Changing Consciousness

Expanding Inward has a weekend intensive coming up in the next few weeks. (October 17–19 in Cedar Falls, IA, to be exact.) We’re exploring the ancient Greek myth of Pandora, which is a creation story that I have always found to be personally challenging. I have been struggling to find a foothold in this story that relates to my personal growth, because, frankly, that’s sort of Expanding Inward’s schtick — personal and spiritual growth using a myth as a framework. But with the archetype of the scapegoat so embedded throughout, this is a tough myth to work with. In it, Pandora is both the victim and the perpetrator. Kind of like Eve. Kind of like just about every other creation myth or story that sets a certain person or group up as the bad guy in order to explain the nature of what is Not Us, evil, and Other. It doesn’t feel like a story I want to use a structure for growth because, frankly, it makes me darn uncomfortable. What happened to working with stories of heroes and transformation? What happened to working with a myth that naturally leads to empowerment?

It wasn’t until our last conference call that it hit me. Maybe that’s the point. This isn’t a story about an individual hero’s journey. It’s a story about a community. In this case, that community is all of humanity. Of course it makes me uncomfortable. This isn’t my story — it belongs to all of us. And I need to expand to make room for what that means.

Pandora’s story forces me to recognize that I am not alone. There are ills in the world, and we all share the responsibility for dealing with them and finding ways to live beyond them.

During the weekend, 1284036_96385875we’re planning to do some intentional magical work — magic to live beyond boxes. To open them, and never close them again. To live with eyes open. To foster a community that does the same. To create accountability and action in the face of blame and complacency. Doreen Valiente defined magic as “the art of changing consciousness at will.” That definition has always worked for me, and I think it works doubly so in this instance. I want to change consciousness. My own, certainly … I want to see beyond the artificial barriers I have constructed out of my own fear, and certainly the fears that my upbringing, community, and society has constructed for me. I also want to change consciousness on a wider scale — sending an energetic prayer to dismantle those boxes. I want to ask to live free, knowing that to live free means to remain engaged. That’s a hefty-consciousness shift, but that’s the intention I want to put out there.

How will we do it? Good question. The only answer I can give with absolute confidence is: together. We will do it together. For me, community-based magic for community-based questions is essential. The mechanics will likely involve some combination of movement, voice, intention, awareness, rhythm… That part hasn’t been planned yet. But a story that affects all of us requires all of us to interact with it. My own definition of what it means to do magic is that it is an active form of prayer. In this case, I pray to dismantle, and upon dismantling, connect, and upon connecting, heal.

Come join me. It’s going to take each one of us to make it happen.


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