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Author Topic: Ordeals on your path  (Read 6580 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: January 08, 2009, 03:55:12 pm »

What would be a spiritual ordeal for you?

Do you believe such an experience is demanded by your deity/ies or spirits? Is it demanded by your path, tradition or community? Or if you're on a solitary path, do you think an ordeal is bound to happen along it? How and by whom do you think an ordeal would be provided?

Did you ever encounter one on your path? If you find 'ordeal' too strong an expression for your experiences, was there anything along your path you felt remarkably uncomfortable with? Did you ever experience a very scary or demanding encounter with a deity/spirit? Was there something you felt reluctant to learn, etc?

How did these experiences influence you? What do you believe a spiritual ordeal could do?


Some people may feel that some things that happen in such experiences may be too private to post on an open forum. I'll be happy about every piece which is shared, even if it means you will answer vaguely or incompletly at some points. Thank you.
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« Reply #1: January 08, 2009, 09:19:23 pm »

There have been several times in my path that I have gone through a spiritual ordeal.  There are ordeals that occur with a sort of syncronetic timing.  There are ordeals that I set for myself. There are times in my path when I become bored and literally ask for a challenge to help me grow.  While I don't think that a deity has set any ordeals for me to go through, I could be wrong. Perhaps because I am so self-motivated my guides don't feel the need to. I like to tackle challenges head-on, and that doesn't exactly make everything easy for me, but I think it is far better than avoiding them.  What I do know is that I have the guidance I need. Sometimes I feel alone, but ---cheesey as this sounds---it's a bit like those footprints or buttprints in the sand.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #2: January 13, 2009, 07:46:53 am »

What would be a spiritual ordeal for you?
Okay, this seems to be a bit of a tricky topic. Maybe it's often hard to tell if something is 'meant' as a spiritual ordeal or if it's just 'life is life - shit happens'. But anyway, do you think that any crisis you've gone through ever had a major influence on your spiritual development?
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« Reply #3: January 13, 2009, 03:08:23 pm »

But anyway, do you think that any crisis you've gone through ever had a major influence on your spiritual development?

Definitely.  My medical issues (migraines) have been a major influence in that they affect what I can do physically.  But I guess that's a more chronic issue that what is implied by "crisis".

But I have another one.  I had an accident about 5 months ago -- I fell backwards down a flight of stairs.  I sustained a bunch of fairly minor injuries like a sprained ankle, broken toe, and a big bruise on my back that still hasn't gone away.  But the scary part was that I hit my head so hard it instantly swelled with a lump easily the size of a large grapefruit.  I was completely terrified that I might have some kind of internal bleeding in my skull and that it might actually kill me.  Fortunately, it was "just" a very severe concussion that included a traumatic brain injury from which I still have not recovered.  (The doctors say it can take a year or more to recover from something like this.)

The spiritual part of this was that while I was falling -- even though it happened pretty quickly -- I distinctly heard a female voice say, "Relax!".  It was so commanding that I just relaxed all my muscles sort of as a reflex.

The doctors told me that if I hadn't done that, I probably would have been killed.

(I have also realized that I could have been a lot more seriously injured in another way, too.  The bruise on my back was made by the end of one of the uprights of the banister I crashed through on my way down.  It hit my back in the area of my shoulder blade so hard I still have the bruise 5 months later.  If it had been just a few inches lower, it would have impaled me and caused serious internal damage.)

Yes, that voice could have been my subconscious.  But I believe it was Brighid.  (Of course, She might also be in my subconscious...  Wink )  Anyway, She saved my life and now I owe her my life. 

I guess the impact this had on my spirituality was to sort of make it real.  I feel that I experienced something that had a very clear effect on my physical life -- rather than simply stuff that happens in my head.

As I said above, I'm well aware that I could be making all this up.  But as we often say here on TC, I'm choosing to act "as if" it's real.  Wink
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« Reply #4: January 13, 2009, 09:09:07 pm »

The doctors told me that if I hadn't done that, I probably would have been killed.

(((Moon Ivy)))
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« Reply #5: January 13, 2009, 09:14:12 pm »

But anyway, do you think that any crisis you've gone through ever had a major influence on your spiritual development?

