When I was young I was a dancer.  One of the several forms I studied was Tahitian.  I donned a grass skirt, coconut bra, and just in case there was someone who couldn’t see me, a tall straw headpiece adorned with feathers and shells.  Just the ensemble for young girls with constantly fluctuating body weight, size, and self-confidence.  Yes, I still dress like this on a regular basis today.

During one particular performance it was just me and one other girl.  I should have seen the train coming when someone nonchalantly told the headlining talent, a Chinese vocalist showcasing her heavenly voice at a small community theatre in Pinole, CA  who unfortunately had no pre-knowledge of American idioms, to break a leg.  She thought this person was insulting her and spent quite some time crying hysterically in her dressing room.

When my fellow dancer and I took the stage we had only slight recognition of what we were suppose to be doing.  As the drums started we watched each other in our peripheral vision for clues to the next move.  All was well, albeit slightly awkward, until the only other person with me on the stage lost her skirt.  As she grabbed it and ran from the stage in horrified tears I was left alone with no clue what to do next.  All knowledge of how to move, let alone dance, fled from my mind as quickly as she had fled from my side, and I found myself stiff as a statue in the middle of the stage, the cassette recorded drums still pounding away eerily to a stage holding nothing but a frozen ten-year old and a politely quiet audience.  A second later I, too, ran from the stage, certain my life was over.  I would surely be hung and quartered for my offense.  In the end my father, who had never seen me Tahitian dance before and felt terrible for the crying pile of a daughter he finally found in a dressing room that felt a mile’s run from the doomed stage, took me to get ice cream and assured me no one would ever remember that day.  Well, I did.

Fast forward to 2010.  Around Imbolc I had expressed an interest in casting the circle for Ostara.  Having never done this for an even for my coven, and knowing it to be a pre-requisite for putting in my letter of intent to start my first degree work, I thought it would be perfect for the second anniversary of my first ever Assembly event.  Unfortunately, no one ever confirmed my role and, frankly, I forgot I had even offered.  In my defense, when I asked later what roles needed to be filled so Hubby and I could volunteer for something no one reminded me of my previous interest.  Thanks for the heads up guys!

The night before the ritual I had a dream in which I was thrust into the role of cast and call and had to improvise the entire thing.  I should have known then that this would be my role in the actual ritual, but I was sleepy and not quite as observant as I should have been.  As I gathered our tools and ritual robes I considered packing my wand, which is unusual for me as I have nowhere to hold it during ritual and would not consider taking it unless I was circle casting.  Again I was not quite as aware of the signals as I should have been.

Five minute before we left for Philly I checked my email to see that someone had remembered my past expression of interest and seen to it that it be my role for Ostara.  Now, any one who knows me for more than a day knows how much I like time to prepare myself and my words or actions before I do anything important, especially with an audience.  I am not the best improviser either, so this was really dragging me out of my comfort zone and putting me on the spot.

The entire drive I obsessed over not being prepared and tried to gather my thoughts and remember my correspondences to the best of my ability.  Hubby, bless his heart, tried to quell my nervousness with conversation about his latest project, but it only caused more panic.  I could feel my focus unraveling like an improperly tied corset.  At any minute I was going to lose the ability to contain any composure I had left.

When we arrived in Philly I did my best to feign confidence even though I was sure I would be kicked out of the club if I failed.  Hadn’t my high priest said they wouldn’t let us cast in a ritual until we had first done it informally for one of them?  Obviously I was going against some rule of conduct by just jumping into an unguided casting!  I forced myself to quiet the urges to take the easy way out by telling someone how I’d foolishly forgotten my previous offer and that I was shamefully unprepared.  I knew I would not get out of such a thing by just asking to be set free.

Like the stubborn one that I am, I refused to quit.  I was sure I was shaking severely enough to knock down the joined circle of people like a set of dominoes, but I cast an acceptable circle without incorrectly naming any directions or finding myself speechless or bawling.  I didn’t run or commit any serious faux pas, and I managed to repeat the performance to open the circle at the end of the ritual.

It is times like my cast and call that force us beyond our comfort zones.  Too often we confuse stagnation for mastery, never pushing ourselves to grow or learn.  Mistakes are the best teachers in the world, and there is no greater power or confidence than that which comes from achieving something one knows will be difficult.  There is no value in doing something one has been doing on the same level for years.  This only leads to false confidence and pretension, and I have been guilty of this in the past.  Taking this step opened my eyes to a world of places in which I have allowed myself to be complacent.  I realize now how unhappy I am with this lack of progress, and I am renewed in my desire to grow and learn as a witch and in other areas of my life.  I now feel I am truly ready to step forward and claim the potential I possess.  Comfort zones are no longer acceptable, for they no longer serve a purpose in my life.

Go now, do something that terrifies you.