March 22, 2013

KRT: Unverified personal gnosis (UPG)

Posted in Being Kemetic, Kemetic Roundtable, Thoughts and Reflections at 2:10 pm by

 
Unverified Personal Gnosis/Doxa:
– What is it, how you do get it?
– What are the rules on it?
– How important is it? Should we rely on it?
– Should we pay attention to others’ UPG, or let it influence our own UPG/practice?

 

So very timely for me, this subject, as I’m currently staring down the deadline for writing a ritual with an extremely personal-gnosis focus.

As you might guess from the above, I do make fairly heavy use of personal gnosis. I dance a fine line here — as a Kemetic Orthodox W’ab priest, in my official mode I have to follow a very formalized set of practices. Although I receive a fair bit of personal gnosis during the state rite, the state rite is not the place to enact that gnosis. And that’s fine.

And then there’s this tremendous in-pouring of creative inspiration and out-pouring of creative expression, with a whole lot of crackling mental connections and “ooh!” and “aha!” moments in between the two. (Not to mention the occasions when one or another of the Gods will come right out and say something that melts my brain.) All of this has to go somewhere — has to find use somewhere. Trying to process all these insights and make a place for them in practice while still remaining coherent and reasonably traditional can be a real challenge, even with polyvalent thinking to smooth out the paradoxes. Whee.

When I first realized that my heart lay with Bast, something that was very important (to me or to Her? or to both of us? I’m not quite sure at this point) was to learn how She would have traditionally been honored in ancient Egypt. I didn’t want to fold her into my generic semi-neo-wiccan sort-of-a-practice; I didn’t want to just make stuff up. That was how I ended up in Kemetic Orthodoxy in the first place.

Granted, it could be said — and there are certainly people out there who would say it — that Kemetic Orthodoxy is itself rooted in Rev. Siuda’s personal gnosis. The Rite of Parent Divination, for example, originated in a directive from Sekhmet; it was created to fill a modern need that would have been unknown in ancient Kemet, where from childhood one would be aware of one’s Gods, the Gods of the nome, of the community, of the family. In other respects, however — the importance of purity, the prayers we speak, the holy days we celebrate, the veneration of the ancestors and the embracing of ma’at — Kemetic Orthodoxy is quite traditional.

To my mind, both historical study and personal gnosis have their places. Historical study gives us a solid, shared structure that contains us and gives us a level place to stand. It unifies us across the boundaries of individuals and small groups — without it, I wouldn’t be writing this post, as there wouldn’t be a Kemetic roundtable. (It would be a “group of people with random Egyptianish beliefs” roundtable.) Personal gnosis — and shared gnosis, or generally accepted gnosis — patch the gaps and embellish the structure. I think we would be a lot poorer if we were missing either element.

How much can we rely on gnosis? That depends on how well we’re able to determine whether it is both functional and “true” — and by “true,” I mean true to the spirit of the myths, the practices, the Gods, and true to our own experiences. This holds whether it’s our own gnosis or that of other people. As others have said, discernment is key in spiritual practice; and learning discernment is a process. It doesn’t come all at once.

When I share something from my personal experiences, I try to draw a very clear line between what comes from me and what comes from history, even though I’m fairly sure that this very distinction is not in itself historical. I have trouble imagining that the ancient Kemetics footnoted their practices. Maybe they had a clearer channel to the Gods. Or maybe they just trusted their channels more. In any case, this distinction is crucial for some people, and I enjoy supplying it anyway, being perhaps a little too proud of showing off my bonafides. Plus I don’t really want to send someone new, who hasn’t yet developed their own sense of discernment, hopping off down the bunny trail, only for them to get totally confused or to be slapped down by someone else for “doing it wrong.”

In any event, I don’t think I could do a religion that didn’t leave room for personal gnosis. To me, personal gnosis is the knowing of the heart, the knowing that resounds through all my bodies, and my life is immeasurably enriched by what the Gods show me. But I also find great joy and enrichment in studying the traditions of the past, which connect me other Kemetics, both ancient and modern. A downside of personal gnosis can be its isolating factor, when no one else shares those particular understandings. I think it’s essential to balance it out with what can be verified and shared.

