Back in the Saddle

It’s been eight months since I posted here. I’ve thought about it several times during the interval, but didn’t have enough clarity to actually craft an entry.

I ended my therapy series in April, when I finally felt free of the depression which has been shadowing me for a decade, but it’s taken several more months to really start breaking free of the habits of depression survival which have been limiting my life. I do have the energy to exercise, to see friends, to work on my business, to write more than anguished journal entries — but for a long time my brain has been insisting that I need to keep hunkered down, preserving my scarce resources.

Today I revisited my Feral Holiness website for the first time almost a year, and discovered that several people had used the Contact form but I’d never received any notifications. Since the form manager did not make it intuitively obvious how to fix that, I went over to YouTube and found a tutorial which gave me the information I needed. I fixed the form’s back-end, and then sat down and responded to each person who had sent me a message.

I am currently working on a biz dev to-do list involving marketing, blog post ideas, and adding free resources to the website. The best part is that after months of feeling inadequate and scared of the challenge, I’m having fun!

Death, Flux, Xeper

The day after I made my last original post, my father went into the hospital. Nine nights later – an interval with particular significance for those of us devoted to Odin – he died.

I loved my father very much, and I admired him deeply. I was proud to be his daughter, and to be known as his daughter.

I was not prepared for the feeling of liberation that filled me once the initial shock of grief passed.

I was not prepared for how good it felt to realize that I would never again worry about whether or not he would approve of, or understand, my decisions. Especially my decisions about the profound changes in my work and lifestyle which this blog was founded to chronicle.

Two months later, via a free association browsing session on Amazon, I ended up downloading a sample of “The Children of Set: The Confessions of Michael Kelly, vol 3.”* This was entirely out of character for me. Despite my wide-ranging reading, I have always avoided books about The Left Hand Path (LHP) due to my impression that they were focused on celebrating evil and using occult power to exploit others for personal gain.

That is not what I found in this book. Instead I found a story of a man seeking personal development, excellence, and ever more profound levels of initiation. The Left Hand Path, as presented by Kelly, addressed some of the points of tension I have had with the Right Hand Path: most significantly, my utter lack of desire to be ultimately subsumed in union with the One, and its insufficiency in addressing the concept of personal sovereignty.

Reading the book was an initiatory experience in itself, an unprecedented event.

And it has thrown my spiritual life – including my work as a spiritual director – into turmoil. The turmoil itself is not a bad thing, but it’s forcing me to re-think a lot of my basic assumptions about how I conduct my personal spiritual life and my business. It’s also forcing me to reassess how I feel about an occult school and a fraternal order I belong to, both of which are deeply worthy organizations from which I derive both deep spiritual value and companionship.

The Word of the Temple of Set is Xeper, which means “I have come into being.” It is a word of self-awareness, self-directed development, of ongoing initiation, of becoming and becoming and becoming, in this lifetime and after death. It is a word which captures my earliest sense of my life’s mission: to travel from world to world, learning and developing and evolving in ways that I could never have done had I remained in place. In my father’s world.

Between Dad’s death, this book, and others about the LHP, I have been doing a lot of processing about my sense of self-worth, my sense of freedom, of sovereignty, of courage. About my values, my vision, and my long-standing mission “To bring light” – which takes on a whole new level of meaning when one has been reading about luciferian figures as champions of human sentience and freedom. And I ended up doing something like a spontaneous soul retrieval, recognizing and reintegrating an expression of personal sovereignty which I had personified and externalized when I was an adolescent.

And then, because all that wasn’t enough, I took part in a self-nurturing coaching session which turned into a deep and profound cleansing and reclaiming of parts of myself which had been lost to me since my soulmate’s death nine years ago.

Since Dad’s death, my work on my business has been completely stalled. At first I blamed it on the ordeal of his last week and the tasks which followed, and then I blamed my lack of personal discipline and initiative, but this evening I realized that I haven’t made any progress because my business is an expression of my spiritual life, and I’ve been in flux and without direction.

And then I finally allowed myself to admit something which has been subconsciously nagging at me for weeks: my beautiful new website is all wrong. It’s a lovely expression of nice middle class white lady spiritual coaching. It’s a website I could show to my father and have him be proud of me. There’s nothing in it of the shadows, of the claws and the blood and the stars and the tears and the ecstasy which have made me who I am. It doesn’t show the Priestess of Ereshkigal. It doesn’t show The Dancer in the Void. It doesn’t show the Hierodule. It shows an authentic slice of who I have been, but it doesn’t reflect the whole me. It doesn’t express the life I want to live, the spirit I want to express now.

It reflects the sensibilities of those polished and preppy online mentors who want to help you make money online by expressing your authentic self – but whose expectations of what ‘authenticity’ looks like never seem to fit me.

The place that is authentically mine scares me.
It scares me because it’s beyond the pale of the life of I was raised to lead.
Because it’s outside of what’s safe and “normal” and business as usual.
My business is called Feral Holiness because I know that I want to live outside of those boundaries, but I’ve been afraid to commit to taking that step.
Afraid to be seen in my feral fullness.

But I’m dying within the boundaries, in the cage of my present life.

Only one thing to do.

Xeper and Remanifest.

I have to completely erase my website and start over.

