Our Dirty Little Secret: Real Witchcraft in the 21st Century

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775. © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark . . .
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

The first time it happened in front of my husband, I was terrified.  His face shifted from shock, to confusion, then fear as he pondered the broken wine glass that had lifted off the table and slammed itself into the wall.

We don’t talk about this much, do we?  As witches, it seems to be the last frontier–the admission of actualized magic, the kind that movies glorify and cartoon up for the general public.  Maybe we are afraid that someone will hunt us down.  Mayhap we worry that not all of us are capable, making those of us who are capable the weirdos.  Maybe we just don’t speak of those things.  I reckon I feel like cowboying up today.  Let’s talk about: it.

It just so happens that the Southern Fried Hubby had done pissed me off a bit, it was late, and obviously I had finished that particular glass of wine.  Twasn’t the first time a glass flew through the air sans a hand, nor the last.  On my anniversary, he wised up and bought two stainless steel glasses (I like to tease him: that could hurt a noggin).  A few months later, a student of mine was struggling through a lesson in the backyard, three feet from a nice hearth fire, and the lesson had stretched past my energy level and past my bed time.  The scene went something like:

Me: I’m tired, hon.  Let’s pick this back up tomorrow.
Him:  No, I want it now.
Me:  No.  Whooped.  Close the book.
Him:  Not until you tell me about xyz.

Pause.  And then?  His notebook burst into flames around the edges.  Just: poof.  After the hubbub of stomping and quenching, he sat back down.

Him:  Please?

POOF!  Up in flames.

Needless to say, he finally saw reason and let me retire to a nice cup of tea and Grandma’s afghan.

Then: there was the First Annual Pagans of the Deep South Gathering.  That evening, a priestess from another state announced in a group that she would be taking over my ritual that evening.  As a proper Southerner and Hostess, I “blessed her heart” and scooted over–just in time for the stav leaning against my altar to sling itself into the air, hurl itself five feet and bop her pretty little noggin with a nice, satisfying “donk.”  While my students ran for an ice pack, the hubby leaned over and whispered: well.  I reckon she earned that one.

Of course, I have no idea what he meant by that.  That stav must have been the unwitting victim of an imperceptible earthquake.  Ahem.

And there are other, more gritty, little moments in time that I shall keep to myself.  (A girl has to have her secrets, yes?)  When my witchling was younger, he used to beg me to do the fire ball thing for his friends at Halloween.  Not wanting to scare the parents (and not being sure about how to explain it as a harmless trick), I would often promise it later, then later . . . all the while shoving candied apples and popcorn towards their schmeared, painted faces until they moved on to exhaustion and minivans bound for home.  No need to freak out the muggles.

And so, it wasn’t until I reared my witchy head two years ago with this blog, a Faceplant page and a naiveté born of political pagan exile as a “family trad” that it occurred to me:  not all witches do this.

Oh, shit.

And that’s when the trouble began.  (I’ve since suggested a support group for those of us who do the thing.)  I’m a big fan of True Blood, but not a big fan of that simpering, over-dramatized Sookie Stackhouse–yet, I find myself occasionally thinking: shut up, nimnut.  They see you, they smell you . . . this ain’t gonna end well.  My whole life, there have been two kinds of folks hanging about: those who want to eat me alive and those who want to saddle up beside me and check out the scenery from a broom.  (Strange coincidence that the latter seem to also do the thing?  Right.)

Hang in there.  I haven’t caught the scent of what I’m writing about yet, either.

There’s this horrifyingly goofy eighties move, Love Potion Number 9, in which a nimnut drinks the potion and must run through the streets to escape the men (who want to consume her) and the women (who want to kill her).  Silly little film that it is, I remember thinking: it’s not fair.  (Of course, the potion was chemically compounded.  The point still was not lost on my twenty-something brain.)  I have heard all of my life: stay under the radar.   It was the mantra of my childhood, and one day I’m sure I will wrench myself from the public eye and retreat back into the solitude and freedom of anonymity.  I think, if I really dig, that I just wanted someone to run through the streets with me.  Or, maybe I wanted to reason with those who were chasing me.  Or . . .

I was lonely.  Yup.  That one makes me feel like I went to class without my britches on.

I think I’ve gotten lost in the labels.  There’s Political Paganism (work that needs to be done, but still: an “ism.”)  There’s Party Paganism (get yor’ freak on).  There’s Egotistical Paganism (why, I have my elevation from the High Priestess of York and the Duke of Dragonland).  And then there’s . . . witchcraft.  Not the “flashing purple screen, unicorn poop, Halloween” witchcraft.  Real, flesh and bone crafters with history, the stuff of legends and memory.  But then . . . these are not all the same, either, are they?  It occurs to me that those who need all the fluff, need all the ceremony, need all the public appearances are not always the real thing.  Some of the most powerful witches I have ever known would scoff at holding “court.”  Good luck getting them to do a reading in a public park, y’all.  Or taking an online class with them.  Or, and here’s the real juice: joining them over a family cauldron.  Oh, you’ll indeed know them by their fruits.  Have their students worked for years?  Struggled through shadow work?  Been honest about their lives?  Hold to an ethics of nonviolence?  Hold their secrets and oaths dear?  No?  Well, then.  What you have there is a party trick.  Insta witch, just add water.  (Or Koolaid.)  Dabbling witches chap my Southern ass.

Yes, yes.  I know that this is inflammatory.  Y’all know by now that SFW ain’t skeeterin’ away just because it’s scary out there on a limb.  In fact?  That’s where I feel most alive, the frogs croaking my return to the night, the crickets stringing out one last tune as I rise into the Witching Season, my rooster crowing in the dark against the smell of my fire smoldering in his yard.  Yes.  It is inflammatory to suggest that magic is real.   Come a little closer.  But are you sure you want to see?

Wait, I think I just caught the scent of my path here.  Smells like witch spirit?

Lean in close, Batchildren.  I want to share a secret with you:  real witches never do party tricks.  Real witches rarely will let you near their sacred family cauldron lessen you are family.  Real witches do it root up, not top down–because the moment we forget our beginnings, the magic is ripped from our athames.  And that’s only half the field plowed, y’all, because there are some really nasty witches out there. Unethical, mentally  unbalanced, egotistical, selfish, cackly things who enjoy inflicting pain and do not answer to the universe for their play.  Iffin that’s butter for yor’ biscuit, this is the wrong blog for you, honey.  Scat on out of here.  Now.

Before I set a notebook on fire.  :)

Still here?  Then I’ll finish with a story.

Once upon a time there was a baby who had to sleep on its tummy, on account of her nurse had seen wings and had studied over it a spell.  When asked why she kept turning the babe onto its stomach, the nurse said, simply: “Dat baby float.  You crush its wings otherwise.”

I still sleep on my stomach.

May your witching season be magic, may your magic be real and may you always remember the joy of flying.

Seba

Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Complicity in the Faith

silence-poster

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter.
Christina Aguilera, “Fighter.”

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I’ve blogged about this before, but today: I feel my friend standing behind me.  Skinny. Blond.  Troubled.  Bullied.  And now, gone.  But I feel him, and I remember the first time I stood up for someone.  It wouldn’t be the last.

If for no other reason, I loved S.W. for his tenacious refusal to stop eating lunch in the cafeteria.  I will never fully understand how bullying plays out in other regional arenas, but y’all: in the South it is brutal.  All our mommas knew each other, got their “hair did” together, and all our daddies played golf together.  And so, when S. W. sat there–slowing pulling away piece by piece of his publicly-funded pizza, spit balls flying around his head like heart-breaking falling stars, tears running down his face–and kept chewing like a man on fire?  I knew then.  I knew then that I would lose my “group,” lose my date to the middle-school prom and lose my heart to fight for him.

