As I mentioned in my holy crap, everyone is LOOKING AT ME post: It is up to you to walk it where your gods lead you, to stay honest and true to the path they’re sharing with you, to know yourself, to trust in your relationship with them. I continued to say that, it’s up to them (and you, and for me this means it’s mostly up to them) when, where, and how to push. Pushing, like everything else in the path, is going to look different for everyone, and no one not walking the path can really truly know what is pushing one’s comfort zone and what is not. My example is always: leaving my house is pushing my comfort zone. The fact that I open the door and leave every day does not ever make it easy. Having a job, in which I interact with different people five to six days a week pushes my comfort zone — the panic is almost always keyed up and ready to fly — and it never gets *easy*. (and is, in fact, part of why I do leave the house every day, why I do have a job in the public sector: to keep leaving the house be possible, despite the discomfort. It only gets worse if I don’t go outside that door.)
But that’s not the only way in which I need to push myself, and since I’ve got the subject on the brain, I figured I’d share. What else does pushing myself look like?
I’ve lamented here before about how non-observant I’ve become since the move. There are a number of contributing factors that I can point to, and they are all of them valid. Losing family members during the move, plus the stress of moving. Down time to recover from said stress and wanting to get depression under control. A new found freedom in not living quite as hand-to-mouth as we had been since moving to Oregon. My injury. Corbie’s injury (the copy-cat!) Sassy’s death. My grandfather’s illness and death, work and family drama . . . but all that? That’s life, that’s living, that exactly what I don’t want to come in between me and connecting with my gods and spirits. I want to embrace all these things, I want them to be interconnected, I want to bring the sacred into the mundane, and for a while, even for a long while, I was doing that. And then, I stopped.
Part of the problem has always been, ever since Beth and I began living together, a conflict between our approaches to ritual and festivals. Except for when Yule rolls around, my approach in incredibly informal when dealing with “immediate Family”. When it’s just me, this isn’t a problem. Light candle. Sit or stand. Present offerings. Turn inward and commune, all without speaking. When it involves more than just Beth and I, I’m able to be more external with my worship — you have to be, in a group setting, and I’ve had no problem with that. When it’s Beth and I? Beth and I is, in my head, the same as just me, and so we’ve struggled. Before we even left Philly we’d resorted to doing our own things mostly separately, and at the time that worked, but it’s stopped working. Neither of us are happy with it and so, beginning last night, we’ve begun to change that.
Speaking with various people about monthly-or-more observed festivals (specifically Hecate’s deipnon and, oddly, the Jewish erev shabbos) lately, I realized that I want something that’s every month. Specifically, erev shabbos has moved me. It’s a beautiful ritual, the coming together of family, a ritualized dinner, a sharing of life.
Except, you know. We’re not Jewish. But, taking a page from Odin’s book, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other people and their practices (see?) and, after talking it over, Beth and I decided that we wanted something similar. So, last night, we had our first Full Moon festival, with a simply (and deliciously — Beth, you rock!) cooked dinner, flowers, the setting up of our ‘hearth shrine’ — something we had in our older places that didn’t quite ever get established in our newest apartment, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until it was up again), and then, dinner spent centered around that space, talking, laughing, sharing our night somewhat formally with our gods and spirits. We have plans of making it more formal, even, or at least, having more ritual involved, but we started simply so as to not make the task daunting. Over-planning can be as bad as under-planning.
It may sound silly, yes? Obvious, even. But, in this, I pushed myself. We had a formal meal blessing. I got home from work, showered, and even got prettied-up — including a new headscarf! I think it’s been over a year since I bought a new one. I am a notoriously bad influence on Beth, in this regard. If I’m staying home and having a festival or small ritual for Poseidon, I rarely “dress up”. It’s just me! It’s just him! And — here’s a good example of pushing even if they aren’t insisting that you do — he certainly doesn’t seem to mind. My clothes are clean, I’m clean, my headspace is in the right place, and I’m there. We commune, we connect, it’s all good. Beth has picked this habit up from me, and she’s suffered for it; she needs more than just that.
Last night, instead of getting into clean “around the house” clothes (which are, by their nature, comfortable and, yes, a tad shabby, or, well loved) I dressed as though we were going out. It helped me into a more formal mindspace, and I approached the shrine in that space, and it’s uncomfortable, incredibly uncomfortable for me. That’s why my default is to not do it. (In the past, I would have swung all the way over into, “He responded favorably, he obviously prefers this, this isn’t who I am, he obviously doesn’t want *me*” which may be why I’m reluctant to do so. A history of ingrained wrong-thoughts, there.) But, I did do it, and it was uncomfortable and hard . . . and extremely rewarding. And, also, something that many of you are likely saying, “What is so surprising about that? What is so hard about putting on going-out-of-the-house-for-ritual clothing? Isn’t it obvious? Where’s the pushing in that? That’s not pushing, that’s just obvious!” And that’s my point, that’s why “It is up to you to walk it where your gods lead you, to stay honest and true to the path they’re sharing with you, to know yourself, to trust in your relationship with them,” is so important and needs to be stressed. It’s your path. It’s my path. It’s our paths we’re walking with our gods and spirits, and only by knowing ourselves, and them, can we walk our paths fully.
(pictures and some details of festival forth-coming)