Ekunyi's Embers

Pagan Blog Project 2012 – A is for Authenticity of Self

This would be a picture of the top of my head.

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Aside from the faded red near the edges, most of what you’re seeing is my natural hair. Plain old brown, with a brilliant white streak stemming from the very center of my skull. It was a white-blonde in my earliest years, shifting to a pure white sometime in late elementary school. In those years, as children so seek out difference like moths to a flame, I was dubbed “old maid,” “weirdo,” and sporadically “witch,” for my strange little streak. I hated it. Always combed my hair in such a way as to hide it, and when my parents finally permitted me to dye my hair at the age of sixteen, I pounced at the opportunity, begging the woman who completed the task to put extra layers over my strange colorless patch.

I chose red for many reasons. First and foremost I had already started spiritually identifying with red wolves; second, I admired multiple individuals in positions of authority who happened to have red hair. It became a reason to feel powerful, strong, attractive. I deemed myself better with red hair: simultaneously more interesting and less “odd.”

…Okay, so why am I writing about my hair of all things in a spiritual blog post on authenticity?

My spiritual life and my “actual” life, we’ll say, have always been very separate. The paths that have clicked for me, an individualized form of shamanic practitioning and Kemeticism, tend to be something I do on my own and share with trusted, like-minded individuals on the internet. The folks who know me in real life, up to and including my previous significant other of four years, did not fully understand who I am and what I believe in. To them, for many years, I felt that I presented an inauthentic form of myself, the outermost obvious layers only.

For some, this was and remains a necessity. I cannot share my beliefs in my work setting: academia frowns on most forms of spirituality. I cannot share all of my beliefs with my family: it would cause a tremendous amount of discord, far, far more pain than I presently bear in keeping things to myself. But to the general public, and certainly to those I wish to allow to be close to me, why did I maintain this duality of existence?

I have white streaks on the inside. I hear mental voices which I interpret as gods. I travel to other worlds within my mind, mental state altered by the repeating sound of a pounding drum. I readily acknowledge that I could stop believing in these things, but I choose not to. They are a part of me, they enrich my life, help me to better understand myself and my world. I do not wish to let them go in the name of sameness and neutrality, and so I won’t.

I’ve started talking with my current partner about my spiritual life. I’ve found it to be genuinely terrifying; I constantly expect him to deem me crazy and leave. And yet, he doesn’t.

In a little under a month I will be attending the House Kheperu Open House, interacting with pagans and ‘kin and all sorts of folks who believe in the Unseen; I expect to be overwhelmed at the clashing of my realities. And yet, I will love it.

I intend to slowly allow myself to be me more openly, in my appearance (Kemetic jewelry, natural hued, curlywild hair), in my words (trying to be more open with trusted friends about my paths), and in my mind (ceasing my incessant self-disparagement, and loving who I am in the moment I am living).

I want to be authentically me. Bridge the gap as best as I can between all aspects of my life. It’s a daunting challenge, but I feel the fierce, beautiful support of my spiritual Family, and I know that I will get there. In time.

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