Soon it will be the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. It feels an appropriate time to talk about something everyone will face in their practice of whatever flavor of paganism they are a part of. It is the fallow period.

Taking the first steps on a journey is exhilarating. Everything is new, and there is so much to learn. But eventually, your feet start getting tired. A religious path is not a sprint. There will be a time when the excitement of exploring something new has worn away, and what was considered strange now becomes a part of daily life. The pace of the journey settles, and the seeker is in the long haul.

The second stage, when the path is no longer new, can still be exciting, but in a different way. That is when a seeker goes from seeking to deepening. Maybe after finding a working group, or selecting a specific path after doing some research, and focus is achieved.

But it takes a lot so stay motivated in the long term. There is inevitably a plateau, or diminishing returns, when the same amount of work isn’t going as far forward. The focus on pagan path that was easy at the start gets disrupted by mundane world issues like job loss, moving, or illness. Or maybe one way isn’t working, and its time to decide where to go next.

I hit a several years fallow period where I did very little for a pagan practice. The group I was a part of split up, my mundane job was getting more exhausting, and I just wasn’t motivated to do spiritual stuff on my own. While there are somethings I would try to do differently, in hindsight its clear I did really need a break. I came out of my fallow period a little wiser, a little more cautious, but excited to deepen my practice and go into a new direction.  

Fallow Period Often Comes After a Harvest

The harvest may be positive—a longtime goal has been reached, or a project completed. That harvest might be negative—a mundane issue needed to be taken care of immediately and all energy had to be directed toward it. Or maybe after hard work a plateau has been hit, and there are simply diminishing returns.  

What do You do When you Hit a Fallow Period?

First off, don’t panic. A field can not be fertile all the time. A seed that is planted must be nurtured, but it also has to be allowed to grow. For spiritual matters, being spiritually “on” 24/7 is exhausting. Everyone goes through a period where they need to rest.

Spiritual Growth is Not a Race

Really. People have different skill sets, energy levels, and goals. Covens might have initiation schedules—you complete a certain set of classes, have things you must do to get to a certain level, etc. But if it takes some people longer to learn certain skills and progress, so be it. Wounds come to the surface with any deep work, and paying attention and healing those wounds is what needs to be done to move forward. There isn’t a single finish line for everyone’s spiritual path that we’re all racing toward. I would even say as far spiritual growth is concerned were not all on the same track.

A Little Is Always Better than None

So you don’t have the spoons to the sunrise ritual, make full moon water, and do that ritual to Athena? Pick the one you have an obligation to do, or the one you enjoy the most, and let the others go. Don’t have time to devour a book a week of your pagan reading list? Read when you can. Yes, its good to keep those skills sharp. But its better to do a little, than keep pushing when facing burn out and cause yourself harm.

Pick something small you know you can keep doing, and stick to it. Fifteen minutes of meditation a day, with a prayer. Shorten it to five if you have to. Choose one tarot card or one rune to study per day or week. A simple thank you prayer before bed to your favorite deity/power/ etc. Even a few pages a day of a book you are studying will add up after time.  It is something. Something is always better than nothing.

See This As a Time To Assess

Journal. You don’t have the energy to do ritual, spend a few minutes journaling why. Use meditation time to think things through.

Not everything that works, works for everyone. Stepping away might give some perspective to analyze why. Paradoxically, it can also show what was working. If it isn’t working for you, don’t keep putting energy toward it.

What a Fallow Period is Not

It is not an excuse to quit. Not unless you let it. A fallow period is a time to rest, reassess, an relax while preparing for the next step. Deep work takes time, and the results aren’t always seen right away. If you have been practicing and studying for a reasonable period like a year and a day (you see the Celt speaking) then yes, acknowledge entering into the stage of being fallow.

But remember, the fallow stage is just that—a stage. Just as the best way to beat writer’s block is to write, the best way to make it out of a fallow period is to take baby steps and listen. A will come, and most often it will be better than before.

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