And I did. You see, it had gotten around my slow, sleepy Alabama town that S.W. was, in fact, gay.  Now, we didn’t call it that then.  I wouldn’t speak the filth that deemed him different anymore than I would desecrate his grave.  His crime was, in all actuality, not about this strange and alien condition in Alabama, but rather that he had stood against an injustice the week before.  Had cowboyed right up, firmly on those scrawny white legs, and thrown his arm around a black friend during kick-ball.  And that was all it took.

S. W. was popular.  He was from a “good” family (heavy denotation in the Deep South), and had incited quite a well of discontented jealousy from other boys in our community for his blond locks, blue eyes and fresh fashion.  Poor thing, he was asking for it, I reckon.  Standing out like that, making others feel all green.  And so, the day he stood against a team of bubbas–those large-nosed, pot-bellied boys who blamed him for their lack–it was all over but the crying.  They had their “crime” to justify their rage and insecurity.  And shit got real, y’all.

The truth was, he was gay.  Now, until this moment: that was all fine as rain.  See, in the South, there’s this quiet acceptance of the homosexual male, long as he stays in the beauty parlor or the antique shop and adopts the position of “quaint.”  Don’t ask, don’t tell.  He’s just a little “funny-like” and decorates the deacon’s house, etc.  That is, until he gets a bit uppity and calls on those friendships.  And then . . . A firey little powerhouse of a sprite decides to call bullspit on the whole thing and sit with him in the cafeteria.

It was my very first Gay Pride moment.  Parade of two.  And: bite me.

Now, he knew what I was: a little witch who played in streams, cast in dreams and drew pentagrams on my math book.  And he held that secret, even as he was drowning.  Mostly, on account of (as he said then at thirteen): Stand together.  Fall separately.  (A strange and Southern mutation of All for One, One for All.  Or United We Stand, Divided We Fall.  The boy read entirely too much legend and took words too literally.)  I took him at his word.  But I think part of me went with him to the Earth.

I thought of him today.  I think of him often.  So thin and brave and more intelligent than the lot of them.  So alone, even as I held his hand in a spit-ball rain.  Strangely, I now think of my friend, Joe.  (What a lunch crowd in my head.  Breakfast Club: Deconstructed.)  Joe: devout Catholic.  Disagrees with me on so much, worries for my soul, stands beside me with his sword drawn on premise.  I suppose, I have become his S.W.–although he would disagree with his homosexuality, as well.  What strange bedfellows religion and politics create for us when hearts don’t align with heads.  Joe gives me faith in the lost values of Christianity, he does.  He doesn’t have to agree with me to love me.  And he knows a bully when he smells one. But that’s just it.

And brings me to my idea today.  Complicity.  How many nobel moments have met dust for it?  How many times have we all thought to ourselves “not my problem?”  How very alone I feel–not for lack of love, that is for sure.  But for lack of comradery.  Where have all the warriors gone?  We see injustice, know its smell, know its footprint across sacral ground, and then rationalize: I could get hurt, too, if I attempt to assuage this path.  They will be fine, we assure ourselves.  I will just be there if they need a shoulder, they say to themselves.

To those who think these (rational) things, I would tell them: you might be right.  You are certainly within your rights.

But then?  I would tell them that S.W. killed himself.  I alone was not enough, at that young age, to give him the support and conviction he needed to build a strong front against bullies.  Sometimes, I lay awake in bed fantasizing about what ifs.  What if the cheerleader, the nerd shaking in a corner, the black football player and the teacher had joined us at that table?  What if it had been enough in his world to know that he was not alone?  What if, later in his life, he had remembered that solidarity and had become someone who did the same thing?  Oh, I’m sure.  It is not our fault.  So many other factors, right?? Right??

On my birthday that year, he wrote me a note.  It simply said: “I wish there were more of you.” Today, I send S.W.’s note out into the world.  Complicity is worse than aggression.  For in it, there are more choices and more chances for change.  As magic folk, as Pagans, we hold the power to become the powerhouse, the voice that breaks the backs of monsters, the arms that rock the future of our children.  What we don’t do will be much more damaging, and historical, than what we do.  

100MEDIA$IMAG20011

Circa 1982.

Y’all know I am not making light of our situation.  Our gatherings, events, circles and Pride days are lovely.  We wear our t-shirts, put badges on our sites and stickers on our car.  It’s just that: it ain’t enough, y’all.  How will we be part of history?  How will our names be remembered in the tapestry of human struggle?  Shall we be complicit, safe and granted immunity in order that our lives remain peaceful and smooth?

Funny how that answer suddenly changes when it’s our ass on the line. (And believe me, the echo of crickets and silence is the loudest sound.)  As for me, I cannot inhabit the spirit of Witch, nor echo that of my ancestors, in complicity.  I reckon: you don’t have to be a warrior to know when to fight for justice–nor be that “adept” to recognize complacency where there should be action. And sometimes, just drawing up a chair is enough.  I see a lot of empty chairs ’round here.  Just sayin’.

I will wait for you in the cafeteria.  Look for the witch child with spit balls in her hair.  (And, S.W.: I am trying to become more.) Seba

For all of us who forced us to fight.  We thank you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PstrAfoMKlc&feature=kp

 

Posted in Teaching, Uncategorized, When Seba Goes Full Tilt | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The Cost of Outing Pagans in the Bible Belt

scales_20of_20justiceY’all, I wanted to write about my new Czech peppers.  Or my impending granddaughter.  Or anything, other than this.  But: I am done.

Since I began this blog years ago, I have dealt with my own personal antagonist.  (Although, we all have these.  This one is special.)  While I have been very careful up until now not to disseminate any information on the WWW, we are now asking for help.  I’m sure many of you remember when I took down my blog in a last-ditch effort to create peace for many months.  (Although I never explained, and I am so sorry.  It just wasn’t polite or proper to drag that hot mess out here in public.)  I am no longer willing to be bullied.  After suffering a heart situation that landed me in the emergency room a few days ago, I am finally, finally standing up to this harassment.  (The ER doc actually said to me:  no more stress.  Hokay.  I’ll get right on that.  Sigh.)  I had hoped that if I went away, wrote nothing, left the community and tended my garden this would all eventually just end.

But.  Obsession has no logic.  And so, I’m coming out.

My real (government) name is Kat Privett-Duren.  I had always hoped to have a coming out day of sorts, something that I felt ready to do and had prepared for in a sacral manner.  Regretfully, I no longer have that option.  It has been stolen from me and I can never get this moment back.

So, damn.  Hi, y’all.  I’m Dr. Katharyn Privett-Duren.  But I’m also Seba.  And I wish this moment was more beautiful.

We have been harassed and bullied, blackmailed and threatened for years, but we are done.  According to my antagonist, my very presence on the web (and apparent horrendous slander that neither I nor you have ever actually seen)  has caused undue harm to her and her husband, their sex life and his ability to continue his household duties.*  “They” are (again) threatening to sue us for $50,000.  I cannot imagine in what context I have ever had that kind of power, nor can I imagine why anyone would desire it. It is unfathomable to me, as we have not had any contact with them for years.  What I do see (and can legally prove) is that: we have been dogged at every moment.  They appear to want me silenced, ruined, and run out of town.  (An actual quote from one of our attorneys of his assessment of the situation after meeting with them for hours.  He wrote this of his own accord after we chose another lawyer to continue our battle, because “I’ve never seen this level of viciousness in my life.”)  This is not a Witch War, as I am not at war.  This is an extreme effort to survive in my Bible Belt community, raise my son, worship in my own way and publish my thoughts.  We have contacted Lady Liberty League, several attorneys and are awaiting the go-ahead for a news-release to the media if they persist.  This is, in effect, the product of obsession, jealousy, gossip and (of course) a modern day Witch Hunt.  Far worse than Witch War, my friends.

And I am asking for support.

