|Photo by Dirk Beyer|
We talked about the dark time of the year, and the things that keep us going through the darkness. We talked about those things singular to us, that make us who we are. I'm not Wiccan, and though I enjoy both the company of those others in the coven and the inter-connectedness of our midwest Pagan community, it's sometimes tricky for me to pull meaning from the metaphors and language so common to Wiccan dialogue. For instance, the concepts of Maiden, Mother and Crone are not powerful archetypes for me, and discussion of them and their relations to the season can sometimes go over my head. But at these rituals, there are almost always powerful moments of community relation or introspection that are not specific to Wicca, that go straight through denominational lines and relate a message that is both needed and helpful.
During last night's ritual, we built a fire together as a community. And together, we discovered within ourselves the things which keep our fire going during the times of darkness, when the sun diminishes and many people naturally feel a little more down, a little more tired. For me, that thing is a joyful attitude. Growing up as a sad little kid, my mother always taught me to 'fake it til you make it'; to smile at others no matter what you're feeling inside. Though I know this can often be a very harmful message, it has ultimately proven to be a good one for me. I don't talk about it much because of that same childhood conditioning, but I get depressed. Often, and seriously. But my smile, and cheerful attitude around others - something that people have often complimented me on throughout my life - often actually helps to lift the fog a bit. It's so ingrained in me that I honestly can't not be cheerful with people I don't know extremely well; but my smiles spread smiles. And the more I can brighten others' days, the more mine is brightened in return. This is why getting out and doing social things can be so difficult sometimes - it's hard to prepare myself to be cheerful when I'm feeling awful or completely apathetic - but once I get out there, the light of others energizes my own heart. Inspiring happiness in others feeds my fire.