In preparation for my initiation this weekend, I’m reflecting on the paths and the spiral that got me here. The moon path is the path of meditation and inner reflection and contemplation, as described at http://www.aoda.org/curric1.htm#Moon
I’ve been on this path for a very long time. I have always meditated, even as a little kid when I didn’t know what the word meant. I sit and think. Or, sometimes, I sit and don’t think. It’s always been as natural to me as breathing, and I really have thought as little about why I do it as I think about why I breath. I do it because I have to.
My first formal education in meditation, outside of books, was at a Tibetan Buddhist center where I learned mantra meditation and visualization. Well, I didn’t really learn visualization because I have always done that. I was told over and over again by the Buddhists that visualization was really hard and I shouldn’t be discouraged not to get it right away. This made me embarrased to admit that I did actually get it right away and found it easy to hold an image in my mind. I also learned about energy anatomy and how to circulate energy through the chakras, how to connect with the earth and sky with these energies, how to become grounded and centered through breath and visualization. This was really where I learned the difference between having a talent and learning a discipline. I have always been able to slip into the Otherworld without much effort at all, to walk with the spirits and visit the faeries and all that sort of thing, as well as being able to come to single pointed concentration if I chose to. The advantage of learning meditation technique is that it gave me a vocabulary to talk about these things, and a way to share my experiences with others. It gave me ways to think about what I was doing. It’s still hard to describe but through knowing energy anatomy and such concepts I can help other people to do it as well, even if they don’t know the same vocabulary – there are subtler ways to help people along, but those only work if you actually understand what it is you’re doing in the first place.
Meditation gives me space. It opens me up, clears the cobwebs out of my head, and makes me feel open and whole. It grounds me into the earth and gives me access to worlds beyond this one. Practicing meditation gives space for the gods to enter my life. They are there anyway, of course, but if you don’t shut up long enough to meditate they are much harder to hear. And while I have described myself as having a natural talent for meditation, that doesn’t mean I can’t get out of practice. Meditation is a skill and without practice it’s much harder to do it well. The more in practice I am, the better I can do it and the more interesting it gets.
Movement meditation is another part of the moon path. I dance. I love to dance. I have always loved to dance but I also often think of myself as too clumsy, not pretty enough, not girly enough – all that crap that women tell themselves that keeps us from really being ourselves. I’m big, sturdy, and nerdy. There is nothing little or cute about me. There are lots of voices out there that would gladly tell me that I shouldn’t dance, including the ones in my own head. I do anyway, and I love it, and while I dance I do feel beautiful – free and strong and wonderful. Shutting off brain and engaging body, to music, is necessary for me. It also actually helps with the sitting kind of meditation, too – a strong body can sit much more comfortably than an out-of –shape one. It also helps when conducting ritual. I don’t actually dance when doing that (though I have done dance rituals) but dance helps me have a better idea of where my body is, how to move my hands, where to place myself in space to get the effect I want. A dancer knows how to create drama, and creating drama is also one of the skills of a priestess.
The last part of this path is the Sphere of Protection ritual. I’ve been doing it every night before bed since I learned it, and I like it – it’s like a little bedtime prayer. I have been doing this kind of thing for a long time, but I haven’t always thought of it as “protection.” I do now because I have seen enough of these past few years to make me feel like I need protection, but it’s also a way of orienting myself in space. Doing the ritual requires you to stop and notice where you are in relation to the universe, and that’s how I used to use it. Now I do think of it as protection – sacred hygiene.
Sacred hygiene – that’s kind of what all this is. Meditation cleans out the head, movement keeps the body functioning right, and the Sphere keeps the nasties away from the outer environment. Really, it’s right up there with brushing your teeth and washing your hands – a way to stay healthy and whole.