I'm now a whole year into the Cherry Hill Seminary Spiritual Direction program, and that means that I get to take clients over the course of the next year as part of my praxis. I'm excited, and nervous, of course. While I'm fully confident in my skills, it's always a bit stressful doing things for the first time, and with others supervising.
So, you might be asking what is spiritual direction and what is a spiritual companion?
Spiritual companionship is another term for spiritual direction, which I think resonates better for my own practice. It is a better phrase that reflects what I believe to be important in my sessions with others. Direction implies that someone is leading the other, and that’s not the case. I’m not here to point which way one should go- I am here to accompany you and witness your spiritual journey.
We each find God, The Gods, The Sacred in different ways and in different places. As you can see, there are even different words we use. God. The One God. The Gods. The Goddess. The endless names of God(s). The Universe. Our Higher Selves. The Divine. The Sacred. The Holy.
connected with The God(s), Universe, or something bigger than ourselves.)
The spiritual path can be a confusing one, and lonely. Where one person can stare out from a mountain top, declaring that moment to be sacred, perhaps another can only find that same sense of wonderment in a pew within their church, and another by the fire in their backyard on a warm summer night. Spiritual companionship is all about sharing those feelings, experiences, and finding the words to describe it. It's about affirmation, validation and confirmation, as well as feeling a deep connection to someone who wants you to know that your path is important, and that your experience is beautiful.
It is about finding your path, and deepening the relationship between yourself and Spirit- whatever you define that as. It is about enriching your spirituality- both within, and within practice. And a spiritual companion is someone there alongside you, serving as witness and friend- there to listen to the elation spiritual moments can bring, as well as a shoulder to cry on when things are tough. When lost, a spiritual companion can sit with you as you decipher the map, even helping and pushing you along when you are getting tugs but aren't sure you should follow them. We don't have the answers, but we can help listen for the whispers that guide you.
My role as spiritual companion is to hold space for you so that you can explore what The Gods/Spirit/Universe is speaking to you in that moment, and share space that allows The Spirit to guide you. Sessions can involve a lot of talking on your part, and meaningful silence, as well as prayer, mediation, art, reading, poetry and discovering the tools that work best for you to dig deep. What works for you and what the Divine needs you to have in that space.
Spiritual companionship is for anyone with a seeking heart. It’s not a religious experience. My purpose in spiritual companionship is not to enforce religious dogma, conversion or any one perspective. I will do my best to meet you where you are, without judgment. Whether you believe in many Gods, one God, The Universe, Spirits, Ancestors...that is your path, and I am merely a walking beside you, aiding you where I can. Sometimes the image of three chairs is used for monotheistic spiritual directors, one chair the director, one for the seeker and one for God. I will do similar, only if we need more chairs, I'm happy to provide.
Spiritual direction from a pagan perspective is relatively new. As far as I know, the program I'm in now is the first of it's kind- there are many spiritual direction programs out there, but they are all from a monotheistic and/or Judeo-Christian perspective. That's not to say that other spiritual companions out there aren't suited to meet pagan needs- in fact, many are because they are open-minded. However, I think there are matters, beliefs and practices that are outside non-pagan scope.
One of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity of going through this program is that I strongly believed that more pagan practitioners and priests should be trained to perform from a ministerial/leadership role, and that pagans deserve services that include spiritual care! Pagans tend to be solitary creatures, but many times it's because there is a lack of community. In this day and age of social media and zoom, it doesn't need to be so.
I know spiritual companionship is a new concept to many people. It's a good thing though, sharing sacred journeys together. There is a connection, a revitalization and an accountability that happens when you meet with someone monthly to talk about your journey. Hidden messages become clear, feelings and thoughts sort themselves out. I hope that if you have a tug to explore this path, you'll reach out to me. I would be honored to share this path with you.