I hope you all had a fabulous Lammas weekend. Mine was…well, interesting.
Not in a bad way. But not in a good way. When I say ‘interesting’ what I really mean to say is…well…other than spending time with a couple of women I have a special bond with, the weekend was…well, strangely needed.
I know, spit it out, right? Why do we do that beating around the bush nonsense? Why can’t we just say what we feel? Why can’t we say what we mean and mean what we say?
Mostly because we don’t want to look like an asshole. Mostly because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Sometimes we’re afraid people will see us as being too direct. Bitchy. Complaining. Whining. Ungrateful. Petulant. Mean. And sometimes we just don’t know what to say, or how to express ourselves and don’t want to be misunderstood.
But I’m going to lay it on the line. I’ve been dissatisfied with the local pagan community at large for quite some time. There’s a reason I worked as a solitary for 12 of the past 17 years since choosing this path. I’ve searched for something, a group I could be comfortable with. I didn’t like covens because there was too much ego. Mixed gender gatherings always ended up like a really bad experience with trolls of all sorts. I wasn’t looking to hook up, that was not the reason I was there. So I ventured onward. I thought I’d go a different route and tried Spiral Scouts with my children but ended up feeling like an outsider because of all the dreaded cliques. I’ve attended New Age groups from time to time but I really didn’t feel comfortable with people talking so close to my face (I have an issue with people invading my personal space) or being a little too far out there even for me. The local Hermetic group came close to fulfilling my needs, but it was unbearably cerebral at times. I dreaded being caught up in a group of polite listeners as a couple of guys in robes droned on and on about their philosophical views on The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. Then of course there are the Goddess temples that are popping up all over, willing to charge a ridiculous amount of money to give you a ‘title’. No thanks.
I know nothing is perfect, but it has never stopped me from trying to find my ‘tribe’. The women’s non-profit organization I currently volunteer for is rewarding in many ways, but it also is lacking something for me. I’ve never been quite sure what that something was, but I knew it wasn’t complete.
This most recent experience within the pagan community was a real eye opener; a true wake-up call that I wasn’t happy with the way things were progressing (or in my case were not progressing) for myself and my place within the pagan world. This last weekend was shared with a group of women I have done rituals and magickal workings with for many years and a few new women I met while there. I spent many months working on putting this Lammas ritual together to benefit the greater women’s pagan community. I not only donated a lot of time (away from my family) but a lot of effort (even through tough pain days) and out of pocket money to gather all the resources needed (volunteering for a non-profit group can bleed you dry) to pull off this weekend-long event.
We were blessed with being allowed to stay on sacred land, specifically designated for women, by women and I really appreciate that. There are rules that are enforced to protect the integrity of the land. You are frowned upon if you aren’t vegan. I’m not vegan or a vegetarian, and I’m o.k. with that, but thankfully I thought ahead and brought a giant veggie and pasta salad because there were a lot of soy nuts and hummus. Not surprising, my salad was the only thing that was gone within 15 minutes. I swear it looked like someone licked the bowl. Hungry folks.That’s all I’m going to say.
There is a strong feminine energy at this beautiful place, a force to be reckoned with for sure. No man is allowed on the land. No male energy is allowed to be invoked. Ever. Male children are ok until aged 7. Okay, it’s private land and we were a group of women, and I respected the owner’s wishes and tailored the ritual to honor the energy of the land as well as to suit our needs as a group.
Recently however, (just two weeks prior to the weekend Lammas event) I was to host a get-together at my house with some of the women who are a part of the collective group involved with this woman’s land. There are very few whom, like me, are happily married with families of their own. Several days before the event I was contacted by the co-owner of the land. She wanted to make sure that there weren’t going to be any males in my house during the gathering, and that it was smudged thoroughly before anyone arrived.
