I find it interesting how resistant many people are about the concept of (voluntary) austerity. It’s a concept that pre-dates Christianity by a whole lot which is another Hindu/Christian crossover. When I was Catholic, I did Lenten austerities very half-assedly but I was also a teenager and it was explained to me as suffering to be more like Jesus (pass) vs a way to win the eternal undying devotion of my partner of choice, even if he is a god (Yes! Finally! TELL ME WHAT TO DO AND I WILL DO IT! Scott Rainer, you will not be safe from my affections!). Note in Catholicism, that’s not even the best explanation in my opinion, it’s done to set an intention of course, we’re all just trying to get somewhere when doing austerities, you know? Manifest our intentions, burn off things we’ve done that we personally feel badly about (I’m not necessarily into sin per se but if you think you’ve never done anything wrong in life and/or feel badly about then we’re at an impasse, you know?), be our best selves essentially.
Because it’s so easy to lose the thread of what is your best self in daily life. We’re so busy fighting – traffic, homework, waiting on line for the grocery store, with each other, with ourselves. We exhaust ourselves until all we have left in us is the parts that are cranky and cross, feeling like there’s no more to give. Your best self isn’t necessarily your true self, for the record. Your true self is full of selfish assholic tendencies where you feel justified not doing crap you don’t want to do or doing crap you know you have no business doing. Your true self is a jerk. Believe me, I spent a lot of time as my true self and it was not good. Your best self wants to be kind to people you love, wants to be helpful to people you feel called to help, wants to give without expectation. Not always, not to everyone because that’s how you get bitter, when you’ve given everything away. Jow and I will say that to each other, when one is being snarky and bitchy and we can feel an argument at the periphery. Was that really your best self? Really? And usually you don’t even realize you’ve gotten off track and have started acting unpleasantly so usually it startles you back to being present in yourself and you said, no it wasn’t and you try to pull your shit together enough to not be completely miserable for the other person to be trapped in a car with.
I’ve been very enthusiastic about austerity in theory but every time I’ve started internal bonfires, I tend to get what I’m going for before I even get to the austerity part. Going by some traditions in Hinduism, that means I am distracted before I have a chance to potentially burn down the universe with the heat of my tapas. Or, um, I’m easily distract-
Anyway, my office has a copy room where I am essentially chained up from February until April 15th. This depressed me last year, but this year I’ve been completely into it. Why? Because it is a place of mystical shamanic revelation. That is a true fact. I come out with really clear revelations about my life and the way I should be living it and what I need to be happy and wrong perceptions of situations and clear ideas on what needs to change internally. With that, I decided to set an austerity and an intention in front of my goddesses from now until Beltane.
Charmers. I was practically pissing myself, it was so freaking scary. Because when you make a vow to your goddesses, you have to keep it or Bad Things Happen. At least in my experience. Which is why I generally avoid it at all costs, obvi. Feel free to do your own science to it, preferably far away from me. I wanted to do this, I wanted to feel that internal spark into a blaze. That’s a key point, too. You have to Want this, you have to Want your intention badly enough that you are willing to sacrifice for it, that you are willing to burn for it. I thought it would be so hard and I would constantly feel that struggle inside me but. . .I don’t, at least not yet. If anything it’s a relief because it’s something I struggle with already and now at least that energy is going towards something instead of just exhausting me. I’ve chosen to submit my will to this and now that I have and now that it’s sealed, I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I don’t have to wring my hands and wonder what I will do. I know what I’ll do, I’ve promised it, it’s finished until Beltane. I hate giving up control (which is hilarious if you know me in certain places), I will fight so hard and struggle so hard until I almost snap my own neck from it but once I accept it and I give up control over a situation and I accept it and just go limp, it’s so freeing. Everything is calm and I can stop trying to swim upstream. If this austerity can keep giving me that calm, that peace and set fire to my universe, well what couldn’t happen?
Will you try it with me, Charmers? You can start with something small, you can set a short time limit if you are nervous about it. Announce it to your goddesses and spirits out loud with your intention and the time period and then let me know what happens.
If you run, I’ll run with you. Will you run with me?