Wednesday, June 21, 2006

not all who wander are lost

This is the first card in the Major Arcana of The Gaian Tarot. Traditionally it's called The Fool. The Major Arcana represent major life passages and spiritual lessons. Big karmic stuff. Laid out in sequence, they tell a story. The Fool is the beginning, the first step on a long journey. This is where I've been in my life for the last year or so. I'm very much a Seeker, I haven't got much more than a good walking stick, a sturdy pair of shoes, and a healthy curiosity.

I haven't really actively celebrated a sabbat since Brigit in February (which most people know of as Groundhog Day. You should have seen my kids' faces when I tried to explain that particular American tradition!) Spending May Day in Glastonbury was a wonderfully...affirmative experience. I bought a candle from the Goddess Temple and hauled it all the way back here.

This is only the second time I've celebrated summer solstice, and it's going to be low-key affair I think. Last year I had these big plans, Midsummer happened to coincide with a Full Moon, I had a great ritual all planned out, but it went awry pretty quickly. It's very difficult for me to keep up a personal spiritual practice in my parents' house. Partly because they don't know about my spiritual beliefs. I wear a pentacle openly, I don't hide my books, they know I'm not a Catholic or an Athiest, but we've got this great Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy set up, like always. And it's just tricky, grounding yourself and celebrating the moon when there are crucifixes on the wall and you're worrying about the incense smell so you've got the windows open and the fan going full speed...

And honestly, it's a struggle, wearing this pentacle. Not just around my family, but in general. Nearly every day I consider taking it off, just for a little while, just for a break, just in case. But I don't. This whole spiritual journey has been a huge struggle, just to get to this point, the beginning. I've tried to run away from paganism several times, but every time Goddess grabs me by my hair and drags me back, kicking and screaming sometimes. But I spent the Winter Solstice sitting on Philappapos Hill, the Hill of the Muses, in Athens, with the wind flying around me as the sun set over the ocean, and I thought Look, this makes you happy. It makes sense to you. It keeps you sane. You're a much better, peaceful person when you're not fighting it. Of course people will think you're crazy and wierd. It is crazy, in a world like this, to believe in the divinity of nature, inuition, magic, life. It's contrary to everything you were raised to believe. So embrace your wierdness and be happy, for crying out loud.

Choosing this spiritual path has paralleled my coming-out experience to an eerie extent. A lot of the same questions and conflicts. And the thing is, I wouldn't even have been there in Greece if I hadn't kept trying. I sat there in France in November, praying/meditating/whatever, just asking: now what? What should I do? Where should I go? And the word Greece popped into my head and would not go away, no matter how much I argued and rationalized--um, I don't speak Greek! I've never traveled alone before! It's really far away! It's too hard! It's too scary!!--so I gave up, trusted my gut, and it all worked out in the end.

So far my practice is very informal and spontaneous. My altars have generally consisted of a candle discreetly placed on a windowsill. And when I was in France, I finally had the time and space and privacy to really explore my spiritual practice--but no money or resources. It's been incredibly frustrating, to be all alone, to do this all on my own, but it's good too. It strengthens my commitment--I've been through a lot of challenges and I know, deep down, that this path is right for me, even if I haven't got the details figured out yet. It teaches me a lot. I learn to improvise, to be creative. I learn that it's not about the props--the candles, incense, blah blah--they're just tools, useful tools, but not the important thing. I do a lot of reading, a lot of studying, a lot of questioning. I work with tarot cards a lot, because you don't need a lot of crap to practice divination. The temple at Delphi said Know Thyself, and that's what I try to do.

I wanted to get up this morning and watch the sun rise, but, uh, I kind of slept through it. Discipline has never been my strong point. Besides, the house was busy with everyone running around getting ready for work. I went to the state park near my home and hiked in the forest before it got too hot. I'll do some more reading, maybe a few excercises in The Spiral Dance. I'll say goodbye to the sun at dusk and maybe bring my Goddess Temple candle outside after everyone's in bed and come up with a little something. Just to say hey, thanks for the sunny weather. My life is pretty great, all in all. I'm glad I'm alive.

And now I'm getting off this damn computer and going outside. Have a nice Midsummer everyone.


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