This article is an elaboration and continuation of Pagliwanag: Homecoming Teachings, and is the first out of three forthcoming articles which will have a similar format. Each clarification article will describe the core of one of the axes in the Homecoming Teachings, then go into how one can get lost from the Centre, and finally how one can come home to the Centre using Revelation, Embodiment, and Practice. Please read the original article first so as to get the full context of this one.
These teachings can be learned and practiced by oneself if absolutely necessary, but it’s strongly advised to work them out with another person or a group of people. These teachings can be considered therapeutic, but they are meant to be collective suggestions and guidelines for healing justice, especially around personal and collective soul wounding (trauma) and the transformation of oppression demons (internalized oppression).
The Axis of Needs
The axis of the North & South is about our needs. When I’m writing about needs, I am talking about something that, when taken from you or is not fulfilled, immediately diminishes or endangers your quality of life. I separate this from “wants”, which, when added, can increase your quality of life, but will not endanger or diminish it if you don’t have it. Boundaries are also a form of needs, specifically, they are what should not happen, otherwise it would diminish or endanger your quality of life.
For example, I have a need for breathable water, drinkable air, and food with nutrients. I also have a need for loving touch and emotional support. When I don’t have these needs, my life is in danger, or severely diminished. Things I want: someone to play horror videogames with, fantasy books involving Tagalog mythological creatures having polyamorous relationships, and a service robot. If I didn’t get any of these things, I’m going to be okay, but if I did get them, I’d have a lot more fun. My boundaries, on the other hand, include not being physically attacked, not being verbally abused through name-calling and condescension, and not being lied to within intimate relationships in regards to significant decision-making matters. If my boundaries are violated, I am hurt and need to say something or adjust my behaviour for my protection.
My needs and boundaries are directly coming from my values and my purpose, which is at the Centre of these teachings. I value life and thus attempt to protect it physically and nourish it with water and food. I value honesty, so I request not to be lied to. I value relationships and community, and so I cultivate touch and emotional connection, and I request not being verbally attacked. In addition, my needs and boundaries take into account Service and Change — that I also am in service to the needs and boundaries of my communities, and that I can advocate for needs and boundaries, but sometimes things will happen outside of my control and to make peace with the cycles of change, such as how death is a part of life.
When individuals and communities are attacked by their personal demons, community demons, and/or oppression demons, the soul wounding (trauma) that occurs pushes people away from the Centre, and they get lost far into the North or the South. This means their needs and boundaries are no longer aligned with Service and Change, their purpose and their values, but instead becomes focused on Control and/or Irresponsibility.
For example, when I get lost in the Destroyer, my desire to control what is happening moves beyond protecting myself and my community, into destroying the other. I cannot grasp my responsibility to all life, only to my own, or to the ones I consider “mine”. To control the other person, I become irresponsible with my own words and actions. My feelings are the most important, specifically my anger, which when balanced is just informational energy in my body that tells me to protect my needs. However, when the feeling is not understood as a signal, it becomes an energy that can reopen my soul wounds, which causes a lot of pain. That pain, especially with the intrusive thoughts of personal/community/oppression demons, goad me to see attacks and enemies even when there are none, through tones, gestures, words, accidental touch, etc. I then lash out against the other person or people.
On the other hand, I can also be lost in the Destroyer by turning on my own self in a form of self-destructive critical perfectionism. This is slightly different from being lost in the Martyr, where the Martyr’s actions are to sacrifice themself for other people, the Destroyer turns on themself because they see themself as the enemy of their own self or their community, and the only answer is destruction. This can look like avoiding others out of self-hatred and shame, as well as enacting self-injurious and suicidal behaviours.
When I become lost in the Martyr, my desire to control what is happening moves beyond the balance and responsibility that life requires, such as my own, and completely wants to care for the other at the expense of the self. This isn’t true caring, as the Healer understands the interconnection of people in a relationship, and so when one person harms themself by ignoring their needs or boundaries, the other person is also being harmed. The Martyr’s feelings of fear are consuming, and like the Destroyer’s anger, the Martyr forgets that fear is informational energy that requires a strengthening and preparation of boundaries for a threat, and instead the fear rips open soul wounds, causing pain that is manipulated by the intrusive thoughts of personal/community/oppression demons. I am then goaded into constantly allowing behaviour that harms me, saying yes to tasks or actions when I don’t have the capacity to do them, and hiding my own feelings/thoughts/needs so I can never be abandoned and/or to prove that I am worthy to someone or a group of people.
