B is for… Body

I struggle with my body.

My belief, like that of many Pagan paths, says that my body is sacred, something to be honoured.

My experience suggests that my body is usually something disgusting, something to fight, something to resent and fear.

My body makes demands that I cannot meet.
My body is ugly.
My body attacks me without warning.
My body does not cooperate.
My body is ambiguous, problematic, morally wrong, unbelievable.

I have often tried to sort out what of this is ‘true’, and what ‘constructed’, what is the actual situation and what is imposed upon me by the society in which I live. At the moment, I have concluded that what is imposed upon me is still real to my experience, and that the two cannot be entirely separated.

My body demands more sleep than is normal, and hence more sleep than is socially acceptable, and at times which are unacceptable to many. (Some people go to bed ‘early’ at midnight. I go to bed ‘early’ at seven.) My needs to eat regularly, to avoid alcohol and to keep caffeine in moderation, are similarly unacceptable in most parts of society.

My physical needs and my culture are in conflict, a battle which is played out in my body.

My body is ugly by the ordinary standards of the world. I have body fat. I have hair. I need to wear clothes which are comfortable and warm, which do not chafe and yet which protect me. My mode of dress is unacceptable to a significant percentage of the men who pass me on the street, who feel the need to tell me so.

If my body is sacred, it is to a Goddess whom most in my world do not want to meet.

My body attacks me without warning. I get pain with no apparent cause. The doctors look, and some say there is no cause and hence there must be no pain; others take tests which cause more pain and prescribe treatments which are even more painful. This pain is personal and private. Due to its location, it can rarely if even be spoken or expressed. People do not want to know what treatments I am enduring.

My body isolates me and there is nothing in my community which fights against that trend.

My body does not cooperate. It does its best, as I do my best, but the rules my society creates about what a body should be able to do are out of reach. This has been clear ever since my PE lessons at school, and comes into focus again whenever I try and join in with a ‘normal’ activity: driving, swimming, yoga, LARP, walking, shopping. My body can fake some of these things for a while, but it basically cannot do what is expected of it.

When the Goddess was stating me, She got very low rolls on the physical numbers.

My body is ambiguous. Few people mis-gender me at a casual glance, but some who look more carefully have second thoughts. I am rarely if ever mis-raced, but frequently mis-religioned. Most people on most days read me as able-bodied, though, because my illnesses are invisible or at the very least hidden. Some of my illnesses are so invisible that even doctors refuse them; some are widely regarded as jokes or non-existent. The results of lab tests often do not match or make sense of the observed situation.

My body is a mystery.

My Goddess is a Mystery.

In my flaws, in my ugliness, in my strangeness and wrongness, I seek to come closer to Her.

Hail, hail, and well met,
Hecate of the many ways.
Guide me as I walk your paths.

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