I spent my teens and most of my twenties (and some of my thirties, too) searching for someone to teach me the secrets of the universe.
I was certain there was a manuscript hidden in the rare books room of the university, a secret society I’d be asked to join, some place I needed to travel to, or an adventure I had to have to find communion.
Words like “initiation” and “vision quest” had me perking my ears, but ultimately each trail led to the next dead end.
Like you, I was hearing the usual axioms: “the answer lies within,” “you already know everything you need.”
So I continued my search for my personal Yoda or Mr. Miyagi.
There’s another popular axiom: be careful what you wish for.
You remember The Karate Kid, right?
The Kid goes to Mr. Miyagi to learn karate. The kid—Daniel—thinks karate is a good way to keep his butt from getting kicked by the neighborhood bullies. To him, karate is about being powerful through muscle strength. Mr. Miyagi has the tough job of teaching him that it’s about being powerful through inner strength.
So Mr. Miyagi has The Kid painting a fence. And the kid is annoyed, pissed off, ready to call the whole thing bunk and bullshit.
This is the school of sage-craft that I come from, too. It’s the chop wood, carry water—or, in my case: dig roots, pluck berries—school of wisdom.
And it’s frustrating as all hell.
I think about this often as I navigate the ins and outs of teaching. Students come searching for secrets—the secret of happiness or health or wisdom or power.
What they want from me is a reading assignment or a lecture that will get them there. But readings and lectures merely give information—head knowledge—which is pretty different from wisdom.
Body knowledge—now that’s a harder path.
It involves things like chopping wood and carrying water. Or painting fences. Or digging roots when it’s forty degrees and raining incessantly.
It means taking the time to let your body learn the information you’ve put into your head. I call this hand knowledge.
When we take the time to learn with our heads and hands, we come into communion, into relationship, with the world around us. This coming into relationship is a back door to the heart.
Our culture encourages us to learn in a linear fashion; we do something once, and it’s “been there, done that. What’s next?”.
But you don’t get to do these things once and declare mastery.
Think about it: how much more would you see if you sat in the woods every day for a year versus for an hour one afternoon?
It’s easy to do a thing once, feel mighty proud of yourself, and move on to the next thing. But think of all the sounds you never heard, the wind that never brushed your skin, the scents of spring or summer or autumn that you missed.
Which means we skim the surface of lots of stuff but rarely go deep.
To most minds, repetition = boredom. And yet repetition is a necessary component of pretty much all the Mystery Schools, from Kabbalah to Karate.
On the surface it’s about discipline. Disciplining the body and disciplining the mind. Minding your teacher even when it all feels like bunk and bullshit.
But it goes deeper than that.
If you can get your mind to stop chattering about how annoyed it is, how much you paid to attend this school or training or class, how your back hurts and your nose is running…
If you can quiet that chatter, something else begins to happen.
You come into your body.
You come into knowledge of the world around you.
You come into relationship with the elements pulsing under your fingertips.
And this is where true power lies.Because at heart, every school of witchery is about your will, your intent. It’s about being able to taste truth in your bones and envision realities yet to exist. Click To Tweet
It’s about knowing yourself so intimately that you know what is not you… so when you hear a voice rising from the jumble of your being, and you know quite clearly it’s not yours, you can then look around to see what out there in the world is trying to communicate with you.
And in that moment, life is glorious.
But then the noise rises up again…
… and it’s back to chopping wood and carrying water, performing the daily disciplines of communion.
How do you find communion? Take this quiz so I can help you find your best path back to you!