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Admittedly this post is long past due.  Admittedly this lesson is one I should have learned long ago.  Admittedly this is something I should have foreseen.  Admittedly, there’s still a lot I don’t know.

The window between Mabon and Samhain is always a trial for me.  It’s full of landmines…anniversaries of loss and old wounds, PTSD triggers, and every year there’s something new, but every year I come out of it renewed somehow.

I’ve written twice now about the reality of healing and my experience post-Good Girl.  Every single thing I’ve experienced in the year since the show has been a first-time experience, and not all of it has been a smooth transition.  The area I’ve struggled the most has been relationships.  My marriage is improving, but there are bumps in that road as I learn how to speak up for myself.  I got engaged in April to my partner in California, and forging a new serious commitment has shown me how much the past ten years have changed me.  It’s all helped me find pieces of myself I’d forgotten were ever important, but it’s also shown me where the wounds I started healing in 2015 were holding me back from being wholly present in any relationship.

Then there was this new relationship.  It was unexpected, intense, and an all together new experience for me.  Then I botched it.  Oops.  Admittedly there was some hardwiring that needed to be reworked before I tried to start any kind of relationship, especially one I wanted around for a while, but I didn’t know that.  I knew I’d healed a lot.  I knew I was still working on things.  I knew there was no precedent for this in my life, because I had never been this version of myself in a relationship before.  The problem was…I didn’t know how to be that person in a relationship, so I undulated constantly between a healing me and worrying about whether of not I was doing it right.  In addition, I was just starting the long process of getting the medication I needed, and knowing help for my chemical issues was coming but delayed just made all my issues worse.  Neither of us was perfect, but I will accept the parts of the perfect storm that were my fault in tainting what was a strong, healthy, happy relationship.  Lo and behold, just after Mabon we have the fight that precipitates the end, and I spend a chunk of my time trying to sort it all out.  By the end of the first round of serious journeys I realized this was just a symptom of a bigger problem, but it was a tangible one, so I could focus on it.

With this new information, a new series of introspection began.  What was this bigger problem?

As Samhain approached and I began to make my connections to those who had passed in the last year, then those who had passed from my life, the messages I got were clear.  I needed to die.  I’ve spent my entire life fielding suicide attempts and health crises.  I’ve burnt myself to the ground and rebuilt my life numerous times.  I’ve felt dead inside on a regular basis for years.  What I’ve never done is actually die.  What I’ve never done is shed the part of me that cannot be healed.

When Allen Ginsberg first met Lucien Carr and began to really discover himself they decided they needed to die, but their symbolic suicides almost ended in accidental actual suicide, and I was not ready to take that kind of clutz awareness test.  However, part of my spiritual growth this year has involved impromptu rituals and journeys.  It wasn’t pretty or elaborate.  It honestly started with a candle to make the bedroom smell pretty while I started my NaNoWriMo outline, but I quickly found myself immersed in a working to sacrifice myself completely.  You see, when I began to heal I also began to die, an aspect of me anyway, and she was still in there dragging me to the bottom.  In this vision I found myself dredging her up, drowning with her, and emerging as the person I’ve felt calling to me for almost a year.

This new me is still scared sometimes.  She still hurts.  She still bleeds.  She still loves unconditionally and wants to believe the best.  She still tries, takes risks, and she will still fail at things, but this new me is tired of dying slowly.  The worst has happened.  I’ve died, and I’ve survived it.  While I don’t know that this relationship can be salvaged, I do know it’s taught me a very important lesson about myself and several about other people, and it’s been the source of invaluable memories and love.  Does it still hurt if it’s completely over?  That’s human, and I accept that I am human, but I also accept that the world is full of possibility, and I’m tired of being afraid of it.

 

Aloha.

Go now, die and survive it.

My former coven used to do a Yule ritual that involved keening.  It was extremely powerful and emotionally intimate.  We are at our most vulnerable and unhidden when we are keening, because once it starts it’s uncontrollable.  As soon as one deeply buried emotion makes its way to the surface to be released there is no way of knowing what will follow it.  Unresolved, unhelpful, and unhealthy thoughts and feelings tend to travel in flocks, and there is no way to sugar coat or disguise them in front of others when they’re pouring from us in waves.  We are raw.  We are authentic.  We are healing in one of the most violent and explicit ways possible.

So yes, this is much more of a Yule lesson for cleansing and renewal than it is a Samhain lesson, but after years of repeating this ritual at Yule I felt it begin to build as the veils thinned and the dark half of the Wheel of the Year began its final turn.  It seems that around this time of year many lives change in very eruptive ways, and by the time the light returns at Yule we either release the residue from this change or find it very hard to feel the sun.

I’ve chosen to write this now because I’ve noticed an unusual density around me.  Several people in my life are experiencing this painful change all at once, including myself.  Some of us are coming through it embracing new opportunities, and some of us have simply stopped trying to move forward.  I fall somewhere in the middle, but deep inside I know I can’t just stop where I am and give up.

Here is a very short meditation for your consideration as it came to me in this time of change:

You’re on a path that you believe is The path.  It’s been the only path you’ve followed and believed could lead you to fulfillment.  Maybe for months, maybe for years, or maybe for your entire life you have struggled with the obstacles and setbacks that come with any journey.  Then one day the path ends with no divergent path and no way to go back.  Everything you’ve invested, all the time and energy you’ve spent, and all the sacrifices you’ve made on this path are gone.  The only way to go is forward, and in front of you is a cliff into a dark abyss.  Your only choices are to sit and stop moving forward or jump and have faith that you will survive the fall.  You may fall to a new path, or you may have to seek one out once you’ve landed and put yourself back together. 

