I’m being a real Doubty McDoubterson about my spiritual beliefs right now. I mean bottom-of-the-well, solar-eclipse-totality, what-is-even-the-point-of-anything-we’re-all-gonna-die-anyway levels of doubt. My altar is dusty, my devotional jewelry tangled, and I can’t even remember the last time I gave offerings or lit a single candle. I am deep, deep, deep in the dark. Hooboy, it is bad.
I’ve seen many other spiritually-inclined folks write about what to do during a fallow or questioning period, so I thought why not try it myself? I know stuff about stuff. I’m possibly as qualified as anyone else on the internet who gives advice they won’t personally follow. So here you go, my surefire suggestions for surviving the utter crushing apathy that has become your spiritual life.
1) Avoid your altar.
2) Camp out on the couch and watch all 4 seasons of Arrested Development on Netflix.
3) Stand for indeterminate amounts of time in front of your kitchen cupboards. Eat nothing.
4) Lurk in the “pagan” tag on Tumblr and hate strangers you know nothing about for having more faith than you.
5) Avoid the room your altar is in.
6) See something sad online and automatically say a prayer before realizing what you’re doing, then feel many conflicting emotions you don’t want to deal with.
7) Get out your tarot cards, oracle decks, book of shadows, and crystals in an attempt to jumpstart your enthusiasm. Play on your phone while ignoring their presence.
8) Eat an entire loaf of bread, and only a loaf of bread, for like two days.
9) Rewatch Arrested Development while lurking on Tumblr and Pinterest and every other possible app you can download, since you’re a very important person and just don’t have time for things like religion.
10) Make up a song with lyrics like “Everything’s awful, then you die” or “whatever, it’s not like any of the things I believe in are real anyway so who cares if humanity is destroying the planet and I’m alive to witness the next mass extinction”. 11) Avoid the half of the house your altar is in.
12) Spend hours on Etsy searching for the One Perfect Thing that, if purchased, will magically transform your spiritual life and free you from ever doubting anything again. Do this until your phone overheats, then let your phone charge for maybe five minutes. Repeat until you have a migraine.
13) Pretend everything’s okay by writing something sarcastic yet uncomfortably bitter on your blog.
14) Watch, I dunno, Arrested Development again. Or Archer. I mean who even cares at this point.
15) Die on the couch.
There are times when I want to either be fully in that world or not there at all. Like now: I can watch him sink to his knees, but I can’t pull him away. His hands tremble now, no matter how steadily they held the blade a moment before, but I can’t take them in my own. I watch him bite back a sob as he folds over, hands fisting in his hair – wiping blood on black locks – and I can’t hold him or touch him or do anything of value. If I could, I’d fix him a drink; wash the blood from his clothes; get him in bed. Do… something about Daren’s body. If I have to watch this scene replay itself unto eternity, I at least deserve to be a player and not solely the audience. I wouldn’t stop things or try to change the outcome. I just want to clean away the blood so neither of them has to. That seems fair.
Why, I ask you, is the summer solstice so much harder to face than winter’s? Awash in red, you shrug and answer with that eternally sad smile of yours, Because we both love him. I expected this answer.I love you, too, I point out, but you shake your head. Not in the same way, and then, before I can respond, Don’t worry, I don’t take it personally. Over the body of your dead lover, I try to meet your eyes, match your smile, and fail. Three’s a crowd.
Chest to chest, hip to hip as if one heartbeat, as if one breath
(step, turn, step)
hand to the small of the back and fingers trailing over stiff linen
(step, turn, dip)
and then the bite of the blade, too sharp to even hurt
(step, turn, step)
red drops on white carpet, rose petal wrists
(step, turn, step)
arm sliding around narrow waist, mouths bruising
then the blade to bare throat with merciful speed
and gentle hands amid the red river
lay him down.
I serve the sun and moon, though not in any form from any myths yet told. This is not a masculine sun and feminine moon, fallow winter to fertile summer, balance and symbiosis. This is not The Lovers or The Wheel; this is The Hanged Man and the Five of Swords. I serve a sun and moon who usher in the solstices with godblood and death. I serve a cowardly sun and an apathetic moon. I serve an addicted sun and an ascetic moon. I serve a sun who burns too brightly and gives too much, and a moon who’s ever shadowed and gives too little. I serve cruel gods. Bitter gods. Rotting gods. I serve gods who are ever dead and ever dying. I serve gods who love and rage and sorrow with equal ferocity, and who demand offerings of blood and tears. I serve gods who would by no other be served, whose shackles are ancient and unbreaking. I serve gods whom no other would serve, and I would do so regardless of chains.
the solstice approaches and every night now i dream him dead or dying, your arms a cradle, your arms a cage, are you tired of watching your lover die? because i am tired of watching your lover die, i am tired of offering my tears and my breath and my blood but with what else can you send the moon on his journey into darkness, how can you not weep and tear out your hair? it is astounding how each time feels like the first and only, how a heart can break and break and break again and again and again and still be agony, devastation, and I do not blame you if you are tired of watching your lover die because i watch each time as well, and i am very tired