The golden cups
are in his hand,
his hand is on the knife
and the knife is
above my head.
Three times I drew the Seven of Cups, card of soul-wrought dreams and tempting fantasies beckoning, and possibilities so numerous they seem to paralyze all ability to choose. Three times I drew the card in daily meditation before I finally agreed to seek for further guidance.
Where It's At
Things have been all tangled up lately. The puzzle box or wrinkled seed that was planted in my heart during my time in Northern Ireland — the small, mysterious thing curled in upon itself that I had all but forgotten about as things returned to normal — has been creaking and clicking as one by one its latches unhook and slip open... or it has been germinating and putting down roots that slip their sly tendrils in to pry open the soil of my soul. It all sounds very dramatic when you put it like that, but the truth is that I have been growing increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated with certain aspects of my work. And when I say work, I mean the soul-work of my writing, that strange little hobby that cannot make me a living but is indispensable to making me alive.
I've started to have serious doubts about blogging as the appropriate medium for my writing. It takes a huge amount of pride-swallowing to write that sentence, considering it was only a few months ago I was raving about how Meadowsweet & Myrrh was like my online "home," and scoffing arrogantly at people who easily abandon their blogs and let them lie fallow and un-updated for months at a time. I take my writing — and thus my blogging — very seriously, perhaps too seriously at times. I am as slow to abandon a project as I am to leave behind a faith path that no longer meets my spiritual needs (and it took my nigh on half a decade of dilly-dallying to do that before I finally dropped the Catholic label and admitted to myself what everyone else already knew).
When I first began blogging here at Meadowsweet four years ago, it was as though a whole new world of potential conversation and community opened up for me. I was a part of a community of Pagan bloggers who all read each other's posts and fueled each other's reflections. Those exchanges challenged me with new perspectives and ideas, and led to the forging of important friendships and contacts. Blogging even tripped me up happily into a romantic relationship that has blossomed into a life-long, amazingly awesome love with my soon-to-be-husband, Jeff.
Yet in recent months, I've felt little more than frustration and resistance when I think about blogging. Even as I have gained readers and gotten involved with thriving group blogging projects (like Pagan+Politics), I've found myself feeling isolated and disenchanted. Many of the writers I used to read have retired their blogs and retreated into their off-line lives, or into the ever-briefer inanity of Facebook and Twitter. Often I feel as though, of the several wonderful bloggers that I do still read, we're no longer conversing with each other, but all talking about the same topics — no longer friends in conversation in a busy pub, we're the barkers in the town square preaching to the passers-by. Commenters are no longer fellow writers and practitioners interested in cultivating a community of spiritual conversation and exchange — now, they're any random internet surfer with a screenname who has an opinion to share, always on the edge of becoming trollish and downright bullying in their feedback before slipping back into anonymity. (And this feeling, especially, is inexplicable because the commenters here at Meadowsweet have almost always been kind, supportive and inquisitive, and I am lucky to have very few trolls.) I watch as, on other blogs, essays and articles that took hours and hours (maybe days) of research and hard work to craft are quickly overwhelmed by the tidal wave of comments jotted off in only a few minutes of reactionary fervor. More and more it seems most people approach even well-written, insightful pieces with the assumption that blogging cannot be taken seriously as a medium (unless you do either humor or news), and anyone who writes a blog is more concerned with listening to herself talk than in cultivating a conversation. I find myself getting angry not only on my own behalf, but on behalf of other writers who seem too often to humble themselves and spend a great deal of time back-pedalling and justifying themselves to readers. Worse still, I find myself getting increasingly and irrationally annoyed with the readers themselves, the very people I'm supposedly trying to reach with my own writing.
Still, I'm not sure exactly how to break myself of this cycle of dissatisfaction. Whenever I think of a topic I want to write about, I find myself quickly becoming exhausted by the prospect (this is the first extensive post I've had the stamina to write in weeks). The obligation to blog seems repressive and obnoxious, and so I find ways to avoid it by posting old pieces of half-finished writing or falling back on the photographs of regular "Keeping the Days" posts. For a couple months now, I've struggled to push through this period of dissatisfaction. In part because I had fairly thoroughly convinced myself that I needed to "build a readership" and prove myself capable of self-marketing if I ever hoped to secure a book contract with a publisher. In part because I felt I needed to save face and prove to myself and others that I had the self-discipline and commitment to write really astounding and insightful pieces on a regular basis. And in part, because I have readers and friends who continue to support my writing and insist that my voice is (or has the potential to be) an important one in the larger Pagan community — and I very much want that to be true, and I don't want to let them down.
Despite all of these perfectly good reasons to keep blogging, though, I've found myself increasingly repelled by it. I spend larger and larger amounts of time out in the woods, or busying myself with menial tasks or online surfing. And all the while, my real heart's calling seems to be dangling over me like a knife, threatening to fall. Finding the appropriate form that my soul's work should take in the world has become a growing preoccupation, even an obsession, and worrying over these questions of purpose and service drains my energy away from my writing even more. It feels almost as though, as David Whyte put it, out of the silence I have made a promise it will kill me to break. I do not know what that promise might be, but the golden cups of song are in his hand, his hand is on the knife, and the knife is above my head.
* Excerpt from the poem "Protection of Honey Isle" (trans. John Matthews)