Quitting is Beginning


“You’ll begin to re-evaluate exactly what it is that you love,” he said.

And so, the shifts within become even more explicit.

Sometimes we need to quit, in order to begin.

I’ve loved teaching and blogging. I’ve loved writing books on spiritual practice.

I’ve loved it with every part of my heart and soul. Even when the travel ground my body down. Even when I had to cut way back and find new ways to teach.

I don’t always love it anymore. There are still parts that feed me: I taught at a conference recently and connecting my magic with the thoughts and efforts of the people there was just wonderful. We worked together. We discussed. We meditated. We dropped deep. We raised power.

What I don’t love is the constancy of being at the center of the circle. I was willing to do it for a long time – knowing how to nurture my introverted self in order to counterbalance the publicness of the rest of my life. I started to feel, as I’ve recently learned to put it, sunburned. Overexposed. Tired. Over the past few years, I’ve made shift after shift, searching for the right way, for the thing that would feel sustainable and true again.

Finally, two things happened:

First, a character dropped a sentence in my head when I was looking out the window one day. The thought was so clearly not mine that it startled me. I asked, “Where did that come from?” And he was there: a man sitting, depressed in his chair, bereft because his best friend had just died. From that thought came my novel, “Like Water” which will be published in May.

Fiction, a thing I had practiced and poked at for years before finally giving up on it, came roaring back into my life. I’ve saved money to take classes. I’ve rearranged my flexible time in order to write, study, and learn. Even afternoons when I’m struggling with a story, it feels deeply satisfying. I love it.

Second, the new Civil Rights Movement finally caught hold because of some determined young people in Ferguson Missouri. Years of organizing that often felt like it was going nowhere suddenly had a place to go. Energy to attach to. Excitement.

I had taken a break from in-the-streets type activism for a long time before getting sucked back in by Occupy. In my awareness, Occupy was sandwiched between the local killings of Oscar Grant and Alan Blueford. The systems of police brutality that I knew of, abstractly, were hitting home. I started organizing how I could, with whom I could, but nothing quite took. Meetings felt like a slog, even when I liked the people. These days, I now have a group to work with that has a lot of forward momentum. I leave meetings feeling energized, and like I want to spend the time. More time.

I have re-evaluated what I love.

I don’t love my weekly blogging anymore – you’ll notice it hasn’t been weekly these past few months, with so much of my energy going to fiction and writing about justice issues. I don’t love teaching weekend workshops and have taken them off my calendar for now. What I love right now is teaching in small bites of a few hours, or in online classes, or with groups that are really studying and teaching themselves, with my input. And I love mentoring people who are stepping into leadership and teaching.

I’m still a priest. I’m still head of the Temple. But I’m so happy to be sharing power with a wider variety of people now, and seeing what new things will grow. This is what it has all been for – building systems to better share the power, and helping others to come into their own work.

I’ll still blog sometimes. Perhaps monthly. But mostly, I’ve said what I want to say for awhile, on the topic of spiritual practice. I hope to collect some of my essays in themed groupings for Solar Cross to publish in the coming year or two. Despite my published books, there is so much I’ve written that exists only in the dusty pixels of the internet, including answers to questions I still get asked. I’ll still teach things that feel deeply interesting to me, or useful to the community.

I’m continuing to offer spiritual direction one on one because that still feels like a calling, and very satisfying to my soul.

I’ll continue doing all the needed work to keep Solar Cross Temple fulfilling its mandate of worship, education, and justice. We have a truly kick ass board that is excited to work on all of this, too.

If you want a taste of my fiction, here are some short stories I wrote last year.

I’ll be bringing them out as collections soon, for those who want to read them on their phones or Kindles, or in paper. My writing is getting better and better as I work and study, making me feel excited for the stories yet to come.

And I hope you’ll buy my first completed novel when it comes out in May. It is dedicated to Alan Blueford and it means a lot to me.

Love to all of you who continue to support my work of bringing some light, and love, and justice to this world. I’m with you in your work, whatever that may be. I stand firmly behind the work I wrote about in all of the books I’ve published so far, and:

I believe that we can make magic, together, and repair this gorgeous world.

See you on Facebook and Twitter every day, and see you here and on Patheos when thoughts strike. Let's keep checking in.

racetrack by DS Conner (morguefile)Solar Cross Presents are a series of community classes. I hope you join us in building stronger, more flexible, more sustainable leadership and communities. 