Forgive this commercial interruption, but we have set up a legal fund to make the pain stop.  Please share far and wide.  We will no longer suffer in silence.  Help us to stand up to this inconceivable bullying?  This time, they have included my sisters and my tribal (pregnant) daughter in their onslaught.  It’s time to stop them.

Kat/Seba

To Help click here.

*This* was about you.  Nothing else, just this.  Leave our family alone.  Go away.  Find something that makes you happy enough to let me go.   This will only end badly if you continue.  Go. In. Peace.

*We possess the legal paperwork of their vexatious threats and are only citing from that legally disseminated document.

*And no.  I still will not “out” them.  Don’t even ask.  I will hold to my nobility, even if it kills me.   My children have been harmed, but I would never want that for theirs.  Aho.

I'm learning.

I’m learning.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments

Hinoeuma: Warrior Witch

The Fire Horse (1966)

The Fire Horse (1966)

The two worst strategic mistakes to make are acting prematurely and letting an opportunity slip; to avoid this, the warrior treats each situation as if it were unique and never resorts to formulae, recipes or other people’s opinions.”
Paulo Coelho

“Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.”
Miyamoto Musashi

 “The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
Don Juan Matus

I’ve always known I had no choice about one thing in my life.  While others mitigate, ruminate and speculate I burn. An Aries according to Greek astrology, the rare Fire Horse according to Chinese theology, I am fire.  Period, end of story.  And I, according to legend, am cursed.

Isn’t legend quaint, y’all?  While some folks get lost in the analogies of movies, novels and myth, I understand myself to be a story writing itself.  A reflection, yes.  An echo, of course.  But while others may carry the burden of wyrd as the predetermined, inherited curses and blessings of their ancestors–I factor choice, married to circumstance, as a viable component, even an interrupter, of those energies.  Lessee:  I am fire.  I am a warrior.  I am headstrong, tenacious, Southern, stubborn and intelligent.  I reckon, I’m a bit dangerous.  After all, there is nothing more dangerous than one whom cannot be swayed by fear.  Yet, I can be swayed.  But we’ll get to that, in time.

As a witch, I am forever dismayed at the lack of value placed upon a Warrior Witch.  I reckon?  It most likely has to do with love and light: that ethereal ideology of sparkles and wondrous warmth in which we can all walk–skip?  And, of course, my feet like the ground there, too.  Who wouldn’t?  Nice and cozy.  Until the sky darkens with flying monkeys, that is.  And then . . .

Okay, I get it.  We ain’t all warriors.  That wouldn’t make sense, really.  Who would keep the home fires tended?  Who would water the garden?  What of the children?  Balance is everything, y’all.  But what I’ve noticed is that we all want someone to fight for us, as long as we don’t have to get our skivvies bunched or our pointed shoes muddied.  Sigh.

Not gonna cut it.

I wonder.  Is there something in the warrior that we fear?  That they will turn their fiery sword to our own chest?  Or is it that we cannot be assured of our own truest selves, our own inner nobility, that lurking, incomprehensible doubt that we are not worthy of their service?  At the end of the day, I doubt that it matters.  True warriors care not for your fallible heart, but for its innate intention.  And that, Batchildren, will save you every time.    This is the path my mind wanders when I consider the Fire Horse–that cursed/blessed warrior horse of Chinese legend and the image that is blazed across my birth year.

And there is very little to pull upon.  The Legend of Fire Horse Woman  written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston is one literary revision of the sign as a curse.  Drawing from the past and its knee-jerk fear of a woman born under this sign, Houston portrays her lot as:

“They were powerful and cunning; they acted independently from the family and could not be controlled by men.  Always beautiful, with elegant tastes . . . with a sensual exterior that cloaked an explosive nature, they were strong as females, and thus to be avoided as wives at all costs.” [1]

Ah.  Strong women.  Shiver!  And so, I did more research.  From the extraordinarily minimal (frustrating!) available research online, I found this:

“The power of cultural myth is strong as evidenced by the decline of births in the year of the Fire Horse. The birthrate in Japan during that year is down a half million as compared to the previous and succeeding years. In China, Tibet, and Korea there is also data of a plummet in birthrates. Stories of infanticide of girls from this period persist. You can be sure that women born in 1966 are not quick to reveal this in public.” [2]

That led me to two audacious warrior women and entrenpenuers.  Venita Coelho and Deepti Datt, who founded and own Firehorse Films, explain that:

“1966 was the Chinese year of the FireHorse. The Chinese believed that FireHorses were headstrong and potentially dangerous to the social order. Both of us are born in 1966, and both of us have a strong mind like the FireHorse. Our banner will encourage creative women in India and around the world, who are unafraid to question the status quo and push the envelope. More power to them and their work for which FireHorse Films will provide a platform.” [3]

And that’s when it hit me: a memory, of my mother, telling me to “hide [my] sexuality, beauty and power.”  She was concerned for my safety, it seems.  But all I remember feeling was: then, I will die.  To win the battle, but lose the war, I shall die.  Or rather, my fire would be suffocated, in lieu of merciful comfort for those who could not bear to stare within its depths.  Hmmm.

I think the roof is on fire.

Eh.  If my very existence keeps someone up at night, one has to wonder: what are they wrestling against? Are strong women, especially in the Craft, dangerous simply because they are in tune with their sexuality?  Their creativity?  What of other women, especially in the Craft, who gnash their teeth at the strong female witch?  It occurs to me that some gals need to tend to their own gardens, their own partners, their own tribalsteads instead of spewing venom night and day toward another’s blaze.

And then there’s this *other* thing:  when I take my blaze away, leaving another’s soul to face the dark and icy world that they have earned, well.  Katie bar the door.  From a Fire Horse perspective, it’s simple: I am leaving you back on the threshold of the world from which you came.  Not harming, not injuring, just leaving.  My hubby likes to remind me to be more empathetic; after all, sitting at a campfire encourages a body to forget the cold.  And I try.  But, still it seems to me that–when the fire is taken away–some souls cannot bear to see the smoke in another forest.  Rather, railing and war and asshattery commence, simply at the sniff of burning embers from afar.  (I contend: they shouldn’t have acted a fool.  But, empathy I will continue to embrace.)  Which brings me ’round to Fire Horse:

If the revitalization of its legend and revisitation of its source holds that the Fire Horse is dangerous because you cannot control it, what–exactly–leads humankind to want that control?  Fear?  Jealousy?  Insecurity?  And, if it could be done, what would warm your bones?  Who would defend your most sacred thresholds?  Ah, the incurable plight of humankind: to control Nature in order to reap its glory.  Has anyone read the Goose and the Golden Egg?

I am a Warrior Witch.  Let’s interrogate SKW on that a bit, shall we?

I will not harm children nor animals in an effort to satiate my own lack.

I will not cast against those whom I do not know, nor anyone who has not harmed me or mine.

I will not pretend to be anything else.  You will not see me quoting Christian scripture, shifting religions/paths or hiring myself out online.

I will not “cover” my sexuality, my intelligence or my power to make others feel more secure.

I will not engage in ridiculous, teenage drama within the Witch/Pagan community.

I will walk from anyone who breaks my spirit, descrecrates the Sacred Path or harms others for entertainment or self gain.

Now, for the other hand:

I will fight for justice, children, animals and my beloved Mother Earth.

I will stand against gossip, cruelty and even complicity in these moments.

I will tell the truth, even if it makes others uncomfortable.

I will never, ever lay down until I am struck dead.  For I am a Warrior Witch, a Fire Horse, a descendant of a balanced and beautiful slice of native peoples who knew nobility as they knew their own skin.  I suppose, then, that I am dangerous.  I certainly hope that I am dangerous, to the livelihood of bullspit, bigotry, falsity, racism, power mongers, sexism, religiosity and political agenda.  I simply do not lie down well.  So be it.  But: it is not a curse.  And oh, it is not a blessing.

