Attempting to Cultivate Heroic Virtues

So I’ve been reading Brendan Myers’ The Other Side of Virtue, which is about “heroic virtues” and how various pre-Christian, European cultures (that we have anything like information from, so looking at things like The Oddysey, Beowulf, the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the Norse Eddas and Sagas, and the Mabinogion for clues) answered the question of “How shall I be a good and righteous person?”

At the same time, I picked up a copy (from the library) of Restoring the Kinship Worldview: Indigenous Voices Introduce 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Planet Earth which includes a list – with each pair presented as the opposite ends of a spectrum – of elements that make up, respectively, a “colonizer world view” and an “indigenous worldview”.

Now, I think the main thing you need to have a colonizing worldview is an astronomical sense of entitlement and presumption that your way is the Best Way.

You can be a polytheist, animist, ancestor-venerating society that recognizes gods as being of specific places, landmarks, wheelhouses, etc and see it as completely sensible that the people whose lands and lives you take over would continue to worship their own gods and ancestors (as long as they also worshiped at least one or two of yours, and paid their taxes)… and still be a greedy, colonizing bastard of an empire who thinks Rome (or the Forbidden City, or Tenochtitlan, or Mongolia, or Ur, or or or) brings order to a chaotic and barbaric world and obviously everyone is better off when Rome (etc) is well off thanks to having access to everybody else’s stuff.

You can be a violent, enslaving, traumatizing civilization, full of people who think they’re the best of everybody, and still have those various Best Of Everybodies not be interested in ruling more than their ancestral territory to which they owe honour, allegiance, and deep respect because obviously.

(Yes, I’ve been watching Britannia, how did you know?)

But I think it’s really interesting to see how many of Myers’ suggested Heroic Virtues are reflected in that list elements of Indigenous Worldviews.

Which: I mean, it kind of stands to reason. The Hellenic and Roman empires notwithstanding, most of the people living in Heroic Age Europe were living in (relatively) small territories based broadly on kinship and peppered with non-human and/or formerly-human intelligences who definitely had Views about what happened in their space and/or to their bodies, and/or how their still-human relatives conducted themselves.

You opened your home to the stranger who came knocking for all the reasons you’d do it everywhere else, e.g.: (1) It’s polite, (2) travel is time-consuming and tiring and it’s better for everybody if nobody has to hump 100% of their own food and water all the way to wherever they’re going, (3) it might be YOU traveling next time and needing a bed and a meal from a stranger, (4) it keeps (or at least helps keep) relations with the neighbours manageable and friendly, and (5) it keeps (or at least helps keep) relations with The Neighbours manageable and friendly, too, because nobody wants to piss off a deity just because they happened to look a little shabby when they hit you up for a bowl of soup and a spot by the fire.

You treated the forest/field/waters with respect because (1) It’s polite, (2) extensive trade routes notwithstanding, there’s still not the kind of massive supply chain that can get your particular kin group out of a jam in the entire bioregion’s been hit by a drought or a flood, and (3) see above re: a landscape where everything is sentient and, understandably, has opinions and expectations about how they get treated by and with.

So, no, it’s not a shock that my pre-christian iron age ancestors in Hen Ogled (Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway) likely[1] had a worldview that overlapped considerably with those of other animists[2] the world over.

Right. So where does that leave me?

The other day I reread what I wrote around (g)Lammas – about how, if my goal is to have a house that I own, there are steps I need to take to get there – and, while a lot of those things have to do with getting enough extra income to put substantial money aside to save up a down payment[3], while downsizing enough Stuff to fit us into a slightly smaller space… Some of them don’t. Some of them are things like “Be respectful of the house you have now” by doing things like vacuuming regularly, feeding the garden, limiting the amount of objects in your house to those that you relate to rather than neglect… stuff like that, and: “If you want a crowded table, get comfortable with having one”.

Case in point: Yesterday, we got a short-notice message that a friend of my wife’s was dropping by and – surprise! – had his wife and son in tow. At dinner time.

We ended up not hosting them – they’d picked up drive-through on the way here, and were stopping by because he needed to pick something up from my wife – but I spent a slightly frantic half-hour quick-tidying the front room, and cooking enough food for five adults anyway. All the while repeating “Hospitality Is A Virtue” through gritted teeth and being thankful that what I’d planned for our own meal was something that could scale up easily.

Gracious?

Not exactly.

But can I start aiming to do this with grace?

Yeah. Yeah, I can.

I can make the effort (and, however gross this is, it is an effort) to keep the inside of my head from becoming a seething rage pit every time a friend who owns their own house outright and, in one case, inherited it already-paid-off, complains about how hard their life is and how tight money is… if only because some of those same people are probably grinding their teeth when I complain about how tight money is while only working 23 hours/week, eating fancy cheese, and shelling out for plane tickets twice a year.

I can make the effort to replace the assumption that people only call me when they want free services with, maybe, an assumption that people actually like me and, if ever I was in need, they would show up and help me out. (That one is really hard, btw. It’s one of those Core Horrible Stories that has lived in my head since I was nine or ten, and that always comes back and rears its ugly head again).

I can make the effort to not resent my neighbours who need help with their garbage every week and who get antsy about having their car brushed off an hour+ before they’ve said they need it ready to go, and who are, frankly, the powerless people in this situation and who are getting antsy probably because they’re afraid of being forgotten and stuck. Which: fair. That same fear – of being forgotten when I need help – is why I’m so pre-emptively resentful about Helping People in the first place.

Which: How telling is that last bit?

It’s always easier to be patient when you have all the time in the world.

It’s always easier to be generous when you have plenty to share.

But I can try not to default to being an asshole about it when I don’t have those things. I can be a more gracious and generous host. I can be a more dutiful and respectful animist.

Take care,

Ms Syren.

[1] Based on stories – and some histories – from 1000-2000 years ago and what they tell us about expectations around social behaviour and what was appropriate for Good People to do.

[2] Per Graham Harvey’s definition, rather than that of, like, 1800s Christian-supremacists.

[3] Which I’m… sort of doing already. To the tune of may be $500/year, so it’s going to be A While. But still. Doing.

Apple Moon Crests and Wanes – Autumn Equinox and Thanksgiving

A close-up of a whole apple pie (no top crust) overlayed with the following:
In the bottom right corner is a line drawing of a slice of pie with a lattice top crust, on a plate.
Across the top of the image are the words "Autumn Equinox: Happy Harvest Home" in cursive script.
Both the drawing and the words are in dark brown "ink".

