Magic and Spirit During Worldwide Upheaval, Part 4: Authenticity and Empathy

Episode 21 – Magic and Spirit During Worldwide Upheaval, Part 4: Authenticity and Empathy The Waxing Soul

Episode Transcript:

I’m Bridget Owens and you're listening to the Waxing Soul podcast where we're adventuring into the world of mindful modern magic and authentic spiritual practice.

It's March 24, 2022, and today's topic is figuring out the path forward in difficult times which resonates with and supports your authenticity.

Are you ready to grow your soul?

Welcome back for the end of the series, witchy friends! I think this will kind of round out the series, it’s pretty much the remainder of what I feel like I have to say at this point, but I would absolutely welcome feedback or questions or whatever if you want to reach out on social media or my website.

There’s… For those who maybe haven’t worked the numbers, I’m on the younger end of GenX. I was a kid in the 80s and my late teens/early 20s in the 90s. And there’s this., if you are on TikTok at all, or at least on the same sides of TikTok as I am, there’s some dialogue about how GenX is maybe better equipped to deal with the chaos of the past three years or so because, like, so many of us grew up as latchkey kids and we were children of the Cold War and etc etc. And there is something to that, definitely. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve tried to explain to my mom that the reason my little brother and I had such a different life path not just from what they envisioned but compared to our older siblings is that we grew up in a different time, a different world, and we have a different understanding of it. Cynical, yeah, a little. Not willing to, like, just buy into the idealistic standards and rules we’re told we should believe in because at a young age we got used to being promised the world and then watching that world fall apart or at least be revealed to not be the golden future that it was sold to us as.

And so there’s… a couple of episodes ago when I talked about the revelatory nature of these Tower moments, this is a bit what I was getting at. That, for those who are old enough that we’ve lived through, you know, other chaotic times, you do gain perspective in the sense that this isn’t completely unusual or out of left field or whatever, this is just the nature of the world.

And there are different ways that we can internalize this and incorporate that knowledge into our worldview. Like, this isn’t external to the flow of our lives. It’s not like it’s some force trying to pull our lives off course from the reality we’re supposed to be living in. It IS reality. This IS our lives regardless of… I mean, even if you think there’s a greater plan or whatever that this is a departure from for whatever reason, it is the way it is. If your understanding of the universe says that… Whatever it says, whatever it means for you, that doesn’t apply outside of you.

Our opinions and beliefs about the nature of existence doesn’t make anyone’s groceries cost less, it doesn’t change the weather… All of that is still reality.

And the way we interpret that and consolidate what we’re learning, what we’re learning from experiencing that reality and observing other people and events and from feeling our feelings is unique to each of us. That is how we become who we are. Living life, having experiences of all kinds all across the spectrum is what forms us into whoever we become next.

My message in all of this is that we can’t control the big things happening around us. We can’t control legislators and world leaders and the people in our communities and whatever. But we can control how we take that reality and, in our own life, in our own little part of the world and experience, how we create the microenvironment in which we live. And to do so is important because that’s how we shape and direct our evolution as spiritual beings. It’s what we take in, what we do with it, what we put out, and all of that is influenced far more by our smaller, personal environment than the global one.

So if we want to become stronger, more resilient, more… however it is that we each personally define thriving. If we want to be that, we have to shape our micro-environment to support that. Which is why it’s important to be really in touch with our deep selves, to use these opportunities to get to know our authentic selves, and then be really mindful about how we deal with our feelings and why we choose to take the actions we take.

If we bypass and wear ourselves out emotionally and do a lot of performative stuff to please others and look good and fit into whatever expectations… If we do all that inauthentic stuff we will end up not evolving so that we thrive and grow, we end up evolving into a version of self that continues to chase the approval of others and the illusion of comfort that detachment provides.

And, I mean, in general I and a lot of people are going to talk a lot about how it’s not good to be self-absorbed and selfish in how we exist through these times, how we respond. But there’s a huge difference between giving and connecting and contributing from a place of authenticity, a place of genuine concern, where we recognize our needs and strengths and abilities and limitations and those of others, between that and giving and connecting and contributing from a place of fear and obligation and appeasement, where we’re seeking comfort and numbness and concerned with how we’re seen and what role we’re playing, what we’re accomplishing.

