In modern American society, it often seems that moms are supposed to “do it all” – as long as “all” is all about our family’s needs. We feed the kids, clean the house, either work out of the home or work from home, take kids to school (or teach them ourselves), decorate the house, make cute birthday treats for the kids, and the list goes on and on.
One thing I hear from many many moms, though, is that they have a hard time keeping up with spiritual practices they held before they became parents. Finding time for ritual is tough when you’re up frequently at night with an infant, and it’s tough in different ways as the kids get older and have their own interests and activities too.
I don’t know if you’ve had people tell you that you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others, but I certainly hear it a lot. Parents of children with special needs often hear this sort of thing, usually from people who mean well but don’t grasp the reality of the load those parents are carrying. But somehow, no one ever really has a good plan for how to make it happen (though, I will say, 6 years into my parenting journey, I now understand this statement fare better than I did back at the beginning).
Your spiritual life is the same way – if you don’t tend to your own spark of divine connection, it’s going to be hard to do anything spiritual with your children.
So, how do you find back that spark that you used to have? Here are3 things you can do to improve your spiritual life:
One of the first things I did was to simplify. Before Kids (BK) I often went to a monthly full moon rite with friends, which often lasted 4 hours from socializing to ritual to our after ritual feast. Now, After Kids (AK), a 4 hour block of time is super hard. And even if I did get it scheduled and agreed to, if someone gets sick or has something come up at school, that usually takes precedence, and then I’ve done nothing for the full moon.
My “big” rituals now are mostly solitary, and mostly 30 minutes or less. I pick what’s important, and focus on that. I go to festivals for a day, not for the whole weekend (though I hope as the kids get a little older, we can manage weekends away again).
It’s funny that I’m talking about finding time, and at the same time suggesting you do more. But I’ve found that building smaller rites into my daily life makes my connection to various deities stronger. I have a family-centered altar in the kitchen where I can burn a little incense or light a candle while I’m working, or where I can cleanse with salt & water or sage when I come home from work. I have started to develop a sort of running list in my head of prayers to be said or offerings to be made during various daily activities. Instead of confining my spiritual practice to big rituals, it’s now infusing all parts of my life.
3. Involve Your Family
You know little Sage isn’t going to be able to handle the big ritual at a local event. Consider offering a more age appropriate ritual for the youngsters you know, or have a smaller ritual at home. Also, practice is key. Practice the parts of the ritual with your child before they go to their first public events. Make sure they know what to expect, and what order things generally go in. And work your way up to paying attention that long at home.
In the end, the most important thing is to be gentle with yourself, your children, and your family while you work towards finding your spark and keeping it alive. This is not something to beat yourself up over – having children changes everything, as you quickly learn. This is no exception. But, as with basically everything else about being a parent, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you and your family.Check out my new energy work page, http://www.facebook.com/GoodVibrationsEnergyStudio
Wednesday was the new moon. My menstrual cycles – the first since I gave birth this spring – started on last month’s dark moon, and I anticipate this month’s to begin any day now. Fitting, but bittersweet all the same since there will be no more babies (clearly, two very early and fragile births is enough). And while I didn’t miss this visitor, who has never been monthly for me….there’s power here. A powerful symbol of life and death and everything in between; a powerful magical tool.
The Dianic priestess I originally trained under was sure we were all meant to bleed with the mother at the full moon. She felt that the most appropriate thing to do with that blood was to sit on the earth and bleed under the full moon. Clearly, she and I have some differences of opinion, and one of those is in what to do, ritually speaking, with moontime blood.
We also have some differing opinions on how one’s cycles ought to align with the universe. There’s some folks who think that the full moon coincides with ovulation, for example, thus making the dark moon the time to bleed. And if the waxing moon is the time to bring things in to our life, that matches more with the first weeks after your period – the body is making things ready for the creation of life, ready to nurture the embryo if it forms.
Big, Dark, and Scary likes some odd offerings, but menstrual blood and dark rum or bourbon seem to be her favorites. And the dark moon is great for banishing old things so new ones can take their place. So this month, I’m asking for the road ahead to be smooth – at the very least, mark all the turns and keep the path well lit, even on dark nights like this.Check out my new energy work page, http://www.facebook.com/GoodVibrationsEnergyStudio
Clue-by-four of the week: I know what I’m doing, I know what I need, and if I don’t find it within, I will surely not find it without – so I might as well get on with it.
