Spiritual direction: FAQ and policies

Belief systems explorations and spiritual direction for the misfits

Meet Willow.

Hi, beautiful beings!
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I'm that quiet, nerdy, artsy, bookish kid in the corner of the classroom that you remember when you were in your fifth grade, that underperforming misfit in class whom you wouldn't know about their genius.

I'm an enigma, or as someone who once said to me, a rare wildflower one would not find until they'd hiked a distance through rugged terrains.

I think I have always been a born rebel and a free spirit.

In the 21st century, I have been a dropout, then a serial entrepreneur, then a minister, then an activist and community organizer, and then back to entrepreneurship and art, as well as being an academic.

I'm one of those rare and odd people these days, who is "religious not spiritual." In fact, I'm kind of wary of those who claim to be "spiritual not religious" since they lack structure and discipline, accordingly, anything goes and their emotions become the ultimate arbiter. I feel this is very limiting, when the buck stops with yourself and has nothing transcendent beyond your feelings, desires, or passions.

As someone who is neurodivergent, I did not possess some of the basic human instincts such as conscience, sense of right and wrong, and empathy as a young child. Still I do not fully understand the vagaries and nuances of human life and this remains one of my greatest challenges. Fundamentalist Christianity provided me, at the onset of adolescence, the much needed system of understanding morality and ethics, as well as the structures upon I built my values and behaviors.

I've explored theologies, doctrines, and traditions of many faiths since I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. Those topics intrigued me because they gave me a window to learn why people think and behave certain ways. Eventually I have studied at an Evangelical liberal arts college and a seminary. Theology (which I usually spell thexlogy these days) still is my interest area, as well as sociology and history of religions.

There was also a time when I was an ordained priest in a breakaway Reformed Catholic (which in reality was a cross between Anglican and Lutheran) denomination (hence in a "valid but illicit" apostolic succession). I survived for about two and a half years. Around that time, I was also a Benedictine oblate.

At various points in my life, I was affiliated with, or in the process of joining (and left before joining), a Christian Reformed church, the Jehovah's Witnesses, a fundamentalist Baptist church, several Pentecostal churches (of various sizes, ranging from a start-up Assemblies of God congregation that met at someone's living room to one of the largest megachurches in the Pacific Northwest), Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist churches, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, the Anglican/Episcopal Church, a number of Neo-Pagan communities, and a Unity church. But oddly enough, I was never raised religious; in fact, both of my parents were anti-religion and secular. This might have worked in my favor because religion was never forced down my throat and my rebellious tendency found an outlet in church instead of gangs or drug addiction.

I am a 6w5 and INTP, if you care about those things. These days I am mostly aligned with New Thought, though all the above-mentioned traditions continue to inform my perspectives and thinking.

At heart I am a perpetual traveler, always curious and in search of knowledge, and fiercely independent.

I look forward to hearing from you!

​​​​​​​Willow (they/she/pieface)


FAQ

What is spiritual direction?
  • As Wikipedia summarizes, "Spiritual direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is cultivating a life attuned to spiritual things. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth. Spiritual direction advocates claim that it develops a deeper awareness with the spiritual aspect of being human, and that it is not psychotherapy, counseling, or financial planning."
Isn't spiritual direction related to the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Historically, spiritual direction emerged from Early Christianity. The earliest recorded history of spiritual direction took place in a monastery during the fourth century C.E. However, the form of religious mentorship and "soul friendship" have existed in most traditional faiths around the world. Today, spiritual direction is practiced in Catholic Church, Protestant churches, and even in non-Christian settings.
Why focus on autistic and/or queer people?
  • Because of rejection, misunderstanding, and even hatred by religious establishments and "spiritual teachers."
  • Near complete absence of ministries, let alone spiritual direction services, for the adult autistic community.
  • Because most "LGBTQ+ affirming" spiritual directors and ministries are not yet knowledgeable about or equipped to address unique issues at the intersection of queerness and neurodiversity.
What if I am neurotypical/allistic and/or cisgender and/or straight?
  • Focus on specific demographics does NOT mean rejection of all others. However, please be aware of the unique approach to spiritual direction and a new culture that we're trying to foster. Maybe you'll learn about yourself in a whole new way!
Are you affiliated with any religion, church, or denomination? Do I have to be a member of any organized religion?
  • Mind Geographic is independent, non-sectarian, and interfaith. In addition to the academic background in Christian theology and biblical studies, Willow has extensive exposures and interactions with a wide diversity of religious communities and traditions represented in the Pacific Northwest, including Unitarian Universalism, Mahayana Buddhism, Judaism and Neo-Paganism. You are welcome whether or not you are a part of any religion or nothing at all. What matters is your curiosity and quest for a higher truth.
What is Willow's professional qualification?
  • I was an ordained priest in the now-defunct Protestant denomination known as Reformed Catholic Church of America (no connections to the Roman Catholic Church despite its name) since 2005 and was active in the said church until 2007. In prior to my departure from the denomination in the autumn of 2017, I was elevated to the position of an episcopal vicar, to represent the archbishop to Oregon. In 2011, I was a principal organizer of the Interfaith Guild of Chaplains, the Portland affiliate of the Protest Chaplains. Between 2015 and 2019, I was a licensed minister with Belladonna Sanctuary, an eco-feminist Neo-Pagan church founded in Oakland, California. Presently I am unaffiliated. It is important to keep in mind that spiritual direction is not a substitute for psychotherapy or psychological services. If you require mental health services, please find a qualified counselor (such as a licensed clinical social worker) or a psychiatrist.
How do you describe your faith?
  • Since my early childhood, I exhibited a keen interest in religions and often pondered about "big concepts" such as the life-after-death. I was raised without religion (my parents detested it) but I began learning about Christianity through religious broadcasting and began attending a church by the time I was 13 and I was baptized at age 15. Since then, I "church-hopped" several times. Until I was 37 years old, almost all of my adolescence and adult life revolved around one faith community or another; I regularly attended worship services and volunteered countless hours for church activities. I considered myself an Evangelical Christian until I turned 21. Then I considered converting to Judaism (and spent two years studying and experiencing Judaism until I decided that it wasn't really a good fit for me). I joined a Unitarian Universalist congregation, only to leave after a year. I spent the next several years in United Church of Christ and Metropolitan Community Church, before I decided to embark on a short-lived church-planting mission. As a priest, I have seen the ugly side of church politics, power struggles, and rampant hypocrisy. It did not take very long for me to come in conflict with the higher-up of the denomination, and ultimately I was expelled over my positions on marriage and rejection of literalist beliefs. (My former membership in the Reformed Catholic Church of America was purely a means to an end, a "flag of convenience" for me. But I was quickly dragged into controversies because of my unconventional style and vision of a church.) Having thoroughly burned out of Christianity, I became a Neo-Pagan and a Goddess-worshipper for the next decade. I took an interest in Filianism, an obscure British lesbian-separatist sect that existed in the 1970s and 1980s. I helped revive and reconstruct Filianism by compiling and publishing the book of the Filianic sacred texts and creating liturgies. While I no longer have any involvement in that faith, it continues to exist as an active community.
  • I would say my major theological influences are from the Baptist, Pentecostal, Anglican traditions, with added influences from New Thought, Judaism, Progressive Christianity, and Neo-Paganism. Presently I hold membership in both Unity and Unitarian Universalist churches. In short, I am pretty eclectic when it comes to theological views, but I approach primarily through a Protestant frame of reference.

