It really does feel like a new year is upon me.
One big problem, when you haven't done ritual in ages, is the danger of trying to cram too much in, but it's a fluid process...if you've cast yourself a big enough comfort zone to begin with, the gods aren't going to care if you drop one part or add another. Creating the blue sphere (in Feri tradition), I liken it to casting a fishing net; it doesn't have to be OCD-perfectly shaped. So as I came to something that needed to be dropped, I was able to, without feeling like I was taking something away from the ritual. I was wrestling with my wards before I started, because Celtic dieties for the most part are a bitch to get a handle on in the first place...they didn't have written language for the most part, so everything you read about them is hearsay to begin with. Makes it hard to put your faith in them...like one of the first things you read about Druantia is that she was the mother of the Irish Tree Calendar, but any reconstructionist worth his salt will tell you that the tree calendar didn't even exist...it's a neopagan invention, so how much stock can you put on the rest of what you read about Druantia after that? But then it dawned on me that I've acquired the most personal guardian I could ask for this year, so I asked my wards to step aside and give Dad the job for awhile.
The Dad portion of the ritual was easily the most powerful I've ever experienced. I'd pass the rest of the ritual off as mediocre, because while I was able to center quite a bit, there's still no substitute for being outdoors. While I do believe in my religion, I don't really believe in the dead's ability to communicate with us here on earth...and yet, even while I say that, I'm not willing to completely laugh off what I experienced as the overly emotional visualizations of a grieving daughter, so...I guess I am opening to possibilities. I'm feeling so strong from this, and the past week, that I told Dad it was ok for him to concentrate on Mom, Cyril, and Meara, because they definitely need him more right now.
So I honored Samhain, honored Dad, and rededicated myself to my studies with an emphasis on the Reclaiming and Feri traditions. I'm more than a little excited about it; I haven't cracked open my books in a while, and it's definitely time to actually concentrate on what it means to follow those traditions. Plus, I just know the trancework will help with my grief.
Took a walk after work yesterday at the Julington Durbin Creek Preserve. Opinion: guarded. What I mean is, I think I've lived in Jacksonville too long. The sandy flat areas were refreshing, but once I hit the woods, I got a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. I couldn't relax, kept thinking that it was the perfect environment for a pack of teenage males who wear their pants too low to hide out and smoke weed, or for a homeless guy to be lying in wait or something. Thing is, that actually is silly, because the path was surrounded on both sides by serious swampland (homeless guy would need hipwaders, and gang of punks wouldn't risk their $100 Nikes in that terrain probably, she said, stereotyping)...in fact, I only went about another 1/4 mile before I had to turn back because the swamp had flooded out the path...and when I stopped my imagination long enough to concentrate on the vibes of my surroundings, I did feel pretty completely alone out there. Still, if/when I go back, I'll stick to the open areas if I'm still uncomfortable, and I'll come better prepared with a) walking stick for negotiating sand, gauging mud depths, and fending off imaginery bad guys, b) bug repellant, c) plastic bag for picking up trash (only saw 2 or 3 things, but it made me want to scream), and d) paper and pen for drawing a map of the paths. There's a couple of wood signs and one of them has the paths mapped; I know I'd feel better if I had more of a clue where I was headed. The paths are quite well-marked, but it was brand new and I'm really out of practice at traipsing through nature...I mean, compare the varied walks I've taken in SC with the time spent gallavanting through our back woods in Warren, and it's been 20+ years since I've done any serious hiking. Plus I think I'm just so used to more northern environments; I'm used to keeping my eyes peeled for deer and furry critters, not deer and movement in the water cuz of gators and water moccasins. Florida hiking may as well be on a different planet from SC or CT. Come to think of it, I'm wearing pants and socks next time too.
One thing that definitely woke up in me though, is the desire to get walking again. I keep having dreams where I'm jogging, and while I know walking does just as much good and provides much less chance for injury, I also know I'm selling myself short by thinking my body won't ever be that of a runners. Last thing I want to do is hurt myself when I'm just starting out, so I know I'll take it carefully...but man, it feels nice to look forward to exercise. I'm physically exhausted today, thanks to the monthly hormonal enslavement, but I'm still hoping to get outside after work.
Can't afford to hit KB tonight, so I'll tuck into LSIL's sock after my walk...it's been a couple of days. Starting reading Dreaming the Dark by Starhawk as well.