Spirit and Body-Part 2

How do we reconcile the two viewpoints of:

1) I need to learn to accept and love my body as it is

and

2) I want my body to be healthier, fitter and, let’s face it, thinner than it is now?

I believe it can be done.

For any craft that we do, from writing to witchcraft or knitting or biking or whatever hobby or activity you want to insert here, we always have our current state of competence or being and our desired goal of competence or being.

When I did pottery I was ecstatic when I finally made a bowl that was recognizably a bowl.  I was very happy with it.  Just because I was happy with it didn’t mean that I wanted to stop learning and becoming better as a potter.  When I made my first big bowl, it was a huge deal and I was thrilled.  But it didn’t stop me from wanting to do more.

Each level of skill attained made me happy and I was pleased with where I was but I also wanted to improve myself.

The same applies to our bodies.

We can love our bodies for where they are now.  And honestly, dammit we should.  Without them there wouldn’t be flavours, touch, dancing or any incarnate experience.

And while we love them as they are now, we are welcome to seek improvement.

But it is improvement we need to seek!  And where improvement is becoming healthier.

If we recognize and accept that the ultimate goal is to be healthy *and none of the other measurements matter* then it is very easy to reconcile the two statements.  Because we are simply loving who we are now and working to improve, make healthier, our bodies.

And the best part about this reconciliation?

We can ask our bodies to help us with it.

That’s right.  It is no longer a war with our bodies, a constant battle to transform them into some intellectual (and sadly probably culturally determined) ideal.  It is a union, a partnership towards a shared goal.

Gods, what a wondrous feeling, to work with my body (who utterly adores me, btw, irrespective of how horribly I treat her sometimes) and spirit together to become the healthiest me I can be.

Let me reiterate this point.  When you love your body (who also loves you) and you accept that you can love your body as it is now then TOGETHER you can work towards becoming healthier in the future.

It’s not a constant battle of the mind thinking chocolate is bad and the body craving it or the body wanting to sleep in and you forcing it to go for a walk.

Instead, it is a recognition that the body has its things that it desires that isn’t good for it, but if you accept that and work with the body, it can release most times those desires and work with you on those things that make you both healthier.

This is not a master/slave relationship.  This is a partnership built on love and hopefully eventually trust.

The mind isn’t always right so as part of that partnership it needs to listen to the body.  Sometimes the body really does need that sleep or that chocolate, in order to be healthy (and happy).

Invite your body to work with you on becoming more healthy.  That’s what I’m going to do.

I don’t know yet how this will turn out.  But I do know one thing, I will be a much happier person now that I can go around not hating myself (after all, we are who we are and my body needs all of my love just as it gives me all of its) and still work towards improving myself but where improvement is in my health, not in my looks.

Being healthy is so much better and frankly easier of a goal than being thin.  Now getting healthier may result in some weight loss.  But as soon as the goal becomes weight loss, you run the high risk of re-entering that unhealthy mental zone that pits you against your own body and creates a warfield within yourself (and it ignores all the hidden issues that the body holds for us but that’s a topic for another day).  Yuck.

Health.  Isn’t that a great goal?  Attainable, realistic, in many ways measurable.

If a genie came up and offered you a choice:  “You can be healthy or you can be thin, choose now!”  What would you choose?

~the Abysmal Witch

Using spirit to understand body-Part 1

I would like to pose a series of questions/statements to consider.  I’ll put in my answers to them, but I invite you to think of what your response would be.  It will help when I moved to the second stage.  This post will make the most sense, potentially have the most impact, if you follow me down the rabbit hole.

How would you react if someone said to you:

a) Every person must reach a very high state of spiritual developent.

I would say you’re nuts.  Not everyone is interested and quite frankly capable of reaching the same lofty heights of spiritual development.

b) There is only one type of spiritual road to follow.

It’s not like there’s one type of spiritual development.  It’s a range of experiences that we pretty much all recognize but we don’t all get to the same place and we certainly don’t get there by exactly the same method.

c) You’re a failure if you don’t reach the highest level of spirituality possible.

