Sometimes my Lady yells in my head and is very clear, and at other times She likes to watch me flail around blindly as I find the answer myself. One of the hardest things She’s had me figure out was the whole concept of the Center.
This particular lesson started not long after my formal commitment to Her. For months afterwards I saw these images of wheels within wheels in my head, with me in the middle watching them all turn around me. It was all sci-fi-ish and pretty cool to look at, but I had no idea what it could possibly mean. The closest anything I could find to what I was seeing was an armillary sphere, a device used to represent things like celestial longitude and latitude. Aside from thinking it also resembled atomic structure from high school chemistry classes I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.
Wheels are common images in pagan and polytheistic iconography. Most of us are familiar with the 8-spoked Wheel of the Year, the common visual used for the holidays. Anything cyclical is usually visualized as a wheel, and that’s true across many historical periods and cultures.
I turned this over and over and over in my head, trying to make the pieces fit together into something comprehensible. Finally, I realized it wasn’t an answer but a question: with all this talk about wheels, why does no one seem to focus on the hubs?
My Lady laughed at me – seriously, She laughed at me! ABUSE! – and my approach to, well, everything changed.
What is the Center?
Energetically, “centering” means collecting our personal energy into one place to facilitate its use. In a broader sense, it refers to collecting the pieces of our Self into one place, learning to understand how those pieces fit together, and then learning how all that relates to the world.
This is not a new concept. I’ve seen similar ideas mentioned in everything from popular self-help literature to ancient Greek philosophy. The most applicable version I’ve found is the philosophical definition of Authenticity: “the attempt to live one’s life according to the needs of one’s inner being, rather than the demands of society or one’s early conditioning”.
This is all UPG, so it subject to change and clarification. However, from what I’ve gathered our “authentic Self” was perfect and unblemished at birth. However, as we’ve grown our Self has been shattered by external pressures: parental expectations, social structures, emotional pain and loss, self-hatred and self-doubt, etc. This prevents us from reaching our full potential, from growing through this life the way we were meant to. To get ourselves back on track we have to reconstruct our Self by finding all the pieces and fitting them together again, and then use that Self to interact with the world.
That Self, that core on which we build our lives, is our Center.
How does finding my Center help me?
Our Center is the core of who we are. By understanding that core we attain a level of internal clarity that makes everything easier. Our lives start falling into place.
I think the biggest reason for that is that our priorities are more obvious, so a lot of decisions kind of make themselves.
I’m really not a quick thinker. I like to plan and prepare, and I turn ideas over in my head before I form opinions. However, I can come across as incredibly decisive. I know what works for me and what doesn’t and I live my life accordingly. Things I used to agonize over are now “meh” because my Center gives me an internal scale with which to evaluate new opportunities or circumstances.
The scale is simple: Does this serve my Center or nurture and fulfill my Self? The more it serves, nurtures, and fulfills me the better it is for me, even if it is the harder path.
With a solid Center we can tell exactly how things in our lives affect us. It’s a lot easier to leave a toxic relationship when we can pinpoint precisely how bad it is for us, and exactly what parts of ourselves we’re starving to maintain it. All kinds of decisions become simple when living authentically, in alignment with our Centers, because anything against our authentic Self is automatically discarded as a viable option.
Finding our Center also steadies us, like an anchor. Even having the vaguest notion of where our Center might be helps. Without a Center we just drift along in our lives, and the smallest thing can be more than we can handle sometimes. With a Center, though, those things go from overwhelming to manageable. I’m not saying that there will be no more pain and loss – those are just as necessary as joy – but that dealing with them and moving on becomes a much simpler process.
And a bonus, for the more Ceremonially trained out there: we as humans are just as cyclic as everything else in the world. Think about the implications of that in terms of sympathetic magic. Once we find our Center we can learn to step from that Center to the center of any other Wheel out there. And once we step we can affect.
Isn’t THAT an intriguing thought?
How does all of this connect to the Powers?
Finding the Center is good for anyone, but especially when establishing and maintaining relationships with the Powers. It’s only when we find our Centers that we can truly reach out beyond ourselves and offer something with meaning. *shrug* Which I know sounds a bit sappy, but there it is nonetheless.
Before we reassemble our Centers we’re more like Frankenstein than we’d like to think. Our Selves are cobbled together, a patchwork we’ve created from all the external pressures that broke our sense of Self in the first place. There’s very little of our authentic Self in that.