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Now back to the episode!

The last part of my journey has essentially 2 parts. And the first one is my campaign for city council.

And this is interestingly both the beginning and sort of an end point of the plot here because even before I got involved with that first group, I had decided that I needed to run. Not because I had political ambitions, not because I wanted to make a career of public service, but because in that moment it felt like the right thing to do.

And basically what happened was that… Okay, the big elections take place in November, but our municipal elections don’t happen until April. So in the midst of all the, like, the women’s marches and all of this, our city council campaigns were going and there was a truly awful candidate on the ballot who got, I mean, a ton of negative publicity, said really heinous things, didn’t even remotely come close to winning, but out of that I realized that…

You know, I think if you asked any big group of people, even people who are really passionate about issues, if they thought they’d ever run for office, most people, and this is where I was, most people would say no because they didn’t have the pristine background or connections or right image or whatever for politics. And I’d always been in that mindset of, like, I can’t run for office because I’m queer and I’m not Christian and I’m not wealthy and I don’t have connections and I got fired from my job that one time and all of that. But here was this candidate who had absolutely no qualms about putting himself out there, he wasn’t letting all of his obvious lack of traditional qualifications hold him back, and I was like, if he’s putting himself out there, why are those of us who are passionate about social justice and racial justice and gender equality and economic justice and all of that… Why are we letting it stop us?

And as I was thinking there really should be, the city really needs more candidates who represent the real demographic makeup of the city, who aren’t beholden to the Chamber of Commerce and all of that, I was like… Well, that’s me. And here I am, ready to do something, fired up and ready to go, willing to shift my time and stuff around to do the job if I get elected and able to do that since that really disqualifies most working class people. And it felt like it was my time, I was basically being called to do that.

Now, I didn’t win. But the experience taught me some things. First of all, all along my campaign I had people asking me, like, “Is it okay if people knows you’re pagan?” “If people ask about you, is it okay if they know how we know each other?” “What is okay to say to people and what isn’t?” And my whole thing was that if kept secrets in my campaign, if I pretended not to be who I am, then if I got elected I wouldn’t have been elected in good faith. I wanted to run as me. I would rather lose because I was authentic in my campaign than win and then be a problem when people figured out I wasn’t open and honest.

And that’s… It’s really interesting when you get down in the trenches of political and social activism how quickly you realize that everyone’s view of what the goals should be, what’s worthwhile to do, what success looks like is really really very different. Because for me, the point wasn’t to win at all costs. And this kind of came out in the campaign as I was talking to people and to other candidates as well, the idea wasn’t that I was the best person for the job or that I didn’t want anyone else in the position. I just wanted it to be someone who represented people who weren’t usually represented in the council, someone who cared more about the wellbeing of the constituents than their own political career, and if someone else like that got elected, and there was another candidate with arguably more qualifications than me in the race, then I was fine with that.

But when I decided to run, there hadn’t been a candidate like that in a very long time and it didn’t seem that anyone else was willing to be that candidate, to even try. And ultimately even though I knew I didn’t have a good chance of winning, and I was the first ever openly LGBTQ candidate for municipal office in the history of the city, I knew it was worth doing even if I didn’t win for a ton of reasons. I was taking a stand for what I believed in, I was able to speak in debates and interviews on issues in a way that nobody else on the ballot was, and I was hopefully inspiring others to become candidates in the future. All of those things felt like tangible wins to me. I’m glad I did that, and after the campaign I said I would absolutely run again. I really felt like that would be, like… There was still a need for people like me to run, and I felt at the time like I was still, like that was still part of my mission.

But these things happen every two years. And by a year and a half later, which is when campaigns really start kind of ramping back up, things had changed for me personally. This was now the middle of 2020, we were into the pandemic, and honestly I had been doing a lot of shadow work. 2020 was a 7 year for me, that’s a rest and spiritual connection year, inner work, connection work, and I was being pulled towards different ways of contributing to the community and to the world. The narrative had shifted, and I feel like…

Now, before I say this I want to acknowledge that I had a ton of stuff to work through, guilt to work through, about the fact that I’d said I would run again, I knew some people were looking forward to me running again, I’d spent so much time dedicated to these causes in very specific ways and there were some people who kind of expected me to stay in that role. But with things shifting, with new things happening in the world and bringing others out into leadership roles and motivating people again to get out there and fight for change, I was in no way the best person to be out there leading anything. Not that I was or am no longer needed, but I wasn’t needed to lead. It was in my best interest to step back.

