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The Value of Being Passive

27 Aug

Alternative Title: Osiris Knows What’s Up

pas·sive  –  adjective
  1. accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.

Passivity is not a topic you see covered very often. Most every self-help article I’ve ever seen involves speaking up, grabbing your spine, or becoming more active in your life or your reactions to the things that happen in your life. Our society, and therefore much of Paganism as a whole, has put a stigma on being passive. If you’re passive, you’re likely an introvert (bad!) who often gets equated to doormats and wet mops.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

And it seems to be a common theme throughout all of US culture. We place assertive, outgoing attitudes and stubbornness on a pedestal, and you’re more likely to get praise if you’re constantly making waves as opposed to always going along for the ride (this doesn’t always apply if you are female, in which case you are to be confident, but not too confident). And while sometimes it is necessary to be a wave maker, at the same time, the sweet spot (like most things) likely lies in between the two extremes. That is, being passive sometimes and being more assertive at other times. But since so many articles already talk about how to become more assertive, I wanted to balance the scales by writing about some of the benefits of being passive.

It’s really no wonder that Set (and other hard nosed NTRW) gets a bad rap. He basically spends the majority of his time trying to get people out of ruts and moving into new territory. He is the force that comes in and removes everything that was familiar to you in the name of “change” and “growth”. He is, by his very nature, a very active, assertive deity. He comes in like a typhoon, rips your stuff apart, and then taps his foot while he waits for you to fix it.

And the thing about this type of change is that it forces you to yield. You can’t work with Set without learning how to yield. The idea of an unstoppable object running into an unmovable object results in a lot of pain for both ends. Truly learning to reap the benefits of his work requires you to learn how to be passive.

Despite knowing this, a lot of people seem to have a hard time with it. I mean, how many times have you looked at something that you know you need to do because it’s for your own good, and yet you still fight doing “the thing” with every fiber of your being? It seems that being stubborn is hard-wired into a lot of us.

This was further affirmed in some recent discussions that I had participated in regarding Shadow Work. Shadow Work seems to fall into two categories: the Shadow Work you initiate yourself, and the Shadow Work that gets initiated for you. However, no matter which category each person seemed to fall into, everyone seemed to want to fight it tooth and nail.

And I had to wonder- why is that? What causes us to push back so violently when we realize that the best way forward is to go with the flow?

via wikimedia commons

Pondering this, I looked to one of the most passive deities I know: Osiris. I think he must get it from his father, who is also noted for his passive ways. I’ve seen a lot of people heckle Osiris for being such a “wuss” of a king. For being a deity that doesn’t have the balls, nerve, or gumption to do whatever it is that non-passive entities do (maybe people think he should have strong armed his brother instead of being drowned? Or maybe that he should have been more active in his resurrection?). Again, people often believe that passive is a bad thing, and so Osiris often gets flack for being passive in his nature.

But isn’t that part of the point? He is passive. He has to undergo a transformation through his brother’s methods. And as I said before- the best way to really reap the benefits of Set’s methods is to become passive. No amount of fighting or flailing will actually save you in this case. Much like with quick sand, fighting will only suck you in faster. I, too, had learned this first hand back in 2011 when I was first being shoved under water by a deity – fighting didn’t benefit me in any capacity. If anything, it just made the process more traumatic.

Osiris knew what lay before him. He knew that it would suck. But he also knew that fighting it would only make it worse.

And over the years, I think I have begun to embody that in a lot of ways. With a lot of the work I’ve had to do Over There, I’ve seen that many times you have to roll with the punches and roll with what has been given to you. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my moments of digging my heels in the sand or moments where I wish everything would just work out for once, but at the same time, I have begun to learn when it’s more effective to hold on and fight, and when it’s more effective to let go.

I sometimes think that a lot of us fight everything in our paths because we are scared, or because we simply don’t know what else to do. And in those moments, I remind myself that letting go can be just as effective as holding on. I remind myself that I am capable, and that I can handle whatever is thrown at me, and that I will figure out a way to make it work.

And then I go with it. I let go and jump off of the cliff as so many people have metaphorically discussed over the years. I give into the unknown (fear and all) and I submit myself to whatever it has in store for me. Because just like with the river, the answers to the problems lie at the bottom, and I have to give into the water in order to reach said answers at the bottom. I have to be passive in order to get to the solution.

This is the value of being passive. Sometimes, being passive is the answer to getting through something with less damage.

Fighting just for the sake of fighting doesn’t necessarily make you strong. Being stubborn simply because you can be, fighting the things that would genuinely help you doesn’t necessarily make you a BAMF, it just makes you hard headed. And romanticizing this behavior isn’t beneficial to anyone. While it’s true that you can be too passive, the truth of the matter is, too much stubborness, too much Setian fire in your gut is not beneficial for you, either. Ma’at is all about being in balance, which balance is usually struck in the middle between the two extremes. Same goes for this. Too stubborn or too passive will likely render you in the same place: stuck.

Learning how to let go and trust in the process can make a huge difference in the experiences that you undergo. Although it is important to be assertive in many things, don’t forget that being passive has its merits, too. And in some situations, being passive is actually the better choice to make.

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4 responses to “The Value of Being Passive

  1. Sage

    August 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve been pondering this a lot myself, recently. A good chunk of my Pagan career was spent chasing after this very active manifestation of Religious Stuff that I thought I should have to be a “good” Pagan. Whatever that means. There was a lot of forcing myself into roles that didn’t fit, both in spirituality and in other parts of my life, when it would have been infinitely easier, simpler, and /healthier/ for me if I’d accepted who I was and what I needed and wanted out of life, instead of striving for something (and someone) different.

    I’ve found that one of the most difficult challenges in my personal work has been on letting go and releasing. Passivity isn’t necessarily stillness and it certainly isn’t stagnation; I completely agree with you that it’s looked down on in many of our subcultures (and overarching cultures) for a host of reasons. And I certainly think that passivity, like action, can have its own unhealthy or unhelpful manifestations. But there can be incredible power and strength in yielding, in silence, in submission. Passive experiences as just as valid and necessary in the world as those that are active. We need both. Society needs both. As you pointed out, the gods need both too.

     
  2. Crystal L.

    August 27, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Very wise words, indeed. Something I personally needed to hear.

    We do, too often, fight the process in the name of being strong when true strength sometimes lies in letting go. I needed to be reminded of that.

     
  3. jewelofaset

    September 2, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I personally needed to hear this. Thank you so much for posting this.

     

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