I’m tapping into to a wider conversation here about politics and spirituality – with reference to a recent Gods and Radicals post about spiritual approaches that enable fascism http://godsandradicals.org/others/confronting-the-new-right/. One of the key points is that we are mistaken if we think spirituality is apolitical, and in being oblivious to the political angle, we make more room for ideas that many of us find objectionable. At the same time, wanting to keep the sacred out of the nasty, sordid business of politics is a perfectly reasonable reaction! So, how to do this well…
Personal spirituality is not political. What that means is that in your intimate moments of interacting with the divine, there is nothing political going on. It’s just you, and what you hold sacred, and whatever numinous, inspirational, challenging, demanding, peculiar things come in that space. Or, to put it another way, what you do privately is your business, there are no thought police.
However, as soon as you are dealing with things of this world, politics are involved and other people are entitled to judge you. How you choose to manifest your spirituality in the world will always have a political dimension. The person who pretends it doesn’t is reducing their own power and scope for conscious self-determination.
The environment is a political issue. If you want trees to hug, animals to bring you omens, or any other interaction with any aspect of the natural world, you have to look at the political implications of your life and practice and the politics impacting on those.
Human interaction is a political issue. Who has power and who doesn’t. Who is included, and who is silenced. Who is permitted and who is denied. How safe people feel. Who is allowed to say ‘no’. There are many of these, but you get the idea. If you have the power to exclude, silence, ignore or force someone else in some way, that’s a power you need to be alert to, and take responsibility for. If you are on the other end of this, then your right to be heard, seen, have space, be safe etc matters, and the odds are your spiritual life is being affected by politics.
It amazes me that anyone could be interested in magic and power, and not want to understand what power they have. It amazes me that anyone could set out to be a will worker and be keen not to know how their actions influence other people. ‘Know thyself’ is an ancient Pagan instruction. If you don’t know what effect you have, then you don’t know yourself. But apparently there are people who are happy not to look at the implications of what they do, even to make sure they aren’t accidentally facilitating a fascist agenda.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I want my actions in this world to be deliberate, and of my crafting. I want to be a deliberate co-creator of my reality. If I do something and it has consequences I didn’t mean or intend or want, I want to know about that so that I can take control and change it. Burying my head in the sand and assuming everything I do gets the results I intend, does not give me that power.
If I choose not to face the uncomfortable possibilities that I could be getting things wrong, I give away my power. In refusing to look at the implications of my actions, I make it easier to manipulate me. I make myself a target for people who would use me to further their own power. I become a tool for someone else to use. Potentially a tool someone else can use for oppression.
I don’t want to be that. I don’t think many people would find that appealing as a way to be.