11 Resolutions for an 11 Year: Heathen Vows for the 2018 Portal.
Lean in close, my sister in sorcery. You’ll want to hear this.
The Long Night’s Moon was swelling to full on this most peculiar New Year’s Eve, and my Winter’s nap was broken up into bits by nightmarish visions of goals unreached and ambitions unmet. Still sleepless at the Witching Hour, I gave up and finally surrendered to a restless wander through a blood-on-snow dreamscape that was my psychic temple just at the cusp of a portal year.
I met you there, Sister, only it wasn’t this vibrant and dew-skinned version of you who sits before me now.
The Wheel of Time is a cunning beast, isn’t she?
When I saw you, standing at the edge of a craggy cliff where long fingers of ice stretched deep into the chilled infinite below, I recognized your wiser eyes immediately. You reached out to touch the sagging skin around my neck with one greying brow raised high, and I brushed a frozen hand along the twig-and-branch pattern cob-webbing out from your lash edges.
“You’re old,” you said with the honesty of a true friend.
“So are you,” I replied, and we laughed like wicked women, holding our wobbling bellies and watching our guffaws fog in the cold and drift away to grace the sweeter dreams of some loud and bossy little girl.
It was us, you see. It was us one year from today, after another 13 moons, after a Winter that seemed too long and a Spring that seemed too short, after a Summer spent wishing for Autumn, and an Autumn spent mourning for the wasted warmth of June.
It was you, one more year gone, and it was me, having trekked through the frozen drifts in hopes of warming myself beside the eternal cauldron of your so bitter and potent wisdom, but it was me that did most of the talking.
You asked only one question, but it was a doozy of a seed-riddle, and I planted it right here below my fickle and wounded heart.
You cupped my frozen cheeks in both hands and queried: “This year, what too-tight masks will you refuse to wear so that others might see your true face?”
Such a brave beast you are! Only a dear friend wonders such things, fearlessly willing to encounter more soulful incarnations of those they thought they had fully understood and wholly known. I wonder what would happen to our most intimate relationships if we were to ask one another that very question every day.
There’s such a deep and profound courage in that willingness to be refused, to be left behind in the name of a loved one’s most radical self-hood and integrated sovereignty.
I made my resolutions right then and there, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t the most stalwart and stone-bellied vows I’ve ever made. May I be cast into the pits of a hell of my own making if I don’t keep these promises, and may I forever be changed by that dream encounter I had with you, my friend, mirror to my inner Crone.
- “No more will I draw hard lines between who I am and whom I aspire to be,” I resolved. Desire is but an ephemeral reflection of my unrest, the fleeting shape of my present longing flavored with should-bes and supposed-tos. I’m leaving the mask of endless ambition right here in the snow, and I’m returning to the feathery nest of my bed with skin soaked in the warmest oils of self-compassion and robust intuition.
- I’m choosing to wave between these two priorities: Quality of feeling over endless sacrifice, and willful, precise, forward action over half-hearted side steps.
- This year, I’m spitting out the syrupy sweet, over-caffeinated poison of constant activity and eternal doing, and I’m choosing to move as the Cailleach moves, with sure-footed and conscious intent. I’m peeling off the too visible masks of always-here and never-still, and I’m raising my hood and walking West into the wastelands where no one can find me.
- I’m making a hard-jawed commitment to a more just world, and I’m learning the activist’s magick.
- I’m choosing a felt, in-the-bones Craft over mechanical rituals, and I’m honing my particularly Pagan Priestess ways even as we speak, permitting the candlelit ceremonies of spoken words and burning herbs to give way to ground-swelling, steaming vibrations born of the hot and Holy Wild like wayward surface ice surrenders to warmer waters. That mask of the soft-spoken Witch is staying right here on this white tundra, and my voice is sharpening to the precision point of a fine-toothed blade as the days grow longer.
- I’m resolving right here and now to compost every pink-petal-scented ingredient I use to dilute what I was born to say. Those who shrink back at the sour taste of my words are free to go, and those who choose to stay will find a fiercer sister in me, the one who let go of the mask of the artful verse in favor of a grimier and more genuine poetry.
- This year, I’m shedding regret as a snake sheds its skin, and I’m handwriting a new story to be passed down through the generations of surviving sorceresses. It’s a story of secret recipes brewed by those far more rooted in their ways than me, a tale of ancient reverence that cannot be romanticized by even the most pristine princess, and I’m leaving the mask of tamer and more comfortable work right here to wither and be dragged away by a grey-furred and ravenous creature.
- I’ve been addicted to fear, you see. I’ve kept part of my soul submerged and tossed it thin and flavorless scraps, so that I might keep it just on the edge of death, so that I might hide but not kill that powerful, thick-blooded monster I called too gruesome to be seen. This year, my horned wildness will be unleashed for all to behold, and the modest mask I kept dim so the shadow might stay un-cast is coming off and getting smashed tonight.
- This year, the all-knowing elder in me is going to teach the inner maiden how to hunt, and I’m coming to rescue those fragile and quivering inner children still hiding in closets and under beds.
- I’m resolving to teach my own babes to wear their wild well, and I’m leaving what little remains of the perfect mother’s mask here beneath these Winter stars.
- “Lastly, sweet friend,” I continued. “Lastly, and before the sun sets on this portal-year of stripped pretenses and crumbling institutions, I am resolving to get back to basics, swimming long and hard into the deep end of the Heathen ways where I once found such solace. This Witch is through with strict structures and glamour. Not once have I been served by spiritual obedience after all. Not once have I found true peace in the pursuit of high degrees and lofty ranks. In the salty waters of primal purification, I will rid myself of all prayers I did not write and all the demons I did not conjure. No more do I feel a need to carry burdensome bags packed by a stranger, and I’m tossing the innumerable masks of watered-down and muddled beliefs right off this cliff’s edge.”
It started to snow then, just as I finished making my resolutions, and the flakes caught in my eyes and blurred my gaze in such a way that you began to look like the angels of my childhood, haloed and winged and judgmental. I begged you to carry me to a warmer place, but the dream ended then, with you wrapping your long paper-skinned arms around my aging frame.
I woke up weeping, with an over-running chalice between my guts and my heart, a surging forth of potential and possibility I had not felt before in all my years, and I knew I had to share these resolutions with you right away in case they belonged to us both and not to me alone.
If I’m being honest, I half-hoped you’d come with me to get these vows tattooed on what spots remain bare on our skin, but, having shared these resolutions with you now, I know they are branded bone-deep on the curves of my pelvis, ribs, and skull. I shall not forget, whatever distractions the brighter days might bring.
May all blessings be.