Devotions are all about connection, right? Well, if we don’t have much “us” to connect with, a connection is harder to forge.
Think of the Center as a radio. It both emits a frequency the Powers can hear and hears a frequency They send out. Every piece of Self that we uncover and work with increases our radio’s range and signal clarity. Since we want to connect with Them, it’s in our own best interests to use the strongest radio available.
Ok, I’m convinced. So how do I do it?
Finding our Center, reassembling those shattered pieces of Self, takes regular, dedicated, hard, and slow work. It requires self-reflection, introspection, and an often brutal honesty with ourselves. And there are so MANY pieces to find!
I’ve listed a few of my favorite techniques below. I’m not going to go into detail with them because there is already a ton of information out there on the listed topics, but if you have any specific questions feel free to ask in the comments.
Instead of blindly accepting how we feel about something, how we think about a given topic, or our reasons for doing something, we need to check in with ourselves and ask why. Why do we cry watching Lilo and Stitch? Why do we think anyone who likes classic rock is a fascist? Why are we so utterly bored that we’re counting the number of dried beans in a bag just for something to do?
“Because” is not an acceptable answer. Neither is “that’s how the world works”. We have to hold ourselves accountable for our answers. If the answer that immediately springs to mind seems like a lame cop-out it probably is. Dig deeper.
I used to get furious when someone was late, especially if they were picking me up from somewhere. I’ve never been the type to “do” anger, so it was quite a shock. Then I started asking myself why. Why did I get so mad at that, and nothing else? My first answer – “because I deserve basic respect, dammit!” – was true as far as it went but felt hollow, so I continued to dig. Then I realized that I was angry to hide being scared, and I was scared because I had abandonment issues stemming from childhood trauma. That answer felt real, felt solid. Once I recognized those abandonment issues I realized they pushed me off my Center. So I set about ditching them. It took awhile, and I still appreciate punctuality, but now I no longer froth at the mouth if someone is 10 minutes late and hasn’t called me yet.
Practicing self-awareness starts with paying attention to what goes on in our own heads. This is something to do all day, every day. If remembering to check in with yourself is a problem, set an alarm for a random time. When it goes off, stop whatever you’re doing and ask yourself: “what am I feeling/thinking/doing, and why am I feeling/thinking/doing that?”
Establish a Meditation Practice
Practicing self-awareness helps us catch the issues that come up during the day. Meditation helps us catch issues that come up when our minds are calm and focused, and gives us a chance to really analyze issues we might find troubling. A common visualization for meditation is a still and silent pool – meditation gives us a chance to see what might surface from the deep.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, because there’s a lot out there on this topic, but establish a meditation practice. It takes about 20 minutes a day, and the results are more than worth it. Meditation practice now will also go a long way with helping connect to the Powers later.
Track Your Dreams
I’m vastly simplifying here, but for our current purposes dreams are where your mind plays with the things that came up throughout the day and works on sorting it all out, often through symbolism. Noting dreams can help us notice recurring trends, common imagery, and significant concepts in our lives. This is nothing but helpful.
Keep a notebook by the bed (or do what I do and use the memo feature on your phone). Upon waking up in the morning write down whatever you dreamed. Note anything that sticks out – colors, numbers, emotions, whatever. Every few weeks flip through your records and see if you notice any trends. Then meditate on them to figure out why they’re present.
Write everything down. Write down what you figured out from your self-awareness exercises. Write down what came up during meditation. Write down what you dream about. Set aside time every day to write down whatever comes to you as you journal. After a few weeks or months go back through your journal and see if you can find common threads. Journal, journal, journal.
Some people separate these journals out, some put them in different sections of a tabbed binder, and some use a blank book and just go to town. Use whatever works for you.
Are we ever done?
Not really. Growth is change, and the more we ditch that what’s unhealthy for us the more pieces of our Selves we find.
Here’s a litmus test to determine whether or not you’re on the correct path though, via my Lady:
Is your external life all chaos and drama, while inside you’re either totally numb or feeding on the drama? Then you’re not where you need to be. Figure out what the problem is using the techniques above and fix it.
Is your external life manageable and your inner life vibrantly alive and engaged with what’s going on? Then you are where you need to be, so maintain where you’re at for as long as you can.
Ask this every day as you meditate – it’s surprisingly helpful!
Feeling pretty Centered? Ready to reach out as well as in? Time to add some Land Spirits to the mix!