Ekunyi's Embers

Posts Tagged ‘animism’

Frog as a Cultural Keystone

Two weeks ago I spent several days in my childhood home in Maryland, visiting family and taking care of some planning for my upcoming wedding. Each night, after a busy day of visits and organization, I was greeted by the voices of hundreds of native treefrogs. The slow rising, alto creeeeeeeek of the upland chorus frog formed a polyphonic chant with the soprano chirrups of spring peepers. I did not see them on this trip, but recalled with joy being in my early years and finding the little creatures crawling on the sides of my parents house, loving that they were so small and yet had such a tremendous voice.

The return of the chorus frogs was always, for me, the first sign of the return of the warmer months. School would soon draw to a close, and a summer full of adventures would soon begin. So too would my personal new year be arriving, my August birthday arriving only a few months after the frog song began, and even when little the choir of ribbits got me thinking about what it would be like to be another year older, wondering about the year behind me, and the year to come. I would lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the rhythms of amphibian music, dreaming and pondering about new beginnings until eventually sleep took me.

This emphasis on Frog as a representative of new beginnings on the east coast of the United States once reflected fresh starts on another shore: that of the Nile delta. In Ancient Egypt, immediately following the annual flooding of the great river, thousands of frogs would seemingly “emerge” from the soil, as the sodden earth provided a greater expanse of habitat, and the various frog species began to mate and reproduce. Though my research has not yet lead me to which of the following endemic amphibian species to the Nile valley region (egyptian toad and mascarine ridged frog) most likely existed at that time, one or both contributed to the ancients’ understanding of the goddess Heqat: lady of rebirth, midwife to the gods, giver of life to the human bodies that potter Khnum created upon his wheel. When the frogs returned after the flood waters subsided, so too would crops begin to grow, new projects could begin as the silt was once again rich with nutrients and the sky rich with frogsong.

It cheers me that these various species on both sides of the globe remain listed as unthreatened, though the Egyptian frogs have declined substantially in the past 10 years due to overharvesting for university study. Hopefully something can be done to protect them, as the frogs serve not only as a symbol of renewal, a current cultural keystone within the Americas and a historic cultural keystone of the Nile delta, but also as a source of food for other predatory species seeking sustenance as they enter their own breeding seasons, a source of protection from imbalance as they keep insect populations in check.

The frogs are necessary to balance, necessary for new life. Their song must continue to be sung.

Hunting, Habituating and Hibernating

When it comes to my work with animal-based guides, I have mostly found myself drawn to predators. Great-horned owl, red wolf, western green mamba, polar bear, orca… the list goes on. Until recently, my gods have reflected this association: they’re both warriors with predatory theophanies. They are the hunter, not the hunted.

To some extent I think this fascination is cultural: for all that human population seem to feel threatened by predators, there simultaneously tends to be a glorification of predatory species in art and literature that overlooks prey animals. On the other hand, I think there is also a matter of personal compensation. I am not as strong as I would like to be, I have had to teach myself to be independent, to fight, to hunt down the things I need rather than constantly providing for the needs of others as is my first instinct. I look to predators to teach me these things.

So when my Keystones e-course asked me to study a predator: this was easy. Not two days before that lesson arrived I’d been reading about the local coyote population in the newspaper. I could easily admire the adaptable, cunning canines that have worked their way into Pittsburgh city limits, living well off of young deer, rabbits, squirrel, and yes, the occasional small cat or dog left outside during the dark hours. I enjoyed reading more about their flexibility, their ability to hunt as a temporary pack or function alone in equal measure. I found it interesting that the article actually took into account that they were helping with the over population of deer in the area, while also acknowledging that they were proving a threat to the domesticated animals of the city.

Less easy was picking a prey species. After several days of disgruntled failure to choose, I wound up stepping into the patch of woods behind my apartment and sending a silent request for some clue of who would like me to work with them. Over the next three days, I saw three groundhogs in three separate locations, and subsequently became very aware of certain biases.

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Memories reared up of my father complaining about groundhogs tearing up the backyard, my mother twisting her ankle when a tunnel collapsed beneath her. Simultaneously, I recognized that I had never shifted anything remotely like a groundhog in meditation: and the prospect of transforming into something so small and, well, rotund… didn’t sit well. I’d be lunch!