(Links to other Kemetic Roundtable posts on UPG can be found here.)

March 9, 2013

Pieces of Kemet

Posted in Being Kemetic, Festivals, Home and Temple, Netjeru, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:15 pm by

A collection of bits on variously honoring the Gods….
 

It was snowing fairly heavily on Friday, so I wore red for His Redness, the Lord of Storms. I’ve posted before about the incongruous-but-not-ness of seeing the master of the desert as the master of winter too. It just occurred to me yesterday that that makes Him lord of the Red Land and also of the White land, and thus He embodies in Himself the traditional unity of red and white. Set-sematawy. Hmm.

* * * * *

I spent much of this morning trying to sketch out and/or list all the interrelationships of Bast with various Gods, and to put some kind of system to it. When my head started hurting and I was on the verge of falling asleep, I pried myself off the couch and went out to run some errands. After that I did some yard work, reclaiming odd corners from the wild raspberry bushes that, in alliance with the multiflora roses, are trying to take over the property. This was a much better use of my time — it fed all my soul/bodies and did service to my Mother and Her shrine. I always have to watch out for getting too abstract and up in my head.

And when I was done and had showered, I sat on the moss on the southern slope, put my face down among the early spring crocuses, and spent a while in their tiny, low-to-the-ground world.

* * * * *

Great festivals with extensive offerings are wonderful, but it’s also a real pleasure to give the Gods small, simple things, things that are easy to give when the Gods suddenly up and request them, that make the Gods happy. On Thursday night, Wadjet really wanted dried cranberries (Craisins!!). Last weekend, Wenut got a very soft, salmon-peachy scarf, which spent most of the week snuggled around Her metal rabbit candle holder. I wouldn’t have thought it was Her color, but She was very passionate about it, in Her quiet way. Both Ladies might be piping up because last weekend was the Feast of Ra and the Eye of Ra, and this weekend is the Feast of the Udjat, and both of them are Eyes of Ra.

Today, in fact, is the second and last day of the Feast of the Udjat, which I’ve been using this year to honor Wenut. I set up my temporary shrine with a white cloth and Her scarf; last night I offered warm milk with honey and spices, and tonight She got salad, at Her request. This afternoon, I gave Her four crocuses afloat in a bowl of water, first of the spring flowers. (The snowdrops don’t count; they’re more like late-winter flowers.) They’re on Her festival shrine right now, but earlier I put them and Her rabbit in the sun for a little while to enjoy their beauty.

Working on my personal festival calendar and rituals would also be a better use of brain space than abstract theology. The new moon is coming up, and I haven’t got anything for it yet. This festival, too — I don’t have a specific prayer or reading for it, so it’s mainly just various offerings, and a little bit of singing.

* * * * *

And speaking of getting out of the abstract, I am long overdue to link to this entry by Kiya on teaching yourself how to have a mystical practice. Go, read, live.

(And don’t forget the sunscreen.)

March 7, 2013

KRT: The Gods and you

Posted in Being Kemetic, Kemetic Roundtable, Netjeru, Thoughts and Reflections at 4:11 pm by

 
– Do I need a main deity to practice Kemeticism? If so, how do I get a main deity?
– Am I able to say no to a deity that shows up at my shrine?
– Am I obligated to learn everything I can about my main deity?

 

What do you actually need to do to be Kemetic? I would say: you need to do your best to live in ma’at, to acknowledge and honor the Gods and your ancestors, and to support your community, in whatever form that community takes for you. (If you’re Kemetic Orthodox, add in “acknowledge and respect the Nisut’s role as spiritual teacher and leader.”) Does any of that necessarily involve a close interaction with a singular deity? No.

Do you personally need to have a primary deity? I think that’s the question people coming to the religion ought to be asking themselves. Does that kind of relationship feed something in you, a hunger that nothing else can satisfy? (And is it a real hunger, or just a “junk-food hunger”?) Are you looking for very specific help or support with a particular task or career, or just to get on the better side of life? Or are you hearing a direct call from Someone, whether you know who it is or not? In those cases, or others like them, the answer is more like: Maybe.

