Midsummer already?

I know this particular Sabbat always sneaks up on me, but after losing two months of my life in hospital the longest day has appeared even faster than it usually does. I haven’t done much to celebrate this year, despite the fact that being signed off from work means I’ve had time to plan, organise, and arrange something. Partly due to the sneakiness, but mostly to do with the heat and trying to get other stuff done. Oh, and partly procrastination – lying on the sofa reading a new book is very time-absorbing. Although it does deal with the conflict between Summer and Winter and is set around Midsummer’s Day, so I can at least claim that Summer Knight is relevant reading.

I’ve just finished my ritual celebrations, somewhat late in the day I know, but although it’s dark now there was still daylight in the sky when I began. I say ritual, but there was very little to it. As ever, what I did was based on the Pagan Dreams Litha celebration kit but a much abridged version because a) tired b) hot. My bedroom’s quite large, but when you’ve got nine candles on the go in weather like this you want to spend as little time sitting next to them as possible. I didn’t rush through things or cut corners, I just did less in circle than I would have done otherwise. I lit my altar and Deity candles, cast circle as usual, lit the quarter candles and the greyish votive I poured for my Imbolc ritual, read the poem on the ritual sheet, captured the last of the daylight in the citrine, listened to the guided meditation, and then shut everything down. No incense, salt, water, herbs, or anything. Not great, but it’s the longest I’ve concentrated on anything spiritual since getting ill in April so I’m quite proud of that. Ok, yes, I’ve been to church since then as well, but it’s a lot easier to concentrate in the morning and when the heat isn’t draped over you like a slightly damp blanket. I was getting quite good at visualisation before I hit A&E, but I am sorely out of practice now making the meditation twice as hard to do, as I couldn’t close my eyes during it either. I say couldn’t, I could have, but I wasn’t going to with that many candles lit. The votives and tealights in their holders probably would have been fine, but there was no way I was going to be able to shut my eyes for twenty-five minutes with two lit taper candles.

I don’t feel too bad about it though, as it was lovely to be able to sit at my altar again and I’d kinda done most of my celebrating earlier in the day. The past week or so we’ve had really hot weather (for the UK) with temperatures in the high twenties/low thirties. Now I am not good with the heat – I blame the fact I was born on the Winter Solstice – and whenever it gets really hot it also gets humid. If it was a dry heat I might feel better, but when it’s muggy like this you just feel sweaty all the time, even when you haven’t been doing anything strenuous. It’s just unpleasant. However, the weather isn’t allowed to get in the way of my convalescence so this afternoon my parents and I went for a walk with my godfather. He lives near the Thames at Windsor, and the heat was still very noticeable, but easier to bear by the river where we were walking. There were also a lot of trees shading the path, so in between the shade and dappled shade which cooled me off I was able to bask in the sunny patches as I walked through them, feeling the heat of the Solstice sun soaking into my skin and enjoying being out in it before the nights start closing in. Granted, we’re (hopefully) going to get a lot more hot and sunny (but preferably slightly less hot) weather over the next couple of months, but there is something in the knowledge that this is where the dark half of the year begins that makes me appreciate the sun that little bit more.

There were also loads of dragonflies darting all over the place and landing on the grass and plants either side of the path. The ones I saw most commonly were about an inch and a half long, and a gorgeous deep electric blue. They were even flitting about the graveyard we walked through on our loop back to my godfather’s house, which was quite a way from the river. Dragonflies are one of the animals associated with Freyja, and seeing so many of them (roughly one every ten to twenty paces) made me feel closer to Her. Walking through the cemetery also gave me the chance to say my prayers for the dead which brought back memories of the last site I was on – the area I was on before I got ill was full of skeles so I was saying dead prayers every day, and the weather was warm and sunny then as well. That period of time was an enjoyable one, and I still miss being around the guys in my work team and my housemates. I made some good friends on that site. All in all, a very enjoyable Solstice day.

Convalescing sucks

So, I was discharged from hospital Wednesday last week, much to my relief. Yes, I needed the rehab, but after I spent last weekend at home on weekend leave I realised I was seriously suffering from cabin fever – I spent a lot of each day walking up and down the ward and corridors, couldn’t settle to read, and pretty much counted the hours to visiting time and bedtime when I could escape for a while. But I’m out now, and all that is behind me. I’m also back in my flat, as by the time I left I was mobile and independent enough to live on my own rather than at the parents’. I’ve still got follow-up appointments to attend and I’m getting outpatient physio, but I’m on the home stretch to being back to where I was before I got ill.

So why the suckage? Aside from I’m being paid ESA rather than wages. Yes, I get to stay in bed longer, I have a lot of time to do the things I’ve been avoiding unable to do while I was working – sorting my boxes of paperwork and dealing with the boxes of random stuff in my bedroom that I haven’t unpacked since the move – as well as stuff like start on the quilt I’m going to be making, finish the spring cleaning, catch up on my blog reading, post more here, get back into my spirituality, read my pile of To Read books… The list goes on. And as I’m signed off from work for two months I don’t even have to worry about looking for work, which part of my brain keeps thinking I need to do. But frankly I’d rather be getting up at 6am again and going to work up in town like I should have been doing before I got ill.

Part of that is because I’m still a lot weaker and get fatigued easily, but a lot of it is also looking at the boxes of stuff and the piles of crap in my room (there are areas of my life where I am not organised, my bedroom floor being one of them) and whining ‘do I have to?’ at myself. Yes, yes I do. And not just because I’ve got Kizzy and her old flatmate visiting for several days next weekend and they need somewhere to sleep, or because even if I moved the alcohol collection off my desk I still wouldn’t be able to use it because the footwell’s packed with stuff, but because the reason I haven’t dealt with that stuff yet is because I was working during the day and therefore tired during the evening, and at weekends I was either busy seeing friends or similar, or wanting to rest and self-care for a couple of days. I just didn’t have the time.

Well now I have the time, and my friends are providing the pressure I need to actually get me started. Another of the things I’ve been meaning to do during my convalescence is seriously do more to enrich my spiritual life – meditate, spend more time at my altar, carry on with my 366 project, use my tarot decks, make use of my prayer bead collection – partly because I want to, partly because it should mean that when I’m back working I’ll have a foundation of daily practice that I can (hopefully) build on when I start work again that won’t just disappear when things get hectic, but also because I need to. I have had so many kicks up the arse from my Deities over the past few days it’s getting ridiculous, and a lot of it has been through the content of the books I’ve read recently. So from the religious discussions taking place in C. J. Sansom’s novel Lamentation to the descriptions of magic in the Dresden Files series, to wanting to reread the All Souls’ trilogy next I’ve got both God and Freyja poking me to, y’know, actually get off my arse and start doing things again. Planning is all very well, and I’m good at planning what I’m going to do, but it’s the starting of it that I’ve never been very good at. Take (somewhat embarrassingly) most of my uni essays for example – I could write up the plan of what I was going to write, I could go through all the books and pull out quotes to use in my essay, and I would put off and put off actually sitting down and starting to write. Once I’d got about 500 words in I was fine, and could write for hours at a stretch, but it was that avoidance of first beginning that meant I was usually writing for hours at a stretch due to pulling all-nighters with said essays being due in the following day. I was a terrible student sometimes.
So, another reason to tidy my bedroom – my copies of Methodist Worship and Wicca: A Year and a Day are buried somewhere in there.