So, I was bopping around Patheos, as you do when you’re a Pagan of a Certain Age who still loves long-form blogging, and I came across this article which, among other things, said “cultivate joy”. Now I’m not Lokian, I’m not Norse reconstructionist or any particular subsection of Heathen.

And: I still appreciated the heads-up, you know?

So here I am asking myself: How can I cultivate joy?

Why? Because “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. Because my Fetch is a kid who didn’t get a lot of play time and would probably enjoy it. Because it’s good for my brain and refills my creative well. Because joyful experiences shared are points of connection.

So why not?

I pulled three tarot cards from my Wildwood deck to see what they had to say about it, and I got:

The Three of Fire – “Fulfillment”. Adventure, optimism, stepping into the unknown… but doing so from a secure home base (literally and figuratively)

Ten of Air – “Instruction”. Which a lot of interpretations read as this intensely negative thing, but for me has always been a card about leveling up. In the case of the Wildwood deck, it’s particularly about knowledge and passing on skills you’ve mastered (but maybe also getting better at things you’re new at?). It’s a “Next chapter!” kind of card.

AND

Four of Air – “Rest”. To some extent, I think this is “Joy helps alleviate burnout” but also “Introvert time can be an avenue along-which to cultivate joy, too”.

So, what I see here is a lot of “home = sanctuary”, coupled with “try new things – they don’t have to be dramatic to make you happy”.

~*~

I’m still a long way from finishing my novel draft. I’ve got about 2 weeks, or a little more, to write 35,000 words which… we’ll see if I can knock that out. That’s a fair few 6000 word days I’m looking at, but… maybe? Fingers crossed. I’m revisiting the idea of liturgical and devotional poetry. Partly because I read this thing about Pagan Prayer, and partly because it remains something I’d like to do, even if I’m not sure where to start or how to keep things from getting repetitive. I think my Gods might enjoy the work, and I think I would enjoy doing it. So maybe that’s what my November will involve.

I’ve been thinking of the part of prayer that’s Listening, and how incredibly bad I am at it, most of the time. Not just the concrete bunker that is my skull, but also the way my anxiety-brain goes running off madly in all directions, afraid to listen lest I find out that Somebody Is Mad At Me or something… even when I know that isn’t likely.

I have a couple of books – anthologies like Her Words and Return of the Great Goddess – that were published in the 1990s and are mixture of historical devotional prayers/praises (translations of Homer, etc) and contemporary verse that may or may not be explicitly devotional or offered to a specific goddess. But I find them… nice(?) to pull out and read from.

Something someone at a Pride party said to me… more than a year ago now, is that a lot of The Neighbours just want to be noticed and acknowledged. Which leads me to think that maybe, possibly, I could draw on the examples of Mary Oliver and Bliss Carman as much as anyone else’s, and just write what I see and try to open myself to Wonder.

We’ll see where it takes me, I guess.

~*~

We’re well and truly into the Season of the Witch now. Have been for about three weeks, if not a little longer. The mornings are cold, the leaves are turning, it’s getting dark earlier (noticeably, even this soon after the Equinox), and I’m grateful for layered clothes and thick socks, even if I’m still risking wearing sandals when I run up the street (literally – we’re half a block from a grocery store) for emergency brussels sprouts and nutmeg (just me? Okay).

We just celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada – thence, in fact, the emergency brussels sprouts and nutmeg (though my visiting girlfriend was actually the one running that errand). It happens 2-3 weeks after Autumn Equinox (it used to be the first Sunday after the first full moon after Autumn Equinox, but it’s been standardized at some point in the last 15-20 years or so), and I find it a nice way to mark the Second Harvest / Mabon in a way that lets me take advantage of a long weekend (and an anniversary) and invite non-pagan friends and relatives into a Harvest Feast where I say my Thanks during the planning and cooking phases, and just keep the altar lit when everybody’s here.

I have to admit that this kind of thing helps when it comes to getting my butt down to the season stones in a timely (ish) fashion. I didn’t go at Autumn Equinox. But I went to the Autumn Stone over Thanksgiving weekend, brought whiskey and a home-made cranberry-apple-walnut muffin, and gave my thanks for full larder and happy harvest and having my girls around me.

Now my head’s pretty firmly turning towards Samhain – ghost pumpkins and purple autumn asters, rutabaga, jarahdale squash, Russian sage and birch leaves turning to pale gold, turkey heart and liver for solo breakfast on a Monday morning three weeks from now as Ancestor Moon waxes and Scorpio Season takes off. I might try doing a Silent Supper on the night of the 30th – try doing that meditative listening/attentiveness thing again and see what, if anything, happens. Maybe I’ll hear from somebody.

~*~

The cards I pulled for the Full Moon were also from the Wildwood deck and what I picked up were:

The Three of Water (“Joy” but also, typically, my Polyamoury card)

AND

The Ten of Fire (“Responsibility”)

My decks – but particularly the Wildwood deck – tend to run VERY literal. So I’m not surprised to see the Three of Water turning up both (a) when I’ve been thinking about how to cultivate joy, but more-so (b) when my girlfriend just visited for a couple of weeks, and I hosted a Big Traditional Feast with both partners and my local-extended polycule in attendance.

As for the ten of fire though… this is often a card about only taking on what you’re actually responsible for. Questions about “what is your job and what isn’t” and “who you are responsible TO is not the same as what you are responsible FOR” come up, for sure.

But this is also just a card about: “Did you make a commitment? You should make good on that commitment then.” And potentially about choosing your battles – and your tasks – carefully so that you don’t take on too much.

~*~

Movement: Walks in the woods and a small living-room dance party, recently, with my visiting girlfriend. Crescent Moon pose (and some Warrior Two), when I haven’t been doing my nightly yoga.

Attention: Mostly I’ve been paying attention to the temperature and frost warnings. My little Fiona bird is probably mostly de-fleshed at this point and if I want to dig up and preserve her skull, I should probably get on that now-ish.

