Practice Makes Progress: April 1st to 15th

It’s been a while since my last post, and even longer since my last Practice Makes Progress post, which I’d hoped to make a regular feature. Mea culpa. Life’s been weird. I’m sure it has been for you too.

In my last post I mentioned moving up to Powell River to help take care of my mom. When I’d written that post, the plan was for me to come up at the end of January, giving me time to pack and plan and prepare and also work my last week of work at my old job.

By the time that post went up here at the blog (I post things earlier for supporters at Ko-Fi), my mom had broken her ankle and I’d had to leave much earlier than planned.

I lost three weeks of work and obliterated my savings.

Mom had surgery to fix her ankle, then two post-op complications. I have about seven more gray hairs than I did at the beginning of the year.

And then there was, you know. A pandemic.

Essential Yet Casual

The irony of my current situation is that I’m an essential worker — but I’m also a casual hospital worker, because I’m new. That’s how it goes in hospitals here. You start out as casual and eventually you’ll work your way up to regular hours, if that’s what you want.

Shift awarding goes based on seniority. And the pandemic has made it so some casuals higher above me in seniority terms who may not have been taking shifts — suddenly are.

Being a casual is always a sort of boom and bust cycle, but ironically I’m finding the pandemic that makes me an essential worker has also cut down my hours.

So that means a few things for me. One, it means I’m really hurting for money in a time when I was supposed to be saving and getting ready for bigger and brighter things.

Two, it means I have a lot more time on my hands to do what I want to do. So I have been, and I’ve been grateful for that, and for the ability to spend time with my mother and Tyee the wonderwolf.

I’ll be applying for assistance from our government’s stimulus package, which will hopefully give me some breathing room money-wise, and I’ll keep applying for every shift call out that comes my way.

But in the meantime? I’m going to enjoy the time off and focus on things that I’ve wanted to do forever but never had the time for.

That’s what this post is about (though in a slightly different format from last time).

A Trip to Eleusis

I went to Spring Mysteries Festival this year for the first time in a long time. Going this year had been part of our plans in January, before we realized the complete lack of money from my losing three weeks of work made it impossible.

I was heartbroken, because not only did I really want to take mom to Spring Mysteries Fest, this year was very special: my dear friend Mary Malinski became installed as Archpriestess of ATC Canada during the festival. I wanted to be there for her!

And through the weird blessing of a pandemic and a stay at home order, I was.

Spring Mysteries Fest went virtual this year, and it was honestly great.

I have many of the same mixed emotions Mary outlines in her post, linked above, but above all I’m so grateful mom and I were able to attend the event.

It was sorely needed for both of us.

Spring Mysteries Festival is a recreation of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which we know centered around the myth of Demeter and Persephone — Persephone’s descent to and return from the Underworld, and Demeter’s grief at the loss of her daughter which is what gives us mortals our seasons.

The event marries pagan ritual and theatre, and it is where you can walk among the Hellenic gods for a weekend. Literally.

It’s also oathbound, so I’m not supposed to tell you what I saw in the Mysteries. Personally, I have issues with that part, which probably deserve their own post — but I’m not about to break the oath here in this post.

Healing Trauma through Myths

The Demeter/Persephone myth is one that is deeply personal to me and my mother, and has been since my childhood.

When I was young, I latched on to the myth as a way to tell my own story — one of a girl who was abducted by the lord of the underworld and taken away from her mother. Being a child of divorce, in other words.

When I grew older and mentioned that I’d mapped the myth to my own experiences, people immediately assumed I meant my father had sexually abused me. No, I hadn’t, and no, he didn’t. He’s an asshole, not a pedophile.

When I was a kid I was reading sanitized versions of the myths and I didn’t fully realize the implications of saying such a thing. To me, the myth was: Persephone loves her mom, gets kidnapped, is forced to eat food of the Underworld so she must continue to go back every year for six months.

That could have been the story of holiday access months for me.

I eventually became uncomfortable with the implications that other people saw, and stepped away from the myth. I looked at other descent-to-the-underworld myths.

They never rang as true for me as Persephone’s, so I kept coming back to it. When I first went to Spring Mysteries Festival I was able to dive deep, and reaffirm my connection with that myth cycle. I acknowledged that things from myths will never map perfectly to our own lives.

Except, possibly, this year.

A pandemic has me trapped with my mother in her new house, which boasts a garden Demeter would adore, far away from my husband, who lives in a basement suite in the Lower Mainland.

Welp.

Planting Seeds of Healing

Mom and I attended the mysteries virtually. We dove deep into the Demeter/Persephone myth, and we visited the gods in their shrines.

We received blessings from Hephaestus, Hestia, and Demeter. And then we went through the Mysteries, and almost instantly got into a fight, with lots of crying.

It was a productive fight, and it was a complete non-surprise to me. As good as our relationship is — and it is quite an excellent mother-daughter relationship — it has its issues. We still fight.

So diving deep into the myth for mother-daughter relationships and all their problems…of course it would make some things bubble to the surface.