Your decision in this case is not for me to judge or push one way or another.  In some cases you may be perfectly content to climb a tree and make a life here at the end of this path.  You may not feel like the risk of facing another cliff is worth seeking a new path.  You may also get to the tree, sit there for a while, and decide you have to move forward to feel like the path you were on wasn’t for nothing.  I wish I could say the risk was always worth the fall, but that’s for you to decide.

For me the fall isn’t what scares me, it’s the possibility of not finding a new path at all.  My choice to move on was made because I have a lot of journey left before me.  There is no way of knowing what will come next, but I want to see what could come next.  The only way for me to do that is to shed the excess weight and grime left behind by the obstacles of a path that just…ended.  I don’t want to sit in a tree with only my emotional baggage for company.  I don’t want to spent my entire life resenting the cliff.  I want to be rid of the hurt and blame that I have collected on this dead-end path.  I want to feel my mortality and know what it feels like to come out of it alive.  I want to be able to know that the abyss did not claim me.

So, the keening.  It took me a long time to be able to let go enough to actually let it all go.  In order for it to be keening, rather than your run of the mill wailing and carrying on in front of a bonfire in the cold in the middle of the night, you must be willing and able to let it all go.  It was a fall that taught me how, a fall that taught me to stop holding on to old pain for fear of what future pain might entail.  My lesson?  Don’t fear the fall because of what you might lose on the way down.  Embrace it.  Sometimes you need the fall to be able to walk away from a path that is obviously no longer leading you anywhere.  Sometimes you need the fall to find the path in the abyss.  Sometimes you need the fall to keen and release all the things that are holding you back.  Go ahead.  Fall, scream, cry, face your demons, and let it all go.  Then find the path that gives you a new purpose, or even just a new way to get to your original purpose.

Cliff house Giant Camera

 

Aloha

Go now, fall or stand still.

It’s that time of year again.  Well, it’s several “that time of year”s again, but I mean one in particular.  As witches, it is our 15 minutes of fame.  Suddenly, we’re everywhere.  We’re in movies, cartoons, the costume aisle at Target (what exactly is a Future Witch anyway?), and all sorts of mass media.  The History Channel starts running documentaries about everything from  the Salem Witch Trials to the rituals of the Knights Templar.  For a couple of weeks no one has any problems with us.  Now, I realize that’s a grave simplification, and there are still people who make their displeasure with the pagan community known, but for a short time every year we are a flamboyant commercial cliché.  In a few months we will see the same thing as Christians everywhere fight their own “Jesus is the reason for the season” battle, even going as far as the ever more popular image of Santa bowing over the baby in the manger.  This image alone is why I write on this particular topic, because it illustrated something poignant about holidays, the innate fact that they are both sacred and secular in nature does not have to be a negative thing.

There seems to be a belief that Jesus Christmas and Santa Christmas cannot coexist.  I believe that they can, and do, as two separate  pieces of a celebration.  In some ways the two have become two unique holidays, as some people celebrate one but not the other.  I don’t believe it is disrespectful, and I don’t ever believe a day that brings people together in a spirit of joy and hope is wrong.  Pagans have been doing it since before it was Christmas, calling it Yule, and we didn’t complain when new holidays with suspicious similarities started cropping up.

All snark aside, there is nothing wrong with secular celebration.  As little witches our kids learn to honor their ancestors on Samhain.  In time, they will learn the Wheel of the Year and what the sabbats mean.  They learn Samhain traditions and correspondences in the same way we know and celebrate them.  They learn to respect and revere the holiday as something sacred.  They also get to dress up in the costumes of their choice, go trick-or-treating, carve pumpkins, and all the other fun stuff that Halloween brings.  In that same vein, Santa will visit our house on Christmas, but we will have had our Yule fire.

It is also important to note that when the kids are older they will also know the history of the traditions for both sacred and secular holidays, as one is just as important as the other.  We must know about our history and how our cultures have evolved over time.  We must know how people of the past have celebrated and why to really appreciate the seasons now.  Yes, we add our modern touches, which are also important, as holidays must grow and evolve with us, but nothing can grow without roots.

There is nothing that says that celebrating a secular holiday takes anything away from the sacred holiday that generally accompanies it.  We are complex and beautiful creatures, and it is that multi-dimensional capacity that makes us unique.  While the sacred days bring us together in the spirit of faith, the secular days bring us together in the spirit of community no matter what our beliefs are.  The more fundamental reason for the season is joining in celebration, no matter what you call it.

So, yes, this weekend I will be partying in costume, handing out candy dressed as the most cliché witch I can muster (don’t judge me, the costumes are all in storage), and honouring my ancestors in both private and group ritual.  I will watch the same rerun documentaries on the history channel, and I will giggle every time they use the same outdated clip of some Samhain ritual from the 70s.  I will meet with friends and family of all beliefs and traditions, and we will find a few moments of joy and laughter in a time when there is so much negativity and uncertainty flowing about us.  This, my friends, is the reason for the season.  Well…this and giant bags of candy.

Go now….smell my feet, give me something good to eat…

Aloha

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