It’s been a really busy week or two for me.
Today is my birthday (I’m 33). I’ve spent a bunch of the past few weeks thinking about something specific – about creating the life I want to live in.
I’m single: almost three years post-divorce, and now back at a point where I’d like to consider the possibility of a serious relationship again. But to do that, I need to make space and continue working on balance (and on continuing to expand my social circles a bit.)
I have a still-new coven, and how do I want that to take shape and grow? And how do I give it space to do so, and ways to incorporate ideas and things that are not me? We’ve got a good start, but there’s still a lot of work.
There are a lot of things that interest me: how do I make time for them, or figure out which ones to do? Music is a big thing on the plate, and it’s somewhat emotionally fraught for complicated reasons. There’s writing, and there’s fiber art, and there’s baking, and all the books I want to read, and somewhere in there exercise would be a good idea.
I have an ongoing relationship with multiple deities (the joys of polytheism). How do I continue to nuture and expand and explore within that context?
I have dear friends, family of choice, and family of origin, all of whom I want to spend time with. How do I balance that against scheduling limitations, and other things that also matter to me?
And how do I make my home, my hearth, my work the kinds of space I want to spend time in – between doing the things I want, and managing the mundane responsibilities as well as possible (dishes, laundry, bills).
These things are, to my way of thinking, the most fundamental kind of magic: reshaping my own life at the most fundamental levels with focused intention and desires. But these are all big and complicated issues.
So, I started with a party.
I knew that what I wanted for my birthday was a day full of good food, good company, and great conversation. What I got was all of those and then some (there was also some fabulous mead, and some very thoughtful and caring divination readings.)
But how did I get there?
Well, first, I have loving and caring and generous friends (who are also good cooks) which helps rather a lot. My covenmate hosted (she’s got more space suitable for a larger gathering) and another friend brought homemade scones, a range of delicious fruit spreads, and there was all sorts of other goodness.
Now, a couple of years ago, I might have made a few plaintive noises about what I wanted. And I might well have gotten some of it (I have nifty friends, after all.) But this year, for a range of reasons, I felt a lot more comfortable being quite specific.
And look! Wonderful things happened.
Why did it work?
Well, I was asking for help with things that the people helping generally like to do. That never hurts.
And while this was something of a production (both my covenmate and I spent most of Saturday cooking and otherwise prepping) it was the kind of production we generally *enjoy* doing a couple of times a year.
And third, it tied into other things. It’s a time to celebrate harvest and plenty and abundance – a gathering of great food and conversation and reflection on what to ponder as we move into the dark half of the year certainly fit very tidily in that. And, having poked our heads out and been sociable, we can now focus back on the coven building for a few months.
It’s not only a good model of friendships (and I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped make this happen – whether it was obvious stuff like cooking, or just showing up). But it’s very much a model of how I want to priestess. I obviously have Opinions and Ideas and Plans – capitals quite intentional. But I also want to be doing things I can do with people I care about, and find the things *they* enjoy and look forward to, and so on.
Getting that mix right yesterday? Very hope-inducing for my coming year and years.
My summer seems to have gotten away from me again: in a week, I’m back at work for the school year, with some new responsibilities, so I’m in “Argh, get life in order now!” mode.
I spent Friday at our local IKEA, picking up various items to help with that, which leads to my post today.
One of the things my covenmate asked me, back when I sent her the Role of the HPS post, what I thought the role was in regard to the covenstead: is it automatically the place where the HPS lives. I have some philosophical thoughts about that I’m still trying to sort out into words other people might understand, but I do know the practical thing it kicked off for me: a desire for my home to be a place where I can say “Sure, come right over, I’ll be here.” A place I can host (small) group ritual in. A place I can teach in. A place I can have friends – or group members – over and be hospitable.
There’s just one trick.
I live in a tiny little house – 400 square feet, the size of a studio apartment, though it’s divided a little differently. There are many things I like about it.
- It’s the amount of space I actually need for me and the cat.
- I can clean it thoroughly in about 2 hours, if I have to.
- It’s far more private than an apartment – there’s at least 15-20 feet between me and the next building.
