A Reaction to Living

I am on the cusp of a new beginning.

New beginnings are terrifying. And liberating. And challenging. And not without a degree of nostalgia and loss. Things have to end in order for other things to begin.

Circle of life, and all that stuff.

My house is almost completely packed up. Our bed is on the floor, without a frame. We sold the bedroom set a few weeks back — in part because we’d grown tired of it, but also for the cash. Sleeping on the floor has been a strange, college-like experience. I feel like I’m in my early 20’s again. That is… until I see someone in their early 20’s. They all have so much hair.

My blog has been still and silent for over a month. It’s the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken from blogging since I started this project in December of 2010. (See the archives for proof.) I haven’t really known what to blog about, for one. But even more than that, I’ve been aware of the fact that what I needed most was not documentation of my life, but rather a fuller engagement with my life. Blogging, or any kind of self-reflective, memoir-esque style of writing, when done with extreme regularity, can begin to transform one’s perception of their life. Instead of it being the thing that you are doing it becomes the thing that you might be able to write about.

Life is more than just content.

So I stepped back. No need for a big announcement. The blog wasn’t expiring, nor did I have any real sense of when it would pick up again. I’m not even sure it’s picking up right now, to be honest. But the time away was necessary considering the transitions that were on the horizon.

In two days I will say goodbye to Denver, to all the people who I love, and I will drive across country with my husband, our three dogs, and our truckload of stuff. We’ll arrive in Portland on Monday and then something new will begin.

And I have no idea what that will look like.

natura_pagana - Le Mat
Image by Diego da Silva

When we first started talking about moving to Portland, I had this vision of finding other like-minded Druids and starting up an ADF grove. Oregon seems like a good breeding ground for Druids, and I romanticized the idea of fostering a small community once I arrived. This could still happen, although it won’t be with ADF. I couldn’t say which group it would be affiliated with, as I haven’t been inclined to pursue membership anywhere else just yet. I’m still very, very much a solitary.

A solitary without a regular practice, at that.

So it’s interesting to imagine what this blog could become in the coming months. How, without any religious structure or form, will I continue to reflect on or engage in a spiritual life? Have I been that dependent on belonging to a group in the past that I cannot write and reflect without one?

I don’t think so, but I don’t know.

That’s the thing about new beginnings. The are necessarily shrouded. They are not transparent. There is mystery inexorably woven into every aspect of them. We don’t know where we’ll get our food, walk our dogs, build community. We don’t know how the weather will feel, how the land will look as the seasons change, or how we will be embraced by the people of Portland. We have no clear sense of what the future will bring.

But I think that those are the conditions which make possible some real magic.

So maybe when we get to Portland I’ll start blogging with more regularity. Maybe I’ll write about what it feels like to live around so much lush greenery. Maybe I’ll write about what it’s like to live so close to a river, or in a place that’s not dry as a bone. Maybe I’ll stumble upon some little metaphysical shop and spark up a conversation that leads to a post, or I’ll meet a Witch or a Druid or a Unitarian that I’d only known on Facebook, and maybe that interaction will shed light on something that has, unbeknownst to me, been hidden. Maybe I’ll discover a spiritual practice again. Maybe I’ll find the room to try something new, or better yet, to try something old, something forgotten, underutilized, or neglected. Maybe there will be more new beginnings than I know what to do with, and I’ll have to write about all of them.

Or maybe I’ll do something altogether different.

I don’t know.

This time away from blogging has reminded me that you have to live a meaningful life first, and then write about it. You can’t write your way into happiness, or understanding, or peace, or even wisdom. You — or, more specifically, I — cannot just parse out life within the pixels. I have to get a little dirty. I need to spend some actual time being embodied.

Writing is not a substitute for living. Writing is simply a reaction to living.


A few added notes:

• Check out the upcoming edition of Witches & Pagans with Your’s truly on the cover and pre-order your copy here. T. Thorn Coyle asks some insightful questions, and the conversation that ensued went to places I hadn’t expected it to go.

• The good people at Belham Apothecary (aka Horn of Hern Home Arts) sent me a delightful little gift basket of incenses, soaps, perfume blends and ritual items. The owners of the shop are a delightful young couple from Georgia, and I’d highly recommend paying their Etsy shop a visit.

• In case you missed it here is my writeup of the Sacred Harvest Festival on The Wild Hunt. I have a feeling I may do more reflecting on this experience once we get settled into our new home.

• Lastly, if you’re an Oregonian and we haven’t already met on Facebook or Twitter, please say “hello” in the comments. We don’t know many people in town, and it would be great to feel like we aren’t complete strangers when we arrive.


