Begin again

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Dear Reader,

You may or may not have noticed my absence. Shit got real (mostly in good ways). My life has changed in too many ways for me to feel like I can just pick back up here. So I started something new over at A Howling Witch. Please find my new and continuing adventures over there from here on out. This blog will remain live, and look for my co-blogger’s amazing posts here at at her own personal blog as well. Thank you for the love and support. I hope to see you over there soon.

-CiervaLoba

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Happy Imbolc! (reposted from my original blog)

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I want to wish you all a very blessed and belated Imbolc! The spark in the Goddess’ belly has been lit…and I was initiated into the Gardnerian tradition. I’ve spent the past week unpacking my feelings around initiation, and all that I can say is that I feel more grounded and humbled. At first I was in a sort of daze but felt so solidly connected to my body and the earth. Then, a few days later, I felt exhausted and spacey. I’ve fluctuated between extreme elation to utter exhaustion in just minutes’ time. But overall I am very, very happy with my decision. It was right and it was time.
In some ways, I’m still “recovering” and in others I’m feeling like I need to move past the exhaustion and prepare for action. I feel like I need to act on something, to move, to be heard, to make something happen, to create. I’m thankful we had a full moon last night so that I could “act” on my religious obligations, but there’s something else driving me to continue like I’m not doing enough at the moment. What is that?
When I first heard that I was going to be initiated, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I spent most of my time thinking about what it would be like and doing light research on the Internet to “prepare.” All that I can say is that there is no amount of research, either through reading or verbal communication with others, that can properly prepare you for an initiation simply because experiences like initiations are ineffable; they are hard to put into words because everyone experiences them differently.

So, two weeks before my initiation, I stopped thinking about it. Really, I did. It left my mind. The nerves were gone and all expectations went out the window. I knew that it was going to occur and who was going to be there and that’s all I needed to know. In fact, that’s all that I wanted to know. And I feel better for it because I stopped putting mental expectations on my covenmates and on my initiator, and I especially stopped putting expectations on what I thought an initiation should be like. At the end of the day, I knew that I trusted my HPS and HP and that was enough. It really gives a whole new meaning to “perfect love” and “perfect trust” when you actually make the decision to practice both without doubt. I trust these people with my life and now my heart, just as they trust me with the same.

I imagine I’ll be unpacking my feelings around this experience for a long time to come, as it seems to be one of those experiences that has yet to make itself fully known and never will in just one punch. I expect change from myself, just as I saw change in myself before the actual event. The fact that I was able to put a completely uncharted experience out of my mind two weeks before the actual event is amazing because I can be quite the Nervous Nelly when it comes to new experiences. It felt nice to not be nervous, as I put my faith in Fate for once.

Anyway, from here on out I expect things to be different. I already feel different, and in some ways I think others can tell that I’m different. I’m curious to see what pans out in the coming weeks and months following my initiation, but for now I’ll try to keep most of my focus on the present. That’s another thing that I love about Gardnerian ritual: it keeps you in the present and you can’t help but feelin the present.
Ah, well, Happy Imbolc! May your planted seeds bear good fruit!

The Fire Within Me

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The fire within me burns hot, almost consuming me from the inside, as I realize that something within me has changed…is transforming. I’m different in a way that I want to be, and there’s this feeling of urgency building inside that has similar qualities to the peaking of ecstasy except that it’s coming from my heart.

That call that I’ve referenced in older, previous posts is making itself more clear as I’ve treated along the path to finding exactly what it is that I’m supposed to be answering. About a month ago I dedicated myself to the Gardnerian coven that I’ve been working with. As of last night, initiation was offered to me, which I graciously accepted, and will experience this coming Imbolc. It’s seven weeks away.

It’s seven weeks away and the flame in my heart is growing, slowly transforming all that’s being touched by it…and my feeling is that the result of this transformation will be made apparent the night of my initiation. I do not think that Imbolc was chosen as a coincidence, as I remember that originally I had made plans to meet with the coven on Imbolc of last year but decided that I was not yet ready for that type of commitment. And now, it will be exactly a year later that I commit myself and am bound by oath. After all, there are no such things as coincidences in witchcraft.

In the coming weeks I will be preparing myself to be ready for a new, uncharted experience; one that I wholeheartedly believe will open the doors to me experiencing a truth and then many others.

The fire inside me creates my desire.
The earth that shapes me makes me act.
The air that inspires me guides my intellect.
The water that flows in my veins will be my oath.

A snapshot

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A wall of one's own.

A wall of one’s own.

This is my new desk/altar location in my home, as of today. Typically I’ve always kept altar space separate and sacred, only for praying, rites, and so on. When I set up my altar to la Loba almost six months ago, it wasn’t on a special altar table or anything of the sort- it was on a working desk. I think that nothing could be more fitting. She is not a goddess who sits in her shrine, untouched, unsullied, dusted as needed and perfectly arranged. The She-Wolf is about passion, ambition, action, movement; I feel it’s more than appropriate for me to surround Her with proof of the dedication and commitment I have for the goals She’s helped me achieve.

 

Insert joke about watching what you wish for here.

Insert joke about watching what you wish for here.

