When we last heard from the Yoster he was trembling in fear at the prospect of going to ritual again as a lapsed pagan of sorts. Already feeling vulnerable to the extreme, imagine my surprise when, as I drove over the Bay Bridge, my shields dropped without any warning.
Folks, there are few things I'm sure of in my life, and my ability to shield myself from random stray emotional broadcasts of the population at large is one of them. I don't care if there's no scientific way to "prove" my awareness of the emotional state of people not even in my presence, I simply know that it's true for me. Regardless of my recent struggles with what it is I believe, I have to accept that, from a strictly Descartesian point of view, my perceptions are indeed my reality, therefore it IS real.
Having grown up in NYC without knowing how to shield on an intellectual level, I nonetheless managed to learn how to throw up something when things got really, REALLY bad. Later, I learned how to fine tune it. In a way I was a bit of a prodigy when it came to shielding (or an idiot savant... ofttimes I suspect the latter). and came to realize that I could forget to put them up, or take them down and have someone take advantage of the trust inherent in that act... but NO ONE could get past them if I didn't let them.
Initially I was in a complete panic. Fortunately, that was toned done a tad thanks to the sheer shock at what happened. My first impulse was "Oh SHIT... not NOW!" In a display of perfect timing, lavendersage chose that moment to call me. She helped me re-establish my control, and she put up shields around me of her own as a temporary solution... spiritual sandbags in a manner of speaking.
My theory is that there was some sort of prayer vigil in Berserkely that had inadvertently worked the magickal equivalent of a neutron bomb. I never got the sense that anyone was attacking me specifically. I made it to Hayward feeling a lot less panicked on a lot of levels. Ironically, that sort of half assed attack helped me to resolve to go through with the ritual, no matter what.
Never, EVER tell a New Yorker that he can't have what is his right to choose. Especially an irish New Yorker. We're stubborn bastards.
I'm not going into too many specifics re: the ritual here, as it's not merely personal, but a private group affair. I might talk about it more in a secure post. Suffice it say that it was a bit more re-affirming of my faith than I expected.
As I sat there, the feeling of release washing over me, I understood what had happened. Somwhere along the line I had fallen into the subtle trap of confusing the symbols of faith and religion with the things they represented. Since I am a recovering Irish Catholic, that shouldn't surprise me: Catholiciam is notoriously literal in it's interpretations of it's relevanceto the universe. Christianity as a whole suffers from the same dogmatic fallacy, wherein creationism becomes the ONLY accepted view of the birth of the universe, even if that view takes an insultingly limited view of the power of god. I've always postulated that a God with the patience and power to take billions of years to create the heavens and the earth was a hell of a lot more impressive than one that simply slapped them together in seven days as if he were nothing more than some cosmic unlicensed contractor.
My mother, always the heretic, can take some of the "blame" for this view. She always said to me (when the teaching of the Church conflicted with my scientific knowledge, even at the age of 8), "Who says that a day is the same length of time for God as it is for us?". Smart woman, my mom.
Anyway, I let the sensation of love and trust rush through me, and for a few moments understood. Today I'm wearing my goddess necklace again, and feel like I'm a part of a religion again. In fact, I guess I can't call myself a "solitary eclectic" any more.
As we sat around talking with excitement (apparently I wasn't the only one who had experienced an epiphany last night), One of the others coined the phrase "lucid paganism". As I said I would then, I just googled it, and there is literally NO reference to such a thing anywhere on this vast sea of info known as the World Wide Web.
Except now there is. It's a new tradition that embraces the joy of why we became pagan in the first place, relaxing some of the more anal retentive tendencies that so many trads have inflicted upon us in the past, while recognizing that there needs to be some structure to prevent the bad stuff from sneaking in.
I'm no longer a solitary. I've suddenly found myself a member of a coven.
A part of the reading I did for myself makes sense to me now... one of the cards spoke of the risk of being oneself, the risk of alienating people who might expect me to be a certain way. For the first time in a long time I feel it'a worth the risk to be myself with a group of people.
So mote it be.