So it's new year's eve and as usual I find myself reflecting on the past year. Every year offers it's own challenges and lessons but this year has seemed unusually hard in many ways with it's over-riding theme of transition. I lost several friendships, one of which was extremely important, and I left my job. It seemed as if at every juncture I was being forced to re-assess my own worth and abilities and re-define my own place. So now, on the cusp of the new year, I ask myself, what have I learned?
Early in the year I had a falling out with a friend over some choices she was making in her own life. The entire situation made me look at my own life and my own choices and made me seriously re-evaluate several things. I had to ask myself what the real cost was of sacrificing so much for my children, especially in relation to caring for a child with chronic medical issues. And I did realize that I wasn't leaving enough for myself and needed to find more balance before I risked losing my happiness and becoming bitter. Life being what it is the timing of this was actually perfect as it occurred and was worked through before I had to choose to leave my job because of my daughter's health. I realized that I had to make time for myself and for reconnecting to life and living.
I also lost a very long and deep friendship in a painful way; it began as a difference in opinion over ritual structure and leadership and ended with personal invective. I was left for months questioning my own abilities and actions in a way that began as something closer to self-flagellation and ended with soem clarity and insight. It is true that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and sometimes what causes the most pain can also show us how strong we have become. The situation helped me see how far I have come personally in the last decade and how much I have changed. I even did find some useful constructive criticism in the midst of it all and I was able to see what really mattered and what was only window dressing.
And, things coming as they seem to in threes, I then lost another friend over a label. I consider myself CR but I am also a witch and this caused a furor in a CR discussion group and cost me a friendship. It also made me really question my own use of labels and how and why I define myself the way I do. I considered myself part of that community, yet I was being rejected by some people within it for not fitting in. I was told I didn't belong, not because of what I did do or what I knew, or what I said, but because I honestly admitted including aspects of Irish magic that made people uncomfortable or were not socially acceptable. Most people call that witchcraft.
I am CR, in my own mind, because I seek to reconstruct a viable Irish polytheism while also embracing modern Celtic culture. But I am also not CR because I take a wider view on study and practice. I am heathen because I worship heathen gods as well, have a kindred that worships in a heathen context, and practice seidhr, but I am also not heathen because I do things outside of that framework and with deities from other cultures. I am a reconstructionist and a neopagan. I am a druid and a witch. I am dedicated to psychopomps and liminal gods, Hecate, Odin, and Macha but my main goal in life is staying grounded and fucntional. I am a teacher and a leader as well as being an outsider and odd-ball. I am an innovative traditionalist. A contradiction in terms. I am a liminal person, and I have come to accept that I will never fit within a neat little box or an easy definition, except perhaps the word "witch" that says a great deal and nothing at the same time.
So I am ready to put this year behind me, lessons learned. I took a bath with sea salt and hyssop oil and burned some frankincense and myrrh incense - totally modern folk magic things to do. Tonight I will throw open my door at midnight and usher out the old year while welcoming in the new - a totally traditional Irish thing to do - and in the same vein tomorrow I will burn juniper and dress in new clothes and move forward without worrying about labels or acceptance. I am who I am and I am proud of who I am.
Bring on 2012.