As I buckle down for my last week of preparation and study before I officially begin my new career path, I’ve finally crowded Her in. Here my mini chest of drawers (holding extra candles, matches and incense) serves to elevate and protect my small wolf figure, my charged apatite (motivation) and quartz (grounding and cleansing), and some incense. To the left and right are large black and white jar candles. On the left of the chest is my tarot deck in it’s bag, and on the right is my journal and my copy of Women Who Run. Back towards the left are planners, text books and test preparation guides that I’m working on this week. The small tea lights are not only for ambiance but also a small bit of sympathetic magick, representing the fire within. And honestly, I need as much help as I can get, since some of this material is drier than the quartz. 

My Solstice

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The summer solstice only recently became a focal point of my Pagan-ness. During college I was closeted at home, so I really could only openly celebrate the Sabbats that fell during the school year. While I still haven’t celebrated a true Yule, the summer of 2012 was the first time I really celebrated the summer solstice. It was at Pagan Spirit Gathering, and without trying to sound too dramatic, it changed my life. 

I was drowning in a desperate post-graduation customer service job, feeling financial and social burdens, and living in a stressful situation. My SO and I decided to go to PSG last minute; we got our registration in about three weeks before the event and it was nearly a miracle that I was able to take the full week off work during the busiest season of the year. We had to get all of our camping gear new and last-minute, and we didn’t know anyone who would be there. We almost called it off a few times. I’m Pagan, but I’d never been to a festival, let alone a gathering that lasted more than the afternoon; my SO considers himself a friendly atheist. I tried to give him a more thorough Pagan 101 and helped him interpret what he was reading on the Circle Sanctuary website in order to acclimate him, but I barely knew what to expect myself. 

When we got there we rang the bell and had the experience that keeps people coming back: we were home. Never had I been so enthusiastically and honestly welcomed by complete strangers. Smiles, hugs and friendly greetings of “Welcome Home!” abounded. I remember the happy shock of seeing men and women in various states of dress or undress simply walking around, greeting one another and setting up camp while children wandered in small packs. I hadn’t been sure even as we drove through the gates, but we were indeed home, and we had found our tribe. 

I was inspired and empowered by my experiences. That week we made old friends, learned about others and ourselves, and I saw a living breathing example of what I was beginning to doubt existed: a true community of diverse Pagans living out their values together. I felt no judgement, no pressure, no tension, only unconditional acceptance and support. In that open and honest environment, I was able to clearly see the discord in my life between what I wanted and what I was doing. I saw real breathing examples of the kinds of awesome people I wanted to be like as I grew older. During that week in my detoxified state, I promised myself that I’d live according to my values and without apology, and that I would quit my terrible job and do something that my spirit agreed with. 

The next year, summer of 2013, I went to camp looking forward to seeing old and new friends, to participating more intensely in the experiences presented to me, and becoming inspired anew. But I also went with my tail tucked between my legs a little since I’d yet to quit my terrible-no-go-very-bad-soul-eating job. That week was considerably more introspective than my first experience, and I’d wondered if camp had lost it’s magic for me, if I’d been lost to mundania for good. 

There was a single important experience my first go-round, and two the year after. The first was the Women’s Ritual. I’d never participated in such potent feminine magic before, and I hadn’t so tightly aligned with the Mother before that rite. I won’t go into details, but the sisterhood, the power and the duty I felt left many including myself in cathartic tears during and afterwards. The following year was the Labyrinth. This was not my first time through the beautiful candlelit all-night labyrinth, but this time I entered with a confused and heavy heart. No, that’s a lie– I entered in my normal state, and as I slowly continued through the path I realized how confused and heavy my heart was. At the center hearth I sat and cried and closed my eyes. I prayed rare petitionary prayers for guidance and strength and found a friend and a hug immediately after as my answer. Finally I participated in the sweat that invoked the Wolf and as such I still consider this to be Her first direct calling to me. I saw the immense strength and spirit in myself and my Sisters that night, and nearly a year later I’m still processing my experience. It was as if all the emptiness I’d felt during the labyrinth was filled by the Wolf that night. 

This isn’t just a fond remembrance however. This year we aren’t able to go to PSG because my fellowship training starts the same week. I don’t feel this is a coincidence. I made a promise to myself at PSG 2012 that I finally fulfilled about a month after PSG 2013. I came back from camp with a no-nonsense, zero-tolerance, bullshit-free attitude and literally stopped showing up to my crap job. I worked my ass off and was accepted to this amazing program that directly leads into a career of service where I’ll be doing what I’m good at to help others. The Wolf came to me this past year, I listened, I did the work and now I’m starting anew. 

The solstice is a time of fulfillment, of joy, of celebration, of the first round of growth after a lot of hard work. This winter was a dark one for me, and things are so damn sunny right now. I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to celebrate with my tribe this year, and it’s likely that my solstice celebration this year will be little more than a small private rite when I find the time. But my whole life is going through a summer solstice right now and I can honestly say it wouldn’t be happening without PSG, without my tribe. Registration for PSG closes in minutes, and camp starts in 10 days, and still I try to remind myself that it’s just not possible this year. My solstice will be lacking bug spray and chanting, morning meetings and dancing, but after a long day of training I’ll wrap a sarong around my waist, make drumming my alarm tone for the next morning and feel the good vibes emanating from the middle of nowhere, Illinois.