The thoughts and feelings of a Pirate Wiccan on Pagan issues and community.
The Call Home
Last weekend, I made the long pilgrimage to San Jose, California, where I joined about 3,000 other Pagans for PantheaCon. It was the first time I had been to California or seen the Pacific Ocean. In several ways it was also both an ending and a beginning.
PantheaCon the event didn't change my life like it may have done for many others, but that wasn't because of any lack on the part of the convention or anyone involved in organizing the events; most of the con faded in view of the enormous milestone I reached and overcame the Friday night of PantheaCon. Last week, while at PantheaCon, I went through my first degree Initiation, and that event ended up overshadowing everything else that happened to me over the rest of the weekend.
To some, first degree isn't a big deal, it's really only the start of your journey as a Priest or Priestess of a Tradition. But Initiation is a death and a rebirth, and to me, something that I was led to after a very long road of self-searching. When you look back at fifteen years of trying to figure out where you belong and what your life's work is going to look like, a milestone like Initiation would loom large in anybody's mind, especially when you never expected to take one.
While I've never personally known anyone who hasn't walked out of an Initiation whole and hearty...well, there's always that first time, isn't there? And what if I just wasn't good enough, or unworthy, or any of the other myriad worries that flickered through my head all day long? Can you predict what's going to happen when you bring yourself to the attention of the Gods?
The day leading up to it was a complete blur and I was a shaky mess all day. I was excited, scared and ready to face whatever was waiting for me with the sort of courage fools and madmen have in regards to Epic Tasks. Initiation was the dragon I needed to overcome to be able to move on to seek the knowledge that was just...out of my grasp and on the other side of that veiled doorway. My head knew I was ready, my heart knew I was worthy, the rest of me, however, quivered with something between fear and terror.
Because it was PantheaCon and because I hang out with Kenny Klein an awful lot, we kept talking to people like Selena Fox, Oberon Zell, Ruth Barrett and Jason Pitzl-Waters (who I turned around and found was just suddenly there in way that completely blew me out of the water, oh...ho hum, ladeda...Holy JASON PITZL-WATERS, Batman!!!...ladies and gentlemen, not my finest moment perhaps). In fact, talking to anyone that day was pretty difficult. My mind was not at the convention, it was on what was going to happen that night. I finally removed myself to our room and kept a running mantra of outer court knowledge running through my head so that I didn't end up shaming myself in front of EVERYBODY (the Gods, the Elementals, my priest and priestess, the guests, my friends).
The ritual started late and at one point my Priest and Priestess had an adventure through the DoubleTree Hotel that hosts the convention that involved partying Thelemites and ritual necessities, but at long last, I was Initiated.
While for obvious reasons I can't tell you what actually happened during the Initiation, I can tell you that it was a transcendent moment in the way that people always tell you it is, but until you do it yourself, you can't actually understand. It's a week later, and I am only now able to even start processing through all the feelings and emotions that the Initiation has caused. I'm pretty sure I was a babbling idiot for the rest of the convention. It's taken a week for me to start sorting through the many threads of New Things that are running through my head and my body.
We unexpectedly ran into some other Priests and Priestesses of our tradition that we didn't know were at the convention (it's a big con) and after they heard about the Initiation, one of them asked me how I felt. When I told her, she told me that a lot of it was because I was processing energy in a different way now and that I would get used to a lot of these new feelings fairly quickly. But a lot of these feelings have reminded me about the things that first brought me to Paganism, the joy of allowing my outer Victorian, civil personality to embrace the sheer primitive feelings of joy that I had at finding my people, my tribe for the first time.
One of the books that I read a long time ago, that had a great deal of influence on me in my early Pagan path was Clarissa Estes' Women Who Run With Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. I'm rereading it now, the week after my initiation, and it is resonating with me in a completely different way than it did before. The first time I read it, it helped convince me that it was OK to embrace that inner passion that I had always done my best to keep tapped down. Now, having been initiated and starting to think about what my path as a Wiccan priestess will be, it seems like embracing that inner intuitive being is even more important for the work that I am about to embark on.
In her opening chapter, Estes writes about what she means when she says "wild":
So, the word 'wild' here is not used in its modern sense, meaning out of control, but in its original sense, which means to live a natural life, one in which the criatura, creature, has innate integrity and healthy boundaries. These words, wild and woman, cause women to remember who they are and what they are about. They create a metaphor to describe the force which funds all females. They personify a force that women cannot live without. Estes 8
This inner, intuitive being is something that has always been hard for me to allow myself to grasp. I am a very self controlled sort of person and was reminded while at the Con, that I am an extremely polite sort of person as well.
The rules of etiquette that govern society are an important part of how I interact with the world. Rules in general are important to me. If you don't understand the rules, how can you break them? And if you break them, what's the point if you don't understand the implications of what you're doing? As one smartass remarked, I'm a rebel WITH a cause. (This is also probably one of the reasons that Wicca has allowed me to embrace ritual much more easily than Eclecticism did).
There is more than one reason that I'm the Victorian pirate of the crew.
My emotional energy has always been reserved for those I wish to give it to: my family, my lover, my friends, my coven and those I care about. And now, I have to take into consideration the fact that as a Priestess I also need energy for those who end up coming to me, who need teaching and ritual guidance from me.
One of the things that this Initiation has made me really think a lot about is that which originally brought me to Paganism; in Paganism I found a place to let go of a lot of my personal boundaries and the facade of politeness, and to just enjoy myself and the people I'm with. The Pirates, those wonderful, crazy, zany, loud Pirates, helped me break down much of my original Victorian veneer...not that it will ever go away completely, but brought it into a different perspective that also allowed me to embrace finding my intuitive center.
I haven't sorted it all out yet, but I do know that this Initiation has helped me embrace my inner self in ways that I have never managed before. Where will I go next? Who knows? But it will be because I took Initiation and walked through the veil to the other side. As Estes says:
But when the call for extended leave to home comes, a part of her always hears, has been waiting to hear. When the call to home comes, she will follow, has been secretly or not so secretly preparing to follow...Yet, the old one out in the sea calls everyone. Everyone must return home. Estes 296-297
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