There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.
And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)
Today’s question is:
What would I like to study next? Why?
I really don’t think I know the answer to that. Yesterday I said that I was developing an interest in herbalism so that’s sort of my answer, but I talked about that yesterday. So…
What else is catching my interest at the moment?
I really have no idea.
I’ve been doing a lot of crafting so somewhere in the back of my mind I’m harboring a touch of curiosity about how to blend that with my religion, so that might be something coming up in the near future. Maybe an art journal type of Book of Shadows? Maybe several? One for each Sabbat, for Esbats, for each deity?
And there I go, planning on taking on too much, as usual.
Maybe I need to work on learning my limits…
But that’s no fun.
That’s also not really studying.
I’m in a really good group on Hedgwitches and there is so much about that path that I need to learn. Herbalism is tied into it but there’s so much more, so I think that might be my next learning expedition, especially as it will dovetail nicely with the study of herbs.
I had originally planned a post about reasons that I’m glad I’m Pagan, but that was before I realized that this is the day before Thanksgiving.
(Yeah, sometimes days get away from me…)
So instead I thought I would take this post to do the traditional listing of things I’m thankful for.
1) Friends: both online and in person. They keep me sane – most of the time.
2) Family: they may be a little a little hard to explain and things might be a little strained at times, but they are still there, and they are important.
3) Freedom: I live in a country where I am free to practice the religion I choose and to walk down the street unescorted, without having to answer to anyone – not all people are that lucky.
4) Paganism: I feel so much more at home on this path than I ever did as a Christian, and I am grateful to the forces that guided me home.
5) My deities: the way They impact my life, the way They have guided and protected and taught me, and simply for being so that I could find Them and know Them.
6) Internet: it makes job-hunting so much easier. Plus, without it, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful people who are a part of my life.
7) Creativity: writing, stitching, scrapbooking, all of the other hundred and one things I want to learn and do – they all help keep me sane. I really don’t understand people who have no hobbies other than television, who never feel the urge to create something. (I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand them.) (I don’t understand people who have totally spotless houses, either, but I sure wish I could be one of them!)
8) Home: I have a place to live, warm and dry and sheltered from the elements. And I love it here – this apartment felt like home the first time I walked in the door to look at it.
9) Health: overall, I’m healthy. Well, other than the fact that it’s bronchitis season. (Oh, and that pesky weight thing, a.k.a. “the perpetual New Year’s Resolution.”)
10) Food: I love food (a little too much – see above) and I am grateful that I have enough to eat and the ability to cook it.
11) Clutter: yes, clutter. It means that I have more than I need, which means that I can help those who have less. I have probably cut my wardrobe in half by donating clothes to charities, and I’m currently doing the same with books. (I have more clothes to go through too, but that’s going to wait until the next change of seasons.) (It also means that I probably don’t need to spend money on craft supplies for the rest of my life.)
12) Sense of humor: yes, it’s warped and people don’t always understand it, but it allows me to revel in the ludicrousness of human behavior without being insulted (most of the time).
13) Imagination: without it I… The one thing I can’t seem to imagine is what it would be like to have no imagination. It enriches my life in so many ways.
There are other things of course – those were just the first 13 things that popped into my head. And just about each one of the above could be broken down into individual items, but that would leave me feeling a little overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with gratitude.
The fall equinox is this weekend, the second of the three harvest festivals of the Wheel of the Year. It is a time to look at what we have harvested in our lives, to give thanks for abundance, to celebrate the fruits of our labors.
But it’s more than just a harvest festival: it is also the equinox, a time when day and night are equal. To me it almost feels as if the Wheel pauses for a moment, giving us a chance to catch our breath before rolling us into the dark part of the year.
The equinoxes always lead me to think about balance, and how to achieve it in my daily life.
It isn’t easy. I always seem to be juggling too many things: work (or the search for it, currently), my spiritual life, home and housework, my creativity (writing and counted cross stitch). Inevitably it seems that one or more of these ends up taking a back seat to the others.
Lately I have been able to devote more attention to my spirituality, thanks in part to this blog: posting every week does wonders for focusing on a subject.
And not working helps: it’s a lot easier to focus on spiritual matters when the mundane isn’t dragging you here and there and everywhere in a mad rush to get somewhere. (My challenge is to maintain that focus when I go back to work.)
There is also the ever-present challenge of my creative pursuits, primarily writing and counted cross stitch. I need to learn to type with my toes so I can do both at once, but since that isn’t likely to happen, I would ideally love to find a way to feel like I am making progress on both crafts. (We won’t discuss the other crafts that I also never seem to have enough time for: scrapbooking, dollhouses/miniatures, jewelry making, etc.)
And, of course, the guilt that there are so many other things that need to be done, that I should be doing instead…
I could, I suppose, make a schedule of sorts, but that feels too regimented and forced and compartmentalized. And not balanced.
For me, true balance means that all aspects of my life are united, that I’m not feeling pulled in different directions, guilted into doing this or that or the other.
But I’m not even sure if true balance is obtainable. After all, the Wheel only pauses: it doesn’t remain poised on border between light and dark, and that’s not the lesson that it teaches.
