I’ve been doing some new years resolutions, even though it’s not new years yet. As of Solstice, it’s a new year from the solar perspective, and that somehow seems more real than some calendar thing. It’s like the time between Christmas (or 5th day of Yule) and New Years is a rich transitional space, where I can finally have some time to think and reorganize my life.
I was reading (listening to, actually) a book by Gretchen Rubin called “the Happiness Project” where she researches what makes people happy and then spends a year trying out a bunch of the recommendations. I hesitate to say I’m doing well with keeping my resolutions, as if you’ve read my blog for any time you will know that I have difficulty with persistence, but I’ve kept a chart as she advises in the book, which satisfies my left brain, and it seems to be working
One of my resolutions is to stay warm, in particular to keep my neck, hands and feet warm. This is my first day doing it, and it has really become an exercise in staying in my body. If I dissociate, I get cold and when I notice I’m cold, I try and do something about it right away (add more clothes, turn up the heat, ect… rather than disregarding my body needs as usual. I’m realizing I seem to have a lot of them. I seem to need to pee, for example, a lot more frequently than I thought I did, I get hungry, and my body changes in temperature a lot, depending on how still I am or where I am in the house, which is logical. Paying attention to the temperature of these three body parts, has made me aware of what is going on in my body a lot more.
I’m also exploring a concept from my Scandinavian heritage called “Lagom”. It’s a Swedish word that means ‘just enough’ , like the baby bear’s porridge in Goldilocks and the three bears. Neither too much or too little. I was in a restaurant this morning and found I had been given too much food. The food was good, and I could have cleaned my plate without discomfort, but I was full. I thought about how the food would be wasted, and then I thought “It’s wasted anyways, since I don’t need it, this way its’ wasted, but if I eat it it’s wasted, AND I have to spend a lot of effort removing it from my waistline later, which is even more of a waste.
I have been knitting ‘prayer shawls’ for myself, and now for a friend. A prayer shawl (in the way I do it) means that you pray while you are knitting, putting the energy of some mantra, blessing or intention into the making of the shawl. I am wearing one today that I made for myself while singing to myself the “Goddess Protection” chant, which goes “May the arms of the Great Mother, ever surround me (2x), I invoke protection of Divine Mother’s embrace. I invoke protection of Divine Mother’s Grace.” The first time I wore it I could hear that song in my head, from time to time, throughout the day. It warms my upper shoulders and neck, which store stress for me, and which I have noticed, relax more when they are warm.
Now I’m working on a shawl for my good friend K, who has a mental illness that usually is in remission, but sometimes makes her feel paranoid, and gives her delusions. As a survivor, I can relate to being afraid and feeling strange, and we don’t judge one another. While knitting yesterday I was repeating in my mind “K is Healthy, Safe, Loved and Connected”, over and over.
Today I was out and about as I had some errands to run and decided to walk on a public labyrinth that I used to go to all the time. The turns of the labyrinth are such that you get turned around facing the four directions repeatedly during the walk. The directions (North, East, South and West) have spiritual meaning for Pagans, and I usually spend time meditating on whichever one I happen to be facing during my walk. Sometime during the walk that mantra “Healthy, Safe, Loved and Connected” came into my head, and I decided it could apply to me. In that moment, I was healthy, safe (I was in a quiet enclosed space with only women), Loved (my dog and wife, and friends I’d seen recently) and Connected. I realized that each of these blessings corresponded with a direction from a Pagan perspective. Healthy fits in the North, the place of the physical and Earth. Safe fits in the East, the place of boundaries and air. Loved fits in the South, the place of fire and warmth. Connected fits in the West, the place of water and the flowing together of intimacy. It felt like a nice realization, a sacred one, and I spent the rest of my walk meditating on those qualities as I turned to the appropriate direction.
None of these are absolutes. A person can’t be absolutely healthy (my nose was running from allergies), safe (an earthquake or some random violence could happen), loved (all human love is conditional) or connected (human beings can apparently only manage a little over a hundred close connections). But there in that moment, it was enough. I allowed myself to feel the blessings as if they were absolute, as we do in magic, that in that sacred space and moment I was completely healthy, safe, loved and connected, and it became a magical spell.
This is hard to explain to non-Pagans. When casting a spell, it’s similar to an affirmation, when you say “I am completely well and happy” or whatever in an absolute way as a way of casting reality to that shape for yourself. The belief is that by doing this, we shape or pull reality in the direction we want. It is done in a way that is very conscious and distinct from denial, although the power in it is in believing what you are intending. Pagans or witches believe that sacred space is a space ‘between the worlds’ in which you can cast an intention and have it manifest in the real world. Anyhow, this morning I cast a spell for me as healthy, safe, loved and connected.
Later on I was waiting in a cafe, and decided to follow up on ‘connected’. I texted a few of my friends I’d seen recently for Solstice, and thanked them for the time spent together. I texted my wife to tell her I love her and wish her a good day. I felt more connected. This is one of the ways spells work. They remind me to act in ways that make positive change, because I make myself believe that change has already happened between the worlds and is in the process of coming true in the world. It’s easier to make changes when you believe (by choice) that it’s a sure thing and a done deal, or if you will, that the Goddess is on your side.
All of my friends texted me back with nice greetings. My wife in particular seemed to really like it. I’ll have to remember that.
Anyhow, it was beautiful, and it made me happy today. So here I am, warm and thus connected to my body, healthy, safe, loved and happy.