The Religious Impulse

I’m tired. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically tired. I hit the wall awhile back and just kept trying to run. I’m so tired that I’ve been a crappy blogger who’s been busy trying to build walls around herself instead of being the open, laid-bare blogger I was a year ago. A year ago I would have told you I was struggling with this or that in my life. Today it feels like an admission of weakness rather than sharing a human experience. I’m so tired I’ve begun to think of blogging as warfare and words like besieged have slipped into my speech far too often. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I don’t want to be that kind of writer. So I’m going to stop trying to be a fortress or tower of strength, which I suck at, and be a human, where I have a better chance of success.

Normally when I get tired of blogging a Pagan somewhere does something amazing, and it energizes me and inspires me to wake up ready to share amazing things through this blog. Well, Pagans have been doing some fantastic things things lately and while it has warmed my heart and given me hope, it hasn’t energized my writing. I’ve honestly been questioning why and if it is important to keep blogging. This blog began as something much different and against my wishes evolved into something else, an intensely personal forum rather than a group effort I merely administrated. It’s been a tool of personal growth, a way to spread good news and a community of readers that I’ve come to rely on for perspective, insight, criticism and affirmation. It’s also become a burden, another stone around my neck at a rather hectic and stressful job.

Today, like too many days of late, I didn’t want to write. I have plenty of things to write about, so it’s not writer’s block. I simply don’t want to deal with it. I’ve begun judging topics based on whether I have the energy, time or patience to deal with the discussion it will engender. At times I force myself to write a post I don’t have the energy to deal with only to find later that I’ve written an aggressive, snarky and completely unreadable post. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this on my own, trying to decide if what little I do over here on the Pagan portal is worthwhile and trying to discover how to reclaim the energy I once had.

This is what I have discovered: I write because I have a religious impulse to do so. Everyone has their own gift, and unfortunately this is the only one I have. Writing is all I’ve got to give. I am not a brilliant teacher, nor a gifted ritualist. I’m not an inspiring and dedicated activist. I’m not a wise elder, nor even a good student. I’m no enchanting musician, talented visual artist or helpful mentor. I’m not even a supportive lover, or raising up the next generation of Pagans. I’m someone who chews through words and ideas, who worries a concept until it makes sense to her and whose tool is the written word. In the larger picture, it’s not a very useful gift.

I prayed for help once. My prayer was answered. I’ve been mocked for praying, scoffed for believing my prayer was answered, patronized for my interpretation of the answer and even been told I’m superstitious for believing in omens and signs. However, it is true that I write because my prayer was answered with a pen. That pen led me to Patheos, and the exhausting experience of working for a start-up was married to the very difficult concept of inter- and intra-faith dialogue. It’s been a huge blessing and a wonderfully transformative experience for me. I hope my work here has been of use to the Pagan community, and I hope it continues to be useful.

Yet it’s time for me to say out loud that I am tired. That I’m hurting. That maybe this work is leaching energy from me faster than I can replenish it. I write this knowing that some will find this post a victory of sorts. That’s ok. I’m not going anywhere. I am tired, and burnt out, and in need of serious restorative care that only I can give myself, but thankfully I see that in time to remedy it. I needed to tell my readers what is going on, because I’ve not been my best lately and I recognize that. I don’t want to be a fortress, or angry, or tired, or irritable. I want to write like I used to, fearlessly from my heart. Starting today I’m going to work on that, so that I can keep doing this work rather than pushing myself to the point of no return.

I love this work, and I love all my concentric circles of community, from my family, to my coven, to my fellow writers, all the way to the great overarching sense of kinship I feel with all Pagans. I write not merely because I believe in my path, but because I believe in us. All of us. From Estonia to Oakland. From Druid to Thelemite. I love you guys, all of you Pagans out there, and I’m sorry I’ve been out of sorts. Right now I’m tired, not terribly useful, and generally crappy. I will get better. There is a bright future ahead. Thanks for sticking with me.

I may write from a religious impulse, from a devotional and pious nature, but I write for a human community made up of amazing people that I love dearly. They’re known as Pagans.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Cara Schulz

    I love you, Star.  You may not be feeling inspired, but I am inspired by you.  I respect you and the amazing job you have done at Patheos and the opportunities you have broke open for many Pagan voices in a mainstream religious website.  To be frank, before you took over, the Pagan portal was shit.  You changed that.  You’ve made it a vibrant, exciting place.  That is also true of the Pantheon blog. 

