“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.

Random bits.

The whirlwind continues, although it’s finally starting to even out. A few bits and pieces have come up this past month. These are just random thoughts, not necessarily related.

– My Kit is out of the state at the moment, working for the next three weeks with his old employer. His first day, yesterday, was 17 hours long. I haven’t been able to talk to him much, but if the next three weeks go like yesterday did, we’ll have a nice little cushion and start to the down payment on the house.

– Sir passed on Saturday. There is a hum, a buzz where His voice normally is. Usually it’s completely silent. In the days before Samhain, He was particularly talkative, especially as I led a chant during a ritual on the 30th. (I can’t tell you how nervous I was.)

– The Folk around our new home have raised their little heads, especially as much fog as there has been the past few weeks. They’re curious about me. This morning they tried to be tricksy in my head and I was having none of it. Mother Danu made motion too; they quieted down after that (with some giggling). Their House will be one of the things I pick up from J’s house this week.

– I am going through the next three weeks without my partner or my Lover. Friends are popping up with invitations for dinner and offers to come by, because I do tend to become a hermit by myself. Meanwhile, I’m channeling some of the lonely restlessness. I started the first part of the garden I’ve been planning – the compost basket for the center – and have gotten a few things organized around the house. I have plans to make some freezer meals this week – cook a dinner meant for six, eat a portion, pack a portion for lunch, freeze the rest. There are still boxes to move from J’s place, which I’m working on this week, and so many things to unpack.

– I’ll be at Festival of Light in Berkeley Springs in a week and a half, with our partner D to help me at the table (because she’s awesome), and I have my very first presentation on the Kabyle that weekend. Plus readings. Plus stock. And I have to finish a set of Stones and order a couple of fresh copies of the books.

– The cats keep crawling all over me at night, because Daddy isn’t home and Daddy’s girl wants love. I adore them both, but I wouldn’t mind a full night’s sleep, especially since I’m now getting up at 5:30 or earlier to get to work on time. 🙂

Ye Gods, everything is exploding.

Since June, the world’s gone crazy.

The youngest got his butt kicked out. He’s living with his grandparents for now, but without any forward momentum.

Kit went to Texas for a week to see his uncle, who is only 10 years his senior and dying of cancer.

We tried to apply for disability for Kit. Denied (not unexpected; still frustrating).

We tried to buy a house, because we can’t stay where we are. Loan denied, because OMD WEIRD ZONING and OMD what do you mean you’re buying a 1 bedroom, 1 bath because we can’t sell that back when you’re done with the house? (We’ll be done with the house when we’re DEAD, just stick a gravestone on it for fuck’s sake.)

We had two shows go by, have another in a week, another in October, and maybe another in November. MUST MAKE ALL THE THINGS.

We are now renting said house, and moving in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS.

It is also currently Ganeshotsav, for which I was not at all prepared, so I threw up my hands, said “Fuck the non-meat tradition for the second year in a row,” and decided to do devotionals on Facebook instead because THE WORLD IS FALLING AROUND MY DAMN HEAD.

Geebas. Fucktards. Spin me right round.

On the flip side, though, the youngest’s older brothers have taken it upon themselves to put some fire under him (may help, may not, but is mildly amusing to watch, knowing our boys). Sir got some good time in with me while Kit was in Texas. Kit got a call from his former boss, which may end up with job-type stuff, which would add a little money to the pot and give him a better barometer of whether his body will withstand a workday. The Realtor we worked with owns the house we’re renting, and is happy to have us and infinitely patient. One show was delightful; the other was AMAZING, and the others promise to also be fabulous. And Cousin Ganesha is not complaining – indeed, He’s been ever so graciously rerouting all the slammed doors into other opportunities. Sir also made damn sure I knew that He is proud of me, because the Kahina Stones are truly done and ready – I’ve sold three sets this year (two commission, one cold).

And our friends. OUR FRIENDS. They have been the best of late.

