Title: Walking the Heartroad: The Devotional Path for SpiritWorkers
Publisher: Asphodel Press
Author: Silence Maestas
Pages: 58 pp
Price: $9.00 (paperback) / $3.00 (ebook via Asphodel Press) / $3.99 (Kindle and nook)
In the interest of full disclosure – I am friends with the author. I was friends with the author before Walking the Heartroad was written and published. This friendship will, of course, make me somewhat biased towards the book – but as I’m often reminded, having a bias does not always mean that one’s conclusion is then automatically wrong.
I devoured Walking the Heartroad when it was first released, and I’ve revisited it now and again in the years since, but it’s only recently that I sat down to do a proper cover-to-cover reread. At the time of its original release the Internet was not quite as replete with spirit-workers talking about their paths candidly and trying to form communities centered around spirit-work-support. There were groups, don’t get me wrong, but they were not as common as they seem to be now. Tumblr was not a thing. WordPress was barely a thing. Heck, Spirit-Working seemed to be a new-to-talk-about-it thing, and this was a book that was sorely, sorely needed.
I am on the fence about being a spirit-worker, myself. Once upon a time I thought: yes. These days, I think: anyone who interacts with the spirits and bring them further into this world is at least nominally a spirit-worker, and so: yes. But my devotional practice is not necessarily spirit-work in the way that most people might use the term and so I often think: close enough but in the end no. When I reread this book, I think: yes, yes, oh gods, obviously, yes!
It doesn’t matter much one way or the other – this book is a priceless bit of information, both for those walking a spirit-work, devotional, or otherwise god- and/or spirit- intense path, and for those who love them. It is written to help explain to ‘outsiders’ a little bit about how we tick. Maestas breaks the Heartroad down and makes it clear that, for him, devotion is about Love. He also stresses, from the beginning, that the one walking the path is the one who needs to determine how one is going to define said path. Service can have a multitude of manifestations, and for many that I know of, love is the beginning and end of the service, of the work..
He explores the different ways relationships with the spirits can manifest: Parent/child (or, less common, Child/parent); Master/servant (or slave); Romantic love; Spouse and/or Consort; Marriage. He speaks of community building, and how quick we can sometimes be to judge others and how they are or are not with their gods and spirits. This especially speaks to me, because I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past. Once upon a time, the idea of being a slave to a god drove a wedge between myself and others who would identify as such, and I have to admit that, but for my willingness to accept my gods into my life, but for my willingness to go as They direct me to go, I could very easily be in that category. Does that make me uncomfortable? A bit, yes. I am firmly, firmly caught in Poseidon’s net; that I’m not struggling is the only thing that keeps that net from closing in tight around me, and I am aware of that in ways I was not aware of seven years ago.
I thought, when I read this way back when, that I understood much of it. Being this much further along my path I find that I’ve gleaned more from the reread than I’d hoped to gain. I’m chided to set aside my assuming, my judging. I’m reminded to keep myself humble. I’m reminded that I wish to help build rather than to tear down, and if the best I can do to help build is to actively refrain from tearing down, that’s good enough. I’m reminded that while my way is the best way for me, it is not the best way for others, and while interacting with some of my co-religionists may leave me baffled and confused at how they arrived at whatever conclusions they have, that is their story, their path, and I can only see and understand what I can see, and at the end of the day, none of it is my business at all.
Walking the Heartroad sang to my spirit when it was first released, and revisiting it has been a balm that I wasn’t aware I needed. It is a book that does not quite stand alone as it did when it was first released, but it is a valuable addition to any polytheist’s library. And, now there’s an ebook, and Kindle, and nook version! I highly, highly recommend this, and any other material of Maestas’ that you can get your hands on! (Re: above, see: biased).
[Jolene Dawe is a polytheist devoted to Poseidon and Odin. She is the author of Treasures from the Deep, a collection of Poseidon’s myths retold, and The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her partner, a small horde of cats, one small dog, and three spunky spinning wheels. You can find her online at http://thesaturatedpage.wordpress.com%5D.]