You can love more than one God. (Though equitable time-sharing can be tricky.)

You can look for help in more than one aspect of your life at once.

You can have more than one God ask for (or demand) your service.

You can, but you might or might not. There are so many ways to have relationships. There are so many ways to love.

And you can always say no, but He or She (or They) might very well keep trying. And you might change your mind given further persuasion, but it’s always your mind to change.

As for learning, if you love your God deeply, completely, truly, you’ll probably want to know everything about Him or Her. Love inspires the desire for knowledge, knowledge brings power, and I believe that the Gods want us to be powerful, each in our own way. We best serve with knowledge; we best become ourselves with knowledge; and our service is our becoming, our becoming our service.

Even if you see your relationship with a God more as a business transaction, wouldn’t you research your business partner? Look for strengths that can help you, or quirks (or worse than quirks) that could trip you up? Knowledge is never wasted.

(And I laugh, because just last night I was reading a manga in which a character, who happens to be a demon, ennumerates the three strongest drives that motivate humans: physical needs, such as for food, clothing, shelter; the propagation of the species; and — not love — but knowledge. Specifically, the lust for the advantage that knowledge gives. Was he right or wrong? I wonder.)

For me, Bast is my center, but in my perception of Her, She also lies at the center of a web comprising relationships with other Gods, entities, and elements. So She is not just the primary focus of my love and devotion, She orients my conception of the Divine, my cosmology; She is the spindle that gathers all the threads of my interest, study, poetry, mythology, the hands that cup the world. Other non- or less-related Gods pass through, and I have relationships of varying strength with them as well, but I find that, while those other Gods are not diminished, the Gods that are connected with Her are magnified by that connection.

Of course, I’m all about hunting down obscure bits and pieces and stringing them together into sentences and chains of meaning, and I do my best work when I’m monofocused. So your experience almost certainly will vary.

(Links to other Kemetic Roundtable posts on relationships with primary deities can be found here.)

February 22, 2013

Falling into Fallow Times

Posted in Kemetic Roundtable, On Writing, Thoughts and Reflections at 12:08 pm by

I think there are a number of ways to fall into fallow times, just as there are many ways to approach and experience the Divine.

One way, strange as it may sound, is an inability to let go — in particular, to let go of results. I come to this as a writer who has largely gone without writing in the last couple of years (other than sporadic blog posting, and the songs, of course, which are short and quick enough that they can come through in bursts, taking advantage of any little window of opportunity). Writing has its fallow times too, the well-known and dreaded writer’s block. When I have difficulty writing, inevitably I’m getting in my own way, paralyzed by perfectionism. Can I achieve what I want to do with this piece? Can I make it through the whole long, slow process of putting the words down one by one in order to get to the completed work? And then do it all over again for the next one? I see the trilogies yet unwritten, not the sentence that lies ahead of me.

Something very similar happens when I start looking beyond the present moment in my devotions. What will happen way down the road if I take another step, if I initiate something new or go on to the next level? Can I follow through on the commitment that this implies? Will it be too hard? Will I fail? Will I succeed, and in succeeding lose everything that’s familiar to me? If I become stronger, will there be more demands, demands that I don’t think I can face?

When I’m caught up in this whirl of brain noise, I have trouble hearing the Gods. And then, funnily enough, I start to panic. “Are you there? What’s wrong? Why can’t I hear you?” And the more I push for a response, the less I hear, so it becomes a vicious cycle. In my anxiety, I both want and don’t want the intimacy of a relationship; I cling to my Mother in terror of rejection even as I shrink away from what I imagine my service will require.

Until at last my brain shuts down, and I collapse. In my exhaustion, I give up the fighting, let go of the fear of success and failure, of right and wrong paths, of all the potential too-muchness, and just go silent in Her presence. And then, in the stillness, I can remember the good, the bright moments, the things that feed my ka. And I can feel Her again — Her love, which never judges me as I judge myself. Bast neither steps back to let me rest nor steps forward to pull me out of my funks. She just is — She is there, and it’s up to me to find the still point in my heart, to find Her presence within and around me, and to make the choice or do the action that’s before me at that moment. To try without trying, to do without doing. To be in Her embrace.