So the world will stop spinning at some point; I will breathe; W/we will settle.

Jai Ganesha!

Predator/Prey

**It’s taken me a long time to get through this one – life continues to not slow down. But it’s important that I finish.**

Sir likes to give me His horns.

There are a couple of reasons why He does that. Sometimes, if He needs me to say something on His behalf, I get His horns as both encouragement (“Yes, you’re hearing Me correctly”) and demand (“Yes, you have to say it, I don’t care if it sucks”). He’ll give His horns on particularly interesting nights – particularly gorgeous full moons, certain holidays, certain moments in a day – to remind me of the wildness and wonder.

Most wicked of all is when He is feeling frisky and decides that I need to have some fun on His behalf.

Our annual Beltane festival was, for the most part, quiet. I was working on staff again this year, and when I wasn’t on duty I was either cooking, hanging out with friends I don’t see often enough, Working as ground crew, or generally lounging. Our last night there, Kit was kidnapped by our Sunshine (a dear friend whom he started dating last summer) for some private time before his late shift, and Sir swooped in.

I was already planning to go to the dungeon space, where I tend to hang out during evenings at the festival, and this night I asked, “How shall I dress?”

Self-care.

The night was chilly, so on went the sweats and layers.

Pack a bag.

Um… okay.

He was specific. And while I didn’t end up using much in the bag, there was a reason. See, there are a lot of toys that Kit and I share as Tops. There are not a lot of toys that I would allow to be used on me as a bottom. Nearly everything He told me to pack was something I would use as a Top.

If that doesn’t get me into a specific headspace, I’m not sure what would.

So I meander up to the nearest taxi stand, call for a taxi, and watch the small ritual across from me as I’m waiting. Among the participants is my friend E (the same who helped with my Ordeal).

That’s about when the horns started pricking at my head.

Here comes the taxi. Up I go to the dungeon and just kind of sit and watch. I have a carbon fiber rod in hand and I’m kind of messing about with it absentmindedly. E comes up later and has a scene with one of his usual play partners. Hot.

Hello again, horns.

Maybe an hour later, E comes back to the dungeon to say hi. He’s still floaty.

Aaaaaand I kinda sorta seriously pounced.

He’s such lovely prey.

He said a couple of very apt things during this little pickup scene. (Haha, my friend B would say – she was sitting right there, I didn’t “kinda sorta” anything, according to her.)

“Part of you is hungry.”

Perhaps just a bit. Oh hi there, libido, where have you been?

 

“You’re hunting.”

Well, yes. Because it was the day after Beltane, Sir wanted some fun, and E is someone I trust who enjoys the kind of thing Sir was looking to do.

Let me tell you, the week after this? I was a very happy little bird and Kit was a very happy husband. 😛

The larger thing on this, though, is that this is the first time He has manifested this kind of desire through me. While He wasn’t taking over, and I still had choice in the matter, He did prod, and rather delighted in the result. I’ve mentioned before that He intends for me to represent Him in all His aspects – light, dark, joyful, raging, and so forth.

This was Him using me – and my own wants and needs – to fulfill his “I’m a sexy horndog!” aspect. (Yes, He’s rolling His eyes at that.)

What with the multitudes of crises hitting us over the past two years now, it’s the clearest I’ve felt Him in a very long time. It was disconcerting, but rather a lot of fun.

Skål!

Last night I participated in my first blót, which our dear friend K led for us.

I don’t follow a Norse or Germanic path by any means, but a few of our friends do, and we love to explore other traditions, especially with the varied members of our group. It was a fantastic ritual, and I can’t thank these wonderful people enough for being a part of it (especially K for leading it).

One of the features of a blót is the passing of a horn containing alcohol of some sort (in our case, mead and tej). First round is to honor the gods, spirits, and/or ancestors. In our group, that becomes a very eclectic group. Among those honored were Maya, Odin, Freya, Castor & Polydeuces, the ancestors, Raven, Cernunnos (duh), and Anpu. (Even more were called at the start.) In our group’s rituals, the spirits and deities generally keep to the one who asks for Their presence, for which we are highly thankful.

