Good morning guys!
I had no idea that thread would trigger so much reflection and I'm really glad it got very interesting conversations going.
I'd like to explain something and I hope the people who comment about my relationship with this person will take that into consideration.
Marie-Renee is not a standard friend. She is not someone who calls me for a chat, we don't go out for coffee, we don't invite each other to our houses, and so on. She is the owner of a white magic boutique http://www.charme-et-sortilege.com/menu.html
. The boutique has a temple downstairs and offers workshops, public rituals and a variety of other pagan-related events. It is a huge
part of the francophone pagan community here. The website has around 100,000 visitors worldwide each week
. It embraces a lot of traditions (although 75% of the clientele is Wicca).
I started as a mere client there and, with the passing years, started to hang out there and literally became part of the family. I started giving workshops. Marie-Renee became my mentor, in a way. Not that she gave me steady lessons, but I had about a dozen consultations with her throughout the years, and those were very enlightening. They helped me grow spiritually like you wouldn't believe. Sometimes, precisely because I was shocked by the things she was saying and fought them, then thought about it, experienced a few things, and then saw she was right. She teaches several workshops too, and I attended those. When we bought our 2nd house, she performed an banishing ritual to get it rid of a ghost and the energy remains a clumsy dark magic pagan had left behind her, which had caused 4 accidents during the renovations (and almost killed my father's wife). In December 2008, she initiated me (in no particular tradition), and the whole preparation I went through for it made me grow a lot too, and made me become more resourceful in practicing magic.
For serious health reasons, she had to leave the boutique for a few months. Most of the staff left the boutique, most of them because they were fed off with her attitude. When she returned, she had understood that the boutique was at the end of its natural cycle, and it was time for her to step down. She still wanted to be part of the boutique and its purpose as co-owner, but more as a part of the Elders Council, and not as the captain of the boat. The person who became captain showed a lot of potential and did his very best. By the end of the year, the boutique was near bankrupcy, our captain was in burnout without anyone stepping up to replace him
... to this day, he still hasn't come back, and the boutique now has new co-owners (a wonderful pagan couple, but solitary practitionners).
So Marie-Renee had to come back at the head of the boutique, and since then the boutique has been very active. We all feel that clients and pagans in general came back because the right people are now part of the staff and teaching group. I still give workshops there, but on new topics, and now I really feel like I'm doing things right because several people showed up, gave me good feedback, and I feel right giving them.
When we had our other captain, we started doing public rituals again for the Sabbats. I was a co-officiant (or magister, or priestess if you like) during those, but not part of the planning. You can already see it was not very well organized. When Marie-Renee came back at the head of the boutique, she offered to keep the public Sabbats going, but only if we could form a planning comittee that would do an involved and serious job. I am part of this committee, along with the two other members of the Isle of the Snowy Owl seedgroup and around 5 other people. Marie-Renee is, as co-owner and only Elder at the boutique, in charge of that group.
So far, the two public Sabbats that we have done (Beltaine and Lughnasadh) have been a great success. The committee's meetings are absolutely wonderful. We are from different traditions, with different levels of experience. The exchanges we have on these topics are a wonderful opportunity to learn new things or deepen my knowledge of the Wheel of the Year, of how to build a ritual, what is the role of a Guardian, a priest or priestess, casting the Circle, you name it. Not to mention giving me the wonderful opportunity to be a priestess or guardian during public rituals.
Since the committee started meeting, Marie-Renee made a few personal comments about me on a few occasions. You guys talked about public humiliation, but I never
used those words. I said she put me in my place in public. Meaning she disagreed with me and had the last word, it's very hard to outsmart her. The first time, I talked to her afterwards, she saw she was out of place and she apologized. The second time was when she offered me to be a priestess for Lughnasadh, and I refused because I didn't feel I was in that energy. She said, "You know, it could help you heal some wounds..." I was very angry that her knowledge of intimate details about me was hinted in public (we had had a consultation about those wounds in May). I immediately closed up, became defensive, and kept repeating that I certainly wouldn't insult my fellow pagans by using a public ritual with them to expose and heal my wounds.
But she had her reasons for saying that. She explained that she has seen, on some occasions, magisters (priests or priestesses) do a ritual with a lot of involvement. They took a leap of faith, and gave themselves with complete abandon, trust and faith to the sacred act, and the sacred energies in place. And because they embraced that vulnerability, something magical and very beautiful happened: something Higher took over and the ritual was just exceptional and memorable. And the magister came out of it transformed...
She said she didn't do it as a consultant who disclosed confidential details, but as a friend who saw a healing opportunity for her friend. I understood and let it go.
