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Spiritual development

Overview I have always been nervous about talking about spirituality in my 'professional' or grassroots organising circles or on my Wild Heart Permaculture website. Spirituality has always been about intimacy and privacy and I worried that people would be 'put off', writing off my promotion of regenerative land practices due to my connection to paganism, that I'd be disregarded as a 'hippy'. However over the last few years I have had stronger urges to no longer hide this side of myself. Role models such as Starhawk, have inspired me to believe there is a way to integrate all parts of myself to the benefit of the larger system i.e. my whole self. In reading an article written by Craig Mackintosh about 'Permaculture and metaphysics' I could completely see his concerns about the risks of linking permaculture with spiritualities. However I couldn't help but feeling a little dented. I have no intention of integrating my pagan practices into any design course teaching however it is a huge part of my life I no longer want to repress for others. The most relevant comment on the article I felt was the below: "Permaculture minus spirituality represents a mindset not that divorced from mainstream industrial agriculture." Compartmentalization of the self I have always felt like my spiritual or craftworking self has been rather compartmentalized in my life. Magical or ritual work is done on a certain day such as a solstice, and I feel disappointed in myself if for whatever reason I don't complete a working. I've often hidden my pagan background & upbringing from others. I wear a goddess pendant rather than a pentacle, as it is subtler. I find the concept of religion repressive, but my interactions with anarchist subculture have led to a repression of the self. Instead of rejecting hierarchical, patriarchal religion I've disallowed my self to express the deep spirituality I feel. This isn't healthy or regenerative and now I want to redesign to live fully and holistically. Therefore now is the time to re-design so that my spiritual worldview is fully integrated into my life.

Design Process
In evaluating my spiritual work I've undertaken a design questionnaire: Am I happy with my spiritual development? No! I feel like the universe is so massively alive and I am rarely conscious of it, as I fill my days with emails or even gardening. My expression of my spirituality is repressed, not that I seek to gain attention from it but I want to feel declared as part of my bones. I have often started my years with an intention to do more spiritual & magical work however it has always come and the end of the priorities list, as life gets busy. It has felt self-indulgent in the past to spend time on walks or at evening rituals when I could be organising, working and so forth. I know there is more to me, more depth, more creativity, and more rawness to make me feel alive. I have been there when I was in prison, when I've had my heart broken, when I've seen something so beautiful I cry. I have 'stayed strong' to the detriment of self expression and creativity, not wanting to 'go there' for fear of what the work will bring up in me. But every now & then the wild woman surfaces in me and demands my attention. Do I feel nourished & connected to spirit regularly? I feel connected when I am on the land, without a doubt but I feel this connection could be deepened. Feeling spiritually nourished is few and far between unfortunately, most profoundly taking place at the Oak Dragon Camp last year. If not, why not? What are the patterns in my life that are preventing this connection? My feeling that magical and spiritual work is not connected to social struggle, therefore if there is a choice between going on a demo, planning an action and so forth or going to a ritual, the action wins out. However multiply this by year after year and a pattern occurs where spiritual work is given no place on life's timetable. It is clear that my 'busy ness' affects the time I allow my self for connection work. How would I like to feel spiritually? I would like to feel more masterful over my energies and feel more connected to the land & spirit beyond my left-brain! I would like to be more connected to my feelings & emotions and have more conscious awareness. Ultimately I am not as present as I would like to be. Following prison, a lot of 'blocking out' has happened and I've felt afraid that I'm loosing my compassion or patience with people because I just couldn't cope with any more life stories or trauma. I would like to be more compassionate, empathetic & caring for others. I would like to relate to others not just on an activist level but on a human level and take an interest in how they are feeling, mutual aid for a mad world. I would like to undertake more creative, deeper work, the kinds of work you do on retreats or at camps. I'd like to integrate this more regularly into my life with divination and reconnection work. I would like to develop closer relationships with plants and animals, I am in awe of indigenous peoples who are so attuned to their land base, I would like to feel the same but I know this takes dedication! Ultimately, I would also like to integrate magical work into all projects in my life, so that I can be more effective at manifesting my desires and achieving my goals. Spiritual work for me is ultimately about having a richer, meaningful life, shared with all beings on this beautiful planet.

Multifunction magic
How spiritual work can help me achieve & live out my purpose: Through my design analysis I can see that a main reason why I haven't dedicated time to spiritual development is because of either: Taking it for granted Its not time pressured I prioritise other work above it therefore it is about how I value this work. In this section I have aimed to explore how spiritual work can actually help me be more effective, which I hope will be the driver towards greater integration into my life. John Stowe in his book Earth Spirit Warrior, describes a spiritual warrior as someone who takes action in the world from a place of deep personal alignment. That in order to take strong, directed actions we need to be able to access the focus, clarity & sense of purpose that will make those actions effective. Spirituality also represents your inner ability to live in connection and alignment with all of being - which is everything I am trying to achieve as a permaculture designer & community organiser. Therefore it is clear that investing in spiritual development will bring yields to my political & permaculture work. It is not an energy drain but an energy enhancer.

Nicole Vosper, Wild Heart Permaculture 2012