Raise your hand if you’ve ever had imposter syndrome! So, that’s like, all of us. Sweet.
Most of the time, we talk about imposter syndrome is the context of creating or working. That feeling that you’re just making shit up and don’t know anything and sooner or later everyone’s going to figure out that you’re only here because of a mistake. It’s a really awful, shameful feeling.
But imposter syndrome doesn’t only hit us at work. It can also crop up in unexpected places, like our spiritual lives.
I find this to be particularly true for those who do any sort of magic, or psychic/spirit work, but it can hit anyone at any time. Because our brains suck, let’s be real. If I’m honest, spiritual imposter syndrome is one of the things I struggle with the most.
So what might spiritual imposter syndrome look like?
Basically, it’s that nagging worry that you don’t quite fit, aren’t quite right, are making things up, or are just faking things for attention. Not to get all psychological up in here, but a lot of these feelings can stem from the shame of being different (or being “too normal,” depending on the circumstances). Especially on a pagan path in an Abrahamic-leaning world, where intimate connections with astral beings aren’t really A Thing.
But here’s the good news.
You aren’t alone and you aren’t an imposter.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that most people who struggle with spiritual imposter syndrome tend to be on the right track, for lack of a better term. Sure, we might not be 100% on top of things all the time. But we generally have a better grasp on our experiences, beliefs, and discernment than we think we do.
So go forth and tell that imposter syndrome to fuck right off. You’re better than that.
It's been forever since I've talked about spiritual stuff, so let's go. [Insert motor revving sounds here]
As you may or may not know, I'm a pop culture pagan. I work with spirits from pop media, which comes with an interesting side effect: I know when their birthdays are. This isn't a particularly common thing (at least in my experience) with ancient or 'mythological' spirits. But a lot of pop culture entities were created with specific birthdays, likes and dislikes, and all the other fun stuff that goes into creating a character.
So let's talk spirit birthdays and other celebrations.
Just like physical people, spirits have different reactions to their birthdays. Some of them love celebrating, some want it to just pass unnoticed. Before throwing a party for a spirit, make sure they're comfortable and want it.
Now the fun bit: some ideas on how to celebrate birthdays or other celebrations with the spirits in your life.
Keep in mind these are just ideas and things I've done personally. Make sure whatever you do is fun and works for both you and the spirit(s) you're celebrating with!
That's all there is to it! Anything can be a birthday or celebration gift or activity if you do it with intention and keep the spirit in mind. So go celebrate!
My roommate and I have recently been watching a lot of Buzzfeed Unsolved, and it's got me thinking about spirits, the ways we interact with them, and how our own brains help or hurt that. It probably helps that I've started writing an e-course about spirit work, but we're totally going to blame the show. Because reasons.
Paranormal investigation focuses on trying to find real, solid, scientifically-acceptable proof that spirits (mainly ghosts and other post-human entities) exist. They use tools like motion cameras/lights, video and audio recorders, and all sorts of other technology. The problem, in my opinion, is that spirits don't exist on this plane--so how would they trigger motion lights or show up on video?
So, okay, that sounds crazy. Dismissing paranormal investigators by saying they're doing it wrong. But in my experience, they are.
Spirits, especially in the context of a spiritual practice (since that's all I can really talk about), aren't generally throwing things around or creating intense physical sensations. Most of the time, it's a very subtle thing that even those of us who have been doing this work for decades can miss or misinterpret. When a spirit worker talks about "hearing" or "seeing" a spirit, more often than not, we're talking about things that happened inside our heads or in dreams/mediation or some other subjective, non-physical experience.
For me, what matters the most in dealing with spirits isn't physical, solid proof that they exist. It's belief that they do, and they want to interact with us*. Which, you know, would put paranormal investigators out of business.
I think it's important to remember if you're interested in working with spirits in any capacity that there will likely never be scientific proof that you're not crazy. Maybe it is all in our heads. Maybe we are talking to entities from other planes or the ghosts of the deceased. Maybe it's some combination thereof. We'll never know.
But, honestly, I don't think that's a bad thing. Healthy doubt is good in this work, after all.
* Of course, don't believe everything you experience or let belief get in the way of good discernment, but that's a blot post for another day.
Last night, I held my very first book release party ever. I'm not going to lie--I was anxious as hell all day leading up to it. But it was actually a fantastic experience.
The fantastic people at Turn A Page Bookshop in Aurora, Colorado hosted the party for On the Tightrope: A Loki Devotional. A group of my good friends (and my parents, gasp) came to celebrate with me and listen to me read poetry in public for the first time in ages. It's always nice to be reminded of the support system and encouragement in your life.
But the important part for my blog readers (are you there?) who weren't at the party and didn't get in on pre-orders of the book, is that On the Tightrope is now officially available for regular purchase!
The physical book can be bought on Amazon and special ordered through your local bookstores, including Barnes and Noble (hello, dream come true!). Or if you're in the Denver area and desperately need it ASAP, Turn a Page has a few copies left. If you prefer a digital version, you can grab the PDF ebook from my shop here on the site.
And to wrap up this post, this week's TGIF:
P.S. If you've got a sec, stop by the newsletter page to help me decide which freebie to create first (and then, you know, subscribe so you can get it when it's ready).
I was chatting with my friend Olivia from Leafing Out Gardening (who happened to do the illustrations for On the Tightrope (preorders open until August 8!)) yesterday about spirit work and she said something interesting:
"All of the spirit workers I know are some of the most down-to-earth people I know."
This struck me because I think there's this conception that spirit workers are caught up in woo and wanting to be special and the sheer drama and thrill of interacting with entities on another plane. People think that folks who claim to be working with spirits or have spirit companions etc. are looking for attention, positioning themselves to be "better than" others, gloating, or what have you.
I can't deny that there are certainly some people out there who fall into that camp. Hell, I had a phase where I was trying to interact with as many different types of spirits as I could to make myself feel special and better about myself. (High school was rough, y'all.)
But I think it's a disservice to spirit workers and the spirits they deal with to assume they're out-of-touch with reality or just seeking attention.
In my opinion, good spirit workers are masters of discernment. They're aware that sometimes their own brains interfere, or that everything might be a figment of their imagination. They don't take things at face value, but also don't get mired in the doubt swamp (oh, gods, this is so hard, let me tell you). They generally don't go around crowing about the spirits in their lives to just anyone, though I know some who do have blogs dedicated specifically to spirit work and recording/sharing experiences to help others. And, most of all, they never use their experience or connections to manipulate/gaslight/abuse/generally make others feel bad.
I guess my point here is let's stop making spirit work something that's super out there and woo and crazy. Instead, let's maybe try to focus on the fact that this is something everyone can do if they want to, no special skills required. Just patience, practice, trust, and learning.
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.