- It requires me to think very carefully about how I live, and what I bring into my home.
- It fits my budget, and a larger space wouldn’t right now.
But there are also challenges. Now that I’ve lived here for a year, I have a much better sense of what they are, and which ones I really care about dealing with.
Some of them are just about the space: the tiny house dates from the mid-50s, and has at various times had tenants who did not take as good care of it as might be hoped. Plus, there’s an elderly gas stove and heater (they work fine, but they are not elegant or shiny or new.) There’s some cosmetic damage to the kitchen floor, a few places where the front room floor is splintering slightly (easy to throw a rug over), and so on. My landlady is aimable about fix-up work I want to do, like painting the bathroom, but money is a limit (on both sides!)
There’s also some limits for group work. My front room is about 8×11 feet, and has 3 bookshelves in it. It will fit 6-8 people, we think, if people are friendly about it (it requires a little moving around during circle casting, etc.) which is around the limit of what we want for the group anyway.
However, to do this, everything in there except the shelves have to be moveable. And yet, I need to make sure there’s enough seating that 6-8 people could potentially sit around and chat and eat after ritual. there’s still a question of seating.
(I should note here: L and I are rotating who hosts ritual: she has somewhat more space, and substantially more outside space. On the other hand, doing things at her place means affecting her partner’s schedule. He’s very amiable about it, but at the same time, we want to keep things balanced.)
As of this weekend, I have two hard kitchen chairs, a computer chair, and a stepstool that people can sit on. The idea is that these would be easy to move around, but more comfortable seating for conversations and teaching. I also have plans for more floor pillows (something the cat approves of.)
The last thing I want is one or two ottoman footstools (padded, but square and portable) that can be used for seating, and otherwise live in the corner. I’m also considering 2-3 TV trays that can be used for portable tables (or quarter altar space) but I’m still considering where I’d store them.
So, what happens for ritual?
- The harp is moved into the bedroom alcove, along with any other furniture we’re not planning on using.
- The computer gets moved from the desk (in the front room) to my dresser (in the alcove). It’s an iMac, so this is fortunately pretty easy.
- The low bookshelf in the west (usually my personal altar space) is cleared, and used as the west quarter altar.
- I just got a set of narrow shelves that live by the computer desk (used for the east altar)
- A flat-bottomed chair and a stool get used for north and south altars, respectively.
- The desk can also be used to eat around after ritual, with a little planning.
The only part of this that is particularly tedious is moving the computer (and even that is only about a 5 minute process).
There is one other thing I’m considering, which is creating fabric drapes to go over the tall bookshelves, so that people do not need to look at my book selections during ritual. (I’m thinking that light but opaque fabric held on with strips of velcro would do nicely, and other people have suggested that this should work, but I have not yet gone fabric shopping or put them together.)
Inside my head:
But there’s also what it means for my own habits: it means training myself to put things back neatly on visible shelves. On keeping the books down to what *can* be shelved. On keeping on top of dishes and other such things (so that not only are they not distracting, but we have dishes to eat out of afterwards!) The rest of my week is getting devoted to doing a chunk of this and getting things lined up so that I can maintain them when I go back to work.
I grew up with a mother who was very particular about house-cleaning – and I was *not* naturally neat as a child. Naturally organised, yes: I knew where in a pile of stuff things were. But not tidy.
I’ve been learning tidy as an adult (and am currently in a weird place where I strongly prefer things to be tidy, but don’t quite have the habits ingrained to keep them that way even when I’m tired/out late/got lots of other demands. I’m working on it.) I intend to talk somewhat more about this at some point, but some of it is complicated by chronic medical foo (asthma can affect cleaning for me, and as of yesterday, we appear to be having late-summer pollen allergies kicking in: traditionally my worst season. This means I’ve got less energy to spare, and it takes me longer to get moving in the morning.)
One of the good things about working for a school is the vacations.
(There are also downsides: my breaks are unpaid time, and I don’t get any say in when I get them – it makes it very hard to do things requiring time off during the school year.)
A dicussion elsewhere online got me thinking about limits. The specific question was “What happens if you get a prospective coven member who is allergic to pets, and you have pets?” and it got me thinking.