17 responses to “A Reaction to Living”

  1. Erynn Rowan Laurie Avatar
    Erynn Rowan Laurie

    Best of luck with your move, and I hope everything goes smoothly and works out brilliantly for you.

  2. ChristopherBlackwell Avatar

    I haven’t been in Portland in about thirty years. On little night of partying I bored my glasses and the next day Mt. Saint Hellens went up but i had to watch that on TV, while partner could watch it from the Burnside Bridge. [GRIN]

  3. Anna MacLeod Avatar
    Anna MacLeod

    Longtime fan of your blog and finally delurking to say I’m an AODA member who myself just moved to Portland (northeast side) in July. I would definitely be open to getting together with other Druids in the area and do Druid-type things. New beginnings are scary, but you can’t enjoy the water if you don’t jump in the pool. Many blessings to you as you get settled in.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Anna. I’m glad to know you’re here in town. Perhaps sometime I’ll put together a inter-tradition Druid gathering — I’d love for you to come!

  4. Ealasaid A. Haas Avatar
    Ealasaid A. Haas

    I’m in PDX! Just moved here earlier this year. We live in SE, fairly close-in.

    I’m sensing a BitG meetup or something should happen once you’re here and a bit settled. 😀

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      That would be awesome, Ealasaid!

  5. calluna Avatar


    As every flower fades and as all youth
    Departs, so life at every stage,
    So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
    Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
    Since life may summon us at every age
    Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
    Be ready bravely and without remorse
    To find new light that old ties cannot give.
    In all beginnings dwells a magic force
    For guarding us and helping us to live.
    Serenely let us move to distant places
    And let no sentiments of home detain us.

    The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
    But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
    If we accept a home of our own making,
    Familiar habit makes for indolence.
    We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
    Or else remain the slave of permanence.
    Even the hour of our death may send
    Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
    And life may summon us to newer races.
    So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

    Hermann Hesse

    (This is a very close and very beautiful translation. I stand in awe of the translater that mastered a task as complex as translating a poem correctly contentwise and making it rhyme in the same time. This was done brilliantly here.
    There is just one sentence, where I feel that the content had to give way to rhyme: In the German original the last sentence reads as: “So be it, heart, bid farewell and heal.”)

    1. calluna Avatar

      Just noticed that the last sentence might be translated as:

      “So be it, heart, bid your farewell and mend.”

    2. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Calluna. “Familiar habit makes for indolence.” Yes! I feel that right now, as every one of my familiar habits is in question these days.

  6. Karen Avatar

    Well I’m not in Portland, not a city person at all. I’m in Falls City…a tiny town in the mountains to the south and west of Portland. But I’m happy to welcome you to Oregon, I think you’re gonna love it. From Portland you are just a couple of hours to the ocean, the desert, the mountains, the gorge…fun all around you. Happy trippin’!

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you, Karen. I appreciate the warm welcome, and I’m looking forward to making it to the ocean, the desert, the mountains and the gorge!!

  7. Melinda C. Bullen Avatar
    Melinda C. Bullen

    Hi Teo! From one newbie Portlander to another, WELCOME!. I just moved here one month ago from a stint in Chile. I don’t know anyone here, but it has been a city full of friendly strangers and it feels more comfortable every day. I think you will thrive here for a hundred reasons! I wanted to comment because I am not a self-proclaimed Druid, witch, or any other pagan label. I was raised Episcopalian and had a wonderful experience growing up in that church. But in growing up, I believed deep in my core that there was more (inclusive of my past beliefs) that needed exploring. And so I continue to explore. I find myself consistently drawn to the pagan world, but don’t know where I fit in… or if I have to. I found your blog about a year ago, and I read it when updated because it is a well-written, beautiful tether to a world I want to know more about. I am learning from you. So, thank you for that. I look forward to finding out where you will be and what you will be doing here, in hopes of a more personal connection. I am connected to you through Facebook by melinda.c.bullen@facebook.com. Good luck in your move and drop me a line if you want to meet in PDX! 🙂 -Melinda

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks, Melinda. Just friended you on Facebook. We seem to have a lot in common, no? Perhaps we can connect sometime and talk about those commonalities. I’m sure there’s plenty I could learn from you as well!

  8. Leithin Cluan Avatar

    Wishing you luck in both journeys, physical and spiritual. I’m moving house myself (back to London) in a couple of weeks. New beginnings are terrifying, but also so exciting! Also I adore Portland – enjoy 🙂

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you, Leithin! I hope your move goes well!

  9. Joshua Avatar

    I look forward to hearing about your journey. May yours go better than mine.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thanks, Joshua. Blessings to you on your journey as well!

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