In the colonial world, the Destroyer’s behaviours can be understood as narcissism and/or borderline personality disorder, or as avoidant attachment styles. The Martyr’s behaviours in the colonial world can be understood as codependence and anxious attachment styles. However, whole communities in the colonial world can get lost in the Destroyer or Martyr, goaded by community demons and oppression demons.
Communities become lost in the Destroyer when they attack others based on characteristics outside of their control, even others that would usually be considered part of the community. This is due to community/oppression demons like racism, (hetero)sexism, cisgenderism, and general xenophobia. There are also community demons that can encourage behaviour like the most extreme forms of cancel culture and disposability politics that replicate police and prison institutions– where once these behaviours may have started as protective measures against oppression demons and those in power who perpetuate them, they are then used against other community members without an attempt at recognizing their humanity and potential for change and service.
Communities become lost in the Martyr when they welcome and defend unjust authorities and hierarchies, refusing to stick up for fellow community members who are being harmed by community/oppression demons, and actually justifying or rationalizing that harm. These behaviours can look like assimilationist moves and respectability culture, which may have begun as protective or compassionate measures towards colonial/imperial institutions, and then became twisted by the fear of losing what little resources have been left to communities devastated by oppression demons. They sacrifice their other community members for even a promise of more stability and security, a promise that may never be fulfilled.
The first part of the Homecoming Teachings, to begin a person and their community’s return to Centre, is Revelation — for the Axis of the North & South, it means developing an understanding of Service, Change, Needs, Boundaries, and Feelings.
In the colonial world, if you are a person whose community may also be lost or wounded, so they cannot perform a ritual or ceremony to help bring you back to the Centre, then you can start by reading books from the library and articles on the internet. I recommend Anne Katherine’s books on boundaries. I myself went to pay-what-you-can workshops about emotions, needs, and self-esteem in my area. As you learn with your mind, start to make notes and/or create art in a notebook or scrapbook. Then you can also set up a permanent or temporary altar, gathering objects that symbolize what you’ve been discovering about your needs, boundaries, and feelings. This work will also, hopefully, begin to lead you into understanding your values or more of your values, which should be recorded in your journal.
To connect to your heart and spirit, Revelation should also include a journey into the spirit world (if you are trained in spiritwork). If you are not trained in spiritwork, you can try a visualization exercise similar to what I’ve written below.
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Remember to set an alarm if you can, so that you can then return through the gate back to your Centre and thank and say goodbye to your new guide, before your next activity for the day.
Revelation is a constant unfolding, and you can also move on to Embodiment and Practice while you continue to develop an understanding of these teachings. You can also attend workshops or sessions that I run on these teachings specifically.
If you feel that you also need to bring your community into this Revelation, you can organize a workshop or skillshare about boundaries, needs, and feelings that can be facilitated by you (depending on how far you’ve continued in this practice or returned to Centre) or by someone that you know embodies the energies of Protector and Healer, and has the capacity to relay these Revelations. Having this group gathering, even if it’s not a formal ritual or ceremony, also supports your own Homecoming, in addition to your community’s.
The North & South Axis is connected to the right and left side of our bodies — some of us will associate North with right, while others may associate North with left. Regardless, the focus is on coordinating the right and left sides.
Here are some embodiment activities that you can choose from based on how your body reacts. This means that your body expands, relaxes, or moves forward when you read or say aloud the activity, as opposed to a negative reaction that can look like your body contracting, stiffening, freezing up, or moving backward. You may also have a pattern that’s different from this that you’ve already observed in your body when it chooses something or refuses it.
- In a comfortable position (sitting, standing, or lying down), focus your attention on your right hand. You can do this with eyes closed or eyes open. Feel the energy gather in your hand with your attention, feel what it’s like on the inside of your hand and on its surface. When you feel ready, move the energy from your hand up to your elbow, to your shoulder, across your chest, to your other shoulder, down the elbow, and into your left hand. Move the energy back and forth from your left hand back to your right. Do the same from your right foot, up to your hips, across your genitals, to your left foot, and then back to the right. You can even practice moving the energy from your right foot and right hand to your left foot and left hand simultaneously. Give thanks and love to your body as you do this. If you only feel or have legs, or only feel or have arms, you can focus on whichever limbs you have or can feel, or you can focus on your torso or head instead.
