In the spring of 2004, I got very lucky with regards to my pagan practice. I went bankrupt.
It’s a little ironic but this otherwise painful and difficult time of financial scarcity, brought with it a year of blissfully unhindered spiritual practice. Instead of spending the evenings in never-ending conference calls, I left the house every day when dusk began to fall. I lived in Austria at the time, at the edge of a small town outside of Vienna. Within a few minutes walking distance lay an expanse of corn and rye fields with a copse of trees in the middle and walking paths all around them. A little further down lay the Danube, the mighty river that crosses Austria from West to East before it wanders into Hungary. In the opposite direction, around 10 minutes’ walk further, lay a wooded hill that I would climb on Solstice mornings to greet the rising sun. And I was able to do so because I didn’t have to be at work at eight in the morning.
I spent between 40 minutes and two hours outside every single day. It became the basis of my entire spiritual life, and also of my sanity. I couldn’t wait to get outside, and every worry or pressure I felt began to fall off me as I wandered through “my” fields.
Amazing things happened that year. A deer – my spirit animal – came very close to me and didn’t seem to be afraid. I stripped down to my underwear dancing around my little Bealtaine fire, without anyone walking in on me (thankfully! …ahem). Sabbats in general were true holidays, and felt like it. I had TIME to celebrate them, and four esbats per moon, and do meditations and trances and whatnot. It was the year of my preparation to dedicate myself, which I then did on Bealtaine 2005.
Fast-forward to 2012: My finances are (mostly) sorted, I work in a regular office job, and I live in my beloved Ireland again. Life is good, and please don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – but my spiritual/religious practice has suffered a lot in the past few years. Christian holidays are days off as a matter of course, be it Christmas or Easter, but pagan holidays aren’t. I need to take days out of my annual leave if I want a sabbat off, and if that day happens to be near the end of a business quarter, I’m screwed. Even if it’s at a more convenient time, taking days out of my annual leave doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility as to the rest of my holidays, especially since I’m trying to visit my 84-year-old dad in Germany a couple times a year as well.
I’m not promoting the benefits of being broke and jobless – far from it! It was the scariest and most horrible time in my life. I never, ever, ever want to go through anything like that again, and I’ve taken important steps to prevent it from happening in the future. What I’m getting at is that even in the most desperate of times in my life, there was an upside. There always is the famous silver lining. In my case it was the chance to take as much time as I needed to practice my religion and evolve spiritually. THAT part of the memory of this time, is what I’ll cherish forever.
I still haven’t found a way to maintain a regular practice in the modern world. At this time, the answer for me is to seek freedom from a daytime job, and I hope that I’ll get there some time in the future. I am currently taking the first steps, by teaching online e-courses (check out the 13 Moons e-course for women starting these days) and getting a part-time qualification as a Life and Business Coach. I imagine that once I work for myself again with more flexible hours, I will be able to keep sabbats free and work around my own spiritual schedule more effectively.
And until then, I’ll have rituals in the dead of night, or a day too late, or not at all if I’m staying late at work again on the night of the full moon. Nobody is perfect, and sometimes the best strategy is to forgive oneself!
That’s all from Sibylle for this time. Thanks to Sibylle for writing this and allowing me to share it with you.
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