More days passed with little progress made at convincing myself to give it a try. Finally, at Meeting, as I settled myself into quiet meditation and began to visualize the temple in the woods, I was met with an immediate request from Heqat, “You have two visitors.”

Coyote and Groundhog stood at the end of the long temple hall, waiting just beyond the edge of the marble flooring. I followed them hesitantly as they led me deeper and deeper into the winding maze of trees and brush. We finally settled by a small hole in the ground, and I sat, crosslegged, waiting for what was to come next.

In the blink of an eye I *was* groundhog, and could not seem to shift myself to anything else. I panicked, feeling very small, and very aware that a predator was now staring down at me hungrily. I ran instinctively toward the hole, right on the tail of the groundhog who’d led me there. We clambered down, but a sharp pain from one of my hindfeet held me in place and I began to be dragged back out. The groundhog in front of me whirled around, rushing past me, and sunk his very long teeth directly into the coyote’s snout. The predator let go of me, and we both rushed deeper into the den, down into the cool darkness and safety.

The tunnel went on for far longer than I expected, past a small side chamber with some grass-like material, and eventually back up again some indeterminate amount of time later. My guide reared up ahead of me, sniffing cautiously, before wandering out. I was all nerves, body full to brimming with scents and awareness. It was kind of amazing, how much I recognized from the tiniest of vibrations in the earth around me, how much I could smell. We rushed across forest, finding another den to explore. This one was structured the same way, but held a small group of wild rabbits, who’d taken advantage of another groundhog’s efforts. I marveled slightly at how the den could be passed on from one species to the next.

Continuing on to the third den, we were nearly taken by a hawk but made it below ground in time courtesy of the warning cry of another of our kind. It struck me then how skilled my guide was, how challenging he made it for his predators to find him. I was reminded also of how fiercely he fought for me, how much damage those long marmot teeth could do when necessary.

I apologized, and I thanked him.

He stopped his running and turned, amusement in his small eyes.

So I’m not “just a rodent”?

“No, though I may be just a fool.”

Hmm. Perhaps! But this can change, given time, thought, and effort.

“What should I do?”

Dance me. Learn my motions. Read of me. Bring your new knowledge to my dance. Then, once you have done this, rest. Learn of the significance of hibernation, and hibernate yourself. You need time to consider, time just to be, before you will be ready to run to your next destination without being consumed. Rest, and you will make it. Do not rest, and what you fear will eat you. You cannot forever be the hunter.

This will be a difficult lesson for me, having solely defined myself for so long as someone who must constantly be on the hunt for new work to be living a worthwhile life, constantly chasing the next challenge to prove myself worthy. But, having made the realization that this is not healthy, I think I can take the first step towards hibernating for awhile, habituating myself within a new environment, and finally, when ready, emerging and beginning the hunt once again.

Spiritual Places Without and Within

I will not live the live my parents led, and I am fine with this. As musician, artist, and scholar, hopefully someday counselor, my home will not compare with the home of two lawyers that I grew up in: again, I am fine with this. My home is huge in comparison with the homes of many. Three rooms full of instruments and art and books. My home is open to those friends and family who need shelter. My home is full to brimming with the affection between two human-bodied and two feline-bodied people. There is space in my home for the ancestors to visit, if they choose, a small space always left for a father, two grandfathers, and any other relations to drop by in whatever form they might take. There is space in my home for gods and spirits, a Kemetic shrine and animist altar well tended in separate rooms for separate moments of worship.
 
My home exists in the liminality of the mountains and the city. Sturdy brick with nearly 70 years to its name surrounds me, with human neighbors above and below. Yet the deer walk the small patch of woods behind my home, as do chipmunk and squirrel. The robins greet me in the warmer months, the crows laugh when the weather begins to cool. Wild turkeys occasionally posit themselves directly in front of my car, reminding me that nothing is so important that it can’t wait a few more minutes for them to strut on by.

In my mind my “territory” extends about a mile east, to the avenue that holds both my favorite cafe and my nearest big park. I wrote my masters thesis, in its entirety, in the local, family-run coffee shop. I know the people there better than I do the ones in my own building. After working and writing for hours on end, I can walk up the same street to my park, get lost in the trails that during summer are shielded from any roads. I can view the Allegheny river from here, greet a broader range of avian life: mallard ducks, Canadian geese, chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, grackle… the list goes on. Only recently, courtesy of the animist course I’ve been taking, have I looked on a smaller scale. Ants, wee spiders hiding in the bark, inch worms, lady bugs… a world I’ve not given nearly enough notice to. The plants as well: a newly acquired Kindle has allowed me to download a guide to the wildflowers and trees. My goal is to know the park that has given me such joy since I claimed Pittsburgh as my new home three years ago. I owe it that much, if not more.