I have to create a vision from my gut and my cunt as well as my rational mind.
I love the light. But I cannot shrink from expressing my shadow as well.
If Feral Holiness is going to be my work, then I must be feral.
Otherwise there is no point.
I cannot presume to offer to help others with their soul work if I am ashamed of my own soul.
I cannot help others find and express their authenticity if I am hiding behind the good girl mask.

*I will get a commission from Amazon if you make a purchase after clicking this link (same session only). It will not add to the price of anything you buy.

Lilith’s Aura

She bows before no one
a goddess in her own right
a darkness made purely out of beauty
a light that only the free understand
wild feisty empowered spirit
your presence is powerful
the weak fear it
many fall in love with the idea of you
but most can’t handle you
you reign without permission
there’s nothing you won’t do.

Source: https://rabbitholeofpoetry.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/liliths-aura/

Taking a risk, selling spiritual services

I just paid for a course in “Heart Centered Selling” after listening to a webinar. It’s going to cost me about $600 over four months, and that scares the hell out of me. But I also think that I need to learn what this instructor is presenting.

Spiritual direction is probably one of the least sales-oriented services out there. Traditionally, directors work through or under the auspices of houses of worship, or as part of another ministry. And the words “sales” and “ministry” are not comfortable together, with good reason.

But I need to learn how to explain to people who might benefit from working with me what I do, why it’s worth paying for my services, and how they will benefit – while also making it clear that if we’re not a good match then I don’t want to work with them. I don’t want to pressure anyone, but I do want to present my services effectively and attractively.

And it’s not just for spiritual direction. I also need to be able sell my ritual consultation and celebrant services, and my (to-be-developed) workshops.

Because if I am not able to generate an income from this work I won’t be able to do it full time, which is what I want to do.

So I’m making what is for me a sizeable financial investment in my future, believing that Feral Holiness is a viable business that I can and should take seriously. I think that’s what prompted me to finally hit the “Register” button: asking myself Am I committed to this path or not? And if I am, then am I willing to pay a price to gain the skills I need to be a good businesswoman as well as a good priestess? Because on the path I have chosen I can not be one without the other.

If I had a temple or established community to support me, this would not be an issue.

But if I had that support I wouldn’t be living the life I lead now, would never have made the break to become Feral, and this blog and my business would not exist.

 

Finances & Freedom

Time to talk about money.

Mental freedom is critically important, but it’s not enough for me. I want to be able to spend my time doing things I enjoy while living a nomadic lifestyle, AND I want good food, good health care, and the ability to keep my motor home fueled and in good condition. I also want to be able to do things like take a Caribbean sailing cruise (#1 on my Bucket List), and I want to help support worthy causes. All of that requires income at far more than a subsistence level.

I worked in a start-up company for two years. During that time I learned that money is the lifeblood of business. No matter how cool your products are, unless your income is greater than your expenses you’re going to fail. As much as some people hate to admit it, the same is true of our personal lives. Unless we have a way to bring in more money than we spend, we are going to end up homeless, starving, and sick — and that’s not freedom. That’s not the ability to live a satisfying life on your own terms.

One of the best pieces of financial insight I ever received was “The amount of money you need to retire is the amount it takes to maintain your desired lifestyle.” Since then I’ve been working to simplify my lifestyle, to cut out things that are unnecessary and do not grieve me to let go of. (Making myself uncomfortable and unhappy is not part of the plan!) I’ve downsized my apartment and my library, take public transportation more frequently, and eat out less. I want to not need as much income to support myself, because the less I need the less dependent I am on others to support me, whether the “other” is a company that employs me or clients who pay for my services.

The less I need, the freer I am, but I have no interest in a bare-bones existence. And because working for an employer is not part of my definition of freedom, I’m starting to develop multiple ways I can provide billable services to clients, write books and articles people want to buy, and create workshops they want to attend — all while enjoying myself.

My Freedom Plan is a business plan.

 

Putting my day job in its place

For a long time, my day job has been the #1 factor shaping not just my schedule but how I live my life. I expect that this is true for a lot of people, since most of us work in order to have the money we need to survive. But I’m in the process of shifting that mindset. I will still take the day job seriously, of course, but I’ve decided to stop letting it define and dominate my life.

Centering my life around my day job has been bad for my mental health. I have a “good job” at a good company (non-profit health care), and work with great people. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with my job except for the fact that I am working in a support position, assigned boring tasks, despite having two advanced degrees. It’s been demoralizing. I’ve let it be demoralizing. In fact, I’ve let my life be overshadowed by the constant feeling of frustration and shame I feel at not having a better job. (Yes, I have done therapy around that issue, and I’m a lot better than I used to be.)

As of today, I start centering my life around my actual vocation: a spiritual director, priestess, and celebrant who also writes books and has a blog. When people ask me what I do I will tell them about Feral Holiness, not the day job. Instead of thinking of my non-day-job hours as time to escape its frustations by hiding and numbing myself, I will see it simply as my time to live and to pursue my vocation. The day job will be the ‘other’ time, not my prime time.

This is kind of raw and personal material, but I don’t think there’s any way to radically change one’s life without digging deep into these areas, and radical change — breaking my chains — is what this blog is about.