What?

A Solitary What?

What is a solitary? And what kind of solitary am I?

To me, a solitary is one who practices alone. Or not really alone, but the outermost actions of worship and faith are practiced privately, and constantly throughout the day, without pomp and circumstance and ritual. She might share her faith with others around her and share holidays and ceremonies of import but the daily round that builds a lifetime of practice, that forms the basis of one’s life, is performed by one’s self unmarked by others.

A solitary studies in private by “cracking the books;” reading, absorbing and processing what she reads. She rises alone to watch the sunrise, stargazes perhaps in the company of others but for reasons of her own, wanders the byways in solitude, gardens and tends perhaps with help but with single-minded focus. The solitary might discuss theory, ideas, questions with others or with a trusted guide, but arrives at decisions independently. The solitary might have a teacher or guide, but most likely that teacher is also a solitary and shares knowledge without demanding that the student accept it as gospel. The teacher would encourage independent thought and exploration, knowing that no one can give another true knowledge. To truly know something, one must discover and accept its truth on one’s own.

When I use the term “faith” I am not referring to organized religion, but the inner system a person discovers and chooses the express their spiritual knowledge. Religion is often called a belief system. For a solitary, practicing is a way of life. One does not believe in a way of life, one experiences and lives it daily, knowing it. For a solitary, knowing is the way of life.

I used to consider myself a “kitchen witch” or “hearth witch.” My practice was centered on my home and family and my Goddess was embodied by Hestia. When my family situation changed, my practice was no longer relative to me on either a daily or a spiritual level. The answers Hestia sent me no longer applied. I began studying again, looking for a practice, a deity, a way of daily spiritual expression that met my changing needs.

It was at this time that life threw me several challenges. My marriage began to fail. I hit menopause like a brick wall. My children severed ties with me. My youngest daughter was given HPV and had an abnormal pap and pre-cancerous lesions. I became estranged from my sister, who was caretaking my elderly parents, and as a result I did not visit with my parents. My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died a few months later and I was not able to see her as I wanted to.

In a way of speaking, I lost my spiritual compass and veered from the course I had set myself. Lost in uncharted waters, I followed false guides, not knowing them for truth, but believing them true. When one only believes and trusts without true knowledge, one can be led astray. I was and as a result I floundered and was nearly lost in body, mind and in spirit. It has taken several years to begin to recover, to find any inner strength or will.

I am contemplating great life changes now. Leaving my husband. Building a new home and life with an old love. Accepting that my current relationships with my children, sister and father may never heal.

At this time, I find I have a deep need for inner peace. A need to build again the sanctuary of the soul I once built that was my place of strength. I know that I must do this for myself and that I must build it alone, by myself. No one can build it for me. No one can give me my freedom and security. This is something that I must struggle for and gain for myself.

For me, being a solitary does not mean being alone. It means that from the place of strength which I have created I participate freely in a community of spirit, of like minded individuals each expressing their knowledge of life and spirit truthfully through their own daily practice of living.

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