Early Riser.

Ain’t this your time of need?
You’re turning to the light
You have just begun to explore the dark
In the urban night

It’s been a long road. I have constantly, consistently allowed mundane things to interrupt spiritual things, including and especially my Service. A few Voices are making their way back into my life, pushing against the numbness. Raven is one, clacking His beak in my left ear since Twilight Covening. Mother Danu is another. Yesterday I think it was, I heard baby babbling on the side of my mind most occupied by Her and was confused.

The world is on fire
And you are here to stay and burn with me
A funeral pyre
And we are here to revel forevermore

She explained. The side of my mind most occupied by my Lover and Sir has been numb. I’m having a hard time Hearing because I’ve allowed life to close me down.

This morning that changed.

You’re so goddamn frail
Failing for a change
You just had to know all about the world
But you will never know
‘Cause no one ever told you how

The past few years, Sir has gone through the entire growth process. Dying at Samhain, reborn at Yule, a child at Imbolc, and so forth. This year, this morning, He burst through in a massive shiver, a whisper of Explore your darkness with Me, along with the song I was listening to on my commute.

The world is on fire
And you are here to stay and burn with me
A funeral pyre
And we are here to revel forever

The world is on fire
And we are tied as one eternally
A funeral pyre
And we are here to revel forevermore

Not only does He like Ghost, apparently, but He decided He would come back to adulthood NOW. I have been numb for much too long.

*the video is fan-made.

“Rest.”

“Rest,” she says, and licks my nose.

Neighborhood Bear

At Twilight Covening, for the first time, I worked with Mama Bear.

She watched me start my first Journey, trying to find the biggest hurt I carried, watched as I went over every “what if” and “should have” and “why am I not better at this?” It took longer than it felt – apparently everyone in my clan went deeper than we thought. “What if” and “should have,” apparently, are my biggest hurts, the things my brain weasels bring up every time I have a down.

She supervised as Raven brought in His unkindness, His conspiracy, and took me apart, piece by piece, removing the masks and the layers and the identities and the skin and meat and sinew while the trees reached up with their roots to hold me there. She grunted and roared and told Him to hurry up as He claimed my very core, claiming me as one of His own while Sir nodded in agreement.

She walked with me in the last Journey, helping me navigate as I shifted into something part-bear, part-stag, part-raven, and napped on the rock in the sunshine. She licked my nose in good humor and patience, waking me from that last Journey.

She will not walk with me much further; I am Claimed by too many others, after all, and my path is not hers. But her lessons ring still, even as my Sir and Lover dies, even as Mother Danu grows quiet and thoughtful, even as Cousin Ganesha retreats. Her lessons are repeated by the soft “awk” in my ear, the gentle clacking against my hair.

“Rest,” she said. “Learn to do less. Learn to expect less of yourself. Wick has named you West Virginia Mountain Mama. Mountains may move slowly, but their movement changes the world.”

“Slow down,” she said.

“Rest,” she said.

Reintegration by force

I came home from Twilight Covening last night, late. Around 4:00, as my passengers and I were finally hitting signal off the mountain, my Kit called. He had left messages that I could not get until I got off the mountain.

His sister died Saturday morning.

It’s complicated. We don’t yet know the circumstances for certain. She was not an easy person to deal with, not because of an unpleasant personality, but because – in a nutshell- she was an addict with bipolar disorder who left behind three children who had been removed from her care, as well as parents she used up whenever it suited her and a brother and nephews who were exasperated by 25 years of bad behavior.

But she was still family. There was someone there I never got to meet – someone they knew from long ago, someone funny and kind and smart, someone buried by illness and addiction and bad choices and “it’s all good no matter what happens” denial – and so they mourn her.

I have never returned from a retreat with such a cold, abrupt, forceful shift back into reality. Processing hasn’t happened yet. My reintegration day is a shattered mess. My desire to be strong for my Kit, for my family and clan-by-marriage, is warring with my inability to resume immediate control, since my whole amazing incredible weekend was spent surrendering that control.

There was no good way for it to happen; the outcome is unavoidable, and I blame no one. I’m not sure I even blame her. I was angry in ways and for reasons I won’t dwell on here. After a hard cry this afternoon, a fight with the instincts of wanting to be the caretaker and wanting time to come back from the Mountain, I have found a place of calm.

I cannot hold up my Kit or my clan right now, not the way I would normally. I am still caught between Mountain and Mundane. But right now I can be there. It is a start.

Twilight Covening comes again.

I have missed it for the past two years. Now that things are stabilizing financially (thanks to Kit’s new job), I am going back to Twilight Covening.

Of late, I have been utterly overwhelmed by Life. This, if you’ve been around for a while, is not unusual. We’re still in the midst of the House Saga (very close to actually buying it now, thanks to family help). There’s still stuff to unpack, because my nerves about being able to stay kept me from unpacking much more. We’ve had a plumbing problem in the kitchen that we might (might) have finally solved. And add to that doctor stuff, anxiety stuff, day-to-day responsibilities, and business stuff, and BOOM. There goes the spiritual life again.

I feel like one of the weirdest godslaves ever, really.