Uh, no.  Some people will be very happy, very spiritual and very fulfilled (the key point in this one, I think) with having spirituality as a regular part of their day or perhaps their week without it being the most important thing in their life and/or without them having to reach any particular degree, experience certain Mysteries or otherwise reach notable landmarks on the road of spiritual development.  In other words, for me, the person who is blissful in their soul from tending their rose garden does not need to develop any further spiritually.  If s/he does, great!  If not, they have, by having their own experience of a healthy spiritual life, reached a good state for them and I see no need to force or expect them to go farther on it.

d) It’s okay to stop expressing and living what we would consider spiritual values in our quest to become more spiritual.

Uh, hell no.  If you stop behaving in a spiritually enlightened way then I’m sorry, you’re not moving closer to spiritual enlightenment (and when I finally do my post on harm, yes it’s related, you’ll discover just how interesting is the meaning behind this sentence, well in my opinion).

Now, go back and look at the statements again, but instead of spiritual development, read it as weight loss.  Here, I’ll do them again:

a) Every person must reach a very high state of spiritual developent. = Every person must be very physically fit and thin.

Seriously?  Everyone must be very physically fit?  No, not in the history of our race has that been the case.  Physically healthy, well yes that would be good.  But physically fit?

Or how about stripping the physically fit and making it:  every person must be thin.

Think about that statement.  If it isn’t resonating in you with a ‘hell no, that doesn’t make sense, then look again at the spiritual statement.  Do you agree that everyone must reach a high state of spiritual development?  If not, then why must everyone be thin?  Why must a single perceived ideal rule all people?

b) There is only one type of spiritual road to follow. = There is only one body type that is beautiful.

Okay, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have agreed with the only one body type beautiful statement even before this exercise.  Or would I?  Pictures of various body types I’ve seen have been gorgeous.  But when I think of what I consider beautiful, is it a wide range of images?  Or is it a narrow spectrum, constrained by fitness, muscles, curves only in the ‘appropriate’ places?

When I reflect back on the idea of one spiritual road, which I completely reject (though there is the syncretist view that they are all the same that I can work with, but here I’m talking about the specifics of different roads – though if you take the syncretist path, then all body types are beautiful so it still all works together), and then switch my thinking straight over to there’s only one beautiful body type, I reject that too.  There isn’t.  There are many beautiful body types out there.

c) You’re a failure if you don’t reach the highest level of spirituality possible. = You’re a failure if you don’t reach the thinnest, fittest body possible.

Ohhhh, for those of us with body issues, doesn’t that just ring a bell?  Make your whole essence resonate in that nasty, hate yourself because you’re not the body you’re supposed to be kind of way?  Or maybe that’s just me.

I feel this one.  I feel that I’m a failure for not being thinner (though I’m not after super-thin, I’ve adjusted my thinking that much!), and gods help me if I put on a few pounds.  Then it’s not just failure of not being thinner, it’s the active failure of “back-sliding” down the bad road.

If I think about that train of thought and put it in a spiritual context, then sure I’d ben grumpy about backsliding, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  As soon as I realized it I would decide if it really was ‘backsliding’ and if it was, and not somewhere I wanted to go, I would turn around and start going back the way I wanted to go.  No harm, no foul.  And I’d also be looking to see what the cause of this change was and how it fits into my spiritual view.

But all of that presupposes that I’m good with the first two statements.  That there’s no particular spiritual height I need to reach and neither is there one particular way I need to get there.

If there’s no particular state of fitness or weight I need to reach, that there are many different body types that are beautiful – *even for me* (i.e. that my body doesn’t have just one good state of being, that it is happy with a variety of such states) – then why the f*ck do I need to be the thinnest person possible?  Or the fittest?

Gah.

d) It’s okay to stop expressing and living what we would consider spiritual values in our quest to become more spiritual. = It’s okay to give up the health of our bodies in the quest to become thinner.

This is one that seems particularly obviously no.  Doesn’t it?  After all, we shouldn’t sacrifice our health just to get a few pounds less on a scale.  And yet we do.  There are diet pills that I’m betting aren’t that good for our health, but hey if they get us down that scale, they must be good, right?  And let me just say “eating disorders”.  They are not healthy, but they are a direct outcome of the pathological need to lose weight.

So it’s not so obvious after all.  Or perhaps obvious, but not so easy to work around.