    Rest.  Recharge.  This is the season to withdraw a bit.  Like the plants are doing. 

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Thanks lady! I love you too! Good luck with the chicken!

  • Cara Schulz

    I love you, Star.  You may not be feeling inspired, but I am inspired by you.  I respect you and the amazing job you have done at Patheos and the opportunities you have broke open for many Pagan voices in a mainstream religious website.  To be frank, before you took over, the Pagan portal was shit.  You changed that.  You’ve made it a vibrant, exciting place.  That is also true of the Pantheon blog. 

    Rest.  Recharge.  This is the season to withdraw a bit.  Like the plants are doing. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Thanks lady! I love you too! Good luck with the chicken!

  • Noscere

    We all get tired, more so when what ever we write is judged by others some of whom ate not so forgiving or open minded as they should be.
    If anything I applaud you for recognising that you are tired and what it is that is making you feel like this.

    A wise witch once said “The path I walk is more like a river, either changing the land around it or being changed by the land it travels through”.

    As Cara said, rest and recharge Star, take it easy for a bit we ain’t going anywhere, what you write inspires other pagans.

    Blessings /¦

  • Noscere

    We all get tired, more so when what ever we write is judged by others some of whom ate not so forgiving or open minded as they should be.
    If anything I applaud you for recognising that you are tired and what it is that is making you feel like this.

    A wise witch once said “The path I walk is more like a river, either changing the land around it or being changed by the land it travels through”.

    As Cara said, rest and recharge Star, take it easy for a bit we ain’t going anywhere, what you write inspires other pagans.

    Blessings /¦

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I can only imagine how you must be feeling and you’re right, it is better that you caught this now so that you can take the time reflect and rebuild your reserves. At times when I’ve been unsure about what I am saying, you’ve constantly reminded me how important it is for all of our voices to be heard.

    Take the time you need and come back when you’re ready. I’ll look forward to your reemergence.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I can only imagine how you must be feeling and you’re right, it is better that you caught this now so that you can take the time reflect and rebuild your reserves. At times when I’ve been unsure about what I am saying, you’ve constantly reminded me how important it is for all of our voices to be heard.

    Take the time you need and come back when you’re ready. I’ll look forward to your reemergence.

  • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

    If there’s something that we, your readers, can do to help, please let us know.

    I don’t know what Patheos or Pantheon were like before you joined… I only learned they existed because a friend told me about your blog here.  Through you, I’ve discovered the other bloggers here, as well, which I thank you for.  Through you, I’ve found a way to connect, to whatever degree, with a segment of the Pagan community outside my county – one with which I engage on a near-daily basis.  Thank you for that, too.

    I find your posts here wonderfully challenging, thought-provoking, funny and comforting, by turns, and more often than not, precisely what I needed to read that day.  You inspire me to be a better priest, a better activist and better in my personal practise.  

    Please do take care of yourself, rest well, and let us know what we can do to help.  

  • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

    If there’s something that we, your readers, can do to help, please let us know.

    I don’t know what Patheos or Pantheon were like before you joined… I only learned they existed because a friend told me about your blog here.  Through you, I’ve discovered the other bloggers here, as well, which I thank you for.  Through you, I’ve found a way to connect, to whatever degree, with a segment of the Pagan community outside my county – one with which I engage on a near-daily basis.  Thank you for that, too.

    I find your posts here wonderfully challenging, thought-provoking, funny and comforting, by turns, and more often than not, precisely what I needed to read that day.  You inspire me to be a better priest, a better activist and better in my personal practise.  

    Please do take care of yourself, rest well, and let us know what we can do to help.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

    I think this post was a long time coming. People in the Pagan Community need to see how challenging it can be to support the Greater Pagan Community. It’s easy to sit back and say what little Pagan media we have is crap or malicious, because that only involves flapping your mouth. The small group that is ‘Pagan Media’ are somehow supposed to be demigods of journalism. Let us all bitch about a lack of something then throw prayers or curses at them, because aren’t they beholden to our whims and omniscient?

