Update

Not sure if I’m really ‘back’, but I’m well enough to be looking at a computer screen for a little while? And to be able to face even glancing at social media?  Two and a half months…several very near brushes with death.  Bad hard scary times and a lot of physical (and emotional) pain.  I still don’t remember most of it, to be honest.  It’s like coming out of a thick fog.  I was drugged for a lot of it, mind.

Waiting on full treatment for spinal degeneration among other things, and also having intensive therapy for PTSD – thanks to the kind mercies of family, after having been quite literally left to die by bigoted public services while in health crisis (the ambulance was literally out again hours after they refused treatment).  (And when I did access treatment, life-threatening side effects nearly did for me, can’t fucking win…)  I’m walking a little bit again, on crutches (having discovered spine = too much pain to use a wheelchair).

It’s…very hard.  Going from doing 10 hr physical work days outside, on the land, with horses, to being bedridden, only seeing the ceiling…  I don’t remember a lot of it, to be honest.  Now I can walk a few steps, stand on grass at least.  My weight’s dropped 3 stone from this time last year, a stone of it in 3 weeks.  Loose skin from muscle wastage + fat loss; hope to god it’ll tighten up at some point (yeah vanity may be the least of my concerns in some ways but what else do I have?).

I’m having to rebuilt myself, my life, from the ground up.  Been through The Tower; now trying to rest in The Star, which doesn’t come naturally to me at all.  I always want to hit the ground running, work shit back up, and I just…can’t. A lifetime of doing that, of coping, led to the complete mental and physical exhaustion that let this happen.  I mustn’t, or I’ll end up back where I was.  Doctors say a year to being 5 on a 1-10 scale mentally, physical prognosis completely unknown.

Since I’m rebuilding myself I’m facing the same with my craft, too.  Unpicking the tangled stitches, going back to basics (which every time you go back – or forward – to them are deeper, wilder, wider, stranger…).  I don’t know how anything will look any more, including me.  To hold onto any old assumption now is to endanger myself — who or whatever this new self, being stripped clean of everything, is or will be.

Who owns those scrawny little feet?    Death.
Who owns this bristly scorched-looking face?    Death.
Who owns these still-working lungs?    Death.
Who owns this utility coat of muscles?    Death.
Who owns these unspeakable guts?    Death.
Who owns these questionable brains?    Death.
All this messy blood?    Death.
These minimum-efficiency eyes?    Death.
This wicked little tongue?    Death.
This occasional wakefulness?    Death.

Given, stolen, or held pending trial?
Held.

Who owns the whole rainy, stony earth?    Death.
Who owns all of space?    Death.

Who is stronger than hope?    Death.
Who is stronger than the will?    Death.
Stronger than love?    Death.
Stronger than life?    Death.

But who is stronger than Death?
Me, evidently.
Pass, Crow.

(Ted Hughes, Examination At The Womb Door)

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Never rip yourself
to pieces just to ensure
that others stay whole.”

— (m.f.) Haiku #83 (via artofephemera tumblr)

I’ve done this. I did it for *years*. I nearly died of it.Part of it’s childhood and social training (which is a whole parcel of individual situation and cultural requirements that particular people put their needs last). Part of it’s personal inclination: I can’t bear to see people I care about suffering (or hell, people full stop – I burned out bad in my old job partly because of this). And also – hey, ripping things to pieces sort of comes with the territory, and without a functioning/functional outlet for that it can be either rip other people apart (see above) or yourself.

(One *could* make a case that *not* providing it with its needed channel is an affront to the god, in which case we find ourself in Lykourgos’ situation, hacking at our own feet with an axe, but that’s a rather extreme possibility…which I’m none the less willing to entertain. Negative forms of madness from excessive constraint are certainly A Thing, and sparagmos as a response to social repression has long been a theory…)

It’s still hard for me not to do it. It’s a hard balance to strike generally, with issues from another post that I’m going to reblog if I can find it.

But. I’m trying to find that balance. I was only ever taught – as a child of an abusive house, as someone subjected to particular gendered conditioning, as someone in a previous controlling relationship, etc etc – that you tear yourself to pieces because the only alternative *is* tearing other people to pieces.