It is simply, and perhaps fittingly, just who I am.  Apologizing for my nature would be akin to apologizing for summer.  Everyone wants you to arrive.  Everyone needs you, until the heat and the sweat become too much.  On this one?  I turn to Gran.

If it’s too hot, y’all know how to leave the kitchen.  (But leave the cornbread for those of us who sweated for it.)

For all of my fellow Warrior Witches:

Blessed Be and Aho.

Seba

*It has come to my attention that a rumor was propagated last weekend about the legality of our land lease and an impending demise in ownership.  While most of us balk at such nonsense and childish banter, for any of my friends who have worried: nothing could be further from the truth.  We are fine, thanks for thinking of us.  But: love your suit.

1.  Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki, The Legend of Fire Horse Woman.  Kensington: New York, 2003: 9

2.  http://voices.yahoo.com/the-strange-fate-fire-horse-women-3335014.html?cat=37

3.  http://www.goanvoice.org.uk/newsletter/2003/Jul/issue2/supp2/FireHorse.html

 

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Sweet Landslide

Gran Kitty!

Gran Kitty!

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
“Landslide,” Stevie Nicks

“Some fates are guaranteed, no matter who tries to intervene.”
Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

I remember the first time I saw my daughter’s face.  I remember that season of my life.  The sterile smell of a cheap hospital room, the glow from hospital-grade night lights, the hum of machinery running along the wire.  And in that world, two liquid brown eyes.   We were all alone.  Nothing but my two boys ever came that close again to living; nothing ever will.

I think.

Just over two months have gone by since I found out I was to be a “Gran Kitty.”  The name was carefully chosen by the mommy, and myself, in reverence to my government name.  My grandbaby was cast for under a pear tree last September, just as the last fruit hit the ground and a chill was beginning in Alabama.  Real magic, done right.  The earth vibrated so beautifully under our fingers–not an uncommon moment with my beloved Trillium, my dedicated Priestess-in-Training.  Ever loyal, ever faithful to her path, she has watched others come and go and stood (sometimes weeping) firm to her oath to our Tribe.  This was her moment.

But this one, here in this post, is mine.

Letter to my grandchild:

Your mother well knew the trouble you would be.  She foresaw it all.  Your stubbornness, your tenacity, your rebellion.  And she chose it all.  You, Gangani Babe, will drive us all to a reckoning of your witchy will.  And I cannot wait.

Mommy and Me, circa 2012

Mommy and Me, circa 2012

You should know that your momma has given up everything: caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and even bees.  (Your momma was in beekeeping class when she found out.  Your Gran Kitty put a moratorium on bees until your birth.)  You should know this because one day you will turn to her and scream “you don’t love me!” and you will be wrong.  She loves you more than herbology, more than baby kittens, more than her reputation.  She has steadied herself for the unbearable disappointment from her upbringing, community gossip and your formidable teen years.  She says good morning to you before her morning milk and sings to you before she slips into sleep after long shifts at work.  You, my dear child, are already loved beyond reason.

Mommy and Gran (One year exactly from your magical spell)

Mommy and Gran (One year exactly from your magical spell)

And you shall be magic.  We have argued/agreed/compromised through half of your life in our planning.  (Just so you know: at Gran Kitty’s, there will be chocolate cake for breakfast and fairy wings.  I won that one fairly easily.)  You will be raised “witch”: growing and drying herbs as soon as your chubby fingers can grasp them, drumming around fires, spinning webs in twilight and worshipping with the morning sun.  And, my darling, there are some things you will find in the world you have chosen to grace:

Our faith is old, but rarely tolerated by the majority.  This will make public school problematic (for *them* as well as you), and mommy and I have plans for that, too.  We want to spare you from those sad souls who would call you evil, but we know better.  Therefore, we shall invest into your life a thick and tribal pride of the legends from which you came.  You will know your history, sweetie.  Never let anyone make you feel shame for understanding energy, for nurturing magic as your divine inheritance or for revering the Earth and its creatures as sacred.

I’ve told you how Mommy feels–the rest is hers to reveal.  Let me me tell you how I feel about you, these short months before your arrival?

When you are older, someone may say that you are not my blood.  Let’s review how to answer that, baby.  You see, I wasn’t blood for half my line.  Yup.  Gran Kitty was half mutt!  But I had a Grandma who made up for everything.  She saw my flaws, my muck and mire, and stroked my hair: you are wild, baby.  You look like Aunt L.: Cherokee, big spirit, wile chile.  Folks like us need lovin’ that deep: it sinks in where the rips and tears gape and make a salve, babe.  And this is how I intend to love you.

Gran in 1966: raised on barbecue

Gran in 1966: raised on barbecue

Remember this:  you are right.  I do not have to love you.  You are right.  I can call this not my problem.  You are right.  Our blood is not the same.  But you will be wrong if you think that any of that mattered the day I cast for you, too.

We are Cherokee, my sweet.  We adopt.  The bond is impenetrable.

You and I are the same.  We both have a grandmother who loved us beyond all damn walking sense.  We will dry mugwort together, raise strawberries,  fall asleep under family quilts after a night of legends and lemon balm tea.  I will be your ancestor: and that is mine to decide, my dear.  And if anyone ever tells you otherwise: turn to your cousin, Ian, and ask him if DNA mattered.  Ask him if he remembers a life before this family, without love and forever, and see what he says.  (Also, ask him what happened to those who desecrated that love.  Your momma was smarter than all of those muggles.  Fertile as a bunny, that one.)  This is it, baby.  I choose you.  You choose me.  And if anything gets in the way . . .

Grand Kitty has a really sharp hatchet.

Now, you will inherit enemies.  They ain’t got nothing on you, chile.  They gnaw and gnash at every sparkly, buttery thing we grow: and it does them no good.  Don’t you pay no nevermind to that noise.  It’s a hindrance, like yellow jackets and fire ants–but that’s all.  Like your brother J, you are to be born into this wondrous witch family and jealousy is a natural condition of your birth.   Besides: we will prepare you for that mess.  In time, you will find that–while the buzz will disturb your Tuesdays–nothing takes away that feeling of throwing your fingers in the air with a family of witches and the trees as your audience.    Nothing ever shines brightly without drawing the attention of some butthead with a bucket of water.  (But don’t worry, sugar.  We don’t melt.  We grow.)

And finally, you should know something else.  You should know that silly Gran Kitty had a baby growing in her own belly in 2012 and that the strain of age and asshattery (don’t use that word until Momma says it’s okay) took her back to the stars.  That night, I had to grow up.  I had to understand my impending status as Crone.  And as far as I’m concerned:

Your birth is proof that my job isn’t over.  Yet.  You are already making Gran a better person, a better witch and a better friend.  We all fall from grace, hon.  Gran has done it nice and messy-like over the years.  I have suffered my landslide.

But there you are, growing in Mommy’s belly.  Waiting for us all to climb again.

(And don’t worry about dancing in the moonlight, honey.  “Nudity is optional, as you well know.”)

I cannot wait to meet you.  I’ll be the one with funny hair, a sailor’s mouth and a wooden spoon.  Whether you like it or not, that country witch standing there that day, crying and laughing, is your . . .

