Over the last year or two I’ve made it a point to use some of my paid leave on the eight semi-common modern pagan holy days.
This isn’t something I really did with consistency before, either as a pagan or as a practitioner of other paths. To some extent it simply wasn’t a priority — I didn’t really make a day of it in terms of observing the date — but privilege was also a major factor. I’m lucky right now to have that sweet-spot combination of paid leave and a friendly workplace. I’m luckier than a lot of people I know in terms of being able to say, “Hey, I’m going to try this!” and — with the exception of working a haunted house on October 31 last year — having the resources to do it.
Keeping the modern wheel of the year means an observance roughly every six weeks. This year, seven of them land on weekdays. In 2013, five of them will. One of them is consistently a day I’d take off anyway (my birthday), while another is a day I can generally use flex time to take off instead of spending vacation hours.
The interesting thing to me is just how beneficial it’s turned out to be to take this time off. There’s the obvious benefit that I can use this time for reflection, or to do seasonal work around the house and garden, but it also means I have a predictable cycle of downtime in which to maintain my self-care regimen.
When I started doing this, part of me whinged a little. “This is special time!” my brain said. “Why am I cluttering it up with doctor appointments?” While I would certainly describe having my teeth cleaned as an ordeal in the mundane sense, but I wouldn’t call it a ritual.
Still, aren’t my practices practical, embodied traditions? Isn’t the body relevant to my practice? What about the concept of holiness? Must it mean hands-off, or can it be earthy and sticky, too?
Looking at it that way, it almost seems stranger not to make the appointment and take care of my body by taking it to a doctor (or even enjoy it with, say, a massage) than it is to go.
I’m not endorsing an attitude that self-care is automatically an offering to the gods, or a ritual in itself — I think that attitude can lead to an “I gave at the office” kind of laziness — but it does create a framework in which I can relate to my body as something worthwhile instead of acting out icky internalized beliefs about it being unclean or unsacred.
And, as a lot of teachers I’ve encountered of late can attest, a cared-for, lived-in body can have a profound positive effect on one’s spiritual work. I’m still trying that idea on in practice, but it bears considering.
But yes, I’ll be curious to see how this develops. I am, obviously, very careful not to overload the day with things. Quiet time, ritual time/space, etc. are still the priority. The downtime and the self-care are supports for that.