Wholly Go Brightly

Since my almost fatal wounds this year, inflicted by a razor sharp “serpent’s tooth,” I’ve found odd comfort and a strange sort of peace in having survived what I have always felt would be my undoing–if not of life itself, at least of sanity. I am not being dramatic about the “almost fatal” part. As a person with clinical depression who has struggled with suicidal thoughts and feelings for several decades, I did not do very well with the sudden and (to me inexplicable) utter rejection by my eldest child. So, I had some very bad times in these last few months, but I managed to hang on, survive, and now even…dare I say?…thrive.

Let me explain. Ever since I was in my teens I have been deeply afraid of two things: dying in or of childbirth and of losing a child and going mad. I did get through two pregnancies in my thirties/early forrties, though not without problems, so that fear of dying thusly was laid to rest in this lifetime (at least). This fear may have been a “past life” remnant, or (more reasonably) a harsh thread woven through my DNA by hundreds or thousands of female ancestors who didn’t survive birthing but who left an ancestral orphan behind. Multi-generational trauma indeed. As for the other fear–the loss of a child and of sanity–a form of this fear played out in the “spontaneous combustion” incident that I’ve written about in a long ago blog. After that kundalini blast and during that ten-month period of carrying the atavistic spirit of a proud, passionate, deeply lonely woman during her final months of life as a pregnant mother who did indeed lose her baby and committed suicide in post-partum grief, I had to endure all her feelings and then NOT DO THE THING. I didn’t understand this entire episode, or its initiatory impacts, until the final, blessed gestalt when she was gone at last from me, and I could then understand the sweep of the story. Somehow, by not succumbing myself to suicide, I effected a peaceful release for her.

Was she a past life fragment, or simply a wandering spirit who attached herself to me at the moment I was blown to psychic bits and then reassembled, post kundalini? Who knows. I have theories, but no real facts. I think I know where she was living but I don’t even know her name. I never sensed more than a pre-thought of hers. What I did have was the strong personality and emotions of this woman, who psychically surrounded me like a giant cube of agar-agar while I remained intact within, like a small red bean, able to carry on all my employment and children-rearing duties as usual. So it was not a psychic break, dear readers, but a form of extended, extreme mediumship. And I could have never in a million years imagined such a thing would happen to me. I endured all but the final three weeks without any form of external guidance.

Now, to some readers, the above paragraphs may sound truly insane. Whatever. But however strange and strenuous this experience sounds (and it was), this was also a fruitful time that included lucid teaching dreams that have served me well now for years. Reflecting back, did I need this ordeal of “the woman” and her tragic loss to prepare me for the surgically precise torments of this year’s devastation? (Honestly, doesn’t it seem unnecessarily cruel to describe me, a mother who struggled to raise children through three decades of disability, sleep deprivation, and chronic fatigue as “exhausting?” But I digress…) It’s an odd thing to wonder if a child of mine was actually disappointed that I made it through the pandemic without croaking. It’s a worse thing to know that resentment plus mental illness has brought us to this point. Auwe…

So let’s leave the harsh words and murky, karma-riddled past behind now and focus on the lessons and learning that have emerged for me. I’ve been fortunate to have good friends–kindly people–within reach (if not in person, at least electronically). I was blessed to have been able to break free from Lake County, CA and come to a place which actually feels good, truly like home to me. Without my gods and guides, good friends and cats, and that hope of moving elsewhere–plus the distraction of necessary practical tasks to make it so–I am not sure I would have made it through this year (let alone the year before).

Lesson One: I didn’t go crazy with grief and loss. I felt all kinds of things, including suicidal desires, but I didn’t lose my mind after all. I didn’t succumb. So wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Now let me add here that I would never kill myself (unless doctor-assisted due to a fatal disease) since it would be horrible for all left behind but it truly, truly sucks to have to endure those feelings while they last. Those who deal with this understand what I’m saying. So the takeaway from this is a renewed sense of strength and resilience.

Lesson Two: Joy is possible and if it begins to sprout in the crevices of a fragmenting grief, it can gradually push itself to the sunlight and expand. I have an image here of plants pushing through concrete. All this bad, sad stuff? It’s compost, my darlings. Compost. Seeds that I thought would never germinate are now coming to life.

Lesson Three: Better living through dishwashing. Humble tasks are life-saving. And even if you can only manage to wash one teacup, it’s a god-damned victory. Savor it and reward yourself.

Lesson Four: Loki really does come and “hold the bowl” for me when the slow dripping poison overflows, when I really can’t do for myself and must make the ask. Sigyn did it for him. He will do it for us (though not indefinitely). And believe me, nothing is more lovely than the tender mercy of a generous, trickster spirit who dumps the poison, cradles your shattered heart, and then demands a donut. So yes, your deities, ancestors, and/or spirit guides can and do come to help if you want them, if you ask them.

Lesson Five: A good tool-kit helps. And reminders to use your tools are super helpful too. During these last several months I’ve revisited many online materials from sources that I respect, listened to podcasts and daily tarot readings, read books, and put more emphasis on renewing daily practices. Ariel Gatoga’s “solar light” meditation was particularly helpful throughout this year. Ditto for Aidan Wachter’s podcasts and interviews.

Lesson Six: Have fun with people who like you. I’m finally in a location where I can do that, so I’m making the most of this.

Lesson Seven: Call it ALL home, every bit of yourself. In this new house of mine, everything is going up on the walls or coming out of boxes. All these strange bits and pieces of my life, such as it is and will be. I’m welcoming all of me, for the first time in a long time. That also feels good.

I’ll be sixty-seven come Samhain. Life is too short for avoidable misery or for prolonging the misery that comes your way. I may not have kicked the bucket during the pandemic (and I hope to avoid that fate as long as I can) but since I now live in an area where I could (theoretically) be run over by the Bus of Death at any moment, why not make the most of life for as long as I have it? And when I go, I’ll go “wholly brightly” and even my shadows will be radiant. It’s the greatest prayer and the best “fuck you” to cruelty that I know.

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