Because of this inclusiveness, many individuals who may not fit into mainstream religions find a place of community. Additionally, many individuals who many not fit into mainstream society (i.e., mentally ill, physically handicapped, differing sexual preferences, different races/ethnicities, Coyotes, etc.) are also welcomed into the Pagan Community. All are encouraged to develop his/her own experience with the Divine, and all are given the benefit of the doubt that what s/he is experiencing, is Real.
But how can you tell the difference between a real Spiritual Experience and Something Else? How can you help someone evaluate his/her own experiences? How do we increase Faith? What if s/he is making it up in order to victimize others? What if s/he feels like the victim of some malignant force, but it is a symptom of mental illness?
These questions, and others, are the focus of my next Conference Lecture at Sacred Space:
Boundary Issues: Recognizing the Difference between Spiritual Experience and Mental Illness: When working with others in Ritual, Healing Ceremonies, or other Magical Workings, it is difficult to maintain one’s own boundaries, both personal and mental. Some symptoms of mental illness can easily overlap with Psychic Phenomena, and without training, it can be stressful trying to figure out the difference between the two. This class will give a very general overview of Axis I/II symptomology, and how “”Boundary Intrusions”" may be dealt with in a supportive and ethical manner. Additionally, guidelines will be given on how to refer someone to mental health services.
--Monika Lonely Coyote
Please join me as we discuss this tricky and confusing subject, and attempt to develop guidelines and a supportive philosophy for assisting individuals with their own Spiritual Experiences!