Gratitude: My girlfriend. My wife. Flirty karaoke shenanigans at the local tiny gay bar. In-person visits. In-person thanksgiving dinner. Leftovers. Extra cash thanks to a surprise work-gig. My relatives being friendly and welcoming to my poly-family. Potlucks. Surprise pears from my neighbour. Multiple people offering me pie! The loan of a really great book in a really great series. Crisp, sunny mornings. My neighbours turning on their furnace so that we can make do without doing so yet. Gifted bamboo cutlery. Garden herbs. Winter squash. The feast and everyone – human and otherwise – who contributed to it. Moonlight. Sunsets. Icecream. Being able to see my breath. Warm shoes. Warm blankets. Fresh sheets. Kisses. Being in love with multiple people and having them like each other and get along. So many things, basically. My heart is full.

Inspiration: Uh… I mean, if you call “reasons teen me was mad at my mom” inspiration… I guess that? Drafting a YA novel is a trip.

Creation: As I said, I’ve been working on An Actual Novel. And also made a giant dinner that worked out really well. But that, and a batch of apple butter, are pretty much the extent of it at the moment. Onwards!

@amazon_syren It’s That Time Of Year. Walking in the woods. We paid our respects to a very old oak tree and also took pictures of these #mushrooms. A+ anniversary. #forestwitch #greenwitch #equinox #polyamory #queerwitch ♬ Season Of The Witch – Lana Del Rey

Book Review: Magic for Troubled Times (Deborah Castellano)

A lit tealight cupped in someone's hands. The image is accompanied by a ball of coarse red yarn, and a pomegranate split into pieces with seeds spilling out.
It’s dangerous to go alone. Here. Take this.

So. Full disclosure. I received an ARC on the expectation that I’d give an honest review of Deborah Castellano’s Magic for Troubled Times, AND I’ve been following Deb’s work for 20 years. She’s the Ms Sugar whose New Year, New You blog challenge of yore continues to be a go-to for me any time I need to kick my own ass. So it’s safe to say I was expecting great things when I opened up my eBook and got reading.

More accurately, what I was expecting was a book-length version of the “failure” chapter in her previous book, Glamour Magic. Something that recognized with warmth and sardonic humour that failure is always an option, and then gave you the kick in the pants you needed to take action rather than wallowing in self pity.

That’s not what this is.

The warmth, the sardonic humour, and the Grind ‘Til You Own It are still there. But the magic presented is shadow work (not as sexy as it sounds) and refuge work. It’s creating your own sanctuary, making allies by showing you’re serious, and spinning the thread that will lead you out of your personal labyrinth.

Magic for Troubled Times is a book to help you find your way through your own personal underworld (and maybe make things a little easier on yourself while you’re stuck there).

Deb shows you how to ground when the ground under your feet is shaking, and how to shield when your rights are under attack, with stops along the way to talk about doing money magic (because so many people’s Troubled Times involve job losses, health crises, and unexpected bills) and literally hexing the patriarchy to create social change at will.

Having done my initial read-through, I’m looking forward to digging more deeply into the rituals and practices she suggests, joining the associated Workbook group, and seeing what magic I can cook up to help improve my general life situation.

I hope you’ll check it out, too.

The cover of Deborah Castellano's book, "Magic for Troubled Times". It includes a fancy china teacup and saucer pattered with lily of the valley, a chocolate chip cookie, a broken open pomegranate, and some shadowy rose-campion flowers in the background. The book is described as "Rituals, Recipes, and Real Talk for Witches".

King of Coins – Week 10: What’s My Motivation

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!

Instructions: “[…]We can sometimes lose motivation due to being afraid of the change that will come with progress on our goals. What are your reasons for working on your goals? What makes you eager to work on them?

Tarot Card: Ten of Stones

I chose this because, yeah, its root meaning is “long term material security” (and because the lack-there-of stresses me out). But also because I’m forty-two, rent in my city has literally doubled in the past five or so years, and I’m scared to death of Never Being Able To Retire. If I have a beyond-this-project long term goal, it’s To Have A Home that my loved ones and I (a) can’t be renovicted out of, and (b) can happily and comfortably share (this may mean multiple small units on a large, super rural property… I don’t know yet).

The Ten of Earth as depicted in the Wildwood Deck: A traditional thatched roundhouse with a huge, mature tree growing through its center can be seen through a stone archway. The card is labeled "Home".

I talked a little in my Week Nine post about how I can’t hit what I don’t acknowledge I’m aiming for, and about how feeling stuck between multiple people’s wants and needs is making it hard for me to really focus on a long term goal. I pulled three oracle cards at High Summer, two days before I interviewed for yet another job for which I was a good fit and super qualified, and three days before I – yet again – didn’t land the job.

What I pulled boiled down to “TRUST US. We have a PLAN. You’ll see where it’s going in a minute, just stay the course and you’ll get there.”

Which: Okay? I guess?

But I’m also over here having exactly the same trouble I have with more mundane, human situations which is: If I don’t know what The Plan is… I will simultaneously freeze right the hell up AND run around in circles like Chicken Little, frantically and ineffectively trying to manage every outcome (mostly by trying to hold still and not get noticed which… doesn’t help thing, I do realize).

I was saying to my friends, over on Ye Olde LJ (DW, but regardless: Yes, really), how landing this job – or any third job that was 100% remote (and therefore 100% portable) and paid the same wage for the same number of hours – would let me start shunting money into a house down-payment fund (which: It wouldn’t be much, relative to local housing prices, even if I worked at it for 10 years. But it would be something) and maybe start throwing cash into an RRSP, too.

I don’t regret leaving my previous third job. It was stressful enough to be messing with my health, and having to negotiate about vacation time (not even vacation pay, just time away) with somebody who didn’t know about, and wouldn’t have approved of, my Family Situation was… not something that I wanted to stay in, either.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m loving having two days per work week where I can spend all day working on a novel (which: I am working on a novel, y’all), along with doing the occasional rack of dishes and running errands without having to fret about how many hours they require me to be away from doing paid work.

But.

But. I sure do miss the extra cash. And I sure did think I’d have found something to mostly, if not entirely, replace that cash source by now.

So I’m feeling a little discouraged.

I think this is one of those situations where I’m thinking about “What can I realistically get” rather than “What do I actually want”. Because what I actually want is for my cost of living (but not my quality of life) to drop substantially, and for my 20-25 hours of already-secured work per week to pay me better so that the money I’m making already will let me secure all the things I want to secure – writing time that doesn’t interfere with family time (much), a house that is ours free-and-clear, a retirement fund, an adventure fund and the free time to put it to use, and being able to pick up whatever we want at the grocery store, and whatever we want (within reason, and potentially with some budgeting, but still) at the department store that is online shopping.