...BUT it still happened two other times after that. A few weeks ago, the council was having a friendly BBQ, and I asked her opinion about astral travel v.s. reiki... She snapped that she didn't have an on/off switch and that the "consultant" was not always on duty. It was so "commercial" an answer, so point-blank that I didn't know what to say. There was an uneasy silence. Moments after that, as if nothing happened, she raved
about how exceptional my cake was. I left shortly after that.
And then a few days ago, when she linked the "highway druids" article to the boutique's facebook page http://www.croatiantimes.com/image/8050/news/Around_the_World/2010-05-19/11093/Rocky_road
, someone commented that it would be nice if we organized the same thing here. I commented that there was at least one druidess around here...
Marie-Renee just wrote, "druidess... or mabinog?" Someone wondered what a mabinog was, I looked it up... found out what you know, and replied what you know. Yesterday, she added "aaaaaahhhh, so, a bard... too bad, I would have given you a job!
" So see, hardly public humiliation.
I inferred, knowing her, that she wrote it on the board (publicly) because she wanted to make sure people didn't misinterpret my comment as me portraying myself as a druid priestess in front of the pagan community, because I haven't completed the training. Hence why I said she put me in my place. Is she very, very fond of titles and ceremonial things? Yes. Does she seem to have personal issues with me that belong to her? Yes, but she won't acknowledge them: I've tried and it always backfires superbly.
She is very aware that her vast knowledge in several traditions (7 years in Wicca, a couple decades in rosicrucianism, 7 years in druidry, and initiated to the higher levels in all those traditions) and her "larger than life" personality might have a "guru" effect on the boutique's clients, and she really wants to avoid that. I think she also wanted to avoid that effect with me calling myself "druidess" in front of the pagan community, who wouldn't know the difference. As a human (and an actress, lol) she LOVES being the center of attention, and most often she just can't help herself. And many people, including me, have trouble just dismissing what she says as untrue or unimportant, given her "spiritual CV" and personality.
You can easily see why the relationship has been ambiguous, given the whole context. Marie-Renee is no longer my mentor. We have that friendship bond, and yet we mostly meet during boutique-related activities, where she has authority.
I have told her about those public comments. She is able to criticize herself, but at the same time she's extremely tenacious and headstrong. She can be super gentle with beginners who are insecure and fragile. But she's also a firm believer in not beating around the bush, and she'll be especially straightforward with those who can take it (not just me, believe me). I don't want to waste my energy hoping/trying to make her change her attitude. A few weeks ago when she explained her friendly feelings and saw that it was news to me, she offered to back down on the friendship thing and be less "personal" with me. I refused. I thought if I allowed myself to consider her also like a friend and not just a mentor/boutique owner, it might change how I react to that behavior.
But given what happened this week, I think friendship with that woman is, like many people found out before me, toxic.
What do I do now? Boy, it's tricky. And that's why I allow myself to drown you in so many details. I have a golden opportunity to be a super active part of the pagan community here, to grow as a teacher, a priestess and just as a druidess. We have nothing like that in Quebec. It's amazing
to have a physical place where I can just drop by and chat with fellow pagans, buy the stuff I need for my rituals and such, spend some time meditating in the temple if I want, and so on. Soon, I'll be able to make pagans more aware of druidry through that amazing place, because that's one of the best ways to reach them right now. The sense of community is amazing
there! Druids are scattered around the province and country, and we're not even aware of each other. Someone, I could smell the OBOD vibe BIG time, donated several amazing books on druidry at the boutique a few weeks ago, and we don't even know who that is! I have no other occasions, for now, to gain experience in public rituals. Will I create the Druid Association of Quebec one day? Oh, you bet. But for now, the boutique is where I have made my place over the years, and if I want to keep being involved there... it means dealing with Marie-Renee's big personality.
There; you have more or less the whole story. Sorry for the lengthy post; it's hard to summarize 5 eventful years.
As for the ego thing... Transcending (not destroying...) the ego has been central in my spiritual journey, because by fear of making a mistake, by fear of being rejected, I am tempted to hide behind titles, appearances
, or to shoot some kind of smoke screen in front of me without showing the real me. People have considered me very narcissistic, for years and years, because of that. I have been seriously insecure and needy for validation, too. Because she has been repeteadly making me remember those things (and my Guides too, believe me!!!), I have been able to transform and dare be more authentic, simple... just me. To love passionately with enough detachment so I no longer need the constant validation. The transformation has been physical, spiritual and psychological. The bardic initiation has been a huge catalyst for this.
Before, people commented what an extroverted, self-confident woman I seemed to be. Now, people comment on how I have such a tranquil and grounded energy, how I've changed. The confirmations of this keep coming, and the beauty of it moves me beyond words.
There, I've babbled way too much.