And how do we work around it all?  How does any of this train of thought help change body image or our viewpoints enough that we are no longer plagued by the unhealthy, unreasonable, often unconscious thought patterns?

For me, this comparison of spiritual to body really helped.  It opened my metaphorical eyes to a different way of seeing my viewpoints on my body and I really had that realization or a deep-seated resonate click of sense from comparing the two and how unworkable and downright dangerous my body thought patterns are.

What about you?  Does any of this make you think a little differently?

~the Abysmal Witch

What Light Through Yonder Darkness Breaks

Twilight drifts to a close.  The wind chills and the world is quieter.

Darkness is closing in.

My dear, familiar friend, your embrace is what I long for even when I have to take it in through my fear.

But tonight you are but the beginning.  You are the opening act, the appetizer, the foreplay.  Do you wait for her as eagerly as I do?

Is your darkness a little deeper tonight?  Have you set the stage, just for her?  Are you pulling the stars a little closer so that she will not be alone?  Or so we will all see that she is the most glorious of the night sky’s lights?

O beautiful night, come, come quickly!  Come rushing in with wings of darkness stretched wide over the earth!  Over me!  Over us all!!

Come now!

Spread yourself wide and receive her!  Cast away the last of the day.  It’s fading, let if fade.  Let it die.  Let your full blue-black beauty stretch deep into space and so be done with the direct light of sun.

The mirror is soon to rise.

The moon comes.

And she will bring us the silver glory that will reveal all that the bright sun disguises.

Do I see her?  Now?  Is that a glint of her winking above the horizon?  Does her light slip through the trees like a lover’s nimble fingers?

I stretch out my hand.  Her light touches me and I know she is here.  The moon has risen.

Lady, let me stand here beneath you.  Let me bask in your soft, loving light.  Lady, you are beautiful and I am blessed.

Reveal the Mysteries, open my spirit, show the way, as you will, great Goddess.

No matter what, I will turn my face towards yours and bask in your pale light.

Hail, the full moon!

~Saturn

Wandering at Williams Park

What a beautiful day for a walk.  The sun is shining but the heat is in the happy bearable range.  The wind is brushing skin but not trying to take out weak trees (that was a couple of days ago, what a windstorm!).  It was time for another walk through childhood memories.

Williams Park was a huge favourite growing up.  Sure, it had big, wide open spaces, but far more importantly, it had (and has) a creek that is the perfect wading depth for children.

Or adults for that matter.

Yes, I took that picture while standing in the middle of the creek and I can honestly say that the water was wonderfully cool.

I wandered up through the hilly parts and found trees:

And of course trees have leaves:

And some of the leaves were in front of other leaves:

And then there were the different looking leaves (wild rhododendrum?):

Then it was back down to the many trails along the side of the creek and into the bushes.  A little too into the bushes in some cases, but that’s okay.

Lucky for me, I got the chance to embrace my love of water AND my love of roots.  Life is good.

Now if you flip the perspective of water then roots to roots then water, you get something more like this:

I also found some lovely big mushrooms growing on stumps:

And baby mushrooms inside of a stump:

I even found some lovely spiderwebs, such as this one:

Alas, it was time to leave, a final walk back up the path to the car I went:

This park is such a beautiful place, I really must remember to go back more often.  Funny how when we return to things and places and people we enjoy, that we’ve spent too long away from, that we have that experience of ‘I really should do this/see them/go here more often’.  Why don’t we?

Why don’t we fill our lives with things we enjoy this much?

Is it because when we do do things we enjoy all the time that the specialness drifts away as familiarity grows?

Or are we so lost in the day to day practical that we forget to embrace the day to day joys?

I really hope it’s the first.

~Abysmal Witch

Stillness

As I sit here in the deep twilight, candlelight warming the walls of my home, I pause and wonder if I am satisfied enough to stop.  Stop cleaning, stop working, stop trying to make more of my day.  Stop.

I’m on vacation and using this time in the way I feel best for my spirit and soul.  Or attempting to do so.

By the first I mean that I am staying home, enjoying the world that I have built for myself, from the physical enjoyment of how I’ve decorated and arranged my rooms to the basic pleasures of living I consider most important:  stretching, ritual, writing.  I have gone to places made favourites in childhood that are still beautiful to me.  I have spent time with friends.  I have read.  I have eaten great food.  I have seen movies.  I have surfed the web and even watched a bit of tv.

