How to leave a self behind

By Red, 2008

The Death card from the Motherpeace tarot

(These thoughts were inspired by a tarot card reading I did earlier with a Motherpeace deck, drawing my present as the intoxicating Death card)

You want to shed skin for any number of reasons. Maybe you’re done with pain. Maybe you’re done with routine. Maybe you’re done with a name, or a gender, or a sex, or an addiction. Maybe one part of you, in your imagination and intuition, sees you somewhere else (happier). Pictures you in different surroundings, in different relations, with a different flow.

I always think we walk around with soft threads coming from us. Some like tags – where our subconscious has written it’s notes and our history is pinned to us like walking museums or parcels. Other thread is like the small head of a red piece of cotton, swaying off us – invisible – like seaweed. Still providing the oxygen we breathe, but maybe not as notable as the little tags that map our body (it’s bruises, scars, breaks, aches and cuts).  Right now I’m interested in the little red threads.

To notice them, I try to follow a day-dream or wish. For myself, I have a tendency to be too mechanical when what I need is to create and perform. I can let my perfectionism and my craft of detail to override my spontaneous, more magic-expressive side. It’s the same as staying in too long, and then whenever I step outdoors, I feel the kiss of the breeze and almost instantly my threads are waving. (Indoors, when I hibernate, my threads cover me like cat paws and whiskers. After Samhain, and before Yule, we’re in the important time of rest – the year has ended (all the harvest in), and will begin again in December, according to the myths of the wheel of the year. These months are the dark, incubatory period.)

I’ve had shedding rituals before. I changed a name. I’ve burnt my repetitions when I felt they didn’t get me anywhere (50 diaries in a bonfire in my backgarden, because I wasn’t written or being anything new. I was stagnating).

I can pop skin quite frequently. Maybe with a trip, a good dance, a good wank. Some little beginnings and ends are still, of course, mundane. They are household actions. Others require bigger risks and jumps.

Some things you can only shake when you’re ready: drinking, cutting, bad loves, self-hatred.

And there’s no permanent detox, there’s only situations of consent and choice. The first rule of shedding skin is survival. Once you’re past that stage, then you have more resources and options to draw on.

I’m still figuring out how much I can ask for (and, more importantly, what I truly believe I deserve). I am aware of how people who have little, often expect little / off-cuts  –  sometimes it’s like a re-education to realize that is just self-abnegation (I’m detangling threads from my background). It can take a while for good fortunes, for harvests, for reaping in the hard work you sow, to really stick and feel right (and necessary).

I’m still working out if alienation has made me ‘split’ (into neuroses), and what ‘presence’ feels like. Being in a tight circle with people I trust usually feels like presence. Here, I feel like less something with an identity, and more something with a vibrancy.

Queer paganism for me makes ultimate sense. As if energy / spirit could be contained in a two-gender box system! I feel like I still have a lot of gender junk clogging up my imagination. I’m interested in working past that. There are not enough resources on this (myths, gods/goddesses, cultures, rituals). A nice book to consider for lovers (poly and not; hanfasting and not) is Raven Kaldera & Tannin Schwartzstein’s Inviting Hera’s Blessing: Handfasting and Wedding Rituals. It has rituals by queer groups, a sensitivity around the need for new myths and practices, and is a nice romantic read. (Raven is a trans-man. He also author’s the awesome witchy astro-guidebook, Pagan Polyamory).

In terms of shedding skins, and identities and patterns, I have learnt, for me, that it happens all the more better when I say goodbye gratefully. Even the shitty things I’m leaving behind, they have all in some way served me. I still carry my threads and my little parcel tags, and it’s personal history (as well as spiritual development?) Maybe I am more ready to let things go when I do it grounded, not angry. I always try and make that my bottom line. (And I can only spell-cast from a power-full position, not one that is defensive, or seething, or bitter, or afraid). As an activist, it can be hard to let things go: especially ongoing struggles. But, folks, we are entering the rest period. Take care of yourself.

One comment on “How to leave a self behind

  1. […] and decay. Rather, it symbolizes the difficult yet rewarding pain of transformation — think of a snake shedding its skin. At Samhain, we shed the remains of what we’ve harvested in the previous year and turn toward […]

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