Living Life through art and ritual

October 29, 2008

My last post “Living the Demetrian Wheel, Reality Strikes” was a first for me. Turns out it was the first time I have ever publicly written about having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). After two years of living with this condition that seems a little odd, but its true. Up until now I have confined my writing and processing about life with MCS to my private journal, MCS email lists, and discussions with friends. Honestly I think it has taken that long for me to come to terms with this condition and make a certain level of peace within myself around the situation. But as an artist, ritualist and priestess, eventually what is in my heart and mind becomes a part of my work, and I guess my last post was the turning point.

All of that brought to mind that it was time for a little bit of truth in advertising for this blog. A little bit of “who is this crazy lady writing about MCS, ritual, art, gods and goddesses and the like?” And what is it that I am likely to write about on this electronic page of mine?

Five or Six years ago I would have answered that question by saying that I am writer and creator of ritual and ritual theater works, a mother and a priestess. At the time I was the founder and Artistic Director of Magical Acts Ritual Theater an experimental performance group in the Oakland, CA area that explored the boundaries between theater and ritual, between the sacred and the profane. We never made a living at it, but we did manage to pay the bills in the end, which if you know anything about nonprofit, volunteer theater is saying something! I resigned in the fall of 2002 to get some sleep, do some writing and rediscover my family. That worked for a while… but we Type A’s get bored soooo very quickly!

My Bio Photo from my days as AD of MART

Sadly, whatever I had planned for my post-MART days was eaten by the “Flue that would not go away” which started sometime around late 2004 / early 2005. Anyone familiar with MCS can see the plot begin to thicken right about now. Turns out that sometime in that period I was exposed to a very large dose of formaldehyde through a large remodel that was being done on the building that I worked in at the time. Lots of cheap industrial paint and cheap industrial carpet all over the place including right under my feet. Being “normal” at the time, it never occurred to me that this was a problem. Except that from that point on I had this flue and these sinus head aches that would not quit and would last for a week or two, go away, and then reappear – lather, rinse, repeat, over and over again.

In the summer of 2005 I was diagnosed with a massive dust mite allergy. WTF?? I had never had allergies in my life! That started the prescription medication and the allergy shots routine that I now live on. A little over year later I was on my second, or was it third?, sinus infection and a new round of antibiotics. Then in October of 2006 came the lovely adventure to the Emergency Room while at Disneyland that I wrote of in my last post. This was the triggering incident that brought the slumbering formaldehyde into full toxicity and me into the world of life with MCS.

My purple hair – dyed in celebration of my new life with MCS and suddenly jobless because of my health

– weird, but hey it was fun while I could still do it!

The first six to nine months of life with MCS I spent sleeping or watching DVD’s. There was just no energy – no spoons for anything else. So I missed most of 2007, which sucks when you have growing teenagers. Bless my house mates and husband! They stepped in and took over when I couldn’t be there and got the kids and me through the worst of those days! Slowly I learned to breathe again and think again. I discovered that there was a world out there… and of course… I got bored! Lol.

As luck would have it, around the time I got sick, a friend of mine had introduced me to the world of Robert Tonner dolls and Fashion Repaints and it occurred to me to try my hand at redo a doll for myself as an icon of Demeter. So I did and it was fun and other people liked what I was doing… so I tried a few other designs… and people liked those dolls… and started asking if I would do commission work! And now I have the seeds of a business doing Altar dolls! Getting sick lead me to my art – who knew? I have no idea if I will ever be able to make a living doing this, but for the moment it keeps me (mostly) out of trouble, and pays for itself, which in this economy is an absolute requirement!

The Demeter Altar Icon on my altar behind my desk

With my art has coming my writing – my ritual work specifically. I used to say that I was a Writer! Ok, I don’t *think* I was that bad, but I might have been. But this enforced downtime has helped me figure out that its not that I must *write* in the sense that a novelist or short story writer might use that word. When I need to *write* it is almost always to write ritual. I am a ritualist first and foremost, all the writing about ritual comes afterwards. But the requirements of MCS, staying away from all scents and chemical fumes, makes working and being in public damn near in possible – so for now, I am limited to writing ritual for my coven which is small and very MCS wise, and writing about ritual. Yes, its frustrating as hell! And actually its not the complete truth… I am writing rituals, just more complex and detailed ones; the kind that need time to brew and percolate to become their ideal selves.

And last, but never least, I am a priestess. Somehow this has always been true, and now, even with the MCS, or perhaps because of the MCS, it is even more so. I am a priestess of several powers. My work for the rest of 2008 and through June of 2009 at least will focus on my relationship to Demeter, hence the recent spat of work on the Demetrian Wheel of the Year.

So what is Sacred Seeds Weblog about? Art, ritual, life with a chronic condition… ways to celebrate life no matter what the universe throws at you!


2 Responses to “Living Life through art and ritual”

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I, too, went into “retreat” when first diagnosed. For two years. I got a little better, but then I got bored! That’s when I returned to school to finish my English degree so I could hone my writing skills. I figured writing was work I could do from the safety of my home. And that plan turned out pretty well. Found gainful employment and haven’t been bored since. It sounds like you, too, are finding your way.

    Your dolls are beautiful!! I, too, made dolls during that down time and for years afterward! Cloth dolls, the first of which was inspired by a chapter in Women Who Run with the Wolves. I haven’t made one in awhile, but hope to get back to it.

    Also, continuation of our discussion in your last post, even though I stopped actively participating in ritual, I have always had an altar in each room of the house, tangkas of Tara, statues of Sekhmet and Tara all over the place. I was surrounded by all this, but still drifted away from Spirit. I haven’t done any magic or ritual at all in so long. My husband nudges me from time to time to return to it. Maybe it’s time. It’s like riding a bicycle, right? 😉

    It’s fun that we’ve connected near All Hallows’ Even. Very witchy of us.

  2. Amazing what boreome can generate isnt it?!

    Oooh – I havent read Women Who Run with the Wolves since grad school… what a great source for dolls and ideas! and something that probably would be worth rereading at this point in my life all things considered! thank you.

    🙂 I have altars all over as well… when I first met my husband he used to tease me about making room for him among all the altars. Well we worked that out . I have him and lots of altars!

    What a lovely husband you have to nudge you about your spirituality in a positive way, that’s very sweet.

    yep, I think it is like riding a bicycle, you start slow and let the wind and the road take you. think of something you want to do, or connect with… have a cup of tea with Tara or Sekhmet . Sit with them and say hi! You can start simple with just that or add in an invocation and actually call them into the space with you… really whatever feels right at the time. enjoy the journey and relish the moments. It so rare that we get to do things consciously – even magic can get swept up in the doing over the being.

    Yes, I agree, its lovely that we have connected over All Hallows. I’m sorry it took me a while to get back to you, you know the drill with MCS… this winter is the “almost flue” and its been dragging me down off and on since the beginning of October. blech!

    Hope your samhain was all you wanted it to be. Blessings to you and your husband.

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