We took the weekend to visit some of our tribe in Utica. We spent a majority of it with my parents which was lovely. We had a belated birthday dinner for my father and watched a couple movies with them. We also spent some time with some friends/in-laws. I'm not sure what to call them now. Friends? Family? Both? I like calling people close to my heart my tribe but only a handful of people don't look at my cross-eyed when I use that expression. All the same, hanging out with loved ones was very enjoyable. The only downside is that we missed an invitation from our neighbors to come over and play cards. They seem like nice people and are all in a similar life stage. We keep missing their social gatherings due to previously planned engagements or lack of foresight. (The last time we found out about a party we had already showered and settled down for the evening... Thus we didn't really feel like doing anything else.) I don't want to come across as flakes to them and I would *really* like to make some friends up here.
Anyway, going down to Utica made me realize how much I need a traveling altar. I'm adding that to my list of projects now! I did a lot of my devotional work in my mental nemeton (although I did fall asleep one night...) It worked but I would have liked the altar to help me focus.
Speaking of creating a traveling altar, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the purpose of undergoing the Artisan Guild study program. In addition to learning more about art history, theory, and methodology, one of the goals is for students to develop a "personal integration and understanding of the arts as spiritual practice" (from the Study Program). This is what I feel I truly need. I am already aware that artistic expression is very important to me. Creating is a magical practice and the end result is something that expresses my spirituality, love of life, and, quite often, my love and awe of the Kindreds. I'm realizing that I want to better tap into that energy. Part of that will come, I'm sure, through a greater understanding of how my ancestors created things. But I would also like to develop rituals that become part of my personal religion - rituals that nourish my inspiration, further bond me to my muse and patroness, and make art even more of a ritualistic part of my life.
With these goals in mind, I am hopeful to begin the study program soon. In addition, I am also hopeful to begin the Initiate study program. I need to finish my letter of intent. I'm a little nervous about submitting it, but I know that, even if my elders don't think I'm up to the challenge yet, I will have ample opportunity to improve and reapply. I'm tenacious and stubborn when I want to be. Growing in my spirituality is important to me and, as an academically minded person, study and knowledge motivate me.