Reset.

On October 12th, I received an enormous wake-up call.

On October 13th, I removed my collar and cleared my altar.

The relationship is not over. He is still my Sir. I miss His collar; I miss Him (since this is His quiet time, and there is a gap in the voices I Hear). But I had forgotten that it is a two-way street. I stopped listening, stopped doing the Work. I have not taken care of His property (myself), and I have not represented Him well. I let my ego run rampant, and used the relationship I worked so hard to earn to make myself feel important and justify things as it suited me.

In the process, I have closed off. I let the hurts and stresses of life run me over, stopped making time for any of Them, for Kit, for anyone else, and drew my walls back up. I shut away my compassion, my mindfulness, in order to escape the anger and hurt. I forgot how much that doesn’t work, and how much damage it can do.

I’m back in therapy, something I’ve needed for longer than I wanted to admit. So far it’s going well, and I’m poking at the wounds that I shut the walls over to try to protect, so that I can work on accepting them and healing them. My therapist uses words like heart, honesty, vulnerability, compassion, regret, work to describe me so far, which tells me I’m not a lost cause yet.

My altar now carries only a candle, a lighter, and an incense burner. Back to basics.

I almost cut my hair, even – if I’m going to reset, reset all the way, right? I didn’t say you could do that, Raven said firmly. Boundaries.

But I’m back to weaving chain maille more regularly, which is as much devotional as it is self-serving. I’m enjoying it again, too. It’s a start.

Sometimes it takes losing something to realize how precious it is. I’m lucky that I can say “almost losing,” rather than “lost.” And I’m lucky for those who have stuck with me – and been willing to be the Universal Clue By Four – when I’m too busy deluding myself to listen.

I have been trying to think of words, because that is always my fallback. But there aren’t any.

I was thoughtless. Colossally, incredibly, inexcusably thoughtless. I didn’t listen; I didn’t think. Worse still, someone had to spell out for me what a thick-headed, selfish jackass I was to other people, what I took away from other people, before I realized how wrong I was – and how my actions completely contradict my words on all accounts.

This is not who I ever wanted to become. Words can’t fix this. Dwelling on it can’t fix this; I can’t push rewind and do it again. Apologies mean nothing without the action to back them up. I have put in the work. I have to fix this by doing.

Genderbendery

Sir has been throwing ideas at me since I earned my collar.

You should take up bellydancing. Or burlesque. Try packing. Or hunting.

I’m still working on Raven’s Own, even expanding its show schedule a little this year and planning/doing a few more ambitious projects. Tafat n Kahina goes right along with it. I’m not allowed to give those up, and we can’t afford for me to give up my day job. And I can’t tell you how many projects I have to do around the house – fixing the septic lid, fixing the toilet, digging and planting the bee garden, building the food gardens, building the patio wall in the front. (Don’t misunderstand: Kitten does help and is really really good at what he knows, but he’s got a black thumb and isn’t really the handyman in this relationship. He is, however, the better cook.)

Oh, and mowing the lawn. Although I enjoy mowing, too.

You should teach a class. Maybe teach two classes. Hey, those clothes look good. Maybe you should mix music.

My dysthymia and social spoons have been in havoc for at least a year. But Sir keeps throwing ideas at me.

Go back to yoga. Pegging could be cool. Or kickboxing.

Throw enough ideas, Kitten says, and something is bound to stick.

Maybe drag kinging.

SPLAT.

Cue a 24-hour frenzy of research, YouTube videos, Pinterest pins, articles, supply resources, and even lip-sync playlists.

This is certainly not the first time it’s crossed my mind. I’ve considered packing for years. I have occasionally peeked at the DC Kings‘ website, and am now a bit pissed that I missed seeing them perform (the troupe retired in 2015 and left their website/social media up as resources and history, bless them). I’m rather content to be biologically female, but there is a part of me that craves a bit of genderfuckery. And Sir, for His part, has no objection to me doing so – in fact, would encourage it, especially as it would fit beautifully into my requirement of representing Him. He might even let me cut my hair for more than maintenance, for the first time in six years, if it’s for kinging purposes.

Oh, and spending several hours turned on at the thought of having a packer in place is no indicator at all. Because I need more projects/ideas/things to do/holes in my head. </sarcasm>

Featured image is of Landon Cider.

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.