I make things so complicated sometimes. I wring myself up so tightly that I drive all the renewing moisture out of my life, leaving it arid and barren. I don’t blame myself for my fallow times — but I can make better choices, and I know it.

May I learn the wisdom of equanimity, the coolness of the cool water that restores and makes pure.

In peace, Mother — in peace, in peace.

(Links to other Kemetic Roundtable posts on facing the fallow times can be found here.)

 

February 17, 2013

Slightly disjointed update post

Posted in Administrivia, Creative Fire, Festivals, On Writing, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:40 pm by

I’m back again, after another short posting hiatus. For the main part I’ve been absent because everyone else in the Kemetic blogosphere has been making such great posts that I haven’t felt as though I have anything really significant to add to the conversation. Silly, I know! My energy is picking up again — hello, spring! hello, season of Peret! — and with it I’m hoping to find my voice once more. I’ve been enjoying the Kemetic Roundtable posts, so maybe I’ll take part in the next round of that.

My shrine service has been steady since my last leave in December, and this weekend I’ve been winding up a couple of projects. I just finished making a new bag for my Wenut oracle, and tomorrow — Netjer willing and the Nun don’t rise — I should finish making the tokens for yet another divination system. No, I have no idea why the Gods keep downloading these things into my brain. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve also started moving forward with one of my original fiction projects, and I think Bast is also nudging me toward a rather different type of writing project. So there is productivity and progress and various types of activity going on.

Speaking of doing things, this is a deep and true post by Elizabeth at Twilight and Fire on how love is an action rather than just a feeling. Elizabeth is a pagan monastic in service to Loki, but what she has to say is wise advice for anyone who serves a God, or indeed serves anything. It has special resonance for me because I struggle with exactly what she describes, the impermanence of feelings or enthusiasms. I’ve had to learn that when excitement flags for one thing and picks up for something else, it’s not necessarily a sign that I should leap to change direction and follow it. Right now I’m finally managing to balance the two things that have pulled me back and forth the most consistently in the last few years — writing and service to Bast. Neither one is lighting me up like crazy, but both are being served. And in that service, there is love, enduring love. And it’s good.

In a show of synchronicity, her post ties in as well with my observances of this month’s Procession of Nesret, a festival honoring the Lady of Flame, aka the Eye of Ra. My personal devotion on the actual day of the festival turned on examining what is truly important in my life, while the heka I wrote for today’s Tea with Bast online ritual chat took that further to begin a process of setting specific goals for service to those most essential things. The process is ongoing; it’ll be interesting to see where I am a few months from now.

Finally, I’m late to the game, but Rev. Tamara Siuda is running a kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of her Ancient Egyptian Daybook. This is going to be an awesome resource for Kemetics. The initial goal of $3000 has already been reached, but you can still help contribute to the project’s extended goals (and potentially earn pledge goodies).

January 26, 2013

Senut for the Seven Arrows

Posted in All That Lives, Netjeru, Thoughts and Reflections at 7:38 pm by

As noted here, for the last seven days I’ve been doing Senut for the Seven Arrows of Bast, one god on each day. Below are the impressions of my experiences. Heavily UPG, of course.

 

Bast

She reminds me of the rose-heart meditation, too little practiced. This time, instead of the deep, velvet-red flower, the rose is yellow and orange, like flame. The petals flare untidily, as if windblown, exuberant and unrestrained, around a core not dark, not contained yet also infinite, but opening up in uncontrolled joy.

And I am standing in my quiet place, the mountain vale, pale sky above the gray, snow-cloaked mountains and the alpine rocks, above the field of light-gold lilies and the small lake like pewter. And She is there, and the sky and the flowers laugh as She does, with Her silent, ringing laugh.

