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.

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.

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.

The Storms That Shake Your Soul

As can be inferred by the title of this blog, the aspect of Hekate that I work most closely with is Einalia, the Lady of the Waters. Living near the Great Lakes, Her presence is strong and has been with me since the first time we did Hekate Rising in 2010. One of the highlights of that year was doing a silent meditation under the stars while standing in the mirror-calm waters of Lake Michigan as the Perseids rained down. It was a profound experience for all who participated.

There is another aspect of The Boss who plays a major part in my life and my work and that is Brimo, Lady of Storms.  I have always been a child of the thunderstorm, feeling most alive when the winds blow fiercely and the lightning blazes across the sky. A late-night thunderstorm is usually a guarantee of a short night of sleep – not because the thunder itself bothers me, but because as the winds rise, I awaken and become energized. I used to drive my mom crazy when I was a child because I would run out and play in the storms if I could get away with it. I once even volunteered to be the one to run outdoors in the middle of a hail storm to get fresh vegetables from our garden.

This last week has been one storm after another, usually popping up in late afternoon and roaring all night. So I have been quite the insomniac as my energy batteries for creative work go on overload while the rain comes down in torrents and 80+mph winds whip the trees into a frenzy. I am glad that I tend not to suffer for it later. It is a gift of Brimo to me that the storms and I love each other.

Of course, this is not always the case. One story which I always keep in my mind to safe-guard against getting too big for my britches when dealing with any aspect of Hekate, let alone Brimo, is one that dates back to the summer of 2010, while planning for the first Hekate Rising. I had just left the local grocery store after buying some supplies for the first retreat when an afternoon thunderstorm began. My car at the time was almost 10 years old, and it would occasionally get cranky at inconvenient moments. It chose the drive home during that storm to act up in a dangerous way.

As the sky turned green and the rain poured down, the windshield wipers stopped functioning. This happened just as I was driving up the incline of an overpass. Suddenly I couldn’t see a thing, and it was incredibly scary. There I was in my car, supplies for Hekate Rising in the trunk, my nine-year-old son in the back seat, and I can’t see where I’m going! I was internally warring between being terrified that I would drive into oncoming traffic or off the overpass and being furious at my car and the weather for putting me in this spot. As I crawled along, trying not to kill us, I finally broke and vented my spleen by telling Brimo that if She wanted me to do this damned retreat, then She’d better do something about my car or the weather so I didn’t kill myself!

Well, the rain quickly stopped, and I was able to get home safely. I got my son inside, then as I was unloading my trunk to bring the supplies indoors, the sky opened back up and this time the rain was accompanied by hail, which pelted me mercilessly as I bolted for the door with bags in hand. An amused voice in the thunder seemed to say, “You made it home safely; now do your Work, and don’t be so lippy!”

Since that time, I’ve continued the Work that She gave me that summer. It has cost me at times, but it always ends up being for the best. Each time the thunder rumbles and the winds rise, I listen for Brimo’s voice in the storm, and I thank Her for my life, which has been Hers since that storm in July 2010. And I remember to mind my manners!

 

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.