Spiritual direction covenant


This covenant is an agreement between you and I to set the ground rules and parameters of engagement.

"Spiritual direction" supports you in deepening your faith/spiritual life. Despite the word "direction," I am not here to give you a direction. Rather, I use active listening and thought-provoking questions to help you explore and clarify your belief systems, your values, and your goals. The result is greater self-knowledge, a better grasp of your values and beliefs, deeper discernment abilities, and stronger mastery of your mind.

Spiritual direction works the best in the context of conversation and listening carried out in a trusting relationship. The primary interest of spiritual direction is your experience of the Sacred and how you can follow the higher calling. That process is a spiritual journey into the greater truth, yourself, your relationships, your work, and the world.

The fundamental premise of spiritual direction is that you are a unique expression of "God," and the process of spiritual direction is to bring out the clarity and self-knowledge about how "God" is expressed in you.

My work is to facilitate your path to self-discovery, not to "fix" you or to "analyze" you. I am not here to proselytize, or to judge whether your beliefs are right or wrong.

I recommend a minimum of three sessions, held in the interval of four weeks. Thereafter, follow-up sessions may be arranged quarterly or semi-annually depending on your needs. Every six months we evaluate whether you are genuinely benefitting from spiritual direction and whether to continue or discontinue.

The standard fee for your initial session is $75 (USD) or its equivalent at current exchange rates, and each subsequent session is $50 (USD) or its equivalent at current exchange rates. The fee must be received by the start of each session through an agreed-upon payment method (your session will be automatically cancelled if payment is not received by 30 minutes prior to your appointment); however, If you opt for anonymity, the fee will be payable when booking your session instead. Limited fee reduction and trades are available for those in need.

Payment methods: PayPal (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, ACH), money orders and certified checks in USD and payable in the U.S. (mail-in), BTC, LTC, BCH, ETH or FAIR. Contact me for alternative payment methods or barter options if you are unbanked or unbankable.

Mind Geographic's services are available worldwide, including censorship-heavy countries, except for Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela (due to economic sanctions).

Ground rules
  • Presumption of fiction: At Mind Geographic, we encourage creative thinking and this also means you might want to "invent" a persona if that would be conducive for you to get out of your normal thinking routine. Everything you share with me, therefore, is presumed to be a work of fiction or a creative retelling of your actual life experience mixed in with fictitious musings.
  • Confidentiality: Everything that is shared in your sessions will stay in the sessions. I keep extremely minimal records, all records will be encrypted, and nothing will be divulged. If you prefer encrypted email communication, I recommend ProtonMail as all communications between ProtonMail addresses are end-to-end encrypted.
  • Cancellation and rescheduling: If you need to reschedule or cancel any session, you must notify Willow by email by no later than 24 hours in advance. Conversely, your session may be cancelled by a 24-hour notice if I am ill or if I have some urgent matters to attend. We use North American Pacific Time Zone (same as Vancouver and San Francisco). Fees are non-refundable but will be applied toward the next session if you cancelled no later than 24 hours before the scheduled session. If you cancel within 24 hours of your session or if you "flake out," you will forfeit the fees paid.
  • Inappropriate conduct: While I recognize the diversity of sexuality and how sexuality may play important role in people's spiritual life (and I am fairly kink-friendly), spiritual direction is not a forum for overly sexualized or sexually explicit interactions. If I determine that your conduct is becoming inappropriate at any point, I reserve right to terminate your session and discontinue any further sessions. Additionally, any abusive conduct, harassment, hate speech, threats of violence, suicide or self-harm, etc., will have absolutely no place in our spiritual direction sessions and will not be tolerated. It is the intention of Mind Geographic to create an intentionally safe space for everyone.
  • Support between sessions: You are welcome to email Willow at any time between sessions with questions, feedback, prayer request, or anything else. However, it may take a few days before response. You are also welcome to participate in the official Mind Geographic online support groups.
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