Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Imbolic: Begining with a Trial by Fire and Being Burned

I'm always trying to expand my practice. I feel very strongly that my religion is a creation mid progress. I have beliefs. I have ritual foundation work, and I have my experience with the divine. Still, I feel the always present need for more. To re-tool how I practice and to add on.

One aspect I was considering adding was a fast the week of Imbolic. I'm anemic, so it would never have been 100% traditional because I need solid food and I need to make sure my iron is right, but I was considering a juicing raw food fast for seven days.

I had great justifications for this fast. It would make me more aware of the earth's local fertility, which doesn't truly bloom here until March, but we're only six hours from Florida and we enjoy quite a bit of their early season produces. I keep talking about sustainable food and being in touch with the earth's cycles. I'll talk about small seasonal observations. But food is something we all need. It's a real and tangible piece of the human puzzle that could help make more meaning in the year. After all ancient cultures followed the seasons because of agriculture, not because it was something transcendent and holy. Following the seasons and choosing nature now a days is just that:a choice. It's as much a social, political, and economic choice as it is religious. I know I'm someone with the privilege to ignore a lot of nature if I wanted to.

Juicing, while controversial, couldn't hurt for seven days, especially considering I would still choose to each whole fruits, vegetables, and nuts during this time. It would be a financial sacrifice and one I'm lucky enough to consider, but it wouldn't hurt my health. It may even help it.

It would make me aware of what I eat and how it makes me feel. I could put real effort into considering my meal choices and what I would do with this information and my diet after 7 days.

Guess how far I got into this plan? One day and I was out. I learned I'm very attached to my coffee, too much so if the killer headache I had that made me dizzy meant anything. I learned that while I like juice, fruits, vegetables, and seeds, I'm not up for creating such an exclusion in my diet. Not being able to each chocolate or fried food made me crave it in a way I haven't for months, and as soon as I decided to stop the fast and eat like more normally, those cravings left me.

I now know I'm not drinking anywhere near enough water if how quickly the water and juice passed through me is any indication and I'm still committed to drinking at least 72oz of water a day to improve that aspect of my health.

I learned that while maybe I like the idea of fasting, my body is still in the same place I was in college when I decided fasting was dumb. I have a more nuanced idea of fasting, but it's still not for me.

Some things I got from the experience is that I need to limit my coffee to one cup a day and then try again to stop drinking it in a month. I've let my caffeine intake get way out of control with the new job at Starbucks. Truthfully, at home I drink my coffee with coconut sugar and unsweetened almond milk so it's not as bad as it could be, the problem is at work where I drink too much coffee with all those syrup sweeteners. I'm sure I'm holding on to a lot of bad addictive things my mind and body need to release.

I do need to cut my oils, butters, and sugars. Planning for this fast helped show me how far I've strayed from healthier food choices I used to make in the past. I need leaner meat and will stick to chicken, turkey, and some fish. I really like eating more fruits and vegetables, they can replace some of my current leanings and I need to stop eyeballing my oils and butters and measure them out so I'm sure. I also realized that I eat way too much. The juice and raw foods wasn't enough but what I was eating was way too much. I might need to stop cooking for the mate because catering to his taste is part of how I fell into these messy habits.

Part of me is really discouraged that I couldn't do this fast. I knew that working as I do with food everyday on my feet would make it very hard. I knew that I would have some unpleasant after effects and that I might seriously have to dis-continue the fast so that I could do the right kind of job at work. I never thought that at the end of a day I would so thoroughly and completely reject the whole concept. It's hard to decide if this is a sign that I'm weak or strong or something else entirely. Then the whole concept of weak and strong makes me wonder why I care. My Gods don't compel this. Self denial has never been a value I've treasured just for the sake of denial.

I think it goes back to this idea of being a super dedicated committed pagan. Which, honestly, I've lapses some from practice and am getting back into. Imbolic was supposed to be a big jump start. I've done some of the background work, praying, reading, re-connecting to local pagans, tentatively planning a holiday schedule and set of goals, but I was going to plunge in with this fast and yoga and mediation and writing my daily gratitude down instead of just thinking them. I'm seeing that I can't just dive into a massive series of life restructures. I hate admitting both that I'm not super pagan and that I was trying so hard to be super pagan. My practice is a building project and not an instant of divine spontaneous creation. I am not perfection, which for some reason is where I want to be, even though I follow imperfect Gods, love imperfect people, and revere a nature that is as brutal as it is beautiful. There's not even anyone to impress or let down and I'm still trying to put on a show.

Beyond the fast that is not happening, I'm waiting to do my full Imbolic ritual on Wed, my day off. It involves a lot of cleaning in part because I'm a mess and in part because for me starting something new means we have to clear away the old. Anyhow I thought I'd at least try to start my year off with honesty and real talk. My first religious rite was a lemon. And that's the short version.

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