Back in ancient Hellas, festival days were days where you did not go to work if your work permitted it. The governement did not assemble, shops were closed, only farmers pant priests (generalizing here) worked on festival days. Beyond that, ritual tools were readily available, and everyone practiced pretty much the same faith, making it infinately easier to practice yours. Honoring the Gods in ancient Hellas was part of daily life, and no one thought twice about it.

Obviously, that time has passed, and we squeeze festivals and even daily worship inbetween busy jobs, unruly kids, holidays of other religions and a host of other distractions. We also tend to celebrate our festivals alone, or at least part of them.

In and of itself, this is not an issue; we work around the things we cannot change or postpone and because many festivals can't be fully reconstructed anyway, we do the best we can. I'm currently facing a situation like this. In the last few months, I have what I call and what the doctor still needs to figure out, developed an acute intolerance for grain. Needless to say, this has thrown my entire diet into disarray. For all intents and purposes, I now eat a low-meat Paleo diet with cheese. I guess that makes it more Primal, huh? Well, anyway... now I only eat unproccessed foods my body reacts to as it should, I no longer overeat, and I have absolutely no reserve.

A typical eating day for me--sorry, I am going somewhere with this--is that I wake up in the morning at eight, needing food. I eat some fruit, then eat a snack of nuts or cheese around 10:30, because that's when I'm about to go hungry again. Around noon to one, I usually eat eggs, some type of fruit or vegetable, and maybe a few nuts, some cheese, or sausage. This tides me over until three or four for another snack--usually sweeter like fruit, sometimes dried, and when I have dinner around six, I eat lots of vegetables, sometimes meat, lots of fish, and cheese of some kind. Mostly vegetables, though. Afterwards, I am usually full up and don't eat anything before bed, and in the morning, the process starts again, like clockwork. Throughout the day, I tend to only drink water and tea.

Now, the Thesmophoria is coming up, which I celebrated last year by one day of light eating, a second day to fast, and a third day to celebrate. Off of the menu for festivals having to do with the Mysteries? Pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and some varieties of fish. You can see how this is an issue. I still have enough to eat when I am allowed to eat, but my main protein bases are cut. Lots of nuts in my near future.

A second issue is that I have no reserves anymore. I used to fast fairly easily, and a day to even three days went by without trouble. Now, I wake up hungry. When I still ate pasta, rice, and bread, this didn't really happen. Oftentimes, I only got hungry around noon. Now, I recognise that may have been because my body was hating what I was putting into it and it took forever to get through it, but still. Prior to my intolerance flaring up, I had dinner and afterwards, I usually had some type of snack, and I went to bed bloated and unhappy. That's also how I woke up and eventually my stomach settled and I could eat again. Especially for one day fasts, I really only conciously abstained from food for about four to five hours. Now, I am looking at a good few more, and I have already discovered that if I skip any meal moments throughout the day, I get shaky, nausious, dizzy, and develop a headache.

At this point, I am less than thrilled about the coming two days. I think the Thesmophoria is a really important and beautiful festival that I want to observe very much. And I will. Yet, my dietary necessities are a hinderance to my practice and I'm a little worried about getting through Thursday especially. It's an odd feeling because I rarely feel that way about fasting--a practice that I used to really like.

I will attempt my fast, but have some security blankets in place: fruit/vegetable juice will be allowed when needed, and if I want out, I can get out. I will abstain from pomegranates, apples, eggs, fowls, and fish, though, no matter what. I must learn to manage this inconvenience, if I want to practice my faith, just like I would have to learn to combine my religion with a busy job or a house full of kids. These things take time and effort, and it involves making a priority out of every single religious action. Because our lives are hectic, and our society does not nessesarily support the persual of religion. For some--like me--even our bodies have difficulties with our religious lifestyle--honey cakes are off the menu for me, after all. That said, religion goes beyond the physical; the Theoi are constantly on my mind, and worshipping Them influences my life far beyond my dietary choices and daily rituals. These trouble areas are merely a part of my religion--and not the defining ones.

I'll be fine during the Thesmophoria, and look forward to the festival itself. I will keep you up-to-date about how the fast went, and next time, I will know if fasting is still a tool I can use. Are there any issues, perhaps unforseen, that you struggle with? That makes religion inconvenient, or perhaps inconveniences your religion (perspective is a thing, after all)? How do you deal with these inconveniences? I'd love to know.