Chop Wood, Carry Water

There is a Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

I’m definitely in the ‘before enlightenment’ state of things, and most definitely lately. I feel further away from anything spiritually meaningful than I have in a while. I’m tired, getting over some sort of mild virus, and likely swinging on the swing set of hormones. While I usually have a strong container for dealing with news and the internet, the last few says have felt particularly overwhelming. It feels like the few are eager to make a quick buck off the backs of the many. If it’s not the confusion and atrocities of Syria or the targeting of Coptic Christians in Egypt breaking my heart, it’s the continued melting of the ice caps, destruction of bee colonies, or systematic reduction of access to affordable and relevant healthcare for the poor, the marginalized and/or women in the US. How can we continue to poison one another, in body, mind, and spirit??

What’s a person to do? I neither want to stick my head in the sand, nor do I want to freak out from overstimulation. I don’t want to ignore the suffering of others, but I also don’t believe that I have the power to make the change I want to see. I cannot single-handedly affect policy in the Middle East, save innocents from drones, or abolish contaminants in our water,plastics and food. While I do my best to make the healthiest choices for my family that I can, I don’t think I can avoid all toxins, nor do I completely believe that we, as a society, can shop our way to change.

Again I ask, what’s a person to do?

Chop wood, carry water.

I accept that I’m overwhelmed, that for whatever reason, my boundaries are lower today. I remind myself that usually I have good perspective and that whatever I’m feeling will pass and my perspective will return. I make sure I’m eating something healthy (not falling onto my stand-bys of milky tea or coffee). I focus on my chores. I move my body and do one thing that I have to do anyway. I sit in front of my altar, even though it seems pointless in this mood.

What do you know? I’m less cranky after sitting. Even a pouty puja is better than no puja at all. After my chores I feel a little stronger, a little more focused. I know that it’s a mere semblance of control. By tomorrow this clean living room will be dusty and cluttered and crumbed once more. And that’s ok. Every day the water needs to be carried.

That’s how I’m feeling this week. If the wise ones are to believed, I may feel this way at times even after enlightenment. Good thing I’m getting good at chopping wood and carrying water.


Five Year Old Rituals

Last week my son had his 5 Year Old Rituals. What does that mean? Let’s start at the beginning.

My son was born prematurely and spent the first month of his life in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). It was easily the worst month of my life. Son, B, was born healthy and strong, though very, very small. He has grown to inherit both his mother’s and his father’s emotional intensity, so while he’s a bright, healthy, empathetic little guy, he’s also combative, struggles especially much with impulse control, and wants all the attention all the time. (Some of this is typical to the age, some is very clearly inherited personality.)

Me and my son, 24 hours old. He's less than 5 lbs.

Me and my son, 24 hours old. He’s less than 5 lbs.

Adam and I have wondered if some of the emotional intensity of our son is due to his month in the NICU. Surely, infants have no memory of such things? He was cared for, relatively healthy, and I was with him nearly 24/7. Two years ago our suspicions were confirmed. Sitting around the table in Wales, eating breakfast one morning, Adam and I were discussing when we would move. B was just shy of 3 1/2 years old. “Don’t leave me!” he said. “Of course we wouldn’t leave you,” we responded. “Don’t leave me like you did in the hospital,” he said. Now, B knows he spent a month in the hospital, but we’ve never given him the details. What he said next blew my mind. “You left me in the hospital and I was lonely. I tried to take my stickers off, but the doctors wouldn’t let me.” And here he touched the exact places on his torso where the monitors had been attached. He had indeed tried to rip them off repeatedly. He successfully managed to rip out his feeding tube two or three times in the first weeks as well. Besides showing me that even pre-term infants have the capacity for feelings and memory, this confirmed that his early experience was exacerbating the intensity of his emotions.

Fast forward to this summer.

At the Gathering I attended in Canada in May I had the pleasure of meeting a family raising their kids in their tradition (I think it was a branch of Wicca). Their eldest child, a male, had recently undergone his Coming of Age Ritual. I asked many questions, heard the story, their reasoning, and I witnessed how self-possessed their 14-year-old son was. I was really moved. Something else they told me was that they had been building up to it over years. It hadn’t come out of the blue, but had a context. Coming of age meant something specific for their family and also for the community they circled with.