Last night, I did the unthinkable. I went, completely blind, to a meeting about a local “women’s circle” and their upcoming initiation program for the year.
I should have checked the website out before I decided to go, but I really needed out of the house for an evening, and several friends from my online attachment parenting group were going, so it was, as far as I was concerned, a safe place.
And it was, really…a room full of women, some seeking that elusive something deep in their souls, and others who felt they’d found it or were finding it.
And really, what I was looking for was that experience of circling with women – being together as sisters with the same goal. As I mentioned last night in circle, sitting with women offers a very different balance than anything else I’ve ever done. But this group was just not right for me – the energy was off, the “eclectic mix of Native American and Eastern Religions” not my thing, their designation of elements and directions jarringly uncoordinated….just the wrong energy for me.
To be fair, I have a few quibbles with their way of doing things. Starting the meeting by casting a circle without actually explaining anything about what you believe or giving anyone an out, for example, was something I was always taught was poor form. And the salesmanship while in circle, because, you know, personal development is never about the money, but there’s a cost for this training, see…a FOUR FIGURE cost…and if it’s important, you’ll find a way to afford it – that’s just tacky.
I also was disappointed in the way they went around and asked each of us whether or not we’d be joining them. Of course, the two who said yes were congratulated. There was approval for the woman 8+ months pregnant who said no (because while they’ve had pregnant women do their training, doing it with a babe-in-arms is probably not manageable), and for the mother with the 4 month old who said no….but not for the out-of-work mother whose husband is working a waitstaff job to pay the rent because he’s been unemployed 2 years. Nor was there approval for the mom who said she needed to think about it. And there wasn’t support for my answer that I’d normally want time to sit with this energy and understand how/where/if it fit, but that my child needed me and I couldn’t commit to the time….when questioned further, my explanation of preemie on a vent was met not with compassion, but with quiet resignation that I could not put my own needs first (hello, kid needs to keep breathing?!?)
If I’d done a bit more homework, the fact that they do sweat lodges would have made me stay far away. Not that there’s anything wrong with sweat lodges, mind you – I’m sure my finally-enrolled-Oglala-self ought to get back to the reservation and do a real one some day. But people who aren’t Native American who claim to run “authentic” sweats that they supposedly learned from “real” Indians always make me cautious…even more so when they charge for their services.
When I got home last night, I was torn. I realized that I really do want that connection, that sisterhood experience, in my life – and the sisterhood aspect was at odds with what I’d just experienced. The family-based work I’ve been doing is not bad, or wrong, but it doesn’t fulfill this other hole in my life. And because my own spiritual well isn’t being filled up most of the time, it’s hard for me to carry that over into my husband and my child and the stream of people in and out of our house to care for my child.
Talking it over with a close friend, I realized my take on the group was probably reasonable, and that I definitely didn’t belong there. I made an off-hand comment that I wished I could find a reasonable group, and that it still looked like I was going to have to start my own to get it, and I was just so damn tired of being in charge.
The response: You end up in charge because you’re good at it, so when are you going to take the hint and get on with it and make it happen?
Yeah…even my friends are handing out clue-by-fours these days.
So, in between everything else, I suppose I need to figure out what I’m going to do now that I’ve got the clue. How do you start a circle from the ground up? How do I want to structure it? How do I want to advertise, so to speak? Do I want to stick with the same initiation structure that my former coven used? Way too much to think about really, given everything else on my plate.
So, I suppose it’s like eating an elephant – one bite at a time.Check out my new energy work page, http://www.facebook.com/GoodVibrationsEnergyStudio
I originally wrote most of this (using the title “Fluffy Wicca: More Misogynistic than Christianity” – can you tell I was really angry at the time?) back in April of 2003 on a yahoo group that was focused on venting about fluffy Wiccan tendencies. Out of the responses to that, I created http://www.paganinfertilityadoption.net, a community for Pagans dealing with infertility, miscarriage, adoption, and related issues.