I went through a bad time about two years ago. Although before that I held religious beliefs, it definitely seems that this 'crisis' coincided with me becoming more spiritual. I didn't realize it at the time, but when other parts of my life felt as though they were falling apart my spirituality suddenly felt like something for me to lean on that I hadn't realized was there before. Nowadays I no longer use it as a crutch; rather it has become an integral part of my life. It has calmed me down immensely, which has helped me more than anything. I'm not a calm person by nature, and it's wonderful to have that serenity in my life.
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« Reply #6: January 13, 2009, 10:35:04 pm »

(((Moon Ivy)))

Thanks.   Smiley
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« Reply #7: January 13, 2009, 10:50:13 pm »

Okay, this seems to be a bit of a tricky topic. Maybe it's often hard to tell if something is 'meant' as a spiritual ordeal or if it's just 'life is life - shit happens'. But anyway, do you think that any crisis you've gone through ever had a major influence on your spiritual development?

heck, yeah. There is no doubt in my mind that the relationship/marriage foo I have been slogging through the past two years is b/c of choices I've made that were related to my current path and what Maa is trying to teach me (but I am a very slow learner, I'm afraid Tongue).
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #8: January 14, 2009, 12:56:48 am »

What would be a spiritual ordeal for you?

For me, I have had an experience that I consider to have been a spiritual ordeal.

When I was 17, and had just started thinking about committing to shamanism (I was practicing Alexandrian Wicca at the time), all my guides withdrew. One told me, specifically, that a time would come when I would be ready for new guides, but that for the next year, I was pretty much on my own.

A few months after that, I was diagnosed with an extraordinarily rare tumour, (and an even rarer condition) which afflicts less than one in 100 million people. I was told that the surgery to remove it would probably kill me, leave me brain-damaged or (best case scenario) paralysed. I was told that I HAD to have that surgery or I absolutely would die. And I felt this to be true, because this tumour had genetic basis and had killed several other members of my family.

During the second surgery (I ended up having two over two days), I had what some might call a delusion caused by general anaesthetic, but that I see as a spiritual occurence. I feel I was visited by Baba Yaga, who came and watched me as I died (I died on the operating table) and then told me that she would bring me back, but only if I would commit to working with her / visiting her house. I agreed, and woke up from surgery a few hours later. I experienced a very rapid recovery after that, that astounded the surgeons involved. The only side effect I experienced was very slight facial nerve damage, which has since mostly recovered.

Anyway, after that, I was pretty much firmly grounded in the path of shamanism that I still practice today, and Baba Yaga is still my patron goddess. It'd be pretty scary if it was all a delusion, since it's influenced a lot of my life since then!

I do think that there isn't that much wrong with a person going through something traumatic and choosing to interpret it as a spiritual ordeal. I see a lot of my current therapy for my post-traumatic stress disorder as a spiritual ordeal. Does that mean I think the gods made me get abused as a kid? No. But I think I have the power now to work with the gods and spirits in my life to get something out of that chaos and abuse.
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« Reply #9: January 14, 2009, 08:45:33 am »

What would be a spiritual ordeal for you?

I can think of two that happened to me. The first was the end of my marriage. We had been together for seven years and the marriage was becoming more and more toxic as time went on. Towards the end, I guess in an effort to try to "keep" me, we ended up moving and he tried to disourage me from talking to my friends or family. During this time I felt no contact from my gods, and it was a frightening experience. When I finally realized I had to leave my now-ex they came back in a hurry though, so I've always viewed making that decision on my own as their way of showing me that I don't need to lean on people or things, I can be strong with or without them.
The second was when my daughter was born. She was born very very sick, taken to the NICU, the whole nine yards. I was so devistated, I remember asking why anyone would allow a baby to be that sick, and then I offered to trade anything for her to be alright. She did get better (she is one hell of a fighter) and I have kept my end of the bargain. I'm not sure if the gods planned it this way but both of these times I learned a lot about myself, so there is that. I also learned that even if I don't feel them, they are still there somewhere, so there's that too. That's gotten me through a lot of things even when I'm not sure they're there.
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rose
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« Reply #10: January 14, 2009, 09:26:36 am »

I do think that there isn't that much wrong with a person going through something traumatic and choosing to interpret it as a spiritual ordeal. I see a lot of my current therapy for my post-traumatic stress disorder as a spiritual ordeal. Does that mean I think the gods made me get abused as a kid? No. But I think I have the power now to work with the gods and spirits in my life to get something out of that chaos and abuse.

so then the question is, what is the defining difference b/w choosing to believe the troubles we experience in life are spiritual ordeals and a "real" spiritual ordeal?

