De Abstinentia

This past weekend was fantastic.  It started on Friday when, after getting home from work, I went to the supermarket to get a few bottles of sangria.  I ended up coming home with a crate of wine, a crate of hard liquors, mixers, some frozen pizzas, and Chinese takeout.  Admittedly, I got a little distracted, but after my Jupiter conjuration on Thursday I was feeling mighty good.  I hung out and drank with a friend on Saturday, and then did the same with another friend plus plenty of Asian food plus plenty of various and sundry other activities, some of which resulted in well-defined circular bruises on my neck.

Don’t judge.  The Bible says not to.

Well, after that, I was feeling bloated, ill-equipped to deal with normal activities that didn’t involve more eating (and even then, ohgodbluuugh), and just generally salty (yay high-sodium dumplings and pizza).  Plus, the added weight gain was unwelcome, especially since I’ve picked up a few more pounds since March than I care to, and it makes it hard to stay focused on much when it comes to the Work and Art.  So, I decided it was finally time to call myself to a fast and just get it done with.

I had been meaning to do a fast for a while now, but it’s hard.  Between being social and eating out or with friends, working at home with delicious temptation all around me, and coping with the occasional allergy or cold, maintaining a fast is not the most simple thing, and that’s without getting to the more internal things like hunger.  I originally, long ago, tried to see how it’d be like doing a weekly fast, like on each quarter of the moon; it worked for a brief time, and then people kept scheduling dates or wanting to get lunch on those very days; after putting the fast off for one day, I ended up putting them off for two, then just canceling them altogether.  You know how these things go: give the demon an inch and it’ll take a mile.  It’s not hard to work up to a fast, either, even for a day thing; according to Frater MC, one good way to work up to a full fast is by a progressive fast.  Variations on this abound, and some may not apply based on how one already eats.  For me, a progressive fast looks something like:

  • Day 1: no meat, no alcohol, no sodas
  • Day 2: no meat, alcohol, or bread/noodles.  Clear liquids only to drink.
  • Day 3: fresh fruits and water only.
  • Day 4 and onward: water only.

Anyway, after reading the Scribbler’s four day fast regimen, I decided to cut the bullshit and go full-on into a seven day water-only fast.  Technically, I started it last night when I ate my last meal of a handful of frozen dumplings, but I officially began it this morning when I made my statement of intent; I’m counting forward from this morning, then.  Did I warm up for this?  No.  Was that stupid?  Yup.  Is fasting in general stupid?  Often enough, yeah.  That said, I have my reasons: it’s been too long since my last proper fast, I need to start going through some proper ordeals in my life beyond the daily grind, I could do with shedding some extra weight, it’s supposedly good for detoxing the body, it’s a good exercise in self-control and self-restraint, and I want to see the effect food deprivation has on my practice and ability to see things astrally.  Granted, this isn’t for everyone; I’m in good enough health with no interfering preexisting conditions that would give me serious pause for doing a fast like this, and I’m not engaged in such an active lifestyle that this would pose a danger to me.

Ordeal?  Why on earth would I put myself through that?  Honestly, I don’t feel like my life is, well, troubled enough.  Things go well, and I don’t have much to cope with besides tolerating people, and I’m sociable and affable enough to do that fairly easily.  I know that, based on my own self-knowledge and an analysis of my natal horoscope, self-control is definitely among my weakest powers; this will be an opportunity for me to confront that demon of myself and give it the equivalent of a smackdown, especially in preparation for finally getting around to binding the Evil Genius.  Plus, given the multitude of resources extolling the benefits of fasting, I figure it can’t be that bad for my practice.

Since this upcoming week I have conjurations with the angels of Mars, Fire, and the Sun, I figure I’ll have energy and drive enough to get through this fine, though I’m already looking forward to eating (at least gingerly) on Wednesday morning next week.  After that, I doubt a full seven-day fast will be called for anytime soon, though I do like the Scribbler’s idea of fasting once a quarter (say, the beginning of every season, or cross-quarter day?), but we’ll see.  Regular fasting, or at least in the form of calorie restriction and increased moderation, has been shown to be very healthy and helpful in even a normal person’s health; how much more so it might benefit me!

