Kismet

While I have a friend named Kismet, this post is not about her. Rather this post is about all the little ways that things I’ve been encouraged to do as part of my ritual preparation come together without me noticing.

One of the major things I’ve needed to do as ritual prep has been to treat my body as a sacred vessel and care for it appropriately. While part of this is the cleanse and diet restrictions, another part revolves around how the various things I ingest, rub into my skin, and clean myself with affect me on a visceral level.

It starts with my skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it is essential for preventing the spread of infection as well as all the other functions it serves. My skin is dry and sensitive to chemicals, so I have to watch what I use to wash and lotion up with closely. My scalp and hair are also dry, and I have a restricted diet from allergies and pancreatitis even when not on ritual austerities. So treating myself as a sacred vessel seemed a challenge, since Hekate let me know it means anointing myself as one.

Then the pieces fell together. I found a sulfate-free body wash that won’t dry my skin and smells like summer by the ocean. The main scent is pure jasmine absolute, which is heavenly, with notes of honeysuckle and gardenia. It’s even made with Greek olive oil and pomegranate, so it’s truly in tune with Hekate. Then as a bonus pack I discovered that this body wash also has a gentle exfoliating scrub, a body butter, and a body spray all in the same scent. So I can truly anoint my skin like a Goddess.

The next challenge was my hair. I had an acceptable cleaning regimen for it, but it smelled of Fresca, not my favorite thing in the world. While the body wash doesn’t have a matching shampoo (I wish!) I found something just as good, a cream cleanser and conditioner made with rose absolute. Bye bye Fresca, hello Goddess. So my outsides are being cared for per Hekate’s directives.

I won’t bore you all with the details of my diet austerities, since I’ve already discussed them, but one bit left me stymied. I had an urge to take up a kombucha regimen as a way to support my health and make my pancreas and GI tract happy. One problem, most kombucha that I tried tasted like vinegar or something else equally nasty. I was trying everything I could find to no avail. It was universally yucky, yet I still felt the need to keep moving forward. Then at last my local natural foods grocery had someone giving out free samples of a new brand of kombucha, and being up for anything once, I gave it a shot. Eureka! We have a winner! Not only didn’t it taste like vinegar, but it was delicious and thirst quenching. I grabbed a few bottles of the flavor I’d liked best and put them in the fridge feeling like Smeagol when he found The Precious. Well, I pulled one out tonight after dinner, and read the label out of curiosity, since the name of the flavor is Love, which doesn’t tell one much about the ingredients. Then I started laughing, deep hearty laughs accompanied by mirthful tears. The main flavor notes are jasmine and rose, with a bit of damiana and lavender for good measure. Well played, Hekate, well played.

Whirlwind

The next few days are going to get a little crazy. It’s now just over a week until I pick up one of the women who is flying in for Hekate Rising from the shuttle terminal in town. In those few days, I will: have drywallers coming in to do a second estimate after the first came in a bit steep; meet with my academic advisor and set my schedule for the next semester of school; go see my family for a reunion; do the last of the supply shopping for Hekate Rising; make the honey cakes for the Rites; order my college books; get my hair done; do all the packing and prepping to make sure that everything I need to take comes with me; go to the local bakery to get a quiche and some cupcakes; register my son for his junior year of high school; work several shifts at my job; and quite possibly meet with a music collaborator for a project. So in a word, whew.

I’m feeling just a bit overwhelmed with all that I need to get done, but writing it out honestly helps because I can see it and know how I need to schedule it. Tomorrow at 8am the drywall people will be here. Then I go to work. On the way home, I will stop at the bakery and order the cupcakes for pickup next Thursday evening. That night I will register my son for school. Friday morning I meet my academic advisor, then once I have my schedule, order my books and then come home to do more packing. Saturday I will work an extra shift I picked up so not working the day after Hekate Rising won’t hurt my next paycheck. Then we’re driving to South Bend to hang with my family for a while, grab some dinner, and have some quiet family time. Sunday it’s drive back and meet Nan here to do my hair, once that’s all done, I’m hoping to meet up with my music collaborator. Ok , going to stop now, feeling overwhelmed again…

Anyways, this next week is a bit crazy, but at the end of it all, oh so worth it.

Packing

Today I started actual prep for Hekate Rising. I’ve been planning, plotting, and possibly scheming my way through spring and summer to get to this point, counting heads and seeing what’s needed. However, today began the getting out of bags, boxes, and cases to carry the various accoutrements that come with me to the retreat as part of the portable Temple.

I’ve started sorting through altar cloths and other items to see which ones are needed. The candles and other items are getting wrapped and ready. The last item will be the Presence, a gorgeous piece of original art by Jeff Cullen which has been ensoulled and carries the energies of the Lady within. Until next Thursday night, the Presence will remain on the main altar in the Temple.

