Blame and Laughter

My Kit and I went to North Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend, in part to visit his sister (whose ashes we scattered into the ocean in Avon last November), and in part to have a real, actual, honest vacation. While we were there, we bought a couple of very pretty handmade bowls from a local potter.

We got home Sunday at 5:30. I brought the bowls in, still wrapped and in their paper bag, put it on the counter, and we went to get dinner. We came home at 8:00 to find our yearling cat, Tache, wearing a torn-paper-bag bib, and his older sister, Hatchy, catatonic.

Uh oh.

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Pottery + gravity+ ceramic tile floor = smash.

I was angry. I was disappointed. I got into the shower and started crying.

And blaming.

Look at what else you broke, the sock monkeys started to whisper. You knew he could reach the counter. You know he loves paper bags. That was careless. It’s your fault.

I spent the rest of the night rehashing everything I had caused to break over the years – the tajine, our first pizza stone, glasses from events. I spent it upset about money I had spent over the weekend/month/year that was silly, and could have been used better, and gone towards this vacation to make it better. And then I felt bad that I was stressing Kit out by my tailspin/meltdown/whateveryawannacallit.

Two hours later, three days of relaxation and rest were completely shot. I spent the next day in a fog, which was an utterly perfect way to prepare for my therapy appointment that evening, dontchaknow.

I described the incident and started to cry again. And my therapist (we’ll call him DM) started taking it apart. We got down to a core of something.

The bowls meant more to me than just things. They were something Kit really liked, something he had picked out, something we got together, for our home. They were a part of our first real vacation in years, if ever – most of our travel involves vending or festivals (many of which we have worked). I was disappointed. I was hurt. I was sorry that Kit had lost something else (considering everything else he’s lost over the years) before he even had a chance to enjoy them.

Instead of letting myself feel that, I turned automatically to blaming myself. It isn’t comfortable; it isn’t pleasant. But it’s familiar. It’s a barrier. It keeps me from thinking about the real, honest, vulnerable emotions behind why I’m upset, and redirects me into something I’m used to, something I use to shield myself from the actual feelings. Why I default to blame, I’m not sure. I don’t remember being blamed for a lot when I was a kid (except for food disappearing, which usually was my doing, because unhealthy food relationships run in the family). But it’s a thing. And it’s a thing I need to work on.

That’s kind of the core of this particular bit of Work. One of the reasons that I had to Ordeal in such an extreme way was to rip me open so I could feel and receive and be. One of the things I realize that Raven was trying to do last year, in taking my core, was try to open me back up.

I did not let it work. Hell, I didn’t even mourn for my old cat Minoush when she passed – after being my nutbar girl for eleven years – nearly as hard as I mourned for Belenos after only 8 months with us. I shut myself down even harder when she passed. I wasn’t letting myself feel anymore, because it all hurt too damn much.

The Wake Up Call ripped me wide open again. I’ve been feeling the walls trying to come back up since the pottery fell, feeling myself deflecting, and I’m having to work hard not to allow it. I’m not always succeeding, but being honest with DM is the first step. Being honest with myself is next. (That’s what he’s there to help me with, after all.)

An interesting side effect, though, is my laughter. I’m noticing that I’m laughing more at things. I’m laughing harder at things. I’m not just humming or giving off a light chuckle. There’s something more authentic to my laugh these days, something that’s been missing. Maybe it’s just me, but I hear something different, and I like what I’m noticing.

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.

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.