My Pagan Lent: A Lenten Companion

Day 8

Kathryn Dickel
Pollinate Magazine
Published in
5 min readMar 2


“Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.”

-40 Rules of Love #4, Shams of Tabriz

To the untrained and unconnected heart, the world exists in a series of random coincidences. We are nothing more than a piece of seaweed being tossed about by the mighty ocean waves.

For those of us who have stepped in and embraced divine love, every moment becomes a co-creation with source and with other lovers. If I were to name one thing that consistently feeds my faith– it is these falsely named coincidences. I call them magic. I call them divine conversation. They happen everyday. If I am present and listening that is.

This Lent, I chose to practice what I’m calling My Pagan Lent. It is a 40 day amalgamation of observance and preparation for the rebirth of my soul in conjunction with the rebirth of the earth, which in this hemisphere is known as Spring. I am utilizing ritual from Christian, Islamic and Pagan tradition, maybe more as the journey unfolds. We are eight days in. Around the start of Lent I stumbled upon a novel recommended on adrienne maree brown’s IG feed called ‘The Forty Rules of Love’ by Elif Shafak. Here’s what she posted.

She had me at Rumi, at Sufi, at ‘all who wander and love the sacred,’ and ‘getting present in the place where live lives.’ My heart leapt and I ordered it immediately. This is slightly alarming considering that my room is currently drowning in books, but I cannot resist the promise of a book my soul leaps to read.

In all this excitement I really didn’t pay attention to the title. ‘The Forty Rules of Love,’ specifically the forty part. While I absolutely adore Rumi I had very little knowledge about his personal history. I knew there was a whirling dervish involved, whatever a whirling dervish is. Beyond that I had just been satisfied to find a home in Rumi’s reflections on love. In a burst of magic, however, the Goddess (or God or Source or whatever you choose) brought me the gift of this novel, as it turns out, for my Lenten journey. Shams of Tabrizi was to be my Lenten companion and our road is to be the road of sacred love.

Shams of Tabrizi is the whirling dervish who found Rumi at the height of his worldly power as a holy man and helped him to ascend to the mystical and enduring Rumi of our present day lives. The love they shared was the definition of ecstatic. It has lived through the maceration of nearly 900 hundred years.

At the core of this love are literally forty rules of sacred love that Shams of Tabrizi gifted to Rumi when they were in ecstatic seclusion with each other for, you guessed it, forty days. Elif Shafak masterfully weaves an entire world around the experience of these two men, peppering the forty rules throughout the story. As those rules began to enfold, and land on me like the most heavenly weighted blanket, I knew I needed to find a list of all of them in one place. I understood that this canon was going to be hollowed ground I wanted to travel on for a very long time after I finished the book.

Now here is where the magic is. I opened the forty rules, in list form, on a website a few evening an ago which focused me. All the forties started falling on top of each other like dominos. The forty rules, the forty days of Shams and Rumi, the forty days Jesus spent in the desert, the forty years before the beginning of my midlife transit, and of course, the forty days of Lent. My Goddess sent her smile through me. She knew I was listening and I knew she was also listening to me.

Perhaps for the entirety of my life I have been in a dance with love. Many times it has felt more like a fist fight than a dance. As with most humans, I yearn more than anything to know the total surrender of love. I have searched my heart for permission for this surrender, for a roadmap even. If I have ever been obsessed with anything, understanding and knowing love, both as a complex and simple state, is it. I have intently prayed to know this state of being. I have prayed to know it all forms. I have understood that it is within this journey to love, and none other, that I am going to discover all of it; every last atom that has joined together to make this entity called Kathryn Dickel.

This Lent has taken its focus through the echo of two human souls that lived and loved 900 years ago. I have found my companion, much as did Rumi and Shams. I have ‘stumbled’ upon a perfect structure; one rule of love for every day of Lent. One rabbit hole of love to go down with each new dawn.

I don’t know if this is one of the rules yet, but if it’s not, I will add it now.

There is nothing that lives in this world born of happenstance, it all lives in the heart of holy relationship; within this space is the magical surrender of love.

Find Shams of Tabrizi’s the 40 Rules of Love here.

©Kathryn A. Dickel 2023



Kathryn Dickel
Pollinate Magazine

Writing on Spirituality, Relationships, Culture. Support: https://medium.com/@kathryndickel/membership TW:@Kathryn Dickel IG/FB: @pollinateritual