Fallow time- that wonderful period of time that finds almost all of us at some point in time in our life- regardless of religious preferences or practices. For those of you who are new to fallow time, it’s a term that many of us use to describe a low point in our religious practices. Fallow usually is signified by a lack of the god’s presence, a lack of enthusiasm for rites, research or other religious projects, and a overall blase feeling in regards to anything spiritual.
It’s kinda like religious depression :)
A common problem for many people who are new to the Pagan-sphere is religious burn-out. You get neck deep in the religion and are doing your thing, and one day- out of the blue, for no reason at all- its like everything comes to a grinding halt. At first it can be very shocking and surprising when it happens. And many times, we think its our fault somehow. That we’ve done something wrong and the gods are punishing us.
Whenever you hit a fallow time in your practice, my first recommendation is to take a deep breath. Followed by another. And another. And another.
Fallow time is caused by numerous things. It can be as simple as your mundane life taking precedence for a time. Sometimes the gods are busy and they disappear for a while to handle things. Sometimes the gods take a step back to allow you to work on things and get established before they dump a whole new load of things on you. Sometimes they don’t have anything for you, either. Other things that can cause fallow times are stress, illness, lack of rest, etc.
As you can see- all of these reasons are more or less out of your hands. In fact, most fallow times are more or less out of your hands. As Set would tell me, “control is an illusion” and you can’t really control when these times hit you. The best you can do is to control how you react to them.
So let’s talk about reacting to them, shall we?
The first step to reacting to a fallow time is to figure out what could be causing it. It can be a number of things- so don’t be afraid if it feels like the reasons are 3980985 layers deep. Did the gods just give you a huge stack of work? Did your stress just ramp up? Did you recently change housing or jobs? Are you suffering from illness or fatigue? Figuring out the source of your fallow time could give you clues as to how to fix what is going on. If stress is causing you to lose your connection- getting rid of some of the stress could help you to re-establish a good connection with the gods. If you’re sick, it could be a matter of waiting out the illness.
In other words, try and manage your spoons so that you have enough spoons to hear the gods again.
However, sometimes its got nothing to do with spoons. Or the spoons are beyond your control. Sometimes things just go dead- much like how a location can have a drought for no particular reason. What then?
The answer is to sit tight. Breath, and remember that this is a phase- a chapter. And like a phase or chapter, it will eventually end. Learn to find other things that give you pleasure or make you feel more complete. Continue to perform your rituals as often as you can. Try to push through your dry spell without breaking yourself. I often use fallow times to create other ways to bring my spirituality into my life. I take my religion out of the shrine, and bring it into day to day things- such as a good cup of coffee, a nice walk, a good breeze, etc. Finding ways to enjoy the little things that bring you closer to your practice and your gods can go a long way (even though it can be really difficult). I also find that during fallow time, getting back to my basics of reading and researching can also help give me new insights and energy which can revitalize a stagnating practice. Don’t be afraid to try new things and create/discover unorthodox methods to bring your practice back to life. Sometimes fallow periods end up being the best learning tools for us- because we are forced to look out of the box for solutions and ideas.
But always remember that it is a phase, a period. And that it will eventually end- even if it doesn’t look like it. Try to remain calm and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Even if it doesn’t feel like you’re moving, you are. And its often what we do and how we act at our lowest points that really defines who we are as a person. If you can remain calm and in tact at the lowest parts of your practice- you’ll be able to do amazing things while at the peak.