By the second I mean that I have been distracted from my highest goals of my vacation.  My list of what is important to me is, it turns out, in order of importance.  And I have regrets that I spent less time in writing than I had planned and more time in the movies and the web.  I have even avoided writing with a judicious application of house-cleaning.

My house is better for it, but my story isn’t.

The story is a child of mine.  A child I am afraid to bring to term.  She still rests in my belly and will until the editing is done and the queries start flying in flocks out into the world.  The longest gestation in history.

The closer I get to her birth, the more afraid and reluctant I become.

And this week I am getting very, very close.

And so I procrastinate and avoid even though I have longed for and waited for this chance, to have the time sitting in my hands, no, freeing my hands to do what I love, without boundaries, without alarm clocks, without a list of ten other things that have to get done now too.

Even now I write this rather than edit my story.  But this I find congruent with my inner spirit.

Today has been an extravagence of avoidance.

Strangely, it was spent primarily cleaning my home.  I mean really cleaning.  Vacuuming under the couch, washing under the stove kind of really cleaning.  A little magical cleaning was thrown in to boot.

My home feels great.  So good that I feel very relaxed and have cheerfully lit candles in nearly every room (small tealights in proper receptacles because I’m crazy, not stupid).  This is the state of clean I always want my home to be in and so very rarely see.  It’s glorious and I am thrilled that it’s like this.

I am heartbroken that I did not work on my story.

And I am torn between appreciation and anger (at myself, of course, for choosing other than my supposed primary goal).

Ah, that is the heart of it, isn’t it?  That I had told myself that my primary goal was to finish this book.  And yet I stray from that goal.  It was and is one thing to stray from it when pursuing the other goals of my vacation, but it is something else entirely to cheat on my goal with some random movie or etsy surfing.

It’s not as if the finishing of it is a ‘fake’ goal, something I tell myself but in my heart don’t care about.  No, it’s very real and I enjoy working on it.  And so it is my fear holding me back.  Ah, the theme of my year.  Fear.

But in the end, that will be something to face tomorrow, to see if I can do what I currently plan for it.  Which, yes, does include some work on the story.

For now, I sit, watching a movie, typing in a blog, and enjoying the peace and clean charm of my home.

And realize that at the centre of me, past the pleasure, past the disappointment, there is stillness.  It is accepting.  It is peace.  It is neither of those things.

It is.

I have stopped.

It is good.

~the Abysmal Witch

To Grandmother’s House…and More

The quasi-occasional-nostalgic nature of my holidays continued today with a trip up to Chilliwack, the once upon a time home of my grandmother.  She passed away many summer solstices ago, but memories of her stay with me.

I haven’t been back there in probably almost twenty years and her house hasn’t really changed, except for more weeds in the yard and stuff in the driveway (she didn’t own a car, for instance).  But it looked well cared for.

But of course going into the house wasn’t really an option or checking out the old garden in the back so instead it was across the street to the park that we played at so very often when we were kids.

Unfortunately, all of the playground equipment I played with is gone and replaced with new-fangled stuff.  And some swings, but since I didn’t want to scare the young lady looking after two kids (why is that crazy tattooed lady hanging around the playground taking pictures while MY kids are here?!?), it was a short, but nostalgically happy visit.

From here it was off to Bridal Veil Falls, just a few minutes past Chilliwack on the freeway.  We went there often as a fun thing to do when visiting grandma.  We would take a picnic and the family (minus my father who was off playing golf most times) and go up to the falls, have a lovely meal and then take the short but so very vertical walk up to the falls.

The walk begins through trees and ferns, the sound of the waterfall above muted by the forest.

The first part of the walk?  Not so bad.  Sure it’s up and I’ve gotten lazy since the knee problems but it’s relatively short and pretty is always a nice distraction.

And then you get towards the bottom of the falls and look up and WOW.

Sure, there are bigger falls.  But how many can you walk all the way up  to?  There’s something lovely about these ones and maybe it’s just because of my childhood memories, but then again, she had a lot of admirers today so perhaps it’s not just me.

Naturally all of this water made trickles and mist and puddles everywhere.  And I like getting in close with the camera for the great texture shots.