For now, I’m going to get back to my water and Enya to get rid of this headache, which should be gone by tomorrow.  I hope.

UPDATE (5/31/2012): Alright, I’m gonna have to cut the fast down to four days, ending Saturday morning.  After conferring with some medical friends of mine and reading up a bit more, seven days is a bit overzealous without training for fasting (who knew?) and preparing for it by doing a progressive fast (no duh).  Plus, after some family issues came up, I’ll be headed out of town this weekend, which involves the close scrutiny of family gatherings at which it’ll be impossible to maintain a fast in serenity.  Plus, I don’t want to have to endure all those folk on an empty stomach.  I’ll make up for the missed days by doing another four day fast in the coming month, this time by prepping for it.  Even though I’m very certain I can go longer than four days (will is no longer an issue, but the risk of severe hypoglycemia might be), it’s not going to be proper for me to continue this at this stage.  Feh.

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About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

6 Responses to De Abstinentia

  1. Alex Jones says:

    It has been a long time since I have touched alcohol. You have reminded me to refocus on fasting.

    • polyphanes says:

      Hopefully, this will get me to refocus on fasting, as well, and make it a regular practice of mine. Let us forge into the future together~

  2. Camylleon says:

    Judge? No. Applaud? Yes. :-D

    I wish I’d been strong/brave enough to fast when I was able to. Unfortunately, fasting falls under the heading of “really bad ideas” when one is diabetic. *sigh*

    I wish you the best in your endeavors though. Sounds like it will be an interesting, and well-documented adventure!

    • polyphanes says:

      Thank you for the support, lovely. :D

      If I had any similar condition like that, I’d be going about this in a much different way, perhaps something that combined the Theravada Buddhist idea of fasting (no meals after noon, one large meal before noon) and the Catholic Lent (one full meal + two small meals not equaling one full meal in amount). Alternatively, I’d give up something else I do frequently: maybe just alcohols, maybe just sex (boo), or take a day off and keep the power off in my room to prevent any contact with the Internet. Food is an easy one for me, because I really like eating, much more for its own sake than the purpose it serves; this should give me a prompt slap in the face to wake me up and bring me back to a more healthy view on food and eating.

      As for this being well-documented, I may post about the progress on my Twitter feed (@polyphanes) and may post a celebratory “OMG I GET TO EAT FOOD AGAIN nom nom nom” next Wednesday, but we’ll see. It may not be a bad idea to document what happens as this fast goes on, especially since I’ve never done one this long before.

      • Camylleon says:

        Don’t worry…I’m stalking you…er following you…on Twitter. So I’m sure I’ll get something of a lowdown on what’s going on. If nothing else, by how you post if not what ;-).

        I suppose if you look at it that way, I *did* go thru something like that when I received the initial diagnosis. I absolutely refuse to be medicated when I’m so close to the pre-diabetic levels. No. I’m doing this MY way. So, at first, it was a harsh adjustment. Watching every morsel that went into my mouth and seriously restricting my carbohydrate intake…*sob*

        The good news? Coffee is goooood. Yep. Apparently the more I can stand, the better. Wish I had known that when I originally took myself off caffeine. Needless to say, it’s back on the menu. And meat. Yep. No carbs in meat. So as long as I watch the blood pressure & cholesterol levels, I can nom down on whatever dead carcasses I feel like. So, there’s a plus side. At any rate, the beginning was much like a fast…watching every single morsel. Now, I’m pretty well conditioned. I slip once in a while. Who doesn’t?

        I guess if I were to think of fasting as in the lenten idea of giving something up…there’d be a whole treasure trove of things I could do with out.

        Not sex tho. I’m human, dammit.

  3. Speaking of healthy views on food and eating, I was surprised by how much a simple diet app on my phone changed mine. I just set it to a certain number of total calories per day and ate whatever I wanted for three months, just making sure to not go over that daily limit (or weekly average, if I screwed up a day or so). Now, visiting the parents, where high-quality food is both free (!) and abundant, I’m finding that portion control is a non-issue, and boredom-eating really isn’t as big a deal as it used to be. Should’ve got me a smartphone YEARS ago.

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