If Pain Persists, Please See Your Witchdoctor

If Pain Persists, Please See Your Witchdoctor

All day at work I had been planning to come home and post a response to Jason’s comments regarding solipsism. Because I really, really like them.

But then Jack had to ruin everything by posting his own awesome response to the nascent pain/fun discussion. (Here and here.)

So on the tube home I decided to ‘painfully’ (see what I did there? I’m so very clever) mash these two ideas because -as I read it- both discussions hang on the idea of solipsism.

Solipsistic thinking is not indigenous to magic. We have been infected by its ludicrous expansion into every area of our modern life. Opinions aren’t equal. Your way of seeing things is not automatically valid. Otherwise, what’s the point of learning?

You don’t go to a medical specialist and then decide that your opinion on what is wrong with you is just as valid as his or hers.

And as I read Kenaz talking about the spiritual path not automatically being super-supportive, I see a warning against the risks of solipsism.

Pain sensations are an evolutionary avoidance system. And they’re marvellous.

But extending this into your spiritual path carries a lot of risk. Because you made decide something “isn’t meant for you” or “you are being guided to something else” if it feels just a little bit uncomfortable.

This is the solipsistic trap. Because there is a difference between ‘difficult’ and ‘painful’.

Do you know what actually happens when you attempt to build muscle? You break thousands and thousands of tiny fibers that eventually re-knit in a bigger, stronger way (so that it doesn’t happen to them again). There’s probably an important metaphor in that, yeah?

As I understand Kenaz, he is saying that the spiritual path won’t always be easy (ie it will be difficult), rather than it automatically being painful. Spiritual growth isn’t a sweet shop. It’s a gym. (With a sweet shop attached.)

I may be way off there. If so, it’s because I have solipsism on the brain.

The witchdoctor’s pain prescription

1. Do what works…

Notice I said ‘works’? As Jack points out, this is the key to growth. It’s about the work, it’s not about whether or not something ‘feels right for you.’

If you have a human body -or in fact any animal body at all- muscle building will work for you. You can’t decide that your opinion of weight building; which is you sitting on a couch watch reality TV; is just as valid.

Do the work. Make the call.

2. … And eliminate everything else

If you aren’t trying to build muscle then don’t do the circuit training. Take a swim class or something.

Herein lies the difference between ‘difficult’ and ‘pain’.

3. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you’re an idiot

Spirituality, like moving boxes into your apartment or anal sex, shouldn’t be painful. Or at least, not too painful. (I’m talking about moving the boxes, of course.)

And this conveniently brings me to RO’s spectacular post about fun. Joy is a natural side-effect of contact with the divine. In fact, it’s more than a side-effect, it’s an indicator. If you don’t feel joy then you aren’t tuned in properly.

If it’s joy-free and it hurts too much, then you are officially in the ‘pain persists’ category. Please see your local witchdoctor.


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  1. 1
    Jack Faust

    I think it’s worth mentioning that sometimes you’re causing the pain all on your own; such as when you’re told to do something, you agree to it, and then fail. Or when you just straight up stop listening to your spiritual advisors (whatever they may be).

    Otherwise: it’s all about the joy. Though, I like “bliss” as a descriptor.
    Jack Faust´s last blog post ..The Will of the Gods

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