My Own Path

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Clarissa Valencia

June 11, 2017

My spiritual journey has been a long one and I'm still in the midst of figuring it out, while simultaneously understanding that there is nothing to figure out. The desire for concrete labels that feel restrictive and confining (whether it be in terms of spiritual/religious identity, romantic relationships, etc.) is a concept I'm learning to let go of. I am who I am, I am what I am, and it is no longer my goal to ensure others can easily understand that, but rather to simply honor and continue to explore it in the way that best suits me.

With that said, let me explain my ever shifting spiritual journey. Growing up, my religious and spiritual identities were conflicting, or at least that’s what I thought. Being culturally Catholic, my parents did their best to indoctrinate my sisters and I into a particular belief system. However, supernatural and new age beliefs were abundant in my household as well. For instance, my Mexican grandfather would speak about witches in his town and how to guard oneself from them. He used a divining rod (a rod that works like a pendulum which swings when held over areas where currents of energy run) to determine where to farm; thereby securing his family's livelihood for that farming season. My grandmother's death was even rumored to have been attributed to her falling victim to malevolent witchcraft. Meanwhile in America, my mother periodically brought in a medicine man who cleared our home of negative energies by burning sage, performed exorcisms on various inanimate objects as they were harboring negative entities, channeled messages from loved ones who had passed away, and showed us exercises to unlock our psychic abilities. What's more, she also took us to natural healers who would pull our backs and rub our energy field with a raw egg when we got sick. Instead of upbeat music to pump us up on days when we would clean the house, my mom would blast Abraham Hicks recordings to motivate us. This all happened Monday through Saturday and then on Sunday we would head to Catholic church.

As a preteen, the awareness that these practices and beliefs were seen by greater society as "bad" or "wrong" was growing. Most of my friends subscribed to a Catholic identity and I just assumed I had no one to talk to about my various belief systems, lest I wanted a Salem Witch Trial right in the middle of my Los Angeles middle school. I kept all these experiences to myself, as I wanted to be "normal" and not be casted as a weirdo. Fitting in was everything at that age, so I quietly assumed the identity of "just a Catholic" and turned my back on any supernatural beliefs. By the time high school came, my mom left the church and set off in her own search for religious identity, thereby leaving us to make our own decisions in terms of what we wanted to follow and believe in.

Once I got to college, I felt a yearning for a deeper connection with myself and with a Higher Power. My dorm room neighbor and best friend encouraged me to take an Intro to Religious Studies class with her and it changed my life. Not only did I find a subject that I loved, and that would eventually become my major, but it challenged me to do what I had been wanting to do: find myself.  What started as a field study project at the Hollywood Self Realization Fellowship temple, ended in an 8-year committed membership in the organization. Meditation, kirtan chanting, Kriya Yoga, and vegetarianism made up the bulk of my spiritual identity for that time. I found a faith tradition that I could relate to, that I felt accepted by, and that I cherished wholeheartedly. My family was fully supportive, although it took a few years for my dad to understand that I was not a Buddhist.  Regardless, he supported my religious affiliations, because to him "as long as you're loving God and being a good person, you're doing it right." I was fortunate to gain vast exposure to different faith traditions via the amazing people I surrounded myself with at that time, including: Atheism, Islam, Ifa, Candomble, Nichi Ren Buddhism, Rinzai Ji Zen Buddhism, Paganism, and Taoism.  

About a year ago my need for further spiritual expansion became intensively strong and I ended up breaking away from Self Realization Fellowship (SRF) as my main spiritual identifier. A friend I met in SRF started taking me to her metaphysical shop for energy crystals, Reiki healing, and psychic readings. The more I learned, the more my attraction grew. Eventually, I connected these beliefs and practices to the kinds of things I had grown up with and which were there all along. After all, no baby shower in my family was complete without bringing in divination tools, like a fork or needle on a string, to discover the gender of the baby. I started feeling a greater sense of wholeness as I began taking courses focused on my own spiritual development. I learned how to read and throw tarot and oracle cards, have mediumship experiences, and heal through the Akashic Records. All this helped me in realizing one thing: everything is connected and I am an integral and necessary part of that Greater Whole that is Me. Distinctions or "separateness," I came to believe, are illusions that cause all the bad things, while Universal Love is the universal force that rules and overcomes all. 

Today, though I do not limit myself to only one spiritual identity, I do uphold a routine around the things I have found help me feel most at-One-ness with that Universal Love. Right now, two things capture my spirituality most: Tea and Dance. By incorporating tea ceremonies into daily life, I come to a place of groundedness and connectedness to Nature. Sometimes the intention of the ceremony is for stillness and silence, sometimes it's for joy, and other times its for confidence. Whatever I need, tea serves me. On the other hand, dance is what uplifts my heart and expands my soul. I may express my inner self via movement as part of a divine feminine circle during a full moon ritual or in a Latin music club in the form of Salsa or Bachata.

I know my spirituality will continue to evolve and the "search" will take me to depths I am unaware of now.  In the meantime, my goal is to continue hearing and honoring the inner call for connection and expression, and to help people, who like me, have an ever-evolving eclectic, unchurched spirituality find their own paths.

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