    If you care about what gets shared as ‘news’ or even ‘points of interest’ then CONTRIBUTE. Step past the shame of not helping these few upstanding members, and write something on par with what they provide daily. Send them a guest written post or information for a story/interview. If the Pagan Community can’t help each other through hard work then we don’t deserve people who are already working hard for our overall betterment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lamyka-L/649965363 Lamyka L.

    I think this post was a long time coming. People in the Pagan Community need to see how challenging it can be to support the Greater Pagan Community. It’s easy to sit back and say what little Pagan media we have is crap or malicious, because that only involves flapping your mouth. The small group that is ‘Pagan Media’ are somehow supposed to be demigods of journalism. Let us all bitch about a lack of something then throw prayers or curses at them, because aren’t they beholden to our whims and omniscient?

    If you care about what gets shared as ‘news’ or even ‘points of interest’ then CONTRIBUTE. Step past the shame of not helping these few upstanding members, and write something on par with what they provide daily. Send them a guest written post or information for a story/interview. If the Pagan Community can’t help each other through hard work then we don’t deserve people who are already working hard for our overall betterment.

  • http://profiles.google.com/emkatcreations Kat Emralde

    I hope that you can see this post as “fearlessly from my heart.”.  As to your gift, writing is so much more than “In the larger picture, it’s not a very useful gift.”  Without writing so much gets lost or ignored.  I appreciate your courage to write here as well as the strength it must take.

    Rock on, Lady!

  • http://profiles.google.com/emkatcreations Kat Emralde

    I hope that you can see this post as “fearlessly from my heart.”.  As to your gift, writing is so much more than “In the larger picture, it’s not a very useful gift.”  Without writing so much gets lost or ignored.  I appreciate your courage to write here as well as the strength it must take.

    Rock on, Lady!

  • Stephen Clark

    You have a tremendous gift, Star. You just need to rest a bit and recharge. Let me know if there is anyway I can help. I write poetry on a wide range of subjects. Some of them are spiritual. You can check them out at http://www.therenegadepoet.wordpress.com Maybe one of them will help reinspire you to write the way you want to write.

    Brightest Blessings to you,
    The Renegade Poet

  • Stephen Clark

    You have a tremendous gift, Star. You just need to rest a bit and recharge. Let me know if there is anyway I can help. I write poetry on a wide range of subjects. Some of them are spiritual. You can check them out at http://www.therenegadepoet.wordpress.com Maybe one of them will help reinspire you to write the way you want to write.

    Brightest Blessings to you,
    The Renegade Poet

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    I’m very thankful for all you’ve done for the pagan community, and for the Patheos.com Pagan Portal (and Patheos more widely as well!), and I’m happy to have become involved in it in some small way as well.  I don’t know if I adequately convey that every time I write to you, but I mean every word of it.

    As someone who is having difficulty finding the energy to blog recently as well (due to all sorts of other projects taking up time and mental space), I certainly empathize with you in this difficulty.  Do whatever you need to in order to see after your own needs.

    And, while your writing is wonderful, please don’t be too hard on yourself–you have all sorts of other talents and ways you can contribute, you just may not have found them yet.  In the meantime, your writing, and your ability to administrate the perpetual cat-herding endeavor known as “working with pagans,” even in the virtual realm here, with all of the various bloggers who have columns and write guests posts here, is far more than many would be able to handle–so, count that as one of your strengths and talents as well in the meantime!

    Every blessing of all the gods to you, today and every day, Star!

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    I’m very thankful for all you’ve done for the pagan community, and for the Patheos.com Pagan Portal (and Patheos more widely as well!), and I’m happy to have become involved in it in some small way as well.  I don’t know if I adequately convey that every time I write to you, but I mean every word of it.

    As someone who is having difficulty finding the energy to blog recently as well (due to all sorts of other projects taking up time and mental space), I certainly empathize with you in this difficulty.  Do whatever you need to in order to see after your own needs.

    And, while your writing is wonderful, please don’t be too hard on yourself–you have all sorts of other talents and ways you can contribute, you just may not have found them yet.  In the meantime, your writing, and your ability to administrate the perpetual cat-herding endeavor known as “working with pagans,” even in the virtual realm here, with all of the various bloggers who have columns and write guests posts here, is far more than many would be able to handle–so, count that as one of your strengths and talents as well in the meantime!