So I did. And that’s… This podcast, my book, the stuff I do in my job… those are ways that I felt pushed to channel that energy. There are these other ways that I contribute to the world, that I act on my values and priorities. And that’s ultimately what I want everyone to find their way to do.

If you love The Waxing Soul, connect with me online! is the central hub for all my projects including books, card decks, and resources. Go there to get my latest book, Deep Self Magic, to connect as a potential podcast guest, and to find out all the latest news. 
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One of the biggest lessons all along in my activism journey is that everyone brings something different to the table and that means everyone is most impactful in different roles. I mean, that’s true just for life in general, too. But especially relevant here.

When it comes to changing the world, not only is it just plain fact that not everyone is suited for every potential role, especially when we’re talking about leadership positions, about the front lines, in-the-trenches work of impacting world or even local events, but it’s also…

The corollary or whatever is also true. People are needed to contribute in a huge, huge, huge variety of ways. It’s not better for the world for all of us to drop what we’re doing, forget about our strengths and talents and whatever we feel most called to do in service of the communities we care about, and instead rush out to try and fix or stop or change things that aren’t really directly in our path.

Does that mean we just ignore stuff happening in the world that doesn’t impact us directly? No, of course not.

But it means we all do our part to the best of our ability within the bounds of our authentic way of being and encourage others to do the same. And that also…. Here’s the hardest part of this: That also means that we figure out how to deal with whatever pressure or feedback or criticism or whatever comes from others to push us into other action. We deal with that internally, find and set our boundaries, and then hold them.

This is the hardest part of shadow work and integration and just figuring out how to be authentic. It’s not good to detach and bypass and just ignore what’s going on in the world. It’s not good to give ourselves over to the demands and expectations and pressures of everyone to perform caring, to perform empathy. It’s not good to deplete ourselves by just overgiving, overextending ourselves beyond what’s healthy.

And the only way to navigate that really difficult situation, to walk that tightrope is to be really clear about who we are, what we can offer, what role we’re called to and able to play, and what our boundaries are. To follow our authentic soul-deep guidance and to be responsible for taking care of ourselves through the journey.

All of this is really tightly tied in with our spirituality and the work we do on ourself to connect with our deep selves and have a fulfilling and authentic practice. Spirituality needs to be authentic because we all come to it with different needs and different things that resonate with us, and the same is true with our efforts to change the world. We don’t accomplish anything good by pushing our own spirituality on others or trying to change theirs, and the same is true when it comes to pushing our own expectations and standards for how to do the work to improve society or support our communities on others or trying to control how others contribute.

We’re always growing and evolving spiritually, and we’re also always growing and evolving when it comes to everything we do in the world. And that means sometimes we change trajectories. We move our boundaries. We adjust our priorities. Remember that the point of anything we do in the world is not for us to be right, which is good because it’s inevitable that we’re going to find things along the way that we’re wrong about. We’re going to learn things and change our minds sometimes. In fact it’s important to take this stuff on as a learning experience, as something that’s going to teach us things and reveal things to us that we didn’t fully understand before. Both about ourselves and about the world. And most importantly, about others. About the realities of other people.

I think on a spiritual level, the one take on all of this that’s probably most consistently true across the board, regardless of spiritual beliefs and worldview, is that these times open our eyes and illuminate things we need to know, need to see. Whether you believe that’s part of a plan or just the nature of how things work in the world, the end result is the same. We’re learning new things, seeing new things, getting perspective we didn’t have before, and that changes things. It changes our worldview, yeah, like I’ve already talked about, but when lots of people, when people all around the world are shifting their perspectives and changing how they look at reality, big changes come out of that. We’re part of that. That’s how we change the world, we participate in that. We contribute in our own way to that.

Thank you so much for listening.
New episodes of the Waxing Soul drop every Thursday.
All materials and resources except the music are copyright Bridget Owens.
Many thanks to my readers, listeners, friends, mentors, inspirations, and my framily for riding with me into season two.
Until next week, blessed be and be good to yourself.

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