I did manage Ganeshotsav this year, good and proper, including the nose piercing I still owed Him. And we finally got the main altars set up. That all helped immensely.

But going back to Twilight Covening is a relief… and utterly nerve-wracking.

The selection process was shockingly easy for me. And I got my first choice – Kodiak, which is built to help us learn to nourish our Work and our Selves. This is part of why I’m relieved, because yet again, I’m restless and exhausted and way too often on the edge of burnout.

No, I didn’t keep up with yoga. No, I didn’t keep imced or the Fool in balance. No, I didn’t keep any of the lessons I learned at my last Twilight in 2013. I’ve let Life overwhelm me again, and over and over again let me berate myself for being a lazy Pagan and a bad godslave and everything else, which is a cycle that is really terrible, honestly, and you shouldn’t do that and neither should I, but welcome to my brain.

So I need this. I need this badly, and Kit’s insistence that I go, that I use part of his hard-earned first paycheck to register, is a relief.

But I’ve missed two years of the mountain. And going back after being away from anything so long makes me nervous as hell. I’m back to being that, “Oh no, trying new things, help?” person, at least for the moment.

Sir is quiet. Danu my Mother is quiet. Ganesha my Cousin is quiet. The Folk and Redwing and Raven (who has more say in my life these days), and Tamalut… they wait. Not to see what I’ll do, not to see if I’ll fail. They wait for me to learn and to grow and to find my way out of the hole I keep putting myself in. They set the path. I need to turn my feet to walk it more often, and more consistently. For my own health; for my own heart; for my own healing.

So back I go. Back to the cold stone, the warm leaves, the high mountain, the low sky. Back I go.

The Season of Darkness

Spring may be coming, but I received a distinct reminder last week that it isn’t here yet.

I drive about an hour each way to work these days, and living in the boonies, I see a lot more variety in road kill these days. Near the day job, I see mostly skunks, deer, and skunks.

So. Many. Skunks.

"I am adorable and will kill you with smell if you hit me."

“I am adorable and will kill you with smell if you hit me.”

Anyway, there’s more variety when you live out towards the country. Still lots of deer, still a few skunks, but also foxes, possums, raccoons, the occasional cat, even an owl. But surprisingly, it wasn’t in the country where I got this reminder.

Not five minutes from my office, on the main highway, I saw a distinctly canid form. I couldn’t stop that day, intended to stop the next. And of course, the next day, I blew right by and had a short debate with myself.

You can always stop tomorrow, said Mother, who has been very talkative of late.

No. No, I couldn’t. I turned around, got back to where I needed to go to safely pull off the road, and got out of the car.

That’s My girl, Mother said to me.

It was definitely not a domestic canine. She almost She almost didn't look real.didn’t look real. I’d never been so close to a wild one, and she was definitely long gone. I took one picture so that I could identify her later, placed a hand near her paw, said a few words, and walked back to my car.

I showed the picture to Kitten later. She was a coyote, although not apparently a healthy one. She did not appear to have been hit and thrown, but had perhaps simply died near the road, and while coyotes aren’t afraid of people in the first place, they’re normally far too clever to simply get hit. One way or another, this winter was hard on her, and she didn’t survive it.

Spring is coming. But the winter’s darkness isn’t over yet.

Just bought a Thing.

I’ve been meaning to buy this Thing for quite a while. First, I demurred. We had enough books; we have books in storage; I don’t read any of my books anyway.

Then it was finances. We couldn’t spare it; we were already living with a friend and socking away everything we could in order to find a place of our own.

Today, I read a very nice little article on beginning a devotional practice. In it was a link to the Thing.

I bought the Thing today.

This may be a very interesting year.

No resolutions.

I don’t make them. Not a one. I always over-reach and end up setting myself up for failure. So I don’t make resolutions. But boy am I glad 2015 is over.

Last year was full of ups and downs. I’m not talking about the downs. I am so thrilled that we found a place of our own, with help from friends and the Universe (Ganesha gets ALL THE CHOCOLATE). We’re nearly unpacked, really, and loving the cozy little house with the cozy little backyard and the lovely neighbors.

Now that Life is starting to settle down, Work will be ramping up. Mother has been talkative this season, and given firm instruction in some cases. New home means new Folk, who are very very quiet so far but a little more openly wicked than others I’ve lived near. Sir was making stronger motions just before Samhain, and I expect Him to ask more of me this year. Ganesha moved a lot of boulders to help us get where we are; He will expect me to follow through on Ganeshotsav this year.

Work will be hand-in-hand with life, too. I’m socking away whatever I can to help us buy the house, which we are currently renting, but also stuffing funds away to help keep Raven’s Own going and to try to get to Twilight Covening this year (I’ve missed two).

The Kahina Stones gave me no absolutes for New Year’s, either – it’s up to me to make this year my bitch. Or not.

I have goals. Just no resolutions.

I do have a Wish this time around, though.

That all who are lost find their way.
That all who love find love returned to them.
That all who are hurt find what they need to heal.
That we all find our purpose in this crazy, frustrating, wonderful world, even if that purpose is to just be our crazy, frustrating, wonderful selves.