I have specific permission from my mentor to ask for help with this assignment.
Here's the assignment:
1) Make a list of five things you do well. How could you use these in relation to magic or spirituality? (For instance, growing or cooking with herbs would match magical herbalism.) Discuss your findings in a few paragraphs.
2) Make a list of five magical or spiritual skills which you do not have but would like to have. Where did you hear about them? What could you do to learn these skills yourself? Discuss your findings in a few paragraphs.
Part 1) Make a list of five things you do well. How could you use these in relation to magic or spirituality? (For instance, growing or cooking with herbs would match magical herbalism.) Discuss your findings in a few paragraphs.
Things I think I do well:
1. I type fast and accurately, and I take really, really good notes.
2. I am a decent but not exceptional public speaker.
3. I have reasonably good Google-fu, and in general I'm pretty good at finding information that's already out there.
4. I have a decent but no longer an outstanding memory.
5. I'm usually fairly good at explaining things to people, although when I fail it tends to be pretty spectacular.
6. I'm reasonably good at pretending to be patient and understanding in the moment, assuming I can bitch about it later.
7. I have enough empathy that it might qualify as a weak, low-level Talent.
8. I can generally convince software to do what I want.
9. I have decent pattern recognition, including at least sometimes the ability to spot a pattern in what is not being said or done.
Things my mentor says he thinks I do well (and I said I wouldn't argue with him, so I'm not, and let me tell you it's hard to type when I'm sitting on my hands):
B. Networking (I assume he means the people kind rather than the Ethernet kind).
D. Handicrafts, especially those involving yarn.
F. Organizing (by which he says he means all of: finding places for things, filing, event planning, herding cats, and the union definition of getting people to join and become active in their local) – and both he and his partner have especially asked that I include this in my list because it's a less-common skill in their community.
Ways I could use these skills in a magic(k)al or spiritual context, or (and here I'm extrapolating on the assignment, so I am probably missing the point entirely) to support a Pagan community:
Combining 1, 3, and C might make me a good candidate to be a coven secretary or historian.
Combining 2, 3, 5, and C might suggest that I'd be halfway decent at ritual design, eventually, given a LOT more experience.
Combining 4 and F might suggest that if I were willing to put some effort and focus into it, I might be a good assistant to a coven leader.
Combining 5, 6, G, and F might suggest that at some point I might be qualified to teach.
Combining 6, 7, and 9 might suggest that if I were willing to put some effort and focus into it, I might potentially develop some forms of healing skills.
8, especially given that my elemental connections seem to be Fire and Earth, may suggest that if I have any talents that haven't yet come to light, Technomagic(k) might be one of them. (However, I still think that I'm only claiming a connection to Fire because it's flashy and pretty, and that I'm not really entitled to it.)
Combining B, 2, and F might suggest that at some point I could be a public voice for a coven, if such a thing were ever needed.
D by itself could be useful in that many Pagans prefer using handcrafted items rather than commercially produced ones. However, I'm not so great at actually finishing projects, so this might not be a good thing to take on.
I can't think of any way to use A in a magic(k)al, spiritual, or Pagan context, other than the obvious "bring stuff to potlucks."
I can't think of any way to use E in a magic(k)al, spiritual, or Pagan context, because I'm not one of the people for whom kink is spiritual; it's just fun.
Part 2) Make a list of five magical or spiritual skills which you do not have but would like to have. Where did you hear about them? What could you do to learn these skills yourself? Discuss your findings in a few paragraphs.
1. Healing – I'm pretty sure this doesn't qualify, since I'd never be able to learn enough to do it safely.
a. I have no idea where I first heard of this; I've been reading fantasy almost since I could read, and so I'm sure I ran across the idea in a book.
b. I'd want to be very, very cautious about taking this up, because it would be so incredibly easy to harm someone. I'd feel obligated to take college-level courses in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and psychology at a minimum, before looking for an experienced healer who would be willing to teach someone who's already my age and not likely to offer a significant return on investment.
2. Ritual development – I'm not sure this qualifies, since I've participated in a tiny amount of ritual development and wouldn't be starting completely from scratch.
a. I have no idea where I first heard of this; I can't remember a time when I wasn't aware that rituals have to be written. Even the most traditional rituals had to be developed at some point in history, and are often modernized to be more relevant to the current culture.
b. The only way to learn this would be by observation and practice. I would need to read widely about psychology in general, the psychology of ritual, and ritual design. I would also need to seek out public events that I could attend, and find people who would be willing to talk to me about how and why they wrote the ritual the way they did. Then I'd have to start writing bits of rituals, performing them and/or finding people to perform them, and – here's the hard part – asking for and listening to and learning from – criticism about how badly I'd screwed it up and what I should have done differently, then repeating until something approaching competence is achieved. "Only next time, try to fail better." – Samuel Beckett http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/samuel_beckett.html#FBSuYVLCGcGc9f9Q.99
3. Event planning, especially larger events – I'm not sure this qualifies, since I've already done some event planning for small groups and small events.
a. I have no idea where I first heard of this; I've seen event planning from more-or-less the inside since I was a child.
b. The best way to learn this would be to practice, practice, practice. I have plenty of opportunities to do this in the mundane world (e.g., IAAP events, including the annual statewide conference; UCW events, including the annual statewide conference), and I'm sure that if I volunteered to help the local Pagan community they'd take me up on it. There are also classes, workshops, and books on the topic.
4. Technomagic(k) – I'm not sure this qualifies, since it's possible I already have the skill but am not expressing it.
a. I don't remember where I first heard of this; certainly in the Babylon Five episode, but I'm fairly sure I'd run into it previously, perhaps in a D&D game.
b. I could read books on the subject (e.g., The Wiccan Web by Telesco and Knight) and attempt any exercises given in the books. I could ask in the local Pagan community if anyone has this skill set and might be willing to teach it. I could search on WitchVox for any groups with this focus.
5. Kabbalah – I'm not sure this qualifies, since it is something I'd like to learn more about, but I don't know at this time if it's something I want to take up as a long-term course of study.
a. I have no idea where I first heard of this; my background is Jewish, so I may have picked it up from there, or from early reading about NeoPaganism and such things as Tarot and numerology (I have a vague idea that gamatria is linked to Kabbalah).
b. I have signed up to attend an afternoon introductory workshop. There are a myriad of books and websites about Kabbalah; I could ask the local Pagan community; I could search WitchVox.
6. Tarot – this one I think might actually qualify, since I would like to learn more about it and think it could be useful for meditation and decision-making (that is, the interpretation would clarify how I – or the person being read for – felt about the question).
a. I have no idea where I first heard about this; I know a family friend gave my mother a book on Tarot when I was a pre-teen, but I might have heard about it before then.
b. As with Kabbalah, there are a myriad of decks, books, websites, and classes that I could use to learn more. The primary aspect of learning to use Tarot, though, would be practice and memorization.
So, my questions -- and again, I have permission to ask for help on this one --
1. Given the list of things I think I do well and my mentor thinks I do well, are there other contexts or ways in which I could use those skills?
2. Can you suggest other skills that I might want to learn? I'll do the research on how to learn them, obviously.