Devotion can mean different things to different people, particularly in a spiritual sense. It can be defined as "love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, belief or cause." So, what does your devotion look like?
For me, this is what my devotion looks like. I had a rough year. And while I spoke to my Gods, I wasn’t listening as well as I should’ve been. I was down, and struggling. I was sick for a good chunk of it, feeling isolated and disconnected from others. And while I love my community and my gods, the idea of attending the Morrigan’s Call Retreat this year was overwhelming, and produced a lot of anxiety. I had put myself in Hermit mode. I wanted to back out. I even started thinking up excuses so I didn't have to leave my cave.
Of course, my brain has done this before. Many times, in fact. I go into flight mode when I’m anxious. Thing is, I also know the importance of my word, my actions and that fear has an underlying cause. I did the only things I could do so that instead of running away, I fought my peace.
I talked to my friend, Deborah, co-author of Living in Magick. I let her know how I was feeling, and knew she’d have wisdom for me, and say things I needed to hear. She did. This didn’t stop the anxiety, but it kept me packing and preparing. It gave me the strength to keep pushing past all the doom, gloom and negativity my brain was coming up with.
I talked to The Morrigan. Constantly. Oh, she was not going to let me out of any obligations to her- but things were weird (in my mind.) After I got sick in October last year, it was obvious to her that I needed healing. So she pushed me over to Brigid, with the clear instructions of “Heal. I’ll be here when you’re better.” It made for some awkwardness on my side- how could I work as temple staff and priestess for The Morrigan if I wasn’t feeling connected to her. It was the first time she had done this, telling me to focus elsewhere. If my focus was healing with Brigid, how could I work with her? It led to fears of am I letting her down? Did I fail The Morrigan, and thus, myself?
Thing is that my own feelings were getting in the way of the truth, and The Morrigan literally telling me otherwise. Have I ever mentioned that I can be really dense? The Morrigan didn’t cast me aside, she literally just sent me to Brigid’s healing center. (Healing rehab? Brigid's Urgent Care and Hospital?) She was still there, just quiet because what was she going to do? Yell at me to heal faster? Make me more anxious that I wasn’t healing at a good pace and I had her work to do? She’s not cruel and there was no sense for her to do that. Leave me do my own thing, get through this healing work and be stronger for it when I returned to her. That's literally what I was told, and also what I didn't think about when I'd get myself stressed out when it felt like there was too much quiet between us.
Back to preparing for the retreat: I kept proceeding with my plans. I packed, I prepared my workshops, I read over our rituals. I told myself over and over that I’ve been through these feelings before, and that I never regretted going. I just needed to not give into fear.
It wasn’t easy. A calmness came over me while packing the car, and driving down. Once we were on the road, there was no backing out, and once I was there, my car unloaded and my husband (who kindly drove me so that my family was not without a car for 4 days) heading back home, the anxiety disappeared and I was exactly where I needed to be.
It was 4 days of devotion and community. I had many a deep conversation with The Morrigan, and in that place, we agreed I was healed enough to get back to work with her. I’m still healing- there are ongoing issues that will probably never go away, and will need constant attention. I thought my stay with Brigid was temporary, but it looks more like I’ve gained a new ally. So the primary healing that I needed is done, and in that space, I felt rewarded for it- the patience, the healing, for not letting my anxieties and fears take root and controlling me. For the hard work of being The Morrigan’s own.
You might wonder what that reward looks like. One part of that is a simple feeling. I wasn’t alone, and that the Great Queen has my back. She will push me, keep me uncomfortable at times in order to grow, and shapeshift. It's a deep connection with her, but also a deep connection with a good group of people. My sister priestesses and family. Those who entered that space with an open heart and spirit- seeking strength and sovereignty. Those who faced hard battles and didn’t back down. When they felt broken, they picked up their pieces and put them back together with their spirituality as the glue. Those that saw that our paths might've been different, our practices not the same but still shared that space with us with the intent of a shared goal- devotion to The Morrigan.
My devotion looks like this. Dealing with fears, insecurities, anxieties,and discomfort. Dealing with my health and pain, and not blaming the Gods for my mortality. Turning to The Morrigan to aid me in finding my strength, finding my misplaced crown of my own sovereignty. My devotion means I stand when I want to sit, I smile when I want to cry, I don’t stop moving when I just want to lay there, complacent. It looks like me, extending my hand for others to reach, so I can help them to their feet, give them a shoulder to cry on, and hold the mirror for them- so they can find their own crowns. It’s creating and sharing amazing sacred space.
I came home filled with amazing energy. Yes, there was a bit of retreat drop- that feeling of being disconnected once again from others, from that extra thick and amazing energy from the attendees, staff and presence of The Morrigan and her sisters. I feel like I never stop moving when I’m there. I blink, and suddenly it’s over. Nikki Wardwell-Sleath, fellow priestess and mentor, described it best: “It’s like a blur of focused intent, where I’m kept fueled and in action by Her and then when it’s over I’m like ‘what just happened?’”
But in the end, it was so worth it. My devotion was trust, even my head was filled with mistrust and doubt, filled with internal struggle created by trauma. Trust that The Morrigan wasn't sending me to the woods to feel isolated and disconnected from others, sending me to make a fool out of myself "pretending" to be a devotee, dedicant and priestess. Trust that my sister priestesses were by my side should I need them, and trust that this is my path, and my place. And the actual retreat, that's going to have to be a whole other blog post.
What does your devotion look like?
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