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Door to the Beyond

New Beginnings – Candlemas

I get the feeling I’ve been through this Door before, but let’s do it again…  I know Candlemas (or Imbolc, Oimelg, or what have you) isn’t until next month, but our Gracious Editors have asked us to write our Imbolc articles for this month… soooo….

Most of the year, we Labelled Persons feel we are burning our candles at both ends.  In February, we get to burn them all out, get new candles, and start over.  In essence, Candlemas is the Pagan version of Mardi Gras.  We should learn to have fun at it, like the Cajuns, Brazilians, and others around the world do.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  (attributed to Albert Einstein)

Hey, I’m crazy.  I know it.  I try to be the best crazy I can be (as opposed to the most crazy I can be).  It’s not easy, it’s not hard, it just is.

Hmmm, what did I do last year…  well, I did a one-hour recorded video interview about the homelessness issue on local public access television, which broadcast January 5 and several other times – unscheduled, like me, LOL — which led me to make 2008 the best year ever for the homeless of Asheville.  New programs, a new shelter, more volunteers.  Now if I could just get City Council to repeal some of the laws on the books which, essentially, make homelessness illegal without providing any relief for those who find themselves on the streets.

I won’t republish my entire Yule Letter here, sorry.  There would be no use writing this article if I was just going to republish things I had already written, now, would there?  But I had a lot of big things in 2008, making it a hard act to follow.  I’m still waiting to hear what my 4th Quarter Distribution for my work with Eternal Press will be, but that could be the springboard for 2009.

So what do you have planned?  Is this just going to be another year of surviving for you?  Are you going to accept depression, things beyond your control, same old boring stuff?  Well, if you’ve been reading The Door, you probably have lots of ideas for changing all that; if you haven’t, you can find the back issues in the archives and at my website, so go be positive and read what has been written.  Always good to get a plug in – and I’m always amazed when I re-read these articles how good they were.

Note: I’m usually down on myself, it’s an old habit I’m still working to change.  It amazes me no end when I do something well or write something good, and even more when I read it later and still find it exceptional.  One of the reasons for this amazement is that I tend to write these articles virtually out a mindset of stream-of-consciousness, and rarely work on them after finishing them.

Here’s a thought: perhaps one thing you could do is start writing things down, and then you could put them somewhere that you’ll find them in a year or six months, and see what you think of what you’ve written then.  If you still love it, polish it a bit and see if PaganPages, WitchVox or another online zine might be interested in publishing it.  You might get MY job.  I wouldn’t be mad, you’d be freeing my schedule up for something else.

Last month, we discussed the new “candles” we are sending to Washington in January.  If that was important to you, how much more important would it be to clean out your own house?  I don’t mean dusting and vacuuming (something I don’t do enough of).  I mean making changes.  Finding little things that you can feel good about, and adding them to your routine.  Just a bit at a time.  Only what you can do, not some ambitious program that you will back down from when it appears that you have over-reached.

Set large, sweeping goals.  Then find tiny steps to take to get there.  I know I have been working on my devotion to Deity in the past year.  You might understand that I have been working on learning and honoring various Hindu deities as I grow into my path.

I started out getting pictures from online searches. I printed them out and taped them to the wall.  I then started building a small altar, along the lines of the Wicca I knew but changing it, one thing at a time, to reflect the Hindu aspects of worship.  I then started waking up, and going to bed, with a prayer to the deity (I started with Ganesha, added in my beloved Ardhanarishwara, and then later Brahma-as-Guru).  Then I started chanting the mantra to Ganesha (Om gam Ganapatiyei Namah).  Later, I made it 5 times through the chant (Discordian that I am at the core).  Then added in the chant to Ardhanarishwara (Om Ardhanarishwara swarapaya Namah).  [I actually had to search the Web to find that one – which some of my friends have thanked me for).  And finally, the chant to Brahma-as-Guru (Om gurur sakshad paramBrahma tasmai Sri Grurama Namah).  (General translations available if asked.)

All of this took me 6 months to get going, get consistent with (I still mess up occasionally), and even get to say the chant (that last one took quite some time).  Eventually, I will use my mala (meditation beads) to do these chants – which will mean 108 repetitions.  Ooh, that will take a lot of work.

You don’t have to do the actions I did, but taking the same or similar steps to accomplish your goals is the point.  Baby steps.  I actually grouped a lot of my steps together above, so if the steps seem large that’s because they were.

Give Yourself A Break.  If you’re working too hard or too fast on something, you will “backslide” (to use a Methodist term).  This is not saying you are doing the wrong thing, just that you are going too fast or are expecting too much too soon.  Slow down.  Start over, or back up a few steps and resume from there.

Oh, gods, Anxiety.  If I don’t do things perfectly, I’m just not good enough.  Don’t go there.  “Fear is the mind-killer.” – Bene Gesserit saying.  Nobody is perfect, nothing you try to do will ever be perfect… but it doesn’t need to be.  It only has to be Good Enough.  That’s all.  And if you’re anything like me, you will need to set your standards a lot lower until you have “Good Enough” set where it is in reach of your everyday ability.

ALWAYS give yourself a break.  ALWAYS give yourself a pat on the back.  “Endorse for the effort, not the result.”  Endorsing yourself for every little step is like getting paid for every minute of work.  Do it.

This could be the year we learn a new way to burn our candles.  Maybe we can learn to burn them only at ONE end… or maybe we just use more artsy candles.  However you choose to do it, be inventive, creative, bold, and feisty!

Until next month and another walk through the Door…