When we talk about walking in another man’s shoes are we not asking to experience their privilege or lack thereof? What would it be like to walk in the shoes of a woman or a person of another gender? Recently I traded my privilege with someone. And I don’t mean that we traded stories about our experiences with privilege. We inadvertently took on one another’s privilege and we both walked in it.
I am one of the most outgoing people I know and I meet a lot of people. In light of this it is no surprise that I have met people across a wide spectrum of intersecting privilege. I have shared dinner with homeless crack prostitutes and hot tubbed with silicon valley venture capitalists. But no matter how carefully I listen, I can never fully understand how different their lives are. By walking in another person’s privilege, however, I was able to gain a better understanding.
Every single human on earth experiences personal conflicts and challenges. Many of us on the magical path believe that we incarnated into this realm because our soul is learning about its true divine nature, and conflicts and challenges are catalysts for this process. (Not to mention, let’s be honest: life would be boring without them.) But whether or not you see things in this way, as a magical practitioner – whether your problem is old or new, immediate or systemic – you have the opportunity to transmute your challenges into lessons and conflicts into blessings.
Choosing to live in this way is the way of the magical warrior. Indeed, an alive, energized, activated tension occurs when every challenge and conflict becomes grist for the mill of learning, growing, and expanding. It’s a brave way to live, and the only way to truly own your personal power and not feel hopelessly buffeted about by the annoyances and heartbreaks that characterize every single life experience.
To this awakening goddess, celebrating holidays has more to do with personal history than traditional roots. Imbolc, the modern Pagan celebration of an ancient Gaelic festival, means so much more to me now than it did when I first started studying Wicca and Paganism thirteen years ago.
Thirteen years ago, I found a home in Paganism at my very first public ritual, which was a celebration of Imbolc conducted by popular Pagan writer Ann Moura and her Ladies Tea Circle. I entered my first circle at that festival, and won a raffle for the first time in my life – an amethyst earring and pendant set and an hour-long session with a psychic who would become my mentor on my path to developing my own metaphysical interests and abilities.
I had so many things to be angry about. So many people had wronged me, from my biological father who molested me, to my beloved grandmother who’d bailed him out of jail and brought him home to live with me after he shot my mother in the head, to my mother who taught me that I was worthless and unlovable, to the so-called friends who had used and betrayed me over and over.
They wronged me. They hurt me. They deserved to suffer for what they did to me. How could I possibly forgive them, especially if they were not even pretending to be sorry?
This is the story of how I made the shift from a lifetime of negative thinking to a new life of positive thinking.
What does positive thinking really mean? I used to think it meant thinking like an optimist. I considered myself a realist back then, and thought optimists were only able to be optimistic because they had never suffered as I had.
I have survived a lot in my life. Abuse, rape, neglect, homelessness, poverty, and depression top the list.
In fact, I've spent most of the last three decades surviving: getting past one overwhelming problem after another. If it's not worrying about how I'm going to pay the rent or where I'm going to live, it's a relationship done gone super-drama, a health crisis, or “someone needs my help and I'm going to help them even though I need help myself.”