This made me feel uncomfortable. I was already planning on having the kids stay with their grandparents and my husband was going to be away coaching football. It was the fact that I needed to clear my house of any male energy, which of course wasn’t going to happen, because males live in my house. I responded that there would be no males at my house (except I failed to mention our male cat, knowing full well that male animals of the non-human kind are completely acceptable) and that, like all magickal workings, the space would be smudged and clear before anything began.
After our conversation I found myself starting to worry about even the simplest of things. I began looking around my house for stuff that could possibly be offensive to those sensitive to (fill in the blank). I noticed there being a football helmet in view, then saw my teen-aged son’s male-oriented video game case left out next to the computer, and then to my horror, discovered the missing head to my daughter’s Barbie peeking out from under the couch. What else was I not seeing? What would they think of me? I cannot express the relief I felt when I ended up not hosting the get-together.
Since I have spent time on this women’s land before, I knew it could be a quiet place of solitude and reflection. There was a caretaker who lived there, but other than that, we always had complete freedom with a real sense of Sisterhood. I would be a guest on their land and I was really looking forward to a weekend away.
This time there were seven women living here and there, in cabins dotted along the property and a new recruit arrived while we were there. They ranged in age as well as in their exhibitionist behavior (youth not being a prerequisite). There was some nudity, mostly topless, and I’m okay with that. We were on women’s land after all, and it was hot. Whether or not I wandered around outside without a top on is beside the point. I usually respect and honor other’s decisions in these matters, but please don’t lean on the kitchen table naked with one leg up on the chair next to me, trying to keep me engaged in conversation when I’m simply trying to eat a piece of toast (like I said, I have issues in regards to my personal space being invaded).
I am not a lesbian nor am I bisexual, but most of the women in my women’s spirituality group are lesbians and I deeply care about them. I do not see them as straight or gay, but as women with a common goal; to raise awareness for global change, social justice, religious tolerance, environmental and equality issues, and using ritual for positive change are just a few examples. I respect other’s personal decisions and listen attentively to them, but when I (and the few others who are married or in a relationship with a man) mentioned men or husbands, there was an awkward silence. Except of course the crickets; there are a lot of crickets.
By the first night I was homesick. Very homesick. I missed my husband. I missed my kids.
All weekend I cleaned up after myself, washed out the zip-lock baggies that held my fruit salad and hung them to dry in the kitchen with all the other ones that had been washed. I didn’t flush the toilet paper, I threw it in the garbage just like I was supposed to. I didn’t bring meat but I screwed up and didn’t bring organic yogurt. Oh well. I took my shoes off while in the house (even though it made the bottom of my feet filthy). I followed all of the rules even down to all aspects of the ritual.
On the day of the ritual it was nearly 100 degrees outside. I was so very tempted to walk down the windy gravel road to my car and go for a long drive, to get some space, crank up the air conditioner, and emit some serious car emissions because I felt like being rebellious. I didn’t do this of course. I waited until Sunday for that.
Instead I prepared everyone for the ritual. We applied body paint to each other, then we drummed, we sang, and we prepared food. Finally, in the shade of the late summer afternoon we began to create sacred space.
The ritual itself was going along fine and it wasn’t until we began raising energy that something totally unexpected happened. There was a sudden feeling of extreme imbalance within me as the whole world seemed to tilt and I instantly became clammy and woozy. I tried to stand completely still by planting my feet firmly to the earth as I felt a warm gush of menstrual blood flow from me.
I know that probably doesn’t sound very strange, and raising energy within ritual can be a very powerful event, but I just don’t have periods. Let me explain; I have been on medication for years to prevent this monthly occurrence because of dangerous hemorrhaging issues ever since my youngest was born. I have on average one menstrual flow every year, and it is planned and carefully monitored. This is a current medical plan to stave off a hysterectomy and it has worked brilliantly so far. But this flow happened as it was obviously intended to happen, but it came on with a vengeance! Like Kali herself was making her presence known to me. As the High Priestess, I couldn’t just disappear from the ritual. There was energy that needed to be grounded, and a Circle that needed to be safely closed. Though the women surrounding me showed great concern about how suddenly pale I had become, they had no clue as to what was actually happening until I began to need assistance back to the main house.
