Information on Enid can be found here: http://www.prairiefirecoven.org/aprmoon04.html
Last night’s moon ritual was really a huge step for our coven. I wish MarshAster and Barleycorn could have been there. It was a moon ritual, and very much in keeping with our theme, but we did individual work for each of us, working on the challenges to our quest for the year. My quest, which wasn’t an intellectual decision, but something that came to me in a vision in the first ritual we did, was to write this year. I’ve been journaling a lot — Jasmine’s death has certainly contributed to that — but also doing other kinds of writing. I haven’t delved into fiction yet. I’m gearing up for it.
My challenge is that I tell myself lots of stories about why I can’t write, or can’t write well enough. So last night Cedar and S. read some scripts of these stories and then put them into my hands, where their weight seemed to be much more than little slips of paper warrant. After holding them and really considering the weight and the oppression they are to my writing, I released each of them to the fire of truth, to be burned away. S. and Cedar both had their own working to do, and I participated in each of them — we all did, helping each other act out and conquer our challenges. Then we danced ecstatically to raise energy — no small feat for me, as I worked with my personal trainer earlier in the day. We began this process dancing separately, sort of gathering our energy around ourselves and moving it around the room, but we ended moving together, pulsing it into the center, where we released it with a whoop of joy. It was wonderful.
These rituals with the Ladies of the Lake have been inspiring. I’m so glad we’re working with them this year. The other thing of note abot last night is that Cedar and I traded our “comfortable” roles — I drummed while she led the trance. My experience of trancing while drumming was different. Normally, my trance is very successive and coherent, like following a movie in my mind’s eye, or even having a memory. While drumming, it was more like flashes of illumination in key areas — at each of the quarters in the astral temple, at the entrance to the apple orchard where we met Enid, receiving a golden apple from Enid as a token of the Goddess’s love and hearing Enid’s message for me about my writing (among other things, she said, “Stop trying to “be” a writer — you already are one.” I was frustrated by not being able to keep a consistent rhythm, but feedback from Cedar was that this wasn’t as noticeable to her as it was to me. I was stiff at the beginning of the drumming and had to think about it, but by the end, it was becoming more natural and easier. I will practice more and when I’m ready, learn some more rhythms. Saturdays are my drum & dance days, soo….
Cedar and I have been getting some of the ET poison out bit by bit when we meet. Last night I commented on the quarter candles we are using. They were donated by ET during the beginning of our troubles in January. When I look at them, I see baggage from that experience. I would like to make new quarter candles when we make our new coven candle, which also serves as our spirit candle. ET left the coven about a month ago. We are working with what to do in her wake, to cut our ties to her, to protect ourselves from any further outbursts of emotional vomit and to cleanse ourselves of what we’ve already experienced. I have proposed doing this in more than one ritual because it just seems like a lot to do well in one ritual. Cedar and I have talked about it, but MarshAster and Barleycorn’s distance makes it difficult to talk about it with them, at least in the sense of being on the same time schedule. We will work this out via email.
I’ve said a few times that I would write about her leaving here. Gods, it’s just so ugly and complicated. How can I put it simply?
I’ve been asked if there were warning signs. Yes, but they weren’t glaring and didn’t, at the time, seem like show stoppers. She was very dogmatic about feminist history (Gimbutas and others like her are the only historians to be trusted) and about activism (to be a good activist, you have to be public and vocal, as in, you have to be at protests and work with protest groups). We talked through these things. After her initiation in December, we had a coven meeting where we talked about the upcoming year. We talked about Sapling studies and I drafted up a plan. It was a draft, not carved in stone. Nothing is. We’re always learning from trying. Anyway, she was at that meeting and agreed with what we were proposing. Seemed enthusiastic, even. Certainly she didn’t offer any serious concerns, nor did she offer any alternatives.
Then Jasmine went into the hospital and all hell broke loose. We agonized over having Gabrielle miss any more school. It was starting to affect her grades. That meant I had to stay here with her because I was still nursing Nina and Nina wasn’t allowed on the floor where Jasmine was staying. ET offered to take Gabrielle while I went to stay with Jasmine. When Jasmine took a turn for the worse, I asked if the offer was still open. ET said it was, and agreed to take Gab. While I was gone, I called Gab several times and spoke to ET’s husband on a few of these occasions, updating him. About a week after I left, I got a phone call from ET saying I needed to come get Gab as it was just too much for them to keep her. ET has a four year old son and it was too much for her to juggle his needs and Gab’s. I was puzzled. Gab’s pretty self-reliant, but whatever. There was definitely a stressed tone to ET’s voice and I wasn’t going to argue with her. I told her I would be home to get Gab on the day she requested.
