This weekend, I rearranged the contents of my bookshelves. This was very satisfying! I will be rearranging them again, as I will finally be acquiring the LOTR trilogy this week, secondhand. Those tomes need space! So Wednesday evening I will be having a delightful time fussing with my books.
While I was dusting and tidying my room this weekend, my hands went almost of their own accord to my tarot altar. I started putting away my decks, crystals, animal statues, and trinkets. It felt like the right thing to do. Then I went to play Dungeons and Dragons (where my players fucking rocked at roleplay that day). The next day, I put away my Norse/Arthurian shrine. I didn’t feel a lot of emotions about it, beyond some vague guilt that I ought to do more.
But, I noticed two key struggles with my faith right now:
- I want to have lower expectations of myself. And I need the gods, goddesses, and spirits to also have lower expectations too.
- It’s starting to feel a bit like I’m worshipping the fantasy genre that I like to write, study, and read in. It’s weird.
And so my faith feels like a block to me writing fantasy stories, rather than an inspiration. Lately, I’ve been pondering: ok, if I take faith out of this story, or take faith out of the daydream/goal I am fantasizing about, what am I actually aiming towards in my life? I’m not sure what the answer is yet.
Combined with this difficulty is the ironic fact that my two batches of poems that got accepted as a submission this year are both at Norse pagan publications. So clearly, religious inspiration does get me somewhere. It just doesn’t seem to be where I want to be.
Last week, I joked to a new queer Unitarian Universalist friend that if I were to convert to another faith, it would be for the institution and structure. I wasn’t entirely joking though, and my friend agreed that that’s where they and their heathen spouse often bicker about being able to get heathens to do anything. Getting pagans to organize is tough.
I don’t think I’m necessarily going to upend my whole practice and join another religion. But I’m content to stay connected with UU–which is a new thing for me this year–and also with my Buddhist teacher, Lama Rod Owens, who is easing me back into meditation practices.
Meditation was probably borderline traumatic for me for quite some time, because I spent much of 2018 and 2019 trying to understand this new level of psychic power: receiving visions while awake. Queen Guinevere’s presence was overwhelming me: a particularly potent delusion came back and I was receiving way too many visions by trancing/sitting with Queen Guinevere almost every day. Or trying to, at least, because I thought that that was what a godspouse/spirit-spouse was supposed to do, right? Sit with one’s spouse, each day. A daily practice, as is so often touted in various spiritual circles. But it made me so sick.
Eventually, by the summer of 2019, trying to get myself to sit and meditate was like wrestling with a lion and I realized that… “meditation” kinda sucked?! I wasn’t actually meditating, I was lost in half-delusion, half-trance and being rather out of it. I wasn’t sick enough that it was preventing me from functioning or working, but it was miserable enough that I had a hard time talking to my friends about it.
But then again, my therapist has repeatedly affirmed that it’s really good to have healed from psychosis and that not everyone does that.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that I am relearning how to meditate and it actually does feel good. I still hallucinate a little, and sometimes I get input from Deity when I don’t always want to be, because I struggle with boundaries with Them. But sitting with emotions, sitting with the body, the breath… it does help with a short guided meditation. I can’t do a long meditation, but I can manage a short one.
Having a priest/ess, minister, congregation, community, something would have been a great boon to me in my deeper illnesses. I did not have that physically, beyond the occasional visits to my grandmother’s church at her request (RIP <3) and an online kindred/pagan conversation group (that I’m still a part of actually).
I’m returning to my first practice: tarot. I’ve done a few readings. I’ve been reading about the Devil card a bit whose themes I’ve been contemplating. I’m debating selling a deck or two, and saving for a new one. I’ve made a wishlist. I’m starting to avoid tarot decks on Kickstarter because it’s just too damned tempting and there are so many decks on Kickstarter??!
I do have Lo Ken’s “Art and Numen” book sitting on my To-Be-Read pile of books. Martin Shaw’s “Wolf Milk” will come in the mail in a few weeks. And in June, I’ll have two pre-ordered books coming in: the new Loki book by …. some pagan author whose name I can’t recall (is it Morgan Daimler?)… and Lama Rod Own’s new book Love and Rage. So, I’ll probably still read spiritual stuff sometimes. And Kelly-Ann Maddox, a famous tarot Youtuber, just came out with a new video on how she got into tarot, so I don’t want to completely abstain for spiritual stuff.
Or maybe that would be good for me, idk.
I had such a weird hallucination the other day that my dad suggested abstaining from the fantasy genre altogether but that would honestly mean upending my whole life: no DND, no RPG video games, no books, no more magical poems, no myths or tales–I just couldn’t!!! I would be ridiculously miserable if I did that. But, it could be fun to read non-fantasy stories… maybe I should make room on my bookshelves for more scifi 😉