    Every blessing of all the gods to you, today and every day, Star!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCM62LRWJYSJZAWCXGUA62L7B4 nothing

    In the past I have run into that wall myself in my own life, I’m old so I’ve run into it many times actually……that wall of burn out, it’s not a pretty thing but if you want to get through it to the other side and feel the way you used to feel about writing I will tell you what the chef told me…keep doing what you do, what you love, what makes your heart sing, one day at a time and little by little that burned out feeling goes away and you feel inspired again…not giving up is the key to reaching the other side of burn out. It maybe be hard and a struggle to drag yourself through the motions but it can be done. It would be a shame not to have your blog to read daily and I don’t mean to put any pressure on you at all, just pointing out that people really enjoy what you write. If your choice is to give it up then best of luck in whatever you move on to doing…just make sure that whatever it is that it makes you happy, that it makes your heart sing like your writing used to, if you stick around and decide to work though this period, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there will be many happy people here continuing to read what you have to say. be patient with yourself, it will all work out.
    blessed be.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FCM62LRWJYSJZAWCXGUA62L7B4 nothing

    In the past I have run into that wall myself in my own life, I’m old so I’ve run into it many times actually……that wall of burn out, it’s not a pretty thing but if you want to get through it to the other side and feel the way you used to feel about writing I will tell you what the chef told me…keep doing what you do, what you love, what makes your heart sing, one day at a time and little by little that burned out feeling goes away and you feel inspired again…not giving up is the key to reaching the other side of burn out. It maybe be hard and a struggle to drag yourself through the motions but it can be done. It would be a shame not to have your blog to read daily and I don’t mean to put any pressure on you at all, just pointing out that people really enjoy what you write. If your choice is to give it up then best of luck in whatever you move on to doing…just make sure that whatever it is that it makes you happy, that it makes your heart sing like your writing used to, if you stick around and decide to work though this period, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there will be many happy people here continuing to read what you have to say. be patient with yourself, it will all work out.
    blessed be.

  • Jim Baker

    Greetings from Devon, UK.

    Just a few personal thoughts on what you have written Star.

    I have been reading your blog for some time, but I rarely post. In this case I felt compelled to do so. So, briefly,

    I have been a solitary witch for about 30 years, many years of study, much pre-internet and from hard to find sources. Not just Paganism but other Religions and Philosophy.

    For me, the great value of your blogs is that they make me think, both about things I thought I knew, but also ideas that were new to me. I have at various times sought out pagan groups and Coven members and had some reasonable discussions, but for the most part, managed to learn absolutely nothing.

    Imagine my surprise when I first read your blogs which gave me answers (or a path to an answer) and also gave me new questions. Always done with intelligence, insight and humour. (And correct spelling and grammar!).
    Of course I have not agreed with all your views, but for me your writings have been of immense value; you have helped me, enlightened me and taught me. Pretty impressive for a ‘crappy blogger’ !So thank you for all you have done, and if you need a rest then have one!Blessings, Jim.
    ———————

  • Jim Baker

    Greetings from Devon, UK.

    Just a few personal thoughts on what you have written Star.

    I have been reading your blog for some time, but I rarely post. In this case I felt compelled to do so. So, briefly,

    I have been a solitary witch for about 30 years, many years of study, much pre-internet and from hard to find sources. Not just Paganism but other Religions and Philosophy.

    For me, the great value of your blogs is that they make me think, both about things I thought I knew, but also ideas that were new to me. I have at various times sought out pagan groups and Coven members and had some reasonable discussions, but for the most part, managed to learn absolutely nothing.

    Imagine my surprise when I first read your blogs which gave me answers (or a path to an answer) and also gave me new questions. Always done with intelligence, insight and humour. (And correct spelling and grammar!).
    Of course I have not agreed with all your views, but for me your writings have been of immense value; you have helped me, enlightened me and taught me. Pretty impressive for a ‘crappy blogger’ !So thank you for all you have done, and if you need a rest then have one!Blessings, Jim.
    ———————

  • Greenflame

    Star, it’s okay…You’ve done amazing work. Rest. Recharge. Go within. You have more than EARNED the right to do this! And, happily, it’s the time of the year when that can come easier. And you may come out wanting to take that writing talent (which IS a great gift) and find some other way to use it in Their service.