I’ve also been packing things for our other festivities including the Mothering Rite and the Baby Blessing. Little things like gifts for the new mother and infant, ritual items, and some fun bits and bobs are in neat stacks, waiting for their turn to go into the bags.

My ritual clothes have been freshly laundered and are hanging in the closet of the Temple, ready for my suitcase. I washed them last year after getting home, but I always wash them again prior to packing. I wear this outfit once a year, on one particular day, and at no other time, and one day I will wear it as my earthly remains are returned to the soil. There are no photos of me in this gown, and there never will be. It is only for the eyes of those who come to participate in the Mysteries.

It raises the sense of anticipation, all this prep work, and the desire for the next week plus to be over, so I can be with the Sisters and celebrate Her Mysteries as well as our shared community. My life has many high points, as well as general ups and downs, but Hekate Rising is the weekend where I feel most alive.

 

 

Balancing

Today was about staying on track, both personally and as a Priestess. This started with me taking a couple days off since my husband just returned home from a long business trip, so I could give him all my attention and reconnect. This was essential for me to refind center, and so he could adapt to the various changes in routine due to the approach of Hekate Rising.

First was letting him know about the diet restrictions. While I don’t hold either him or my son to my restrictions, they are both sweet enough to adhere to them as well, at least when I’m present, to make it easier for me and to smooth such things as meal planning. Since the restrictions vary from year to year, and this year is fairly strict as compared to others, it was a bit for him to process. Fortunately, he did return home basically in the home stretch, so he’s only going to have to be a good sport until the end of next week.

I also let him know about the writing, and informed him that I wished to get back to it, because it does help me keep focused during this preparation time. It’s fine to want to chill on the sofa together in the evening and have a bit of us time, but my spiritual practice is important to me, and that includes keeping up the writing. I value this time near the end of my day to reflect and think about how my sacred life and mundane life intersect and co-mingle. Today they intersected mostly in my reminding my spouse that my spiritual work is a priority, even when he’s home.

The final piece of the balancing puzzle came with work. As a home-care nurse, I can be called and asked to pick up work at all hours, and have families asking me if I can come in on days when I’m normally not available. My giving nature makes me want to say yes, but if I said yes every time I was asked, I’d never see my family, and my spiritual practice would get lost in the work shuffle. I’ve done that before, and I nearly lost myself in the process. So one of my sacred challenges as an active Priestess is learning to say “no” and preserve the balance between the needs of my patients and my own needs. It’s easy to feel guilty when saying “no” to a patient’s mom who wants time to go work extra hours, or go to a family event, but it is part of making my connection with Hekate a priority in my life.

I did my devotee dedication and pledged myself as Her priestess many years ago, and it’s not something I take lightly. It’s why, when I teach students who wish to follow this same Path, I let them know right off the bat that it’s a commitment that must be taken seriously. It’s more than possible to follow a Pagan Path and be devoted to a deity without taking on the commitment of being a Priestess or Priest. In fact, if you don’t have the time or the energy to commit to the study, then you definitely don’t have time to commit to the Work.

Give Me Shelter

Today we were supposed to get a little orphaned kitten to foster. Got up to animal control to find out the little guy already had a pending adoption application. While this was great news, it did leave my son and I a bit flummoxed. However, it turned into an opportunity for another kitty.

While I was busy talking with the staff at animal control, my son had been busy making the acquaintance of a juvenile Maine Coon cat in the bottom cage. My son likes cats in general, but he and this one truly bonded within a matter of minutes, to the point where he had started calling him by a name, Leo, and the kitty was responding to it. So this kitten, who is about a month older than Leeloo, ended up coming home with us to foster.

The entire trip home, he was cheebling and chirping at Tadziu the way Maine Coons do, and as soon as he was out of the carrier, he made himself at home. My son is pleased by the way things turned out, and Leo’s already fitting in with the other cats quite well.

We’d been planning on giving comfort to one refuge cat, and though the cat changed, we are fulfilling the Divine Obligation of hospitality with another wanderer of the fringes. A cat, who until 3pm didn’t have a name, and was just listed as young male Maine Coon, unaltered. A name is a big thing, but especially with cats, who tend to not come to a name unless they choose it. Leo was coming to his name before we even left animal control. I’m not sure if Tadziu picked him, he picked Tadziu, or they just recognized kindred spirits in one another. In this case, I don’t think only Hekate took a hand in helping Leo find a place to be, but Pan, my son’s primary deity, was in on it as well. Tadziu wasn’t originally going to come with me to get the kitten, but changed his mind almost at the last minute, and if he hadn’t come, it’s likely Leo would still be there.