Gran Kitty

Note to my readers (Trill, never let her see this part until she is grown):

We also lost our sweet little girl, Riley, in 2009.  Unimaginably, it came to our attention that a small group of witches within our community made a “poppet” of sorts with my identifiers and stuck needles in the belly of said poppet.  Hopefully, this was just a rumor (although, never smelled like one) and is not an issue we should worry with this time around.  However:  I beseech all like-minded witches everywhere, in the olden custom, to cast protection for this pregnancy against malicious attack.  Thank you.  And Blessed Be.  Seba

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Pagan Privilege and the Dinosaur

DSCF2369

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Even in the face of powerful structures of domination, it remains possible for each of us, especially those of us who are members of oppressed and/or exploited groups as well as those radical visionaries who may have race, class, and sex privilege, to define and determine alternative standards, to decide on the nature and extent of compromise.”
bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

“It took him a long time, and a great many more parties, to realize that they didn’t live that way, that it was all strangely unreal, a kind of beautiful dream the white folks were having, a lie they were telling themselves: that goodness can come from badness, that it’s possible to be civilized with one another without treating as human beings those whose blood, sweat, and mother’s milk made possible the life of privilege they led.”
Alex Haley, Roots

No matter how long I hang around, I am always stunned at the bad manners and shoddy home training of the general population.  I’d like to attribute this phenomena to un-Southern-ness, but truth be known, I have some down-home Northern, Western and non-American brothers and sisters who would never consider rudeness/crassness as an alternative to productive conversation.  I reckon, the only Southern element gnawing here is: my hurt-ass feelings at human cruelty.  But even that can be attributed to the condition of being human.

Today I put up a meme.  As usual, I assumed that the overall message was one of ponderment: does privilege denote separateness from human despair?

The meme that caused a flip out.

The meme that caused a flip out.

Now, I suppose (if yor’ panties were ripe for wadding, if yor’ conscience was twisted, if argument for argument’s sake is yor’ digs) this was a little more of a landmine than I had weighed.  To me, it held racial connotations.  Sexual orientation connotations.  Poverty connotations.    But to others?  I received the following commentary:

“Privelage [sic] does not come into this……are you saying only privileged people can make a problem not a problem. If so, you must be the dumbest person I know. Anyone can make a problem not a problem, simply by leaving the problem or *sliding* [my emphasis] away from it.”

(Good “slide,” my brother.  Excellent work at evading the real issue.)  I banned the asshat (primarily because of his verbal *assault* and refusal to be civil), but am left with a bad taste in my mouth.   How, as pagans/witches, have we come to the point of nitpicking/mudslinging as a substitute of investigative conversation? Again and again, I see articles that pit Wiccans against Heathens, family trad against papers, race against race and gender against gender within our own beloved community and my hands are up.  Seriously???  We don’t have to fight enough?  We don’t have enough working against us in 2014?  Then, what hope do we have??

Privilege.  Lessee.  I pass as white on the daily.  I am not afraid, nor too politically nervous, to admit this fact.  I am educated.  While in the poverty range, I hold (at least for now in this economy) a job while others starve.  I am (somewhat) straight.  I am married.  Do I have privilege?  Why, HELL YEAH I DO.  Do I feel guilty?  NO.  Am I on point, listening, learning, watching, adapting to a world that suddenly questions the guarded silence of privilege?

What do you think?

Why we are so unwilling to look at the places within our lives that we hold privilege, I do not understand.  For when they are located, they may be examined.  Shared.  Reshifted.  What are we protecting?  And, much worse: why?

I have watched as  my “good liberal friends” bemoan racism, homophobia and economic stratification while refusing to condone their daughters marrying black men, disowning their gay children and then giving their maid a raise a Christmas while patting themselves on the back.  And I fear we are not willing to do the work of change.  As long as it doesn’t affect us, we lament the ills of our world . . . but do very little of the footwork.  We give to the local food bank at Christmas, fly our FB status equality signs, but rarely show up to a soup kitchen or a gay pride parade.  My heart is sick at the lack.

But then, to see my brethren rip each other to shreds in public forums, a brethren born of olden ways and respect and oathes and honor, I am broken.  We are infected, at our arterial core, with drama and backstabbing and power-grabbing.  (I know, I know.  No one wants to look at this.  I am not afraid of examining; I am, however, terrified at the prospect of refusing to do so.)  Whose papers trace back the farthest, whose coven holds court with the most notable, whose tradition is most honored by the Universe has replaced conversations about kinship, equality and nobility.  Pagan privilege has usurped Pagan ethics on too many sacred grounds. [1]

And we cannot afford it.  It’s too expensive.  Perhaps the most horrendous of ironies for the privileged is that: the tables can turn.  But when they do?  We have already made our stand.  We were right, we were more pagan, we were more witchy.  And now . . .

We are more humbled.

I stand by that meme.  I can’t afford *not* to do so.  As a pagan, as a witch, and as a sacred being: my brethren’s problems ARE my problems.  Good gravy grief, I thought that was clear.  Why, even my enemy’s problems are mine, in certain circumstances.  When did we become so uppity that we forgot the tapestry of energy?  The primacy of Universal Law?  Worse, when did we forget that privilege always costs us something?

Mayhap we all just want to be the next Supreme.  Ahem.  And WTF.

I pull away, more and more, from public life.  I have seen my spells (fewer cast than one might think) come to fruition.  I know my life and my being to be magical.  Yet, I await a world in which we can be the great teachers, the levelers, refusing ego and rank for something more tangible.  More lasting.  More real.  More sacred than privilege.

All that energy we spin . . . can you imagine if we used it to win against pain?  Poverty? And if this is the world I have joined, thinking that I had sisters and brothers, perhaps I shall go back to my woods.  I have bigger, more worthy battles to fight than ego-driven “witch wars” and first-world-drama.  Little lives are being born into this.  What will they find?

If we could start fresh, sit at a round table, and fashion a world for them: I would hope that it could be livable.  Honest, even if it smelled funny.  Noble.  A world in which we tell the truth of our human condition and ask our children to do the same.  A place where shame couldn’t find root, where codes and honor held the value of money and where telling the truth was the most beautiful, sacred act one could give or receive.  The world that was before, that we swore to nourish, that we are vested to repair.  But . . . that’s just me.  Horribly idealistic, I suppose.

DSCF1713

I am a dinosaur.

Stay warm.  Tell the truth.  Love someone.  Fight privilege.  Forge something worthy of blood and bone.

BB, Seba

1.  I am certainly not saying that we should hold court with folks who break the law, hurt each other, enact asshattery or the like.  I’m sure you all remember my refusal to attend PPD last year. I am, however, saying that our community needs some common ground that would not even hold court with such unsacral energy  and work towards encouraging others to hold to a higher ethical ground.  Pissing on already urine soaked dirt is redundant.  We need to grow something.  Hold the bar higher.  Remember who WE ARE.  And hold our brethren up to the light so that they must do the same.

Posted in Life Lessons, Rants, Uncategorized | 27 Comments

Sacral Acts: The Real Thing

My vulture shows up every time I work a healing spell on our lost daughter.  I've become accustomed to the pain.

My vulture shows up every time I work a healing spell on our lost daughter. I’ve become accustomed to the pain.

“Out of the thousands who are known or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts, trying to look like the real thing.”
Leonard Cohen

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Roger Crawford

“Gossip is just a tool to distract people who have nothing better to do from feeling jealous of those few of us still remaining with noble hearts.”
Anna Godbersen, Splendor

“And when one of us is gone, and one of us is left to carry one, then remembering will have to do.  Our memories alone will get us through. Think about the days of me and you.  You and me against the world.”
Helen Reddy

Y’all, I’m swamped.  Teaching online and live at a university and homeschooling a teen, all while teaching/running a Tribe, has slapped me silly.  And it’s not even gardening season yet.  This post will be more of a “what the hell happened to SFW” than a blog post, so hang in there.

So, as planned, the hubby and the witchling and the 3rd degree student (who had been chomping at the bit about this for over a year) finally hit beekeeping classes!  While they run off to geek-farmer nirvana every Tuesday, I huddle around the wood-burning stove sipping rose tea and teaching deployed writers.  This little slice of peace is usually mud-stomped by their return and breathless accounts of “and then the queen like KNOWS where to go!” and “for real, though!  They have a common meeting place in the yard!”  As this winter has been especially hard on my summer bones, their excitement has the smell of garden dirt and sunflowers and warm rain.  And I take it in, like breathing tea.

