Paganism, Spiritual Growth

Priestess in a Pandemic – Part Two

This is Part Two of Priestess in a Pandemic – Read Part One here!

Like I said in my previous post – Even though 2020 and 2021 have been profoundly shitty, it hasn’t been all bad! This is a continuation of my lessons learned, thoughts, and general musings about being a Priestess in a Pandemic. (And yes, the image above is of a pentacle pot pie! It will make sense later.)

Creativity and Adaptability

There are many buzzwords that have come out of the pandemic. “Unprecedented” is probably my least favorite and the most overused. “Pivot” is another one I hear often around workplaces and business. For my own spiritual practice and my work as a priestess, I prefer the terms “creativity” and “adaptability.”

Maybe it’s my background in ecology that makes me partial to it, but “adabatibilty” has been very fitting for this pandemic. Species that don’t adapt to their environment die out. Similarly, human behaviors and organizations that don’t do the same also meet their end. 

I’ve seen this put into practice in my local Pagan group. There was a month or so in the early pandemic where my group was dealing with the same “What the fuck is happening?!” that the rest of the world was. However, once we saw that this whole COVID thing wasn’t going to be over in a month, and would probably be sticking around for a while, we realized we needed to adapt to keep our community supported and our group going. 

We switched to having all of our events online, everyone got a crash course in Zoom, and off we went. We’ve been operating on a limited schedule because we recognized early on that we could not keep up the same pace online as we had with our in-person events. We’ve been trying to prevent burnout, but at some points in the pandemic that was just inevitable. Thankfully, not all of us have been burned out at the same time, and we’ve been able to keep our ritual schedule of major sabbats and full moons going since May 2020, with a pivot to our book club and a few other circles happening virtually earlier in March and April of 2020.

None of us were experienced in leading virtual rituals prior to COVID, so there was a lot of creativity and experimentation that happened to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Call and response for inviting in the elements works mostly okay. Trying to sing together is an absolute nightmare with internet lag. (We tried once and it almost immediately dissolved into laughter because it was so bad!!) Side conversations are out, as there isn’t really an informal way to have them, so most discussions have been as a big group. Phone cameras occasionally fall down when trying to stream a video of the altar. (For one ritual, I literally had my phone propped up with a deck of tarot cards and some crystals to keep it at the right angle, while I led the ritual and moderated from my laptop.) And someone is inevitably on mute when they are trying to talk.

Overall, I think we have done a fantastic job of adapting to a truly shitty situation. We all miss the energy of being together in a group. We miss the side conversations. We miss sharing food and drink as a community. And we miss seeing each other in person. But, without being able to do those things, I think we have come up with the next best option. It has kept our community going during this dark time, and it’s given me something to look forward to during my boring weeks of just hanging out in my apartment.

I don’t know what I would do without my local Pagan community. I am so grateful for it, and thankful to be able to provide support and service to this wonderful group of humans.

Difficult Times for Deep Relationships

Unfortunately, COVID also brought difficult times for close relationships, for me and just about everyone I know. For some, being stuck in a house with the same people for months on end was taxing. For others, living alone became profoundly more lonely. Not being able to see friends, family, or significant others that lived out of town was devastating, and figuring out how to safely meet up with friends and family nearby took a lot of organization and precaution, with the pandemic situation and recommendations changing almost daily. The pandemic added another layer of stress to everything, and relationships were no exception.

Things that might have been no big deal or would have been easily resolved at other times suddenly morphed into explosive problems. Differences in opinion began to have a different weight to them. Here in the US, the pandemic became so politically charged that, for some, it started causing rifts between family members and friends. 

That craving for Love and Belonging in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that I mentioned in Part One plays a prominent role here. Being deprived of regular activities has left people longing for personal connection in so many areas of life. There are the big ones, like romantic partnerships, friendships, and family. As the pandemic wore on, I found that I even missed the small exchanges like talking to the cashier at the grocery store or navigating that awkward phase in acquaintanceship when you are trying to figure out how close you are going to be as friends (AKA – How much of my weirdness are you really ready for?).

