(Yeah, I am totally bouncing around in this thing and not getting a damn thing done on time. Life exploded in the summer and I'm still putting together the pieces. Here's one I'm gonna pretend is on time, ish, rather than spur-of-the-moment topical!)
A number of years ago, my aunt gave me a pair of porcelain elephants for Christmas. I was never entirely certain what to make of this, to be honest - my family is certainly down with the snarky jokes - but I've moved the white elephants around with me because that is, of course, what one does with white elephants. Never quite sure what to do with them.
Take that as a little frame story. I'll get back to the elephants in a little bit.
A couple of weekends ago, I was at a religious retreat. I'm not going to go into a whole hell of a lot of detail about this, but suffice it to say that I had a major life-transforming experience and have been spending the last few weeks figuring out how to put the pieces back together.
And one of the things that I've been working on is figuring out how to better actually deal with the whole self-respect dealie, which (between various things well-chronicled in the archives) is not one of my better skills. And it's an important thing to do, and to actually make space for, and it's something that will reliably slip out of my grasp as soon as I have any stress in my life at all, at least going by my track record.
Now, one of the topics we discussed at retreat was time, and having a healthy relationship with time. And the idea was raised: build an altar or shrine to time, make offerings, make prayers, deal with this Power as any other god or godling and see if being polite to it helps.
And while I have issues with time, they are nothing at all compared to my issues with self.
So I - while putting my room back together after the various crises that made me have to take it apart - decided to put up a me shrine. Partly recognising what I have, in fact, done, partly aspirational. I'm riffing on some chaos magic that my liege and I talked about years ago, the idea of writing up a character sheet for now and figuring out where to spend the points and how to get to the skillset that one wants to have on one's character sheet, and so on. Make a space for it.
So I dedicated a shelf on the bookcase I was shelving tonight to this little project. I unrolled a scroll of Ma'at that I'd never had a home for (indicative of something, for sure) and set it up so the shelves themselves hold Her in place. Some tools I use for magical self-maintenance can go up there, sure; all the books I contributed to (or wrote) on one side of the shelf to remind me of real accomplishment; the weird black heart a friend gave me; my Lilith icon, since She's certainly one for demanding a bit of fucking self-respect ... and I propped the corners of it all with those two white elephants.
You see, white elephants, they have a bit of a troubled reputation, because they're those things you can't get rid of. That's the idiom - nobody wants them, they kick around as tchotchkes forever, what have you.
But back it up a little. The white elephant is particularly sacred and holy. Being given a white elephant is an extreme honor, being given the caretaking of something so precious and rare.
Yes, it's high-maintenance taking care of a me. But it's nonetheless a sacred trust.