I’ll go. [Laughs] My name is Eliseo. I teach for a living, work at a school, human, maker, thinker, yeah.
Do you wanna go? [Laughs]
Yeah. My name is Tina Nguyen. I’ve been introducing myself as a designer, but in many lives before I would consider myself like an orator or consultant, creator and most recently I’ve been identifying as mentor.
My name is Andreas Jonathan. I am a budding librarian. I like what Kameelah [Janan Rasheed] had to say a couple of days ago about being a learner, and that as an identity. Researcher and writer.
Totally. I feel like I’ve been having spiritual experiences everyday. But for me, a large part of that came because I started introducing tarot into my life and reading my horoscope and just believing in something bigger than myself. And so, I love pulling a card for myself everyday and seeing, oh what does the universe have in store for me and what is my interpretation of what the universe has in store for me and even seeing the spaces where I disagree, I think that has been spiritual in reaffirming my own path and not necessarily listening to the universe ‘cause there’ve definitely been times where I like, I don’t know, based on reading my monthly horoscope or something, I’m expecting things to go a certain way and I realize I end up feeling frustrated or angry at the universe for it not unfolding the way I thought it was going to unfold and, you know, it’s always a lesson. I don’t know, maybe that’s what spirit is, it’s something beyond you and incomprehensible and I’m getting reminded of that everyday.
It being incomprehensible is like a really good [--] when you say it, it means something different now, for me. Uh, yeah, like, we’re talking about having a spiritual experience—I just talked to my sister this morning and we were sharing—I was asking her some questions for class tonight about her experience during pregnancy and after pregnancy which was really rough, and she was like, “How’s class?” and I was like “Yo, it’s like church here,” it’s like legit—like we used to do these things called retreats where all of us would just go to this place and it’d be people that I grew up with, like people that look like me. I come from, you know, the Hispanic church, Pentecostal upbringing, like very specific. But we had a lot of time for fellowship and knowing each other and we all felt safe around each other. So going to the retreat was like just hanging out with family, you know, for an extended period of time, but then you put god in the mix and there are all these many different types of spiritual experiences that felt certain ways, but one of the key things is that spending time every single day being immersed in a specific mode of thought where everyone’s gathered around having that same mentality and thinking about the same thing and immersed in the same type of experience. The thing about difference is that, and then we go home, but then we come right back, and in the going home and coming back is where these new experiences come into play, because now we’re kind of let out there in the world and then we engage and then we come back again, and that has been something that now is outside of the traditional idea of the church that I had been in, and experiencing these sort of retreats and time together. Now it’s in the ‘secular’ but I’m getting the same type of energy and feeling and learning that it is more in line with what my body is feeling, my spirit has been feeling, my mind has been feeling, and it’s just been building like a snowball.
I love, uh, I’m really resonating with this mode of self reflection within the tarot, within astrology that you’re speaking to, Tina. I’ve recently also started kind of pulling cards and trying to learn the tarot as well. I’ve been into astrology for a little bit–
and I’m trying to take that practice more seriously. That was one of my intentions for the new year. And then I also really resonate with thinking about fellowship, like particularly within religious experiences, particularly coming from a Pentecostal background as well, where I definitely experienced a break between the spaces where [--] the spaces that had acted as my only, like, spiritual nodes, and then having a period of time in my life where I thought ‘I can’t be here anymore,’ for various reasons, like I don’t know if I can be accepted fully as myself here. I have to break away from that. And I’ve been, within the last year, I’ve been at this point of kind of finding all of these ways of coming back to that spiritual self. The word you used secular is so interesting as well, right? Because I think in particular when you grow up with a particular experience of the church, you’re sort of taught that the only space where you can have this kind of experience or this type of introspection is within the church, and only in this one way, and I’m having all of these moments, these little synchronicities of like, oh, this is also a kind of prayer. This is also a kind of dialogue with myself, this is also a kind of dialogue with my community, and all of these things can be spiritual in the same way that bible group is. And even returning to that with a new understanding, maybe an understanding that I don’t think I could’ve had if I didn’t ‘leave the church’ and go into the secular [...] yeah.
Yeah, like [...] it’s–like it’s interesting to see how [--] I forget the word you said but when you said it I was just like, ‘that feels very relevant, forget it,’ Tina [laughs]. It’ll probably come back around to be honest, but just like the way that we have just, that I’ve been taught very binary, not just in gender and the way we think about regular systems, but just in, like [--] specifically in the church, like you had these specific rule sets, and everything you had to do had to be in this specific mode of thinking, which is–for me it’s like, I was a person that pleased and just wanted to do the certain thing and follow that. And it’s not until you break away from that, and when I did, I still felt very uncomfortable because I felt like I’m not doing the right thing. But as you mentioned, that thing that everything is spiritual, and once you sort of find [--] like I found myself doing a sort of turn back around, but on my own terms, like out of this–out of this system, out of this sort of regimented way of being, and finding truth on my own and very like, clear values, right? That are also more open, and feel more honest and less about control, and less about trying to continue the same hierarchy that has existed for a really long time.