I showered and changed into comfortable clothes and remained in the main house for the rest of the night. I chatted quietly with close friends while sipping on a glass of wine before I carefully stood and graciously retired to the guest room for the evening. I missed out on the bonfire and additional magickal workings planned later for that evening. I felt like I was letting others down, because I had planned these things and then was unable to attend.
I moved as little as possible, willing my body to slow down, trying to regulate the pulse of blood flowing from my body by taking deep breaths, and quieting my Self.
I didn’t know it at the time but this became a much needed spiritual experience to have on my own. Since there was no ‘special lodge’ out back for women in my condition, and without phone service, I spent a long time writing in my journal. I meditated. I did a little unexpected soul-searching while listening to the increasingly loud festivities out around the fire circle until I eventually found myself perfectly content where I was. As the guilt began to be lifted, the noise from outside faded and I soon drifted off to sleep.
I awoke sometime in the wee hours of the morning finding myself ruminating and processing my thoughts and emotions, some of which I couldn’t put words to. I did this until finally coming to the realization that no matter how much I wanted it to be, this weekend wasn’t satisfying and it had nothing to do with what happened/didn’t happen. With this new found clarity I finally was able to honestly admit that I had completely worn myself out trying to find my place within the pagan community; even the Women’s Goddess community.
Here I was, at The place to be! You see, not just anyone is invited here; you have to know people or have the right connections. It’s just as susceptible to many of the same pitfalls and bullshit of other ‘exclusive’ groups, secret clubs, or popularity contests. And here I was, spending another weekend of unfulfilled expectations. This wasn’t me and I knew it wasn’t ever going to be me, so why was I fighting for something I really didn’t want? Was I being ungrateful? What exactly did I want anyway? Would I ever know?
We all try so hard to find our place; in search of our tribe. Deep down we know what we are looking for and we truly want. I know what I want; balance and acceptance. Not extreme exclusion of people and definitely not feeling uncomfortable about who I am or who I choose to love.
The following day things had slowed down for me, and with the friendly help of another woman who lived on the property, I was able to pack up quickly. I didn’t feel great and was still very pale but I was much better. In fact, right after the wee-morning rumination, the flow stopped just as quickly as it started.
It became clear to me while writing this that my Spirit knew what it was I wanted but it couldn’t get through to my head, so the Goddess intervened; giving me a reason to pause. To think. To reflect. These are some of the most natural things to do during the dark part of the female cycle. It didn’t matter that it was the Full Moon, or that I was with a group of non-menstruating women. It didn’t matter if I came prepared or not. It was time for me to reevaluate everything I thought I wanted and everything I already had.
When I finally arrived home I was greeted with excitement and love. It felt good to feel my husband’s big strong arms around me, his hands squeezing me in all the right places. I was home. I was free. Free in what being ‘free’ means to me.
I smelled my children’s hair and let the dog lick my face. I had been looking and searching, searching and looking. My opportunity to reevaluate was the spiritual event of the weekend for me. Taking a deep, hard look at what I thought I was missing made me see more than ever before that I was already fulfilled. I realized that I had close friends and ties that have been neglected because of other obligations I made for finding my ‘truth’. The pause allowed me to place the pieces of what I felt was a fragmented existence into the empty picture frame meant to hold a snapshot of my life. Each relationship, each hobby, each line I choose to write or not write, all fits perfectly together. And just as a holographic image, it changes with perspective. There weren’t any missing gaps because my tribe had been with me all it all along. It is called Home, Family, Partnership. It is Spiritually Fulfilling, but only if I allow it to be. It is filled with Acceptance and Appreciation. It is made up of Love, Life, Strength, and Hope. May you too find your tribe.
Many Blessings on your Journey )O(