- Ecclesiastes 3:1 (found in both the Jewish and Christian bibles).
I've been an enormous hermit all summer. Since May, when I got married, then flew to Israel for another wedding, then collapsed on the way home, I've been keeping myself away from the world of other people (gah) as much as possible. This often happens to me during the summer - which is no bad thing for a teacher and aspiring academic, as my calendar leans in the direction of winter anyway. This summer I went inside myself, and deeply explored my own spiritual path and choices. This led to past journeys being examined, specific choices being made, and roots being extended. Branches? Not so much. I don't like going out into the world. I am now semi-regularly attending a local Pagan moot, while studying for my bardic grade with OBOD. That's all because I need structure. But since I have a whole long history of deep involvement with church behind me (not always a positive experience), and since I'm still attending church when I can, I don't desperately want an active group to share in regular ritual with - at least, not yet. I'm sure that's something I'll benefit from later. And I am attending open rituals occasionally. But mostly, my religious practice has been very, very personal recently. (And with an episode on the difference between religion and spirituality coming up for 'Divine Community', I'm interested to see myself defining it as religious practice!)
But now things are moving on, and I'm supposed to go back out into the world. I'm supposed to be beginning to reap the harvest of a summer of work, and finding new ways to plant, as a result. I'm back at uni, making a vague effort to focus on my studies, and of course the new podcast is one of the ways I'm responding to a call I feel to be engaging with the world. It's absolutely my calling, as a teacher and student of a lot of things - and I've always felt this calling to teach, to share experience, and to learn. But I would really rather not. I get scared. I'm scared because my university is putting a lot of pressure on me, and I'm concerned I'm going to fold under it and not be able to finish my thesis (I've barely begun, so this is a bit of a silly one, but there you go). I'm scared that my podcast will be widely hated by the Pagan community because I won't be perceived as a 'real' Pagan, or because I don't know enough about Paganism/religion in general. What's the only thing you can do with fear? Well, you can run away, but eventually life catches up with you. But the other thing you can do is face it. Get back on the horse, and all that. (Note: the horse is metaphorical. I've only had one riding lesson in my entire life, and I was terrified and never did get back on the actual horse. Ahem.)
I'm being blessed enough to be able to worship deities of battle and strength, as well as to honour Scathach (pronounced Skya), a warrior figure who is somewhere between an ancestor and a goddess for some who follow a Celtic spirituality. This was a great shock to me. I thought that the deities who would call to me most would be the peace-making ones. And some of those are becoming important to me too. But the impression I get is that the Celtic deities think I've had quite enough of submission and acquiescence. Not that the deities of peace are about that either, but too much work with them early on and I might get the wrong idea and start to give in to my doormat tendencies, which already run rampant in my life. The gods who are becoming my gods are keen for me to face life a lot more directly. To get in touch with my own power, authority, and sovereignty over my own life.
Which means going back into the fray and dealing with problems, and with society. Did I mention that I really, really hate doing that? Which, y'know, is ironic for a sociologist. ("And given my lifelong search for irony you can imagine how happy I am." - Phoebe, 'Friends') Ah well. I'm working on it. And with that, I return to work on the never-ending literature review. This week: which aspects of Christianity can be seen as a 'new religious movement'? See you all later. (And do please download the podcast! Go on - make me less nervous. Thank you!)
It's Autumn in Britain, and absolutely beautiful.