To drag my narrative back to Week Ten’s subject matter… It’s less that I’m afraid of getting what I want, and more afraid of having wanted, and then gotten, the “wrong thing”.

None the less. I’ve said it multiple times before: What keeps me going is success. Every time I write a thousand words, I feel more confident about writing the next thousand words. Having a map for a story helps me get through those chunks and feel like I can keep going.

Every time I get a job interview, I feel a little less stupid for bothering to try, even if every tie I don’t get the latest job I’ve interviewed for… I get discouraged. At least I know I’ve got the experience to get people’s attention. Which is still something.

I’ll need to spend some time looking at want adds tomorrow morning, but right now I’m going to take a couple of hours and work on my next thousand words. I’ll talk more about that when it’s time for me to do the write-up for Week Thirteen: Sacrifice. But for now, I’ve got another scene to write.

~ Cheers,

~ Ms Syren.

King of Coins – Week 9: Reflections at Midsummer

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!

Reflection Instructions: “[…]Reflect on the last nine weeks and talk about what you’ve learned” about yourself, your practice, your project, and where you want to be.

Dark Days Tarot, 7 of Pentacles: A woman with wheat-pale hair, nude but for a long cloak, opens a book to its center. Grain and grasses spill out of the book, along with rose-like flowers with pentacle centers. A waning, balsamic moon hangs in the upper left corner, over the woman's shoulder. The image is grey-scale.
Dark Days Tarot – Seven of Pentacles

Tarot Card: Seven of Earth.

This card feel appropriate for its “pause and reflect” characteristics – I’ve literally heard it described as the “interim report card” of the deck – and also because this Project is based in the suit of Earth. I know this card best as “Patience”, from the Osho Zen deck, where it stands, just before the second “plateau” card of the suit of earth, as a reminder that Things Take Time, and only slightly less well as “Healing” in the Wildwood deck, where it’s a call for rest and pause. It’s a very (g)Lammas card for those reasons. But it’s also a card about sowing and cultivating – as Oliver Pickle writes in She Is Sitting in the Night – and about results that come from labour and putting in the work.

I harvested rhubarb from my garden for the first time since we moved here, three Beltanes ago. It took three years, and annual top-ups with manure and compost-heavy top soil, for the sand-and-gravel of my front yard to become something that will let a deep-rooted plant like rhubarb thrive. My irises bloomed for the first time since we got here, too. The seven sisters roses are more covered in flowers than ever. My recently transplanted raspberries, from a neighbour, are rooting successfully and putting out new growth. It’s so good to see them thriving. Later today, I’ll be making peony soul cakes – for offerings and for a midsummer barbecue we’ve been invited to, down by the river – using petals from the peonies in our yard. All of this is wonderful, but it didn’t happen by accident.

I wanted my garden to thrive, so I put in the work and the time and, frankly, the money, to help it do so.

Which brings me to my reflections about where I’m at with my King of Coins Project goals.

I’ve said this multiple times, over years and years of writing this blog. I can’t effectively aim my Will if I don’t know what I want to hit.

There was a point, back in mid-May, where I talked to my Godself about the things that needed to happen in order for my household to be able to thrive. And very shortly thereafter, things started Coming Up that were pointing me in the direction of what I’d said needed to happen. And yet, at the same time, I started digging my heals in because there’s more than two people worth of needs in my household, and I was feeling noticeably trapped (between sets of wants/needs) and resentful about the extra costs associated with prioritizing one set of needs and wants over all the others.

And, big surprise, I have landed zero of the jobs that flooded my way at that time.

Oof. One of the other things that the Seven of Pentacles relates to is a fear of failure, a fear of making the wrong choice. And I have that fear is spades, let me tell you.

It’s definitely stopping me from “picking a direction” because I don’t want to find out, in the long or short run, that it was the wrong one.

At the same time, the Seven of Pentacles is an opportunity to both (a) celebrate your achievements, and (b) make changes and tweaks to one’s long-term plans.

So, let me take a second, as part of this Reflection, to celebrate some achievements in terms of where my original goals ( https://birchtreemaiden.wordpress.com/2021/03/14/new-year-new-you-2021-week-2-goals/ ) for the King of Coins Project are at:

First and foremost: I’m out of debt. It’s potentially going to be a bit of a battle to stay that way, but I accepted the help I was offered, and I’m no-longer throwing hundreds of dollars at a credit card bill that seems unending. I have automatic payments set up to (a) make sure my monthly automatic charges – patreon and some charity donations – are paid off, (b) to add a tiny bit to my savings fund every week, and (c) to put towards my 2022 income taxes, when that bill comes due next Beltane. So I’m feeling good about that.

I have definitely ridden the hedonic escalator up a few steps. I don’t generally feel like I’m going to be punished for buying new clothes, and I’ve invested in some Nice Items (like an Actually Leather day-to-day-use handbag, and a bunch of flowing, light-but layerable 100% cotton dresses) that should serve me well for years and years to come. Needing to scale back the consumerism, when I quit my Very Stressful Job just before Imbolg, was An Adjustment. But it’s worked out and the thing I spend the most money on, tbh, is “emergency preparedness food” (couscous, orzo, green lentils and mung beans for sprouting, tinned and home-pressure-canned beans, vaccuum-sealed dry sausage that can be stored at room temperature until it’s opened, and then eaten fairly quickly, crackers, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruit, that kind of thing) in case there are more power outages in our near-future.

I’m not sure about “changing my baseline”. I did feel “weirdly exposed” when I made that final payment on my credit card and saw it balance out to zero. I did have to majorly fight myself on “I can buy so many things!!!” (Which doesn’t mean I didn’t buy “so many” things – I did. I just paid cash for them, and bought them over multiple weeks instead of just a couple of days. And, yeah, that emergency flashlight/charger and a bidet widget for our bathroom were among them). Still. The thing I was afraid would happen if I “let” myself be free of debt… happened.

And it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a Terrible Situation with No Way Out where I ended up “right back where I started”. And it wasn’t even very long-lived. It was a managable, and managed, situation where I equipped my house a little better for a particular kind of Bad Situation and gave myself presents that I’ve been wanting for years (a rhodochrosite ring to complete my Bi Pride ring collection; a black felted hat with a broad brim – yes, I DO feel very American Horror Story when I wear it, sorry not sorry; a book about Feri witchcraft), and then I chilled the heck out and went back to reading library books and doing home-canning.

