Today, at an hour that was not supposed to be the height of rush hour, I drove into White Plains, NY.
I was not enthused to be there. I had an "interview" with a temp agency. I use the term interview loosely. I had found this agency on Monster.com. They are not very discriminating. You can go to their website, fill out an application online, and schedule yourself an interview at any one of their five tri-state area offices. I could be a homeless crack addict - or a terrorist - for all they know. But I need a goddamned paycheck, and hey, why not hone those interview skills? Might as well go.
On the highway approaching exit 5, the car in front of me stopped short, and I had to slam on the breaks. My car squealed against the highway. I felt the brake pedal shaking under my foot. I actually felt, through my shoes, the road crunching as my tire ground into the top layer of asphalt. My heart pounded, but on the outside, I simply looked annoyed. None of the other drivers around me seemed to notice. I almost totalled the green tin can in front of me, and might have totalled my decrepit '94 Buick as well. After 11 years and well over 100,000 miles, I'm not sure how much the old girl has left in her.
I moved through it with the cold irritation of a biker speeding through a swarm of bugs. By the time I veered into exit 5, I was pretty much over it.
Exit 5 spits you out onto Tarrytown road, although there are no signs to indicate this. I just had to trust my Google Map that this was so. Left onto Main Street, my map directed, then Right onto Bank Street. I watched the signs.
"Main Street Right - Bank Street Left," shouted a large green highway sign. Shit, the place I'm GOING is on Bank Street! I made a left.
All I remember after that is driving through a maze of traffic, lots of honking and attempts at lane changes which take three blocks to complete because those assholes in White Plains wil be DAMNED if they're going to let you in front of them. I whizzed in circles through downtown until I saw I sign that said "287" with a big arrow turning left. I glanced at the clock: 9:50am. I was five minutes late for my appointment. At that moment, I decided nothing mattered more to me than getting OUT OF THIS INSANITY and I surged forward into the turn lane, out of the melee of downtown White Plains, following a Boar's Head delivery truck, gunning it back onto 287 West, streaking towards the Tappan Zee Bridge and the relative quiet of Rockland County. FUCK this. Home, Jeeves.
I did not turn on the radio. I sat there and seethed as I flew over the bridge. I despise driving. I absolutely hate it.
When I got home, I immediately changed into Yoga clothes, shedding my city-slick tweed mini-blazer and chocolate cuffed trousers for soft stretchy pants and shirt, because nothing in the world feels better than comfy clothes. I flipped on the TV, muted it, booted up the computer, microwaved a cup of coffee from the pot I made two hours ago, and looked online for today's schedule of classes at my Yoga studio. "5:45 pm, Restorative Class," I muttered, reading out loud to nobody. My cat yawned on the couch, utterly unaware of the turmoil inside me. I got my mat out and took a breath.
I have a Weaver call tonight - a conference call with the women of my spirituality group. I don't feel very close to them. The last time I participated in this year-long program, all of us lived in New York City, and the group met in person. There were six of us, of varying ages, from 21 to 50. We became very close, and it was a transformative year for me. I missed the program dreadfully the following year, but at over $100 a month, I just couldn't afford it. I signed up for the telecircle version this year because there was no live group scheduled, and the telecircle is only $60. It's been diverting, and a nice way to get some quiet time once a month, but I don't have anywhere near the connection to the women over the phone that I did in person. We scheduled a reatreat in the city a couple of months ago, and I enjoyed some of the things we did together, but at the end of the day, I felt that I had nothing in common with most of them, and one of them had seriously hurt me, in a very private, personal way. I chose not to discuss this with them, because I don't think they'd be receptive, and frankly, it's not like I need to see them every day. I chose to simply release it all, release the anger, release the disappointment, and try and find other ways I can grow from this program.
Like, for example, deeper training in the practice and craft of my faith. Moon Circling has been my preferred worship practice for a few years. I was hoping this year to learn to faciliate (lead) circles myself, so that I could hold circles in places I travel, where there might be people of my faith who don't have regular opportunities to circle.
I was thinking specifically of my hometown. The last time I visited there, it was the time of the Harvest Full Moon. My Mom and I attended the Springfield Unitarian Universalist Church, and I noticed there was an active UU Pagan group in town. They must be holding a circle! But the minister announced at service that the moon circle for that weekend had been cancelled. Apparently those who would have held it were occupied with a community building project. That's great - but I felt strongly drawn to offer to hold a circle myself. I would have done so, but at that time, I didn't feel qualified. I flew back to New York that season with a somewhat heavy heart. A burden, of sorts, had been laid on me. I felt called.