Yet my home extends beyond this physical space. My heart strings are taut. The core, bass strings are drawn out of love and duty to my parents and Maryland; these are also pulled fiercely to Texas where my sister, best friend, and heart-kin lives with zir mate. Higher pitched strands guide my soul to Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, and West Virginia. These are the homes of friends, family; so many loved ones I cannot ever see nearly enough for my own liking. Pittsburgh remains within driving distance of many of these places, and I am grateful for that. For the places more distant, it grants me compensation: in being near other spaces important to those I love, it gives me the option to see them when they travel. It also provides me both the water I grew up with, albeit three mighty rivers instead of the one great Bay, and gods bless it for the mountains.
 
It is unsurprising to me that the places I travel in my meditative journeying efforts reflect the reality of the physical that feeds my soul. My internal temple, while Kemetic in design, was built within a natural clearing in a vast forest. It is near a great river where I work with Heqat and Hatmehyt, and the forest itself is rolling and wild, a part of some unknown mountainous region in my mind. I run the woods with deer and hound, I soar above the trees and see great valleys and other, unknown tributaries with Great Horned Owl. As my physical self, I seek similar places out in my actual travels. I clean litter from the aforementioned park when I visit, trying to protect what small corner of my ecosystem is within my neighborhood, my little human territory.

I would shrivel up without access to the woods, the water, the birds and the green. It is as much a part of my spiritual life as ritual and prayer.

Kemetic Round Table – Walking two Paths

The Kemetic Round Table works to connect Kemetic bloggers of various practices and paths in order to provide helpful information for those new to Kemeticism. More information about the project can be found here.

This week’s prompt asked: “Can I work with other pantheons? Can I perform rituals that aren’t Kemetic based?

This is going to be brief, as the bulk of my thoughts on these questions are summarized beautifully here at Making Bright, and I find myself unable to add much, conceptually, to what Nellethiel has already eloquently discussed. What I can share is a bit of personal experience, offering one perspective on why those ideas are so important to me.

One of the two primary Kemetic deities I work with transcends multiple spiritual areas of my life. I’ve written about my complex relationship with Bast in greater detail in an earlier post, but suffice it to say, I’ve known Her from childhood and She has transitioned with me through the many spiritual changes I’ve gone through over the years. She was my “invisible friend” as a very young child, my Goddess in an adolescent Wiccan phase, one of my primary spiritual guides in the animist period of my collegiate years, and now is my divined Mother in Kemetic practice.

I still interact with Her in both of Her most recent incarnations. I pray to her in shrine, and on other, separate occasions, I walk with her in meditations. She can be fierce in her expectations for me on both paths. She requires regular devotions and offerings, that I worship her as Netjeru, one of many faces of the divine. She also expects that I will seek her out as one of my guides in journey, her feline form one of many various plants and animals I speak with to learn more about myself, my community, and my world.

While my animist practice is not necessarily what one would consider a separate “pantheon,” it does come with a very different set of ritual expectations. I have a separate altar space for my primary animistic guide at any given time, and this space often includes animal by-products. For example, right now I have a Great Horned Owl’s feather, vertabrae, and talon on this shrine, items that were gifted to me many years back from partial remains a friend found and cleaned. These items, sacred in my animist practice, are extremely impure from a Kemetic standpoint, and thus I actually prefer to keep them in a separate room from my gods’ shrine.

My animistic practice also takes place outside of a set shrine space. Journeying techniques involve astral work: I sit in a dark room, slow my breathing, sometimes play a slow, even, percussive rhythm to assist in the process of moving beyond my body. My Kemetic work is always done before the shrine, eyes open, the candle’s flicker and the glow of incense helping me to transcend the profane and move to sacred experience. The two processes are unique to me, and involve a deliberate choice to interact with one or the other, gods or spirits.

