What is it you want when you petition your Gods? When you light your candle and say your prayers? When you make your offering and listen for a response? What is it you are really asking for?
I imagine the answer to that is different for all of us, even if on the surface we are asking for the same things, be it money, love, health, protection. How many of us have given it much thought? No, I mean REALLY thought?
I'll put my hand up and say I hadn't, not really. I thought I had. I thought I had enough experience to know exactly what I'm doing each time I light a candle on my altar. It would be foolish to do otherwise, right? My prayers are second nature to me now, and I liked that. I could no more start work on something without having lit a candle, blessed my workspace and made my devotions to The Lady, than I could fly to the moon or breathe without air. It was instinctive. A ritual I couldn't imagine ever forgoing. Still can't.
But something happened recently that made me see my devotions with new eyes. When I ask a boon of The Lady am I asking her to take over? Am I relinquishing my self control? Is that really what I expect? What am I actually asking for? I have always said, always believed, that the greatest gifts She gave us are Life and Free Will.
I shouldn't work when I'm tired, I know that, nor should I work when I'm in pain. It's when I make mistakes, it's when I have accidents. I know all this and yet sometimes there is an unknown force which drives me, a need which cannot be ignored. Sometimes the wood calls to me, pesters me and will not let go until I give in and take it in my hand, turning it, feeling it, knowing it. Last Friday was one of those times. I tried to ignore the urge, I really did, but the call was strong.
I began as I always begin. I prayed to The Lady and lit her candle, I cleansed myself and my tools with purifying sage, and I asked for Her blessing on my work, that she may help me work with the spirit of the wood, and I asked for Her protection.
And then I sat down to work and dug a brand new blade into my hand.
Things had been going so well, the piece of twisted willow I was working on was positively singing. The ideas flowed freely and I felt that hope which always accompanies the start of a new piece. I was happy. And then Bam! A tough grain suddenly gave way under the knife and....blood everywhere.
It was careless, it was stupid. It was deep. And it wouldn't stop bleeding. Damn my heart and those blood thinners! And just before I left for the hospital I turned to my altar and said 'I thought you were supposed to be looking after me!' (Before anyone takes offence, I have the greatest respect for Her but she knows me and I'm a straight talker!)
My wife quite rightly pointed out then that maybe she had indeed protected me and that there was no telling what damage I would have done had She left me to my own devices. Thank you my lovely witch, for those words of wisdom. Harsh but true! The Lady will protect me from from many things, but not from my own stupidity.
The greatest gifts The Lady gave me are life, and the free will to cut myself to ribbons if I choose.
Oh, and just in case you're wondering, the lovely nurse at my local hospital stitched me up a treat and I'm recovering nicely. But shhhh, don't tell my little witch, she might stop the extra TLC.