No, the lesson of the Wheel is that there is always movement – but we always return to balance.
So, I had a week off work.
And it was wonderful. Relaxing. Non-stressful. I got a fair amount of things done.
I made one carnivorous and three regular terrariums.
I did some stitching (counted cross stitch) and kitted up a couple more charts.
I did some writing. (Not as much as I wanted or needed to, though – I need to kick myself back into gear for that or this series will never get finished, let alone get finished by the end of the year.)
I completed a bunch of small but time-consuming projects. (And kept moving a few others further down the list.)
I made some small progress in the chaos in my room. I’m not exactly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but at least I’m aware that there’s an actual tunnel and not a painting by Wile E. Coyote.
And most importantly I have taken a few minutes each morning before starting my day to spend time opening up to the gifts of the Gods and to thank Them.
And I have remembered – or been reminded – how much that helps.
I work in a jail. Not exactly the most relaxing, peaceful, or spiritual place on the planet, but it’s a wonderful place to learn. (And you probably don’t really want to know some of the things that I’ve learned there!)
I find that my day goes much better if I take time, either while walking from the parking garage to the entrance, or before getting out of my car, to ask that the Gods, especially Apollo and Hermes, be with me through my day. (Sometimes I feel the need for Athena or Ares, but usually Apollo and Hermes.)
What do I pray for?
I ask that Apollo fill me with His presence so that my presence may be one of warmth, healing and enlightenment to all with whom I come in contact. And I ask for protection, spiritual as much as physical. And I give thanks for the reminder – a shaft of sunlight, a brush of breeze – that I am not alone, that my Gods are there with me. And I ask Hermes to guide me safely through the darkness and back into the light so that I don’t lose my way.
Those brief moments before I enter the doors help me find my center – and make it easier to return to it when it gets lost during the demands of my job.
And when I step outside again at the end of my shift those few moments taken hours before make it easier to leave the darkness of the spirit behind me.
Tomorrow is Lughnassadh. I can’t believe that it’s here already – the first harvest.
And I have to ask – what have I harvested lately? Sometimes I feel as if my spirituality falls by the wayside in the midst of day-to-day life. I mean, I work full-time, work on novel-writing on a daily basis, and have other hobbies, as well: counted cross stitch, miniatures (I’m remodeling a doll house, and have others to assemble and do from scratch – as soon as I create enough room in my craft room to work on them), terrariums, houseplants in general, scrapbooking (well, as soon as I create enough room to spread all of that out, as well – right now I’m better at collecting stuff for scrapbooking than I am at actually making them, although I have several planned: one for my poetry, one for poems that I like that were written by other people, a Scrapbook of Shadows, etc).
So, yeah – my life is crazy at times, but it took an email from a friend of mine (Stevie Miller) to pin it down for me.
I had invited her to get together for a write in, and she agreed because, since we would be writing it wouldn’t violate her new rule. I had apparently missed her Facebook post so she emailed it to me:
“I’ve come to a realization that my life is getting too crazy lately. I’m so over-committed that I don’t have time to do the most important things in my life, namely making art and spending time on my spirituality.
This came to my attention first when I read an awesome article called “Creative People Say No” (I sent her that article.) I read this fantastic piece, and then I decided ok, I’m declaring an “art weekend” for myself the first weekend I have available, and I will not allow anything else to intrude on it. Then I saw that the first weekend I had available was a month away. And I still ended up committing myself to something for the Friday of that weekend, despite my best intentions.
It came to my attention again this weekend when I kept trying to pray right before falling asleep in bed (the only free time I had) and I kept falling asleep in the middle of my prayers.
It came to my attention again today when I wanted to spend some time with my sister and I realized the earliest free date I could offer her was September 20th. And it’s only July now!
Clearly declaring one “art weekend” is not going to cut it when art is my chosen way of life. And clearly saying a few hurried prayers right before I pass out at night is not going to be spiritually fulfilling for me.”
Her post went on to say that she was declaring a moratorium on new commitments until October.
And her post made me think. I’m good at guarding my writing time, and my alone time. But I’m not so good at guarding my spiritual space.
I do think about my path on a daily basis, but actual practice? That is often confined to Pagan music in my CD player in my car and prayers said while driving. And I hate that. I hate the idea that I am multi-tasking my religion. It’s not right.
So, instead of cutting something out of my life, I’m adding something in – namely, this blog. I had started it ages ago but never kept it up, and that is changing today.
I will be making weekly posts (Wytchy Wednesdays) to talk about… well, stuff. Whatever has wandered through my head during the week, or progress on daily goals for making my spiritual path as important as my creative ones – including decluttering my way to my altar, and daily morning prayers that occur before I get breakfast and get online or into a novel.
I’d love to hear from my fellow Pagans about their daily practices. What do you do? How well do you do at keeping them up? How and when do you find time?
And I don’t mean just the little things, like dedicating a task to a specific deity, or meditating while, say, repotting plants (guess what else is on my agenda for today?) but setting aside time on a daily basis, whether to light incense and a candle, pray, meditate… I’m open to suggestions and ideas.
Meanwhile, be blessed, and blessed be.