This does not mean that the two do not, on occasion, intertwine. More than once I have been in the midst of a meditation when suddenly a god, or gods, jumped in to mess with me, show me something, or challenge me further. Given that they are gods, I would not presume to box them in to one form of interaction over another,  but in my opinion, it is important that I leave that option to Them. If They want to reach out to me astrally, or if They request that I meet Them in that space rather than shrine, I will. But in the meantime, as someone who does identify as Kemetic, I primarily choose to work with them in a manner based on Kemetic practice: in shrine, with candle, incense and offerings, celebrating Their sacred days, studying Their myths, and doing my best to live in ma’at in all other aspects of my life.  

As Nellethiel wrote, “anything is possible in the realm of polytheism. Just be mindful of what it means to be a part of Kemeticism as the religious movement and practice it is today (as the modern reconstructed/revived ancient religion of Egypt).”

Anything is possible. It is possible that Bast is my goddess and my guide. It is possible that Set might challenge me with a storm right when I’m trying to learn something from the oak tree I’ve climbed. It is possible that the golden hawk I visualized myself flying beside was Heru-wer, teaching me something outside of senut. But it is important to be mindful of the means by which these interactions took place, to know what is faithfully reconstructing ancient practice and what is better described as my own homebrew animist work with a bit of Kemetic flair. It is vitally important to acknowledge the source of things, that we might discuss our multiple paths with others, respecting each method as distinct while not discounting its validity.

 

Bast and the Tree

Note: This may be a little more “woo” than previous posts, which have focused largely on ritual with occasional mention of interaction with the gods. If you do not believe in journeying/traveling/astral projection, that is fine, but I ask that you read this with an open mind, as these experiences are quite real to me.

If you’ve been following this journal at all, you’ll know that Bast has been in my life as long as I’ve had any sort of connection to what I now refer to as the Unseen. I have called her (at least) two other names over the years: Kyana, my imaginary black “panther” friend in childhood, and Black Leopard/Jaguar Woman, one of my main guides through meditative journeying as an adolescent, who took second fiddle only to Great Horned Owl. As Set pushes me to change for the future, Bast calls me to remember and grow from my past, and a substantial portion of what She asks of me necessitates the return to journeying in earnest. I hope to record some of those experiences here, though more personal matters may be relegated to protected posts on my dreamwidth.

For many who journey, having some sort of “base” if you will, a place where you slip between worlds, a safe(r) space to begin your travels, is key. Mine has shifted dramatically from when I first began, when I had the focus to actually “build,” stone by stone, a temple. I carved statues in my mind to honor my primary teachers, shifted the architecture to include impressive columns and a reflective pool in the center. Perhaps my adolescent self had some need of the grandiose, I don’t know.

At a particularly low point in my life, I began a journey in this space and almost immediately the world around me began to shake and groan. The ground ruptured, tearing apart years of work and building. When it finally finished I sat, stunned, amidst the rubble. It was only when two of my guides, twin green mambas, found me that I was able to rise and move away from what had been. I remember walking and walking to the point where I almost lost focus, couldn’t keep the hold any longer, until I found a small round fruit. I picked it up, and it melted in my hand, revealing a seed at the core. The snakes coiled around my neck, a small comfort. The next journey saw me following Great Horned Owl across the ocean until we found a small island. I planted the seed, and the tree that would become my new starting space, my “heart tree” grew, flowered, and thrived.

On September 11th of last year, I tried to go back. The results were… dramatic. I’ll share an excerpt of what I wrote following the experience:

“Almost instantly [after beginning the journey] I saw Great Horned Owl (GHO) over me, an orb of lightning (blackish sphere, with silver lightning bouncing around inside, the way my personal energy usually feels when I do energy work) in her talons. She took off almost immediately into the sky which is when I realized it was raining.

I tried to follow, couldn’t. Tried again, she was going farther away, would not wait. Then I realized there was a golden hawk with me, blazing through the rain, to my other side. He did wait, helped, encouraged, waited for my body to lift out of itself, and flew above me the entire time, holding tight to me as I struggled to focus on something, anything, and we kept up with GHO together, until she landed on a far too familiar tree. My tree, my old heart tree, dead, withered, on its island, water polluted around it. I tried to land on the branch next to her, promptly fell off.  …  I was able to climb the tree. Settling beside her and the golden hawk (I now think, maybe Heru-wer?) I gave thanks as the golden hawk took off and left us behind. I looked to her, expecting something, but she merely looked skywards and I watched as a huge bolt of lightning came from the sky and set my tree on fire.

