It is needed.
Last month it was raining heavily on a Saturday morning and I spent time coloring letters to fairies with my younger children and baking a cake. Before I knew it, the day had slipped away into the rain and I didn’t get to make my daily visit to the woods behind my house as I like to do in the morning. While the things I did instead were fun and loving, I found myself telling my husband, once again, that I am feeling burned out in my life in general and like I’ve lost my caring. I sometimes worry that I don’t care anymore, that I’ve used up my care, my inspiration, my passion, that I’ve fueled magic for others for so long, that my own has evaporated and I’m finished, extinguished. I listed off the things I need to refuel my soul and restore my care so that I can be there for others, for our work. My list was simple and short and my husband pointed out that I get the things on it almost every day:
- Go to the woods.
- Write and journal.
- Walk and discover things.
- Create/draw/take pictures.
I need to nourish my care, I tell him, because I can’t stop caring.
Caring is what holds life together.
What do you need to nourish your caring?
This year, I have found myself struggling with recurrent episodes of feeling like I don’t care. I feel careworn, care-overloaded, care-burned out, care used-up. Sometimes I even feel like I actually can’t care anymore, like all my care is used up, spent, extinguished, exhausted. I have also found myself feeling a little sad and wistful remembering how much I used to care, about everything, but at times I also feel liberated by owning the “don’t care” sensation. Sometimes it sets me free. The world is stained, strained, and brittle from so much lack of care from so many people. We must keep caring, we must care, even when it is a strain. I suppose the secret may be not to care too much about things that don’t require our care, not to overload ourselves with cares that are not our own, or that don’t actually require our attention and are, frankly, quite fine without us and our meddling.
After the month’s Pink Tent ritual with my local circle, a friend tells me that she has been going to yoga class and every time she lies on the floor at the end of class, she thinks of me. I consider this a compliment. If I could be known as a lay-down revolutionary, that would please me. At least two years ago, I put on my list of “100 Things to Do this Year,” to lie on the floor for at least three minutes every day. I have kept this up more or less every day since then, even setting my phone timer for three minutes at the end of my personal yoga practice each morning, so I know I’m actually giving this to myself. I wonder what might change for many of us if we allowed ourselves three minutes a day to lie on the floor? Ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? One hour? Another friend tells me she needs a time out to refill herself until she is overflowing, instead of just refilling her cup a tiny bit and then draining it over and over again. I feel this too. I have the sensation that I been coasting on my reserve tank for at least a year and my reserves are now becoming depleted too. It takes more than three minutes to fill the tank, so that it carries sustained and lasting energy to fuel my soul.
In the woods the next day, I sit with my eyes closed in the sunshine, basking in the warmth. I hear the sound of birds from each side of me, ping-ponging off of one another into the sparkling green air. I listen to them until my mind softens and I am no longer tormenting myself with questions of how to be better, be more, fix it all. I am very still on the rock and when I open my eyes, I see a vulture coasting towards me. It swoops very low, skimming the treetops, possibly checking to see if I am actually breathing there on the stone, it circles once, twice, three times, above my head, at each pass coming very low, low enough that I can see its red head turn from side to side, looking at me.
Hey, buddy, I say. Yes, I’m still breathing!
My floor-lying friend has spent the night at my parents lodge and I go to visit her and to paint with my mom, my daughter, and my friend and her family. My head is throbbing with the headache I often get following an intense ritual and I don’t feel very present, but we paint anyway, the colors swirling and mixing and the freeform nature of the pour painting meaning there are no mistakes, only magic. When we finish, I help her load a weaving loom into her car and we speak briefly about group dynamics and ritual etiquette, and priestessing energetics. As we speak, I look up to see nine vultures this time, circling in the wide sky above the large open field surrounding the lodge building. They dance in the air and they whisper, It is okay to let go. It is okay to soar. It is okay to be free. It is okay to clean things out and away. That is how you can keep caring.
Recipe for Rebuilding a Soul:
1 weary heart
2 open arms
1 large flat rock
As many tall pine trees
as you can find
1 empty book
Lots of water
2 scoops of sunlight
An infinity of starshine.
Mix together patiently and wait in the shadows. Let rise in the sun. Let rise with the moon. Check for delight. If still soggy and deflated, expose on a hillside or soak in the ocean. Sprinkle with laughter.
