BEFORE BREAKFAST – WASHING AND MEALS
Ablutions… Ablooosssions….What a lovely word. You can almost hear the water being poured out into a bowl as you say it. So much more alive and descriptive than simply ‘washing’. Ablutions is a delight but washing is a chore. Oh Silly me.
Now where was I going with this one? Oh yes, I was going to talk to you, Listener-in-my-Mind, about Balance. It might not seem to be important but balance is everything – everything. There is a balance to the whole world, between the sky and the earth, between the God and the Goddess, between Father Sun and Mother Earth.
Father Sun, like most men, is predictable and boring. (Unspiritual thought!) He rises every day and sleeps every night. He slowly climbs up the sky with the seasons and retreats in like manner. He is fierce and potent, powerful and overwhelming. He is God.
The Goddess complements or balances His ego. (Somebody has to! Opps, another unspiritual thought.) She is forever unpredictable, whimsical in Her presence by showering gentle rain upon us or showing Her strength through fiery tempest and howling wind. She keeps us guessing and forever vigilant to Her moods and giving. She is Womankind above all womankind. She is the Goddess.
It is together that they hold the key to all of life, for one without the other is death and nothingness. One needs the other and if too much emphasis is given to one then the other reacts, sulks even, and takes action to remind us of necessary worship and service. In living our lives we need to be aware of this balance. We need to acknowledge the spiritual blessings that come alongside the mundane chores, both are essential to continued existence and comfort.
But what, you might ask, has any of this to do with washing?
Well the servants of the House are mostly paid in small coin, but occasionally a daughter is brought in to willingly work for nothing, their family hoping that the girl’s willingness will come to the attention of the Mothers and for her then to be accepted in training. Opportunistic career push is what I call that. As if that was all that was needful in being a priestess – willingness. Some dream!
All the servants are women, of course, and are supposed to be respectful of the House and its people, for they in turn gain respect in the outside community as they live and work in such proximity to power and magic. However the reality is nothing like that ideal. In my experience the servants are all too human and like to vie for status amongst themselves. They try to gain ground over their rivals by fawning over the Mothers and giving such flattery to the trainees (at least to their faces) that is all the more pathetic for it is immediately seen through by anyone with the least sensitivity or insight. I have come to the conclusion that the servants don’t give a pig’s fart for the privilege of being with us nor give any respect for power and magic. They cannot see anything of this in their blindness as they strive for status over their neighbours. Don’t they believe in the very wisdom and psychic sight that we speak of? Obviously not, or they think they are above all that and are safe in their giving of necessary services. Perhaps they really are and the Mothers cannot do without them! Who knows?
What is it about a group of woman with no men ever present that makes for such bitchiness and pettiness? Imbalance. How do men really bring a balance to outlook and behaviour? I don’t know, for it seems to me that they are usually so coarse and unrefined that their only interests are fighting, eating, drinking and sex, but I do know that although it makes for difficulties in training I would rather be in a mixed community than one comprised only of women.
But back to this thing of washing. “You do go on”, you might say. “Just get to the point”.
Well the Goddess loves to be clean and adorned. She washes herself in due season and adorns Herself in finery that is impossible for mere humankind to copy. Green is Her main colour for it is the colour of the heart (I can tell you more of that later on), but She grows blossoms that are delicate, pure and beautiful that highlight Her femininity. She crowns Herself with colourful bows in the sky and brings forth gems from Her bosom that she shares with womenfolk that show off their own beauty and worth accordingly. It is an urge within all women to emulate the Mother for it gladdens a woman’s heart to be clean and adorned in all manner of finery, and which in turn makes men desire their mates. It encourages creativity and is reflected in Art of all kind. A woman’s body is holy, curvaceous, soft and a thing of beauty. It is also considered to be sacred and in a way to be worshipped by men. It needs to be cared for and pampered from time to time, kept clean and vital, adorned or beautified if possible like Mother Earth, for it is within its hidden and mysterious depths that new life is brought forth and survival of the community ensured.
And from those dizzy heights of spiritual considerations take a plummet to earth and the mundane, for to do all this there is a need for fresh clean water – and someone has to bring it in and heat it! Balance.
