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25 October, 2012

P is for Purification

It doesn't, in this moment, matter where it comes from.  Whether it is the stereotypical Slavic melancholy I inherited from my mother, who inherited it from hers, which is tangled up in the ancestor work I am doing with that line.  Whether it is situations that are hard right now, and my exhaustion.  Whether it is the kink in my neurochemistry that predisposes me to it.  Whether it is all these things.

I pour myself a drink.  I cannot figure out how to alleviate the pain that matters, so I settle for something that I know will loosen my trapezius, release the muscle tension that is sending ripples of pain down my arm.  I do not have the power to fix what I suspect is stress tangled up with habits of depression, possibly tweaked a little harder by the spellwork I am doing, trying to untangle threads of suffering.

The drink is good.  The proportions may be a bit off, but they're off in a direction I like, a limey sweetness that balances the alcohol.  I drink it slowly, enjoying it as much as I am able, much like I enjoyed the relief I bought with an afternoon of some of my favorite music, which bought me enough space to dance with the children for a little while, Little Foot taking my hands and spinning and stomping with glee, suggesting that she took joy in the same music that sustains me; the younger child, who I need a nick for, clutching her bottle in both hands and bouncing up and down on the side of our dance floor.  My collarbone pops; my medical self-indulgence is working.

I finish the drink, take the cup to the kitchen, pause, and partially fill it with water.  I breathe, reaching for clarity - purify me, make me true - and pour the pain into the cup, whispering the prayers.  "From You, all things emerge ... even this."  Even this.

Even this pain is holy.  Even this.

As I drink the water, I comment to a friend that the alcohol loosens inhibitions.  Because I want to cry.

I do not cry easily, though this is less tight a complex than it used to be.  The lessons taught by brutality are not easily unlearnt.

I take the cup of water from the ancestor shrine, pick it up to partake of its magic, and the same impulse to prayer comes to me.  I silently repeat "I am pure, I am pure, I am pure."  The verbal prayer, so familiar, cannot wrest itself free; the silence is overwhelming, the ritual consumed by the simple outpouring of pain.  Myself, my grandmother, the thread between us that encompasses my mother perhaps.  I crush the heavy pewter cup against my chest, silently trying to grasp the prayer through the roaring sound of the rushing, wrenching, agonising feelings.

I refill the cup, return it to its place, whisper "For your ka" to the closed doors of the shrine.

The water runs hot, not cool like an offering.  I step into the shower, start to wash my hair, lean my head against the coolness of the tile, and sob, just a little.

I know that I am crying, not because the sound of the water would obscure the sound - not like the time I could only cry in the rain, away from everyone else, protected by isolation and a weather through which nobody would follow - but because the water itself allows the pain to flow, releases the clenched and twisted muscles, frees the energies that bind me.

Your purification is the purification of Heru
Your purification is the purification of Set
Your purification is the purification of Djehwty
Your purification is the purification of Dwn-Anwy
Your purification is the purification of your ka
Your purification is the purification of your purification
And this purification of yours
Is also
Among your brethren
The gods.

- Pyramid Text 36

12 October, 2012

P is for Preparation

Sometimes, the hard work in magic, in ritual, in whatever, is heavily in the groundwork.  In the preparation.  Not in what one does, but in getting ready to do things.

For the last few weeks I have been doing preparatory work for a ritual.  The ritual involves my maternal grandmother, the child of Polish immigrants, and, among other things, her troubled relationship with her own heritage which has led to me not having a sense of my own.  There are important things in here, in my religious practices, in my personal life, in my arc of healing, in my own becoming a mother: and Little Foot has, as a middle name, this grandmother's name.

I tend the shrine.  Not as regularly as I perhaps ought, but I light the candle, I offer water, I burn incense.  I cultivate mindfulness of this particular thread of bloodline, even as I give blood to the medical personnel who are analysing it for traces of this particular heritage.  I think that I do not have enough in my shrine for this piece of heritage, and wonder where the jewelry boxes are that have this grandmother's gifts in them, the costume-jewelry pins in the shape of cats and a few similar things.  (We are still not moved in to the new house, and so many things are hidden away in storage.)  I spent this morning going through photographs from my childhood, pursuing the names of relatives, reawakening old memories, coming to new understandings from moments caught in time that I was too young to read, before.

There is something deep working here, as I look through the photographs, as I see things and have the context of an adult to bring to the occasionally blurry moments in time long ago.

My father is visiting.  He had been planning to visit a few weeks ago, but changed his plans because he had to take a business trip.

To Poland.

He brought me the usual collection of oddments and endments, and, almost as an afterthought, asked me if I would like some Polish coins.  I said yes. (I have an odd collection of international coinage, mostly brought from his business trips, though I did once startle someone immensely in a hotel room in Minneapolis when he said to me, in a bit of an in-joke, "You are [...] and I claim my five pounds" and I promptly fished through the pockets of my jacket - which I had brought with me on a trip to the UK a couple of years before - and eventually managed to produce five pounds in miscellaneous loose change.  This was perhaps not the expected joke result, to be four thousand miles from home and presented with a punchline in one's native currency.)

He handed me a pill bottle's worth of coins, reserving one of them, a little thing about the size of a dime.

"This one is special," he said.  "They're pretty rare, and it's said that they're lucky."

"Because they're the equivalent of a penny?" I asked, turning the coin over in my fingers and attempting to read the back.

"More like a quarter penny."

I studied my Polish farthing for a moment, and thought about magic.  As I reach back towards my Polish grandmother, speaking of peace, speaking of connection and continuance, I am given a little piece of luck from Poland.

Preparation can also come with signs, I suppose.