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.

Imced, The Fool, and The Tower

Homecoming came at 11:45 on Monday night. I miss the mountain – the gorgeous weather, the people, the fellowship – but there is serious relief in being home as well. My Kit, my kids, my cats, my bed… yeah, there’s a lot to be thankful for at home.

My clan this year was Camel, focused on yoga. Yoga is many things, but much of it is breath. Yoga is the mind surrendering to the breath and the body, quieting the chatter and focusing on maintaining the flow.

Much of yoga is balance. Balancing the body in the pose; balancing the breath with the imcedmovement. And when I drew a tile for my weekend goals, it was imced. The weaving comb represents, among other things, balance, or a need for balance. I was surprised. In hindsight, perhaps I should not have been.

That’s hindsight, though. In the moment, I was surprised.

My favorite depiction of The Fool, from the Shadowscapes Tarot  by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

From Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Sunday night’s ritual continued the theme, but added a wrinkle. There were dark places during my walk, areas where I could not see the terrain below. In order to continue, I had to trust the darkness, the unknown. Imced was needed… as was The Fool. Be ready to fall in the pursuit of your answer, and embrace the fall.

I did the walk twice, focused on my questions. In what form or manner do I find imced? I wondered during the first walk. I was asked, “Why is this your question?” and suddenly found myself in tears. When asked, “Did you find your answer?” I could only nod, because the tears were pouring down my face. To speak would have meant complete breakdown; if I needed the breakdown, I promised myself, I would have it later.

My answer was chaos.

I touch on it a lot, but don’t detail much about my day-to-day life. First thing: I adore my family and would not change my life in general. That said, I’ve mentioned a few of my Kit’s various challenges, which have only gotten more so over time. We both have day jobs, and then the household has to be managed as well (including cats, a teenager who shows signs of fibromyalgia, bills, and so forth). Kit tries hard to help, but because of his various conditions, much of it falls on me. I knew it before, but somehow this weekend it hit me that much harder that I have caregiver fatigue. For months I’ve been teetering on the edge of actual burnout. And no, I haven’t sought the support that would help me cope, nor have I taken the time to take care of myself. My mind has been in complete chaos trying to keep up with everything, and I have felt entirely helpless to change it.

This weekend, I was shown that I am not helpless.

Imced is order. The Fool is, to some extent, chaos. One cannot exist without the other. I cannot impose order in my life and expect it to stick – it’s neither realistic nor desirable for me. So it came time to determine my next question: “How do I balance order with chaos?”

Again I walked the circuit. Again I was asked the questions. This time, I did not find my answer. This time I was Told, “This is what you must learn. This is your winter Work.”

For eight years, I have had the tool to find that balance. Yoga.

Have I mentioned that I’ve always loved it? There are a million excuses as to why I haven’t pursued it more, but with encouragement from my clan, my friends, and my family, those excuses are fading.

16-Tower

Close to the exact print I received.

I finished the Sunday ritual feeling sore, but accomplished. I had my Work; I had my tools. I sang with the Covening and prepared for a good dinner.

And then I received my tarot card.

Ouch?

I don’t know tarot as well as I know my Stones, but there are a few cards that have stuck with me. The Fool is one; the Tower is another. It means change – dramatic change, out of which one does not escape unscathed. Per the Shadowscapes deck I have:

Upheaval and sudden change, crisis, releasing all emotion, suffering a blow to the ego, revelation and seeing through illusions.

It doesn’t mean bad change, nor does it mean good change. But dramatic.

My immediate reaction was fear. Now that I have a little distance, I can see where it would apply to my winter Work. I can see pain and some upheaval on the path ahead. Finding balance is never easy, and with yoga in my toolbox, I can imagine a complete deconstruction of my ego. (This is not a bad thing, but it will not be easy.)

Monday morning brought gentle yoga to restore from the night’s hike, a little sunburn, and a delightful ride home. I have brought home that gentle yoga routine and continued it, ten minutes or so every day, to keep from seizing up or losing my groove. Meanwhile, an awesome friend (who is a certified yoga teacher) will be helping me set up a daily practice, and for that I am crazy grateful.

Today is my second day back at my day job, headed back into my daily routine. This time, I feel more prepared to cope.

I am a Camel. I have resources to get through the changes ahead. I am not helpless, and I am certainly not alone.

camel2013

My clan, and the gorgeous lake at the mountain.