My husband and I have talked off and on over the years about the lack of rituals in our Western world. We have them, but we don’t call them out as rituals, of course. Adam and I would like to have Coming of Age Rituals for our kids, but that context starts long before 12 or 14 or whenever they’re ready. So we decided to start at 5.

When I was pregnant with my son, we were living in California and the state had a big advertising campaign for healthy kids; 0-5 years were the ages covered. How could all of those ages be lumped together? I was confused. How is an infant and a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old similar? Now that I’ve got my own kids I see just how appropriate that grouping is. Only recently has my son left all the traces of babyhood behind. The leaps of emotional, intellectual, and physical development that occur through out these years are huge and consistent. And at five kids in the United State start kindergarten. Five felt like the right age to start rituals.

Over the course of the summer we’ve been talking about B’s ‘Five Year Old Rituals.’ He seemed excited. He couldn’t wait! Adam and I have been planning out what to do, what might have meaning for him, etc. We wanted an element of surprise. We wanted to incorporate a few aspects of ritual as Adam and I experience them. We wanted to bring in some of our spirit allies. We wanted a few tasks that would mark the end of an era and the beginning of something new, using the strengths that B has. And we would celebrate!

Last week he finally had them! And it was NOT what we expected.

After putting both kids to sleep, we woke B up and had him get dressed again. He had only been asleep for 10 minutes, but he sleeps deeply and did not want to wake up. We told him there were cupcakes waiting for him at the end of the ritual – that did the trick! While I set up a few things outside, he had to help Adam build a fire in the fire pit. He carried the wood and learned to light matches. He was awake and happy at this point. We sat on the ground and did a little grounding meditation. I said the Holy Mother prayer and called to Ganesh and our Ancestors for guidance.

Fire, made by my son and Adam

Fire, made by my son and Adam

At this point B was sitting on the ground with his hands over his ears. He didn’t want any of the prayers. I brought out some special spirit food incense and he was more than willing to help sprinkle it into the fire.

Then everything devolved into a nasty mess of name calling, tears, and yelling.

The backyard was dark, except for the fire in the pit. B ran around the backyard telling us our fire was an ‘idiot fire’ and it was weak because it wasn’t burning up to space. He was angry and crying. Adam and I were a little stunned. Hadn’t he been looking forward to this? We had to reinvent our three tasks and rethink the ritual.

For the first task we had planned to recreate a womb with our bodies and have him push out. Like the armchair psychologists we are, we hoped that maybe this would give him some sense of closure and empowerment around his birth story. In the end we didn’t do this, but there was some physical struggle, since he came up and starting trying to tip me out of my chair, hitting me and trying to throw a brick at me. So we held him tight and he screamed and pushed us away.

His next task was to jump the fire. While I held B and tried to get him to stop yelling (it was 10 at night, midweek, and the neighbors were trying to sleep), Adam started jumping over the fire. This got B’s attention. We told him his task was to jump the fire. He didn’t believe he could do it. We told him we’d help him and explained that it was ok to be scared. Finally we were able to convince him to try. We held his arms as he ran and when he jumped, we lifted him up over the fire. This scared the crap out of him and he started crying some more.

At this point we decided to move inside, so as not to wake the neighbors. I carried things downstairs to Adam’s office and altar. Adam and B put the fire out. Once downstairs we sat and grounded again and then asked B to tell us his story so far. He’s very articulate, with a great memory, but he wanted our help. We coaxed him and he told us the events of his life that he remembered.

Finally I anointed him with water from the jug in which I have water blessed for Kali. He wiped that off immediately. We said we were proud of him, that he was no longer a baby, but now a boy. We gifted him with his own statue of Ganesha, and with a little incense holder and incense matches. He giggled with delight at the statue, hugging it and crying out, “My very own Ganesh!” We finished with tiny cupcakes. Exhausted, we all tidied up and got ready for bed.

New Ganesh murti

New Ganesh murti

Was this a traumatic experience for him? I wondered if this might only make things worse. What a confusing and far more upsetting experience than we had expected or hoped for. Did we do the wrong thing in thinking this was appropriate? Tucking him into bed that night, he said he wanted me to sleep with him, that he didn’t want to be a boy but to stay a baby. Then he rolled over and fell asleep.

What was fascinating is that the next day he woke up and proudly told his sister that he had had his Five Year Old Rituals. We went out for a celebratory lunch altogether. Two kids, aged about 5 and 7, were sitting next to us. B said they’d probably had their Rituals too. His grandparents came over unexpectedly that afternoon and he proudly told them about his Rituals.

