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.

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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.

Celebration

Yesterday I received word that not only was I accepted into Purdue University as a transfer student (hooray!) but that I’d received a partial scholarship that was renewable yearly for the remainder of my current academic track. This was a thrill beyond words. I busted my ass last year working 32 hours a week as a nurse while taking a full load of courses and made Dean’s List. However, I also realized in that time that the school I was attending wouldn’t meet my true academic goals, so I applied for a transfer to a larger university with more options. Now my desires have manifested!

It feels fitting to have the envelope with this information come at Noumenia, which is most auspicious for new beginnings. I’m starting a new phase of my life and moving towards dreams realized that I’ve held dear all my life. I am finally going to finish what I started and no longer be a slave to expediency. The cherry on the top was my husband telling me how proud of me he is. I’ve waited a long time to hear those words.

So I thanked Hekate by giving Her a freshly tidied Temple, finishing the work I started on Deipnon with Abby. Now people can move inside the Temple and find things. It’s a working space again. It feels good. I also got out my ritual robes that I wear for the Mysteries and am having them cleaned. Everything is falling into place. One more sign that I’m on the right track.

 

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.

Holding Space

I’d been looking forward all week to my friend and Sister Nan coming this weekend to do my hair with me. It seems frivolous, but living in a house of men, girl time is precious to me, so this was a big deal. However, it had to be postponed.

Nan gave me a ring when she got home because her partner had a very rare weekend off. They’ve been mid-reno for months, and alone there’s only so much anyone can do, so understandably, this shifted her priorities from fun to getting things done that had been waiting for a chance for them to happen. No biggy.

The call went from this bit of news to something more important. Nan and I are both nurses. We currently work doing different types of care, but we’ve both been doing this a long time and have a wide base of experience. Nan needed to talk about nurse-life to someone who’d get it and know how to hold the space a nurse needs when they just need to let it all out. We’ve both been there at times, and it is a treasure to know that if it just gets to the point of “peak-nurse” where you just can’t take the BS anymore, someone is there to listen and let all that drain away. Someone who knows there’s no quick fix to a systemic issue across the board. Someone who knows that we do what we do because it is needed and no one else wants to – or they would. Because in compassion we answer the call of Kourotrophos and provide succor where, when, and how it’s needed. BECAUSE.

And so I held space for my beloved Sister. For the one who has massaged the knots from my aching body with her expert hands, and who has been there for me when it’s too much and all I can do is scream or weep. Because that’s also what we do.