March’s theme for The Cauldron’s Blog Project is Calendars, Cycles, and Patterns; calendars, at least, I have proven I can talk about at length on this blog. So obviously I’ll do that some more! The first thing I want to focus on is what isn’t on my calendar, and why.
But before I get into that, I want to touch on my calendar in general. This year I’ve been experimenting by sharing my calendar, one month at a time, and lightly outlining my plans for each observance. Honestly, I feel a little weird sharing it, though the fact that a few people liked the idea and intend to do something like it themselves has made the feeling of “weird oversharing” much less present. But I do have a few reasons for sharing, TMI or not. One is public accountability. My depression is real, and the effect it has on my spoon levels is real, but I am also prone to not-doing when I have the spoons. A long-time armchair pagan, I will think and revise and rethink a ritual to death in an effort to make it a perfect thing, and never actually do it, and see what is useful and what isn’t. Having the look-back over the past month keeps me from over-thinking things too much.
Another is the usefulness of having a set time to sit down, look at the coming month, and get some idea of what I want to do and what I might need. The once-a-month timing is not ideal, I’ve found- as I noticed two days ago, when I looked at March and realized it was mere days before Carnival. (Why I am no longer as worried about that I will touch on below.) Still, even if my planning has not been particularly complex, it’s a start, and it’s a habit I can build upon later. I intend to keep up with the once a month posts for the year; if I decide to continue next year, I might adjust the schedule a bit- if I look a month ahead every two weeks, for example, I’ll give myself more prep time.
The last reason is pure data: by looking back each month and reflecting on what I did and didn’t accomplish, I can use that information in the future to plan accordingly. Again, my current method is slightly less than ideal, as I don’t go into much detail- but then, I’m not doing anything complex that would warrant much detail, either.
So: what isn’t on my calendar this year? Festivals. (I can see you out there, blinking in confusion. What else goes on a calendar??) For purposes of this conversation, I’m defining festivals as the religious holidays that are observed by other people besides me, and contain ritual. So why am I leaving what might be argued as the foundation of a religious calendar out of mine?
In most cases, these festivals are oriented around deities and their myths. Some are seasonal at their core- some can be adapted to focus only on the seasonal stuff, instead of the deity. But it’s hard to, for example, remove Dionysos from Anthesteria, or Athene from the Panathenaea. This becomes problematic for me for one really big reason: I have spent the past four years in a depressive hole without reading, without writing, without engaging my mind in any useful or strenuous way. I feel like I have forgotten everything I ever knew. The things I can remember, I can’t remember where I got them, which doesn’t make further research useful, nor discerning what I picked up through pagan-exposure-osmosis, what is historical fact, and what is my own UPG that has been sitting around unexamined and unchallenged. Additionally, the years before the hole were consumed with a number of (mutually) unhealthy relationships, romantic and otherwise, and my high school years, which weren’t exactly a paragon of academic or intellectual effort. My foundations simply aren’t there in any useful manner, and I need that foundation to actually adapt and engage in religious festivals instead of going through the motions. My goal this year is to get my brain back into shape- the reading I have to do for my schoolwork is helping, but I haven’t made any progress with fiction or my own non-fiction selections. It’s intensely frustrating, but I have to be gentle with myself and take it a little at a time. I can’t launch into reading two books a week after so long.
There are 11 festivals that are technically on my calendar for this year, two of which have passed already (Imbolc and Anthesteria) and one that is swiftly approaching (Carnival). Instead of worrying about Doing Something, though, I am going to do my best with the spoons I have available on that day to do some research. That might mean hitting Wikipedia and Google and saving some websites and books to look into as I can. And if I can do more than that, great, but if not, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Becoming the person you want to be, including a pious one, is not something that happens overnight, and I need to remember that.
So this year, I will do my best to research those 11 holidays as best I can, and put together some ideas on how to observe them; next year, I will observe as many of them as I can, as best I can- assuming that they all still feel appropriate for me to be observing, which isn’t a guarantee- and I’ll add a few more from my list of maybes onto the research list. Drawing from multiple cultures, some with very heavy religious calendars, means that I cannot possibly observe everything; I’ll need to research and experiment, to see what resonates and what doesn’t. I may, for those purposes, keep up with the O&O posts past this year- though given how long some of these posts are already, it might be easier to track them privately. I suppose it’ll depend on whether I manage to be more specific in my plans and my reviews- sharing them a second time around would really only be useful if they contained information that could help other people.
What is on my calendar for this year, without festivals? I’ll cover that next week!