All my life I went to church for others.My mother made me go when I was a child.I would sit in the church and argue with the minister in my head.I’d ask questions the Sunday school teacher didn’t want to answer.When my mother finally stopped making me go, I stopped until my children came along.My oldest daughter loved to sing, loved music.When my mother took her to church she fell in love with the children’s choir.For my daughters, I went back to church.I sat in the pews arguing with the minister in my head being more and more annoyed.However, my kids wanted to be part of the choir and the pageant, so I went.I volunteered to work in the kitchen for the youth group’s Wednesday night program because my kids wanted to be in the group.One day when the youth minister asked if my husband and I were members, I said no.He asked if we’d like to join and I laughed.It was a good conversation when I explained to him I considered myself agnostic (at the time).
When my kids stopped wanting to be in the church choir, the church group, I stopped going with great relief.After they stopped, I did nothing when it came to spiritual or religious beliefs.I didn’t believe the way my mother believed.I didn’t experience faith in the same way she did.I decided religion wasn’t for me.
As indicated in the introduction to this blog above, I discovered Jungianism and Neo-Paganism at the same time, through the writings of Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, and Starhawk, and the two have remained intertwined for me ever since. In fact, the first Pagan writing I ever read was an essay by Wiccan priestess and Jungian psychologist, Vivianne Crowley entitled, "Wicca as a Modern-Day Mystery Religion", in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman's Paganism Today (1994). Wouter Hanegraaf has written that Vivianne Crowley’s Jungian perspective “is so strong that readers might be forgiven for concluding that Wicca is little more than a religious and ritual translation of Jungian psychology.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I believed. Even after realizing that that Paganism is far more diverse than I had originally thought, Crowley's vision of Wicca has continued to influence me.
Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, 1989 was the year when everything happened: my formal dedication to Freya, my father’s death, my study abroad in the Soviet Union, and finally the earthquake. I went out in the woods that day fully intending to swear myself to Odin. Since I was drawn to heathenry via rune magic and he was the patron of the runes, it seemed natural. Also, although I had not yet encountered the idea of sacred wounds, I felt close to Odin because of growing up visually impaired. When I was ready to dedicate myself to a patron god, Freya showed up instead. It would take many years before I understood why. I believe now that I was opened to Freya by sacred wounds, also, but at the time I could not even remember what had happened to me as a child.
I’m going to lump all the stuff about my dad into my next post, even though some of it happened the summer before my junior year and some of it happened at the end of my junior year. At the time, I didn't associate my father's death with becoming dedicated to Freya; now I wonder if she removed him from my life so that I could heal in time.
Recently I've been following with great interest an on-line discussion on the subject of reculement.
Recule is a word from the Craft's Norman French heritage; in Medieval French it meant “to draw back, withdraw.” A charming word for an unpleasant concept: in Craft contexts, it means “to revoke an initiation.”
What I find so interesting about this question is that in Old Craft thought (as I understand it, at any rate) initiation is, by definition, irrevocable. Although of course I can't speak for Old Craft as a whole (no one can), from where I live, no one can take away initiation because initiation cannot be given; it can only be taken.
Don't be deceived by personal presentation. Some will bite on the front end and you'll never see the kindness coming. Some will bite on the back end - where you expect sympathy you will suddenly get steel.
That is the way of it. Do not confuse softness with powerlessness, harshness with lack of solace.
At the time of writing, several friends of mine are engaged in formal initiation proceedings, leading me to consider my own experiences with initiations.It was easy to pinpoint those formal initiations such as being initiated into the National Honor Society, or being initiated into a co-ed social group at my college that I can only explain as being modeled on the Merry Pranksters.But the experience that first came to mind when thinking of initiatory experiences was working the Twelve Steps.
Anyone who has a desire to stop using can become a member of a Twelve Step group.You do not have to work the Twelve Steps.However, the process of working the Twelve Steps is the manner in which one draws closer to the program or becomes truly initiated.It is how we begin to view fellowship as family.Since we work the Twelve Steps with a sponsor, we are forced to reach our hand out and ask for help.No longer are we able to sit in the back of the room, not talking to anyone.We must make connections in order to move forward.As we reveal ourselves to our sponsor, we learn how to become open and more vulnerable.We become open to taking suggestions, and learn about humility.These are essential elements for being part of a society instead of being a party of one.Not only does the process of the Twelve Steps change us into better people, but we also learn how to be with people as we work the steps.
Since moving here to the depths of rural Ireland I've found that the seasonal and circadian rhythms rule me very intimately. This winter I have been truly initiated by the Cailleach. It's not that we have been snowed in. We are having the first flurries as I tap this blog. No, it's that when the dark descended, the cloud cover rolled in, the skies lowered, I settled into a long womb time.
I came to a full stop. I needed to just sit. Yes, there was activity happening but I felt at a bit of a remove. The real happening was the silence that descended inside me. The words wouldn't come. If I tried to force them they were clumsy. It felt as if even Spirit was incommunicado. Feeling directionless, without a sense of 'true north' I hunkered down into my still centre. In this space I sank into a powerful place of deep trust where I allowed myself to let go of some attachments.