Late summer is always a difficult time of year to feel spiritual. Too hot, too bright, and the heat is bad for my health, which doesn't help matters. So things can be tough. But I'm still trying to meditate as often as possible, to pray, to breathe, to stretch. And to read.
A lot of witchy-pagan books are just the author going on about nature this and seasons that. They can be very low on actual content. But sometimes - and right now is one of those times, for me - reading just someone's thoughts can be helpful. Even (or especially) if I disagree with them.
I'm reading Poppy Palin's Craft of the Wild Witch at the moment. I started it ages ago, became annoyed with her, and put it down. I've picked it up again, and started over. And yes, she uses a lot of genuinely ridiculous terms, but before I was reading searching for information. I was craving something new, something solid. Real, actual information I could get my teeth into. Now I'm just looking for something to make me feel.
I do disagree with her, though. Palin talks about how humans make straight lines through everything, and how straight lines lead to people climbing over one another to get to the top. But the pansy, she says, has no such thoughts; it, and nature, live in circular lives where everything is interconnected.
And, yes, sure - but nature is all about competition. It's how things survive, and adapt, change, evolve. The pansy is colourful to attract pollinators. It reaches up to the sun to best obtain its energy. Grow too slow and another plant might block out your sun. It's everyone for themselves in nature, and it's far from peaceful and pretty. And humans are a part of that.
But that's fine. Another day I might get cross and write a diatribe, but today I am content to disagree quietly and let it go. Her perspective and mine differ. There's still things she says that provoke me to thought.
I realised for example how much my focus on "property lines" - on barriers and fences - can hinder as well as help. That need to have personal space and keep everything else out is a facet of my personality, and not necessarily always a healthy one. I can acknowledge that and still cling to it. But the world doesn't always think that way. Home ranges overlap. The earth stretches on and on. The wind blows in many directions. I've let myself become to fixated on Mine vs Yours. Yes, this is my home, and no, I don't want every damn entity invading it, and that's fine and sensible. But I can't let that concept control all my thinking. I've become far too rigid.
I suspect that's the anxiety's fault. It's made me stiff and stretched me taught. I have to remember to dance, to go with the flow and follow the breeze, and notice again how things intersect and overlap and how the world stretches on.
Reading various spiritual, magical, or religious books more regularly is part of my spiritual plan for this year, and this sort of thing is a big reason why. A lot of people move past reading books like this, and that's fine. I like to go back and remind myself of bits and pieces - though admittedly, these ideas might not be what the author intended to communicate. Potentially the opposite! The value's still there, for me. Quite possibly things would be different if I was a part of a Pagan group or coven, as I'd have other people bouncing ideas off me more often. That's not the case, though, and for me, I like the written medium for communicating ideas. I can absorb them at my own pace, take notes, scribble in the margins, and write blog posts about them. I can invite people to discuss those ideas (feel free to chime in in the comments!).
I bought some prayer beads from Etsy in January, part of my renewed focus on prayer and meditation. They're set out in sets of 3, 7, 9 and 21 and are a beautiful green-blue colour. I'd like to add a little brass stag to one end, to complement the little spiral goddess, but I haven't found one yet. They make a pleasant jingling noise and I enjoy running them through my fingers.
I also bought John Michael Greer's Pagan Prayer Beads which makes me itch to make some, but I think I'll stick with accumulating beads for a while. And since I'm not really inclined towards buying any at the moment, it may take a while. In the meantime, I'll see what's floating around on etsy if I ever feel a yen.