Reading Star Foster’s blog post “Make Good Art and Do the Work” and watching Neil Gaiman’s speech to university graduates has had the wheels of my mind turning on the subject for several days. (Here’s the video and transcript.)
Apparently I am the most stubborn person to contemplate a spiritual path because fate had to spell out my work for me in plain signs. I still forget it. I believe this because:
I was born June 21 on the Summer Solstice one of the points on the Wheel of the Year. Of course this the longest day of the year. For many it’s a time to reaffirm the life giving properties of the sun. We need sunlight for warmth and so the plants we eat can grow. I also see the sun as a symbol of bringing wisdom into the world by seeking and sharing knowledge be it scientific or spiritual.
The year was 1976 which makes me a centennial baby meaning I was born the year the United States celebrated it’s 200th anniversary. The American Revolution was a complex event and saying it was about liberty simplifies it too much. I understand that now. It’s the archetypes of justice and liberty that have given me a passion for social and environmental issues.
My mom named me Tara (the a is pronounced like tear a piece of paper) after the plantation in the story Gone with the Wind. The O’Hara family named the plantation after Tara (pronounced differently like Tar’a) the place in Ireland where the kings were crowned. In Gaelic Tara means “hill”. I recall watched as a young girl how important the land was to the family and how Scarlet struggled to manage it and keep it after her father died and the Civil War raged. I developed a love of nature while growing up in small towns and visiting my Grandparents in the Ozarks every summer.
When I was five years old two missionaries from Africa stayed in our home. My dad was a local pastor and they were traveling the US to minister and raise money for their congregation. They told me my name meant Star. I felt special and honored and smiled. I didn’t learn until later they were referring to the Sanskrit origin. Through my religious studies I learned that Tara in Tibetan Buddhism, is a female Bodhisattva of compassion and action. She comes in different forms and sometimes these forms are seem more as different types of meditation then an actual being. The stars in the sky have represented through the ages spirits or the heavens and it is the same for me. I am also amazed at just how many gigantic balls of fire are spinning out there in the infinite void.
Through the decades of my life, I have misinterpreted what my Work is or forgotten I had a purpose at all. When I joined a magical group for the first time I thought we were extraordinary people who held the secret to life the universe and everything. As I grew up I realized much of it was just new to us. I hope I was much more grounded when I taught with the Order of the Elodrym in my 30s. For a while I was then convinced my goal in life was to have a high paying job and I got it. I had money but my physical health and spirituality was ignored. I ended up having to go on medical leave and finally leave full time work entirely.
Today I’m making teaching and learning my Great Work once again. I teach when needed as a substitute and volunteer at the local library for story time. I plan fun activities as well as opportunities for them to learn facts. I also use this blog as a way for me to discover new information and share it with you. My Great Work is also how I treat myself, people, the ecosystem, animals, and entities I may encounter on my spirit journey. Ultimately my Great Work is to be me. What ever that is and however I may change over time. I am most miserable when I let the little critic in my head drag me away from my Path. When I flow, when I’m in the satisfied calm state of Satori, I know I’m doing the right thing and I can find answers to challenges.
Though my signs are there to aid my stubborn self, I see how they can be a reminder for each of us.
You are a child of the Earth and of the Universe. Seek knowledge and share it with others much like a star falling to the earth. Use what you learn to make yourself and your corner of the world a better place even if it seems new and revolutionary. All ways remember that you are special.
What do you consider to be your Work and how do you stay connected to it?