reflecting on my thoughts and feelings has helped in this strange time I have been going through.
I have always been a pretty driven person, and generally there has been a goal in my life. My job is a job. This is totally new and uncharted territory for me. I am not working on a degree and there is no end date. This I think is why my mind has wandered to my somewhat neglected spiritual path. I put all of my effort and work into my studies for so long, that it was the entirety of my life. Religion was something that had to be quick so I could get back to work. Sort of. The whole reason I am a geologist is born out of my religion, so in a way I have felt like my work was part of my path.
That first geology class I took was wonderful and challenging. I had never really considered myself a “science person” and was thinking about anthropology or maybe world religions as areas of study, having recently abandoned the idea of a career in classical music. And then we went on field trips, and had labs, and I started to see the landscape a little differently. In order to fulfill the science requirement for my school I had to take a total of 3 geology classes. The second quarter I took 2 at the same time. One was Historical Geology (which kicked my ass), and the other was called Physical Geology. In my physical geology class we talked about the forces that shape the landscape. It was a fascinating class that further opened my eyes to how the landscape had a story written on it. Of course as a student of nature and lover of nature I wanted to know more (and who can argue with field trips!?). I think what most struck me was how immediate and current it was. This science wasn’t abstract. I started this class a month after the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami. My teacher used photographs to explain how the waves formed and how they were different from surf breaking no the storm. Current events, with videos and photos that were barely a month old. It was real and alive to me. I had experienced earthquakes before and felt like I was on a boat as the waves rolled through. Now I had concepts and terms to explain what I had felt. The world was alive around me and I wanted more.
So I took mineralogy. And you know what? I hated that class. It was HARD. I worked my ass off like I hadn’t had to at that point. I didn’t get it, I couldn’t quickly excel, not even close. But I liked the people and I still was convinced I liked geology. I also liked that it was hard and I wasn’t bored yet. Next I took a field class. 3 weeks living in a tent camping in different spots and learning to read the story of the earth through outcrops. Petrology sold me on geology. A road cut became a book with a story it couldn’t wait to tell you. I was sold. From then on out I was geology nuts! I had found my place. The earth was alive, it sang about its history and I had been given the tools to listen.
My path through geology has been one of “Oooo something sparkly!!!” and off I go. I have ended up very far away from that first love of petrology but my drive unlock the story of what the earth is telling me is still strong within me. It has driven me through undergrad and grad school to where I am today.
But I haven’t forgotten what called me onto this path. The feeling I got when sitting in the woods when I was young. My spiritual life took back burner as I charged through school, and now I have time to nourish it again. As I know and have came to fully understand this month, this is a process that cannot be rushed. This isn’t like a class that you study hard for a quarter or semester and take an exam and you are done. There is no “end date” and there is no final. Lack of structure is something that I have always struggled with.
In doing all that studying for school I found something very valuable to know. I suck at learning from books. There, I said it. I can read something, and it make no sense, but the second someone else reads it to me suddenly things start clicking. I learn best in a hands on discussion based setting. For academic work I made sure I went to a school with small class sizes, but in my spiritual life? Well that tends to involve other people. Something I don’t have where I am right now.
The last group I actively worked with was when I was an undergrad. I was a member of a student pagan group at my school and while it was awkward (I had never worked with anyone before, or FINISHED a single pagan book even through I started lots…) I really do value the time we spent together. Then I ran away again (ok I went to grad school). I went to a research school and there was NO pagan group on campus. I tried to contact a small group I found on witchvox (that was close… ish…) but their attitude totally turned me off. They could have been awesome but I am skittish.
So here I am. In a beautiful place, full of amazing spirits, and no one to share it with. I think I need a teacher. I have known this for a while but I really think I need some guidance on my next step. I don’t know that I will find one here, but you never know. The world works in mysterious ways. I belong to no tradition, I have no training, I have no magical lineage, and I stand at a crossroads waiting for a guide who may or may not come. But, I have my heritage. I am proud of my families deep roots in the New and Old worlds. I am North American, I am pagan, and I fucking love this planet. At the very least I know who I am.