I freaked out. This was MY TREE, dead though it has been for the past number of years every time I had struggled to visit it in a brief, meditative effort. Now it was burning, and GHO was taking off again, still carrying the lightning orb. The lightning flashed again, only this time in slow motion, and it just sort of stayed, branched out, a writhing, electrified bridge into the heavens.

… The tree is burning from the bottom up, there’s smoke, the rain doesn’t seem to be putting it out, and the only course available to me is to walk on *lightning.*

Booming voice, from a disembodied source above me, which I recognized as my divined father, Set — “Since when is my Daughter afraid of my hand?”

I had to laugh at that, and fighting to stay focused with so much going on in my mental view, stepped out onto the lightning bridge. It solidified at my touch, becoming a glowing white stairwell that eventually sort of vanished from visibility once I passed the cloud cover. Here I had to just keep going, not look down or panic. Fear sent me tumbling towards a now-very-distant earth, confidence kept me walking — literally — on air.

Once I mastered my fear (after a few very near splats) I caught up with GHO again, on top of a cliff. The lightning orb condensed into itself, and became a small seed. I looked at it and her for a moment, briefly confused, then [took the seed]. I dug into the soil on the clifftop until my hands were bleeding, and planted the seed. Almost immediately a new, living, healthy tree sprung forth. GHO took her place amongst the branches, field mouse came springing out from between the roots, a buck nodded his approval as he emerged from sort of a mist that extended farther along the land ahead. Then black leopard woman/Bast came forward, first as a dark-skinned woman, then just *was* a huge black cat, no shifting involved. She raked her claws down the side of the tree, and rubbed her mouth on it, not to hurt it, but to mark it, stake a claim on this new place.

I climbed up into its branches, felt it pulsing with life beneath me. I found GHO and sat with her awhile, struggling greatly now to keep focused. She told me I had not disappointed her, but that I must move forward, must practice, as I was about to lose my ability to stay here.”

Since this experience, I’ve done nothing in journey but practice. Bast has set me to the task of visiting the tree once a week, tending to its needs, nothing more. I show up, I place my hands on the rough bark and give thanks that it is still there.  I root out insects that would eat it from the inside, I trim branches that are dying, and I nourish the earth around its roots with energy. I take note of creatures that have taken up residence, the birds, the rodents, the helpful insects.

Last week, Bast told me that my next task is to identify it. To know the tree, and thus know a little more of myself as it was born of my energy. I’ve not yet accomplished this: my knowledge of flora is extremely limited. Also, quite frankly, it is a struggle for me to stay still. To put so much effort into visualizing a single thing in detail, rather than wandering around a somewhat blurred world on various adventures and lessons. I feel a little like Bast is pulling a Mr. Miyagi, “What does ‘wax on wax off’ have to do with my own skills at journeying?” Indeed, my own doubt makes me wonder if it *is* a tree that exists on this side, but Bast seems to think it is, and so I’ll do my best. Examine the leaves, the bark, the flowering portions. See what the tree has “to say.” Trust that there’s something substantial to be gained from this.

PBP Fridays 2013 – A is for Accepting Yourself

I am always curious to learn about how my acquaintances arrived at the place they are now in their spiritual beliefs. For example, when discussing religious background with a Kemetic friend, I find it fascinating to learn if they are coming from a monotheistic religion, if they are new to any sort of faith, or perhaps if they have shifted course from another form of polytheistic practice, nature worship, or any other variant that might be placed within the (occasionally problematic) category of “pagan.” I have discovered that many of us seem to carry bits and pieces of previous practices or beliefs, be those aspects of religious services or rituals, even old semi-secular habits related to concepts of luck or dreams, along with them into their current practice. I find these personal vestiges of old traditions to be fascinating markers of what shaped us in the past. For many, these old habits seem to become reflections of that which defines who we are as individuals, and thus we find ways to adapt these practices and incorporate them into new beliefs.

But it is one thing for me to explain ritual in this manner — for example, I know that my tendency to mark the passing of days with candles stems from my upbringing in the Methodist church, where the lighting of candles counting the weeks to Christmas was one of the few rituals with which I felt any real connection — and quite another to explain my personal experience with a god who has has seemingly traversed these same boundaries.