So back to me and my gripe. As I have told you I am not like Yseult with a body that men will fight over, for I am ill proportioned and dark in temperament and attitude. I try to do the best with what I have for that is what my training tells me to do and my spirit yearns to emulate the Mother. But little help I get with the impossible task along the way – quite the reverse, it would seem. The cows who serve us smile to my face but laugh behind my back. I know they pity me and make jokes of me when they think no one will put two and two together. They goad each other on, daring to risk my displeasure and a possible or imagined magical curse to come their way. But they are supposed to willingly bring hot water for me to wash my body, to clean my room and wash my tunics and small clothes. So when I sense all is not well then I begin to wonder if the water is truly fresh, especially when I can no longer see its life force sparkling like droplets of light when the water is poured or sprinkled for my use. Do they mock me? Am I the butt of their jokes?
So from the duty of sexual union I desperately need fresh cleansing water. I need to infuse it with certain herbs and ‘mothered’ wine that are crucial if I am not to become pregnant. The douche reed needs to be renewed regularly, kept clean and edges rounded. The stink of men and sex needs to be removed and replaced with sweet smelling scents of rosemary and lavender. I need to be refreshed in body, mind and spirit if I am to be focused on the day and desire to succeed and gain prowess. And all of this can be so easily marred by suspicions of unclean cold water or mouldy herbs, not quite that far gone and obvious as to warrant rebuke or replacing with fresh, but suspicions of not being fresh enough that none the less upsets the harmony of mind and spirit that you would expect to find in a priestess. And this is a result of imbalance. Bitchiness – but on who’s part? Dear Listen-in-my-mind, am I paranoid?
Meals can be a delight, presided over by Mother-Housekeeper. That surprised you, didn’t it. Yes, usually Mother-Housekeeper and not Mother-in-Charge. On the whole the meals are a joy and well prepared for the community shares in the bounty of Mother Earth. Of course from time to time special diets, or fasting, are needed to assist in particular rituals or training and if so the practitioner or trainee eats apart from the others, and presided over in that instance by Mother-in-Charge or Mother-Mentor, depending upon whether it is before ritual or training.
Today is a normal day, thank the Goddess, and so the food is wholesome and delicious, even if there is not an abundance of it – for we must not grow fat!! Balance.
I am fully aware of the need to fast on special occasions to increase sensitivity or awareness but why do some people think that we must starve our bodies if we are being ‘spiritual’? The taste and texture of the food reflect the bounty of The Goddess and how She cares for Her subjects, wanting us to give thanks to Her and Her generosity. If we starve we cannot give thanks for that from our hearts, nor should we. It is a foolishness to think it. It would be a different matter if there was little food but this Mother House is well known and well patronised. Health is important so the food is important in turn. A healthy body leads to a glad and honest heart, and that is a true prayer of thanksgiving. An envious one does not deceive the Goddess. Balance.
Today, to break our fast are some shrivelled but tasty small apples and porridge made from oats and a few ground gains of some other kind of cereal added in. There is even a small bit of honeycomb for each of us. Mother-Housekeeper gives thanks to the Goddess and decorously we eat what is set before us. Decorously, for only pigs and men gorge and speak with full mouths, spitting bits out on neighbours as they turn and bellow at each other. There is no respect shown by them for their neighbours or for the food and provision of it. We, as priestesses and living examples of the Goddess, smile, talk quietly and converse on gentle matters of concern. Of course! And hence show our respect for everyone, for the food and for the provision of it. Pootles! Cynicism has its place. Yes I do feel better for voicing it, thank you.
But that doesn’t stop us thinking those unspiritual thoughts though, does it, for I could kill for more, especially for the honeycomb. “Tough tits”, I hear you say. “Unspiritual thought”.
While on the subject of food and meals let me just tell you that the midday meal is usually some bread and cheese, and if we are lucky, some cold meat or fowl that has to be eaten up before it goes off. But the evening meal is hot, with vegetables, meat, fowl or fish, and a baked seasonal fruit dish. It is only on high days or holidays that anything other than water is available to drink, mead usually or something euphemistically called wine. Can’t say I particularly like either but a change is as good as a rest.
Anyhow, no time for more decorous talk. Time to get a move on.