My first public ritual in which I held a role was Beltane. It was cloudy and we were gathered in an uneven backyard. I attached a garbage bag to my belt because it was probably going to rain, and I wanted to cover up in case it started to pour.
I was nervous. Pacing. Nauseous.
For days I had practiced my very new bellydancing skills because I thought it would be a sexy way to cast a circle. I thought it would help me to move instead of relying on my mouth to say the 'right' things. I didn't really have a lot of experience in bellydancing. I'd taken a few classes, thought I was getting it. Couldn't shimmy worth a darn. (Still can't.)
But I decided this was the best way to cast. For the first time.
I started to talk nervously with the other folks who were gathered for the ritual run-through. We were huddled in a house, talking through who would go first, who would go next, etc.
I mentioned I was nervous about my part. And other folks looked at me and reassured me. But I still didn't feel settled.
I was about to do something that I could fuck up, that could show off just how little I knew and people might see me as some sort of...newbie.
A priestess pulled me aside after the run-through and said they could tell I was nervous. And they said these words to me: "What you do today is between you and the goddess and nothing else matters."
I breathed in those words.
I released the worry of screwing up. Of not being perfect.
I've passed on those words many times. I've shared them as advice to remember that when you are true to yourself and you are acting in service (and not of your ego), you can trust yourself to make the best choice.
Sure, some people won't like your choice. No one likes everything.
In this time of Beltane, I invoke and remember the ever-existing possibility that we can get out there and dance. We can be scared and vulnerable and shaking. We can do the things that scare us. We can circle around the pole until we are so dizzy with laughter that we forget everything else.
We can lose ourselves in communion with the divine.
What I do is between me, myself, and the gods.
"Surrounded by Deity" -- upcoming Witches & Pagans issue