It’s easy to follow the wave of emotion in a crowd. When I’m on a protest march, with the energy all stirred up by the hundreds or thousands of people speaking in one voice with me, then it’s easy to take a stand. No one’s going to push through the crowd to tell me that I’m wrong. I’m safe among allies.
But after the stirring demonstration, after I go home, when I’m all alone and faced with decisions… What do I do then?
What does it mean to change your life in response to the call of a deity? What does it mean to answer a call to change the world for her?
For at least the past year I’ve been doing a lot of retreating from the world. The spring equinox is coming up – and Latha na Callich, and the feast of Lasair the Lady of Spring. The light will start returning… Beara will emerge from stone on the cliff on the Peninsula, young again… and I will not be the same.
SJ has recently been pondering the spiral (or slinky!) of the Jewish year, and the sacred calendars of several religions. Here I am, meanwhile, in a parallel but different place — trying to create my own response to the sacred cycles and festivals of my gods, and to create my own religious path with some integrity. Trying and constantly failing. Constantly fighting the feeling that I’m ‘just making it up as I go along’ (and that that makes it invalid). Ultimately, fighting the feeling that I don’t matter. That’s what the subtext is, when I say to myself that my religion isn’t as ‘real’ or important as other religious traditions. And that my spiritual work, and its reflection in my work in the world, doesn’t matter. But it does matter. I do matter.
I had a card reading about eighteen months ago. The High Priestess, the Empress and the Knight of Cups. You’re to be a priest to your community, said the card reader (a wise, older woman of whom I’ve been in awe for a long time, who I’d travelled a long way to see). It’s too early, I protested. I don’t know enough. The card reader smiled and told me I might surprise myself in the future.
I think a big part of my problem was (and still is) with the word ‘priest’. It can mean many things, but in society dominated by Western Christianity, we have a very fixed idea of what that kind of service can/should involve. There are different roles under that banner – service of one’s deity/ies being only one. I have a lot to think about there.
But even if I do work on that concept, I’m still resisting the concept of priest(ess)hood- though I think, not for the right reasons. Ever since I dedicated myself to Beara, I’ve been increasingly aware of my alienation from the rest of society… my complicity in social oppression of others… the hopelessness of a number of situations that I live with. At the moment, all I want is to find a hermitage and never come out again. I definitely don’t want to think about spiritual things. Especially not in terms of service to others. What do I have to offer others? An autistic brain, a twisted body and a weak spirit. Lovely.
But I think my goddess has things for me to do. And I think she’s probably quite sick of me whining that I’m not good enough to do them.
I read the Knight of Cups as an invitation to Integrity – which in my opinion is the most important of the ADF Virtues. Real integrity means integration – just look at the common roots of the words. Integrating my activism (disability rights, interfaith, anti-racism, gender equality and LGBT stuff all included), my religious ‘stuff’ (including my priestess-in-training work for Beara, my druidry and my polytheistic devotional work), my academic studies, and all the other parts of my life – all integrated into one path.
Right now, looking down the road that opens up before me, it looks absolutely nothing like what I thought it would.
But when does it ever?