A Paradigm Shift –
How Disapproval can be turned into a Positive Experience.
One Christmas I gave away hand-decorated candles to my friends and family. On the bottom of each I inscribed a 5 pointed star. In Wiccan tradition this is considered a sign of blessing, but also did it so I could space 5 gold decorative studs evenly around the bottom.
Shocked at the Pentagram!
One particular highly-religious friend remarked months later how shocked she was that I would give her a gift that clearly was marked with a symbol which was ‘not well thought of’ by her church. I was quite surprised to hear this, that a pentagram (literally meaning shape with 5 points) would be so misinterpreted.
The pentagram, along with so many Wiccan traditions and symbols, is often misunderstood and maligned by those fearful of and not familiar with the Neo-Pagan movement. In its purest form the star represents the elements of existence, earth, air, fire, and water all bound together and governed by spirit or God at the top.
How could such a beautiful, rich and positive symbol be disapproved of I wondered? This symbol like most Wiccan traditions is life affirming and based in the concept of building an individual’s intuition, respect for the world and others, and primarily about building a personal relationship with the divine. Only in Wicca, the divine happens to have a feminine aspect or counterpart. (What I personally consider to be a more balanced view of spirituality).
Release the Need to Be Right
The bottom line with this experience was that I quickly moved through several transcending emotions to reach a place of understanding. I was at once angry for being judged, angry at her condemnation, angry at her self-righteous attitude and angry that she insisted that she alone held the truth about who and what God was. I realized that by reacting in anger, I was admitting that I had insecurities about my convictions and was not standing fully behind them.
If I believe what I believe, there is no reason to take offense to anyone’s conflicting opinions. I then thought of an affirmation to repeat. “My thoughts and feelings and beliefs are worthy of respect, whether or not anyone agrees with them.”
Respect ALL Opinions
When I saw that she truly believed what she said. I saw that she too was worthy of my respect. The offense began to shrink and I felt sorrowful that this woman would be so fearful of anything that differed from what she had been taught. She had found security in believing what her husband, her male ministers, and other equally fear-based women told her.
As I questioned why she judged me and my beliefs so harshly, I saw that it was her way of exerting control over a situation that frightened her. Perhaps also by expressing her disapproval she could distance herself from me and avoid the potential of eternal damnation! Whatever the reasons, I had given away my personal power to her by allowing myself to feel anything but total understanding.
When I had the shift of consciousness, I knew that I had the power to heal her in some small way. As I saw the fear and felt the attack, I remembered the words of the Great Teacher (paraphrased). “When they persecute you for your spirituality, turn the other cheek.” I saw the wisdom and clarity in this like never before. I had nothing to defend. My own defense would only be interpreted as an offense against her own belief system. And she would not feel heard. She had not come seeking knowledge and understanding of a way different than her own.
Trying to coerce her into not fearing would accomplish nothing.
Support All Paths
Instead I found the higher road was to allow her to express whoever she was and support whatever she felt and know that her feelings were not a reflection on my personal relationship with me and with the divine.
Ultimately we can never change another person’s beliefs. But by being a shining light by living our own convictions without tearing down others we can influence the world to greatness. And as I reflect back now on the whole experience, I know I am richer for it. My pentagram sign of blessing was not understood because the language of the symbol was not understood.
One Mouth – Two Ears
When we insist on being heard, we are admitting that we need to be heard by another for validation instead of realizing we are already validated by ourselves if we so chose. By taking the focus off of my own selfish and insecure desire to have my point of view accepted and turning my focus on accepting my friend’s point of view I broke one link in the chain of misunderstanding. And eventually through really listening to others perhaps then I can better understand myself.