Fighting like that isn’t comfortable, and it exhausted us both. But we made steps in healing. We realized that maybe…there is no solution to these issues that keep arising, but we still need to talk about them, and cry about them. Maybe that is the solution.

Mom and I came through the Mysteries renewed and with our relationship strengthened.

We turned our focus to the garden.

Gardenwitches

Gardening has been on a lot of people’s minds in the face of the pandemic. We can see that there will be disruptions to our food supply chain, and we need to make sure we can feed ourselves.

There’s been a cry on social media to bring back victory gardens, and I can’t say I’m against the idea.

Mom and I had already been looking at reviving the garden this year. She hadn’t been able to focus on it last year, and it’s now in need of some serious attention.

I’m happy to dive in and help, because I love gardening. It’s been 11 years since I was able to keep a garden, and I’ve missed it. Plus, mom is letting me have a huge hand in planning and design, as well as choosing witchy and devotional plants to put in.

We’ll be setting up a shrine to Demeter in the garden, and eventually an outdoors hearth for Hestia. This week is about buying starting plants and dirt, and getting things rolling for having an herb and kitchen garden nearby the house.

We’ve also been pruning like crazy, and trying to save some plants who are on their way to Erebos. Time will tell if we’ve been successful.

Moonology

I finally did a rite from my Moonology diary, the full moon before Easter.

It felt really good to forgive, and it was perfect timing, because I was in the middle of a fight with my husband. (Oh, yeah, turns out being separated with no notion of when you’ll see each other again is actually really hard on the relationship, who knew.)

What was that about my love life being tested? Fuck off, astrology.

My own lord of the underworld misses his bright and sunny wife, goddess of flowers and spring. I, of course, miss him terribly. And we’re both stressed about money.

Add to that, he often feels like he plays second fiddle to my relationship with my mom. In some sense, he’s right, because in some sense everything will be second fiddle to my mom. But in some sense, he’s dead wrong, because everything will be second fiddle to him.

He feels…abandoned. He can’t articulate it as that, but the way he talks about it…it’s clear. So yes, we fought, and I did a full moon rite of forgiveness to forgive myself and him. And we talked and got past it.

We made concrete plans to make things better. Date nights, twice a week, on Friday and Saturday from 9 to 11. That’s HIS time with me — barring work, or in the case of last weekend, the Mysteries.

I wonder if Persephone and Hades had a Discord voice and video chat every week?

Journalling

The last thing I want to talk about that I’ve been doing that’s been helping is journalling.

Both mundanely and magically, I’ve started using physical journals again. It’s really helping.

In my main journal, I talk about my life, what’s going on, my feelings. I record whatever I can, including updates on pandemic numbers and world events, whenever I can stand to look at it. (It’s a dangerous spiral of self-destruction for me.)

Then I have my bullet journal, where I’ve created a few spreads, some mundane, some more magical. One of them is Post Ideas for this blog. Another is my 2020 reso-goal-tions, which includes spiritual stuff. And then my 2020 book list, which is books I want to read, highlighted as I do and a note put beside them on my rating/recommendation.

I also have a period tracker, because that bit of magic is back. Yay.

Finally, I have my Grimmerie, which is done in a bullet journal style. It’s been severely neglected for a while, but I decided it was time to get back to it. I’m going to write a separate post about how I’m doing that/where I’m putting what info, but for now I just wanted to note that it’s working.

Devotions

I’ve started giving offerings on a regular basis again. Every morning and night I offer tea to Hestia, and when I shower I sing a prayer song to Aphrodite. It’s not much, but it’s a habit I’d like to continue and build upon.

Plans for the next two weeks

Let’s be real, posting this once a week doesn’t work for me, so I’m going to do an extra long post every 2 weeks. (This post is insanely long. Hopefully the next one will be shorter.)

Gardening

  • plant all the starters we got
  • plan out where the cedar planters go
  • paint symbols of Demeter on the planters if we can find some paint
  • prune back the sage
  • save the fig tree from the demon wisteria
  • save everything else from the demon wisteria (I might need to do an exorcism, that stuff is not of this planet)
  • keep an eye on the plants we’ve tried to rescue
  • see if the hawthorn is salvageable
  • prune all the things
  • turn the compost
  • plan out the conifer hedge

Moonology/Moon Magic

  • do the new moon rite
  • continue to record gratitude in journal
  • continue to record daily Tarot cards

Journalling/Witchy Bujo

  • finish the moon phases spread in the Grimmerie
  • create a Tarot card tracking spread
  • flesh out the herb pages already created in the Grimmerie

Writing

  • choose some topic ideas from my list and write some blog posts
  • write some more hymns to actually finish that project
  • focus on writing more prayers to the gods

Devotions

  • continue the habits I’ve started
  • add regular offerings to the Three

There are other things I’d like to do in the next two weeks, probably, but this post is long enough as is. Hopefully once I start doing these posts on an actually regular basis, they won’t be so fucking unwieldy.

I hope you’re staying safe in these uncertain times, and I hope this post was entertaining and insightful. I will see you again soon with more stuff.

-Morag


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