 

* * * * *

 

Nefertem

Darkness, an endless black mirror of water beneath a starless sky. A spark of white light leaps up from the water, singular and pure, and ripples shiver that mirror surface. The lotus opens and blooms.

And daylight now, golden light on the fields and the river, the great lion slowly striding, leaving a trail of many-colored flowers in His wake.

A fairy dance of lights above the blue bowl of the lotus, swirling in the golden haze of sunlight at its heart.

The heart of the mystery; the endless warmth of love.

 

* * * * *

 

Heru-hekenu

A fierce pang of excitement from Him, at what might be His first Senut ever. The offerings, though simple, please Him — orange juice and toasted oat cereal. He watches over my meditation, keen-eyed, alert but patient.

As the rite nears its end, I feel a nudge to open one of my boxes of scents. I poke through my selection of BPAL imps, little used, and when I uncover the vial of Brisingamen, I know it’s the one He wants. I look at it dubiously. “Most of their scents just smell like cherry on me,” I mutter.

This won’t.

And it doesn’t.

 

* * * * *

 

Khonsu-Heru

At first, it seems a disappointment. My mind is scattered; nothing comes through clearly. It’s hard not to generate a fantasy message or experience to fill the silence. I wonder if I’m putting too much weight of expectation on this, after the last few days of wonders. As I wind down, though, He smiles, and I see the glint of moonlight in His statue’s eyes.

Today is my day.

Before I’ve even left the shrine room, I’m humming a tune. Words come, some in Kemetic. (Why do the Gods sometimes poke me to write songs in Kemetic? I don’t know any, beyond a few words!) The short song is done before I finish my commute to work, leaving me faintly stunned.

I am inspiration. The words resonate, as wide as the sky.

 

* * * * *

 

Wadjet

She is quick and gliding, sinuous and intent. Move, She instructs me, and I circle and sway, arch and roll like the cobra that is Her theophany. She is the dance, the breath of fire, the spittle of life and death.

Her golden venom pours into my mouth, down my throat.

I do not die, but live.

 

* * * * *

 

Wenut

I see Her crouching, wetting a white cloth in a basin of clear water, her movements unhurried, careful, graceful. She stands, gesturing to draw my attention to the water, then casts fresh herbs upon its surface; I feel the freshness of spring, clean and sharp. I think of lavender, and when She smiles I offer Her some of my lavender oil from Pannonhalma, the delicate, pungent clarity of its perfume.

She is the Lady of Purity, not the purity of natron, but a cleansing of the heart, a soothing of the body and soul. I remember that She was called upon in the birthing room to bring the child down quickly and easily; I can imagine Her there, bathing the mother’s face with cool water, the scents of Her plants covering up the odors of blood, sweat, and fear.

She is the herald of the Duat, the Lady of Springs; she is the first green of spring, the spring of cool water emerging from the underworld. The pun pleases Her; She smiles again.

(Wenut is getting a new song too.)

 

* * * * *

 

Heryshef

There is a timeless solidity to it: the slow roll of the river, the two banks that contain it and the hills rising beyond, the land golden in the slant of afternoon sunlight. Something about that light makes whatever it touches seem unchanging, unending, even as the day slips steadily closer to its end. The completeness of Tem is both the pinnacle of all becoming and the end of all becoming.

Majesty lives in the Ram that stands behind and within all rams, the perfect land seen beneath the westering sun, the purity and inevitability of Zep Tepi. The ram is djet in the embrace of neheh, the necklace of days that follow one upon the other, coiled within the eternal cycles. You can see the generations more quickly in sheep than in humans, the old ram supplanted by his young successor who grows old in turn with the passing of time, but there is always the ram, the king who arises, the Heru who takes the throne, who wears the crown, who is rooted both in the one who came before and in the land that He rules.

And it saddens me, suddenly, that in these itinerant times some sense of participation in that cycle has been lost. The land that holds me now has held my family for only a breath — my parents moved here shortly before my birth, and before that lived in many different places, even in different countries. And since I’m entering my mid-forties, single, and unlikely ever to have children, my parents’ legacy will end with me, their only child, and not only that bloodline but the connection of a people to this place will break. As much as I love the little furry persons who live with me, cats can’t and won’t carry on such things.

