I want to address the rampant cognitive dissonance and psychic trauma of our times. For, it seems, there is no way to bring our present state of political and ecological crisis into alignment. Most of us are aware of the climate crisis unfolding, along with the Sixth Mass Extinction already underway. To pagans, these are not mere headlines, talking points, or political priorities. No, these are existential threats of the highest order. With our veneration and sometimes outright worship of Nature, in Her many facets, the foundations of our spiritual identity is withering. Worse: most of us possess the understanding of how quotidian, mundane acts on our parts either contribute to this cataclysm or do nothing to arrest it.
Guilty, or at the very least complicit, and helpless. It is this rift between understanding the problem and seeming powerless to act that, I believe, causes dissonance. And, as any witch/pagan who knows their Craft will tell you, dissonance does not potent magic make. We are undone by it, as is the very fabric of Creation in myth and stories.
What We Can Do
Yet, I have long believed that modern pagans possess all the skills necessary to survive this moment of crisis. In fact, whatever unique proclivities in our development allowed us to “pierce the Veil” and seek truths beyond–that same fact has equipped us with the spiritual technology to heal this harm. Right after we heal ourselves, after we’ve walked the path and made the maps to guide others.
Some have, undoubtedly, done just that. I have seen many “pagans” (though not all would read most popular pagan books, or attend our gatherings) use this spirit technology to do great work. It spreads out from them, infecting the wounding mainstream culture, itself a wound, and transforms it by transforming the people who participate in it. Those few have laid what amounts to the beginning of a foundation and drawn a blueprint from the point of view of their personal practice.
Of those tools, I believe alignment is a good first step, and a serviceable repair to the ongoing trails of living through the decline of Empire.
What is Alignment?
Quite simply, alignment is one of the most basic practices used by modern pagans, and many other spiritual folk today. It requires stilling the mind, releasing distractions, and standing in the place of one’s authenticity and power. When one is “properly aligned” and acts from that “place of being” one’s actions are in-tune with one’s Highest Will and Divine Nature–they say. Magic is possible.
But I would go beyond witchcraft. Beyond, even spiritual healing and growth, whenever that is desirable. Those goals, while worthy, are individual and do not necessarily contribute to social change in a meaningful way. Even when we grow our Selves toward the light, or the deep dark hummus of understanding, we remain planted in a toxic society that feeds off our every effort to survive and live. Inevitably, our well-being becomes muddled.
The standard prescription is to seek cleansing and even purification. But while that may be aided through professional channels and done in a social context, it does little to shift the situation. The world remains wounded and toxic, and we spend all our energies on healing ourselves only.
What is Needed
Alignment, then, must be brought to a larger scale, to the societal level, however difficult and painful as it might be. In many ways, that is the spiritual work of the times, already underway in a myriad of ways. It is a gargantuan task and will not be over soon, or done exclusively by witches, New Agers, so-called shamans, activists, or even psychologists. It ought to be done by everyone with the ultimate aspect of alignment kept firmly in mind. That is, with the understanding that everyone requires healing if our culture, at large, is to find a healthy balance within itself.
Everyone must learn to appreciate and actively promote the inherent worthiness of all beings, not just humans. Everyone must assert the rights of the living, the nonliving, and even the dead. Justice is restorative and knows no temporal limitations. Everyone must exalt in their place within Mother Nature and actively maintain that balance. Everyone.
Alignment is a slow process. Anyone who has been through the spiritual and psychological ordeals of attaining this sort of healing can attest to that. It is all-encompassing and boundless. In the end, alignment is the goal itself and the state of mind and spirit that must be maintained through continual work.
Even beyond the emergency we find ourselves in, this is the work of our species. I believe this is the most revolutionary work we can engage in to redeem our culture and finally, fully function within this world.