For me, there were several different stages in learning and navigating being social after COVID hit. My OCD meant that I stopped going out in public immediately after COVID was declared a global pandemic in mid-March. I learned early on that Zoom was better than phone chats. There was something about seeing another human face that helped my monkey brain cope with the distance a bit better. But it didn’t take long to realize that Zoom wasn’t sustainable either.

Personally, I crave physical touch, and just being in the same energetic space as others. I’m an extrovert that thrives on connection. I didn’t realize how much of this is energy related until the pandemic. It’s like when my energetic field meets someone else’s there are fireworks, and that shared created energy from our interaction is part of what fulfills me. In the absence of being able to hug people, having our auras make energy fireworks while still socially distanced outside was way more powerful than I would have ever expected. 

Maintaining good relationships has taken so much more time, effort, and planning than it did pre-COVID. But for me, these relationships have been what kept me going through even the darkest time of the pandemic. It hasn’t been all bad. I got to reconnect with some friends who lived out of state, and we’ve been chatting more during the pandemic than we have since they moved! I’ve grown closer to several of my friends, and I am so thankful to have them in my life. I have a very small germ pod of people that I feel comfortable with hugging and hanging out indoors now that we all are vaccinated. That alone made 2021 suck way less than 2020.

Trying New Things

While I’m looking for silver linings, the pandemic has also been an opportunity to try new things. 

Like pretty much everyone in the early days of the pandemic when grocery store shelves were bare and the paper towel supply was non-existent, I had to make do with what megar supplies I could get delivered and what I already had in my cabinets. This resulted in a lot of creativity in cooking, some of which resulted in this devotional Sweet Potato and Barley Soup for Cerridwyn. For the first six months of the pandemic, I didn’t order delivery or takeout food at all. While I didn’t make a sourdough starter, I did bake bread for the second time in my life, and now several more times after that. I accidentally made ciabatta once. I finally found my holy grail of mushroom stroganoff recipes. I made up a recipe for veggie pot pie. I handmade pasta a few times with a new pasta extruder I got. I got a lot more intuitive with my cooking, and pretty much stopped using measuring cups altogether. 

I also started baking! (Which was only slightly inconvenienced by my dislike of measuring cups.) I made the most amazing cookies ever – Pumpkin Ricotta cookies! I tried a no-knead bread recipe. I can now wax poetic about how much I love bread flour versus multi-purpose flour. I made an all-butter pie crust from scratch. 

The pandemic also made me want food that I hadn’t had in years. I had a craving for Mexican food for the first time in a over a decade because I hate tacos, and I made truly delicious tacos from scratch that were a game-changer! I don’t know what the restaurants I went to pre-pandemic were doing instead, but my tacos rocked and every other taco I have had has sucked. Maybe I just wasn’t going to the right places, or most people don’t know how to make interesting vegetarian tacos. 

I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years now, and I had the most bizarre craving for chicken nuggets during the pandemic (which are absolutely disgusting both in theory and practice). With barbeque sauce, ranch, or sriracha honey mustard. I found a brand called Quorn that makes really great meat substitutes, and that satisfied my craving for non-chicken nuggets. (I cannot vouch that their meat substitutes actually taste like meat, but they behave the way meat needs to in a recipe. Their meatless grounds and meatless pieces are great, too!)

I also joined a wine club that funds independent winemakers, made a boatload of Greek Salad (no lettuce in sight!), and rediscovered my passion for gelato! 

And most of all, in 2021, I got to cook for and share food with my germ pod! One of the main cultural things I took with me from my time in Italy is the love of delicious food and sharing it with people I care about. Not being able to eat with people kind of broke me in 2020, but I have been happy to have this be a part of my life again!

That’s it for Part Two! I talk about shifts in my spirituality and everyday practice in Part Three!

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