Is it always something very dramatic, as what you described, or is it sometimes more subtle than that? Interesting, too, how people have observed their guides withdrawing, in the process of going through them. I personally have had guides arrive to help me with them, and then leave when they were done with the specific task they came to help out with.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #11: January 14, 2009, 10:13:11 am »

But I have another one.  I had an accident about 5 months ago -- I fell backwards down a flight of stairs. 

I'm sorry about your fall Moon Ivy.

How was your spiritual practice effected during your recovery time?  Were you mentally able to do your daily practices? 

I ask because after I fell from the horse, I couldn't process reading posts here at TC for a full 24 hours (and I didn't even hit my head).  Things like reading, writing, even watching TV required more mental capacity then I could muster.  (It took me well over an hour to write my post on the fall.)  I really wished I had some crayons and a coloring book, because really, that was about all I could handle. 
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« Reply #12: January 14, 2009, 10:17:09 am »

How was your spiritual practice effected during your recovery time?  Were you mentally able to do your daily practices?

Not Moon Ivy, clearly - but when I saw sick from a problem at my last real job, I couldn't process ANYTHING either.  I spent a lot of time watching really bad TV - because I could just stare at it and not have to follow the plot.

It took me a long time to even get to writing regularly, and that's my LIFE - because my brain was mush.

I think that's a normal response to bad pain or other body-affecting things.
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« Reply #13: January 14, 2009, 10:24:50 am »

so then the question is, what is the defining difference b/w choosing to believe the troubles we experience in life are spiritual ordeals and a "real" spiritual ordeal?

I suppose, for me personally, an 'ordeal' kind of needs to fit the word. It's not going to be something subtle or gentle, the word ordeal itself tends to imply the opposite of these things.

But I suppose it depends on how much of a dichotomy you want to put on your spiritual life and your 'real life.' For people who I guess have very specific times that they're spiritual, between living their 'real life,' then anything that occurs in real life will not be part of that spirituality.

And then you have other people who just don't make that distinction, and choose to try and live as spiritually as possible all the time; and if you're trying to live this sort of lifestyle, then theoretically any 'real life ordeal' is by default a spiritual ordeal as well, since both are closely intertwined in the belief system.

So for me, I see that as depending on how much a person chooses to fragment or compartmentalise their real life from their spiritual life.

Quote
Interesting, too, how people have observed their guides withdrawing, in the process of going through them.

I interpret my surgical event / death experience as a shamanic initiatory experience, and as such, it's fairly standard for guides to leave in terms of this context (well, as standard as these things can be, guides have been known to leave in shamanic initiatory/death experiences throughout cultures in Australia, Asia, Russia and even some of Europe. But I'm not sure how it goes elsewhere).

Yet I feel it's important to note that while my previous guides had left, I attained something I never expected; a patron goddess at a time when I really really wasn't expecting it.
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« Reply #14: January 14, 2009, 08:44:51 pm »

I'm sorry about your fall Moon Ivy.

How was your spiritual practice effected during your recovery time?  Were you mentally able to do your daily practices? 

I ask because after I fell from the horse, I couldn't process reading posts here at TC for a full 24 hours (and I didn't even hit my head).  Things like reading, writing, even watching TV required more mental capacity then I could muster.  (It took me well over an hour to write my post on the fall.)  I really wished I had some crayons and a coloring book, because really, that was about all I could handle. 

Right back atcha on your fall.   Cheesy

In terms of being able to process, I'm STILL not back to my pre-fall level.  I can only be on the computer for very short times -- which I why I hop on and off TC, and why I was gone for a while.  I haven't been able to read a book, or even a chapter from a book, since the fall.  That's incredibly frustrating.  I just can't seem to focus for more than a couple of sentences.  Email and posts here are better because they're short.  But it still takes me a long time to get through them and to respond.

As Shad said, I've been told by several doctors that this is normal for the kind of injury I had.  Apparently, it can take a year or more to recover.

I'm still having a lot of problems with PTSD symptoms.  That's gonna take a while too, I guess.

I guess the impact on my spiritual practice was fairly minimal -- but that's because my actual "practice" is fairly minimal.  I wasn't able to deal with lighting candles for about a week or so.  That made me feel disconnected, but I figure Brighid understood, since She was there  when I fell and presumably knew what was going on with me.  Wink

I'm back to doing my evening candles most nights.  Some nights I just can't move because of the migraines. 

The biggest problem for me has been the reading problems.  I have SO many books I want to read.  I was in the middle of a book about ancient Irish spirituality, and now I can neither remember anything I read nor read it again right now.   Undecided  So, I guess that's really the biggest impact.

Well, that and not being able to work...
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