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Walking the Path of Light: A Letter
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Author: Paladin of the Waxing Moon
Posted: December 29th. 2013
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Merry Meet, Friend
Samhain is past. In my festivities to remember my ancestors, I did not forget my old friends, all young men and women killed in war. Coming right on the swift wings of Samhain was Veteranís Day and the seasonal color change of the trees. They are two special days with similar purposes. I have always enjoyed the beautiful colors and found them almost spiritual; I have waited for it as part of my journey and the wheel of the year. But I donít know why it is that I feel weary now, that something is pulling me away from the Pagan path, and the wonderful color change has other meanings for me.
We donít have much color change because our weather here is more temperate. We have only a few trees that change color before winter, and the change doesnít last long. I am mindful of the beauty and brevity, for soon the brilliant colors fade as the trees toss their leaves away. Itís a seasonal chemical change in the tree that discards the leaves and makes room for the new and young. The leaves fluoresce in glory before the tatters come. I know it sounds silly, but I look for the last curled, ragged leaf, solitary on the branch, its generation gone.
Oh, what a hackneyed thought, some would say, and theyíd probably be right. However, it means something to me, one who is no longer young, a veteran who has seen more than enough young life sacrificed in duty and honor; or as Shakespeare once wrote in wisdom, those words of mere air. Itís a barracks ballad that old soldiers just fade away, like leaves of a tree. A society like ours, which tosses away its youth in wars, elders to reprehensible care, and the unborn, has severe challenges for its future with which it must deal. The memories of my lost friends and the search for the Divine follow my journey.
I think that journey is common to many of us. As we walk on the hard stones of the Earth, we attend to our essential survival needs first, of course, food, shelter, stuff like that. We have other needs that a psychologist described as steps of a pyramid, with our survival needs at its base and our spiritual needs at its apex. I am seeking my spiritual needs but I donít feel like Iím climbing a pyramid, per se. I donít think Iím carrying a rock up a mountain like Sisyphus, either. Rather, I should be mining for inner gold, tunneling into myself for a light I knew once before. How fascinating that, at the end of the tunnel, may be the pinnacle of the pyramid. This search should not be a mystery to any Pagan.
Not many years ago, I buried the last of my family, and I know how dry and deep mourning and aloneness can be now. I went away to a small resort in the mountains south of here. After lap swimming, I soaked for a bit in the hot therapy pool. There were adults and children, too. While I was driving home, alongside a beautiful view of the forested coastal mountains and a long blue reservoir, I knew a spiritual experience.
Itís hard to remember and more difficult to describe, very personal and not easy to disclose, even to a friend: Somewhere on the road, the mourning disappeared, replaced by an embracing, embraceable feeling of ease and compassion; I was no longer alone but part of everything. I was conscious of it when it faded away a few days later. The legacy of it is how intriguing that something like that happened to me at all, one who had never been spiritual before. I strive to carry the legacy with me in my travels. Itís as if the warrior returning home remains silent because you canít understand what it was like if you werenít there.
There are explanations for such moments. I believed it was an imminent experience, a close encounter with a vivid healing presence when I needed it most. It was beyond a personal relationship with a deity. There were not any medications or other substances involved (not even espresso) . It just was there. Of course, we cannot experience spiritual imminence at will, even magickal will, no matter how strongly we desire it. No spell can conjure it. It may never come at all or ever return. It was not something I was seeking; it just happened, and the travels of my mystical journey began.
It is liminal when you commence a spiritual journey, like opening a door and crossing the threshold; it is to travel between worlds. There is that moment on the threshold, when we are passing just between worlds, not fully exited from one nor entering another, when we become aware of a new purpose or destination for us. It is leaving the ritual of the temple with purpose in mind for the non-magickal world. It is remembering my ancestral family at Samhain; it is toasting the beauty and brevity of my fallen comradesí lives on Veteranís Day. It is to know the joy of the Yule Tree and the return of the Sun.
Yule has been a significant Sabbat to me. The Midwinter Solstice, when the days begin to grow longer and warmer, has been observed and celebrated by many ancient peoples in their temples, rituals, and circle monuments. We celebrate our deities, the Earth, and our relationship with the Universe. We feast, dance, and exchange gifts. We symbolize it with an evergreen tree, which is living, consecrated, and decorated; and, it keeps its leaves. We hope not to cut a Yule Tree. We want to keep it alive. We want it to grow. We can visualize a spiritual journey from its lush, pyramidal shape. In many ways, the Yule Tree is a symbol of the renewal and continuity of life.
So, why do I feel lost? How can I retell the weariness no one else can feel? You see, tunneling along a path of light is lonely, and I have been unable to yield from years of study and work anything I sought at the start. Itís like youíre on one of the grand roads in Alaska or the Yukon that, after many miles, suddenly ends, and surrounding you is raw wilderness that consumes you. And you must step off the pavement into mud. It has left me wondering if Iím on the correct path at all, if I should just drop away from all this, paused on a new threshold. My journey is my own. No one can travel with me. Iím on a one-way ticket with no return.
But itís Yule, following the feast of gratitude, and a time for looking forward, not past. I am grateful I was given such a fleeting gift. As a Sabbat, perhaps it can ease such weariness with the promise of the Yule Solstice -- spring will come again.
How revivifying that promise can be. One can become lost, though navigating by stars; one can lose the wind, though tacking back to a good course. I may be like the last, battered leaf because so many I have known are no longer here. Itís the evergreen memories of them I canít get out of my mind.
Perhaps I have permitted too much to divert me from running to the Divine. Though years of study have passed, I still see a longer path before me that is above and free of the mud. That is where I need to walk. The mystic path is not like instant coffee; there is no instant mysticism.
Maybe I had forgotten that.
I have much more work to do.
Paladin of the Waxing Moon
Location: Colma, California
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