Orthopsychy

Relationships are a cyclical thing. We might talk about relationships being in balance, but it is less the balance that comes from nothing happening and more the carefully achieved equilibrium of a skilled juggler managing several objects (possibly quite heavy, possibly quite dangerous) in the air at a time. Relationships too are like juggling: there are times when it simply will feel that we do more work and others when it feels relaxed and deceptively easy. There are times when we are close to our Beloved and times when They or we draw away, for whatever reason. The spiritual mountaintop experiences are paired with the fallow times, and so on and so forth.

What I have learned in this devotional relationship I’ve built over the years with Brighid is that we too are in a sort of juggling act. Both of us, after all, are extremely busy – we have our own worries, motivations, long term goals, likes and dislikes. Both of us care deeply about the world around us. Both of us want to make things better. Both of us grieve and celebrate, mourn and dance. It’s no wonder then that sometimes we pull closer to each other, and other times are off doing our own things, at our own pace, in our own time.

Some years ago I came across the term “orthopsychic” as a way to refer to a certain mindset or emotional state associated with religious practice. This word comes from the roots “ortho,” meaning correct, and “psyche,” meaning soul. It’s paired with the words “orthodoxic” (“correct belief”) and “orthopraxic” (“correct action”). All religions contain these three aspects to a certain extent and individual believers may place different focus on these qualities as they see fit. For example, I am not overly concerned with orthodoxy in my religion. I certainly have ideas about how the universe works, Who and what Brighid actually is, and what happens when we die, but those ideas are fluid and change according to my lived experiences (and, to be quite honest, how I’m feeling and what day of the week it is). I am more concerned with orthopraxy as far as lived ethics and values go. I’ve often felt that social justice itself was my religion and that my connection with Brighid is one based on living a life of truth, hospitality, and courage. There is a correct way to live my religion and ideally it comes from putting my time, money, and energy where my mouth is to address social inequality.

The last of this trio of “orthos” – orthopsychy, what Waincraft.org defines as “living the right life” – is one that has felt incredibly important to my spiritual journey, yet also incredibly elusive. I want to come into correct alignment with my chosen Beloved – whatever that means. I want to feel on a gut deep level that I have a place in the universe, and not just know this intellectually. It’s not so much the idea of fulfilling some divine plan that was the goal during my Baptist upbringing, as wanting to join the dance of the universe as a fellow co-creator of reality, as real and as important as Brighid or gravity or the moon or the scales of justice. I want to feel that my life is purposeful and that I myself am naming and claiming that purpose.

It is very, very easy to feel that things don’t matter in a nihilistic sense, particularly when living with depression. It’s another thing altogether to take a breath and dive beneath the surface, to see the chaos whirling around and inside me to make my own order.

However, unlike orthodoxy and orthopraxy which have clear causes, orthopsychy seems to be more of an effect. A dependent variable, if you will, and I’m not entirely clear on the independent variable in this experiment.  And so I am brought to metaphor of juggling, and to the idea of relationships having a natural waxing and waning cycle like the moon above. If I keep tending to the relationship between myself and my Beloved – if I keep listening to my intuition, trusting my instincts, and remain humble and open enough for outside guidance – then perhaps the feeling of a “correct soul” will manifest on its own.

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