It was just about time to head back down the hill? mountainside? well, whatever you call it, I got in a few more shots before my camera battery died and I started the great descent (jk), and here is my final picture of the day to share with you.  It may just be my favourite from the day.

All childhood memories should have such wonderful continuity and gloriously sunny days to explore them in.  It doesn’t always work that way, sometimes the memories are buried under a Kwik-E-Mart but sometimes pieces from our past continue to exist in ways we can re-explore in our present.  I think grabbing hold of those moments, reflecting back into childhood from a now perspective and enjoying both together is a fantastic gift we give ourselves.  I hope you get to enjoy something similar this summer.

~Abysmal Witch

~*#*^!^!BEACH!^!^*#*~

Yes, I’m afraid there’s no deep meaningful title, no alluring phrase when it comes to a day at the beach.  It simply is.  Wonderful, windy, wet, dirty, smelly and glorious.

This is the beach of my childhood:  White Rock beach, so named for the massive white rock at one end near the pier.  These days it’s painted white (damn graffiti artists!) but I’m old enough to remember when it was naturally white.  Well, whiteish.  It’s much more striking of a white these days.  Paint helps.

Naturally, a stroll of the beach was required, getting wet all the way up the legs, but hey, that’s why I wore shorts.  There’s more seaweed than I remember.  Even the rocks are coated.

Amongst the seaweed and crab legs and shells, I also happened to spy a jellyfish floating along (I tended to assume it was dead, but I’ve never seen one that big so up close).  Please excuse my hand in the picture, I’m not as good with the camera when I’m wearing sunglasses.

Then it was time to stop for lunch which earned me some very intense local interest.

I had to share.  Well, at least the fries.  The fish was mine!  Fish and chips from Moby Dick‘s right along the waterfront in White Rock. Highly recommend it.  Though when you ask for one piece, you get two, ask for two, get three, etc.  so be prepared. It took only seconds from when I sat down before I had a congregation of hope surrounding me.  Naturally this led to some in-fighting.

After lunch it was time for a little spell working.  Just a simple spell of marking my intention into the sand and letting the incoming tide release the spell.

I had meant to take a picture of the tide claiming the spell but alas, the tide was too quick for me and my sunny day distraction.  It wasn’t long after this, though, that I came across a young woman doing pretty near the same thing though I doubt she was thinking along the lines of spellwork when she did it.  How many wishes have been laid in the sand and offered up to the gods and goddesses of the sea?

And so my day at the beach came to a close as must this post.  Here is my final picture of the day.  I hope you enjoy.

~Saturn

Changing Direction

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

There are days when I wish I was other than where I am.

Days when I look at what I owe (gulp!), or what job I do (sigh), or even just assess my general level of happiness with the particulars of my life and I come up wanting.

Wanting more.  Wanting different.  Wanting something other than what is.

And somedays I dream about the magic solution.  You know the one, just wave the magic wand and have the knight in shining armour ride up to rescue me or the lottery website to shout out “yes, it’s you!  you’ve won!”.  It’s not very practical, but it can be emotionally satisfying.  Until the water in the tub gets cold and it’s time to pull the plug and dry off and get back to the practicalities of daily living.

The answer of what to do is pretty obvious.  It’s not even hugely difficult.

But it’s not at all sexy.  Or fun.  And the very simple steps it requires may spell the ultimate defeat.

It’s living life differently.

It’s not going out to dinner so often or not buying that fun gadget so that more money can be applied to debt.

It’s choosing the carrot sticks and pickled beets (okay, I adore pickled beets but some change is fun and tasty!) and saying no to the chocolate cake.  Not every day, perhaps, but most days.  Where most days = almost all.

It’s doing the small thing today that contributes to the future you want.

It’s NOT saying “I’ll start tomorrow”.

It’s about living today the life you want tomorrow.

And you know what?  Sometimes living that life you think you want teaches you that you really don’t want it after all.

Being slim and fit requires (for those of us not endowed with a high metabolism and high athletic ability) EFFORT!  Daily commitment to eating right and exercise.  Daily.  Every day.  As in that is your life.  You don’t get to the slim & fit by not living the lifestyle of the slim and fit.  Just doesn’t work that way.  Alas and alack.

