Alright, this is a rant—or at least it will begin as one. I’ve had this phrase “the path of least resistance” playing through my head like a twangy banjo for two days. Looks like I need to exorcise (or exercise?) the notion before I walk into a wall in deep ponderment.
I think of my extreme struggles, both as a child and a woman, and am loathe to admit that I almost never took this path of least resistance, much to the chagrin of all who loved me. The child I was lived on the streets, fought for money, was beaten out of a gang to escape rape, clawed and scraped at three jobs with three babes alone while getting three degrees, and always, always showed up and bloodied up for the underdog. It took four decades for me to realize that what had looked like a dogfight on that day I came out of the Pagan closet was actually the path of least resistance. Peace came immediately, rained down on my soul’s skin and washed clean all the battles that had roughed it and bruised it. And still . . .
The notion of this least resistant path haunts me, and since I never back down from a fight:
We all know two things to be true. Neither of them appear, at face value, to be grinning at each other sideways. No, they both hold true and yet, they antagonize my zen. Let’s just get a handle on this, Seba.
Thing One: Lightening, water, and all forms of natural energy take the path of least resistance. I will not make qualitative statements about this scientific fact, as this can be “good” or “bad” depending on what you want or need. Thing One works out with a lesson I give about energy being a pure form. Energy is an awesome and simplistic force that will move toward the path of least resistance; one should remember this when crafting and casting. Too many conditions placed upon energy confuses it, locks it up, and altogether fubars your intent in interesting and frustrating ways. Got it.
Thing Two: Not much phenomenal has ever happened in the world of humans by taking the path of least resistance. Sigh. Delightful little revelations, isn’t it? Especially considering the fact that we are forms of energy. Now, even though Thing Two holds up most of the time, it does not preclude adages such as “you get more flies with honey” or “grin and bear it.” Simply put, going with the flow is often the right choice. Even so, I still contend that no one ever ended a war, changed the face of civil rights, saved a culture from colonization, or cured cancer by pretending that Thing One shatters abusive or intolerable power structures. Nope. Thing Two is altogether a different animal than Thing One. They can’t even wear the same shoes. (Although I cannot imagine that the latter needs them.) Sigh again.
Now, I have seen in my forty-plus years folks in the Craft and outside of it confuse Thing One and Thing Two. Perhaps a student was grappling with a simple, clean and direct energy, but assumed the need for an elaborately designed spell. I have known alpha humans who have spent lifetimes clawing and fighting to become humbled at the possibility that they could just let something be in order for the right and just thing to emerge. Neither of these situations assuages that nagging voice in the back of my psyche. No, something is still missing because: if energy is a clean, simple, pure force that takes the path of least resistance, and humans hold energy, why then must we reverse the equation to enact true change in the world? Sigh. Sigh.
It does not escape my attention that I am grasping at both Things here in this diatribe. The irony is sweet. I am making a mess out of my own energy.
A few years ago, Taylor Ellwood wrote on the subject in her article “Taking the Path of the Least Resistance in Magic”:
Magic is often treated as a quick way to deal with a situation, but rarely is it examined as a process for focused change. Used mindfully, with awareness of intent and impact, one can steer the direction of one’s life towards the path of least resistance.
Now we have a bubbly cauldron, folks. If we are complicated, anxious, intelligent crafters/witches/sorcerers/magicians, and we are, then we must carve a path in which we might better travel. In other words, we enact Thing Two in order to live Thing One. Ah. It’s a witches Matrix moment. This is more in line with my own Celt/Cherokee path, one that insists on a nod to the natural, sacred order of things but recognizes that the Natural already had a plan. Therefore, energy already had a Thing Two plan, if you will, so that it could be Thing One. Hmmmm.
The real DUH moment here? There was a force, graceful and unapologetic, behind Thing One energy. Once upon a time, there was a universal push toward a simple, sacred path that named itself in the likeness of its maker: energy. This is the place that I usually mind-bend, but here’s the crux: Thing Two is really the first thing. Thing One is the force that proves it was here. Thing One can create Thing Two right back. We are neither and we are both. (Chicken or the egg, anyone?)
As always, I am drawn to pop culture in my “aha!” moments like a chef is drawn to a nice truffle finishing oil over well-roasted potatoes. This time, U2 will have to do:
If you wanna kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel. On your knees boy.
As much as I would like to end this diatribe cleanly, I refuse. If I am going to teach my students that everything has its moment, and I do, then I will not sand the edges of this puzzle. I’m not certain that I even must. The truth? That depends on the situation. You could find me outside among the crickets and the pepper plants, cross-legged on an old blanket right after dusk in total, Thing One meditation. Give me a minute, and you might find me in the same spot pulling up vivacious weeds like a righteous Thing Two. Both are me.
I suppose I have some work to do, yet. My path is wiley, despite my sickle. Perhaps I need to manifest a nice, energetic goat.
 I hold a doctorate in English, therefore I am licensed to make up words at the drop of a hat.
 Fubar: a term from the Eighties that encapsulates the cluster fuck of intent. Although the military had its own use for the term before this time, I refer specifically to the translation “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition” so elegantly coined in Die Hard. Also an amazing tool found on Amazon.com.
 See footnote 2.
 http://sittingnow.co.uk/2008/10/05/guest-feature-taking-the-path-of-least-resistance-in-magic-taylor-ellwood/. First published Oct. 5th, 2008.
 See footnote 1.
 U2, “Mysterious Ways,” Achtung Baby, Island Records: 1991.