Faith. Joy. Hope.

JOY is something that rises from within, an inner fountain, clear, rushing upwards. It is our inherent response to our connection with oneness. A burst of joy can make us giddy.

When we HOPE, we prop a window open to a brighter place so that light streams into our dark world. It does not call to any specific outer force or being.

FAITH is opening oneself completely, to allow the Spirits of Kindness and their whole ecosystem to flood in and perform their loving work. An act of faith is taking a seemingly unreasonable action with the knowledge of forces in play.

DEVOTION is love fest of mutual devotion between oneself and the Spirits of Kindness. It is an event, a conscious practice.

These wonderful things may be a natural human experience but they don’t come easily for many of us when living in this world. What I mean is, you are not alone if you can’t relate.

Joy is something I knew nothing about until I was in my forties. No wonder I was so annoyed with the “fluffy bunny” spiritualists of the time. They drove me mad. I remember one time I confessed to a new friend over the phone that I was spiraling, and if I kept heading in that direction, that the spiral would lead me to suicidal ideation. She reacted severely. (This was the second time in my life I was yelled at for talking about suicide).

She angrily shouted, “Everyone is at the party, where there is a well of light and joy. Why can’t you join us there?”

When I finally cleared enough trauma to feel the natural phenomenon of joy, I experienced it as a fountain. It is a song. I know I am happy when I catch myself singing.

Hope is something I always had, but in a more tragic sort of way. Like someone lost in an endless landscape of despair just crying inside that things must get better some day.

Not like today when it feels more like a choice – a responsibility even. I take this action and it clears my metaphysical environment. Life must go on.

Devotion and faith? Well as an ex-Catholic, those two have been tough ones. After my particular fall from the church (and it was a fall) I vowed to never again swallow, hook line and sinker another philosophy. I would have my own thoughts. So it was ten years into my pagan and shamanic practices until the topic of faith and devotion started opening up for me.

It started with my shamanic teacher in the early 00s. I almost left Janine’s classes because she was really quite so fluffy bunny. She referred to her spirits as ‘her team ‘ and smiled a lot about it. But she also showed up to class in her sweatpants and T-shirt unlike other teachers who dressed like they were going out on the town. I thought that part was cool. I realized she was genuine and I watched her in quiet awe. I didn’t get it but I loved it. She really cared about me too.

After she died, I came across a musician who performed kirtan in the most sublime way. And her voice is gorgeous. The call and response, the heightened sense that came from the practice. I volunteered to perform my light projections for her shows for free so I could support her vocation.

I think of what a devotional practice looks like in shamanism. Journeying for the simple purpose of spending time with our friends on the other side. Mediumship, inviting the benevolent beings in for a moment of time. And of course, repetitive praise chanting in the traditional way.

There can be momentary devotion without faith in the day-to-day.

On Monday morning, I went to the  beach in this dark, dark season of wet. I went to clear my head after too much time in my cave applying for jobs and stressing over the fact that I have six weeks of unemployment left. Walking across the foot bridge over the railroad tracks, I saw a whacky woman coming towards me. She had a crazy colorful hat and she was carrying a little boom box that she was singing to.

She came closer and I recognized her. A few years ago I met her by the same water. She was singing and because I missed my music jam, I stopped. I had my flute, as always, and played for her. We sang together. She told me that she came every morning to sing to The Lord. I recognized beauty in her devotion and loved that about her even though I would never sing to The Lord.

She is a small, elderly woman from somewhere in Asia. As she walked towards me on the foot bridge, we exchanged greetings and I said, “I remember you. We sang together.”

She remembered and laughed and said in that loud joyful way that the Vietnamese women do when they greet you at the nail salon, “How are you? “

Without any warning I almost burst out crying. I said, “I am not doing good.”

“Not good. Not good why?”

“I cannot find a job.”

Well, this elder gave me a good, long lecture about faith. She told me about how when her husband died and she didn’t think she would make it. How things worked out.

She insisted. “You have to have faith! You have to have faith and the Lord will take care of you!”

And she said, literally three or four times, “But you have to believe it for it to happen. You have to believe!”

I thanked her and asked her name. Song. Of course. Song.

As soon as I turned away to walk down the hill, I was bawling. It felt so good to cry. So good. How do we make it through life without this delicious release?

This Imbolc morning, I went to the lake to play my flute. The crows were moving downtown, having left the Bothell roost. The sky was filled with their river of raucousness which appeared and faded, horizon to horizon. I played screechy sounds to them but then relaxed into a tune. I played both high and low flutes and when I was done, I saw a pattern in the clouds like two curved brush strokes with an opening in the middle, swooping down to the land. I turned to the water and look at the rafts of ducks in the distance. Two small groups fluttered into the air, outwards, landing on the water again. They left an area of clear water in the middle. The scene was like a door I could just glide through into a life that was easy, with fertile ground. 

I looked up to the sky again and I knew what faith was.

Tasara Jen Stone

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