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.

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.

 

 

Dark Moon

Deipnon, the dark moon time sacred to Hekate, is a time for cleansing and purging. I have been doing that as the moon waned. Bits and pieces here and there, reorganizing my house to make things smoother, and to help things make more sense. It started with reorganizing and purging the kitchen and dining room spaces, and today it extended into the Temple proper.

Abby, youngest daughter of my friend and Sister Janelle, and one of my son’s best friends, was given a belated birthday afternoon with my son today by going to see Wonder Woman in the theater. This was a great time, my third for seeing the movie, and it just keeps getting better. Afterwards we came by the house because Abby had asked me if I had a corset or something that she could wear for a local cosplay event.

I had a couple possibilities, and I knew that one of them was likely in the Temple room. Recently with all the tarot decks and books from both my projects coming into the house in boxes, the Temple room has doubled as a cat-free storage space, and it has become a bit of a shambles. Looking for the cosplay stuff with Abby gave me a chance to clear the space and make it usable again. We found part of what she was looking for, but not quite what she wanted. We also simplified the room’s contents, moving the remaining decks and books into more consolidated containers and getting rid of other detritus in the process. I also found several things that I knew I would need to pack for Hekate Rising.

Abby spent much of our hunting time asking me about various things we found. She’s been raised Pagan, just as Tadziu has, but she’s inexperienced in the various accoutrements of Pagan practice, and honestly has little knowledge of various deities, practicing more of a generic Earth-centric Pantheism. So cleaning and arranging also became a time for some basic education, mostly just the names of the deities for whom there were altars in the Temple. Starting, of course, with Hekate Herself, when I asked Abby to put a box of supplies next to Hekate’s altar, we proceeded around the room, covering in turn Isis, Artemis, and Kali.it laid the ground work for her, and gave her something to explore on her own with her mom later on.

So dark moon became a time of cleansing, organizing, and teaching. Truly a good use of the time, and the Temple itself.

Shifting Gears

This week marks a month out from Hekate Rising, the Temple’s annual women’s retreat to celebrate Hekate’s Mysteries. For me that means major shifts in my daily life. I shift from a more mundane lifestyle ruled mostly by my job and family life to a life that focuses on the Divine and preparing for my part as Priestess of the Flames within the mystery rites.

The first and most obvious question to come from all this is: why don’t I live like that all the time? I’d love to, if I am honest. However, my job is in health care, and no matter what I do, it tries to creep into my off-work time on a pretty regular basis. This is par for the course for almost anyone in health care, because those jobs involve dealing with other peoples’ lives, you can be called upon to help any time of day, any day of the week – even if you’ve told them you’re unavailable. Heck, I’ve been texted while on vacation asking if I could help out! So to even back-burner that for one month is a major undertaking.

Next up is, so what do you do that’s so different? It starts with the aforementioned back-burnering of work. Saying no and saying it frequently is necessary. This year I also turned on the extended-absence greeting on my cell phone and left a message that I am only answering my phone during work hours because I am on retreat to tend to my personal and spiritual life, and it felt great to do that. I’ve not claimed my mental and emotional space in quite a while. This down-shifting from constant nurse-brain is a huge adjustment.

I also begin a period of physical cleansing during this time. Each year what is demanded of me changes, depending on how intense the mystery rite is shaping up to be. This year it means no refined sugar of any kind, no red meat, no poultry, and no alcohol. I’m on day three of this phase of things, and I’m enjoying it. My diet has become basically paleo-pescatarian, which is apparently suiting me fine. I was most curious how giving up sugar was going to impact me, since I tend to crave sweets when I’m under stress, and today truly tested my commitment to the process. I did manage to get through by discovering the delight of ripe plantain chips, which are both crunchy and naturally sweet, as well as finding a paleo chocolate treat that is decadent and will satisfy that need with a small piece. I’ve also discovered a brand and flavor of kombucha which doesn’t taste like drinking vinegar, to help with the internal cleansing.

The third big step is opening myself to hear Hekate’s voice in the daily hustle and bustle of living. One would think I’d always do that, but part of being a nurse is paying close attention to my patients and the constant din of work is very distracting. So I usually have a very tiny window for truly tuning in, which is unfulfilling on a spiritual level, but necessary on a practical one. During this month of preparation, I push the other life noises away and listen for Hekate as an active practice. She is more than capable of getting my attention when She is in a mood to demand it, but it’s the quiet moments when Her voice is an errant note on the wind or found in the rain that get missed usually. Those are the bits I listen for during this time.

It’s only day three, as I said before, and all the little and big changes, including cutting way back on social media (a true blessing and one I am going to keep up after the mysteries),are still settling in and finding how they fit. So I’m also adding getting back into writing this blog as part of the work. I’m a writer by nature as well as being an author. However, I’ve been neglecting my writing self for a long while aside from school work, which does not count. So, I’m taking back part of my evening to retreat from the world to tune in and simply write. I’m going to do it just to get back into writing for pleasure. I’m also doing it to keep me on track with the discipline of the cleanse. Finally, I’m doing it to share the process with those who might wonder what the daily life of an active priestess is like.

So here’s my world, and welcome to it.