what do you do when….?

There are some days where I want nothing more than to pour myself out in devotion to my Gods via poetry, via powerful words woven in such a way as to summon the experience of being in Their presence, of the fear and trembling, the awe, the overwhelming ecstasy (in the religious sense) of being in the presence of a God. There are some days when I just want to pour myself out on my knees before my shrines, or find that place in prayer where the walls between me and my Gods come crashing down and I am eaten up by Their presence. Some days I sit down to write and I’m such a tangled mess that nothing will come out and then I just want to scream and pound the keyboard with my fists. Some days when I pray, my mind is too jangled for me to open up properly and I just want to break things and cuss. I don’t do either of those things of course, but there are times the frustration is almost overwhelming. The last few days have been like that.

They’ve actually been very good days. I have friends visiting from Australia (they return home tomorrow and we’ve had a lovely two week visit). I recently got invited to sign a contract for a year’s representation of my art at a gallery in Chelsea in NYC. I just finished a residency where I painted some pieces that even I am happy with, and I’m rarely happy with my art. I’m teaching an awesome class on Greek and Roman epic writers and having a blast. Still, I’ve been unsettled and jagged of late and pretty damned irritable to my colleagues. Part of it, I finally figured out, is that my relationship with my Gods is changing, evolving, deepening and that is all to the good. It’s not yet, however, come into whatever new structure it will soon be, and yet it is no longer what it was and I’m left hanging in the middle in a liminal place wondering where the fuck I’m going. Even knowing that most likely in a month or so I’ll be settled and working renewed and restored, invigorated with whatever new shape my devotional life is in the process of taking does little to help me now with the disorientation of having the ground – ground to which I’ve grown stubbornly accustomed—shifting quickly and inexorably under my feet.

Thank the Gods though. The last thing I would ever want is for my devotional life to stay the same. If it stays the same, I’m doing something wrong. If it does not evolve and deepen and challenge me to my core then I’m doing something wrong. If I am not feeling overwhelmed at times then I am definitely doing something wrong. Religion isn’t supposed to make us complaisant. I don’t think we’re ever supposed to rest on our laurels. Oh, we can possibly get away with doing just that for a time, but we pay for it in the end and what we sacrifice by doing that isn’t worth the paltry shallowness of the comfort gained.

Sometimes our practices change. Sometimes that can happen all at once, but more often it creeps up, seeps into one’s personal veneration, bowls us over when we least expect it. One day what used to work in opening us up to the glory of the great good Gods, just doesn’t anymore. I know what has worked for me. What about the rest of you? What do you guys do when you’re in this situation? What works for you? What is the bridge that sees you through?

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Posted on October 27, 2015, in devotional work and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. “What about the rest of you? What do you guys do when you’re in this situation? What works for you? What is the bridge that sees you through?”

    I’ve been going through this feeling of restlessness and challenge recently, and this explosion of poetry lately has been out of the blue. Usually, I just put my head down and keep on keeping on as I can. I am, however, considering restructuring our shrine room, and compartmentalizing space. It’s been a long time since we’ve done a large restructure in this way, and it may be time for a shakeup.

    The bridge that sees me through times of transition like these are keeping regular prayers, offerings, and other devotional practices, and talking with my community and colleagues. Reading posts like this helps too. Small things, like making myself work out, do some devotional work and offerings, especially when I don’t want to, help me power through the feelings of frustration, inadequacy, etc.

    I know we’ve talked about comparison being potentially poisonous, but this is also where comparisons really can help quite a lot. Devotional practices change, as surely as our relationships with the Gods change. It’s good to see polytheists talk about the rough times as surely as it is talking about the flowing times. It would be like talking about summer without mentioning winter, but that seasons are important in our lives.

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    • I’ve really been enjoying your poetry recently. I think also that talking about how we deal with the various times and changes in our spiritual world is helpful. there’s a difference between that and unhealthy comparison :). I like your summer/winter analogy.

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  2. As well as all the good advice above, I write down all new ideas/instructions about things I need to change. I find it’s an anchor that helps stop things swirling in my head and becoming overwhelming. I also look through my journals on bad days, so I can see how I came through it before and how worthwhile it was.

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  3. Really interesting to hear other people talking about poetry so much right now — I was Told in no uncertain terms to write a daily devotional poem from new moon to new moon this month, and it’s been bringing up a lot of deep emotion.

    Practicing self-care during fallow times is particularly important for me — making sure I’m getting enough exercise and fresh vegetables, going to bed at a decent hour, that sort of thing. It’s harder to regulate my emotions when I’m tired and sugar-crashed!

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  4. I go as silent as I can, then follow what comes through. The sensation is like a leaf floating or a vessel being filled. I often end up singing or dancing – playing out what comes through.

    I also sit with one of Hekate’s children, a little black dog, and enjoy the company of a living creature who loves me unconditionally.

    I don’t interfere with the sensations/experiences that come. I have faith in my ability to find that Silent Spot and rede the verity of what comes through. Now is not the time to doubt what’s gotten me where I am; it’s also not the time to relax vigilance – too many negative energies and entities floating around seeking a snack (the laurels I rest on may be bound with barb wire).

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  5. Very interesting post and good suggestions by everyone. I agree with Sobekneferu that self-care is very important in a time like this.

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  6. Self-care, as Sobeknefaru said, is important. “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

    Keeping up with daily devotion, maintaining “psychic hygiene”… and poetry, as many mentioned.

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  7. Oftentimes i will return to something that previously stimulated or comforted me mostly music or a movie & try to relax as i know it will pass.

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