When I was a kiddo, maybe seven or eight years old, my dad fell in love with SCUBA diving. So much so he wanted the whole family to join him so we could explore the oceans together. It was a wonderful idea. I’m pretty sure my big sister and big brother successfully got certified, along with my mom. [My little sister wasn’t born, yet.] But I didn’t complete the training course.

I didn’t really understand the science and math I needed to know. And I was terrified — I mean instant tears of fear terrified — to pop my ears underwater (to equalize sinus pressure). It seems silly in retrospect. I mean, I pop my ears all the time now, but back then I was a serious chicken. My parents were pretty annoyed that I wouldn’t even try and that made things worse by adding a layer of anxiety. I didn’t complete the test dives and I didn’t get certified.

I didn’t realize until recently how much that experience stuck with me. I never really had to think about it until a few months ago, when my boyfriend (one of my pet names for him is Mr. Awesome, so I’ll use that here) invited me on vacation. I accepted, of course. Mr. Awesome loves diving and asked me to try it. I didn’t mention my childhood baggage because…well, it makes me sound lame and it’s been <mumble, mumble> years — so I think it’s time to get over it.*

Nevertheless, that old anxiety tried to creep up on me when I took the course two weeks ago. Damn you, fear! But I pushed it away. And I finished the course. I am SCUBA certified! And I have been enjoying underwater exploration this week with Mr. Awesome.

I pushed the fear away by calling on the Disir. My SCUBA instructor** advised the class to “go to a happy place” before every descent (going deep underwater). I thought of the Disir because Winter Nights is coming, — I didn’t mean to throw out a Game of Thrones reference, but I’m digging it — the time of year when Heathens exchange blessings with them. I often think about the women in my family who have left this world when I need to center myself. Also, Rán (a water goddess) is a badass and and I want her looking out for me until I see Sunna again. I wrote a little chant poem to ask the Disir to bestow their maternal soothings on me so I don’t freak out underwater, to help me get to my “happy place.”

I reach to Rose to find my brave
I swim to Rán to dodge the waves
Louise laughs because she knows
Grace and Ruth will make me bold
On the surface Sunna tells
Life will be long like Carrie and Dell’s

Rose is my paternal grandmother. Louise is my maternal grandmother. Grace is my maternal great aunt. Ruth is my paternal step grandmother. Carrie is my paternal great grandmother (Rose’s mother). Dell is my maternal great grandmother (Louise and Grace’s mother). These were all pretty cool ladies (though I never knew Rose or Dell in life). I’m glad they are swimming beside me.

Have you ever been SCUBA diving? I’d love hear all about your experiences with SCUBA. What about the Disir…do you have female ancestors you call upon to center yourself?

* I did eventually tell Mr. Awesome about my past experience with SCUBA. He was very supportive and assured me that if I decided I didn’t like diving he would be totally cool with that.

** My SCUBA instructor was terrific. He was patient and kind and handled all of our “WTF is happening?!” moments calmly and clearly.

Note: You can see other photos from my St. John vacation in my post, Memories of the Caribbean.

+ Featured Image: Yellow coral at Jame Cay. Photo by Mr. Awesome.