It has been one year since then, and I have devoted a great deal of time and energy to creating sacred space, learning the tools and traditional practices and ceremonies to honor the Goddess, and to raise energy and focus it inward and outward to promote positive outcomes such as peace, prosperity, good health, good luck, and love. I have quite the collection of stones, incenses, oils, candles, and tiny treasures on my altar, some given to me by others, some I have found on my travels. I have an assortment of small items I have made as offerings to the Goddess. At the center stands a small blue statue of the Virgin Mary I took from my Grandmother's apartment after her death. The Holy Mother is depicted in her Maiden form, standing on the Earth in flowing robes, her head uncovered and her hair flowing about her shoulders. Her arms stretch out and down, palms outward, receiving and transmitting love. It is my favorite representation of the Divine Feminine. I make my prayers almost daily, and when the spirit moves me, I create full-scale rituals, invoking the Goddess in her various forms, letting Her nudge me in one direction or the other. She rarely speaks to me in language I do not understand. She often surprises me, and almost always makes me laugh.
Last month, after the unsatisfying Weaver retreat, I was scheduled to co-faciliate a moon circle with our group leader. We had prepared this entire ritual together. It was the Virgo New Moon. My leader and I had spent a hearty planning evening together, and I was so excited to see it all come together. I felt that this would be a bridge for me. I had planned to ask my leader's blessing to go out into the world and facilitate circles of my own, wherever I felt a need. I blogged that whole evening here. To sum it up, because of driving issues in Westchester county, I missed out on this evening. My disappointment was profound, and I'm not over it yet. There has been a gaping hole inside me ever since.
I spoke with my Mother about the incident last month. She feels that there is a negative force which is actively working to prevent me from leading circles, growing to my full potential, and in general blocking my efforts to fully realize my gifts and powers. "Something is afraid of you," she said.
I don't generally believe in demons in the classic sense. I do however acknowledge that the very non-qualitative nature of energy can, unfortunately, lead to negative results. The only real difference between evil magic and good magic is how the power is used. Both good and evil witches raise power - it's what they do with that power, how they direct it and to whom, and with what intent, that determines the nature of the spell.
I mentioned in my blog post last month that, possibly, by cursing the other drivers on the road in Connecticut, I had opened a pathway to bad luck. If someone, anyone out there in the world, had wanted to stop someone from leading moon circles, especially someone powerful, who wanted to bring the faith into new areas, and they raised a spell to block that person... I would have shined a black beacon on myself by surrendering to that brief, evil thought - even though I didn't really mean it. For just those few seconds, I crossed a line, and dipped my toe into that negative energy. Anyone inside that energy who was looking for me would have found me in that moment.
Mom may be right. There may be people out there afraid of me, who actively pray that I will be prevented from leading Goddess-worship services on the plains of Illinois, under a full moon. I'd bet money it.
I have been trash-talking this morning's interview with this lame-sounding temp agency for two days, ever since I made the online appointment. As I drove out to my car, I actually said out loud to myself "I don't want to work for these people." I told myself I was doing this just to have a "practice" interview, and to be able to say to others later that I maximized every possible opportunity for employment, that I explored every possibly avenue open to me. For the most part, I went to this because I didn't want to tell anyone I could have gone to another job interview and didn't.
I might as well have gotten down on my knees and said "Lady, please prevent me from making this appointment."
So, what have we learned today?
When, when, WHEN am I going to stop doing things out of fear of judgement? WHEN am I going to learn that the only person whose approval I need is my own? WHEN WHEN WHEN am I going to listen to my own intuition? IT IS ALWAYS CORRECT.
Ok. I'm fine. I didn't hit the green car on the highway. Or the yellow SUV on Main Street. Or anybody else. The car's ok, I'm ok, you're ok, we're all ok here.
A little cry, a little leftover spaghetti, a little West Wing on Bravo. I feel better.
I think Zenchick would say that it's human to doubt ourselves, to want others approval, to make these kinds of mistakes, and it's human to beat ourselves up for it... and that it's ok. She once told me that we'll always make mistakes, that the idea is to be more aware of the situations, to learn from them, to forgive ourselves, and maybe make a few less in the future. It's been a long time since we talked, but those are the kinds of things she used to say to me.
I never really had to search for the Goddess, or her counterpart, God. I never had to look very hard to find my faith. What I search for, continually, is a community in which to practice. I found one for awhile at my church on Central Park West, but ever since the New Minister took over a few years ago, I have felt less and less welcome. I would go into the city for Moon Circles more often, but the circles are nearly always held on weeknights, and I cannot handle any more experiences like the one I had last month. I've tried to locate a community in Rockland... I'm still working on that. I'm also still working on not having a borderline anxiety attack every time I pull out of my parking lot. I am still trying so hard to be able to drive. I never imagined it would be this hard.
My mother is very likely correct in that there are forces that seek to block people like me from fully becoming, from doing what we are meant to do. Sometimes those forces come from inside ourselves - fear, self-doubt, and chains from the past. But I have to believe that the forces for good inside me, if I can fully unleash them, are far stronger, and will prevail. I have to believe that.
Hope. Not Fear.