Friday, February 27, 2015

The Spirituality of #TheDress

I turned on social media this morning to find that the world had collectively lost its mind over whether or not the dress in some viral photo was #WhiteandGold or #BlackandBlue. Combing through Facebook and Twitter, it seemed as though this debate was engendering some rather...passionate responses.

Some people were posting the typical "WHO THE F*CK CARES?!" comments. Others were trying to get us to focus on the fact that "OMG REAL NEWS IS HAPPENING!!! WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT A DRESS?!". Still more people had already created parody memes on the topic.

Of course, there was my favorite post so far from someone in the Rioter community. I must say, I feel it is the most balanced and rational response anytime something like viral mass hysteria occurs:


For the record, I am team #WhiteandGold.



The reason I'm posting about this today and breaking my months long blog absence (my apologies) is because this...umm..."controversy" gave me one of the biggest personal Aha! Moments since I began the Riot. Why? Because the dress is actually #BlackandBlue.

See?


But thanks to an optical illusion, it looks - to many people - to be white and gold. In the photo above, it appears to be so convincingly White and Gold that many people are having a very tough time accepting that it could be any other color, even when it is empirically proven to be so.

I've spent most of my time here on the Riot taking an idea from the spiritual community and attempting to use empirical research, logic, and a fresh perspective to question whether or not our beliefs are valid. Or, perhaps not valid, but whether or not we've thought them through. Whether we've done all the work and not just taken the belief for face value from the latest offering from the pagan publishing world.

But, here, in this dress and this picture, a truth has been exposed. Experience is a convincing thing. When I look at the photo, I think I can trust my eyes. I think I can know that what I'm seeing as a white and gold dress is, indeed, a white and gold dress. Who wouldn't think that?

The problem, however, goes further. I can then research the dress. I can find out that...no...it's not white. It's blue. A deep, royal blue. That's when my brain begins to do weird things. How does royal blue look white? Why does it look white? And still, no matter how many times I look at the original picture, I cannot make it look black or blue or anything other than white and gold.

I experience that object in that photo as a white and gold dress.

Turning things to the spiritual for a moment, we are an experiential spiritual path. It's difficult to build our relationships with the Divine or our trust in our Craft by reading a book or saying the "right" words. We must Do the Stuff. We must set the scene, light the incense, ring the bells, chant the mantras, dance the wild footwork, and go deeper within and without.

It is in those spaces that we experience the strange, the impractical, the illogical; the unbelievable. It is in that safe sacred space that we come up with images perverse or surreal or otherwise personally impactful.

And when we admit these experiences to others, it is difficult to hear how they simply couldn't have occurred. How they fly in the face of logic or otherwise are scientifically, historically, or situationally impossible. Because in that space, in that time, and in that moment...it was real. It was white and gold. And you can go back and set it up again...and it still looks white and gold. That is a powerful thing.

Does this mean we are deluding ourselves into accepting a lie as truth? Does this mean that we are rationally accepting the irrational? Probably. But does it mean it is any less real to us in that moment? Not at all.

A small caveat:

If you are sharing your experience, please be as honest as possible. We are happy to hear how you communed with the nature spirits, but your tales of physically defying gravity are difficult to swallow without context.

I'll continue to mull this over, but I guess I have to be grateful to the social media hive mind for allowing me this moment to pause and reconsider where I stand on the power of experience-as-spiritual-proof.

Because, fuck me if that dress isn't white and gold.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

2 comments:

  1. This is one of the best ways I have seen of addressing things that sound wacky to others. My conversion to the path is one that I don't tell many people, because even as I go over it in my head, it sounds bat-sh*t crazy, like lock-me-up kind of crazy - because visions don't happen to normal people, right?. Yet it was my experience, and there is no way I can talk myself out of it. (I've tried, believe me).

    And I see the dress as both sets of colors. Weird.

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