A pandemic seems and feels like a roller coaster. You go up, reach the top, survey all around you, think everything’s okay, take a deep breath, and then down you go, screaming all the way. One week doesn’t look like the next, or it does, until you scream from the monotony. I observe people all around me, going through various stages of grief, because that’s what it’s like, grieving what was, and not knowing what will be. Or thinking you have a handle on what will be, and then things change.
A spiritual practice during this time can help ground you, and provide a guidepost for your day. Inevitably, I will mention this in conversation and responses usually counter with worries about their survival, anxiety, and concerns. Who’s got time for a spiritual practice? I honor that, but also know that in that particular moment, there is absolutely nothing you can probably do about whatever is bothering you, so why not dedicate a few moments to something that will help you feel better, and help you navigate the turbulence of the world?
I’m not going to give you a list of what you should do, because we all know the drill: meditate, hydrate, dust off your altar, work with your ancestors and deities, and how about updating that Book of Shadows in the corner that is gathering dust? We know what to do, but getting started on it seems insurmountable at times.
I’ve gone through the roller coaster myself, and have had days where I have done nothing but cry, yet when my spiritual practice is in the forefront, I can function. I have participated in online rituals, have had really deep spiritual conversations that fed my soul, I’ve read, I have volunteered, and yes, my Book of Shadows is still sitting dusty in the corner. I will get to that at some point.
A few things make a difference: I have a daily routine, including a morning reading of The Celtic Spirit by Caitlin Matthews. There is a passage per day, based on the Wheel of the Year, so in May, the book looks 2/3 done, and that little visual cue keeps me connected to the passage of time. I learn something daily from her passages. I take each day as it comes, and no more. I don’t look at the Big Picture, or I know I will get overwhelmed. I focus on the action of witchcraft, and that helps quiet my anxieties, and gives me the satisfaction of having done something. I keep my altars relatively clean and focused (a work in progress). Through a friend’s intuitive session and community, I’ve reconnected with my grandfather, who passed away in the 1970s, and realized I never fully grieved for him. I honor my ancestors, and feel them guiding and protecting me. I have refocused my dedication to Brigid, and spent a lot of time in nature, awakening the naturalist in me. I don’t berate myself with some unrealistic standards.
I’ve reached out to others, and really checked on them. Not just the usual, “how are you?” because, like myself, they may just say “fine”, and hope we move on. I work on my listening skills, because as a mother, I have spent decades in Mama Bear Mode, doling out advice and action plans, when really, all I need to do is listen. Listening is quite the art, and I struggle with my urge to help. Listening reveals so much more, and for that I am grateful.
And there have been days when I have done literally nothing, staring at the walls, wondering what the heck I am supposed to be doing. Am I doing what I am meant to do on this earth, or am I deluding myself? Should I just chuck it all and go back to things the way they were, to prove some point I’ve lost track of? I have cried at silly, selfish things like not being able to travel. Trips have been canceled, and I have mourned them. I have Wanderlust tattooed on my arm, and that yearning feels squashed. I get sidetracked in filling out government forms or dealing with paperwork, struggling with tension headaches as I plod through the day.
Yet life is a like a spiral, and I find myself coming back to what gives me peace and solace: I spend time at my altar, I stir my coffee clock-wise to bring in good things, provide counsel and readings to clients, and put one foot in front of the other. All I can deal with is in the here and now, this very moment, and I choose to focus on what I consider the gifts of Paganism: nature, action, food and drink, laughter, books, celebration, community, mourning loss, celebrating joy, and the inner core of determination that runs through so many of us. May it be ever so.