B practices lighting incense

B practices lighting incense

Later Adam told me that B had apologized in the morning for calling us names, saying that he was scared and he had wanted to shut down the things that were scaring him (the ritual), but he didn’t know how so he called us names.

In the end, this was a very different experience than either Adam or I expected. We learned a lot about our son. We learned that ritual with children is never going to go as we plan it. But it also served its purpose. Our son feels like he did something Significant and he feels proud of himself. Those are great things to hold in his heart as he heads off to kindergarten in two weeks time.

Passing Down the Trad

There’s a series of blog posts over at Patheos on passing along one’s faith to kids or a younger generation. I’ve really enjoyed reading the different perspectives. As I’ve got two kids of my own, ages 5 and 2.5, here are my two cents.

My husband, Adam, and I are raising our kids in a Pagan household. I don’t say that we are raising the kids as Pagans, or to be Pagans, but Adam and I run our house in a certain way, practice in a certain way, and celebrate in a certain way – a rather hodge podge, but decidedly Pagan way. The kids see us and hear us, and kids absorb what surrounds them.

Many Pagans were raised Christian and have issues with the indoctrination of their upbringing. Adam was raised Christian and it’s certainly had a detrimental impact on his life. I was raised secular, with no religion of any sort, really. My kids get the best of all worlds, I think. They get the knowledge and respect of world religions (thanks to having a religions studies scholar for a mother); they get the flexibility and ‘hands off’ attitude that worked for me; they get the guidance that their parents can provide and can witness in their parents’ practices; they get some semblance of tradition that they can either hang on to or choose to reject as they grow older.

Adam and I have no faith to pass down. It’s not about faith. We are passing along tools, values, and lore (as it is appropriate, and much of Feri lore is not at this point). Does this mean that we talk about the gods as archetypes or myths? No. As P Sufenas Virius Lupus suggests, if the gods are good enough for the grown ups, surely they are good enough for the kids? I agree. The kids see that mama and papa honor Ganesh (we have statues in nearly every room!). The kids know of several of mama’s gods and several of papa’s. They are welcome to honor – or not – as they see fit.

Ganesh, Remover of All Obstacles

Ganesh, Remover of All Obstacles

Much of what we pass down is based on expediency: does it work? do you experience it? Why worship a deity if you don’t feel like you’ve got a relationship? We talk about this and we talk about how to forge relationship with deity, the Land, or other spirits. If our kids grow up and feel that they’ve experienced nothing of meaning, so be it. Maybe they grow up and Jesus speaks to them, so be it.

Right now, at 5, we’re working on ‘controlling all our parts.’ This involves a lot of listening: what does your body tell you? What do you need? How are you feeling? What else do you sense? I use the word ‘control’ here, not because our triple souls need to be controlled, but because my 5-year-old struggles to keep his hands to himself (and every other body part) and keeping his parts in check is part of controlling his hands. We have worked on meditation and deep breathing. It’s something we started with both kids when they were around 18 months, with limited success, but you have to start young! Sometimes my son sits for 90 seconds at a time and practices his meditation. You gotta start somewhere!

We’ve also worked on raising energy while meditating. I’ve walked him through a couple of very short guided meditations. Then we talk about what he experienced. It’s fascinating to hear what he’s experiencing and how he connects that his regular day existence. For example, after one of the first meditations on raising a ball of light in his center, he then asked if he could create a spirit outside himself that would do his bidding. Could I teach him that?? I was floored at that connection, because yes, it is possible! However, I’ve never done that, and he needs to master sitting still first.

The kids see their parents sitting regularly, sometimes chanting, sometimes giving offerings, lighting candles and incense, and sometimes creating spells or reading tarot. Occasionally I’ll let one or both of the kids watch – sometimes because I’m doing something very simple that they won’t disrupt and sometimes because if I don’t have them with me I won’t get another chance that day to do my offering or whatnot. I’ve embraced that I may have pujas that are more chaotic than others, and that sometimes there just won’t be meditation, only a bow and an offering.

by Janko Hoener, via creative commons

by Janko Hoener, via creative commons

Adam and I are slowly creating holidays that reflect our deities, our experiences with Place and the Wheel of the Year, and the rhythms of our family. So far, Samhain/Halloween and Yule/Christmas are the big holidays of the year. There are other ones, scattered through out the year. Sometimes the kids are really interested and other times they couldn’t be bothered. I think that’s pretty normal, and there is very little pressure for them to be involved. But they see the grown ups doing it.

