Well, I can’t say I didn’t ask for it. I spent three months calling the Wild Hunt to me, with ritual and song and offerings and prayer, through my spirits and Odin and even Dionysos. And one by one, things were stripped from me, both human and spiritual relationships radically changed or ended altogether, and after Yule I hit a wall. I could go no further the way I had been, and no matter how much I had thought I was liberated, I was still clinging to some old and detrimental habits of practice and thinking. So I did something radical. I did nothing.
For the last five weeks or so, I dropped everything. ALL my practices, even the small daily things. ALL attempts to connect with my gods and spirits. ALL the things that seemed to make me *me*. I took on a temporary new name. I changed the way I dressed and acted. I read different books. And I sat with the paralyzing fear that this would ruin everything.
Now, this is not an approach I would advocate for everyone – though some form of it could be a useful “re-boot” in many people’s lives. In fact, some people need MORE practices and taboos and discipline, not less (or none). But this was the polar opposite of everything I was inclined to do, and it was definitely time for a shake-up. And while a Dionysian always rises to the challenge to be more free, even from themselves….
It was horrible. It was one of the most difficult ordeals I have ever endured – I would much rather hang on hooks pierced into my flesh than do this, would much rather walk on fire. But an ordeal is meant to strike at what’s most difficult for the individual, and this was it for me. I had become too attached to a certain way of doing things, and it was dangerously close to ruining my ability to actually do them at all.
I won’t go into the revelations I had during this period, or my exact issues, or what I have learned, or what I’ll be doing next. That is all rather personal, and not relevant to anyone else. But I did want to mention this Not-Doing experiment here (yes, the term is from Castaneda), because the idea itself could be helpful to someone else. Einstein said that insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sometimes you need to break the pattern, and break it hard. This is a very scary, but very effective way to do that. You just stop being you, until you feel a deep shift happen. It may be days, weeks, months, but it will happen.
This was a leap of faith for me. Faith in myself, in who I really am, and faith in my gods and spirits, and that our relationships (while founded on reciprocity) would not disappear if I let go for a little while. Especially since, as my partner kept reminding me, during this period doing nothing WAS doing the Work, letting go of everything – even those things I believed were necessary to be close to Them – was what was necessary to become TRULY connected. I missed Them, I missed doing ritual, I missed the hundred different tiny ways I included Them in my life … but as things begin again for me now, I find my whole approach and perspective changed, and an exciting new level of intimacy with Them and immersion in my Story, in ways I could have never predicted.
Dionysos is all about ekstasis, and this was in many ways as far outside of myself – and for as long – as I have ever been. It changed me, it changed my religious life, it changed my relationships significantly, it was terrifying and heart-breaking and at times really really boring, and I am so glad I took that leap, because it showed me the core of things. And it is powerful.