A nine-month update

It’s been a bit! I said in my last post that the beginning of the year would be quiet, and that certainly seems to have been the case. This year I’ve been doing more than thinking, planning, or writing, which is a much-needed step in my own personal growth. I’m very Air-oriented and live in my head a lot of the time, and I occasionally need reminders that visualizing a spell or a ritual that should work is not the same as physically performing the spell or involving other people in doing the ritual. (I’m thinking of two instances this year in which I had grand plans that looked excellent on paper, but in reality, they didn’t end up happening the way I envisioned. This is fine, though! This is experience, and learning, and the accumulation of wisdom to do things differently next time.)

In the spring, from March through late May, I did a daily working for self-confidence that was centered on the solar plexus chakra. (In April I finished a year of daily meditation with the Insight app, and a lot of my meditations worked with chakras, so this was a natural extension of that.) This was a solid, well-timed working and did what I wanted it to do… except I didn’t plan a big finish or really any kind of ending, and it just sort of petered out. I’d like to revisit it in the waning year.

Since my intensive work with Tarot last year, I’ve acquired some skill, and I continue to read publicly on occasion (usually on a Saturday at Artes & Craft when my coven sister, the regular Tarot reader, isn’t available). I’ll be doing Tarot readings this coming Saturday at Artes & Craft’s booth at Grand Rapids Pagan Pride Day.

Other parts of my work in the past few months have not been glamorous: coordinating coven events, doing some of the cooking for those coven events, helping with setup beforehand or cleanup afterward. A covener died unexpectedly this summer, so there was much to do to honor her life and mark her passing (and Samhain is still to come).

And — I’m burying the lede here, yes — this month I was initiated and am now a first degree in Cththonioi-Alexandrian Wicca. *confetti toss* I’ve told the story of my seeking many times; altogether, it was about 13 years from my serious pursuit of BTW to initiation. (I’ll clarify that from the start of my seeking to finding Blue Star and beginning study was pretty fast, only about a year, although I moved cross-country in that year. But I wanted initiation, and there were other twists, turns, delays, and detours along my path to that goal.) I would say that I’m still adjusting — that’s a long time to say not yet, I’m not, not yet, not yet — but I have a whole lot on my plate right now, and it’s starting to feel like the gods are saying, “You’re here, excellent! Now it’s time to really get to work.”

On Saturday, MoonFire will be presenting a Dionysus ritual at GRPPD. On Sept. 22, the following Saturday, I will be leading a public Full Moon Esbat at Artes & Craft; the next day, Sunday, Sept. 23, I will be co-leading a public Harvest Home ritual, also at Artes & Craft. These are excellent opportunities to come talk to me in person, if that’s a thing you would like to do!

A decade-long cycle of growth and regrowth

On the old version of this blog, I wrote (somewhat poetically) about my experience of waiting. Let me say a few words about it in a little more depth.

From 2007 to 2010, I was actively studying Wicca on the East Coast. I sought it out, found Blue Star, and for much of that time I circled with two different Blue Star groups, one in the city where I lived and one further south, where my teacher lived. As a shiny new Dedicant, I had many new experiences, learned a ton from a lot of people, made friends, even survived a falling-out or two. So much growth happened in these years! I expected that things would just always be like this, now that I was “home.”

At the end of 2009 and heading into 2010, there were major changes all around. I made a difficult decision to leave one group. I thought an elevation to Neophyte was coming, but instead, doors seemed to close all around me. My teacher’s family had to move, and they struggled to find a safe, secure new place to live. I was laid off from my job. My husband’s disability became severe enough that he missed the safety net of family and friends back home in Michigan, and after a few months of job searching didn’t yield much for me, we decided to move. By the time we arrived, I was pregnant, and preparations for baby plus a new job with a long commute took up much of my time. Our daughter was born in 2011; about a year later, I deactivated my Facebook account over some privacy setting, and I stopped updating my LiveJournal because I no longer had time to write or read there. As a young working mother, I no longer had time for the lengthy, ponderous online discussions I used to love or the same round of 101 questions that often cropped up in Pagan discussion groups, and I stopped participating in those places too.

And thus I was cut off from the community I’d taken for granted. Now I was too far away to visit regularly, and I had (perhaps unwisely) removed the easiest ways to keep in touch. I was lonely and isolated; I thought that having a baby was a kind of isolation I’d chosen, but I was devastated and hurt when life went on for my community, and I didn’t see that there were ways I might have continued to participate. All I saw was closed door after closed door.

Every Blue Star elevation announcement made me bitter. It should have been me, I thought. I was ready.

Time has since mellowed some of that bitterness. I wasn’t ready — even at the time, I thought, if I’m feeling this way, I probably do need to wait a bit longer and do some self-work — and the people closest to me weren’t ready, either, though I didn’t know this at the time. Their stories aren’t mine to tell, but I can say that I wasn’t the only one who experienced major life upheavals.

This is the part of the story that’s still weaving itself together. By 2013, I’d changed jobs again, had another baby, and moved to the rural spot we live in now. My first attempt to fit in with a Grand Rapids Pagan community hadn’t gone well, and I was too disheartened to keep trying. Why? I now implored the gods. I’m ready. Why am I out here? Why am I still so lonely?

The Craft can wait, I had heard; the Craft will be there. So I waited. And then I had a battle with postpartum depression to fight.

In late 2014 and 2015, I started therapy and I started running. Slowly, the gray clouds parted. They’re still not gone, but I learned how to cope, how to function when there didn’t seem to be any point in it, and then I learned to find the point.

I started to wonder if the gods hadn’t thrown me into the wilderness just to see if I’d find my way back. So I decided to come back.

I reached out to a new Grand Rapids Pagan discussion group, one that hadn’t been around when I searched before, and I found enough of a fit to attend a circle or two. They were active on Facebook, so I activated my account again, and just like that I had my network of family and friends and acquaintances back.

In 2015, a treasured priest of Blue Star suddenly became very sick, and he didn’t have much longer to live. The community rallied around him to share their love and ease his passing, and because I had learned from him and circled with him and feasted with him, I shoved aside the last of the bitterness that I still felt and I joined in. At this point, I had been away from the community for years, and the hurts that seemed fresh to me were ancient history for everyone else involved — I wasn’t even sure that I’d be remembered.

It turned out that I was remembered, and I was loved, and I was welcome.

Through 2016, I took baby steps toward restoring my sense of community. I renewed my relationships with close friends who I’d lost touch with. I attended a couple of circles with the discussion group and participated on Facebook. I brought my children to Grand Rapids Pagan Pride and participated in the rituals. And in the last days of the waning year, I started participating in a new Blue Star group aimed at connecting those of us who were solitary and lonely and feeling isolated. Simply the knowledge that I wasn’t alone — that others had rows as tough as mine to hoe — let so much of my grief and heartbreak fall away.

This is the part of the story that has yet to take place. I feel that I’m on the cusp of something new, that other doors will soon open, and that I have to really absorb the lessons of the past decade. I’m not sure what will happen next, but I am here. I’m still here.