I'll be starting a new Crafting Spiritual Evolution elemental series online with some wonderful student teachers I've been mentoring. These are all long-term students of mine who've been doing this very work for many years. We will support one another with weekly homework, online discussions, and video chats. 

Join the Solar Cross newsletter for monthly updates about our justice work, our devotionals, and upcoming classes by writing to solarcrosstemple@gmail.com, subject line "SC news". 

29 Responses to “Quitting is Beginning”

  1. Leanne Pemburn

    mighty blessings on each twist & turn of your glorious path!

  2. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    It amazes me that at the end of January, when I said I’d be stopping my blog in 2020 after my magistracy ends, amidst a lot of other stuff that I thought was more important and discussion-worthy, that everyone started in with “But we’ll miss you!” It’s five years away still! 😉

    I know this will prove to be a very good and productive thing for you, and I thank you for the time you’ve done it regularly in the past, and for all else you’ve been doing!

    • admin

      It is interesting to me the way we want people to stay in the roles they’ve taken on, or we’ve given them, forever. I think the “we’ll miss you” is partially an appreciation of your work, of course, but sometimes it can hold kernels of “don’t change.”

      • Cathie Rayes

        The “don’t change” message is not, I think, meant personally. I think it really means “who will hold this space for us if you are not here?” and all too often when leaders and teachers move on, there is no one to hold the space. The situation is common in all parts of life, in the workplace, the community, families, religious institutions–everywhere. I myself find it most poignant in the Pagan community where there is so little formal structure for so many. Yes, we all must grow, we all must move on, we all must learn to be and do for ourselves… but the space a teacher or priest holds is a powerful anchor which many people cling to in a vast and uncertain landscape. It can be quite frightening to discover that one must hold the space for oneself without the skills and abilities necessary to do so.

        • admin

          this is brilliantly said. Thanks for the reflection. I think you are correct.

          • Cathie Rayes

            I’m glad it makes sense to you, Thorn. I’ve had people I didn’t really know be very upset that I was moving away or that I was leaving a website, and I couldn’t quite articulate why until I read your comment about “don’t change.” The memories flashed in my mind, twined with my own “I’ll miss you” reaction to your post, and I finally understood it.

            You still hold the space which is important to me spiritually and I imagine you always will, but I admit that knowing you will stay on facebook also goes a long way toward easing that “miss you” reaction.

  3. Elysia

    Good for you, Thorn! Self-knowledge and self-care, and carefully thought-out and re-thought-out boundaries are essential to avoiding burnout. I love that you are so clear on your priorities and how you can help the community in a way that is also good for you. I’m looking forward to reading your fiction. Good job.

  4. Colleen Cook

    time to make a spiritual direction appointment with you! I graduate seminary in three weeks and start full time priestessing with my Justice shack after that. Thorn, you are a core part of “how” this happened to me. Bright blessings to you as you follow your path. Colleen Cook

    • admin

      I love this phrase: “priestessing with my justice shack”! It would be nice to talk with you.

  5. Lasara

    Congrats, Thorn. A sweetly courageous step. Enjoy the next chapter.

    Love and power.

  6. Katie Neff Dawson

    I have missed working with you in person (I am not the best online student). You inspire me on how you move in the worlds. Thanks for sharing so much of your self. I will look forward to reading.

  7. Keechy

    Ahhh, writing fiction, it feeds my soul too. I’ve come back to it after so long and it feels just right for this time. Funny to look back and remember that it was the very first thing I wanted to be (apart from maybe a vet, always wanted to be a vet too but my maths was too crappy.) I guess one needs to experience a lot of jobs, a lot of people, to become a writer with something to actually say, so nothing is wasted. After reading your wonderful short stories, Thorn, I will be very excited to read that novel!

  8. seeley

    you are continuing on your path, in tandem w/many others moving forward with growth–how great to have clarity and confidence in your choices, and for what you manifest to keep inspiring others in community as we proceed together. blessed be!

  9. Carrie Viscome Skinner

    Above all else you must follow your own bliss. In the end it is the best way to help others. My introverted self applauds the courage of yours. Blessings to you on your new journey.

  10. MaryAnn Jackman

    I applaud the evolution of your journey. I have benefitted greatly from your teaching, which has led me to reevaluate my beliefs and practices and become more spiritually authentic. The things you teach that led me to that have also led you to your present changes. It’s all moving; nothing is static. As much as we may wish that things always stay the same, things which are stagnant, which don’t flow and move on, cease to live. Many blessings to you in this phase of your journey. I hope to keep learning from you for a long time to come. (Of course, at 76 “long time” is relative…;) ) Can;t wait to read the new book!

