Into the Aethyr #2 – Belief and Metaphor
The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. — Meridjet
Paradigm Shifting and Reality Tunnels
“‘Paradigm shift[ing]’ has found uses… representing the notion of a major change in a certain thought-pattern — a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing…1”
Robert Anton Wilson uses the phrase “reality tunnel” to describe looking at reality from a certain perspective2. In occultism, these two concepts, paradigm shifting and changing one’s reality tunnel, essentially represent the same thing — changing your point of view in a profound way that influences your overall belief system, whether temporarily or permanently.
Within the spectrum of alternative spirituality, there are many beliefs that could be (and often are) labeled “unusual” or even “strange.” Anything from the Otherkin phenomenon to past lives as someone important, to believing one has a special destiny, and so on. It could be said that even Aleister Crowley bought the myth about having a special destiny, and if there’s one reality tunnel that I’ve seen in play with most consistency across great numbers of occultists, it’s the belief that one has some greater role in the shifting of humanity’s collective consciousness. There are people who believe they are angels incarnate, here to initiate great change. There are people who believe that they are going to become some powerful all-knowing guru/leader who will single-handedly shift the dominant paradigm.
We’re on a Mission From God™
Most commonly, there are people who believe that they’ve got something important, as yet unknown, to do in the overall change to a New Age or a New Aeon. These people typically believe that not only will they have an individual role, they will also be part of a small collective of super-VIPs. This typically evolves with a group of close friends, who will have a prominent collective role and purpose, even if they don’t know yet what that purpose is — and typically as friends are dropped or gained, the people playing the individual roles in the group change. Again typically, rarely does someone within the chosen few dare to question why this occurs. They tend to chalk it up to mistaken identity with regard to the rejected individual.
He who is rejected or who grows in a different direction from other individuals and thereby finds himself alone or with new friends will often face hurdles in adjusting his paradigm in a way that allows him to retain both a sense of purpose and an acceptance of past beliefs — beliefs that he may now view as “inaccurate.” He may feel that his former viewpoint was illusory and must be rejected as false, to allow full acceptance of the new viewpoint. He may feel that his earlier beliefs were silly, juvenile, or “fluffy.” Along the path of individual evolution, however, inevitably there comes a time when what is important now necessitates releasing something that was important at an earlier stage of your personal growth. When that shift concerns a key aspect of your personal mythology, such as what you believe to be your higher purpose, then there can be a great disillusionment. It’s difficult to evolve a core belief without feeling you must deny or dismiss the former view outright, either from embarrassment or from the simple need to distance yourself from a perspective that you feel is less evolved than the current view.
Does Change Have to Mean Rejection?
Reality is fluid. It changes with your perspective and your personal interpretation. Each person’s viewpoint is unique in all ways — this is the crux of consciousness, the single absolute factor in anyone and everyone’s existence. When you change your perspective and adopt a new preferred reality tunnel, the impulse to ridicule your old one is often irresistible. You can see this online with the frequent dissing of eclectic Wicca by former eclectic (non-initiate) Wiccans, who, for the most part, wouldn’t admit their past alliance in a million years. The recently-coined term “Neo-Wicca” was created, arguably, to set these eclectics apart, so that initiated Wiccans boasting a lineage could distance themselves from these fluffier, uninitiated counterparts — in other words, so they could feel superior.
However, it’s my opinion that when you dismiss a former perspective as stupid or embarrassing or otherwise not fit for public archiving, you cheat yourself out of valuable experience. It may always be with you, technically, but if you don’t embrace what you learned early in your magical history, not only will you be impatient with those less knowledgeable than you, but you will also develop a knee-jerk rejection to anything that smells too much like that old point of view, thereby potentially limiting your future growth.
Recently, Meridjet (my spirit companion) instructed a friend of mine about my friend’s recent paradigm shift, which was leading him to feel that his former perspective was in error. In fact, no reality tunnel can really be wrong, as Meridjet was quick to point out. . .
“All belief systems are metaphorical, because the reality is beyond your comprehension. This does not make them wrong.
“You are familiar, I’m sure, with various translations of old books, such as the Bible or the Tao Te Ching. Each translation bears the unmistakable mark of its translator. This shows in bias as well as in interpretation of more ‘objective’ concepts. Mythologies are interpretations of interpretations, ad infinitum, that give expression to basic archetypal concepts and beings. These mythologies are living and breathing histories in the sense that they have been infused with so much energy that they literally manifested accordingly. And yet, they remain interpretations, further interpreted by the translation of the mind of the reader or listener.
“The listener or seeker, for example, you, thereby invest your own energy into the personal interpretation that inspires your heart and brings you closer to something one might call “home.” When you bring others, like-minded, into your circle and together further interpret things and choose roles and what have you, this is just as literal as it is figurative — you are also creating your own group interpretation of the mythology. Through your group, the mythology continues to live and grow, just as it aids your growth.
“The figurative portion is what the mind brings into play in reaction to the literal portion, and the literal portion is created on the subtle planes in the realm of ideas by the figurative interpretation [of an experience] that you applied at the start. It’s a self-evolving paradigm, alive and real but also dependent upon a variety of factors for survival as what it is now. If you drop your role as [this person/being/archetype etc], for instance, then the mythology you lived will evolve on without you. This is how it should be. Perhaps a new being will take your place, perhaps not. Either way it does not matter, as the mythology lives through its proponents and vice-verse. What happens to you is that your mythology evolves and moves, perhaps in a new direction than your circle in general — but this is not wrong. In fact, it is very right.”
“So yes, [the events of your past, and their relative interpretations] happened. You can’t invalidate it. But you can, and will over time, shift your view of it so that it might feel invalidated. As I once told Sheta, when we see the past, we see through the lens of today, of now, and that changes the past. You can’t see then through then’s eyes.
“Therefore, allow yourself your growth. Allow others their growth, or stagnation. Allow each to be what he will be — and be yourself, too. It will all bring you closer to where you want to be, if you do not deny it.”
It’s All About the Journey
When you undertake a conscious spiritual journey, you accept the challenges that arise, or you become one of those who can’t cope and so fall away from the trials of the “dark night of the soul” that all must experience at intervals. We learn by experience, and our perceptions of our experiences change with our growth and evolution. The “then” that Meridjet refers to will change in our view with our changing understanding. This is a never-ending process. If you can beat the odds and weather the changes, you will be all the richer for it. In a future column, I will expand on these stages of learning and the challenges intrinsic to them. Meanwhile, just remember — the journey is the reason for the destination… not vice-verse.
©2007 by Sheta Kaey.
Sheta Kaey is a lifelong occultist and longtime spirit worker, as well as Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil. She counsels others with regard to spirit contact and astral work. She can be reached via her blog.