After 5 years of trying (and not trying), drugs, procedures, and doctors, I’m finally pregnant, with only minimal medical intervention. But what that’s given me is a space to look back on the things I’ve said and done in the process of getting here, to try to heal some of what’s come before – and that healing process is going to take a lot of time and effort. I find it more important than ever to speak out about the way our community handles these sorts of issues, because if we are to be a viable community, we have to treat all of our members with respect, courtesy, and dignity. While my positions on things have softened with time, I still find that much of our community just can’t deal with infertility – the facts have not changed in the nearly 5 years since I originally wrote this.
It seems to me that modern Wicca is, by and large, nothing more than a fertility cult. Just about every Wiccan symbol other than the pentacle is a fertility symbol – triple moons, moons with horns, the Great Rite and so on. I can’t speak for the BTW crowd on this – maybe they are much the same way, maybe they aren’t. But most of modern Wicca, pseudo-Wicca, and Wiccanesque belief revolves around fertility. And many of these people use the word “Pagan” when they mean “Wiccan” or “Wiccanesque,” which further complicates the matter. Many of those following these beliefs claim they left Christianity because it is misogynistic, but I submit that not only is Wicca more misogynistic in many ways, but it is also misandristic as well.
Look at the main rituals and holidays. There are 13 full moons (generally working rituals that celebrate “The Goddess”), but there are only 8 Sabbats (generally, celebrations of “The God”). So “The Goddess” gets more holidays, but has to work on all of them. I bet “The God” feels left out.
Additionally, “The God,” in his 8 rituals, is born, grows up, has sex, and dies. Men, do you feel that’s a fair characterization of your lives?
And between the “triple Goddesses are everywhere” syndrome, and the idea that every Goddess fits into the maiden, mother, or crone paradigm, and the fact that all “The Goddess” does in the Sabbats is get laid, get pregnant, and give birth, it seems that the only way for women within Wicca and Wicca-like religions to identify with “The Goddess” is by having kids. What if, by chance or by choice, you don’t have kids? What sort of a place does a childless woman have in a religion where the main way to identify with the deity is through childbirth? What about those who adopt? All the “mother” goddess images I’ve seen lately involve pregnant women – this is the primary way we denote motherhood in society, after all.
That’s worse than only having one gender of deity. Now, not only do I have to be the right gender, but I have to give birth. By their own logic, that’s the only way women can identify with this mythology.
The Wicca-like crowd doesn’t know what to do with people who don’t have kids. If you don’t have kids, there must be something wrong with you – maybe you’re not really Pagan.
When it comes to trying to have kids and infertility, the single thread in any message board or email list usually consists of statements like “I did this spell, and I got pregnant within a month” and “burn candles like this, and then quit trying to get pregnant, and you will” (huh? So now they’re are preaching about virgin births? Doesn’t having sex without the appropriate counter-measures count as “trying to get pregnant”?). When the topic of medical reasons for not being able to get pregnant comes up, the response is almost always that you don’t really need medical help – you just need to do more spells. Occasionally someone mentions herbs, but they all quote from the same book, and the number of copyright violations (much less the number of incorrect statements) out there is astronomical
I’m sure this whole rant comes out of frustration on my part. My apparent choices for having children any time in the foreseeable future consist of (1) take fertility drugs, or (2) adopt. This is not a light decision – twins run in my family, on both sides of the family, and the Gods seem to have this rather twisted sense of humor at times (let’s face it – the family with septuplets took the standard fertility drug that is given as a first attempt at increasing fertility). Additionally, fertility drugs are considerably more dangerous than the average person realizes – and I’ve spent a lot of time getting my health in order so that I could be on the bare minimum of medications, so adding more isn’t high on my list of fun things to do.
There aren’t many Pagan events, e-mail lists, or websites that aren’t Wiccanesque – so looking for anything on the subject that might be related to religion and spirituality involves dealing with this single-minded crowd. And there aren’t many Pagan sites of any level of seriousness related to infertility or adoption. Most of the Pagan boards about fertility are about being pregnant, or about people with kids. In one group I found for those without kids, most people were talking about all the crap they take from those who do have kids, and the fact that they often didn’t go to events because of it. I don’t want the rest of my life to be like that, but at the rate things are going, it may be the only sane thing to do.Check out my new energy work page, http://www.facebook.com/GoodVibrationsEnergyStudio