  11. Sea Serpent

    I fully support you, Thorn, and wish you tons of prosperity and success in your new journey and ventures. When I get a chance, I will also read your new novel and other books. I love the books you’ve written so far, and highly thank you for them. One of them brought me to the wonderful Feri class I’m in right now.

    Interesting how some people resist change; even if it only involves altering the formula of something you’ve been doing before. I’m glad you say you still plan to teach; you’re just changing the way you’ve been doing it.

    Many blessings to you.

  12. Syrbal/Labrys

    I completely understand this; I’ve stepped back myself from blogging and barely hang on to a few requisite topical posts weekly. It feels a bit like my tarot card of the week: The Tower — tearing down to rebuild. Re-evaluation cannot be overrated! We four here on the edges of the Walk of the Fallen Labyrinth are healing, working intensely together to rebuild deeply. And at some point, we will again step-out/explode into our world. We are seeds in the early spring, deep in the warming dark!

  13. The Damn Its | herlander-walking

    […] blogger here.  Rather like a prominent pagan writer/priestess/blogger said recently — “Quitting is Beginning“.  I AM feeling a benefit of my withdrawal from blogging here almost daily.  I feel quite […]

  14. isabelle

    Truth is bliss
    Celebrate your own 🙂 I look forward to the book, I really enjoyed your short stories

  15. Ben Porchuk

    Hi Thorn…lost your email a couple of years ago after you had come to London for training…just want you to know that I’ve held your teachings closely. They’ve gotten me through the beautiful challenges of life. Your legacy in my way of being was profound and still is. Best, Ben Porchuk

  16. Moira

    Dear Thorn,

    congratulations that you are – again – following your heart’s desire! This is a great inspiration for your students and co-teachers on the same path…

    ‘I would know myself – in all my parts…’ – you practice what you pray…

    With much respect and love, * Moira

  17. Maren

    Thank you for writing your books and sending them into the world. They are a gift to the world.

    And so is your teaching, of course. Thank you for having done so much of that in spite of the cost. Unlike most things I think teaching does trickle-down.

    Your short stories are great and, I think, needed. I am looking forward to see what you can do in a longer format.

  18. Dee Romesburg

    Blessings on following what you love!

  19. Fourge

    As someone above said, nothing is static. I’m finally coming to a place in my life I’ve never been in, a new opportunity with new friends surrounding me. I’m still working with patterns my decade-long depression left. It itself hasn’t even left yet. But with the support of the work of many in different communities as well as your work largely influencing mine, I continue to learn and grow. (I actually secretly consider you my own teacher, even though you don’t teach me one-on-one, a sort of spiritual guru of mine!) I continue to expand my awareness and hold conversations both within and without that I’ve always wanted to have. So I hold closely the lesson that nothing in life is static, even though change still remains a scary thing for me, because that means that my past parts don’t have to remain the same forever, and my work can also change in fantastic ways. Your post reassures that reality for me, thank you.

    I know I’ll be a leader in the larger community one day. It just never dawned upon me that I may not be doing the same work all my life and that that leadership role can take me to do different types of work. It stirs a reaction within me of the fearing of change, and yet another part of me, a part right alongside that fear of change of not always doing the same work, is excited to know that it also means I don’t have to do the same work all my life, if that makes sense.

    I’m very happy thinking about where journey has led you, and am eternally grateful for your work, as always. I pray that my work will cause a shift towards more integrity and justice in this world even after I am gone. I often think about how you once wrote that you soothed your ancestors in letting yourself come to your larger work in the public eye. Lately, I’ve actually often thought about how that’s been affecting you, and how you seem to gravitate towards the center of many circles, so maybe I was picking up on a shift going on for you. You just seem to handle things so well!

    I no longer fear leaders such as yourself shifting in your work, because I know in many ways I am a leader myself. I know no one has to be a leader for me, and this is something I teach as well, that concept of not giving away your power and letting thine own power possess oneself. It’s enough for me just to know that you and other leaders are doing okay. I do hope that one day, when the time comes, I can become your spiritual directions client and hope your still doing that, though of course will understand completely if your work and love again shift.

    Manifold blessings your way, chikorita.

  20. Fourge

    I have a question for you, Thorn. Did your love for things like blogging weekly and teaching weekend workshops stop because those things no longer feed your life force?


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