Submerge beneath a stream of inspiration.
Drizzle with dreams and a generous helping of time.
Steep with incredible slowness.
Dust with flowers and need well.
Let become exquisitely tender and soft.
When fully risen, warmed throughout, and glowing with strength and satisfaction, enjoy with a tall glass of moonlight, a side of magic, and a handful of enchantment.
Create regularly for best results.
Additional audio poem: Careworn Soul
This essay is excerpted from my book in progress, The Magic of Place: Rebuilding the Soul Where and How You Are.
Molly Remer has been gathering the women to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, mini goddesses, and jewelry at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of Womanrunes, Earthprayer, She Lives Her Poems, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon and at Brigid’s Grove.
11 thoughts on “Nourishing Your Caring, by Molly Remer”
Oh dear one I hear your cry. Here are two things that leapt out to me in your words.
“I am no longer tormenting myself with questions of how to be better, be more, fix it all.” This of course is about the perfectionism that so many of us have been taught: we have to be perfect in order to be acceptable. If you can separate caring from caring perfectly, you might not be so tired. “I love my family and the world but I can’t do everything for everyone and every thing all the time. I will do my best with the resources I have and take time for myself and to rest too.”
“My head is throbbing with the headache I often get following an intense ritual.” From my own experience this comes from raising the energy without grounding it fully afterwards. It sticks in the head instead of returning to the earth. My friend Carol Lee Sanchez told me this is a common problem for white women who are not grounded in earth and earth community. From your writing it sounds like your rituals are grounded in places in the earth, at the same time, you might want to try not “raising the cone of energy” as directed in Wiccan texts, but rather to let the energy rise and fall more naturally in the ritual in song and dance and earth connection.
Do take care of yourself dear Molly. You are in fact “perfect” just as you are.
Love from your big sister.
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Thanks, big sister! We don’t actually follow a Wiccan ritual structure with raising a cone of power, casting a circle, or invoking the elements. Our broad format is to do a group meditation/breathing/humming to drop into our bodies, sing together, pass the rattle (and listen to one another), make something/create something, sing again, close. (A lot of times we do some whispering of affirmations to one another.)
I’ve given a lot of thought to the post-ritual headache over the years and have tried various grounding techniques (going for a walk before bed helps me the most if there is enough time for it!), because I found myself kind of blaming myself for it. Ironically, yet another thing to do right/perfectly–“you must not be grounding properly, this is your own fault!” Since I get the exact same type of headache following days when I teach (completely non-ritual related), I finally realized that I think it is actually a combination of being an introvert being “on” in a leadership capacity for a sustained period of time AND carrying the weight of feeling “responsible” for everyone else’s experience/learning (even though I’m not–that’s the subject of a future essay!).
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Molly I think you are right that your headache is caused by being an introvert and feeling “on” in a leadership capacity. I found that leading Bible study totally drained me. I feel much better now that I gave up my leadership role.
Please do take good care of yourself, and remember, that you are perfectly you!
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Thanks for your post today, Molly, love your goddess images meditating out there in nature.
When did we stop worshiping nature? Nature never gives commands that anyone should worship her. Nature is simply, endlessly, wonderful nature. And wonderfully, because we ourselves are part of nature already — every one of us ourselves, part of a goddess named nature.
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Carol, I too often experience headaches after ritual eve though I don’t raise a cone of energy – For me, poor grounding in general seems to be responsible. I appreciate this explanation of yours.
Thanks Molly Remer, also wondering if there is somewhere online maybe we could buy one of your goddess statues, so delightful, and especially meditating in a Lotus position.
Sarah, click on the link in Molly’s bio above that says “Story Goddesses.”
Oops. I overlooked this comment. Yes, we have an etsy shop: http://brigidsgrove.etsy.com. Thank you. <3
Molly, I was deeply moved by this piece.
Your words “The world is stained, strained, and brittle from so much lack of care from so many people.” really struck home. Some days I am overwhelmed by this truth – I do care – and I want to keep caring, but as you say we must find ways to nourish ourselves.
Thanks, Sara! Giving up on care is definitely not the solution!
Aaahhhhh! Big exhale. This post speaks to my condition as it does to so many of us. Thank you!