The Witchling petting a dormant bee.  And taking notes, for once.

The Witchling petting a dormant bee. And taking notes, for once.

Last night, after practically drooling over the dormant bees the teacher brought for “show and tell,” my son was the lucky (?) recipient of said bees.  They came home in a jar–I was forced to “pet” one (lawd) and then?  Tears.  Away from their hive, the instructor had noted to the boy, there wasn’t much hope for survival.  Of course, by morning (despite his desperate and noble attempts of sugar-water and energy “tents”) two of our little friends had passed.  Serious chewing of the ethical fat followed and rehoming commenced this afternoon–and momma is still pondering the lesson for Friday’s group.

That boy vibrates from his noble core, regardless of well-meaning farmers.  He is my hope for our Tribe, this man-child witch.  He is an Aries: fights formidably, questions himself consistently, rams through what others see as fate and carves possibility.  In him, I see a real future.  He saves me, his Aries momma, every day.  This witch, Batchildren, is the real thing. And nobody saw him coming.

This son of mine has eased a deep and abiding grief in my heart, even as he suffered the same.  He’s fond of telling me:  “You are a good momma,” something seemingly so innocuous and so very primal to my healing.  And, he may be right.  After a year of unholy attacks upon our family and Tribe, we are recovering nicely.  Any given evening at Indigo Sky, there are planning meetings for our Annual Gathering, renewal and strengthening of friendships and kinships that had been unethically (and unnaturally) knocked off-road, strange (but welcome) financial recovery, and . . . let’s just keep that last squea private for three more months.  Our focus has shifted, heavily, toward family and faith.  We may not be the *party pagans* in this neck of the woods–but laws, y’all.  The real thing is hard to beat.  Literally.

And all the riff-raff can have at the leftovers.  We’re cooking with butter, not margarine, y’all.

“Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.” Aesop

Let’s chew on that one for a minute, shall we?  The real.  Thing.  Hmmm.  Lessee.  I left Crisco for leaf-lard of foraging pigs this year.  How could I not?  The real thing was healthier, heartier, had a better burn rate and (as a carnivore) resisted non-sustainable cotton seed like a boss.  Margarine has been outlawed in my kitchen for twenty years now.  And, folks?  This kind of living led me to marry for love, not money.  Renewable energy?  Oh, hell yeah.  When my witchling struggled with a Bible Belt mentality and a gripping dyslexia that sliced him out of the “upper sect” of our town’s educational report card, I did not shiver or shake at the prospect of homeschooling.  (Nor did I have to plead or console his father.)

And when a tribal member literally spat on all of her loved ones in 2012–we knew what to do.  We also knew what would follow.  But none of us trembled at the prospect; rather, we hunkered down for the fallout.  And survived.  While others might concede to her pleas of victimhood and Miss Misunderstood: we knew that she had broken oathe, horribly, and had desecrated everything sacred and beautiful that she had once held dear.   Whomsoever took her in denied her chance to resolve that injury, and we watched in horror and grieved as she sidestepped the lesson and became a pawn in someone else’s game. [1]  But here’s the crux: we were the real thing.  Those tribal promises, those moments that bound our souls, were real.  As were the injuries, heinous and vicious, that we sustained.

There’s so much talk out there today about forgiveness, conflict resolution and acceptance, but I fear that there is a lack of talk about the sanctity of one’s word.  The tether of one’s oathe.  As witches, my heart aches at the lack of community support for these nobilities.  Why, I would rather fall on my own sword than to take in an enemy’s child, if for no other reason than the dishonor of the act.  Rather, I would hope that I would see past my own resentment in hopes that my own child would never escape the most pertinent lesson of all: Owning Your Word.  Honoring it in a world that only values money and status.  Because, Batchildren: it makes you the real thing.  The realest thing you can hope to be: honorable.  

And I’ve lost children to this sort of manipulative, “come here chile and I’ll give you chocolate, yor momma is so mean” tactic before.  But I have to wonder: what has become of a Pagan community that would condone such behavior?  How much more noble to stand, even against an enemy, and weigh the authority of a sacred bond?

These are the lessons I hope for my son.  If he lost his damn mind, violently turned in a chaotic, self-destructive tornado of betrayal and dishonor, I hope that my community would hold him accountable.  And if they did not: I would.  You see: this is what makes the real thing.  Not popularity.  Not who you will lose as a “friend.”  Not a small victory for your ego.  Rather, the thick, olden respect of one soul’s promise to another.

The real thing.  I think of those sweet, tired, dormant bees now doomed so far from their hive, struggling, foraging, barely alive.  And I think of my son, torn at their fate, desperately trying to carve an alien home for them in a tattered winter garden.  And, though I know my readers look to me for inspiration . . . I grieve.

I always will.  For lessons lost, for children lost, for community honor not upheld, but more than any other: for the desolution of the real thing.  I’ll be back, I promise.  Our lives have picked up and so many blessings, much like Job’s, have been thoroughly restored.  With a vengeance.  But still, when I close my eyes at night, I wonder:

When gods and goddesses convene over sacred acts . . . can we discount them?  Even if our community disregards them in sacre (the French word for both sacred as well as bloody and damned) methodology?  Are we no long accountable, even if the one with whom we shared our word, our bond, has dishonored and forgotten everything?

Once upon a time: this was important.

Once upon a time: this was important.

And worse: what of those whom have aided in that effort?  What becomes of their souls?  Who becomes the sacrifice to desecrated sacrimonial acts?

Six of the dormant bees were still alive tonight.  I reckon?  I await Spring for resolution.

BB,

Seba

1.  While rumors abound, we have never held court with/fully found resolution about who/what took her in.  We only know for certain that it was within our community.

The last song I ever whispered to her, while she slept, that last night.  Hoping that she would fight.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Witch’s Matrix

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“Ladies who play with fire must remember that smoke gets in their eyes.”
Mae West

“Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it?”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

It happened again.  The hubby and I were curled up watching a movie on t.v. that was continuously interrupted by the most inane, graphically-disabled commercials I had ever seen.  Over and over–and they lasted an unbearable length of time.  He stares at them, helpless to turn away and trained by a different generation that rarely moved two feet from the bright lights of techno junk.  Until he noticed me doing what I have always done: head turned, humming to myself, in another world.

H:  What the hell are you doing?
Me:  Shh, I’m losing focus.
H:  ??????

You see, it occurred to me long ago that I can CHOOSE to be somewhere else, think other things, when the crappola of this world encroaches into my sanctuary.  Anything is better: enjoying the buttered apricot paint I chose for our bedroom walls, breathing deeply the “sugared maple” lotion on my hands, pondering the sound of rain on our tin roof . . . anything other than allowing precious moments to be stolen by nagging electric demi-gods of nonsense.  All it took was considering one day that, if national averages are even close to correct, a child sees over 20,000 commercials per year.  At around 30 seconds per commercial, that’s an staggering amount of life thrown in the toilet.  Then, weigh against those numbers the fact that beta waves–not alpha–are engaged while watching the boob tube, that’s a ridiculous wast of sacral energy.  And energy is magic.  Therefore, all time watching commercials–that wander lust empty time in which you *wonder* if indeed you need to buy that pill to get skinnier, or hock your car to obtain that new fancy gizmo from Office Max that you didn’t know you wanted, or consider the ramifications (again) of how an ORANGE FEELS when a juice is just as tasty–could have been better spent even if all you did was pet your cat.

And I’ve had a lot of experience with disallowing this “gray noise” in the last year.  These days, ignoring the neon flash of another disability attorney asking me if I’ve been hurt was a piece of cake, considering all the practice I garnered in 2013.  Standing up to bullies is a tough job–standing against corruption and unfathomable BS is harder.  At some point in 2013, I had to make an active choice to tune out the crap and focus on healthier, more honest things in my life than the hysteria of the lunatic fringe.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that we ignore dangerous, mentally-unstable folk.  Doing so can lead you down some unswanky swamplands, believe me.  I am, however, suggesting that–after anchoring yor’ ship, sturdying that sail and warning all passengers on board that drunken Brits have been spotted on the waters–there still may be time to take in a sunset.  Mayhap.  Surviving these battles is worth nothing if the wonders of life have been muted by the sound of war.

