I was out shopping with S1ren today, attending the holy grail of book sales, Half Price's 20% Off Everything weekend. We wandered into the Pagan/Goddess/Magick section (called by an old friend of mine the "Woo Woo Section"), and I saw a copy of my first book on the shelves, cozy between Starhawk and Trish Telesco.
My mind catapulted back six years to the first time I ever saw The Circle Within at a book store. I was, as today, shopping with S1ren, as well as her then-husband, and we walked into Borders at WestGate...and there, on the New Nonfiction display table just inside the door, was my little black book.
I had to sit down. I'm not exaggerating. All I could do was point and make incoherent noises of shock.
I was 25 years old.
A lot has happened in those intervening six years. A few months after that encounter in Borders, tragedy struck my family and my entire life seemed to fall apart at the seams, but at the same time wonderful things were happening--I got to travel alone for the first time in my life to the International New Age Trade Show in Denver, and I met wonderful inspiring people and Pagan authors, as well as at least one young man who would go on to become a Pagan author. I did my first book signings and life was unbearably exciting. Even with the looming horror of my brother's suicide, I felt like there was promise in the world, and all I really had to do was keep breathing.
I'm still a little amazed that I managed that.
Six years, fifty pounds, several more deaths, half a dozen antidepressants, another book, and a coven later, life is very different on the inside no matter how it might look. When I page through The Circle Within I don't recognize the woman who wrote it. She sounds like me, she's sarcastic and uses way too many commas like me, but it feels like another lifetime, another me. She wrote a pretty great book, especially for someone so young and unsteady on her feet.
I've learned a lot. My spirituality, which is still hobbling about on crutches, has become much more ecumenical, and I believe a lot of things that probably would have earned my scorn in my early twenties. My path has become less polytheistic, less ritualized, and more intuitive; I've finally started to embody some of the principles I wrote about, while dropping others completely. I've become less religious and more mystical. I can't remember the last Pagan-specific book I read. Lately I've been studying yogic philosophy and Buddhism, not with an eye toward becoming a Buddhist or a yogini, but to enrich the practice I'm building.
I dance more now than I ever did with Jeff. He hasn't appeared to me in over a year, and for a long time that upset me, but recently I realized that I didn't do anything wrong and I haven't lost His presence; I've started to learn what He was trying to hammer into my head all along. The dancing path is something you are, not something you do. God exists in all moments and all places, not just in my living room. A purely situational connection with Deity is kind of like only practicing piano once a month and expecting to become a virtuoso.
I could go the rest of my life without casting another Circle and be perfectly content, but that doesn't mean the magic has left my life. In truth, I'm finally finding the magic I thought I had lost years ago. It was never lost, just obscured by my depression, fear, and expectations. I no longer care what label to use for what I am. Pagan is good enough for me as a category, and beyond that, there's really no box for me to check. I'm creating something new from the dust-covered, careworn old, and it's alive, growing, and, well, awesome.
Oh, things aren't perfect by any stretch. I'm still a bit of a basket case, and I've got a long way to go before I can call myself healthy with a straight face. But in the last few months something has shifted (if nothing else, my Saturn return will be over this fall, thank you Mama), and I feel stronger, more awake.
I'm writing, I'm creating, I'm baking, I'm dancing, and I'm going to be just fine.