My sister mermaid Betsy Sauther took this photo of swimming otters during our Mermaid Retreat.
At the Mermaid Retreat last weekend, we practiced the art of listening. Each person in turn had a chance to speak about her life as long as she wanted to (up to about an hour) with no interruptions or feedback. The rest of the group gave her our full attention and listened intently. When she was done, she could say whether or not she wanted feedback. Most people did.
This practice is the core of a most magical time that we spend together. We bear witness to each other. And, sometimes, the Lady speaks through one of us with words of wise counsel.
The ten of us were initiated onto the priestess path nine years ago at Imbolc. Our individual priestess paths have waxed and waned since then. Some of us are taking a break from public service; others are moving more deeply into it. Some of us find our priestessing is quite private these days. I see us as floating together in the water, holding hands, ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning, dancing a spiral dance in the sea . . .
After listening, I asked each woman: “Where are you today, on your priestess path?” I liked DragonSong’s answer the best: “When She knocks on my door, I say Yes.”
When my turn came to be heard, I asked the following question, as if I would ask it of an oracle: “If my geas, or holy task, is to complete my Gaian Tarot deck, why am I being required to attend to so many other responsibilities at the same time, leaving me so little time for art?” (Just a bit of whining there . . .)
The most valuable answer I received was this: What you value most is what you put first in your life. Not what I say, but what I do. It becomes quite clear then, that my highest priority right now is seeing my father through his last days. If he needs me, everything else takes a back seat. My second priority is earning a living and giving my clients and customers good service. After those two, comes the creative cauldron. Not to mention my partnership, my community, my spiritual practice, my health.
At the beginning of this year, I went through the calendar and marked “Art Day” on every Friday of the week. If I knew I would be out of town on a Friday, I marked Thursday as Art Day. Those days are supposed to be sacrosanct. I don’t make any appointments on Art Days. But things happen. Dad falls and needs extra attention, which means extra trips to town. Orders come in and decks and prints have to be shipped. Clients ask for a few more changes on their websites. Potential clients need bids written up. The magazines I write for want their columns and articles on time — can you believe the nerve?
DragonSong repeated: “What you value most, you put first. Make Monday your Art Day instead of Friday.” My jaw dropped open. What a concept.
I made a commitment to making Monday my Art Day for a lunation. You’ll be the first to know how it goes.