And this lesson is harder than you might think.

I look back on some of the most difficult moments of my life–all long gone now–and lament only that I forgot to laugh.  As a younger Southern Belle, those times were marred by my insistent worry, obsessing, struggling against the smell of someone else’s resentment and shenanigans.  My ass was focused on the commercials in my life: divorce, custody hearings, betrayal and all that putrid dung that gets hurled at an otherwise happy human being when they draw a line in the sand.  And I was missing the show, y’all.  Tweren’t the asshat’s fault: naw, that one is all mine.  I lay claim to that time, biting my fingers until they were bloody instead of dancing in the rain.  We don’t get wise without getting our ass handed to us upon occasion.  But, in my late forties?

Children: what it's all about.

Children: what it’s all about.

I finally get it.  I have a choice.  And I’ll be damned if I’m watching those commercials, if only because the Law of Attraction has crystallized in my learning curve.  Let’s go off script, shall we?  (Y’all know how much I love to take my path around the proverbial mulberry bush.)  Universal Law can screw you or save you.  Be careful what you focus upon; be even more mindful of what the mundane world is trying to sell to you.  Think of it like this:

Ever notice how some folks think that their faith somehow trumps yours, magically speaking?  Marinate on rabid Christianity for a spell.  There ya go.  Like that.  The idea that even though you are not of their faith, you will pay according to it??  Logical fallacy much? (This one just slays me, when witches/Pagans replicate Christian dogma.)  Nah, I reckon it’s much simpler than that, more like:  my magic will protect ME from your ridiculous asshattery.  Not punish YOU.  At least, not according to my faith’s standards.  But mayhap yorn.  See, if Witch A is obsessed beyond all reason with hurting Witch B and fully believes that 1. She is correct that Witch B deserves it and 2. That the Universe will deal with the situation justly . . . but then, Witch B doesn’t get hurt . . . does that mean that Witch B didn’t earn that revenge?  Was Witch A wrong or just having a bad magic night?  Hmmmmm.  Let’s just hypothesize that the result boomeranged on Witch A.  Now.  Does that mean that the result was 1.  a product of Witch B’s skill or 2.  the synergetically correct result, according to Witch A’s own faith system?

Yupper.  Witches Matrix.  Looks like:

Golden Dawn Witch x Voodoo Witch = fubar unless GDW’s faith is the one true faith, OR vice versa.  OR, try this one:  GDW x VDW= VDW loses IF VDW’s “value system” accepted her guilt as just.  OR: GDW x VDW = GDW loses IF she cast unjustly and is guilty according to her own “value system.”  OR: it depends.  Who’s the most skilled/talented witch?? [1]

Mind.  Blown.  I mean, otherwise, y’all, all faiths are just pretty outfits we wear.  Think on this one.

Or . . . what if Witch A’s magic never worked on Witch B, the former’s ego couldn’t accept it and stomped into the mundane world for mortal revenge?  Would Witch B then win by default, according to magical laws?  I mean, magically speaking: that would be an “illegal maneuver and usurping of code.”  Perhaps, what we would have then would not be the outcome anyone with ancient witch ethics would desire; the equation would be hinged upon a “tampering with the Universal penal system,” methinks.  Then what? [2]

Photo creds:  http://images3.alphacoders.com/238/238679.jpg This balance of justice is so . . . non-Western.

Photo creds: http://images3.alphacoders.com/238/238679.jpg
This balance of justice is so . . . non-Western.

I wouldn’t want to be that guy, that’s what.  My reverence for Witch Code is too embedded in my bones to screw with Divine Verdict.  And so, in honoring the laws of order of the Craft, I will not watch the commercials or engage in the bullshit hyperbole of the mortal realm.  Rather, I will keep my sacred thump and engage my being with the Law of Attraction.  Some of us don’t test the gods, y’all.  I’ve had my own uppity bumm handed to me in my twenties over similar tomfoolery and have the scars to prove it.  Naw, I will continue to turn away from the yammer of ambulance chasers and false prophets and focus on sunsets, the sweet taste of butter on my tongue, the love of my partner and the sacral steadfastness of my kin.  2014 has promise.  We are looking at a budding business, replacement income, new and SANE allegiances in our community, babies (squee!) and the sharp edge of a life well-forged.

Me and my Magical Sista.  Some things are worth the work.

Me and my Magical Sista. Some things are worth the work.

What a blessing, to have burned off the fringes off mindless chatter and drama and be left with such a clean, smooth skin.  And, even if the commercials increase (some folks just have too much money too waste): I have learned something epic.

How to hit the”off” button on my remote.  You’ll find me, as usual, dancing under the trees on the land that birthed me.  Turns out?  Gray noise is forbidden there, no matter how hard it tries to be heard.

Blessed Be you all in the coming year and may we all stay focused on real magic, real love and real lives.

Seba

1.  I am using these “kinds” of witches as examples and could just have easily used any other vein of the Craft.

2.  In particular, I have seen this kind of “diversion” several times in the last year.  Once with a dear friend of mine up North, but even more often in the news.

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So. You bought that book on Kitchen Witchery?

cauldron

One year ago, a sweet magical student of mine asked me to teach her to be a kitchen witch.

I thought I’d wait for y’all to stop snickering.  First off, she needed her foundations and some discipline and it tweren’t time yet for digging into the the “major,” if you get my drift.  In our tradition, there are no shortcuts, no accolades, no nepotistic fast shots to the top.  And though she breaks my heart (all curls and honey drawl), I have waited for the day that she was ready to hone her magic in front of a stove.  That day is almost nigh.

IMAG0084

Alabama tamales and Fried Greens.

Now, I’ve read quite a lot about kitchen witchery on the “internets” of late; seems that the practice has grown in popularity alongside the commercialized food industry.  There appears to be a wealth of books out and about that incorporate pre-crafted spells and recipes for the beginner kitchen witch.  And I call: bullspit. [1]  Y’all, let’s get real about this little slice of the Craft: it cannot be copied or imitated and only the guidelines can be taught.  I reckon there will be a witchy outcry against this contention, but there it is. Floppin’ around like a catfish out of water.  Those of us who were raised by true kitchen crafters know that, even with scratch and sniff, a book ain’t gonna hold your hand and vibrate those eggs.  Nor will it lift energy, like a slow burn, under a beginner spell–even it if does rhyme.  Naw, there is an olden method that cannot be obtained through literary osmosis.  And even here, I cannot teach it.

But I can give you a whiff.  Let’s talk poultry.

IMAG0447

A proper kitchen witch NEVER buys chicken stock–lessen the in-laws are on their way in for a surprise visit, and even then . . . No sirree.  I suppose not ‘ary one of y’all has a chicken coop out back, so the first critical step is to haul off to the local Piggly and buy a chicken.  As organic and local as you possibly can, and then:

(We’ve had this conversation before, remember?)  Get comfy.  Find yor favorite cutoffs, bare those toes and sling that bra across the room (lessen you are of the nuttier variety, at which juncture I highly suggest free-ballin’.)  Now.  Turn up the music that speaks the food you want to create.  Lynyrd Skynrd usually blasts around my barbecue ribs, while Nina Simone will show up for gumbo or stew.  Ray LaMontaigne has injected my pork roast for Summer Sundays; Ray Charles enjoys wailing when pies are in store.  Feel your way here.  Hell, feel your way through the whole shebang!  Hokay.  Start with a clean work space, find a clear spot out of hand but in sight and light a candle.  This is the moment to ground, *do that thing* and find your most base intent.  Once focused, you are ready to begin.  Some notes about cooking in general:

*Grow those herbs your-own-self.  Nothing will every be as magical as entangling your magic into that of Mother Earth, seed to plate.

