Tending Sacred Space: The Body is an Altar and a Temple of Grief

Tending Sacred Space: The Body is an Altar and a Temple of Grief September 16, 2020

So, how’s your pandemic (still) going?

In calls with friends, we’ve decided this is a better question than ‘How are you?’

Asking how someone is seems too short, too simple, and too prepared for a quick ‘Fine, and you?’

I’m not fine. But I still hear myself say it. After all, the opposite is something I haven’t really wanted to admit out loud.

But, it’s true.

After a month or two of ‘I’m an introvert and writer who has trained my whole life to stay at home,’ I’m not laughing about it. There are more days when I’m crying about it.



The warmth of another being as we just lean into each other, knowing what we mean.

Not being able to touch anyone at my friend’s funeral service.

My body is grief. And in this timeline, grief is interrupted.

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Pandemic Pondering

It’s louder now in the quiet. It’s all the words and no words and many days when I just make noises because I’m not sure how to describe this space of my head. There are rattles and creaking noises and things I didn’t realize I was saying to myself.

My body is tired and sore from the short walks and the long days at the computer. Making magick with Zoom. Writing and creating and leaving most of it in strangely labeled note on a drive. Because even I think some things are better left unshared.

Too soon.

I’m tired of how being uncertain has led to massive To Do lists and continuously scheduled time. I’ve seen it creep in again and again. A trauma response, sure. Being human, definitely.

Control the things wherever you can, right?

When I start to get grumbly about all the things I love, I know it’s time to shift, to change, to do something different. To step away.

Time to tend the sacred spaces. Time to tend the body.

Tending the Body (and Mind and Heart)

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • I turned off all of my social media notifications. All of them.
  • I removed all news sites from my phone and web browser. If I want to see the news, I need to type the full address in. I don’t do that very often.
  • I turned off messaging notifications.
  • I walked away from the computer for almost 24 hours.
  • I went to the beach.
  • I cleaned the herb shelves.
  • I poured old magick onto the ground.
  • I watched the deer in the yard.
  • I sat on the floor of my bedroom and just listened to my thoughts.
  • I asked myself: How are you? And when I answered, I asked again, No, really, how are you? I repeated this until I couldn’t say anything more that was truer.
  • I carved my initials into a candle. Intentions. Burned it away in the shower.
  • I walked for 10 minutes. Mask on. Headphones off. I stopped wearing headphones while I walk. I’m listening to me and to whatever is around me.
  • I walked away from work I didn’t need to do.
  • I curled up on the floor.
  • I stretched.
  • I cried.
  • I read a book. A whole book.
  • I met with my coven on Zoom.
  • I got a therapist.
  • I played with my kittens.
  • I said true things to a beloved.
  • I found my now gone beloved’s voicemail messages and saved them to my computer. I haven’t listened yet.
  • I collected all of the poems I wrote about my mom after she died.
  • I started to uncover other griefs too.
  • I did ritual. The kind you don’t photograph or share.
  • I held my body and let the earth hold me.
  • I kept showing up.

The body is more than a movement and a muscle, more than a bone and a lung. It is a vehicle of grief and joy. I take it places — though sometimes not very far from home. I try to be still enough to listen, but not too rigid to become tight.

I fail a lot.

But I can see it now. And that is its own magick. The magick of knowing and seeing and meeting and laying down at the altar of my confusion. I stopped seeking clarity.

I now invite grace.

(What do you invite? How are you doing?)

About Irisanya Moon
I’m a Witch. I’m a writer. I’m a priestess, teacher, drummer, feminist, and initiate in the Reclaiming tradition. I serve the gods, my community, and the Earth. I’ve called myself a Witch for nearly 20 years, and my life has been infused with magick. I am interested in shifting stories – the ones we tell ourselves and the ones that are told about us. I’m continuously inspired to engage as the storyteller and the story, the words and the spaces between. I am a devotee of Aphrodite, Hecate, the Norns, and Iris. I seek to find love and to inspire love by reminding us we are not alone, while also meeting myself at the crossroads, holding the threads of life, and bringing down messages from the gods. (I've also published some books. You can get them at my website.) You can read more about the author here.
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