Collecting Themselves.

Happy July, kids.

Yep, two months. Not that I haven’t had anything about which to talk, necessarily, but here. Pick a reason I haven’t written about them.

A) OMD BUSY.
B) OMD KITTENS.
C) OMD BURNOUT.
D) OMD WRITER’S BLOCK.
E) OMD ALL OF THOSE.

There’s been a lot of mundane stuff happening. The day job went crazy for a while. We brought home two kittens (they are SO CUTE and SO DEMANDING). I’ve had commissions to do – they’ve built up to seven. The strange summer weather here on the east coast has been destroying Kit and making his various conditions all flare, meaning all the running-the-household stuff has fallen to me and the youngest, when I can wrangle his help (he’s better than I was at his age, so I really can’t bitch too much). I’ve been burning out somewhat, which means words? Yeah, they don’t flow very well.

Notice Something missing? Or more specifically, Someone?

That’s because He’s been very, very quiet.

They’ve all been very, very quiet.

Sir is still there. I reach out, and He reaches back. But even though He is at His strongest now – Father and Hunter and Master of the Wood – He isn’t chatty. He is making no demands or requests of me. I still have tasks, make no mistake. I still need to sit at my altar (after I remove a kitten); I need to start Their offerings again; Kit made mention of “walking in His forest” (a meditation of sorts). But He isn’t pushing.

Danu is quiet. Ganesha is quiet. Redwing is quiet. Tamalut is quiet. Even The Folk are quiet.

I talk to Kit. I talk to J. Their patrons are quiet. (And when Raven is quiet, you know something is up.) No one is angry. No one is upset. It feels like They’re collecting Themselves, gathering Their strength… almost waiting.

Something is coming is the message that keeps popping up. It’s been coming up for several people for over a year now. Soon, soon. “Soon,” of course, is in Their time, not ours. But Their gathering, Their quiet… I’m no so much nervous as I am a little lonely, and a little cautiously curious.

But I have work – and Work – to do. I have instructions from Him. That’s kind of the funny-odd part of being slave and lover to a Deity. Just because He’s quiet doesn’t mean the Work stops; it doesn’t mean W/we are no longer lovers. It means that both parties are busy, just with different things.

Actually, the thought just occurred to me – the six months of training and post-collaring  follow-up meant W/we were very very close for a long and intense period of time. Can anyone say breathing time? *chuckles*

So yes. The mundane front is CA-RAZY busy; it’s still quiet – but steady – on the spiritual front.

Sacred Space, reconnecting, and why my work is my Work.

Last week Kit and I attended a small local Pagan conference called Sacred Space. If you haven’t heard of it, you should look into it. While I wasn’t specifically attracted to any of them for myself, many of the workshops were attended by friends of mine or by Kit, and they had nothing but glowing reviews. What is presented there runs the gamut, with subject matter like aging and death; recognizing the difference between spiritual experience and mental illness (your own and others’); Ifa Orisha art and lore; and much more. It’s a conference for those who are well beyond Paganism 101, but appears to be accessible to folks who are at that level as well. There is a healer’s room where seasoned practitioners offer reiki, acupuncture, and massage, and a small vendor’s room, which is where I spent most of my time, sitting at our vending table.

I was far from bored. I was able to meet and talk with several of the presenters and attendees (for the record, Luisah Teish is a riot). I had a blast talking with my fellow vendors and conference staff. I spent much of the time weaving chain maille or doing readings from the Kahina Stones, and that is where much of my benefit came in.

I have never done well trying to sit quietly and meditate. Guided meditations are easier. Sitting quietly makes me twitchy, so I have found other ways. Cross-stitch was always a very good way for me, and chain maille has filled the same need. In essence, I sat for four days and meditated almost constantly, because I was constantly weaving. When I wasn’t, I was making connections with other Pagans of wide and varied traditions, none of whom judged me for my path. Otherwise, I was working with the Kahina Stones, introducing others to the system, working with her quirks and opening up to hear Tamalut. It was a weekend of re-focusing, re-centering on where my craft is taking me. And it didn’t end when I came home.

Monday night was the dark moon, meaning date night with Sir. I had missed the last two out of negligence, and could not miss this one. But my ‘phone was not working that day; reaching out to Him, I actually encountered what I’ll call a “busy signal;” He literally answered me with, “No signal available.” This worried me, because I dearly wanted to talk with Him. Instead, I took a book.