I spoke to Gab the night before I came home. ET had answered the phone. She didn’t ask me any questions about my arrival time or anything. After my conversation with Gab came to a close, I asked her to let ET know I would be there to pick her up by the time school was out. Apparently she didn’t relay the message. My bad — I shouldn’t have relied on an eight year old to do that. All the way home I fretted about Jasmine, who was not doing well. On some very deep level, I knew she was dying. I cried the last twenty miles or so coming into Bloomington.
I picked up Gab from school and then went to ET’s to get her stuff. I was met at the door with an irritated look and a somewhat imperious, “We need to talk about this past week.” Not what I needed to deal with, considering Jasmine’s state, etc., but whatever. My codependent little self just wanted to make everything okay. So I listened to her complain to me about how I didn’t call Gab “enough” and how I didn’t let ET know what time I was going to be in Bloomington and how all this is just an example of how bad the communication is within the coven. (?! What a jump of logic, but anyway…) I apologized to her for not calling. Profusely. And I pretty much let it go at that. As far as I was concerned, it was done. I was even able to let go of my irritation at having to deal with something that seemed relatively petty in light of what was going on with Jasmine.
I ended up staying the night at her house that night because my heater was turned down and my house was cold. We had the Seed/Imbolc ritual planned for the next night and I had offered to stay home with their son so both ET and her husband could attend — her husband had expressed interest in Seed study and had completed Study Circle. When I woke up the next morning, ET’s family was gone to breakfast, according to a note she left me. I scrawled a reply before leaving — “Thanks again for letting me stay last night and I’ll see you at 7.”
When I got home, MarshAster called me, noticeably upset, and asked if I’d checked my email. I hadn’t, as I had just arrived home. To sum it up, while I slept, ET wrote a note to the coven demanding that the Seed ceremony be postponed because she was having problems with her commitment to the coven. I was stunned. It was quite a reversal from her attitude and actions of the night before. She refused to meet with us to talk about it, though MarshAster and Cedar both called her and tried to talk to her about it. The other members of the coven agreed that it wouldn’t be fair to the other Seed member to reschedule the ceremony and we decided to move ahead. It was difficult to make any other decision as ET was not willing to meet with us, nor was she very clear about her future intentions with the coven.
ET spoke with each of us separately about her concerns before agreeing to a coven meeting. At that meeting, I left feeling like we had worked through the issues. There was baggage with other members that had nothing to do with me, and I can’t speak to their experience, but for me, it was done and I was ready to move on. We had a moon ritual soon after and things seemed to be okay.
Then Jasmine died. ET didn’t come to the memorial and only came for a few minutes to the wake. Maybe I should have known then that something was up. The coven wanted to help us through the process and we planned a ritual of release for Jeff and I. We were so plagued by guilt over what we did and we really needed to work through it in ritual space. Because of that, we wanted to do it as soon as we could. We ended up with two rituals in one week — our release ritual and Cedar’s initiation, which had been postponed three times due to the situation with Jasmine. We also had a Seed class. It was by all accounts a full week, but everyone was willing to do it as the circumstances were unusual and extreme. On the day of our release ritual, ET sent an email to the list indicating that she was again questioning her commitment to the coven and that she was changing her membership status to Associate. Problem is, this is a status given by the full membership of the coven after meeting with the member. Guess what? ET didn’t want to meet with us. Not only that, but she again delivered her bomb via email, even though we had, in the wake of the last email disaster, asked that anything like this be discussed in a person-to-person meeting. She even acknowledged this in her email, basically saying, “I know you asked me not to do this via email, but I am.” Ugh!
We didn’t call her because she seemed to want space. And the last time she emailed, calling her only led to further problems. So we gave her time. Two weeks later, two weeks without a word from her, we sent her an email requesting a meeting so we could talk about her status — her expectations and ours. She refused to meet, saying she would send us an email with her reasons for changing her status. Two days after that, she dropped a very ugly bomb on us, and not just on us, but also on S., our other Seed. It was full of hatred (in the guise of “love”) and ugly accusations. It was definitely the end of her association with us.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on this, and quite honestly, I am somewhat resentful that I had to take this time away from Jasmine’s mourning. I spoke about it with other coven members. We tried to glean something useful from it, something constructive. The upshot? ET is one fucked up person who should be in therapy. We are still working through the aftermath. We are still questioning to see what, if anything, we could have done differently and how much responsibilty lies with us. But I really believe that the truth is, very little of all this is actually about the coven or even the individuals. We were just parts in a story of ET’s devising and the ending was pre-ordained.
The lessons I’ve learned — am still learning — are that the group is strong enough to survive this. It has, to use a cliche, made us stronger. Cedar and I have grown quite a bit closer in the wake of all this. I am anxious for MarshAster and Barleycorn to return so we can ritual together to recognize our strength and sever any remaining ties with ET. I imagine there will be more lessons, but for now, I’ve at least got the story down and can move on.