    Also, you just had a tremendous inner experience with your initiation. The unpacking of that experience that is surely going on deeply within you may also be taking up some of your energy and you have earned the right to nurture that. Blessed Be, Lady GreenFlame

  • Greenflame

    Star, it’s okay…You’ve done amazing work. Rest. Recharge. Go within. You have more than EARNED the right to do this! And, happily, it’s the time of the year when that can come easier. And you may come out wanting to take that writing talent (which IS a great gift) and find some other way to use it in Their service.

    Also, you just had a tremendous inner experience with your initiation. The unpacking of that experience that is surely going on deeply within you may also be taking up some of your energy and you have earned the right to nurture that. Blessed Be, Lady GreenFlame

  • val bobincheck

    Perhaps this would be a good time to let us read some of “the best of” blogs..especially with Yule coming up….Rest and enjoy your first Yule as an Initiate…there will never be another so unique!

  • val bobincheck

    Perhaps this would be a good time to let us read some of “the best of” blogs..especially with Yule coming up….Rest and enjoy your first Yule as an Initiate…there will never be another so unique!

  • val bobincheck

    Perhaps this would be a good time to let us read some of “the best of” blogs..especially with Yule coming up….Rest and enjoy your first Yule as an Initiate…there will never be another so unique!

  • DragonBreath

    Star
    Pitchers don’t always throw record breaking fast balls. Sometimes they throw curves, sliders, change ups, balls and gasp wild pitches. On really bad days they get a relief pitcher. This is one of the reasons i like your blog; you never know what the pitch will be or who will be pitching( YouTube links or guest writers). You can always post a sign gone fishing, shopping etc, be back whenever; i promise not to whine too much.

  • DragonBreath

    Star
    Pitchers don’t always throw record breaking fast balls. Sometimes they throw curves, sliders, change ups, balls and gasp wild pitches. On really bad days they get a relief pitcher. This is one of the reasons i like your blog; you never know what the pitch will be or who will be pitching( YouTube links or guest writers). You can always post a sign gone fishing, shopping etc, be back whenever; i promise not to whine too much.

  • Zevenster

    Dear Star,
    I know how you feel -been there, done that.
    Don’t feel pushed to feel different just because “we out there need you”.
    We do, though.
    We need you to get well
    We need you to feel good about what you have acheived
    We need you to know you make a difference
    We need you to feel loved and valued
    We need you to take life as it is – sometimes you rule the waves, sometimes you get flooded. Asking for help and encouragement is your darn right!
    We need you to take it easy for a while, do your daily walks, get some fresh air, do your breathing exercises, get good food and!! good company.
    The virtual world is not the kind of company you need right now – you need loving arms, warm homemade soup, real peoples’ eyes, a smile, a hanky..
    Take good care of yourself before you feel compelled to take care of us.

    I must say this: before I found Pantheon, the whole theological side of paganism was something I missed dearly. I have found a spiritual home here, and it keeps me going, and deepening my believes and convictions.
    I am so, so very greatful for that!

    I bought a large white candle last week, not knowing who would need the healing of burning it – it’s all yours baby.

    From the Netherlands,
    embracing you, virtually alas,
    Zevenster

  • Zevenster

    Dear Star,
    I know how you feel -been there, done that.
    Don’t feel pushed to feel different just because “we out there need you”.
    We do, though.
    We need you to get well
    We need you to feel good about what you have acheived
    We need you to know you make a difference
    We need you to feel loved and valued
    We need you to take life as it is – sometimes you rule the waves, sometimes you get flooded. Asking for help and encouragement is your darn right!
    We need you to take it easy for a while, do your daily walks, get some fresh air, do your breathing exercises, get good food and!! good company.
    The virtual world is not the kind of company you need right now – you need loving arms, warm homemade soup, real peoples’ eyes, a smile, a hanky..
    Take good care of yourself before you feel compelled to take care of us.

    I must say this: before I found Pantheon, the whole theological side of paganism was something I missed dearly. I have found a spiritual home here, and it keeps me going, and deepening my believes and convictions.
    I am so, so very greatful for that!

    I bought a large white candle last week, not knowing who would need the healing of burning it – it’s all yours baby.

    From the Netherlands,
    embracing you, virtually alas,
    Zevenster


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