Usually, when I do ritual, creating sacred space is easy. I hold my intent softly and gently in my mind, and I am there. Day or night, private or public space, the presence of candles, incense, or other sacred tools--it doesn't matter.
Except when it does.
Being able to do it so casually most of the time can make it harder to notice when it isn't just happening, much less to figure out why. Especially since life is usually unusually hard at that point--and isn't that when we need our sacred spaces the most?.
This is complicated by the fact that I find that living my life with the awareness and intent that each moment is sacred to be more important than formal ritual, which so often can be empty, or filled with a sense of bored obligation rather than an awareness and celebration of the divine within and without. Yeah, there's boredom and drudgery in any path--it's impossible to convince myself that washing dishes is sacred on an experiential level, no matter how much I agree it's sacred on a logical level, for instance--so it's a challenge to try to stay in that mental space, even when evil is not on the rise, even when there's no clear and present danger that in the near future I won't have the money and healthcare I need, and even when there's no urgent worries about the health or well-being of people I care about.
Add those things in, and that sense of wonder, of the sacred, can slip away like a well drying up in a drought. It's there, and it's there, and it's there (though you have to work harder and be more patient to drink your fill), until, one day, it's not there, or at least is not enough.
And for all my belief that we can defeat this evil and all my determination that we will (because we must), it's taking its toll. I don't want to have to spend time on politics, not day in and day out. I don't want to be looking at my dwindling income and the threats to Obamacare and the threats of violence to queer people and worrying about the future. My health issues affect my sleep on my best nights. Worries don't help at all, and exhaustion mimics depression remarkably well. It's no wonder I've been feeling worn, overwhelmed, uninspired, and distracted.
But my good friend Susan Urban and her husband were playing at Pagan Pride (as a group, they call themselves February Sky), and though I overslept and we got there late, I was determined to get there. And we did get there, and I was walking around listening to the music, looking at things and talking quietly to the vendors, and the sweet old lady doing readings talked me into a discounted reading. She assured me her cards could give me insight into what I most need to know, and that's why I was at her table. Then she asked about my question. Half of my focus was on the music and the other half, the part thinking about my life, was just kind of overwhelmed. I stuck with that question: "What do I most need to know?".
She does readings using three decks. She had me shuffle the first deck, fan them out, and draw cards one at a time, three from the first deck and one each from the other two. First, I drew Armadillo, which she said was all about setting boundaries appropriately, but also a warning to face my troubles and not try to hide in my shell. Armadillo was flanked by cards for the mental and practical, lizard, for dreams, and snake, for rebirth. A lot of reptiles--maybe signifying that I'm naturally more affected by the metaphysical weather than I thought? I don't know. But the boundaries thing, that rang true in lots of ways, from keeping the boundaries on my food intake I need to stay healthy to limiting my exposure to all the upsetting news happening today. I've also had a task to organize my writing and arting better that I set into my Google calendar. It's been recurring as instructed for a few weeks now, whether or not I had the time and energy to do it, and that is also essentially an issue of boundaries, of carving out time and focus so I get more done. Not that I saw all that in the moment, but I felt at least some of it, on a deep, wordless level.
And then she had me draw a card from the second deck, the deck she said was Spirit Guides. I've never felt a particular affinity to Panda, but the advice that I need to create a sacred space in my home and place of work, that certainly rang true, and continues to ring true. There are plenty of things that have been making me crazy about my work and living spaces. There's reasons for all of that, of course; I've been focused on accomplishing urgent things. But that doesn't leave much space or time for thinking about making sacred space and sacred time where and when I most need it. That dovetails right into the need to tend boundaries, really, in my mind. I've started to act on that part. Since the reading, I've prioritized putting at least a little time every day into finishing the plaster work on our currently deconstructed dry goods closet (I pulled it apart when I didn't have time because the detritus made it clear it had become a mouse haven, and wouldn't be a safe haven for our food and oven parchment and so forth until the holes were fixed), and cleaning my office (I'd kept enough space for writing, barely, but had started sorting old papers and cluttered things up quite a bit. Mind you sorting those papers is a legitimate business activity, but having them clutter up my creative space was far from inspirational. I will just have to refuse to pull more stuff out to sort than I can finish in one sitting, not to have my office look like it belongs in some yuppy magazine, but because I need the space to feel inspired.) There's work yet to do on both of those things, and other stuff to do after, but at least I have started. Some of this was clear to me when she turned Panda over for me to see, but it reflects into other things too, into my goal of giving away or throwing away stuff I don't need and even into remembering to go out and pick up the trash that blows into (and gets stuck in) my rose bushes.
Finally, from a deck that's all wolves, I received the advice that I'm at a crossroads, with an emphasis that I am not at a dead end, I am free to choose my new direction. Additionally, the card advised me to plan and to keep focused on what's practical. I'm not sure what to make of that yet, but I'm still working on the boundaries and the sacred space. I expect that once I get those things in order, I'll start to see what paths are available and what choices I have to choose between. And certainly, with the danger of having less resources in the future, keeping practicality in mind matters.
I suppose that now I should go check on that drying plaster. It would be nice to paint the closet tomorrow, or at least very soon. Once it's dry, I can put stuff away that's currently hard to find and underfoot in the library.
And then I'll remember a lesson learned in my divorce, and do some formal ritual to help things along. Candles, incense, statues and so on are only symbols to help me focus (I learned, long ago, that if I tried to rely on an object for my magic, it would break or disappear all too soon)--but when I'm having trouble focusing, they are powerful symbols. And the tools I use are all, in and of themselves, beautiful and in alignment with my higher self, or I wouldn't use them in the first place.
They'll still be in a space that's imperfectly cleaned and sorted, but I can celebrate the progress I've made and plan for what I need to do to move forward, in whatever directions I will choose along the way.
Blessed Be to all of you, my friends. May you have the sacred space you need, and may your boundaries be wisely set and wholesome. May your dreams be strong, and if you need to shed a skin or two, I hope it won't itch too much as you shed the old and grow into the new. And when you face a crossroads, may you be aware that very few choices are between a good path and a bad one. May you see clearly the risks and benefits of your choices, and may you find inspiring and practical ways to work to achieve your dreams, and kindness along the way.