Ever stop and take a look at who you were once or what you once believed and cringed? Who hasn’t? But many practitioners tend to develop their practice over a long time – and lose the foundation of their practice in the process.
I’m an animist. More than anything else, I’m an animist. I grew up believing that things had spirits. There has never been a time in my life where I haven’t believed this. For me, knowing that things have or could have spirits is a fact. It’s the same thing as air – I cannot see it but I know it’s there.
My spiritual practice has taken me to some weird places. Some of those places I miss deeply but do not (or cannot) reclaim. Other places I don’t miss at all. When I first started witchcraft I tried Wicca… for about five weeks when I was nine. I couldn’t get my mind around the whole witchcraft religion thing so they’ve pretty much been separated my whole life.
Recently I was binge watching some TV while working on a project for this site when I realized that what I was watching had a pattern. Not just genre related but each thing had a distinct callback to certain aspects to each other. Anyone else would have said, “well, yeah, they’re all based in the same setting or theme” but for me, each invoked a feeling of looking back at my past – and I missed it. I suddenly realized that those aspects and feelings weren’t a major part of my practice or life anymore. They’ve been put on the back-burner and in the background. I was missing them and I didn’t even know it.
Honestly, that realization struck me as a bit weird because I hadn’t even realized that I was missing something until then. I didn’t realize that I was feeling a bit lost. Or, even worse, that I was going through the motions without connecting to it all.
I decided that I needed to get back to my roots. Here’s what I did.
Re-read books that served as inspiration and foundations for my spiritual practice.
There’s a reason that people reread their religious books often. Even if you study the material closely, sometimes you just need to stop studying and instead read it. Just read the material and see what you get through that.
Books have always served as the basis for which I’ve developed my life around. I was always as a child and I’m always reading something today. Even if it’s not a book, there isn’t a day that goes by where I haven’t read something for the express purpose of reading and enjoying that information.
I don’t have a set spirituality and my practice actually developed twice- once as a child, once in my late teens and early twenties. That’s two sets of information to reacquaint myself with. Much of my inspiration also comes from fairy tales, mythology, and fairy tales. None of it actually comes from new age sources so it can be a lot to sort though. I’m relishing the opportunity to dive into some of my favorite classics though.
Follow social media accounts involving those foundations
I didn’t have internet until I was in middle school and we didn’t have a home computer until 2000. It seems weird now because so much of my life involves technology but back then, it was expensive and not really necessarily. So my knowledge developed according to what books I could find in the library.
The internet, my college library, and access to new and different people caused that second evolution in my practice. But facebook was just starting out. In fact, it was still restricted to just college students at that time. (Yeah, seriously) So while I had a huge library to play in, people to talk to, and the internet to explore, I didn’t have social media accounts to follow and interact with. This means when my social network drifted off and I left that university, I lost access to those connections.
These days we have social media so we can talk to people all over the world without have to slough through our emails to have a conversation. But while I interact on a daily basis with fellow witchcraft practitioners and people of other faiths, my own spirituality isn’t so easily defined so I don’t really interact with people on a spiritual level. That’s OK with me. My spirituality is actually meant to be solitary and intimately personal – it’s the Hermit tarot card. Solitary but full of wisdom and guidance.
Recently I’ve taken to following practitioners or researchers that follow similar beliefs on various social media platforms. I might not be talking to these people but that’s not as important to be as being around their knowledge and reading it.
Write down what you believe
This might be a long journaling process and you may need to goggle some questionnaires to really get to the heart of things if you’re at a loss for words. When you do get some words down, look to see which ones are repeating and which themes are continuous.
For me, personal freedom is incredibly important. I need it and crave it. I cannot stand being trapped. My belief in animism is absolute. These are things that are non-negotiable to me and form my foundation as a spiritual person.
Sometimes we just need to write things down to figure out exactly what we’re feeling and thinking. Getting those thoughts out there can really reaffirm what your roots are and why they’re important.
Change up your routine
Going with the motions without thinking about the motions is often the sign that people are disconnected. Switching out your day to day with something new and different can help you shake the dust off your soul and reconnect.
For me, I spent several days wandering about nature during the day and came back at night to read heavy tomes of fairy tales. This is what I grew up doing and where my roots developed. Going back to that old routine and getting lost in my own world allowed me to reconnect to who I was and what I really feel and believe.
Examine your ah-ha moments
I don’t really have an ah-ha moment. I remember reading a book and suddenly coming to a complete understanding about the concept of animism while standing outside of my high school’s pool. The humidity was an intense wall but I stood with my heavy backpack weighing me down and read my book while waiting for the bell to ring. I remember staring at the blue tiles as I sorted through the information I had just read. I have no idea what book I was reading but something about the way animism had been explained in that book made me realize that I was an animist.
That being said, I don’t really have a click moment where I suddenly realized what I believe. I don’t have a come-to-Jesus moment or a spiritual epiphany. Spirits have always been around so I never really lived without knowing of their presence.
That being said, looking back at the several poignant experiences I’ve had over the years that are so, so important to me reminds me of what I find precious in my spirituality.
People who have been doing their spiritual thing for a while now sometimes forget to keep learning. Never stop learning. Read a new book, skim through a new article, find some new source of inspiration. You don’t have to be reading deep academic tomes or personal accounts. I’ve found great spiritual attachments in fiction novels and manga. Don’t forget that you can always find inspiration in unlikely places.
Do I feel like I’ve really reconnected with myself spiritually? Yes and no. I know I’m on the right track because it feels right again. The sensations are so there. But I’m not quite there yet. I need to keep rereading old foundation books to see how they connect to me now. Some of those books aren’t accessible right now but once I get my hands on them, it’ll be like coming home. I know it’s coming, that experience that tells me I’m back. I can’t wait for it.
My spirituality is deeply intrinsic to who I am. It’s a cool night overlooking a seaside forest. It’s the Hermit. It’s the creature in the night that’s not quite human but not quite monster. Getting back to my roots is like coming home to a place you’ve never been to before. If you’ve been feeling lost or just out of sorts, consider going back to your roots for a little while. Things tend to sort themselves out from there.