Effective immediately, I am on permanent retirement from offering divinations, past life readings, and channelings to the Pagan community. I know that in my post a couple of days ago I said I was taking a temporary hiatus in September and I know I said I would give some notice, but after a talk I had with D (which was initiated for completely different Reasons), I came to the conclusion that I need to do this now for my own self-care.
I also need to do this now or I am the biggest fucking hypocrite in the world.
A lot of my “brand” as an author is radical self-honesty, which includes being open about my struggles and the fact that even Super Powerful Spirit-Workers (TM) are fallible and there are times when we are not going to be “on our game”; a lot of my “brand” as an author is challenging the Piety Posse rhetoric of “it’s not about you and you are just a tool to be used and you need to run yourself into the ground in order to serve the gods properly”.
Meanwhile, over the last few months I have been more and more burned out, and providing spiritual services for hire has been a major cause of that. And right now, if I’m being really real, I am not well, I have not been well for a month, and the sooner I can start to get some of my spoons back, the sooner I can start to feel better. I also finally hit a wall where I CANNOT make myself read for people – I had to refund two people because I sat down and just couldn’t do it. (This is really seriously fucking embarrassing for me to admit to; I am not proud of this.) I tried to give it a few days, and I could give it a few days again, but that would be hanging over my head and I wouldn’t be able to relax properly because I can’t leave jobs undone, and I’d be making people wait more and wait more and wait more. I have hit that wall where my brain has just shut down, because I am not OK right now, and I am not going to be OK until I can get this weight off my shoulders.
While on the one hand it feels good to help people and I like helping people, it has been at the cost of my own personal time as well as personal space – doing readings professionally sort of puts forth this idea that I’m some sort of clergy or spiritual life coach and that I’m “on” 24/7, and this is true even when I’ve stated boundaries saying otherwise.
I have, over the last while, started to feel like a tool, a resource… I have started to lose my concept of sense of self, a bit, because I have so little time for myself, so much of my time going into interacting with others and *~helping the community~*. I am so used to working that I don’t really know what to do with myself when I’m not working and can’t fucking relax when I have dedicated “relax time”… and this is not good.
It’s also been stressing me out a lot more than I let on.
On my blog, I come off as a lot more extraverted than I actually am, because a blog involves interacting with people. The truth is, I am an introvert – I’m an INFJ who is good at faking ENFP for business purposes, but I am absolutely an INFJ at my core. I also have social anxiety. I also have complex PTSD (C-PTSD), which stems from traumatic life events such as having been raped many years ago and having been abused as a child, and where my symptoms have been exacerbated by long-term stressful experiences such as being in fucked-up living situations, having been in friendships where I was being manipulated and/or taken advantage of in some way, etc. The PTSD and my social anxiety work together in some interesting ways. I am always surprised when people think of me as clergy, because I do not think of myself as having the right sort of temperament to be clergy and this is true even if someone tells me “but you’re friendly and approachable and you’re good at it!” You don’t live with me and see me yell “WHAT THE FUCK NOW” at my phone when I get e-mails. I do not think of myself as a people person. I have to interact with the public to some degree to run a business – I like making things. Making things does not necessitate heavy involvement with people. I got into doing “spiritual services” not because I felt like I had a calling to do it, but because I felt obligated to answer the phone, if that makes sense. It does not nourish my soul like Making does – quite the opposite.
pretty much me right now
I have been forcing myself to hang in there long past my ability to hang in there, out of a sense of obligation to the Pagan community, “to make a difference”. Two years ago when I returned to public blogging on Tumblr, I felt like I had a minority opinion, shouting into the void against popular polytheist ideas that had done severe damage not just to my devotional relationships but too many others I knew. Two years later, with the advent of Heather’s book – which is hugely popular on Amazon and where she has cited me as an influence (which I find to be an absolute honor), we’ve “won”. (By “we” I mean not just me, but all of you who have seen the problems of the Piety Posse POVs and know there needs to be alternative points of view.) When I decided to start offering readings at my Etsy shop, it was because I had heard too many stories of people who’d seen diviners and had been manipulated by them in some way – someone’s personal agenda disguising itself as the will of the gods. I felt like I had to “come to the rescue”. (Besides the fact that I was also getting paid for it; there was a time when I was charging very, very little for my readings so money has never been a primary motivating factor with doing them, even as I’ve only just recently started to acknowledge that my time is in fact money.) I was afraid to retire long past the point of when I should have retired, because I “didn’t have a replacement” I trusted beyond a couple of people out there who also do something very different from what I’m doing (and one of them is herself taking a hiatus in September).
For the last couple of months, even as every bone in my body has been screaming for me to just take a fucking break, I have forced myself to keep going because of the “shoulds”.
How can I tell people that self-care is important and you honor the gods by honoring yourself, when I can’t do that myself? How can I talk about joy and wonder, when I’ve been struggling with getting out of bed because I have this endless obligation to deal with people and not enough time to do the things that I want and need to do for myself… and just as importantly if not more so, for my gods? How can I help other people with their deity relationships if I am not getting enough time to attend to the ones most important to me? How can I celebrate my transformation and personal evolution when in some ways, I’m right back to where I was in 2010 where I feel burned the fuck out and want to go hide in a fucking cave again?
So it’s time. I have hit a place with my business where I do not need to do readings in order to make money – I need to focus on making things because Making is what my ACTUAL calling is and is what ACTUALLY feeds my soul, and people recognize that in my work. I need to heed my friend Beth‘s advice to “walk your path with audacity” and actually DO THAT – do what is MINE, MY path, MY Work, not what I think my Work “should” look like but what my Work actually IS, and do it without permission from other people. There is this sort of mentality in the Pagan community that you’re not really seen as *~serious~* and your opinion worth taking seriously unless you’re “serving the community” by clergy work or providing spiritual services, and it’s all fine and good for me to say “that’s bullshit”, but I have to live that, and I have to do it on my terms. It is time to acknowledge that there are other ways to serve, and it is also time to acknowledge that “Valar dohaeris” is a saying that only works in Braavos – we need to get rid of this idea that you’re not doing anything meaningful and worthwhile for the gods if you’re not “serving” in some way.
We need to get rid of this idea that you have to be taken *~seriously~*, period, because every person is an idiosyncratic tradition of one, and this is true even if you belong to an extant, established religious tradition (like a recon tradition). At the end of the day it is you and your gods, nobody else.
D is thrilled – D told me recently that he’d like it if I just retired from doing readings altogether and focused on crafting, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my relationship with him, it’s to listen to my husband when he says something.
I realize that me abruptly retiring from readings, especially when I said that it was going to be another few weeks yet and that hiatus would be temporarily, may disappoint some people who were looking forward to purchasing a reading from me before the hiatus. I apologize for any inconvenience this causes. I recommend my friend Beth as an oracle, before she goes on her own hiatus from providing seidhr. (I’m not just recommending her because she’s a friend, I’m recommending her because she’s done readings for me before.) However, I also strongly recommend that people who interact with spirits learn a system of divination like runes or Tarot or pendulum (or all three, or others). Even if you are completely “headblind” and can’t directly interact with spirits by “hearing” them and so on, you might still be able to do something like read Tarot with some practice. (I know quite a few “headblind” people who can’t hear spirits but can definitely pick things up with the cards.) Going to outside oracles and diviners for confirmations should be a sometimes thing only – you have as much power inside of you as any “spiritual guru” and it’s important to embrace that power.
I WOULD like to take a moment and extend this opportunity to thank all of my past clients who have purchased readings from me, that being said. It was a valuable spiritual exercise for me, and if I helped you in some way, I’m happy to have done so. :)