Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh Lordess, Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood: White Girl Suburban Shamanism

Dear gods, why did I agree to give a class on Animal Totems for my local Pagan Picnic?

It started out innocently enough, I wanted to start publicly speaking again, I'm entertaining enough and I know enough to be glib and also enough to say "I don't know" as many times as applicable. If I ever stop fucking around and learn to juggle the chainsaw mess of nannying/freelance writing/crafting/dropping it like it's hot/social obs/religious obs/crafting/blogging and oh yeah going to the gym and writing (. . .sigh) and get published and whatnot, book touring is super necessary and having pagan workshop experience is helpful.

Well. My local pagan picnic is having a 'arry Potter theme for the obv reason so all the classes have to be themed after the Hogwarts classes. I tried in vain to get an easier one but one of the few open was Transfiguration, which I pitched as:

Transfiguration 101: Learn about what a totem spirit can bring to your life and participate in a meditation to find your own totem, hear what s/he has to say and experiment with meditational transfiguration yourself!

Of course they accepted that one. Of course.

This is what my process has looked like:

1. Ignore. That was easy until I started getting gentle notes about my bio/abstract.

2. Panic. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd, WHAT WAS I THINKING! Why do you want to open up this old wound that's covered in exhusband cooties and remember what you figured out? That you don't know anything about anything? Remember how you decided to stop calling yourself a shaman post-divorce and you've been (as the LBGT comm kindly says) "questioning" since then? Remember how you've been working suuuuuper hard not to be a misappropriating asshole? WHY THE FUCK DID YOU PICK THE SOFTEST SQUISHEST MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF YOUR SPIRITUALITY ON DISPLAY THEN?

3. Realize there is no way out. You've agreed and need to keep your grown up commitments like a grown up.

4. Research. Look to people you trust who have written books and come from a similar background (in my case, sub/urban American and Euro mutts). Start with Lupa because you met her once at a festival and she was nice to you.

5. Spend some time retreating back to panic.

6. Ponder. Figure out where you still fit in the whole shamanic world. Resolve not to put myself out there as anyone other than me while still somehow not discrediting myself as being a trustworthy source by going too far the other way.

7. Outline. Write it all out. Send in abstract/bio. Look at outline. Feel momentarily pleased as I realize I've made it make sense in my current personal cosmos while managing to not turn it into an eclectic mess. Pleasure quickly gives way to:

8. Panic, obvs.

9. Distract self from panic by focusing on other things I can control. Reorder Uncle Ted's Animal Speak as it got lent out at some point. It's a Harry Potter theme! Luckily I'm already a HP dork so I have some stuff I wear for Arisia that can be used and summer-rized (knee length grey pleated skirt, drape-y black t shirt, time turner, green tie, legwarmers if it's not ungodly hot). Try on ensemble. Make note to self to order a Slytherin patch. Do so.

10. Blog about it.

I feel like this is going to shake up my internal antfarm even if no one comes to my class (which is always possible). I remembered that my dianic circle has always said I'm super good at *leading* meditation which is a good workshop transferable skill if not awesome for personal enlightenment.

I'm beginning to seriously co-sign on Penelope Trunk's theory on being happy or being interesting.


Alexis Kennedy said...

and in the end, it'll all be perfect and lovely! I just know it, Deb :) Hang in there! Hugs

Unknown said...

You're not the only one, Deb. Last week I for some reason agreed to teach bellydance to whiny, self-centered summer school girls - AGAIN. The second I said "yes" I went through the same ten steps you did and finally turned to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" for comfort:

Don't Panic. :) You'll make it through.

~*Rhi*~ said...

Oh my dear Goddess! This is exactly how I feel every time I commit to teaching a workshop. Thanks for the giggles. Know we are all in the same oar-less boat.

Wild & Bright Blessings!

RevAllyson said...

Deep breath. Might I suggest writing the meditation first? I always find that once I have the body of something dealt with, the "bits and pieces" come together alright eventually. Even if I have to ad lib... ;) Good luck - I wish I could be there!

Lupa said...

LMK if you need any other resources besides Animal-Speak /totemism geek

Also, would love to see any outline/etc. or whatever else you can share once it's done, since I'm always curious as to others' perspectives :) --Lupa the White Chick (Neo)shaman from the Midwest

Amanda Brueckner said...

Completely off topic but I LOVE the doll in your picture!

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