Can you see the theme here? The kids see what we do and can participate as they desire. There is no coercion, but I won’t say there isn’t any indoctrination. The kids hear what the grown ups talk about, and in our house it is not unusual to hear an hour-long discussion on tarot in a car ride to Seattle, or hear discussions of magic at the dinner table, or how different branches of Buddhism have different meditation techniques as we’re getting ready for bed.

These actions reflect our values. We support these values – of experience, of practice, of finding ways to communicate with others (whether human, spirit or other), of creativity – by surrounding ourselves with others who share similar values, even if they express them differently. We read and watch things* that encourage these values as well, and we talk about them.

So yeah, we are passing along our traditions, but they are traditions that are unfolding. Neither Adam nor I are initiated into anything. We’re both learning as we go. This too is valuable for our kids to witness. Not all of our tools or practices are appropriate for little kids. We are treading each age and stage carefully as we come to it. Ask me in another 5 years how we’re passing along our traditions and I’m sure I’ll have a different set of answers.

A woodcut by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

A woodcut by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

*Books and things that we particularly love for our kids:

Novels: The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
The Sea of Trolls – Nancy Farmer
Loads of fairy tales

Comic books and cartoons:
Avatar: The Last Airbender
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Adventure Time
Any and everything by Hiyao Miyazaki (holding off on Princess Mononoke until the kids are older)


Maxim Monday: Give what you have

I don’t think this Maxim is like the admonition from Jesus to turn the other cheek, to give even your coat to the person who wants your shirt. I think this Maxim is encouraging us to share what we have. If I have only a cup of food and some one asks for some, I can spare a bite.

I don’t think there is any virtue in starving one’s self so that others may eat, but I do believe there is great benefit in sharing what we have. I live a life of abundance. I do not have first hand experience with poverty, though I’ve been poor, or with starvation, homelessness, or devastating ill health. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have a lot from which to give. My family doesn’t have extra money lying around that we can use to donate. But we do give what of what we have.

Time and flexibility: I offer to watch my friends’ kids when possible.

Ability: I can cook. I offer to make food for friends who are ill or in need.

And yes, money: We donate to the local food bank monthly. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but always every month out of what we have. I think it’s important to give even in the slow money months. Who knows? Maybe one of these days we’ll need the generosity of the food bank? There but for the grace of god go I….


Feri Freshman Hazing

I talk about the Magic a lot. I also call it the Current. You might call it Flow, God, the Divine, the still small voice within, serendipity – there are many names. Over the years, I have developed a sense of it, when I think I’m pulled by the Current, rather than by just my own whims. Usually what happens is an Idea comes into my or my husband’s head, an idea previously unconsidered. Or an opportunity is presented to me and I am faced with having to choose Yes or No. Most of the time these decisions are not life altering, but when the Magic is involved I know that a Yes or a No will take me down a new and usually unfamiliar path.

The biggest example I have of this in my life was when my husband and I decided to move to Wales. The idea came to him out of the blue. Yes, my graduate adviser was there, but I didn’t have to be. We knew we wanted to leave Oakland to raise our son, who at the time of this decision was only 7 months old. The idea came to us and we said YES. When we started looking into the requirements we were told to expect at least a year to get everything in place. Nine months later we were not just on our way to Wales – we were there. Doors opened. Pieces fell into place. In my experience, this happens when we’re tapped into the Current.

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this spring I was faced with an opportunity and I chose Yes, knowing full well there would be consequences. I felt the Magic, it was strong, and I trusted it.

Oh there were consequences all right.

The last two months have been turmoil. I’ve been distracted, obsessed. My relationship with my husband, Adam, has been taxed, pulled to extremes. In an intimate relationship, large leaps into the Current don’t just affect me, they affect my partner too. What happens when one person says Yes! and the other partner doesn’t even know the opportunity was presented? Chaos. That’s what happens. Lots of tears and fighting.

