This questions was from Susannah Ravenswing:
From one shamanic practitioner to another: what do you find to be your greatest challenge and what aspect most rewarding?
My greatest challenge as a spiritworker right now is in self-care. Whether making myself rest and relax or to do things like working out. I had to think over this question for quite a bit, because I kept coming to things like ‘find enough time for the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir’, and that is not true. They’ve let me know, again and again, I am giving Them enough time. No, the greatest issue I’m having right now it’s finding enough time to give myself down time. To truly take care of myself.
Modern American society doesn’t care much for self-care. Rather, working until you drop is lionized. Working until you’re so exhausted you can’t see straight or you break down is held as some kind of achievement. Yet, this ideal of burning the candle until there’s no wax left doesn’t leave us very useful to the Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir. It is still taking me some adjustment to the notion that self-care is a form of doing right by the Holy Powers -I cannot do my job effectively if I am worn out or broken down.
Like many things in my life, this is a work in progress. It is something I am having to reaffirm as something not only that I need to do, it is also reaffirming that it carries deep value for me and my Work. It is a daily choice to engage in that Work, and all the little bits of work that make it possible.
My most rewarding aspect to this work is connecting with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir, and helping others to do the same. One of the biggest thrills I get is when someone says something along the line of “I laid down an offering”, “I have started to worship/work with x“, or “Things turned out well in following the advice from the Rune reading; I connected with x and I’m going where I need to be”. Whether teaching the basics of polytheism at a local gathering, doing ritual, or Work of some other kind, I find that my joy tends to come from the doing and having done the Work.
I think that my greatest and most rewarding challenges tend to be one in the same. For instance, I worked out on a regular basis for quite a bit, and then fell off from doing that. It is self-care, and it made me feel amazing when I was finished. It mirrors a lot of the same challenges I am facing right now in regards to self-care: making the choice to do the work out, caring for my body, and so on so that I can do the Work more effectively. Through the exercise I connected with my more primal self, and did a lot of internal work, as well as offering my work to Thor, Odin, Sunna, and many of my Ancestors.
So, in making the choice to care for myself and to do the little bits of work, I make the choice to take care in doing the Work. My little actions ripple out into larger ones just the same as I do when I make devotional prayer and offerings at my altars. Doing a big ritual every now and again is good, but far better to do 5-15 minutes of prayer a day than one every few months.
That choosing, again and again, to build devotion is akin to making the choice to hit the gym. In the choosing the gym and eating healthy, it is to live a life that better honors my body. In choosing to do regular devotion, it is to keep ways between the Holy Powers and I well. Some days making the right choice is easier made than others, and sometimes I outright fail at it. What matters is that I go back to making the right choice, and do all I can to live in good concert with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir so I can get through the challenges I face and be ready to do the Work so that the rewards can come.