Recognizing Miasma

I was “off” yesterday from the moment I woke up.  Glanced over my messages and emails before even getting all the sleep from my eyes, and found myself irritated and reactive.  One of those days?  I lay in bed longer mulling over something I took as a personal judgement, wondering if I should be letting it get to me and further wondering what it meant that it was.

I got up and puttered around, feeling scattered and restless.  I eventually ate something, put on some clothes and got out of the house out of sheer restlessness.

I knew I was just going out for the sake of not staying home, I didn’t actually have anything I needed to do or even anything I really wanted to do.  The destinations would maybe be distracting, or provide some new perspective.  But the driving itself is a WHOLE other story  For me, it’s the opposite of escapism.  Me in my car with only myself for company.

In a 45 minute drive, I slowly worked myself up into an anxious spiral.  A feeling of worthlessness, loneliness, and hopelessness crept in.  I found myself “waking” from the trance of my inner monologue a couple of times and not even being sure which freeway I was on until I looked at the signs.  I felt overly sensitive about everything, even the music that came up on shuffle.  I wondered it this was just another grief crash – those used to happen with almost predictable frequency – but it had been awhile.  Maybe I was due.

I chewed on some calamus root to help bring my awareness back into focus, into the moment and my body.  This often helps, but this time it helped only marginally.  I was still on and off in tears.

I went to a record store, found the act of thumbing through records to be somewhat grounding.  At least I was thinking of other things, or rather, blessedly NOT thinking.

I went to a bookstore next.  Wandered and looked for something to engage me.  Eventually a Buddhism book caught my attention.  I picked it up and flipped through, and some hugely synchronous key words and phrases told me I’d found something I should pay attention to.  I sat down at the bookstore bar and ordered a stout to sip on and read random passages.

It was actually a lot of what I needed to hear right then.  About surrendering to the moment, to uncertainty, to facing your fears and sitting with your loneliness.  Even about adopting a healthy form of hopelessness, as a lack of expectation, since everything is so transitory.  Always looking forward to something more, something better, or some more perfected version of yourself is just an illusion and a way of not facing the present.  That even suffering can be made into an opportunity to be compassionate to yourself and to others who share it.  Life as you inhale, death as you exhale.

My mind cobwebs a bit cleared, I went home and started cleaning my room.  I stopped and read things I had only glossed over earlier in the day, once of which our archiboukolos’ blog post on How to get started in the Thiasos of the Starry Bull, and read the section about purity, miasma and self-awareness, and it clicked.

The night before I had gone dancing.  Which I love to do, but involves me at least dipping my proverbial toes into trance, ecstasy and madness–at least if the music is decent and I do it right.  All of this in a public setting where not only is everyone else’s energy swirling about me while I’m in this state, but I’m not exactly keeping a low profile, so who knows what is being projected at me.  Typically, I dance all night and then end up going home, eating something, and crashing.  If I really look back, I think I’ve had this day-after reaction for a while now.  It’s certainly not a physical hangover, because other than some muscle soreness the next day, I don’t have any physical symptoms, and I never get hangovers anyway.  It all seems to be mental/emotional.  I think I definitely need to modify my post-dancing routine in some important ways.

Don’t know why it took me that long to piece that together.

I can also see where, in the midst of it, it might be hard for me to tell the difference between a miasmic anxiety and a manic creative sort of state.  Because I’ve had fits of the latter, too, and can be tempted to stick with it and see how deep it goes.  Both put me “on the edge”, where things get weird and emotional, but the tone is slightly different.

In retrospect, I think it was sort of funny that I was drawn to drink a very small amount of dark beer (I very rarely do) and might have been my subconscious telling me I needed a cleansing. Pouring dark beer in bath water and soaking in it is a really effective technique for cleansing that I picked up from Galina Krasskova.

I’m glad to say that I just took a purifying bath and everything feels… clearer and more manageable.  Might still need a good cry but if I do it will be a purgative cry rather than a despairing one.

Aridela Pantherina is a Dionysian and polytheist of no particular consequence (or perhaps too many consequences). Her passions are changeable but generally include music, dance and hierobotany.  She currently resides in the deserts of the Southwest and she looks forward to being struck by lightning. She blogs at


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