Posts Tagged transition

Mercury Rising

It’s Monday. I made it.

The last week has been horrendous. Hellacious. A battle on every front, during which I could only seem to stand my ground, moving neither forward nor back. “If I can make it to Monday,” I would tell myself, “Then it’ll be ok.” ‘Make it to Monday’ was my mantra.

I’m sure we’ve all had times like this. Periods of difficulty, where each day seems to last at least a year, with so much thrown at us that we feel like simply giving up in the face of the deluge.

I’m no expert in astrology, but we’ve just come out of a period of Mercury retrograde – a time of pause and reflection. Because basically, if you try to do anything… forget it. It is not happening. Stars or not, this sums up the last few weeks. Mercury, God of travel and communication, was going backwards.

No matter what I did, I was stymied. Talks fell through, emails went unanswered (or receiving vague and unhelpful answers at best) – the world seemed to be moving, but just not the part I was in. Writing didn’t flow, any work was a challenge. So many pieces of technology broke or failed; even my shoes fell apart. Sometimes it felt as if I was bashing my head against a wall. What was I supposed to do with my time?! I do like to keep busy; even when relaxing, I like to be doing something, be is reading, knitting… whatever comes to hand. Even these simple activities couldn’t keep my attention.

And then last weekend, my first ever animal friend, who had been in my life since his ‘rescue’ from a local sanctuary, took himself out of the living room window with a brief final look at me… and vanished. He’s been ill for a while, had Harry the geriatric cat – an inoperable ear condition that meant he was fairly deaf (and so wonky enough that he missed when jumping at objects, which confused him no end), losing his sight, with no teeth and all the signs of senility.

He was scared of the mattress, because of how it felt underfoot – but he snuggled into bed with me when I was alone after my divorce. His loud purr from my lap was such a comfort. We’d play ‘licky/kicky’ games together on the stair (he grabbed and kicked at my fingers, I’d tickle his belly).

But now, it seemed, his time was done.

Lovely folk confirmed to me that ‘this is something cats do’ – they take themselves away to find a quiet place, where they won’t be found. In one sense, that hurts; but in another, I understand.

I found myself nodding. Because over these same past few weeks (months?), I’d been thinking the same. When the darkness seemed inescapable, with no way out… I’d considered taking myself away, for the sake of everyone.

Yes, I know – irrational. Depression does that. Things that would seem manageable, easy to deal with when perspective is ‘normal’ can be almost the end of the world when you’re down in the dark. Getting dressed is a challenge; leaving the house akin to scaling Everest. It may not be ‘all about me’, I may be selfish and inconsiderate… but sometimes there just isn’t anything outside your own head. That’s how it can feel. And it’s so very scary.

Last week, it seemed that knock came after knock. If I could just make it through… I kept telling myself, over and over. It wasn’t all about me. But feeling trapped and alone (even if I wasn’t) made it seem so.

I had to trust that Harry had done what he thought best. I had to trust myself, that I had the strength to survive (and that survival was, in fact, the right decision). This, too, will pass.

Mercury was taking me deep.

Years ago, when I first dipped a toe into Paganism, I sat in my bedroom and meditated, nervously asking for any deity who might like to take me on to make themselves known. I was curious, but had no real idea what I was getting into. But I had made my decision, and asked the question. I’m not sure what I expected, but certainly not who arrived.

A beautiful lady with the head of a cat stepped forward, shining and golden. I was taken on, as a kitten perhaps: a trainee priestess of Bast.

I had no idea what I was doing. But I was so staggered at the force of the experience, I resolved to simply (!) do my best.

Over the years since, my Lady has moved more into the background; a constant presence, but letting me learn what I have to. I’ve come to understand the fluidity of Deity, how personification is a human need, but which those forces which guide us can use to help us see what needs to be seen.

I’ve worked closely with other deities since, from Sekhmet to Hekate, Herne and Loki (not all at once!). I’ve learned. But She has been there, to be glimpsed when least expected. In no way separate from my life, but constant, present, in all Her aspects.

Harry was my friend, companion and guardian – but he was always his own person. I’m now in a house full of canines (all male). Life takes us on strange, winding routes.

I’ve made it to Monday. I’ve been reading the tales of others this morning, online and in print, the curling paths of life. Simple actions have taken on the importance of prayer – I’ve made it (this far).

We ebb and flow. Ourselves and those forces that we connect with – the stars, the gods, those living beings we share space with, larger forces of Nature that we are subject to. We touch and part. We learn and teach, inspire and are inspired.

I think back to the past week. To those shining lights which glowed all the more strongly for the hardness that they broke through. A call from a friend; a simple message. A request, a shared thought, a gift. A story can be the most powerful of connections, a smile the greatest achievement. A memory, held close.

Monday morning. The next week stretches ahead. My body is free from pain; my mind free from darkness. I honour what is past, promising not to forget. And step forward.

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Wasting Time

Tonight, I walked the hilltop where I live, watching the fog roll in and surround me. Total darkness over the fields, no visible stars or moon, just the occasional porch-light or streetlight to remind me that I still live in the modern world.

I’m on the edge of the Peak District – any extreme weather, from rain to snow, cuts us off from the main village and creates a true ‘otherworld’ just for us. It’s beautiful. And it teaches you to keep good stores of food and firewood.

I was walking the dog, so keeping an eye on him, traffic and runners (fortunately infrequent), and generally being safe and aware. When I drive home down the same roads, I’m still watching the traffic and pedestrians, as a good driver. But how many of us ‘tune out’ at such times? We’re performing a necessary task that has to be done… before we know it, we’re a mile down the road and unsure how we got there.

I read a story years ago, of a schoolboy who somehow made a wish – and in exchange, gave up all the time that he wasted. Wasted time, that’s fine, I can give that away. But that time was then gone. Daydreaming at his desk one second; the next, the bell rings. The day goes past frenetically, because the time taken to pause and think counts as ‘wasted’. (I’ve no idea what this book was, and would be quite glad to find out!)

How badly do we need that ‘wasted’ time? How often are we actually at our most creative, when our minds are busy focusing on something else, something so automatic that we do it without thinking? Driving is a good example. We’re hyper-aware in one way, of the multitude of tasks involved in steering a ton of metal through countless obstacles; but in another, we’re pondering what to have for tea, what the radio DJ is saying, or worrying about what will happen when we get to our destination. If on the way to work, potentially hoping that the journey takes longer… while knowing that we need to get there on time.

This is transitional time. Physically and metaphorically demonstrated in stories by that fog that was growing around me this evening, as gateways to the Otherworld, we’re neither here nor there, not at source or destination. We’re on our way. But isn’t that what life is? It’s us that divides it into smaller segments. Humanity invented the concept of ‘pinning down’ time. The rest of the universe couldn’t care less. We put value on different slices of time – why?

We drive ourselves hard in life, with an emphasis always on doing, accomplishing, achieving. There’s never enough time to get everything done. Wasting time is bad.

But if we truly think about it, as demonstrated in the story above, how terrible would it be to lose that ‘wasted’ time? What’s so wrong about considering how valuable these transitional moments are? Time for rest, time for thought, time to breath a little. We’re in our own space, free to act as we like (within reason!) – how many of us shout at the radio, or sing along to it, or dream secret dreams, tell ourselves little stories? Ideas can flow freely.

If we take the conscious decision to take note of our creativity at such moments, we can accomplish a lot – and this inspiration is of personal value, not just fulfilling some managerial demand. We need the time to remember who we are, what’s important and what we’re doing. We can challenge ourselves, make something amazing… or just stop and breath.

We’re living our lives. If it’s valued, it’s not wasted.

What are you doing?

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