Then came the oaths and boasts. This got both rowdy and solemn, lots of bawdy jokes and some near-tears. There have been some massive explosions in our group’s lives this year, and a lot of the boasts came in the form of “HOLY SHIT, I SURVIVED,” while the oaths took the form of self-care.

Mine included.

Sir is intensely patient. This year was hellish in so many ways, and I have been on the very edge of burnout more times than I can count. However, He is determined to see me healthy, and gave me a set goal before He passed – drop ten pounds by Yule. As with so many tasks He sets, the number was less important than the effort. As is unfortunately typical, my effort (although better than previous attempts) was not the best I could muster.

So my oath was to make myself more whole this year. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically. Mo ghrá has been more or less ignored this calendar year in favor of the mundane fires that had to be put out, and He will not be patient much longer – nor has He reason to be, and losing Him is something I couldn’t bear. While a few things about my physical health have changed for the better, my body hurts pretty constantly and is not supporting the things I need or want to do, because I am not taking care of it. I am not taking care of my self, of Kit’s partner, of His property.

Once again, my ever-patient and wonderful friend spoke up with an offer to help. We will be talking, lovely. 🙂 I still have to learn to get out of my own way, to re-train my inertia, but at just 30 years old, I’m seeing and feeling too many physical signs that I am running on very borrowed time. It is beyond time. I can’t ignore this anymore. My Kitten needs me whole. My Sunshine needs me whole. Mo ghrá needs me whole. Most of all, I need me whole.

So I say again: For my Sir, mo ghrá; for my Kitten; for my Sunshine; for my friends; for me. I vow to do all in my power to make myself as hale and healthy and whole as I possibly can, as healthfully as I can.

Unfucking All the Shit

Lots of chaos around here, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Raven’s Cave is officially migrating. Moving days are scheduled; storage is upgraded; our intent to vacate has been delivered and acknowledged. We have boxes (earth and sky, do we have boxes), a cranky middle son (who has to find his own lodgings because REASONS), very tired us, and a couple of very confused cats.

In all of the chaos, a couple of very good things have occurred.

First, we had planned for paying $200 more for our rent for the month of March, as our lease ends March 4th and our property management is typically about as flexible as Kevlar. When we received our acknowledgement, however, it showed us paying our current rate for the next two months we’re here. That’s $200 we can use for, say, emergency funds, or to rent a shampooer and steamer.

Kit’s layoff was originally scheduled for January 31st. He has (in his words) received a “stay of execution.” His layoff date is now officially March 7.  This gives us five extra weeks of him earning overtime for us to save, as well as a full month of his severance while we’re moved in with our friend, giving us a whole lot more to stash away. It takes off some of the pressure, giving him more time to search for a new job without as much panic. It’s also well-timed; the transportation plan we had set down would have been greatly complicated had his extension lasted beyond March (not that any of us would have been unhappy to see more of an extension, but one car + two jobs + kid in school = nutbar).

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on packing us up, one box a day, while still trying to keep the house in some kind of order. The biggest help in all this so far has been UnFuck Your Habitat. They have a website, a Tumblr blog, and a phone application; I ponied up the $1.99 for it and have been using it to get little things done around the house without overwhelming myself. It’s been amazing so far. I am unfucking all the shit, man, including my own frazzled brain. Between that tool and help from amazing friends, I have been so much calmer the past few days, feeling more like this is a manageable thing.

Kit’s been helpful where he can be, too. There’s still a lot of stress; that and the weather are still kicking his fibromyalgia into massive flares. I pack a box before he gets home; he goes over thoughts and scheduling with me and helps me fidget with it if needed.

There’s still a lot to do, and there’s still a good bit of stress coming down the line. But dude. Unfucking all the shit. One box at a time.