Being in Community…

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The Goddess Sekhmet – Enlightened

So, I just came back from the Mystic South Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I am exhausted. Between having chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep deprivation, and being an empath, I crashed hard today. I think I slept through the whole day. There were things I learned about myself at the conference.

 

  1. I find that sessions built on valid research are the ones I prefer.

  2. While I loved volunteering, I barely had time to eat and do self-care.

  3. I cannot sleep with another person in my bed.

  4. Public group ritual, while beautiful, no longer feeds my soul.

 

The sessions I prefer…

I have been in graduate school obtaining a Masters of Teaching English (M.A.T.), a Master of Art in Literature (M.A.), and a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Ed.D.). For the last eight years I have been researching, writing papers based on my research, presenting at conferences, and getting my research published. Due to this, I found that attending sessions that did not pertain to research and gathering evidence left me feeling disappointed. This led me to begin a process of re-evaluating my identity as a pagan and a witch. What type am I? What do I focus on as an impact in my studies and practices?

Redefining myself as a witch in the past year has been interesting. I used to call myself a druid, since I felt a peace and love with a desire to unify communities in understanding. I’m not that person anymore. I have been charged by my patron goddess to advocate for children’s rights in society and school. There are students I teach that do not qualify for special services, though they need special instruction and services in the classroom to help them cope with what they are learning, their family situation, and their mental health. Unfortunately, and for various reasons, some children do not get the services and support they need. So, while I was writing my dissertation on bullying prevention in the inclusion classroom (a classroom of students with special education needs blended with students who do not require special services), my patron goddess decided I needed to begin helping the students who were disenfranchised. This task and role places me in the position of no longer looking back and figuring out how to help guide people to communicate, but rather placing me in the trenches and “fighting” for the rights and social justice of these students.

Maybe this new role is one that many are feeling. I read on my Druidic Celtic Golden Dawn group today about people no longer feeling like druids. They spoke of feeling a disconnect with the energies. I have felt that, but spoke of how we may be receiving guidance or a push in a new direction, a direction to do something, take action. This was apparent in discussions about social justice and the veil thinning this past weekend. I have deeply thought about what this means for me. When I read books or studies written through a druidic lens, they tend to take a philosophical approach to spiritualism. This philosophical approach to practice seems to no longer fit in the changing climate of our society and the world. Instead, I believe there needs to be an approach to the literature available that takes the learning and redirects it toward what we can do to make our communities, society, and world better. This is my change. I have become pragmatic and now look at studies to determine how they can be useful for me to adhere to my duties to help these children out.

Volunteering & Self-Care

So, I volunteered for 10 hours as a part of my registration at Mystic South. That worked with my budget after purchasing graduation robes, copies of my dissertation, and other expenses that stretch my budget thin. What I found, was that in order to see the sessions I wanted to see, I had to sacrifice eating on a schedule, eating things that were good for me, and socializing with my fellow participants. I had no time for self-care, which impacted my sleep, ability to relax, and budget. The food in the hotel (typical for hotels) was overpriced but fairly tasty. Most of the time, I had 15 minutes to eat until my next shift or next panel. Due to this, I found that I ate worse food than I normally would have chosen. Nutrition decisions always impact my health, so I came home bloated, sluggish, and tired. Next year, I may volunteer for half the registration cost, so I have a chance to see the sessions I want and care for myself.

Sleeping with others in a Full-sized Bed

Okay, I am an adult. Additionally, I am a full-figured adult. I get hot. My arms fall asleep due to shoulder problems. I cannot bear loud noises when I am trying to sleep. The hotel provided full-sized beds in double-occupancy rooms. My roomie and I were very cozy. It was not ideal. We both snore. I have a hard time getting to sleep when someone is snoring (my poor husband knows this). So, my solution was to sleep with a pillow over my head, which helped a good bit. But that meant I had to sleep on my side, which makes my arms fall asleep due to my shoulder issues.

There are solutions for next year. There should only be two of us in a room. When there are full-sized beds, adults need their own to stretch out and flail around in at will. Bringing a fan to cool down the unvented hotel bathroom is a necessary addition to luggage. To prevent sleep deprivation, we need to travel in Thursday afternoon. Driving at 4:30am is wrong on all levels, especially to a teacher in the summer. Ear plugs should be used. Obviously, my roomie and I woke each other up, since we both can describe the other’s snoring. While we laughed about it, it doesn’t take away the fact that it impact our sleep.

Public Group Ritual for me…

I was so excited about one of the rituals. It was a beautiful ritual. The meditation was wonderful. Being in a room of strangers was uncomfortable for me. My guard was up through the whole process. I do not trust others easily. I found myself analyzing the ritual performances, which detracted from the experience for me. My roomie was right beside me and had a completely different experience, so it was definitely me. I have changed. Public group ritual is no longer something that feeds me. I need the close-knit interaction of my coven mates, of my private altars at home, of my personal relationship with the gods. I need the mystery school gates sequestering my energies in focused realization. I need the symbolism and secrets hidden from the mundane world to be hidden in my heart and carried with me unspoken throughout the day. This is a fundamental change in me. I wonder if I will feel intensity of a public group ritual with people I know, or if there will always be something missing. I have years before I can find out. As for now, a pagan conference is about the sessions I attend and communing with others like me.

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