Personal Spiritual Authority

(Excerpted from Earth Magic: Ancient Shamanic Wisdom for Healing Yourself, Others, and the Planet)

At this time in human history, we’re seeing an evolution in consciousness, particularly as to how it affects our spiritual and religious philosophies and practices. It seems that an increasing number of people have developed a more individualized and experiential approach to the questions that traditional religions have attempted to answer. For the last few decades, we’ve been able to more easily access other religious and spiritual traditions, giving us the advantage of being exposed to a wide variety of approaches and practices from which we can pick and choose. I like to call it “gourmet spirituality,” where you select from a buffet of belief systems and integrate those that feel the most compatible. Gourmet spirituality doesn’t necessarily have the depth of history and tradition that more established religions do, but what it may lack in these attributes, it makes up for in the unique tapestry of practices and beliefs that come from the resulting synthesis.

As I mentioned, another shift that’s taking place is from viewing God (or Source) as something external to oneself to one where an individual can connect to Source directly through experience. Of course this can be threatening to organized religions that purport to have the inside track to God. The hierarchical structure inherent in these institutions implies that it’s necessary for the majority of people to have an intermediary, such as a minister or priest, who will communicate God’s will to the individual.

Further, many of these belief systems deny that the Life Force is present in anything except for human beings and teach that the purpose of life is to follow the code of ethics and behavior prescribed by the established doctrine in order to reap rewards after death. Rule by fear can be found in many of these systems, and perhaps at one time it was useful in controlling an unruly populace and providing guidelines for living among increasingly large numbers of people. Yet these days, with the expansiveness in human consciousness, many are seeking a more positive form of spirituality—one that provides some guidance and structure, but not rigid dogma. Along with the ethics offered by these religious and spiritual practices, direct experience of the Divine is encouraged.

Whether you partake in any of these established institutions or have come to a synthesis of spiritual beliefs and practices, I encourage you to trust in your own spiritual authority. This does not mean excluding or not participating in a particular religious practice or denomination—that is certainly a choice—but expanding your way of thinking so that it’s much more inclusive of other types of worship. A sense of belonging and community can be a valuable asset to participating in an established religion as well as a connection to sacred rituals that have been practiced for years (and sometimes centuries), thus offering you a sense of constancy in this rapidly changing world.

Amid the dramatic changes that are taking place on our planet and inside each of us, many are seeking a more personal, intimate, and direct relationship with the Creator, one that is embodied and heartfelt. With Earth Magic we’re also seeking that similar intimacy with not only the Creator, but with all aspects of Creation. With that intimacy comes the recognition that Creator and Creation are singular—that Source or God is all; the dark and the light, male and female, creation and destruction, death and resurrection. In that sense, there is nothing that exists or occurs that is not Source.

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