I walk around feeling like a few different people. I know that’s the case for a lot of folks–we have faces we wear when we’re at work, faces when we’re at home, faces we wear with our extended families…we all do this to a greater or lesser extent. For me, it’s uncomfortable. And perhaps it’s because my faces are at extremes. Reconciling the metal-head Valkyrie with the encouraging, motivating yoga teacher with the pagan-priestess-labyrinth-facilitating-tarot-reader with the gardening-food-preserving-cooks-dinner-every-night-domestic-goddess is difficult. People who know me as one face don’t always know the others. And sometimes those worlds collide in front of people, and it’s always a little odd. ‘I didn’t know you were in a band!’ ‘You teach YOGA? Really? You don’t seem the type.’ ‘Why do you know so much about plants?’
I’ve been trying to think of a way, of ways, to merge my different masks into one face for months now. Into a more authentic, truthful self. As ever in my path, I’m trying to find the center: the kernel of truth at the heart of a larger picture.
This year at Twilight Covening (no relation to sparkly vampires – previous post on that here), I was a part of Camel Clan, a yoga-based clan. I participated in the yoga clan at the retreat two years ago. Coming back as a yoga teacher was a simply amazing experience. My clan leaders were kind and generous enough to offer teaching opportunities to me; to allow me to assist in some practices. And I discovered something. Teaching yoga, in a Pagan environment, where the Priestess and Yogi become the same person, is amazing. It’s fulfilling beyond words. I have a few things I truly love to do: teach, explore spirituality, and express creativity. I find ways to do those things in almost every aspect of my life. And they all came together in one little group of people, and it was harmonious, beautiful, grounding and uplifting all at once. I fell back in love with yoga, back in love with mysticism. And I hadn’t even realized I was getting a little cynical again.
I know I can’t replicate the conditions of Twilight Covening. It’s a specialized environment, and things are possible there that are not in more mundane spaces. But now I know that integration can happen. That I can take two, or three, or maybe all, of my faces and have them come together fluidly. It takes greater honesty. It takes greater attention. And it will continue to take a lot of work.
So my intention for my winter Work is integration. I know that I can integrate my yoga practice with my spirituality now (the Ayurvedic philosophies I’ve been taught and my own spiritual path were having a bit of a tug-of-war), and that’s where I intend to begin. I have a yoga sadhana (a time period dedicated to a yoga practice with a particular goal) waiting for me anyway. It’s time.
My other intention is honesty. Some of the layers I was able to loosen a bit showed me that I’m still afraid of myself. I’m afraid you won’t love me if I tell you the truth. I’m afraid you’ll reject me, and that I’ll be left alone. And I need you. I need your love and friendship and company. I am tribal: I need my blessed community. But I haven’t trusted you enough. I haven’t trusted myself enough. And that is the other thing that must change. It’ll be bumpy. I hide a lot of things. Being completely authentic is hard for me. But I will try. And I hope you will be patient as the layers come together.
In South Korea earlier this year, a Buddhist nun read my character, my individual nature, at a Temple Stay. She told me I am a torch. That it is my path to shine, and that torches do more than just illuminate–they also inspire. And I find her words surfacing from memory again now.
I hold flickering candles. May they come together into one light.