It is inevitable…we wake up one day and we’re just not “feelin’ it”. Our spirits are low, our bodies are exhausted, our energies seemingly nonexistent. What do we do then? We’re leaders. Rituals need priestessing, classes need teaching, students need feedback, email needs answering. At times, the “to do” list looks endless (and it probably is!).
This is the time of year when many feel low, tired, and uninspired, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. It gets dark before 5 o’clock and our bodies naturally want to rest and recuperate, hibernate and recalibrate. If we want to do anything at all, it’s to just forget about all of our responsibilities and go out to play with our Loved Ones in the spirit of the holiday season that permeates the culture all around us.
We’re deeply committed to our communities, though, and to our leadership roles within them. What to do? How do we manage this?
All hope is not lost! There are many ways we, as leaders, can move through—dare I say, even work *with*—these Wintertime energies. Will the world end if we move slower than we do during other times of the year? Most likely not.
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with feeling slow and low. No matter what, the truth is that we are not meant to be enthusiastically energetic one-hundred percent of the time. Fallow periods are absolutely necessary—they allow us to integrate, to distill, to incorporate lessons learned and wisdom gathered.
We are not meant to be in a state of constant growth and manifestation, but to instead dwell within the infinite cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. During times when our energies are waning, we are experiencing metaphorical death—a time to pause, to float in the void, and to prepare space for what’s to come.
Our future renewal goes hand-in-hand with the process of decomposition and decay—it’s natural and organic and resisting this just makes it more difficult, makes it last even longer. What is now breaking down, even rotting, is fertilizing our future. And when this is happening, it’s time to ease up on ourselves and embrace even deeper self-care.
The Earth sleeps; we are of the Earth and we need sleep, too. There is no shame in needing “cave time” or “hermit time”. As leaders, we can take responsibility by being proactive in planning for it.
When we are aware of our own patterns of ebb and flow, we can plan for them in advance.* For example, if we already know that we have high energy during the Summer months and low energy during the Winter, we can intentionally schedule ourselves to carry lighter weight during the Dark Time when we have less capacity. We can mitigate this even further by using our personal energetic high points of each year to create in advance: write those rituals, plan those classes, vision those retreats, etc.
We can find ways create the space we need to allow plenty of time for quiet, for integration, for cuddling up with hot tea in front of the fire…whatever it is that particularly feeds our own Sweet Self.
If we know that we simply don’t have as much stamina for joyful service during a specific time each year, can we let our community rest during that particular month or season? I know of one Goddess Temple that closes down completely during the Winter and another that is closed each year for the entire month of January.
In our community, our Priestesses take a much-needed break from our internet presence beginning directly after our Winter Solstice ritual ends, and we return on January 2nd. We must allow spaciousness in order for our ideas and dreams to percolate quietly within, permitting them to bubble back up to the surface when they are ready, trusting that they are bringing us new passion and excitement.
For those leaders who are unable or unwilling to close the community down for any length of time, there is the option of *slowing down* for a month or so. How about offering only one event this month instead of five?
Sabbaticals are another possibility. If we share leadership with others, perhaps each can take a specific amount of time off for personal discovery and restoration once a year, attending community events only as a Celebrant (or perhaps not attending at all during that time). Our Sisterhood will be experimenting with this in 2019.
No matter what, I believe that every leader should take off *at least* one full day a week. I remind us: it is imperative that we consistently attend to our own self-care in order to continue giving over the long term. Burnout is real and it is serious. More than once, I’ve witnessed leadership burnout take down a thriving community.
And let’s be honest: there *are* occasions when we just need to keep on going no matter our apathy or lack of motivation. We’ve made promises and we want to keep them. Our schedule is set and we want to stick to it. Our students are in front of us and we want to support their enthusiasm and desire for learning. The ritual is in session and the Goddess wants *in*! Sometimes doggedly moving through the lethargy becomes *exactly* the medicine we need and the necessary inspiration is found in the doing, in the pushing through and reaching the other side.
Adding an extra hour of rest to our days, an extra ten minutes of meditation, a hot tub soak…all of these things can help to sustain us when we’re the ones on center stage and know that “the show must go on”. We can also choose to support ourselves by letting go of nonessential tasks. If these things truly are important, they will still be waiting for us when our energy and inspiration levels rise once again.
Asking for physical support from co-leaders and emotional or magickal support from community members may also be of help. Could the responsibility for rituals, classes, emails, etc. be traded off week-to-week or month-to-month so no one person is holding the whole container? Could our Spiritual Family light a candle in our name and/or direct some good energies our way?
I’ve found that regular—and for me this means *calendared*!!!—solitary ritual, spellwork, and even simple candle magick can be of enormous support when things feel flat, boring, or discouraging. In addition, I’m currently experimenting with some of the Allies I’ve shared below.
In doing my own magick and my own work, I am consciously attending to my own needs, which means I then have a fuller well from which I can offer others a drink.
How are *you* feeling right now? Are you inspired? Uninspired? Somewhere in between? What do *you* do to bring back that sense of wonder and excitement? I’d love to know. Let’s all help each other.
With Love, Lady Jesamyn
*Note: If you don’t yet know what your personal energy patterns are, now may be a good time to begin charting them. At the minimum, one descriptive word written at the end of each day in your journal or calendar can be exceptionally helpful to look back upon in order to discern what your overall patterns are throughout the seasons.
Remember, the lunar cycles also affect each and every one of us, and both solar and lunar cycles help to contain and define our patterns. Be willing to look to both and to create the biggest sample size/data set possible by noting how you feel every day. This is a lifelong journey and things shift and change as we do.
Potential Stone, Plant, and Flower Essences Allies:
Stones: Amazonite, Citrine, Moonstone
Plants: Blue Cohosh, Calendula, Horehound
Flower Essences: Blackberry, Iris, Zinnia
Art: All photos by me.