That which we use as medicine can also be used as poison, it all comes down to how much. Too much of a good thing can, very well, be bad for you. So how do we know when we're reaching the end of a thing being solely good for us? How do we know when it's becoming poison? Additionally, how do we recognize that which is already poison and begin to seek out a lesser dose to begin to heal?
The October Full Moon in my coven is celebrated as the Poison Moon, and these are the questions we seek to answer. We may not have the answers, but taking the time to begin to ponder what it all means is often just enough that we can begin to come back in accord with our higher selves. At our ritual this past weekend we honored Giltiné, a Lithuanian goddess of death. She licks the graves of those who've passed and keeps the poisons on her long, snake like tongue to then administer the 'Kiss of Death' to those whose time it is to pass on. We used this opportunity to journey into her world and offer up the poison that is hurting us the most. That which is the primary reason that we speak poisons to, and about, other women, so that we could get from her the anecdote to bring healing back into our world.
The poison and the anecdote are often two sides of the same coin. The poison and the anecdote are also the other - but in different quantities. One can have too much fear that it is hindering their lives to the point where they start to lash out at others for doing the very things they themselves could be doing. The cure for this can be love and acceptance, but too much can put us into vulnerable space that is just as harmful as the fear itself. Also, fear in the right amount can save us from dangerous situations. Being fearful of that masked person who is clearly out of place is far more beneficial to us than simply accepting that they're different and moving on with our day. There is a balance that must be struck. That is our real struggle in the world - finding the balance.
In life, we are presented with many things - a lover, a friend, a job, an opportunity. I can't say that all of these things show up as lessons, or are there for a reason, and anyone who can should be questioned. What I can say, however, is that sometimes these things aren't good for us. Occasionally these various things are bad for us from the get go, whether they come off as such or happen to be wrapped up with a bow. Likewise, they could be good for us - but only for the first 3-6 months or maybe 4-5 years. I've had more questions than answers come through my desk recently: am I in the right job, am I on the right path, am I set up for long term success, or only short term happiness? Now I'm wondering: what in my life is poison, what in my life is anecdote, what in my life is both that I need to adjust the dose?
Being who I am, questioning all of the things all of the time is not surprising, and it's far from new. The difference this time around is that I know I'm not happy, now I need to figure out why - where is it stemming from, how can I change it? Things are going well at work, I have amazing friends, my community is doing amazing things. Overall, I can't complain. Yet there's this thing nagging me, begging for attention. Perhaps I need a little less Thing A, or a little more Thing B. Perhaps I simply need to make room for Unknown Thing C, or maybe I need to do all of the above. I don't know yet what the future holds, but I do know that I need to shake things up.
Going through this process of discernment is no easy feat. There are people who figure out that something is amiss, and then they search for YEARS to root out what it is. This very thing can be the fuel in the fires of many mid-life crises. So how do we figure it out? Well, for starters, a mindfulness practice can help. It doesn't have to be the kind of meditation where you sit cross-legged chanting "Om" endlessly, but it can be meditation all the same. There are many ways people meditate. Think of the times when you're washing dishes, your hands are doing a very basic repetitive task while your mind is free to wander - where does it go? People also do this in the shower, while doing household chores, or even while running.
Seeing where your mind goes when it's not devoted to getting this thing done is powerful work. Once you start to see where it goes during unimportant times, you can start to find where it goes DURING important times. Finding that you're thinking of playing with babies when you're washing dishes can lead to you thinking of your partner during meetings - is it time for your family to grow? Finding that you're thinking of relaxing on a beach when you're washing your hair and then counting down the minutes to the end of the day the instant you've sat down at your desk - is it time for a vacation? Look for the things that you dream of doing, things that you'd rather be doing instead of the things that you already are.
Who's to say how much is too much. Only we can answer that for ourselves. Don't let the poisons kill you, and seek out the anecdotes before it's too late. And remember to adjust your dose of anecdote every now and again.