The Pagan Blog Project: C is for Cycles
Last week, Tanisha over at The Lure of Beauty wrote this post clarifying her spiritual beliefs. I thought it was such a great idea for those of us who follow a somewhat more scattered path, who don’t find a solid identity in the most commonly (and even less commonly) used labels within the pagan community. It made me start thinking… What exactly is it that stands out to me as significant? What could I really base my own practices and beliefs around when I don’t identify with a clear-cut path?
The answer was immediately obvious to me. Cycles have been a large part of my life ever since I was a child. Whether we’re talking about the cycles of the seasons, the months, life and death, or even the day-to-day routines we make for ourselves, cycles are all around us. We come to recognize them and rely on them. If something doesn’t go as expected, we feel it, but the cycle continues on anyway.
Many people keep memorabilia from moments in our lives, often those that signify a rite of passage or a step into a different part of the cycle of our lives. One of mine is a silver seasons ring by James Avery that my mom bought for me when I went into high school. My dad and I later pooled our money to get her a gold one. Every time I see it, I don’t just think about the movement of the year but also my mother, and it is very precious to me. I also collect insect exoskeletons, and you can guess what one of my favorites to find is! Many insects have a fascinating metamorphosis, but that of the cicada is extremely cyclic. I have a jar of their husks I use regularly for spells, and a collection of adult exoskeletons just because I find them very beautiful.
This was all important to me before I considered myself pagan in any way. In fact, while a lot of “general” pagan concepts heavily incorporate cycles, I have a difficult time with them because they do not relate to me. For example, when I first started, like so many I had quite a few Llewellyn books of a Neo-Wiccan flavoring. Early on, I was drawn to the Maiden-Mother-Crone cycle. But there was one major problem. I am not and will never be a mother. Being in a same-sex relationship, that is biologically impossible without looking for other means, and neither of us want children in the first place. So immediately I was stuck trying to fit myself into a cycle that just, well, didn’t fit. Sure, I could understand it on a metaphorical scale, but not personally. This then extended into the descriptions of major pagan (and Neo-Wiccan) holidays. So many revolve around the god and goddess, around male/female sex, then pregnancy, then birth. Any sort of holiday ritual my partner and I did, as a result, felt so scripted and false that I scrapped the whole thing for awhile and started over. When I tried to get into more hard polytheistic tracks, it didn’t improve the situation much.
What I learned about myself is that it’s difficult for me to get involved with something I can’t directly relate to. Some people are better at grasping more abstract concepts and making them personal, even spiritual. I’m not. I found this a fault for a long time. Why can everyone else find a path that speaks to them strongly but I can’t? Obviously something is wrong with me.
I don’t believe that it’s a fault now, or if it is it’s one I’m going to have to live with if I’m going to grow. So instead of spending so much energy trying to fit myself into something that doesn’t really do it, it’s time to stop and find what speaks to me.
The cycles I see and can actually be a part of make sense to me. The rituals of my daily life, while mundane at best, are crucial to my well-being. And, really, I think there is a cycle in belief and disbelief as well. Sometimes a cycle is more like a spiral. It goes around and around, but gradually gets bigger or smaller with each loop, sometimes higher or lower. It’s not as fast a change as a straight line, but it’s movement nonetheless. These are things I have to remember as I continue to find ways to grow.