Since its inception eight years ago my coven’s Mabon ritual has gained a reputation for being particularly poignant to most in attendance.  The ritual includes a guided meditation to the underworld for an audience with Hades and Demeter, essentially taking over the role of Persephone.  Sunday marked my second season participating in this ritual, and it had no less of an impact on me as last year’s audience.  Last year spoke of choices, some I  have made and some I that have yet to present themselves but are nonetheless imminent.  This year Demeter blessed me with courage and told me to weed out those things that no longer serve to my benefit as a follow up to her advice last year to plant my seeds.  This courage came after hades assured me that I am strong enough to weather the difficult path I have chosen, as it was my choice, as long as I tread wisely and without fear.  Hades called me a Warrior.

In my high school sophomore english class we read and discussed The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston.  At the time I was already on a slightly prematurely rocky road, and i was just starting to understand what it meant to not just survive, but to live life despite turmoil.  Still, I had not yet fully come to understand just what it means to be a Warrior.

When Hubby asked me to marry him he told me I was the woman he had always been looking for to walk beside him, fight along with him, and lead in his stead.  In the last year this bond has been significantly and repeatedly tested.  We have experienced loss, illness, financial troubles, and unemployment, but we have persevered.  Those struggles are not yet over, and we continue to do our best not to let these things affect our relationship.  Sometimes, however, the roadblock is our relationship itself.  This is when fighting for the good of our household becomes difficult.

Any strong woman can push through personal hardship, and I have.  My survival story started young.  At five years old I took full ownership of my parents’ faltering marriage and stared into the night’s oncoming headlights considering walking straight into them like an insect on the highway.  From there I learned to suppress things children aren’t supposed to know, hear, or feel.  I pushed from my memory the “tickle game” played by my mom’s one boyfriend and the “intimidation” and “which drug dealer is calling to threaten all our lives now” games played with subsequent men in her life.  My mom’s sickness and death, as well as my own inner struggles, gave me constant occasion to revisit the thoughts I’d had of “joining the night” years before.  I tried several times, lost myself several more, and eventually tried running away from it all.  Half grown but still scared, I was a survivor still fighting for her life against her life.
Like most things in this world, you can never leave the past behind, but you can use it to strengthen yourself for future blows.  In Philadelphia I’ve found myself up against hurdles I never imagined I could clear, but none I let defeat me completely.  I’ve kept my soul in the wakes of death, loss, intrusion, emotional and physical abuse, sexual assault, sickness, grief, and a storm that still rages inside me at times.  There were times I just wanted to stop fighting it and let life take its course and swallow me, and there were times I gave up and it almost did.

All these things were easy in comparison to fighting for our good when it may mean giving up a piece of myself, but a good Warrior knows there are times when the only course of action is to fall.  Sometimes our benefit lies in me accepting ideas or options I cannot fathom living with or welcoming into my home.  Sometimes what is best for us hurts me or comes as a detriment to my goals.

I continue to meditate on what it really means, at this juncture in my life, to be a true Warrior.  Do I know when to make peace and when to fight for what I need?  Do I know how to mediate?  Do I know how to heal?  Do I know how to preserve myself while striving to help others?  Do I know how to recognize the honour and worth in myself?  What else is there for me to discover about myself before I can call myself a Warrior, and at what cost will I gain the knowledge I need to continue my path?

I leave you with this, dear readers.  Look deep inside yourself and find and redefine the Warrior within you.