Art by Cyra R. Cancel

Around age 11, a period in which many of us become more self-aware and start asking questions of who we are and why we function the way we do, I began to have mental conversations with a voice who, when I closed my eyes, appeared to be a black panther with brilliant violet eyes. I knew myself to be “too old” for an imaginary friend, and yet there she was, seemingly a part of me that emerged from my mind at moments of my greatest distress or loneliness. She was there when I began to feel the first cravings for independence in music and dress, and helped me move past my subsequent guilt for these feelings. I dabbled in energy work, newly acquired Metallica album establishing my bedroom as my own, personal territory, with her laughter and encouragement ringing in my ears. She soothed my concerns when I began to experience feelings of longing for boys my age and hadn’t the slightest clue what to do with those emotions, was there again, two or three years later, when these same feelings began to manifest for women as well.

When some of those closest to me turned to Wicca and I followed for a few months, drawn to it mostly through curiosity, it was her face that appeared when I called quarters and invited the goddess in. Never could I really connect with a Celtic or Hellenic Goddess, most of my (few) moments of successful interaction with the unseen involved a dark skinned, amethyst-eyed woman with short black hair, capable of becoming black leopard in a moment, or an anthropomorphic hybrid of both human and feline traits.

By high school I had left the Wiccan path for a much better fit in animism. Though my spiritual teachers grew in number and variety, and I learned from walking with Great Horned Owl, Wasp, Eastern Green Mamba, and countless others, the black leopard woman still came to me in these meditative journeys. Her lessons dealt with continued acceptance of my sexuality, loving my body no matter how it changed over the years, sticking to my passions and never doubting that music was well worth pursuing in college — despite the nay-sayers who claimed I’d never be able to provide for myself. She stayed with me until I left for my undergraduate degree, and then the sheer amount of work and my first exposure to readings which challenged the existence of anything beyond the material world pulled me away from any sort of spiritual belief.

Yet on certain evenings, when I was running on minimal sleep and had been staring at books or the computer for far too many hours, I would catch glimpses of a small black cat in the corner of my gaze. I initially took this for hallucination induced by sleep deprivation, but it happened often enough, particularly during my junior year when I dealt with a particularly rough period of depression, that I started taking it as a sign of, “Accept whatever you have accomplished and go take care of yourself.” The paper would be fine, the project would be acceptable, I needed to put it aside and rest.

Now, a year and a half after turning to Kemetic practice, I am glad to still have this black leopard woman in my life, renamed though she is as my divined mother, Bast. Admittedly, I have had to learn how to work with her again; five years of keeping anyone out of your life, deity or no, does not get patched up overnight. There is a fair amount of crossover in how we interact, while I do give offerings and sing for Her in shrine, She has also asked that I continue to meet with Her and other guides in journey, and through this request She has slowly, painstakingly, helped me to re-incorporate animist practices into my life as balance to the more formal processes of ritual at the altar. Yet she also has a greater request.

Accept myself.

Accept myself as I am, right now, this very minute. Love myself even though I may be out of shape, even though I have not accomplished as much as I wanted to today. Believe in myself, even though I am constantly forced to acknowledge that there will always be someone better, more skilled than I, in my career and in my hobbies.

She has always asked this of me, from the moment she appeared at age 11 and I could barely cope with all the things I felt were “wrong” with my awkward, pre-teen body, my inability to always succeed in school and in performance, my failure to fix the problems in my family that as a child I had always viewed as perfect. She asked this of me again in high school, to accept that I came alive when I listened to metal even if Sunday School said it was the music of Satan, to accept that at that time I loved, with all my heart, a female-bodied person, to accept that Christianity was not the path that suited me, and that exploration was okay. She even asked it of me in college, when I tried to push her away, to accept that sometimes I had to come first, and to accept that sometimes the bravest thing to do was to acknowledge that I had set my goals too high, and should strive for something more manageable.

She asks this of me now, in balance with Set, who would have me change, and burn, and avoid the slow, creeping death of a static life half-lived. She asks this not to have me avoid His challenges; never would She tell me not to rip through the husk of unnecessary things to exist more fiercely and passionately. No, instead She asks me to accept myself in the moment, every moment. To love myself in every second of transition. To charge forward knowing that even if a better me will be born in the future courtesy of the battles I fight in the present, that the present fighter is still worthy of love, still worthy of acceptance.

Is it strange that I find this concept of self-acceptance far more difficult than the efforts I’ve made to actively improve myself?