I don’t get to be debt free by spending money rather than saving it and applying it to my debt.  Just doesn’t work that way.

Our dreams don’t come true unless we live their lifestyle now, as in today.

And sometimes when we live that lifestyle we discover that we really don’t like it.

If I don’t like the lifestyle needed for my dream then I’d best be changing my dream, hadn’t I?  After all, the dream is an image I’m attempting to create.  If I don’t like what it takes to live that way, why do it?  Time to think of something else that will make me happy, to dream of, where dreaming of means actively taking steps to make it happen.

Or maybe my dream is my life right now.  Ummmm, no.  I have more dreams than this.  Time to go make them happen.

To change direction in life doesn’t require a winning lottery ticket, a rich and generous uncle, or meeting the perfect person at Starbucks.  It requires taking a step today that will, if followed up with similar steps every successive day, take you somewhere different.

And hopefully somewhere you wanted to go.

Where are your steps leading you today?

~Abysmal Witch

Awakening the Infinite Sun

Days creep by, one after another, slipping and sliding into the future without any effort or thought on our part.  It simply is, a lovely cascade of sunshine and rain and wind and action and repose moving unstoppably forward into tomorrow.

But we stop and look and see what today is.  Today nears the height of the sun, the pinnacle of His power.  The Sun comes into the fullness of His time and He is stretching between the poles of sunrise and sunset with all the lithe, long grace of a lion getting ready for his day.

How glorious is He, how wondrous the heat on our skins, the light dancing over the trees and plants and buildings.

He will not stretch this long into time for another year, He will wane and appear to diminish, but His strength remains eternal, it is only our perception of it that must, by necessity, change.  And that is good too.

But now that He has filled the edges of His being, we will feel even more His power raining down on us.  The strength of summer will now come to us, full and ripe, filling out the way a man comes into his form and his soul after he has reached adulthood.

I revel in Your beauty.  I rejoice in Your presence.  I wear sunscreen to keep my skin safe from Your strength which is, alas, too much for me.

Giver of life, bringer of death.  All hail the Sun King!!

Do you feel the Sun within yourself?

Do you?

You have felt Him upon your skin, tasted Him in the plants that you eat, watched him with every sight that daylight brought to your eyes.

But He is more than that.  He is part of more.  He is the Sun and the Sun is greater than that.  It reaches far across the Universe and through all time and space.  It is the Infinite Sun, that is beyond gender, beyond knowing, beyond all ken, but yet still reachable, still touchable, still experienceable, if we but reach out, gently, and with care.

Do not let yourself be burned by it, but instead, let it enfold you within the rapture that is at the very heart of It.  We are one with the Infinite Sun and have only to awaken to the possibilities it holds within us.

~Abysmal Witch

What lies in the now.

The Now is only now, here, precisely in this instant of being that your mind, soul, body are centered within.

The Now is not then.  Neither is it Then.  Not the Then of the past, not the then of the future.  Not the Was, the Will Be, nor the moment before nor the one that follows.

The now is only Now, one and the same and no other experience but that.  Seeded by the multitude of previous Nows into its own existence; pass into the past and become Seed in the space of the passing of Now and of now.

Having dealt with what the Now and now is and is not, let us address the joy that the Now contains.

And its utter Sorrow.

The Now is all that there is.  Each Now, each moment, is birthed into existence and as with any birth it is due all the joy of the universe.  Even within the adversity and the horror the child may be, it is still celebration.  It is still birth.  Every moment is a birth.  Every Now is the instant of becoming.  All Joy to the birth of NOW!!!

The now is so very, very ephemeral.  We breathe and it has already passed.  It can stretch itself out in time with a familiarity of previous and future Nows, but it passes even as you notice it.  It spirals ever into death, into Was, into being No More and never to be again.  No individual Now shall ever come again.

Each passing Now is a death, a loss, the finalness of its entire being, gone as the eye blinked and the bird flew by.  Weep in every now for the Now that shall be no more.  Endless sorrow, endless loss, that is the now.

Weep in sorrow, leap in joy, every moment that is breathed.  Breathe into it.

It is who we are.  We are now and only need to make the smallest of leaps to be of the Now.

May you find it within your own soul.

~The Abysmal Witch