Just as Adam and I had touched a tip of reprieve my situation blew up again, a gigantic nuclear explosion, with toxic fall out tainting all that came before. It was ugly. I felt used, confused, lied to. Several people were involved. It was drama of the most salacious kind. I didn’t know whom to trust. My reason said one thing one day, and something else the next. My intuition flipped and flopped. I didn’t trust the players involved, I didn’t trust myself, and for the first time ever, I didn’t trust the Magic either.

I was angry. Angry that I was caught in the middle of something so ugly. Angry that other people were unable to work out their own issues. Angry that the situation was provoking my sorest and weakest spots: I take people at their word. Once I choose to trust I often ignore yellow and red flags, a tendency that hurt me deeply over the winter. I am stubborn. I trust myself and my choices – to exclusion of others. I do not tend to take others’ counsel. I ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. All of those things can be positives, but, in situations like the one I was in, all of those things were painful liabilities.

I reached out to a Feri initiate friend. She wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into, but offered compassion. ‘You are on a Feri ride,’ she said. Her words rang true, but filled me with dread. How am I to trust the Current if it is so fickle and hurtful? It’s like I’ve been doing trust falls with the Current, only to have it step away and not catch me on fall #5. Not fair! Not kind! How do I trust it again?

This is the first time I’ve faced a choice of this magnitude since my Feri dedication (not the same as initiation) in January. I wonder if the Current decided to test me. I feel like I’m being hazed. I feel like I’m a freshman who mistakenly signed up for a graduate course and realized it only after taking the first test. Or the beginning swimming student who has been thrown into the open ocean. Sink or swim.

My initiate friend (and every Feri initiate I’ve ever talked to) has a story about getting beaten up by the Current. Relationships ended, friendships broken, jobs lost, families isolated, households moved, and on and on. I relayed this reminder to Adam and he said if this is what we have to look forward to, he’d rather I quit Feri. But I won’t. I never choose the easy path, for better and for worse.

After all that has been said and done, I feel like I’m back to myself. I’ve come up for air. I’m no longer sucked into the undertow. I’m clinging to my basic tools, as to a life raft: sitting meditation, the exercises my teachers have given me, small devotions, and making kala.

Looking at the silver lining in such a dark and stormy time, I see that my choice was a catalyst for deep personal work that was needed. Adam and I are in couples counseling, working out some of the deepest, more stubborn vestiges of our issues.

Personally, I have chosen to let go of my need to understand just what exactly happened in that nuclear explosion. I can’t know and as uncomfortable as that makes me, I’m moving on. I’ve made a commitment to myself and to Adam that I will reach out more often to more people. I will not keep my own counsel, but seek out the advice and accountability of trusted allies. Somehow I will align my reason and intuition, not over privileging one to the detriment of the other. I’m not sure how this is going to happen, but I’m committed to finding a way.

This Magic stuff ain’t for the faint of heart.




Practical Magic for Tough Times

There are two things, two not especially ‘magical’ things, that help me when times are tough.

The first is rest. My primary gut response to times of intense stress, physical and/or emotional, is to sleep. I become borderline narcoleptic. I can barely keep my eyes open. This happens when I’ve been processing emotional issues for maybe a little too long; it also happens to me during childbirth. When my first child was born, the midwife had to shake me and kept shouting at me, “Wake up! Hold your baby!”

This is a symptom of a deep need for rest. For quiet. For space to rest the body and let the primal part of me sort and process on its own time. It signals a need for me to replenish my reserves. I wish I could say I always chose to go to bed earlier, find more time to sit in meditation, go walking in the woods, or out for drinks with good friends. What usually happens is I numb out in front of the internet, distracting myself with online comics and reorganizing my itunes.

Rest and silence are magical in their own ways if I will make space for them.

The second magical act is cleaning. Once I’ve rested and gotten a small handle on how I’m feeling, it’s usually time to clean. Letting go of my typical standards is a healthy thing in times of stress. But there is something incredibly cathartic about wiping the grime off the stove, getting a toothbrush and scrubbing the faucets, sweeping the laundry room, essentially doing all the little things I’m likely to neglect  in my regular life. I light a sweet-smelling incense, open the doors and windows, and banish the muddle of negativity. I verbally invite in clarity.

I do the same to my physical person. I clean my insides and outsides. A haircut (I’m getting one tomorrow) and a good scrubbing down in the shower helps me shed the grime that’s accumulated on my energetic body. I make kala, sometimes formally, sometimes just standing in my kitchen with my mug of water.

