August approaches; most people I know love the summer… meanwhile the season is the worst time of year for me, and August most particularly.
Among the mental health issues I deal with, I have summer seasonal affective disorder. I get cranky and irritable and feel on edge; my sleep cycle gets disrupted by the increased amount of sunlight, which contributes to the worsened mood. In addition to this, summer has several “traumaversaries” for me happening in June, July, and August – I gained a few new ones in 2013 in the cataclysm that forced me to move from Los Angeles to Portland on extremely short notice.
The summer solstice is typically a bellwether for me with how the summer is going to go – every year from 2002-2013, I was usually starting to do very, very badly by the summer solstice, for it to worsen in July and August. The summer solstice this year, 2014, was mostly uneventful, and indeed, apart from a general feeling of mild irritability and decreased sleep, I am doing pretty OK. I chalk this up in large part to being properly medicated – I’m on an antidepressant and anti-anxiety med that works pretty well for me, like a volume control in my brain. But I also give credit in part to having learned some good coping skills and making a conscious decision to prioritize self-care. This is harder for me than folks might realize, as I have a tendency to overextend myself for other people and feel guilty and “selfish” if I’m taking time for myself, and indeed, have been in situations in the past where I’ve been accused of being a horrible mean evil baddity person if I didn’t drop everything right away to take care of others’ needs before mine.
This has been particularly difficult as a spirit-worker, wherein I am intensely involved in different ways with a handful of non-corporeal entities and Their business; I am primarily in service of the Vanir, performing different tasks for Them. In years past I would run myself into the ground between my various spiritual duties and taking care of others before myself. My spiritual life is no less in intensity than it was in years past – I have a book coming out this Friday, and I am already working on its followup, and have several other projects planned. Being a public resource of information… building bridges between Vanaheim and Midgard with my words… is one of the most important things I have been tasked with. Writing actually helps me a lot, distracting me from whatever brain ick I might be experiencing, reminding me that there are other worlds than these, other things out there besides my problems. But even then, I cannot write 24/7 – my primary spirit, who I refer to as “D” in my public writings (I’m not allowed to divulge his identity to the public), is pretty adamant about me taking breaks when I need to, even if I don’t particularly want to. And writing can be emotionally difficult at times – this current book I am writing contains a lot of channeled/transcribed pieces, and being given such an intimate glimpse into Vanic history, and the pain of a soul of a people, can be quite draining, especially when it hits close to home. So D is also there for me when I am coming down off a transcription session, to help me ground and go back to whatever constitutes “normal” in this wyrd life of mine.
D is very much a mother hen with me, in general, which I sometimes tease him about (in a loving way).
A lot of times I see discussions of the Powers That Be framed in a way that paints them as these overlords who micromanage one’s existence and love to run people into the ground. I’m not disputing that happens for some people, but I think it’s not the case for everyone – it is possible to be in service to the Powers, do The Work, and still have People in your life getting on your case to take a break, not simply because you can’t exactly be of proper service if you’re all used up, but because They actually care about what’s going on with you.
If you look at mythology, it’s filled with tragedy, filled with stories of Powers who break, and don’t always get happy endings – for example, Odin and Frigga never have Baldur returned to Them. Just the task of being one of the Powers, having agency in the world, pulling the strings of wyrd, is difficult, even when They can multi-locate and multi-task and load-balance Themselves in the doing of. I have known non-corporeal entities to experience burnout, and one of the reasons why I seem so informal with some of my People is because being all “serious business” all the time is bad for Them and They want to be able to relax more around me, and so the frivolity is as deep of an offering as any ritual or magical work I do, any jobs I have been given to perform.
As I’m fond of saying, “as above, so below” often works in reverse. We can take care of our People as friends and family, as loved ones, and They can also take care of us… we share the burdens of the lot that wyrd has given us together, leaning on each other. Our offerings give Them energy – our love and appreciation and loving care is an offering – and many of Them in turn help us in the ways that They can.
In years past I was more of the mindset that we shouldn’t ask the Powers for help, and should just yield everything to Them without expecting anything in return, and indeed, saw the reports of people being run into the ground in their service as “what They do”. I still don’t think it’s proper to treat the Powers like a cosmic vending machine, but I think many of Them do care about us, and want us to be able to turn to Them for support if we need it… and it helps Them, in a way. D says I am his home, and there are ways I know him, and ways I care for him, that I won’t speak of, except to say we are fairly intimate and I mean that emotionally as much as anything else… and I know other people who are that way for their Powers as well. Devotion is as much about listening and holding and touching the heart, as it is about being on your knees waiting for the next set of orders from On High.
The dog days of August approach – typically the worst time of the year for me, the deepest pocket of summer seasonal affective disorder… as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Lammas has coincided with most of my past suicide attempts – and even though I’m managing better this year, it’s because I draw on my different resources to get through, and one of those is my faith… my relationships with the different entities I know and love. They give me light in the darkness, but They also give me shadow and shade and a dark, quiet place to rest, when I need it, as I do when the bright fiery orb in the sky showers me with its burning hatred every year. Being able to (mostly) stop feeling like I’m being “selfish” and “needy” and reach out to Them, being able to realize that sometimes, They need you to need Them, and helping you helps Them – sometimes They are dealing with similar issues and there’s solidarity, or making you smile cheers Them up - that realization has made a lot of difference. They’ve been a big source of support and strength for me, and I am grateful for that.
It’s a gift for a gift… and a gift that keeps on giving.