Today I woke up at five minutes to ten. I had meant to attend today’s local Unitarian Universalist service, perhaps to provide a polytheist perspective on the week’s topic, perhaps only to hear other perspectives and to interact with local people whose religious values in many (though not all) respects are similar to mine. But I had forgotten to set my alarms, and services begin at ten.
Today I poured out brief libations to a litany of Deities and then brushed my teeth; lit a candle to Hestia, used the same lit match to render a bowl of water into a bowl of holy water, and took a shower. Today, tired and in pain from that small exertion, I sat down on my sofa, opened my laptop, and hardly moved again till after noon.
Today I shoved my dirty laundry into two denim sacks and dragged one of them—along with the laundry detergent, the laundry chip card, and my keyring, and I was outside my apartment before I remembered about the laundry room key—upstairs to the laundry room. Detergent in washer, laundry in washer, chip card in washer slot, and back downstairs to load and run the dishwasher. This work—dedicated to Hestia, as all my housework is—took about fifteen minutes all told, and then, tired and in pain from that exertion, I sat down on my sofa, returned to my laptop, and have hardly moved again. It’s now after one. In a few minutes I need to drag the other sack of laundry—and the laundry detergent, chip card, keyring, and box of fabric-softener dryer sheets—upstairs to switch the first load to the dryer and start the second in the washer.
Today I mean to clean as much of my apartment as is physically possible. I envision the place neat and tidy, sparkling clean: worthy of my Deities’ presence. This is a false vision. Most likely I shall accomplish very little.
Today I mean to read a stack of things, some with obvious religious relevance, some without. Today I mean to write at least a couple hymns and prayers that I will include in a devotional to Athena that I intend to publish through Amazon CreateSpace around the time of the Panathenaia. Today I mean to work on the pocket shrines I am decoupaging, and the Transgender Tarot deck I am drawing, and the get-well cards I have told the local hospital (in response to their call for such things) that I am drawing. Today I mean to do an offertory/petitionary ritual—not a complex ritual, but a complete one. Most likely I shall accomplish none of these.
I am a multiply neurodivergent, multiply disabled polytheist. This is my life.
I’m here with Rebecca of Hex.Ink for a dialogue on Hellenic polytheist practice while disabled. Rebecca?
Today I specifically planned to do as little as possible, because if I don’t schedule one day a week that has almost nothing to do, if I don’t schedule rest as well as take unscheduled breaks when I need them, I won’t get enough.
Today I slept in, well past when I meant to, and spent an hour and a half struggling to stop falling back to sleep. Having a sleep disorder means that sleeping in may catch me up on previous sleep debt, but it may also mean that I don’t get to sleep on time tonight, racking up more sleep debt for the coming week. It means that getting up on someone else’s schedule equals chronic sleep debt, which equals missing more than I can afford to of classes and work. I manage to maintain a GPA of 3.8 because my instructors record their classes, and make those recordings available online, but missing class time means missing the chance to participate and ask questions as I go.
Today I am looking ahead at a week with something scheduled every single evening that will keep me out of the house, and out of bed, until 9 or 10 or later. I am looking at adding more hours to my work schedules because I desperately need the money, but also looking at how much sleep time and down time that will cost me.
Today I am looking at the manuscript of the book of funerary rituals I’m writing, and am nearly in tears wondering when I can work on it again. Today I can’t. It would take me all the time I have just to go over what I have and find a place to start working—and I promised myself most of today off.
Today I had to reschedule the plans I did have, plans to work on experimental ritual with another member of my tradition, which lost me an evening of downtime midweek and booked my week solid.
Today, knowing that I had dreams in the past week that were goads from spirits I work with, all the ritual I will manage is my regular offerings, missing again the much-needed trance and divinatory work that might tell me what they want from me. I may not even manage my evening offerings. I haven’t been, lately. I’m simply too tired, and fall into bed, but not into sleep, without doing them.
Today I look at the calendar ahead, and know that I will not participate in upcoming festivals, as I have not participated in past ones, because planning and executing those rituals on my own is too much cognitive, physical and financial load for me. My practice, of necessity, is almost entirely those morning and evening offerings, when I can manage those.
I am a mentally ill, disabled polytheist. This is my life.
Alex and I are here to discuss the realities, pitfalls and compromises we face every day, trying to balance self-care with mundane life with spiritual life.
Check back tomorrow for discussion of prayers and offerings!