Today that’s what I’m about: cleaning and kala. Kitchen sink is scrubbed. Stairs are swept. Kala has been made. Now it’s time for incense and the kitchen floor. Tomorrow I’ll bless and ward the house with splashes of salt water.

What magical (or not so magical) acts help you out when times are tough?



The ever provocative Sam Webster posted about sacrifice this week at his biweekly blog on Patheos. Many people seemed off put at the idea of animal sacrifice, but Mr Webster spoke about the many different kinds of offerings and sacrifices that can be made. I think sacrifice is important – especially for modern Western people.

What is sacrifice? It is a giving of something precious, something that ‘feeds’ the gods or spirits, but I also view it as a gift. A simple gift might be on par with taking flowers or a bottle of wine to a friend’s house for dinner. A complicated offering might be akin to saving all year for your beloved’s birthday present.

In Hindu ritual there are many sacrifices: oil, lamps, spices, incense, fruit, flowers, breath (in the form of mantras and japa), etc. Many Pagans offer wine, food, candles, and incense. I don’t think most people think of lighting candles and incense as sacrifice, but it is. All offerings are sacrifice.

Cain and Abel Offering their sacrifices - Gustav Doré

Cain and Abel Offering their sacrifices – Gustav Doré

And then there’s blood sacrifice. Many people today seem to equate this with a barbaric past. Most of those same people eat meat. Even the strictest of vegans kill things to eat. They sacrifice carrots and grains for their own well-being. We all kill in order to live. There is a baffling hypocrisy in most people’s food politics. How is eating factory farmed meat and cheese more acceptable than sacrificing a goat or a chicken or a fish and offering part of that to one’s gods? I think when we start to kill things with our hands we gain a greater appreciation of what our food means.

We eat a lot of meat in our house and most times as I prepare it I verbally offer up thanks to the animal, the land, and the hands that made it possible for my family to eat. I am cognizant that other lives died and other hands worked hard so that my family (and yours) could be fed. This is sacrifice.

There is sacrifice in choosing to spend money on food that is healthy and ethical. Financially, cleaner, more sustainable food options cost more, but it is a sacrifice my family chooses to make (as we can). Donating to a charity or cause is also an act of sacrifice. Perhaps if we are very wealthy a $20 donation is no hardship at all; perhaps that $20 is a huge sacrifice.

My family donates money every month to the local food bank. Food is a big theme in our house; we eat well and believe that is a form of justice, health care and comfort, and we want to help others have those things too. We have a set donation range monthly, if things are tight I donate at the lower end, if things are easier I chose the higher end. But every month we donate. It’s easier these days, but for much of our first year here it was often a true test of my dedication. We haven’t told the food bank, but our donations are in honor of Ganesh (I may make a notation in my donation soon to make this honor more formal). He has assisted us tremendously and is our household patron ‘saint.’ I believe donating to others is an act of ‘repayment’ for our blessings. It is also an act that cultivates generosity.

Burning nag champa, by Cary Bass via Wikimedia Commons

Burning nag champa, by Cary Bass via Wikimedia Commons

Most of us are blessed with so much: food, shelter, access to internet, etc. I believe that a practice of offerings to our gods, our Ancestors, and the spirits of the Lands we inhabit, be it a blood sacrifice, a first portion of our meal, regular burning of incense, or even a hair from our heads, helps create a spirit of generosity in ourselves, forge relationship and trust between us and the spirits, and yes, actually feeds the spirits.

I’ve written about fasting before and it too is a form of sacrifice. I don’t think it ‘feeds’ the spirits so much as feeds our own souls. Of course, the devotion and dedication present in a fast can bring us closer to those things for which we fasted.

Our spiritual life is about connection. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for greater connection. Even with our loved ones. I know that sometimes I really don’t want to say sorry; I might feel it is unwarranted or I’m still angry, but I know that a simple ‘I’m sorry I said X’ or ‘I’m sorry I was a rude about how I felt’ etc can bring healing and closeness. That stingy extraction feels like it costs me (pride?), but it feeds the relationship and strengthens connection.

In my own devotions I always light candles and burn incense. At various other times, I offer sweets, flowers, money, wine, food…. Occasionally I’ve offered my own blood and hair. I offer it all. Just as I offer up all of me to my partner and children and closest friends, I do the same for my gods.