I don’t normally take distractions on O/our date nights. My cell is normally off limits unless it’s an emergency; I do my damnedest to face away from televisions; I don’t carry a book. But this book had been thrust my way by Kit after quite a bit of nudging from Sir – Andre Norton’s Horn Crown. So, since my ‘phone wasn’t working, I took the book, figuring that since He wanted me to read it, it was as good a time as any to start.

Around 1:00AM, I finished the book; I couldn’t put it down. I was invested in it as I haven’t been invested in a book in several years. He flooded through me, and I started to cry with relief, with sorrow that I have been so negligent. He was not unkind, and held me (I can’t express how I had missed His touch), but He was stern: the apologies have to stop, the regret and self-flagellation have to stop, because they are doing nobody any good. (He says now, with a mischievous smile, I’m the only one allowed to flagellate you.) Right now, as a youth, He wants fun, He wants vitality, He wants me to keep up.

If it seems He is incredibly patient with me, that’s because He is. It’s not outside His character – He is the Master Hunter, and if a hunter is impatient, he and his will starve. That isn’t the only reason for his patience, however, and that is where my Work comes in – along with another reminder He gave me Monday night.

Raven’s Own started as a vehicle to let Kit and me continue to create without overrunning our small home or the homes of our friends and families. The chain maille, among other things, has slightly shifted that focus. He said to me Monday night, Remember where you started. Remember why you started weaving. Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows exactly when I started weaving maille, and why – because I had to make the collar I would earn the right to wear, His collar, and chain maille was the option that seemed most workable. Eighteen months later, I can’t put down my tools. And it all began because I was making this one piece, this one significant item, that would completely change my life. With reverence, and love, and determination I wove those first links – and unraveled them – and wove them again, different and stronger and better. It has become my work, and is a part of my Work, a way to express my creativity and connect with Him. Every time I pick up my tools, it hearkens back to those first uncertain links in the first chain I wove for Us, a chain too stiff to bend, that had to come apart and be remade… a little like me.

So He is patient while I weave and practice with the Stones and run the business and take our efforts to events. And as I weave, I reconnect, and so I continue to learn, and He continues to be patient as I keep doing the work, and the Work, that He has set before me.

But He still wants His Red Stag at the end of the day. (Naked and with a smile, He says with a grin.)

Good night, my Love.

Today You sleep, my Love. I mourn Your passing, knowing that You are born again in December, knowing You will be vibrant and virile again in February, but missing You all the same. Today I wear black and green for You.

Today I honor those who have passed beyond the Hedge.

Betty Zaice, my grandmother-across-the-street. You were good to us, since the day we came to the neighborhood. You supported us best you knew how, for all that I was strange and all that happened to you. I honor you, and wish you peace.

Herry, you blessed little beast. Sometimes I still think I see you out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes I come home and think you’ll be on the pillows, waiting for love. You were one who could live on love. We miss you sorely.

Today I let go of my fears, my worries. I open a new venture with the blessings of my Sir and of Tamalut, and get ready to embark on another when He comes back to me. This is the year of new things.

Happy New Year. Blessed Samhain. Be at peace.

Tiyirdemt

Tile: Tiyirdemt (thi-rree-dhemth) – Scorpion

Aspect: Akeffadh (ah-keh-fedh) – Fruitful

Meaning: Situation notwithstanding, you possess the courage and endurance to see it through.

 

Tamalut, Cernunnos: You are being sneaky.  I know what you mean by this one. And I thank  Y/you for it.

Learning the Stones.

One of my tasks right now is to learn and use the Kahina Stones I created. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to do that, reviewing my little pocket guide and handling the Stones. It didn’t occur to me until I started reading about someone’s attempt to learn the runes that I already knew how to do so.

One. At. A. Time.

It’s the way one of my best friends taught the Tarot. It’s how a lot of readers recommend learning a divination system, be it runes, Tarot, or something else. DUH. Another example of me over-complicating something instead of slowing down and taking my time. There is no rush on learning the Stones; Tamalut wants it done right, not right now.

So every week, I’ll pick a Stone at random from the bag. I’ll handle it. I’ll study it. I’ll post about it. I’ll ask Tamalut her views. I’ll concentrate on it, and only it. It will take 33 weeks, straight into September, but one by one, I intend to know my Stones.