Merry Meet Family and Friends!
As Pagans, we face an odd sort of dilemma. Some people think we're crazier than a bag of rats! And for some of us, that might actually be true...or not. Therein lies the dilemma!
Here's what I mean. If a Pagan friend tells me that a decision or behavior was guided by their personal Deity, in all likelihood, I would accept it at face value. Pagan or not, I find nothing at all unusual about someone saying that they were influenced by Divine Intervention. However, there's a huge difference between hearing from our Gods as flashes of intuition or inspiration and you know, actually HEARING from them! If the communication with one's Deities comes in the form of actual auditory or visual manifestations....Houston, we may have a problem!
I will tell you a true story of a Pagan gentleman, an intelligent, accomplished professional, who began to complain that his "Spirit Guides" were becoming bothersome to him. His partner, did exactly what I would have done, accepted this as part of his charm and spiritual personality. He would often say things like, "this rock told me it wants to live on my altar" or "that tree is feeling sad". Ok, well, nothing wrong there. Shamans communicate with nature elements all the time. And I mean seriously, how many times has a piece of chocolate looked you square in the face and said, "Eat Me".
Unfortunately, as his behavior became increasingly bizarre, it became apparent that his communications with the Gods were actually hallucinations and he was in the midst of psychotic break! For even those closest to him, the reaction was the same, "Who knew?!".
Obviously, this kind of thing is not exclusive to Pagans. I just believe that some behaviors are much easier to overlook amongst Pagans because we are so accepting of diversity in beliefs, even within our own community. What the outside world might consider bizarre behavior, is perfectly reasonable to us. Rituals, Magick, casting spells, sharp and pointy ceremonial knives, are all things that are common to our practice.
I recently read the symptoms of a diagnosed schizophrenic who would see signs in everything in nature. Ok, well, I look for signs and omens all the time. The difference, I believe, is not that we perceive signs, but how profoundly those signs impact on our daily lives. I might see a smiley face on a broken candle, but I am also able to distinguish that it only "looks" like a smiley face. It may also just be a broken candle that is dripping wax. I prefer to look at it as a sign, but am also open to all the more mundane possibilities. The number "13", black cats, walking under ladders, broken mirrors? These are all "signs" that are commonly accepted as ominous in our culture and yet, to perceive them as such is not considered a symptom of mental instability, but merely superstition.
As occultists, our sanity is often open to the scrutiny of those who are plagued by fear and misconceptions about what we actually do. I'm sure that those very same individuals would be more than a little surprised to learn that, in some Wiccan circles (no pun intended), having undergone psychological counseling is actually a requirement. Health of mind, body and spirit is a fundamental part of what makes us Pagans.
Our minds are capable of manifesting miracles or plunging us into the depths of despair. I believe that the healthiest among us are those who have mastered the skill of walking that fine line between both Worlds.
In Darkness, Light!!