Thursday, April 28, 2011

There Is No "i" in Beltane, Except When There Is

I read an article on by Galina Krasskova about Beltane, where she suggests that Beltane reminds us to honor our physical bodies, to see the sacredness and beauty of our bodies and the experiences they give us.  She asks, "How many of us can look in the mirror and say 'I love my physical form' and mean it?"  That exercise is not new, by any means.  And I was glossing over it a bit at first -- yes yes, self-esteem and self-love and all that -- but the part of me that's been trying to witness my own thought processes and reactions more lately made me stop.  Because somewhere in my glossing over it was this feeling of, "Sure, I can do that exercise.  But I'd rather do it later on, down the road, when I've lost a little weight."
Which is, of course, so NOT the point that it's the antithesis of the point. 
It made me start thinking of the ways we put conditions on things.  From the "I'll feel sexier when I've lost a few pounds" all the way down to "I'll be happy when [insert your happy thing of choice]".  And for me, there was some initial internal resistance to the idea of letting those conditions go.  As if I wouldn't have control of the things I wish to change anymore, or my sense of the ideal version of me would be lost.  But really, there is no ideal version of me "out there", or in the future or past.  I know I *can* love my physical form now, but in short, I've chosen not to.  And it is a choice even when it's an unconscious one.  Just like choosing to be happy.
As pagans, we strive to be close to nature, to earth's cycles, to the physical manifestations of the divine around us.  That manifestation isn't pristine or flawless or homogenized.  The fact is, we are one of many imperfect animals that sweat, rut, consume, defecate, and eventually decay and die.  We are no less sacred in whatever form we currently are.  As Galina says more eloquently:
"...each physical vessel of incarnation is intimately connected to one's soul, an integral part of it. We're incarnate for a reason. Our bodies are the tools and conduits by and through which we experience everything, including the Divine. Moreover, they may even be the way the Gods experience us, spirituality being, like so many things, a two-way street. Far from needing to escape from the flesh, Beltane reminds us that there's an awful lot of wisdom inherent in being in the flesh too."
So I'm going to make more of an effort to "be" in my own skin, to love this body -- hand tremors, osteoporosis, curves and all other supposed imperfections -- it IS beautiful.  I think a lot of people I know who struggle physically more than I (ie have legitimate pain or health issus) would say that I am lucky, that I'm pretty and don't have major problems, so it should be easy for me.  (The implication that it should be easier for me than it is for them.)  But that's just another condition, and I think that is a tendency we ALL have.  A knee-jerk reaction to the radical surrender of allowing ourselves to be perfect in the now.  I think that when we feel, and more importantly when we *embody* gratitude, that we would actually begin to move easier in our own bodies.  There's no "been there, done that" when it comes to love or self-love because it's both eternal and ongoing.  I'm sure Aphrodite would have much to teach me about all this.
Sorry for getting all "Power of Now".  Back to your regularly scheduled internal dialogues... (Dialogues?  Monologues?  How many people are in this head anyway?) 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Greenery & Gifts

Since I haven't written much lately, figured I'd do some general catching up.  (Courtesy of Mercury's backwards dance!)  Hopefully I'll be back on track with some more spiritual musings and experiences soon. 


Here is a small treasure that my lover spotted while we were in an antique store!!  It's most definitely Dionysos, with a male youth on one side and a woman/maenad on the other.  It's handpainted porcelain, made in Greece.  I haven't decided yet what Io keep in it, perhaps loose incense.

Here is an ivy plant that I bought for Dionysos!  Isn't it lovely?

It will have to stay in its pot since all we've got is a 2nd story patio -- no yard.  Thinking about getting a trellis though.  Today we bought some potted herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, chocolate mint, lavender).  Eventually I would like to add some more exotic ones like salvia divinorum.  Needless to say, I've definitely got a metaphorical bug for wanting to grow things lately.  I've always wanted to garden and keep plants, but for whatever reason I've always felt like I was inherently bad at it.  But my partner has been encouraging and enthusiastic (and is also much more knowledgeable about such things, which helps!) so I feel like together we'll do just fine.

And here is a cat skull that we found while night-hiking in the river wash!

It was eerie, how it was just suddenly *directly* in our path in the light of our headlamps, eye sockets looking right at us!  Neither of us has every found a skull while walking in the desert, so it seems significant.  It is now sitting in the ivy plant pot until we decide how we want to clean it.
It's been a strange spring so far.  One day at the Renaissance festival we were sun-exhausted and sweating from a sudden heat wave, and the very next weekend at the desert botanical gardens it was shiveringly cold and we eventually got rained out!  But the botanical gardens were lovely nonetheless, it was certainly not a wasted trip.  Here are some pictures...

Sorry the last one is blurry, but it was raining by then.  I had to include because it was one of my favorite discoveries there - it's a Boojum tree!!  I <3 any botanist who names a tree after a word in a Lewis Carroll poem.

I got a couple books from the library about desert plants and trees.  I'm interested in the medicinal qualities and identifying things, but also how I might find out the magickal properties of certain plants.  I think I can gather clues from the plant's appearance, behavior and biological qualities, but beyond that it will have to be intuitive and/or communicating with the spirit of the plant itself.  Any plant folklore that might exist would belong to the Native Americans, and that is extremely limited and hard to find given that it's not typically written down.
We recently re-arranged our apartment -- added some furniture, made a definite "music" space where other people might see "dining room".  (Not that we have a dining table anyhow -- piano and organ, however, different story!)  One result of all the moving around was finding new places for shrines.  So now Dionysos' shrine is lower to the ground (a plus), and the slightest bit smaller but with more useable wall space.  Aphrodite has a much bigger space, now eye level.  Can't be burning any big candles on it since it's mid-book shelf, but it looks much nicer.  I no longer have a permanent "working" altar, but to be honest that was just getting cluttered most of the time.  There is a potential shrine space on a shelf next to the front door.  I'm still ruminating what I'd like to see there.  Something eclectic, combining our other totems and deities not otherwise represented, perhaps?
This Mercury in retrograde has been a nuisance with little delays and things breaking down.  (Even including a major miscommunicaiton with the cats, which was a new one on me!)  But I'm trying not to let the little things get to me, and I've been pretty successful.  The word "try" is misleading, because it's more a feeling of release and acceptance.  But even a coworker commented on my attitude when I admitted I had broken 2 things that day, "'re pretty zen about it!"  Which probably means the book I'm reading for my pagan book group, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, is sinking in a bit.  It's something I probably would have passed on as new age fluff had the book group not chosen it, but as a self-admitted "worrier", I've found a few valuable things in it so far.

It seems like a very long time since I've been dancing, which might be why Dionysos feels more distant.  Something to remedy, or else do some other work with him if that is not possible.  I may do a Beltane celebration.  Though I haven't settled on any details, I like the idea of blessing our new plants and such at the least.  That will be closely followed by Alice in Wonderland Day.  (Thank you to Dver for that marvelous idea, which I have been wanting to incorporate into my celebrations for a couple years now but will be doing for the first time this year!)  Since my best friend threw me an Alice-themed tea party for my birthday last year, I already have some nice props and decorations.

I think that's it... I'll end with this rather funny headline I read the other day:  Well-Endowed Apollo Statue to be Re-Erected in France.