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When One Door Closes…

I think it’s pretty obvious that I have fallen off of the wagon this year. I don’t even know if I could call it falling off the wagon, as it feels more like falling off the wagon and log rolling down the hill next to the wagon and into the bottom of the canyon that lies below. And then I fell into the river at the bottom of the canyon, and floated three states over.

I’m at that level of falling off the wagon.

As with most fallow times, I quit doing a lot of my work for the gods. I haven’t really done any work or rites since Wep Ronpet, and I’ve even gotten bad about opening my shrine so that I can at least look at the gods (and so the gods can look upon my wreck of a life house in return.) Over the course of the year, I’ve done less and less in regards to religious stuff.

So imagine my surprise when couple of weeks ago I got the urge to give an offering. It was an offering of cookies to O, and at first I thought it was more myself being petty at a past slight over cookies and Osiris, and so I ignored it. But the urge didn’t go away, and eventually after a few weeks of ignoring it, I decided to give in.

cookies_osiris

I’m sure many would expect that in this paragraph, I would talk about how I gave these offerings and suddenly felt the love of the gods. That they rushed forward to me and said “finally, you came back, we’ve missed you” or something equally pretty, but it would be a lie. Instead, I laid the offerings out, wafted the incense inside of the shrine, told them about what had been going on with me, gave well-wishes for their current affairs, and stared at the shrine box for a while before moving onto other things. I know this sounds boring, and it is. But it’s also realistic.

If I could sum up 2016 in terms of my Kemeticism, I’d say it was largely uneventful, just like my offerings above. It wasn’t uneventful by choice, but my body decided earlier in the year that it was Not Having Anything, and everything had to be put on hold in the wake of my health deteriorating. I’ve dealt with having spoon shortages in the past, having to muck through weird new health “things” while I held down a job and continued all of my extracurricular activities such as religioning, astral work, writing, etc. But this year was different. This time, my body went headlong straight into the ground and took me along for the ride.

By the time the summer hit my ability to do much of anything was gone. Not even gone like it used to be, where I mentally was ready to do everything but my body or time limits were preventing. Oh no, this is full on gone. Where even trying to construct sentences or read paragraphs of text is challenging. Where there are virtually no ideas in my head to even mull on, let alone the energy to mull upon them. Where trying to do housework is hard. Where trying to do much of anything is proving to be challenging. This is a whole new level of gone for me. This is completely unexplored territory in my life.

At first I tried to fight it. I figured I just needed to will up the nerve like in the past, and that I could push through it. “You can do things, just do them slower!” I’d tell myself. Until I found that just doing meant that I literally could barely function for a few days after the fact. “You can do things, just start the process and the rest will come!” as I try to write, but three paragraphs of barely legible sentences was enough proof to show me that it wasn’t something I could push through so simply like I could in the past. “You can still interact with the community if you just limit how often you go online!” as my eyes continued to glass over at the words on my screen, none of which were actually being processed. Every work around only succeeded in making my situation worse. Eventually, I had to give into the fact that this was my new normal for the time being, and that fighting it was doing me no favors.

They often say that when one door closes, another door opens, but that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes one door closes, and you’re left in a room with nowhere else to go. Sometimes life throws you a sucker punch, and your only option is to lay passed out on the ground for a while.

To put it in a more Kemetic context–sometimes your ma’at is running around smiting isfet all the time. Sometimes your ma’at is doing daily shrine work. Sometimes your ma’at is just surviving. Not everyone can do everything all the time. Sometimes we must retract ourselves from the world around us while we sort things out. Sometimes we need to prioritize meeting our bottom line of survival before we worry about other things. Sometimes a fallow period is very much a part of maintaining balance.

At the end of the day, this post has no real point to it other than to illustrate that “nothing” can happen to any of us. That life can throw a wrench in the works and sometimes we need to step back, and that that is okay. And further, that sometimes you will take a step back towards the gods, towards your religion, towards what you used to do before and not find an immediate reaction, and that that is okay too. A lack of response doesn’t necessarily mean that you messed up. The gods know, too, that fallow times have a place and a purpose. They know that sometimes we truly need a drop-everything-and-do-nothing sort of break.

This post is a reminder to be gentle with yourself when life hits you in the face and sends everything to a grinding halt. It’s a reminder that sometimes we have no choice but to sit down and be patient while we do next to nothing. A reminder that Kemeticism will still be here when you get back to it. That the gods will still be here when you get back to it, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

It’s a reminder that sometimes surviving the day to day is all that we can muster, and that there is no shame in that.

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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Kemeticism

 

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KRT: How Do You Survive Fallow Time?

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?

Calm Yo Tits

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.

View the KRT master list for this question.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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When the Well Runs Dry


I have spent a great deal of my Pagan life with my well overflowing. I’ve lived with someone with a broke open head. I work for a deity that will throw things at you and tell you to learn how to juggle… while riding a unicycle on a tight rope. So I know all about the well overflowing.

But, for one very very very long year- I had a barren, dry well. A well so dry, that the ground at the bottom cracked and turned to powder at the slightest touch. Ground that choked and begged for any moisture at all.

What frustrated me most about this time was that I could see the water disappearing. I knew it was being soaked up by the earth, evaporating into the air. But as I would look at my well day after day, watching the water get lower and lower- I knew there was nothing I could do. All I could do is watch the water disappear slowly but surely. And as I watched the water disappear, I got angry. Very angry. I felt betrayed by the world. I had been handed the bare necessities to make ends meet- but just barely. I was frustrated that despite my best effort, things were falling apart.

And to top it all off, at the time, I felt like the gods just didn’t care. I couldn’t reach them. I couldn’t hear them. It’s as if they had simply vanished from my life.

This, my friends, is what we call a Fallow Time. It’s a time when the water runs out, the land becomes parched, and in many cases- all of the plants you had growing seem to shrivel up and die. It can be a time of complete frustration, utter despair, and can result in a complete lack of faith in not only your gods or guides, but yourself.

I think it’s common for every person to hit dry spells- whether in a religious context or not. We all have times when things just aren’t working. When we are out of our groove, and nothing seems to be panning out. And the biggest question I often see is- what do you do when these times hit? How do you handle it?

My best answer comes in the form of a quote from Avatar, the Last Airbender (series, not the movie):

“I don’t know the answer. Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel- you can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving you will come to a better place.”

When your water runs out your initial reaction is to stare at the ground. The plants are gone. The growth is gone- and all you are left with is a barren field. And usually when this happens, we all sit there- and just stare. We get angry that all we can do is look at the ground as it looks back at us- mocking us. And we stomp our feet, scream, throw fits- all at the ground. And for what? That doesn’t bring the growth back.

But what does bring the growth back? If this metaphor was a garden- the answer would be easy. The master gardener would tell you to clear out the old growth. Plow and fertilize your soil. Gather your seeds, and prepare to plant them. You could try to plant them now, and bring in water from afar- or you could wait until the rainy season comes back, and plant them then. Either way, the best way to spend your time in the interim is preparation.

So why can’t we take this metaphor and use it when the Fallow Times hit? Your practice is dead and barren right now. You might be having a hard time focusing. You could be preoccupied with other problems and mundane situations. There could be financial hardship. Any number of reasons can cause a well to suddenly lose it’s water. However, the best thing to do once the water is gone isn’t to rail at the land which sustains you. It’s to prepare the land to be able to grow again. Slowly, take a step forward, then take another and another. It could be a while before you reach fertile times again- but at least you know that when you get there, you will be ready for the rain. Your seeds will be in hand, and your practice will be primed and ready for growth.

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