The abuse dynamic – personal, familial, cultural – that you can only be victim or violator. That we have no right to integrity, bodily or emotional or spiritual. And it is a lie. I’m trying, more and more, to remember that: that liberation is real, that wholeness is allowed, even where other people are afraid of or threatened by it. I don’t have to make myself small or silent, the way I was taught over and over and over again. I don’t have to tear myself to pieces.

And if someone else’s wholeness *is* genuinely threatened by something, and you want to help them – tearing yourself to pieces is not actually constructive or helpful. A twitching pile of limbs on the ground can do fuck all. A liberated whole person can.

And having *been* torn in pieces, or done it to one’s self, or “allowed” it to happen, doesn’t mean we’re weak or broken or failures, that we should have been stronger, freer, braver, wiser. The god, torn in pieces, returns to give us the Mysteries; driven mad, is healed and becomes the Restorer from Madness. So it can be for us.

Frustration, Realisation

1. Frustration

Whether by inclination or teaching, I tend to want things to fit together neatly.  I want them to be a system, I want it to be coherent and consistent and comprehensible.

So of course my entire life and nature and experience and practice refuses to be anything like that, and every time I think I’ve got a handle on things something else pops up and throws the whole lot off-kilter.

It’s like an endless bloody game of personal and spiritual whack-a-mole; like trying to stuff a very large squid into a very small box, tentacles popping out everywhere and flailing all over the shop, knocking down the crockery.  Foreign gods and shifts in identity and weird happenings and magical systems that don’t square with each other and just…ARGH.

And yeah, I know that’s partly just ~the nature of the world~ but there’s also part of me that just plaintively bleats whyyyyy.  Why do things about and around me have to be *so* complex, *so* contradictory, *so* frickin’ hard to nail down?  One of my teachers used to admonish people to dig one deep well rather than many shallow ones, but every time I get down to a certain depth I hit all these bloody underground rivers and reservoirs that come bursting out all over the place and disrupt the whole bloody show.

It must be so nice to have some kind of coherent, systemic existence and identity and practice that stays that way without sneakily slithering away and turning into something else every time you get a breathing space and take your damn eye off it for five fucking minutes. Whyyyyy do I, and everything I fuckin’ do, have to be so frickin’ contradictory and contrary and perverse, whyyyyy.

(Though I said, in that plaintive way, to Boyfriend, WHY when some god pops up and declares that they have ALL THIS WORK for me do I always bloody say yes, even knowing that it’ll probably turn everything on its head all over again?  And he said: because you want it.)

2. Realisation

So there I posted about whining about whyyyy is all this hard and contradictory shit always my life, whyyyy do I always end up saying yes when gods come knocking with This Thing You Must Do, whyyyy can nothing ever be simple, whyyyy does my head always get overturned (and how Boyfriend said, because that’s how you want it, or similar).  And then just now I read this:

“I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a Dionysian (and, I’ll admit, sometimes cursing it too) – how we can never settle for something comfortable or safe, how we always have to be pushing our own boundaries (and sometimes other people’s), how we must be free no matter the cost. And there is great cost, it’s just not as great as not being free.

…And maybe that’s a kind of madness too, among His many madnesses… to choose to the hard road over and over, to choose pain and fear and loneliness when our most basic human instincts tell us to choose comfort and safety and gratification. But a Dionysian simply cannot do otherwise.”

Dver

Auf. Fnurgle. Arghlesnarg.

It’s not just Dionysos, though perhaps talking of “a Dionysian” is apt: those of us who are called by or to gods and powers of ecstasy and contradiction and liberation and strange comprehension.  Dionysos, yes, and perhaps the Old Man in various of his forms, and perhaps the Devil or Lucifer who is and isn’t the strange Unnamed god of the Craft, and some goddesses, too…  Some people I’ve known have called it the Witch-craft, yes (and some have said that’s something completely different).

To choose the hard road over and over, the endless sloughing of skins and arse-over-head reversals and tectonic fucking shifts.  It’s so fucking exhausting, and I want to whine and I want to say whyyyy and part of me does want to say nononono like the cat in the video and yet I can’t fucking stop it because it’s something about me or it’s something in me or it’s fucking me and it always fucking has been.

*takes a deep breath*

But.  Now there are people who love that about me, rather than just being terrified of it and doing everything they can to shut it down.  And that’s – that’s important.  That’s massive.  Because I’d have to do it anyway, but oh god, it makes it easier.  It does.