Have I “raised my baseline”? TBH, I don’t think so. Doing that requires (A) a third remote job (or a massive raise from both my current employers – unlikely but maybe?), and (B) the opportunity to save up for a house down-payment, rather than having to pour all that extra money into rent. But I spent a year living with “owning a house” as a distant, but at least possible, dream, and I would like to have that again.

As far as changes and tweaks go:

I have my name in for another possible third job. One that would require more hours than I want to give over to working-for-others, including some weekend hours that I’m absolutely not thrilled about, but that I’m eminently qualified to do and would be good at. And I kind of think I need to take a moment today – because it’s Solstice, and it’s a good time to do this – to sort out what I actually want. What my Ideal Situation is and how to work my will so that it happens.

Six months ago, at Winter Solstice, I put a handful of squash seeds on my tiny desk altar. I think it’s time (past time – would have been better at the new moon, three weeks ago) to collect half a dozen of them, and charge them with goals.

·      New, possibly short-term, upstairs neighbours who are clean, quiet AND away a lot of the time

·      A new third remote job with good, ultra-flexible hours, a fun task list, and better-than-current-expectations pay, plus raises at my other two jobs

·      A publisher for my still-on-sub chapbook

·     Great sex + a happy, loving polycule

·     A growing bank account and savings funds including a down-payment fund

·      A spacious, tidy, very affordable home with native fruit trees growing all around the edges of the yard and enough time, energy, and focus to both tend and harvest said yard as needed

That would be great. Let’s make some magic.

King of Coins – Week 8: Are. You. Receiving?

I’m (once again) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!
 
Instructions: This week’s prompt is about asking someone for help. Most of us hate that shit with a hating that fires a thousand suns. Asking for help feels almost like admitting defeat. And by defeat, I mean admitting that you’re not invincible. Well. You’re not. Sorry.

Tarot Card: Six of Earth

This project is tied to the suit of earth. And this prompt, combined with… some stuff that’s going on right now… definitely has me thinking about debts vs redistribution and other related Very Loaded Topics.

Dark Days Tarot Deck, Six of Earth: A square card with the words "Six of 6 pentacles - dark days" written in white script along the bottom edge. The rest of the card presents this image: People in long, flowing robes prepare a table, laying it was pentacle-plates. There is a wood stove in the back corner, and grasses growing from the bottom of the card. At the back of the frame, birds can be seen through a large window. Seven small moon phases make an arc over the scene. The whole image is done in black and white and grey.

I had a visit to my Luxury Astra Sea Cave and talked to my Godself about… steps that need to happen and things that need to be in place before I can Do A Thing that would make my wife a lot happier in a way that can make me a lot happier, too.

And things started happening.

And, like the weirdo (this is not actually that weird, but you’d think I’d be less freaky-deaky about it by now) that I am, I’m digging my heals in, hesitating like heck, and basically going “Wait, wait, wait… is this really a good idea??”

And… it’s not NOT a good idea. It’s what I said I wanted.

(And, yeah, it’s not the only thing I want. Maybe I need to fine tune things or something).

But being offered TWO ways to achieve Goal #1 of this project MUCH faster… on the same day??

When my Girls move, they move.

O.O

But it does mean that I’m kind of hung up on thoughts of “owing” and “being beholden”. Somebody offered to help me. Somebody offered to help me. I didn’t even have to ask.

And I’m super uncomfortable with the thought of saying Yes – because I don’t want the potential scrutiny that I might be signing up for by doing so- AND kind of kicking myself for wanting to say No? Like… “uncomfortable” is still not “pissing hundreds of dollars into the debt hole every month for another year”.

The six of pentacles is basically about wealth disparities. In some cases, the focus is on sharing, “each according to ability and need”. For example, the Next World Tarot calls this card “Redistribution”. In other cases, not so much. In the Wildwood deck the 6 of Stones is “Exploitation”. The Osho Zen deck interprets this card as “compromise” and it’s about meeting everyone’s needs even if nobody gets everything they want. But mostly they seem to lean towards mutual aid. The Simple Tarot literally calls it “Giving and Receiving Financial Prosperity” and codes it as generosity.

Miriam Innis has a whole post on the Six of Coins about “unlocking what we deserve” and the role of the receiver (and her perspective, in some ways, is very different from mine, but I guess that’s why Goals #2 and #3 for this project are what they are).

Basically, I’ve spent most of the past week whinging and Having A Lot Of Feelings about accepting financial help – and, don’t get me wrong, it would HELP – from someone whose love-language is gifts, but whose gifts can come with strings or other uncomfortable things.

But boundaries are a thing, and a thing that I’ve been practicing, so…

So. I guess this is my call to be less of a prideful bitch, and say yes to the help that’s been offered?

<*squirms*>

Okay.

I did the thing.

We’ll see if the offer’s still open, but I did the thing.

Will be following up on the job – because the other Thing That Happened was I got a job interview – in a few days, if I haven’t heard from them yet. Hopefully I get it, and can continue, full steam ahead, to get Goal #1 locked down.

Cheers,

Ms Syren.

Full Moon – Flower Moon Crests (Eclipse in Scorpio) PLUS Seeking The Mysteries Chapter 4: Life, Death, and the Human Body

A close-up of five Pinkish white apple blossoms on their tree: Three open, two yet to bloom.

When I die come and bury me

Under the roots of an apple tree

Let the seasons roll for a year or three

Then eat of the apples that once were me

~ A. L. Armstrong

Maybe it’s not surprising that I finally got around to doing the most intense of the Activities for Chapter Four of Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies during a lunar eclipse in Scorpio.

Flower moon has been beautiful, and living up to its name to such a degree that I’m afraid all the apple, cherry, serviceberry, and pear blossoms will have passed before my girlfriend arrives next week. My garden in thriving – and, thanks to a couple of friends being willing to chauffeur me around – received both an influx of compost and a variety of new plant starts and seeds a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the lovely, heavy, steady rains we’ve had for the past few days, I’ve got seeds germinating and poking their heads out of the soil – fava beans, allysum and creeping soapwort, borage, nasturtiums, anise, dill, and cilantro, for a start – and the raspberry canes a neighbour offered to anyone who wanted to come and dig some up appear to be Actually Taking Root and transplanting effectively.

I’ve made rhubarb curd (for Beltane – using store-bought rhubarb because mine was just barely poking through the soil) and, from there, rhubarb frozen yoghurt (which is amazing – highly recommended). I’ve harvested lovage, goutweed, and chives from my garden and picked several bouquets of garlic mustard from along Pinecrest creek to use in meals and in making hazelnut pesto. It’s been wonderful to have the windows open, to listen to the rain, to sit in the hot, hot sunshine and feel my bones thaw out.