Who will inherit? Who will remember, in blood and bone if not in conscious memory? What will lie on the other side of that discontinuity, beyond which I can’t see?

And yet, greater than this small dropped stitch is the pattern that goes on, the great shape of things. Majesty is what endures through all of this, what holds the center and the circumference firm, what is great enough to fit into those roles like the axle into the hub of a wheel.

Heryshef is…very large. “I’m surprised,” I say, “that You’re actually an Arrow of Bast.”

I’m not. My eyes widen. She is my Arrow.

An implosion of recursion; a strange loop, Bast within Heryshef within Bast, the emanation of the God who is mother of the God who becomes Her consort, the Hand of the Creator who awakens the Creator so that She may be born. She is the fiery Eye of Heryshef-Who-Is-Ra whose warmth brings forth the green of Heryshef-Who-Is-Wesir who fathers the new-rising king, Her son; Her daughter-self is the snake coiling about the papyrus-wand, the spittle of life, the snake-eye rearing upon His brow, the hiss of cat, serpent, fire, the north wind of His breath in the grasses. She is the Queen of Heaven, crowned with the sun, effective on this earth.

“Holy fuck,” I say later, semi-recovered and cleaning up after the rite — and I laugh, because that sums it up perfectly, doesn’t it?

 

Dua Bast!
Dua Nefertem!
Dua Heru-hekenu!
Dua Khonsu-Heru!
Dua Wadjet!
Dua Wenut!
Dua Heryshef!

Nekhtet!

January 9, 2013

Notes from a lunch hour

Posted in Stalking Beauty, Thoughts and Reflections at 1:07 pm by

I’m craving a certain kind of spiritual reading, but I don’t know exactly what. Or perhaps I’m craving the doing that such reading would describe. I often find that reading about something is a seductive replacement for actually doing it.

So what is that doing? Or…that being?

The quiet of an old garden on this mild, cloud-shadowed January day, stone walls and steps dark with dampness and moss. The trees leafless bare against the gray-patterned white sky, stirring almost imperceptibly in the breeze. Listening, in the silence, with the ears of the heart. With the ears of the ka.

I close my eyes and listen, sitting here at my office desk, half finished meatloaf to one side of me, half finished manuscript to the other. Low waves of Presence lap against me, curl down along my arms, tumbling riffles rolling over one another.

I breathe to share my breath with Her.

I touch my heart, seeking to hold it still, receptive, not generating fantasies or straining after unheard whispers, but simply…open.

And in the silence, I hear, low and strong as thunder, warm as the cloud-hidden sun, resonating at the base of my skull:

Yes.

Divine affirmation, holy touch, mother’s comfort, a soft hiss through eager teeth. The word of all possibility. The world falling away before the cliff’s edge in all its sharp-edged beauty, aglitter in the dawn.

O Mother, You walk near me today.

January 1, 2013

Lost and found

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:58 pm by

So…I got lost for a while.

I don’t really want to dwell on all of what went into that lostness — I’d rather release it and move forward, lightened and free. I’m not sure that I’m entirely found yet, but I feel as if I’m on my way. It’s a good feeling. And I think this will be a good year.

I spent December on leave from the priesthood, and at one low point I thought about extending my leave for a full season, or even longer, but Bast was like, DISAPPOINT, so now I’m back at work, and I’m glad. It feels right, and I feel as though I’m coming back from this break stronger than before. Certainly more centered and peaceful. So I don’t regret taking the time off, even though a part of me wants to judge myself against others who seem stronger, more devoted, more true, who crunch on through despite their inner states. But as Bastemhet notes kindness is important, and especially kindness to ourselves. I am all too good at being unkind; I’m my Mother’s daughter, and my claws are sharp — never sharper than when turned against myself.

I haven’t quite settled on a word of the year (via Hecate Demeter), but I think it’s going to be service. What do I need to do in my own life, to have in my own life, so that I may serve? I need to be clear, and anger only clouds and closes my heart.

