Author: nexy jo
Posted: On WitchVox September 28th. 2003
"Life is the journey, not the destination." I did a search on the Internet for this phrase, and came up with 102 hits. There was no author attributed to this phrase in any of them, other than the author of each individual article in which the phrase appears. That's a shame - this phrase says a lot. There is much truth to it, on many different levels. I'd be interested to know who coined it.
Life is change - it is never static. Change occurs constantly, on the physical plane; within our cells, through the processes of our bodies, with the growth and decay of our being; on the intellectual plane, through the thoughts that pass through our consciousness, the knowledge and experiences we accumulate, and the wisdom that results (or doesn't); on the spiritual plane, when we find a new path to follow, as we grow into whatever tradition we hold dear, as we become closer to the Goddess, or whatever it is to which we connect when we shift our focus from the physical plane around us, to that which lies beyond.
Even in death, the final phase of life that we can directly observe from this plane, there is change. Our bodies change back into the dust of the Earth, which is also in constant change, as the mountains grow and shrink, the plains turn into seas and back again, the seas retreat and advance, and the core is expelled in violent emotion, blackening the skies. In essence, we become a part of that ongoing process in death, as least as far as our bodies are concerned.
We tend to cling onto our rocks though; at least I know I do - a typical Taurus I'm told. I often will resist change, until of course, the change itself becomes my path. Then I head into it full charge, horns exposed, and Goddess help anyone who stands in my way.
In a real sense, I'd imagine we all evolve spiritually, some quicker than others, some going through growth spurts or periods of seeming stagnation. Some going through spiritual *revolution*, and others staying true to the path set for them by the generations that came before. But in all, there is still change, however insignificant it may appear on the surface.
I started life in the Jewish faith, and while growing into that, realized that it was not the path the Goddess would have me follow for very long. At 13, I cast off those labels, and went in search of my own. Adrift through the spiritual landscape, it would be a long time until I found a safe port to dock, but found Wicca about 5 years ago. That was my revolution, though from a personal perspective, it was not a revolution at all, but instead, a realization that what I believed all along had a name. Naming a thing can help bring it into focus, helping to incorporate it into one's life, and speak of it to others - in this sense, a name is a very powerful concept. One of the facets of power, in knowing someone's name I suppose.
My spiritual "transformation" had a companion. Not another person, though some might argue that. But another facet of my being had come into focus, and could be given a name, a label. And with that name, I finally had power over it, and was able to rein it in, incorporate it into my life, and speak of it to others. I'm transsexual.
Even saying that 5 years ago was overwhelmingly difficult. Now, the words roll off my tongue with ease. It no longer has power over me - it has a name, it has a face, and I can hold it in my hands and do with it as I see fit. It's a facet of who I am, as much as being Wiccan, or skinny, or tall, or 47.
Sometimes someone will ask me, "How long have you been a woman?" Or the more informed may ask, "When did you start transition?" To the former I will usually reply, "For as long as I remember," and then go on to explain. To the latter, I could also say, "For as long as I can remember," as that is the truth in many respects. But of course, that's not the answer they expect - rather, they seek a point of reference, the timing of that first visible step.
Interestingly enough, my spiritual realization and subsequent growth, and my "gender" realization and subsequent growth, coincided and intertwined together. It was as if finding a name for my spirituality opened a window into myself, enabling me to name my other demons. And a demon it was, haunting me through dreams and in the world of shadows for much of my life, until I could no longer keep it in check. The window that opened allowed not only a view inside from without, but also a conduit for that which lay inside to erupt toward the surface. In many ways, it was as much a relief as it was an overwhelming understanding of what I had to do.
Many people who know of my past have said how much they admire my courage, having faced and overcome this demon called transsexuality, at the risk of being ridiculed, demoted in societal status, and all the other obstacles and stigmas that are understood to come with the transsexual label. Most of the time I thank them for their kindness, but in fact, it was not courage at all. Quite the opposite - it was fear. Had it been courage, I might have started transition many years previous. But it was fear that kept any forward motion at bay. It was fear too, that finally began the forward motion - fear of death. Had I continued to struggle with that demon, it would have won, as already the ability to function was beginning to slip through my fingers. Out of fear, I chose to transition, in order to regain the ability to function. It turns out, I also gained happiness, and a level of internal comfort and congruity that I had never known. Interestingly enough, the same occurred by embracing Wicca as a spiritual path. And I really don't see my gender transition as having taken any more courage than embracing Wicca - and both in fact, had similar results in their respective positions in the journey that is my life.
But just like my gender transition was (and still is) in a constant state of change and growth, my spiritual expression was (and still is) in a constant state of change and growth. I see myself as part of the "eclectic" Wiccan tradition, and that hasn't changed. But the expressions themselves have changed to a great degree, and continue to change. The first years were spent mostly in study. The next years spent in careful practice and gaining experience. In finding and celebrating with a coven. And the search still continues. The unending journey.
I began dating a Christian man a couple of years ago. Having never been to church, to a Christian service, he was kind enough to bring me along to the church of his tradition, and too many others in the tri-state (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) area. And while there are parts of the service that really don't resonate with me, there are parts that do. I like the regularity in which Christians gather and celebrate their God. And I enjoy the social aspect of a large congregation, and the services that the accompanying resources can provide for the members, and for society at large. In contrast, my coven is small, our resources are limited, and we only meet but maybe 10 times a year. I seek more.
It turns out there is a Unitarian Universalist church near my home, so I attended their services for the past two weeks. It seems to offer a better fit into my spiritual framework, and I discovered that they also have a small coven that meets there regularly. And they are a "welcoming congregation" - they pride themselves in "being a safe place for gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people," and being transsexual, that's important to me. (As an aside, I'll mention too, that my boyfriend's Lutheran church is also a welcoming congregation, a status with which many Christian churches now identify.)
I'm excited about this new leg in my journey. There are new opportunities to learn, grow and share. And even though it took some doing to bring myself into this change, it's beginning to gain momentum. As such, I can feel the path beginning to take shape beneath my feet. I know not where this path will lead me, but really, it's the journey, and not the destination.