What does it mean to “take the time”? It’s something I’ve been struggling with immensely of late. I’ve written before of how I need to write to turn inwards, clear my head, and function at my best–so why is my hand-written journal and grimoire not filled daily with poetry written from tree-limbs under leaf-canopy shade or the hot sand on the beach down the road with my toes wiggling in the warm Atlantic sea? Why do I decide I am going to honor the gods, spirits, and ancestors with a feast every Half-Moon only to do the simple midnight libations in my garden under the Moon-shine that I do every night? Why do I write a witchy “to-do list” only to scratch half of it out later, without having accomplished those things I’m erasing from my conscious mind? Why do I say I’m going to join the Norfolk drum circle but get too shy about it when Monday rolls around each week, or decide to meditate on a Tarot card every night but never do it again, or get squeamish about the maggots clinging to the bones in my freezer and so miss my Dark Moon opportunity to cleanse and befriend the spirit sleeping in those bones, or desire to make some heathen and witchy and Pagan and environmentalist and compassionate and queer (and “normal” per my definition) friends but choose to spend the day locked away in my little private oasis instead? Why do we humans not do what we know is good for us in general?
I have not been exercising as much, which was one way I was daily meditating until about two weeks ago. The moisture in the air here is agony on my joints, and the idea of doing aerobics or yoga more than a few times a week seems like a joke. After lifting weights, the joints in my arms ache for days and days, and now, while the rain falls straight down from hurricane clouds further south, it feels like every bone in my body is crying out. When I can stand to, however, I do an hour of yoga and then spend time in Savasana or Corpse Pose afterwards (of course I would find the yogic position with the most morbid association one of my absolute favorites).
When I “just sit” and meditate in the “simplest” yet most difficult and often most painful way, in zazen, my mind no longer is perfectly quiet, as it was when I was quite devoted to Zen Buddhism. It isn’t concerned with the “mundane,” but it becomes a sort of “inner journeying.” The “sitting” part is physically painful (you try full-lotus with agonizing joint pain), and the inner journey is often emotionally painful–this is a very difficult time in my life, in which I am almost entirely isolated and alone, and it takes all my faith and strength and will not to be overcome by that pain, and sink back into melancholy and self-destruction; so naturally there are things I don’t want to face. I know that Hera is trying to prepare me by exposing me to phantoms and nightmares, that I would have lost my dearest friend (a certain furry companion) and likely my life if I hadn’t ditched the self-hatred and turned again towards the Kindreds (who sent me warnings in Their ways), and that my Allies are constantly reiterating that They are always along the path and that I ought to call upon Them to find my balance when I lose equilibrium–but I am just not ready to face my own nightmares alone, which is what one must do when one follows that path down into the soul. “Find strength through faith,” the Allies keep telling me, but my heart is slow to fill.
I didn’t realize it until a few days ago, but I am finding meditation through other methods, methods that immerse me in my faith rather than actively challenging it by submerging me into darkness. Of course I have been meditating through zazen, yoga, and focusing on the Two Powers before even the briefest of rites; but I have also been meditating through walking, collecting litter (this is the most disgusting place I have ever been, and I am surrounded by the most inconsiderate, hateful, and generally disappointing people I have ever met; but I’m “happy” to do the work for the environment, like utilizing a fucking trash can, that they refuse to do, and it’s become quite an unconscious behavior, to pick up), cleaning house, and most enjoyable of all, wildcrafting and woodworking. I completely lose myself in doing all those things, and they all open me to the world, to the details of beauty on this planet and in the littlest knot on a log, to how I prefer to live my life and how I can make every minute I spend in this life an act of worship, reverence, and devotion.
When I salvage the roots of dying plants or beautiful branches and logs left carelessly for the garbage truck, like the bones and bodies and fur of roadkill or spring chicks fallen from their nests, I honor the usefulness of every Thing, the spirit that lives even after death, that deserves to be remembered and honored and handled with respect. When I ask what gifts that Tree has for my life, or if the particular spirit of that fallen branch will work and walk the path with me, or for what usage that wood would ask for me to put it to, or if the spirit of that fallen animal-life will come and go from their body as they please, I constantly remind myself that these Beings aren’t merely here to aid our magic or serve us as “correspondences” without spirits and desires of their own (you’d hope that selfishness wasn’t a part of our community). When I strip away the green bark and soak it in oils for infusions or let it dry for incense, when I break off the leaves which serve their own purposes, when I put the fur and feathers and meat and organs to their own purposes, or feed them to the maggots and scavengers, when I utilize every little piece and bloody bit of what the earth has offered me in exchange for my gifts, I honor and respect the memento mori message that these very things are, and all the cycles of the universe, even the most morbid and repulsive (because compassion and knowledge means accepting the existence of things you’d rather not acknowledge). When I sand the wood down to butter and etch the sigils that correspond with the uses to which the tree-spirit has told me they wish to be put into its skin, when I mark the runes with my blood (and maybe other things, too) and whisper to the wood before I fall asleep at night, when I enchant what other people might call sticks and make offerings to things others might not bring inside the house, I acknowledge the omens, value the signs, and show the Allies who have given them to me the respect they deserve.
Meditation takes all forms, I am learning. And slowly, I drop the veil.