Which is as apt a segue as anything.

Chapter Four offers a very brief overview of sacred sexuality / erotic theology, pagan perspectives on gender[1], the nature of the soul, and ancestor veneration.

It feels appropriate to be covering this during Beltane season, a period where the erotic – in the Lordean sense[2], of fully experiential, active connection, as the opposite of numbness, as the freedom found in, and built of, embodied joy – is invited, invoked, and palpable as life wakes up in late spring and the early summer heat makes it so much easier to breathe, rest, slow down, and feel like thriving is actually possible.

It feels appropriate, too, to be covering this during a lunar eclipse in Scorpio – all that shadow stuff, death stuff, hidden stuff, avoided stuff getting dredged up to the surface and asking to be acknowledged.

The activities included:

  • Asking how we can honour our bodies, and reframing taking care of ourselves as “giving our bodies gifts” (like opportunities to dance or soak in a tub)
  • Getting in touch with your ancestors and older relatives and/or deepening the connections you already have with them
  • Making a will, living will, or other “end of life” document

Whoooooooooooooooo. No pressure.

Since, for the moment, I have some extra time on my hands, I’ve been taking care of my garden, taking long, ambling walks, and soaking up the heat. Which feels like honouring my body – or at least my embodiedness? – to some degree.

I’m not sure that doing (proto) push-ups every night, plus small sets of weight lifting, as a way to honour the Amazons counts as “honouring my body” but it is exciting to see my arms getting a little bit stronger.

Also related to Chapter Three’s “add more devotions to your practice” activity, and in part because my wife gets twitchy around lit candles, but I want to make some kind of a weekly offering, I’ve started making a tiny cup of coffee and a tiny cup of orange pekoe tea for my ancestors, in particular, every week. I use little hand-painted demi-tasse cups that came through my Dad’s Mom for them.

And, today, I made a living will and a “last” (probably not actually last) will & testament.

At it’s most basic (and I was using the free templates available at CanadaWills, and own no property, so it was very basic) it’s a quick run-down of who has decision-making power if you’re hospitalized and can’t make decisions about your care at that time, and what you want to happen to your body and your stuff (“stuff” being a separate document that you date earlier than the will itself), and who gets to handle making sure that happens, after you die.

It was not comfortable deciding how much medical intervention I actually want in the event of me being in a Really Bad Way.

I don’t want to die.

But I don’t exactly want to linger, trapped in a shell, either, you know?

I didn’t enjoy having to think about it.

It was kind of a relief to be able to list both of my partners though.

But. I’ve done it now.

If, and as, I want to go back and make changes – if one of my (currently all under age 10) nibblings comes out as a leather dyke, thus determining who gets the Inherited Leather in the next generation, for example, or if I suddenly decide that I don’t want to donate any organs, or that I *do* want Heroic Measures done to save my life – I can do that.

But, for the moment, it’s done – pending (and this is important) my signature and that of two witnesses. Important.

But it’s done.

So that was Chapter Four. “Chapter Five: Ethics and Justice” is up next.

~*~

A woman with long brown hair, wearing a broad-brimmed black sun hat, sunglasses, black sandals, and a short black dress with long bell sleeves, sits on a red blanket in a park. There is a purple-covered book on the blanket and there are trees and a bright sunburst in the Background. The words "XIX" and "The Sun" are hand-lettered overlaying the image.
The Slutist Tarot: The Sun

The tarot card I “pulled” (at https://randomtarotcard.com/) was The Sun.

Which is a relief.

I’m one of those people who, when I shuffle the deck for a general check-in, gets the “Wow, girl, you’re really in a situation right now. You okay?” instead of any actual advice. (TBH, I’ve started just putting the cards away when they do this, because if I’m not in a state to read anything useful out of them, I probably shouldn’t be exacerbating what my Jerk Brain is telling me).

But: The Sun!

Which: The actual sun did just come out from behind the clouds, so: Literal Meaning Confirmed.

Tarot meaning / things to keep in mind: Enjoy the day. Do something pleasurable. Soak up some Vitamin D. Use your magic (that erotic as power again) to make your dreams and goals reality. Enjoy being who you fully are.

~*~

Movement: Proto-push-ups every night. Some weights (not every night, but most nights). Long walks around the neighbourhood, or by the river or the nearby creek.

Attention: Watching my health. Watching my email (waiting on the results of a recent job interview – fingers crossed). Watching the weather. Paying tonnes of attention to my garden and to what’s blooming around the neighbourhood (there is a serviceberry in the nearby park! Woohoo!)

Gratitude: Thankful for the hot weather. Thankful for the rain. Thankful for getting to eat lunch with my wife yesterday. Thankful my girlfriend will be visiting soon. Thankful for coffee with a friend yesterday. Thankful for evening walks with my wife. Thankful for family dinners. Thankful for friends who jump at the chance to visit a garden centre. Thankful for rhubarb. Thankful for plants waking up again. Thankful for so many beautiful flowers. Thankful for sandal weather. Thankful for rainbow umbrellas. Thankful for laundry machines that we own. Thankful for my 2gl watering can. Thankful for home made ice cream. Thankful for warm blankets, coffee on the couch, waking up with the women I love.

Inspiration: Squash. Garlic Mustard. Polyamoury. Moon Phases. Rhubarb. Lesbian Stereotypes.

Creation: I’ve been writing poetry again. Hurrah! Years ago, I wanted to write a full-length manuscript looking at polyamoury and queer chosen family through the metaphor of local plants, gardening, and seasonal food. Having been talking up squash on twitter recently, I ended up with a couple of poetry prompts that, while very different, could fit into that theme with some wiggling. So I’m revisiting the idea and trying to write a microchap or two playing with those themes.

~*~

Cheers,

Ms Syren.

[1] Including touching on a certain theological foremother persistently making an ass of herself. For the record: We don’t get to have “She changes everything she touches, and everything she touches changes” as a major tenant of faith and then turn around and go “Except you. You have to stay in a box someone else put you in.” That’s not just being a jerk, it’s blasphemy. Let’s not.

[2] “those physical, emotional, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us…the passions of love, in its deepest meanings…the self-connection shared…the measure of joy” (from Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power” in Sister Outsider).

