Thanks to that Very Serious Illness mentioned in my last post, I have spent the last four months in an extended, largely involuntary downtime during which there was a great deal of introspection and reflection but very little in the way of public communications.
During some of the longer and more medicated hours of pondering, I’ve considered quite seriously ending my public online presence as a practicing pagan. By that, I mean that I would stop blogging here, stop posting in pagan forums and communities, and close the social media accounts that are used strictly for interacting with other pagans and eclectics. In short, I’ve considered limiting my spiritual expression to activities to the worlds where I am actively practicing and only interacting with those actually a part of my practice. What difference would it make I wondered – to myself, to my deities, to other seekers? Does the world really need one more voice spouting their opinions and views? More importantly, does my path require this public face? If not, what am I and others getting out of this?
The question also came up of why I began to question my online presence in the first place. Is there something going on that is making me feel that I need to withdraw? Has there been some shift, either in myself or the overall online pagan collective, that makes me question my presence there? Is this a case of self-doubt, an identity crisis brought on by health issues, or a true need to re-examine what I do?
I have been working through these questions over the last few weeks and am only just now beginning to come up with some answers. Nothing is set in stone yet but here are the salient points so far:
- Changes are needed, that much is certain. Much of my spiritual online time during the past year has left me feeling firstly angry and hurt and then empty and drained. I have too little resources to spare for something that makes me unhappy.
- My Lady has reminded me in a very loud and firm voice that this does not need to be an either/or situation. It is possible to come up with a better online presence that does not leave me feeling drained or unwelcome. She has been silent, however, on how this is to be accomplished or why continuing to maintain an online presence is important.
- My first priority needs to be to decide how much of myself to invest in spaces that are not under my control as these places are the source of much of my questioning (e.g., online communities and forums). There has been a trend toward a few very vocal folks proclaiming that theirs the is right and only way and that anyone who do not agree should be verbally beaten down and/or dismissed as pariahs. The question is whether it is worth the effort to maintain a presence in those spaces or if I should focus my energy elsewhere.
- Guidelines and limits need to be set for myself if I chose to continue with a public presence, particularly in reference to those shared spaces.
That’s as good and brief of summary of the last few weeks as I can give. Things are ever changing; the only question that really remains is what those changes will bring.