When I woke up this morning, after going about my toilette, I approached my altar, but decided I would hold off on my usual devotional. I felt unsettled, so I went outside. I contemplated yoga, but my inner voice urged me to stretch up to the sun, to feel the dewy grass on my feet, then pour a libation instead. That felt good. I said a prayer of thanksgiving.
I returned to contemplate my altar. I’ve been in my home for just over a year, now, and the corner altar in my kitchen has stood for about that long. I examined the buildup of incense dust and cobwebs. I work with my altar daily, but bits of rituals past cling in the shadows of rocks, offering bowls, and statuary. When spiders move in, I tend to welcome them. My mother always taught me that, unless they present a danger, they are good luck. I offer hospitality, but that means their webbing, shed skin, and bits of dust linger when they move on.
My eyes took all of this in, and I began to consider how this time of year – September in particular – always finds me slightly detached from my practice. My work life reclaims much of my energy. I have little else to give when I return from a long day of teaching and nurturing children. I view what I do as an extension of my relationship with Brighid. My values, my beliefs, they do not go away. They inform me, guide me… and yet, my time and energy to do deeper spirit work diminishes.
It is a frustrating part of my own personal wheel of the year.
I am missing Pagan Pride Day today. Ever since I had a child, it’s been hit or miss for me. I’m exhausted. My family is exhausted. We’ve all been exposed to everyone else’s germs at school, and my daughter is not feeling her best. So I’m putting our health first, knowing that we will be with our grove to celebrate the Autumn Equinox next weekend. That will reinvigorate me further, and carry me into the Samhain season, renewed and ready for rebirth.
Back to the dusty altar. The dust, I realize, represented something more. Yes, that sort of thing accumulates through life and ritual (especially when incense is involved). Yet there was more – it was the miasma of magic past made manifest. The spiders, drawn to the corner to catch fruit flies opportunistically sipping from my offering bowls, were telling me I needed to tidy up.
So I did. This morning, I did not light any incense. I did not make any offerings of food or drink at my altar. I gave time and care. I dusted each item with love. I washed away residue. I replaced each sacred object tenderly, kissing some, stroking others. I made sure my allies knew they were still very much welcomed.
You may wonder if I considered the moon phase or astrological sign. You may nod with approval as I did this before a High Day. You may shake your head at me for the informality of it all. However, what I did felt right, and listening to your heart, your instincts, then acting on them, using what is at hand, is an important part of my practice, I feel. Considering that I am putting a lot of thought into the Autumn Equinox ritual next weekend, this very off-the-cuff cleansing ritual felt like a needed juxtaposition.
Tonight, I am planning to ritually sain and mark the anniversary of our moving here. I will honor the spirits in my home, and re-consecrate that space. In the meantime, I’m going to sit and pour an offering to myself: a well-deserved cup of tea.