Magical House Keeping as Beltane Approaches

A pile of colourful pieces of chalk surrounded by a yellow chalk outline, on dark asphalt. Photo by Yunsik Noh via Unsplash

So I got back from visiting my girlfriend just a few days before the full moon in Scorpio. Beltane’s this coming weekend. It’s – yet again – That Time of Year.

I mean, “that time of year” happens multiple times, so do as you Will, but:

I spent this morning doing Actual Laundry (towels and other non-sheet household linens) + putting clean clothes away, an energetic sweep of my house (dragon’s blood incense), and some sigil magic. Plus a light-weight offering of boiled water (per long-ago request) and a cup of orange pekoe tea[1]. My windows are open to change out the air – and because I’ve got a friend coming over – and it feels pretty good in my house right now.

The plan is to do a Magical Scrubbing Bubbles later this afternoon, as well as to hit the grocery store for a few odds and sods. One of my wife’s partners may or may not be coming over for dinner, so it’ll be a full and pleasantly social day.

Anyway. The whole point of posting about this is to make a bit of a note about charging things magically.

Basically… charging something (if you use the “sustain” rather than “destroy” method of charging a thing) is telling it how you’re going to feed it going forward. So if you’re putting a sigil on your laptop to help you hit your writing and editing deadlines, you might want to charge it off your laptop’s motor. Or your car’s engine, if you’re doing a safety-while-driving ward. If you want to draw things into yourself, use your own spit (provided it’s charm that’s safe to lick – don’t do this with anything made of malachite, for example) both because it’s YOURS and because it comes from an orifice that is specifically designed to bring things into your body for the purpose of sustenance and growth.

I use my own breath a lot. Partly because it’s effective – words are how I’ve done magic since before I really knew how to do magic – and partly because a fair chunk of the magic I do is about either communication (job stuff where I do social media, creative writing with an eye to getting a publisher, etc) OR it’s about some variation on the theme of Boundaries, and the suit of air covers both so charging with breath is… “thematically consistent” with my intentions.

Anyway. I’m off to get the rest of my day finished.

TTFN,

Ms Syren.

[1] Because most of my ancestors like it – though not all, as was made clear today. I’m now on the hook for a very sweet vidal/muscat if I can’t find plum wine which… not likely. It’s never been A Thing up hear. So vidal/muscat should do the trick. Still not sure what my paternal grandmother wanted. She might like the chocolate hazelnut tea, or something a little fancier maybe? But she might also want coffee? Unsure…

Seeking the Mysteries: Chapter 3 Activities – Part Three (Other People’s Experiences)

A series of lit, beeswax charm candles standing in wet sand, i the dark. People adjust the candles with their hands.

Okay. So the final Activity for Chapter Three of Seeking the Mystery is to read one or more of the recommended essays and blog posts provided by the author and to explore how the writers’ experiences and values relate to your own. I’m not 100% sure I’ve done this one right, but here we go.

I read “Becoming A Horse” by Lydia Helasdottir and “Encountering Pagan Deities” by Gus DiZerega. Both of which are polytheist perspectives on direct interaction with divine People.

The writers’ experiences were both familiar. More-so Gus’s, since I’ve never experienced spirit-possession “from the inside”, the way Lydia does, but I’m familiar with Aspecting (having Someone “along for the ride” without them doing the driving), know a LOT of god-touched people, and have been lucky in my practice to have found a rag-tag bunch of people for-whom deities are part of the community and sometimes part of the literal family.

Gus’ statement that Gods Exist, whether or not specific individuals experience their presence or want to interact with them feels very Granny Weatherwax. It reminds me of how one of my nearest and dearest approaches the presence of her own Lady in her life and it feels very in line with the matter-of-fact ways that my other extended queer-pagan community talks about interacting with various deities. “So-and-So has been sniffing around”, “I checked in with _______________ the other day”, “[Deity] told me to tell you she wants Boiled Water”.

I kind of love it, I don’t mind telling you.

I have “gods in law” in that both of my partners have very direct (not romantic, but direct) relationships with specific deities. But also – while I do, sometimes, wonder if my… pretty casual way of relating to the divine, in their many forms, is… disrespectful? Like, if they’re hanging out on the other side of the veil and rolling their eyes at the way I lean around the corner to inform All And Sundry on someone else’s altar that “It’s gonna be delicious!” like they’re my aunties and uncles in another room – I want that kind of casual, friendly, familial relationship with the holy. Possibly because of how frighteningly powerful they actually are.

I do want to be safe in these interactions. To know that my circuits won’t be fried (to use a phrase from “Becoming a Horse”) and that what sacrifices are required of me are ones I can withstand and get through without regretting them. Plus, in the way pre-Christian kings in what is now England traced their family lines through deities and how Romans used familial terms like “Grandfather” when addressing their gods, there is a kind of doting, loving respect built into “Auntie” that makes “Ma’am” feel inappropriate?

I don’t know. Maybe that’s weird.

Onwards!

I, too, was surprised – although maybe I shouldn’t have been, particularly as a not-that-sensitive-to-this-stuff human – to find out that lots of people who are Pagan have NOT had direct interactions with deities or other non-corporeal/multi-corporeal People. That surprises me.

Maybe that surprise is due to my having become a baby witchlet in the mid-1990s, when “Pagan” was equal parts joke and threat to the culturally (and sometimes religiously practicing) Christian status quo. Why would someone convert away from their religion of origin, to a marginalized and often maligned faith, with NOTHING to go on, when they could just be a secular humanist or a Unitarian and not have to worry about rocks being thrown through your windows or staying religiously closeted.

As far as things that felt off-putting or “repelling”… really, only the instance in “Becoming A Horse” where the author implies that a body is kind of disposable. Which she may not have even been doing. But the “body as vehicle” rather than “body as self” thing is jarring for me. My body is as much “me” as my multi-part soul is “me” and the whole “wearing a meat suit” thing has never really sat well with me.

Outside of that, things like up pretty okay with my own values and expectations through both essays. I appreciate the pluralism, the “anyone can do this (mostly)”, how both essays present direct interaction with deities and other non-corporeal/multi-corporeal People as accessible and desirable while leaving room for people to kind of choose their own adventure and making it clear that going deep into this stuff… can be hard on your body, rewire your brain, and you would probably benefit from having guidance/training from someone who’s been doing the same thing for longer and has more experience.