My motto for this year is “My whole life is my offering.” Do the Netjeru want offerings of anger, frustration, recrimination, and regret? Or do they want offerings of coolness —

of refreshment —

of joy.

O Bast, may I serve, and may I delight in my service.

Dua Bast — khepera!

November 15, 2012

In Sandy’s wake

Posted in Home and Temple, Thoughts and Reflections at 1:50 pm by

It’s been…quite a couple of weeks. Superstorm Sandy put my household in the dark for eleven days, and we got off lightly — only one tree down near the house (and not on it, fortunately) and no flooding. Our major inconvenience was the lack of heat and water. Other people, including my friend and fellow priest Sobeq, are still struggling with the aftermath. My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to them.

(This photo from the storm coverage gets me whenever I see it — it’s the underground Hoboken PATH train station, and I used to commute through there when I worked in the city. That water is pouring in through the elevator shaft. Yikes.)

For people who want to help, the following groups (among many others) are currently taking donations:

Volunteer Center of Bergen County (coordinating volunteers for various organizations and working for long-term recovery throughout New Jersey)

American Red Cross

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund (run by the governor’s wife)

NJ Food Bank Sandy relief efforts

Best Friends Animal Society (helping local animal shelters and rescue groups)

– via T. Thorn Coyle: Solar Cross Temple (in association with OccupySandy)

My temple and shrine service has been sporadic for the duration. This week things have gotten back into gear, at least as far as ritual observance goes, but I still feel unsettled, and not just because of the storm. I’m fluttering in place like a one-winged moth, and I can’t seem to stop or go forward. It’s very exhausting. I’m hoping that it’s mostly monthly hormones.

Some things I’m pondering:

– Whether it’s possible to do a media fast while still posting to this blog. I don’t think my boundaries are quite that good at the moment, but it seems a shame to pop in for one update and then disappear again. (Of course, given my current level of brain static, I might do that anyhow.)

– Whether to attend the Between the Worlds conference next month. I think that at best I’m at the lower end of their preferred range of experience (intermediate to advanced), so it might be a little over my head. I also wonder whether this might not be a distraction (“ooh! shiny!”) from other things I ought to be doing. But it would be a great opportunity to meet and listen to a number of very interesting people.

And that’s about all the thoughts I have for now.

September 24, 2012

Where is the joy?

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 3:19 pm by

I had the glooms all day yesterday: sadness, anxiety, anger. Until at last, sitting in shrine, I poured out my questions into my journal. What was wrong? Was it this? Was it that? Or maybe the other thing? A long list of possible reasons, eventually winding down into resignation: nothing to be done about it anyway, nowhere to go but through. And then, finally, I was quiet enough for my Mother to say, very simply:

Where is the joy?

Where is the joy? To the heart of things, as always, strikes my Mother — and as is often the case, there are multiple sides to the question-that-is-an-answer-that-is-a-question.

In the midst of all this heaviness, where is the joy? Where can I find it, how can I seek it out, shining through the dullness, burning off the melancholy like mist? Is She giving me a map — the way out, if only I remember to ask the question and follow wherever it leads?

Or is She reminding me that when I gather and count up the things that burden me, I need to add in the blessings as well. That it’s far too easy to fill up my hands and heart with the stones of dissatisfaction — that I need to let at least some of them go if I’m to treasure the memories of the good and beautiful.

Or is this the critical but not cruel Eye, the objective gaze measuring balance and proportion, the editor letting me know that I have too many adjectives and not enough active verbs, the gardener gently pointing out that I’ve let the raspberry bushes take over. That I need to clear room in my life deliberately in order to encourage joy to thrive.

Or is it the compassionate Mother, who wonders, almost wistfully, why Her child finds it so very hard to live in joy. For after all, what is a world without joy?

Or is it all of the above?

In one four-word question, She reminds me to follow what brings me delight, to release what weighs me down and remember the good instead, to make time and space for joy in every day, and to know that She wishes the best for me, always. And there’s probably a whole lot more in there besides.

Where is the joy?

Dua Bast!