The Cycle of Spiritual Passion: What Happens When Spirituality Sucks.
I’ve been slowly, gently piecing back together my spiritual practice after a winter of hibernating.
Well, let’s be frank, a winter of being grumpy.
See, I have this ring I wear to symbolize my commitment to spirituality and the Goddess. A couple of years ago, I was initiated as a Sister of Avalon, and wanted something to remind myself that I was in a relationship with the Divine. I was committed to doing all I could to serve as a priestess, and wanted a wedding ring to signify it.
It’s a beautiful brass crescent moon on a silver band. The sharp points of the moon can be a little stabby, so I pair it with my grandmother’s gold wedding ring my mum gave me when I was 18. Woman power! I wear the combo, my priestess ring and my woman’s lineage ring on the ring finger on my left hand. People are perpetually excited when they see it because they get to ask me if I got engaged.
Two winters ago, I was in a spiritual dark time. Goddess, Spirituality, the Divine, all of it felt frustrating and pointless and awful, like a pile of wank that only brought heartache and woe. 2015 was a funny year for spirituality, and a lot of really uncomfortable shit went down that really had me questioning my commitment to it all.
To top it off, I was in the bath washing my face when I caught the sharp, pointy edges of the crescent moon ring on my eyebrow and stabbed myself to buggery. Blood tricked down my brow bone, and I had the tiniest pair of vampire fang marks on my eyebrow for a couple of days.
“Fuck that!” I thought. I was angry with the Goddess anyway, so I took the ring off and left it on my altar resentfully, with blood dripping down my eyes.
Cue two months of time off. I did a lot of shadow work and journaling, though I stopped attempting to keep a daily practice, do priestess research or even talk to the Goddess. I was too pissed at Her.
And then one day, when I was tidying up my altar, I thought, “It’s time.”
I put my ring back on.
When something acts as a potent symbol for something important, what you do with it really does make a difference. My moon ring is a symbol of commitment to spirituality and the Feminine Divine, a symbol of my commitment to train as a priestess, whatever that may mean. Taking it off left a big impression on my wild symbolic, non-linear unconscious. Putting it back on made a big impression too.
And the world has slowly been coming alive again. I’m playing with daily practice to find a way that fulfills me, and trying to release the idea that I should be doing it to be valid or uber-spiritual or whatever. I’m feeling into the shifting energies of the natural world again.
I’ve read really interesting books and articles over the years about people who have committed to a lifelong pursuit of spirituality, yet still have doubts.
I think it’s important to remember that pretty much every person doubts their path at one time or another, whether it be career-wise, spirituality-wise or creativity-wise. Everyone.
It blew my mind when I learned that one of my dancing heroes spent years in a lethargic funk regarding dance, feeling uninspired and wanting to quit. This is a woman who leads, spearheads, and is the ultimate muse of the style of dance I have trained in.
I think that sometimes in spirituality (as in everything) if we doubt our conviction on the path at any point, our fearful selves like to latch on, providing false proof that we shouldn’t be on this path and that we don’t deserve it.
Really, that is a load of balls and just not true.
I remember reading this book about the monastic life a couple of years back. I loved it purely because of one section where the nuns and monks explained that they sometimes were incredibly doubtful and felt like packing it all in to become an accountant or shopkeeper or do anything other than this religious nonsense.
These are people who have literally left the regular world to live a life of devotion, who have made a huge commitment to their spiritual convictions and were going hell-for-leather all-in, still had doubts.
Nuns who had moments where they too thought this is all a load of balls and wanted out. Monks who were just moving through the motions for months.
I went to visit a Buddhist Monastery in Scotland two years ago, and got talking to a chatty bloke in the cafe about my weird life of belly-dancing, goddesses and mermaids, and he said to me: “Gosh, I moved here to immerse myself in my beliefs and Buddhism, but at the moment, I just want to run away, you know? Like, I just… ugh. It’s just all bollocks, really. You seem interesting… I feel like I could follow you to Switzerland or wherever, jack in all this Buddhist shit, and just escape.”
My friends thought it was funny that he was hitting on me, thinking he was a crazy Buddhist dude. But I got it.
I really really got it.
Sometimes you do just want to run away from the stuff that really matters to you. Because it is just too much, it’s too important, you’ve built it up in your head, you’ve OD’d on it, or you are just moving through a boring, empty or upsetting part of the process.
Maybe I know this because my whole intense Scorpio-moon life is about dedicating myself to the stuff I am passionate about, going all hell-for-leather Aries-sun style, and then after a few obsessive years travelling through the highs, I end up in the down phase of the cycle. The Low to balance the High. The part where you feel like giving up because you just feel like you don’t love it any more, or that it’s pointless, that you have plateaued and you don’t know how to go further.
Like all things, it is not permanent… although sometimes it feels that way. It shifts and changes into a new love. You just have to be patient and compassionate with yourself.
We’ve been tricked by the patriarchy into linear thinking. We’ve been fooled into thinking of things in straight lines, into thinking that things should never fade, that they are permanent, that we should never waver, that we should be in top form all the time. It is all lies.
Nothing in nature works like that.
The moon doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t just get bigger and bigger endlessly. It waxes and wanes.
Summer doesn’t just stay summer all the time. The seasons change, things blossom and die and blossom again.
Our bodies don’t work with that. We don’t just get fitter and hotter and more able to lift things indefinitely. We age. We cycle back to death, back to the void again.
Women don’t work like that. Our hormones make huge changes, affecting our energy levels every month as part of the menstrual cycle. In fact, the reproductive cycle is a great example of now non-linear we are. It’s even called a cycle.
Passion doesn’t work like that either. Your relationship with things you love is a lot like relationship with the person you love.
Now, you can be crazy in love with your partner, but there will be times where you are just not interested and get really frustrated. Sometimes these times last a day or two at most. Sometimes it will be months of grueling, grumpy frustration and internal angst until you break through it and remember all the dizzy, wonderful reasons you loved them in the first place.
I think this is just the cycle of passion. It ebbs and flows, like all things in life.
Everything works in a cycle. Relationships, moons, spiritual conviction. So don’t get too worried about it if you end up moving through the down part of the cycle.
It doesn’t necessarily mean anything deeply profound, such as: “This must not be my calling!” or “I was wrong! I must throw it all in and start an organic llama farm!” It just means that with the high comes the low, with progress comes stagnation, with joy comes frustration.
Things are not meant to move in a straight line all the time. And that’s okay.
Demelza Hillier is a priestess, an artist, a dancer, a performer, and an ecstatic lover of peanut butter. She lives and breathes mermaid spirituality, and creates fabulous mermaid e-courses and freebies to help people unleash and play with their wild inner mermaid. In her world, bubble baths are an absolute necessity, fine lingerie is a mandate from Venus, and sexy trashy vampire TV is to be enjoyed indulgently. Additionally, she loves playing the ukulele, expensive breakfast cereal, all the animals, and… Gary Oldman as Dracula. Shh. You can learn more about her work and get more mermaid freebies at her website, pop on over and say Hi on Facebook, or join her online mermaid coven.