- If you are familiar with herbalism and crystals, you can ethically harvest or acquire herbs that are balancing for your emotions, and crystals that strengthen your boundaries and get in touch with your needs. You can draw a grid that is your body and put the crystals on that grid, making sure the left and right are balanced. You can make ointments or oils from the herbs and anoint both the left and right sides of your body. Make sure you give thanks and love to your plant helpers and stone helpers as you do the work.
- If you are practiced with sigils or drawing symbols, and are somewhat ambidextrous, you can draw symbols or sigils of balancing emotions, of respecting needs and boundaries, on the left side of your body and on your right, making sure the symbols are drawn on both sides.
- If you are comfortable and have the capacity with dancing, find a clear place where you can stretch both the left and right sides of your body, and then began to move (with or without music, your choice), orienting towards what feels pleasurable for your body as you move and dance, and paying attention to how your right side responds to your left, and vice versa.
When you are doing Embodiment in a community setting, you or a trusted facilitator can do the above practices together, explaining before you begin that these activities are about how the intention is to connect deeper into our values, needs, feelings, and boundaries. At the end of the activity, the group can journal together and have a discussion about what came up for them. Some communities may already have rituals and ceremonies that incorporate Embodiment activities as a way to bring individuals or their whole community back to the Centre.
Traditionally, many communities would have a respected warrior or healer that you could study from or apprentice to so that you could practice the teachings of Protector and/or Healer. If you don’t have that option, you could watch internet videos or sign up for classes involving self-defense and healing modalities connected to your ancestry and/or community. You can watch documentaries/movies and read articles/books on historical or fictional figures that embody your values as an ideal Protector and/or an ideal Healer. Lastly, I strongly suggest also learning self-accountability skills, either from groups like 12 Step or similar programs, or to set up an accountability pod. From these experiences, you can also come up with your own set of practices, and then journal what changes for you as you do the work and your practice transforms into habit.
Here’s examples of my own Healer practices:
- Instead of getting angry and saying hateful things at my body when I am sick, or angry at the environment around me and saying hateful things when a situation doesn’t go my way, I try to pause and meditate on the situation, focusing on what the purpose and function of my body and its different organs are, or on what are the different purposes and functions of the technology, nature, and other parts of the environment. I then meditate on how I can further align my inner parts and the external environment towards their purpose and function, as opposed to what I want them to do.
- When I’m in conflict with another person and they are not giving me what I want or need, or has violated a boundary and I have already established new boundaries and consequences, I also meditate on how I can be gentle and compassionate towards myself and this person in the conflict, holding space for how we can both realign towards our purpose.
Here’s examples of my own Protector practices:
- Every time I feel anger within myself and for my community, I meditate on the message of the anger — the what and the how. What are my values that are asking to be protected? What are the values of my community that are asking to be protected? After I understand what those values are, I meditate on how I can protect those values, while still honouring the purpose and value of all life as much as possible. Perhaps the protection doesn’t require confronting who or what did the harm or is making the threat. Perhaps protection involves building up defenses and resilience, and forming a communal strategy to get more information on the nature of the threat.
- When I’m in conflict with another person, and I’m terrified of them, I meditate on what it is I fear I will lose, and consider how my community can make up for that loss. I meditate on how it’s more important to me to live by my principles and values than the fear of loss. I focus on explaining the harm that was done to me, the request for changed behaviour, and the consequences for the harm done and for any continued harm. I feel and visualize my ancestors and guardian spirits arrayed around me as protection as I vocalize or write out my own boundary to the other person.
If you’d like your community to enact more Protector and/or Healer practices, you can (or find a trusted teacher/facilitator who can) organize a gathering or ceremony of group protection and/or group healing. This could also look like a protest/rally against oppression demons as a protection ritual, and a vigil or rally where the speakers offer blessings to the people as a healing ritual. Community accountability rituals can also be done to combine both Protector and Healer energy, a form of transformative justice that includes the ancestors and spirit world. However, I strongly advise that for community accountability to work, everyone involved already is practiced around self-accountability skills, and has begun work around balancing and embracing both their Protector and their Healer, and is not lost in the Destroyer or the Martyr. I still struggle with getting lost in Destroyer and Martyr all the time, and it’s been so crucial that there are other people who also have self-accountability skills to be in community with and hold me accountable, while still honouring my humanity, and supporting me coming home to the Centre.
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