The Thrilling End of August

Stress definitely does a number on the mind and body.

To say my religious life has suffered lately would be a massive understatement. Oh, I’ve gotten writing done, and praying, and I’m still chugging along, but I feel exhausted. I get writing done but it’s all circles and spirals and messes. My writing buds on the vine but it doesn’t blossom. The ideas crowd each other out and then none of them have time to come to fruition due to my exhaustion. My offerings are, well, offered, but not heartfelt.

People have written before that being in a stressful, unsafe, or unstable environment can really mess you up. It can have long term effects, and usually it just makes every already difficult part of being alive even harder. I’m not sure I really want to get into details but – my life is stressful and has been for a long time.

For me, religion was both a type of salvation and a type of damnation. Being faithful was as natural to me as breathing. Prayer felt wonderful. I felt comforted, and peaceful, and safe (all things I didn’t feel before). But being religious caused tensions, frustrations, and fights. I was comforted internally, but the stress externally just continued to pile on.

Life was always unstable, and I learned to handle that as I grew up.

It seems that the stress has reached a point where it is very seriously impairing my religious practice, though. During such times, we’re supposed to turn to our gods, not give up our prayers and rituals, etc. Which makes sense, and is very nice, and it is important to continue building and sustaining our practice so that it can sustain us during times like these. Often, even when I was trying to stitch together a practice from various pieces, when I was still very green, prayer and faith got me through. I had my daily work and I could do it. I had goals, and I could pursue them. My religion was my foundation, and it was unshakeable.

Maybe things are falling apart now, faith wise, because I’m not praying enough.

If only more prayers could fix this.

It seems that it is impious to doubt, to falter. Even more so since I’m founding a religion and all that gunk. It is not a doubt in my gods, or their existence, or the spirits. That doubt has rarely found me and nested in my heart. But it is doubt of my ability to walk, to speak, to be. I doubt, I suppose, the meaning of this work. Oh yes, the gods and spirits enjoy the stories I make, and the interpretations I give them – sometimes agreeing, sometimes laughing, sometimes just holding silence – but I’m not one of those super pious spirit workers who gets off only on that.

It is not that I don’t have plans. I have so many plans, I add more and cut more every day. I am capable of planning and dreaming and accomplishing goals.

But I have found that place that my faith cannot help, that my religion cannot touch, that my gods cannot assist in. Not for lack of their dominion over this area of my life, or for lack of their presence, but because this is mine, not theirs.

And that is a change, and my feet are slipping as I adjust, but I suppose there is something to be said for the volume of work I have put out during this stressful period – even if I haven’t been able to publish most of it.

About Aine

Aine Llewellyn is a 20 year old girl creature currently mucking about in southern Arizona. She enjoys the winters and rain but can’t stand the heat. She is a difficult polytheist that natters on and on about her faith.

  • Bianca Bradley

    I’m not trying to sound mean. However, Christians have a saying. God helps those who help themselves.

    Why am I saying this?

    Maybe, and this is something I experienced when I was young. Crap kept getting harder and harder, until I realized I was in a bad relationship. It didn’t cease getting hard until I had left that relationship. Sometimes the Gods let crap pile up, because even two by fours don’t stop our sillyness.

    Is it something the Gods have to do, or is it something YOU have to do, to make your life less crazy?

    Feel free to message me via facebook, if you wish a shoulder to vent to.

    • Aine

      I’m wondering if you glossed over or ignored the points where I said that “…this is mine, not theirs.”

      • Bianca Bradley

        No I did not. But I do appreciate the snark, when I was trying to help and be nice.

        • Aine

          Pointing out that I already made a point that you made isn’t snark?

  • Christopher Scott Thompson

    I can definitely relate to the stress thing. I have two young kids- one almost 2, the other 5- and I’m watching them alone 90 percent of the time while working from home. Sometimes the stress in my life is so intense I feel like it’s some kind of epic spiritual struggle just to do the normal stuff everyone does every day. I don’t do anything close to the number of devotional activities you do, but I try to maintain a feeling of being “plugged in” to the energy current of the gods. If I can do that, I feel this sense of limitless energy below the surface no matter how overwhelmed I am on the surface. If I lose that current, it’s hard to even get up in the morning. I don’t want to offer advice as such, because you know your situation better than anyone else, but I would suggest that staying connected to your gods internally may be more important than fulfilling a certain set of devotional activities.

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    I remember several points in my early years with the modern Antinoan cultus where I had exactly the same conclusions that you do here: this is mine, not theirs, and they can’t help.

    I’m sort of in that position now, slightly…I definitely feel great empathy and sympathy with what you’ve stated here about being stressed, and about feeling that one’s spiritual path and progress and practice can’t help (or aren’t helping), even though they sort of “just do” by having done them, etc.

    All of this to say: these things do happen, and I have a sense of what you’re experiencing. I’m sorry to hear it, and if there’s anything that I can do to help (including just lending an ear), please do contact me. There are no quick or easy answers–indeed, there probably aren’t any answers; but perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that others have been in this same sort of position before…and, it is worth persisting, because things do end up making more sense when they re-adjust and re-center themselves down the road, both from your own knowledge and best assessments and the help that our gods give us.