Way of the Sacred Fool: Disability Spirituality

Learn about ancestors, heroes and deities with different kinds of minds and bodies, how to adapt practices to different learning styles and physical needs, be inclusive of people with different kinds of mental wiring AD/HD, autism, dyslexia and even how particular mythic & historic roles and archetypes- like witch, seer, trickster/fool, bard can be incorporated into a personal path.

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Self-Care Spirituality


My non-Pagan partner, though he has generally supported me in my path, has also challenged me. At one point, he sat down and had a talk with me. The Pagan community hasn't been supporting you emotionally, socially or spiritually- in fact dealing with Pagans just makes you crazier! You're not really practicing the religion. If it can help you be a better person, help bring you hope and inspiration, and connect you with a supportive and healthy community then, great. I'd totally support you in that. But if it's not, then what are you searching for? He was right. While all kinds of lofty ideals that other Pagans dedicate themselves to- devotionalism, social justice and so forth are well and good, to begin with at least, I needed to base my practice on self-care, on simply getting myself in a healthy and steady place.



Often-times when I see discussions of self-care in a spiritual context, there are a lot of assumptions of what resources- financial, mental and physical that a person has access too. I've often seen advice towards seekers interested in Paganism that they “get their lives in order” first before practicing Paganism, magic or coming out as a Pagan. That is, if they are struggling with managing their health, finding steady work or other means of financial support, housing and so forth, they need to put exploring Paganism on hold until they “get it together”. The problem is, for some folks things never really come together, and some aspects of their lives will continue to be a struggle. I think a lot of this sort of advice is intended to discourage people from doing higher commitment things such as joining or starting an initiatory coven, becoming a spiritual specialist or clergy-person, or otherwise engaging in heavy-duty spiritual and magical work, rather than the general practice of Paganism. While visions of wizards in long velvet robes dance in our heads, we forget that for the many of our ancestors, everyday life was a struggle, and their religions (not just Pagan ones!) were intended to help them cope with that struggle. Spiritual practice should not be seen as a luxury, but is a basic human need. Being a High Priest/ess isn't in the cards for everyone, but neither is owning a home, raising children, or holding a full-time job part of the definition of “success” for every person.



We get a lot of conflicting messages about how to be a "good" Pagan, Witch, Druid, Heathen or polytheist. But which of those messages are actually helpful? What nurtures your spirit, mind and body, and what just frustrates you and makes you feel as if you'll never be good enough? It's fine to keep challenging yourself to do better- exercise more, pray more and so forth. But focus more on quality rather than quantity. I know for myself, I spent many years as a Celtic reconstructionist, but found that my tendencies towards anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness were such that I generally avoiding practicing anything because of concerns about "getting it right" and wanting approval from others. I don't want to stereotype reconstructionists as a whole, mind you- I know plenty of recons who have a rich practice and are quite friendly folks. I came to be more flexible and just focus on practicing *something* that is relevant to my current life, climate and culture while still drawing inspiration from older sources. Practicing alone, while fine for some folks, was too lonely for me as an extrovert. It's funny- our broader culture really favors extroverts, but among Pagans, particularly mystically inclined polytheists, I tend to find there are more introverts, and a strong desire to be part of a group is a bit rarer. I learned to be more flexible and now am part of a fledgling yet-to-be-named Druid group!





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Mariah Sheehy is an ADF Druid/Heathen and has a B.A. in political science from Augsburg College. She serves on the board of the Bisexual Organizing Project and lives in the Twin Cities (Paganistan) in an all-autistic adult household. She enjoys biking, camping, crafting and grappling with the Irish language.


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