Fire Ants and Ice Water: An Unexpected Lesson
Article ID: 13710
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: March 14th. 2010
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Do you remember when it finally “clicked”? I clearly remember those tidbits of delightful self-discovery I made the first weeks after setting out on my Pagan path. It was so liberating to release all my puritanical Christian baggage as I started to really listen to that inner voice of balance. You know, those “ah-ha” moments we all have in our budding spiritual life - those unique moments of clarity.
Consider, for instance, the bright Sunday morning I headed out the door to take my son on a picnic and found I was no longer concerned about angering the stern gray-haired patriarch-in-the-sky for missing a Sunday church service. Or what about when I realized that, despite being a married woman, I no longer anticipated being struck by lightning (or some such similar fate) for having lustful thoughts about actors Antonio Banderas or Hugh Grant. Or perhaps we could consider those financially difficult months, in which surprise expenses were particularly prevalent, and I gratefully released the added burden of guilt for not tithing exactly ten percent of my week’s salary to an organized religion.
As a devotee of both the Lady and Lord I began to absorb the fact that although I am not nearly perfect in action, thoughts or deeds, I am also not the huge sinner the local Christian churches would have had me to believe I was.
As I grew spiritually I learned more about my new path and I began to explore much of what all new Pagans investigate when building a relationship with the Lady and Lord. I learned meditation, rituals, candle magick, the Wheel of the Year, herbs for magick or healing and so much more. My understanding grew, and continues to grow, in all these areas. But I also learned something else… a clearer sense of reality. Along with the liberation and moments of clarity there came some firm lessons, too.
As a brand new Pagan I had daydreams of myself dancing through a meadow “in sync” with my Lady. I had visions of myself as the powerful Witch one sees in many a fantasy art rendering (simply Google “Pagan Art” and see what images pop up!) That was what I wanted to be. The all-knowing wise woman surrounded by little animals who somehow comprehend I would never harm them (of course I wanted to be slender, powerful, fair of complexion with long flowing hair, too… just like those Google images) .
Let’s be honest here, my daydreams even sometimes included me having a propensity for potions that rivaled only that of Professor Severus Snape (you know who I mean… the unsung hero in the Harry Potter stories) .
Admittedly, even at that stage of my life, I had some growing-up to do. The Lady, with her sense of humor and a balance between good and evil made sure to help me out with this. One of my first lessons was in the form of fire ants.
It seemed simple enough. As a Witch I am supposed to be “one with nature”, right? So why not go barefoot and scantily clad, into a lovely remote Texas meadow, set up an altar, and perform a ritual of thanksgiving for all I’ve been blessed with? Sounds perfectly “Witchy”, right?
Let me simply say that fire ants don’t care how sincere one is when meditating or trying to perform a ritual.
Feet, legs, and buttocks all became perfect targets for these tiny creatures regardless of my righteous intent to praise the same Lady who created them. Okay, so maybe the “dancing through the meadow” idea isn’t going to work out (let me rephrase that, I guess you could say I danced but it was more of a hop, rub, slap, ouch-sounds, slap-some-more sort of dance) … but, on the flipside, I did learn more about natural healing - Aloe is great for calming the burn of fire ant stings!
Like many other Pagans, my path became clearer and more realistic as time progressed. Over the next couple of years I settled into a routine of ritual and meditation that worked for me. I honed magickal skills and strengthened my relationship with my Lady and Lord. However, as to be expected, They still had a lot to teach me and icy cold water became another effective teaching tool.
The icy water happened after my husband and I decided to live in an RV and travel the United States full-time. Selling all our property, giving away the majority of our belongings and moving into a small RV required a major adjustment in my daily routines and the way I worship our Lady and Lord. (You can read more about this in The Witches’ Voice article “A Witch in an RV”.) One of these changes came in how and where I perform my ritual cleansing prior to casting a circle. Although water conservation has always been an important objective in my life, conservation became even more significant when we moved into a small RV with a thirty-gallon fresh water tank.
Motivated by our small water tank, I had the not-so-brilliant idea, while in Maine during the month of May, to take a ritual preparatory bath in a bubbling stream. I reasoned that this would be the perfect way to not only save our limited water supply for cooking and toilet flushing but to also intensify my spiritual appreciation for the element of water while bonding more deeply with our Mother.
As you may well imagine, while sitting in the comfort of your computer’s glow, this was not the spiritual experience I had originally anticipated. Rather than appreciating water, this glorious element, all I could think of was those unfortunate Witches subjected to sadistic “dunking” during various Witch hunts in our human history.
It is one thing to read about the tortures inflicted on those suspected of being Witches in our past, it creates an entire new empathy, however, to experience that painful icy water yourself. Once again, a lesson learned and experienced - albeit not the experience I had originally envisioned.
I have learned many other such lessons (too numerous to write about here) as I progressed from my shallow understanding of what being a Witch is all about to my more settled and realistic viewpoint of today. The Lady and Lord seem to always have new lessons for us when we least expect them.
Although I am not physically willowy and I don’t have long flowing hair, like so many of those fantasy artists’ renderings of Witches, I have discovered a deeper understanding and approval of the inner me and what being a Witch means in our modern world. Due to these many valuable lessons I now have a more realistic view of myself as a Witch. I have a power all my own that is not depicted by fantasy artists or found in Harry Potter books.
So often I see young Witches write postings that reflect a disappointment in themselves for their spells not working, or for a connection with a coven or another Witch not being productive. I want to ask - are your expectations realistic? Is there perhaps a lesson there that you weren’t expecting and you might not be realizing clearly? Stop for a moment and take a look at where you are on your path and be sure to look for those hidden lessons in life.
As I advance both spiritually and in maturity each year, ever nearer to becoming a Crone, I find myself wanting even more to encourage young Witches to stretch out and find their own visions of what being a Witch is really all about… just watch out for those fire ants and that icy water along the way!
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