Like: Don’t be College Giles. Don’t get high on demon possession without having a babysitter who knows how to kick them out if things get weird.

Maybe I’m reading a lot into that.

Anyway. I wrote a whole, long, rambling thing (as is not unusual for me) where I was basically just reacting to the essays and: TBH, I think the reason I chose the ones I did was because they looked like they would be familiar and dovetail well with my own cosmology. But I look at the various options presented, and I think they all would have done so.

I think the only way they really differ, if they differ at all, is the degree of “exercise caution when getting in touch with deities” that’s in there. Which isn’t even that much. It’s more of a “know your limit, play within it” kind of thing.

Which, really, is entirely reasonable.

Up next: Chapter 4!

Cheers,

Ms Syren.

Seeking the Mysteries: Chapter 3 Activities – Part Two (Devotionals)

Bare feet, seen from behind, standing on wet asphalt on a rainy day. Photo by Ollebolle via Pexabay.
Bare feet on rain-washed asphault. Photo by OlleBolle via Pexabay.

The second Activity at the end of Chapter 3 is… in the book, which is back at home (I’m visiting my girlfriend – everything is in flower here, and it’s beautiful). So I’m saving that for Part Three. But the third Activity, provided I’m remembering it right, is the suggestion that readers/students add more devotion – in the sense of altar-building, ritual action, prayer – to their days and… see what that’s like.

I do a (roughly) daily ritual of Moon Salutation. It accomplishes a bunch of things – stretching out my hips before bed so that I can get up and walk easily the next morning, yes, but also giving me a couple of minutes to (try to) focus my mind on my Lady of Song, Poetry, and Queerness, and to take a little bit of time to reach out and say hello and thank you to my recent (actually met them in life) ancestors, my Godself, my Fetch, and the Neighbours with-whom I share my house and who collectively provide for me and mine as a Bioregion.

Partially in response to this activity prompt, and partly just because I’ve been wondering since August 2020 how best I can honour the Amazons given that I’m not likely to take up HEMA any time soon. I made a necklace – amazonite and moonstone – last summer, as something that I could touch or wear that would make me think of them. But I wanted to do something else. Throwing money at a trans-inclusive org that promotes girls’ athletics was one option I considered, and may revisit, but what I decided would work better as… as a thing that I’m not just doing on automatic, a thing that isn’t just “fix it and forget it” the way a lot of money donations can be… I decided to incorporate doing a push-up into my regular Moon Salutations specifically because making my body stronger is a way to honour these very strong women who claimed me. My queer aunties of blood and spirit.

Now: To be clear: I’m not actually able to do even one push-up. Yet. Right now it’s more like moving from Heart Melting Pose to something between Sphinx Pose and a knee push-up – shins and forearms on the ground, everything else up – and then bending my arms and keeping my core as solid as I can until my nose touches my fists, or gets as close to that as I can do that particular day.

It’s not a real push-up. It is something I’m actually capable of that adds a little tiny bit more strength to my arms and core every time I do it. And when I do it, I say Hi. It’s a very small thing, but it’s a thing that I do on the regular, and I’m glad I’ve added it to the daily devotionals that I already do.

Something that is less daily, but that still feels good to do, and that I’m really glad to have the option to do it, is that I started (last Beltane, after my lovely wife found the first of them and pointed it out to me) visiting my local seasonal alters at the quarter and cross-quarter days. Sometimes I bring one or both of my partners. Often, I just pop down by myself. Sometimes I dress fancy, other times I just wear whatever is weather appropriate. But I tend to bring home-baking and fancy drinks and I take a minute to drop my roots down and say Hi again.

It feels a little bit like that scene in My Neighbour Totoro where they go to pay their respects to the Forest in the formal and formalized, but also very matter-of-fact way. Something that’s a little out of the way, but not terribly so, and not something that takes a lot of prep or a long time to do. You just have to bother.

So I bother. And it feels good to do.

Some stuff I want to bring up around this:

  1. I stopped beating myself up for missing a day (or a week or, in the case of my wrecking my knee trying to skateboard a few weeks before last Midsummer, six entire freaking months) because I figured out years ago that feeling guilty about it just made me avoid doing The Thing for longer. So all of this stuff – including, for example, making an offering of apple velvet galette and red wine at the Spring Stone for Equinox but NOT doing the same thing on my own house altar because: about to get on a plane and not wanting to leave something out that would attract fruit flies – is very much a “Start fresh every day” kind of deal.
  2. I only very rarely FEEL the presence of the People I’m reaching out to when I’m doing this stuff. And, most of the time that I do pick up on something, it’s an unspecified “rocking in the spirit” situation rather than a very specific Person getting in touch, reaching back to connect. Sometimes that feels a little bit sad, or like “What am I doing wrong”. But, at this point, I’ve just figured out that this is how this stuff works most of the time, when you are a Very Grounded bunker like I am. I still think it’s important to do, and I’m still glad that I do it.
  3. Which… doesn’t mean that I don’t get All The Feels when I’m actively trying to do stuff, or invite People in, or what have you, and I don’t experience much of anything, or when I’m trying to enter a trance (or semi-trance?) state and just kind of failing. I definitely also do that. But:
  4. On the subject of “add more devotional practices” as an activity prompt: It’s something that I definitely like doing. We’re a meaning-making species (look at the whole Dadaist movement, for example), and doing these small, easy-to-maintain little rituals on a regular, reliable basis, gives a little more shape to my days and my years which – especially two years into a pandemic where time has largely lost all meaning – is helpful in terms of structuring my life, but also helpful in terms of letting me touch on Something More in a way that’s… kind of scheduled, almost? Like I can’t just forget about it, because it’s built in and, tbh, because if I don’t do it – at least with the Moon Salutations – my body will remind me very loudly of why it’s a good idea to go through the physical motions and, at that point, since I’m already making the time to do the thing, I might as well do all the non-physical bits, too. And so I do.

Have I managed to turn every Sunday into a day of religious contemplation in the past six months? No. But I’m doing it considerably more frequently than I was when I first twigged to how much I liked making that time and space. Do I manage to quiet my brain and actually focus on my Gods during Moon Salutation every night? Not by a long shot. There’s usually a song in my head, or some kind of distracting thoughts swirling around for at least part of it. But I’m still doing it. I can still bring my brain back to “think of the moon in the sky” and focus on Her for a little bit, and then a little bit more. And that little bit more, and then a little bit more than that, is kind of how you build a practice. Even twenty-five years in.