There seems to be a conception in non-Pagans, and even in some Pagans, that when the gods speak to us it’s usually an ostentatious thing. But it’s often a gentle prompting, an urge, a feeling that something is supposed to be. While Hekate prompted me to step forward and offer shelter to a homeless cat, Pan is the one who decided who that cat would be.

Keeping it Zen

AceofCups

The last thirty-six hours have not been fun for LGBTQIA folk such as myself. It’s middling unfun for me personally since not as much of the nonsense was specifically directed at my part of the spectrum, buuuuuuuuut it hardly matters how it impacts me when it impacts several million people living here in the USA. However, I must say seeing a brief filed by DOJ saying that equal rights protections under Title VII don’t apply to me because I am in that spectrum was a gut punch. It’s like we’re fighting the same old fights again, and personally, I’m tired of it. I know it’s much worse for trans folk, since much more spleen from His Occupancy of the Oval Office was vented directly at them, but all the same Title VII is quite a bit to have go away in one brief. I hope the courts disagree.

It’s been easy to go from one end of the mood pendulum to the other, just waiting to see what that buffoon will do next. It’s easy to lash out at other folk in the Community as well as Allies. They know it’s bad, and their attempts at protest, humorous or serious, can be misunderstood or misconstrued, and attempts to correct them can make a gulf between the Community and Allies open up as they tire of us lecturing them on our newest no-no list. Hell, I tire of it, too, because I can hardly keep up with what the more Social Justice Warrior types among those I know in the community (and out of it for that matter) are going to decide is the offensive faux-pas of the week. I got to the point where I was over-reacting in all directions, and that was before the most recent load of nonsense.

So I stepped back. Trying to see both the forest and the trees, instead of lost in too much big picture or too much niggling details. Trying not to burn bridges or add fuel to the fires burning all over. Asked The Boss to help me find the words that would chill the situation the hell down before we all give ourselves coronaries.

Hekate is great at that – communicating I mean. She’s our Lady of the Crossroads, places where boundaries touch and people meet. As goddess of liminal spaces, She’s a natural for helping us build the bridges we need to cross from one space to another, and to open minds and hearts. Hekate’s a realm-crossing badass who doesn’t allow Her followers the luxury of excuses or self-deceptions, so we also have to work on our communication as part of opening doors with the Keys that She provides. So I dug deep when I saw situations escalating and people who should realize they are on the same side starting to succumb to the Occupant’s efforts to divide us. And I found my right words. I found the love. I found the humor. I found the way to teach both sides simultaneously and re-open the door.

We need to leave our egos out of the equation. Part of the Dark Night of the Soul within the Fool’s Journey in the tarot is The Tower. It’s the card of ego-death, where all the layers of what we think we are get cracked open so the Light of Truth can fill us. It’s a rough process. It’s painful. Slaughtering our personal sacred cows and using them as barbecue always is. But it’s so necessary. Turning to The Boss when the Tower is part of my life has helped me get through it. She doesn’t take shit from us, and She won’t let us accept our own hype. Hekate’s a tough-love goddess to be sure. But She takes you to that point where all you have left is who you are for real, and when you get there, finding the Zen and sharing it with others becomes that much easier.

 

Back to Work

Today was one of putting on the shit-kicking boots and getting back to business. In the span of a few hours, while I watched my patient sleep, I put together our Temple newsletter, added more classes to the Hekataion classrooms, helped some Sisters get registered in the Hekataion or recover their login information, and communicated with a candidate for the Korybantes Path. (More on that later.)

I’m really unsure what inspired this burst of productive energy, especially seeing as how the kitten woke me up at midnight and again at 5:30am, so I started my day grumpy and foggy-headed. Nevertheless, I got a burst of creativity about 9am that lasted me through to the afternoon, and much was accomplished. I felt like an active, busy Priestess for the first time in months, and I’d forgotten how good it feels.

The Korybantes Path, as mentioned above, is a new thing within the Temple. Taking its name from the attendant priests of Hekate on Samothrake, it seeks to re-establish an order of male priests dedicated to Hekate’s service. The Boss has been nudging me for over a year to get this off the ground, and some foundational work was laid in February/March, but it didn’t take off. Today felt like an auspicious day to give it another go, and this time I rapidly got results. After some time spent talking with him, the first prospective candidate for the Path had received his assignment to start preparation for his dedication in February.

I enjoy the work of a Priestess with a functioning Temple to keep on an even keel. It truly does suit me. With school starting in four weeks, I’m giving this a running start, with the hopes that by the time my classes start, things will be humming along nicely.