So, in preparation for coming home to visit, I followed my spirit's advice and got a St. Teresa candle. St. Teresa of Avila was a mystic who fell into trances, flogged herself to overcome her sins, loved the pain, and experienced ecstasy and visions as a result of trying to transcend the sin of human-ness. I was standing in Walgreens, buying the most mundane of things- Dramamine. And I went looking at the saint candles, cuz I always do. Sometimes I get the Virgin in the bathtub. But this time, St. Teresa jumped out at me and I started singing the song about her by Joan Osborne in my head. So on a whim, I grabbed the candle and off I went.
[You might be surprised to learn that I light saint candles from time to time. I do this because all my life my grandmother, Memere (May she dance among the stars!), did novenas on candles like these. A novena is like a Catholic spell. So, in honor of her, I do her kind of magic occasionally. She put a lot of love and protection around me with those novenas, and I am grateful. Plus, I am working to be "not-against" any spiritual practice, even the ones that challenge me. I might not choose to practice something, but "against" anything is a bad place for me to be.]
The morning I left, I dressed the candle and set it on my altar and lit it. I knew about Teresa and her crazy mystical visionary-ness. I knew about how she is the patron saint of the suffering. And frankly, I have been suffering. The loss of our cat Medea, the stress of my busy and demanding life path, the constant overwhelm of so much suffering in the world around me, and my own internal suffering that I do not really talk about much- which is that I often truly, deeply doubt my own goodness.
It used to be that I doubted my own "good-enoughness" for the world. I corrected that by being of service, and I think I fixed that pretty well. Being of service gives me permission to take up space, to be heard, to feel that I am able to accept the blessings that come my way. Service makes me "good enough" to belong in the world. BUT- what is still left to deal with is the doubt in my actual soul-level "goodness." I don't think there is "evilness," but I still doubt my "goodness." I think I invented that thought pattern because one of my deepest fears is that I will become spiritually cocky and stop working toward greater levels of goodness. But along the way that somehow translated into a doubt of the goodness that is likely already right there, factory-installed, on the other side of that grey screen in my mind. So I am trying to break that thought pattern while I am here.
Back to St. Teresa- she seriously doubted her "goodness" and she tried to fix that by flogging herself, which I tend to do the mental equivalent of. I want to overcome that trend. I lit the candle and began chanting what I wanted: "Safe travel, deep peace, inner and outer goodness." The first two parts are relatively self-explanatory, and the third part was that I would see examples, for my own sake, of goodness in my heart and goodness in the way I behave. It seemed like coming home to NY was a good place to look for my goodness, because I remember the innocence of my childhood here.
Now, since lighting the candle, I have had some wonderfully odd coincidences around this spell that make me excited about it. First- I was at TSW the day I lit the candle- right before I left to come home. I could not get the St. Teresa song out of my head, naturally, because it is part of the spell. I turned to Artemesia and asked her if she knew who Joan Osborne was. I mean, hey- she is 10 years younger than me. In some ways, we speak entirely different musical languages, with crossover dialects of Ani DiFranco (naturally) and a few others. Well Artemisia surprised me by BURSTING into a LOUD and LUSTY rendition of...you guessed it..."St. Teresa, higher than the moon." Confirmation numero uno.
Then, I came to NY that night- continuing to do my chanting of my spell and thinking about my St. Teresa candle. My first day here, I spent the entire day on the couch in pajamas, watching crime shows on TV. (Psst! It's secretly something I love to do. Crime shows are a guilty passion for me.) On that particular day, there were THREE different shows that featured witches or wicca as a prominent theme. In each, misinformation was flung about, subtle accusations of evil were leveled, and it was horrible. I was so frustrated watching those shows, and I realized how backward peoples' opinions about witches still are (despite REAMS of READILY AVAILABLE information to the contrary. Sigh.) The last show of the evening featured a very interesting development- it was about a man who finds a miraculous, weeping, prayer-granting statue of...wait for it...St. Teresa. I was floored. Confirmation numero dos.
I think my biggest hitch has been that I think of my Mom as the ideal role model, even though I don't actually follow her example on the cosmetic level. I think on the heart level, we're in synch. But it looks so different, it makes for confusion. If she is the role model, she must be the epitome of goodness, right? And if my life doesn't look like hers, then I must not be good, right? So this is what I am now chewing on: that if I will never be my Mom, and she is the epitome of goodness, will I ever be good? These are rhetorical questions - of course my mind knows all the rational, adult, psychologically-appropriate and sensible answers: that I need to broaden my definition of good to include myself, that her life is her own and mine is my own and they are both good, that goodness is a soul characteristic that doesn't look the same in everyone. But I am still teaching my six-year-old heart to understand this, and it needs patience, repetition of message, and...that St. Teresa spell.
St. Teresa, wild shamaness of the Catholic faith, meet me between our different worlds so we can be goddesses together. Step out from your convent into the moonlight and be with me in a place that is not a place, a time that is not a time. Let us be women mystics together, and share with me the truth of your goodness. Hear me, St. Teresa. Grant me the ecstasy of knowing my own goodness. Help me on behalf of my grandmother and all my ancestors who loved you. Show me that goodness is attached to my soul, and show me that my life reflects that goodness. Let us be pure with one another, pure in our soul-level goodness. Promise me you'll stop flogging yourself, Teresa, even for a minute, and I will follow suit. Grant me safe travel, deep peace, and a true sense of my own inner and outer goodness.