*ALWAYS taste the food, at EVERY stage.  (Yup.  This here is how Southern Witches ended up being just a might squishier than the rest of y’all.)

*If you imbibe, have ONE libation for sipping.  (Careful here.  This can get hairy–although I have had fun with this in the past.  Shit gets real.  Quick.  NO CASTING ALLOWED.)

Yule 2010 (AFTER cooking!)

Yule 2010 (AFTER cooking!)

*If you are working with meat, remember to thank the beast for sustenance.  This is critical to a healthy, kitchen witchery product.

*ALWAYS work with cast iron if at all possible.  (I’ve thrown away all the others as they have been gifted unto me.  They are quite useless and hold no memory.  OR flavor.)

*Feel the beat in the chopping of that knife, sway in the turning of a spoon, and never forget that this is a sacred process–like alchemy.  You are an organic part of that process.

*Keep negativity (arguing, begging dogs, telemarketers) OUT of that kitchen.  Energy is absorbed by energy.  Let’s not taint (hee hee) that grub.

*Iffin you are whipping up a family/beloved one’s recipe that has passed: honor them before and during the craft.  You might be surprised to feel a grandma’s hand guiding yorn around a pot.

*Clean as you go.  It keeps the method rolling, keeps you focused and gives magic a clear path to travel.

*Sing.  (Music is vibration, vibration is energy, energy is magic.  Aho.)  Sing spells into the steam, across the blade of the knife, along the turn of the wooden spoon.  But: make them your own.  This is your magic, your body, your food and your spell.  Let’s keep the quickie just-add-water variety spells out of our damn food.

*Never give up.  Start over–or better yet?  Invent something new.  Be careful of chaos cooking, though.  Nobody will ever ask for seconds of potato casserole with peanut butter and black olives.  Respect the flavors.  Partner them carefully, as you would in a spell packet.  (More is not necessarily better, y’all.)  Flavors should layer: heat in the back forty, salt around the edges, smatter of sweetness in the middle.

But here’s the real crux: waste nothing.  (Magic, right?  Let’s not leave half our spell process in the trash can.)  A roasted chicken carcass is divine plopped in a stew pot alongside a few celery stalks, wilting carrots and that last onion.  Simmer those bones!  Milk that marrow!  After an hour or two, that stock will be richer, thicker and healthier than store bought, all day every day.  A serious kitchen witch wouldn’t stop here, y’all:  after all, we have gardens to nourish and bones to bury.  (Click here for some serious garden witchery.)  I reckon those tomatoes ain’t gonna grow themselves.  (Well, some of mine do.  Uppity little wizard plants, I reckon.)  What I can’t use?  The chickens get.  Herb stalks, pear skins, cornbread edges, all of it . . . and they spin those bits of kitchen magic into some damn fine and tasty eggs.  Nom.

My sister calls these "sexy eggs."  I take the Fifth.

My sister calls these “sexy eggs.” I take the Fifth.

Why all the work?  Because, Batchildren.  A real kitchen witch knows when to push the crockpot and the microwave aside and get her digits deep in the dough.  Sure, our backs ache and workdays go long and ‘ary now and again you’ll see us in the drive-thru, looking all cagey.  But, laws, when there’s important work to get done . . .

Someone’s picking up a wooden spoon.

While the rest of our brethren have their digs, this is our craft.  It cannot be learned by reading a book from Barnes and Noble.  If you’ve been blessed, there was a grandma somewhere in your childhood spinning and bubbling in a backwoods kitchen, casting webs in the air, injecting eather with her sway, as if all her ancestors were orchestrating dinner from behind the veil.  Because they do.

Be Nourished.  Be Kitchen Witches.  Be Blessed.

Seba

IMG_0101

Double dark chocolate pie. Nobody said homemade was picture perfect. But damn, y’all should have see my menfolk’s eyes roll back in their heads.

1.  Yes.  I have a book, all shimmery and shiny, ready to hit the shelves as soon as I feel ready to let go.  And I STILL say: it won’t make you a kitchen witch.  (But getting your fancy ass in that kitchen and putting in the sweat just might.)

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Magic and Fairness/Roosters and Lions

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elle Wiesel

Evil requires the sanction of the victim.
Alyn Rand

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, the fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me ROAR
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me ROAR
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar!
Katy Perry, “Roar.”

It all started in the Summer of 2012.  After being gifted old layers, and two undetermined young roosters, there wasn’t much in the way of actual egg-laying going on around here.  So, I sent the hubby down the road for three young hens in hopes of baby peepers in the spring.  And Miss Peabody sat.  And sat.  And sat on the eggs.  Turns out, the remaining rooster (we gave the second away) was, well: very uninterested in females.  Which is all well and good, and even amusing, under normal circumstances.  Nary an egg was fertilized–nary an egg hatched, and strangely and without much pomp or circumstance: the hens killed the rooster.  En masse.  It was horrific, to say the least.

Sigh.  Apparently, the animal kingdom is not very invested in those who don’t pull their own weight.

After a *free-ing* of the old hens, the burial of the resistant rooster, and a *come to Zeus” meeting about the cost of feed versus the number of eggs, we decided:  chicks! back in late April.  Twelve, to be exact.  And it only took five months to figure out we had three roosters: #1.  Not so friendly to people, very protective of flock, non-aggressive to his own kind.  #2.  Murderous bastard, hated people, killed an Araucana young laying hen, attempted murder daily.  #3.  Violent to EVERYTHING chicken-related, loved humans.  All were Araucanas, so breathtaking in their feathered beauty.  And so . . . we attempted to move #2 into the adjacent coup with the three Americanas–all black–and watched in horror as he wrung their necks and went for the Hubby’s gonads.  That was all it took–the hatchet was sharpened and SFW learned lickity split how to gut and clean a rooster.  (He’s in our freezer, awaiting a special day.)  It was self-defense.  I can sleep at night.  After all, we are not raising pets, damn it.  Until . . .

#3 went on a blood rampage.  After “starting shit” with #1 (horrible losses there, no rooster pushes around #1)  and an attempt to open Miss Peabody’s neck in Coup Two, the issue of judgement was on the table.  And here’s the problem:

He’s sweet.  He cuddles in your arms.  He nuzzles and coos and APPARENTLY thinks he’s of the canine variety and would like very much to live in your house, thank you very much.

Damn it.  Houston, we have a problem.

We spent the rest of the evening asking for takers, to no avail.  And then, quite out of the blue (apparently we were too close to the situation and exhausted) it occurred to me: CHICKEN TRACTOR.

Loves his little bedroom!

Loves his little bedroom!

A home all of his own!  Helping in the garden gobbling worms, moved from site to site (pear tree, blueberry bushes, corn field) as a an independent agent.  It didn’t take a month of Sundays for me to get the bright idea of a LARGER movable tractor, or the private run alongside the coops.  And in the end?

He might have gotten the better deal than his co-chickens.

Mr. Snazzy Butt

Mr. Snazzy Butt

I would love to imagine that he somehow knew this and plotted for his individualism–but that’s not chickendom.  The boy got lucky.  And is it fair?

Well, hell naw, it ain’t fair.  If it were truly fair, he’d be living out in a gated wood, free from predators and gulleting all the corn and fresh herbs his beak could garner.  If life was fair, #2 (according to what HE thought was fair) would have been allowed to murder everything in feathers and still get fed instead of chillin’ in a deep freeze.  If life were fair, #1 would have his flock to himself and not have to put up with upstarts like #2 and #3, nor would there be hardware mesh around his home.  And all of this brings me to the point of this post:

Fairness.  (cracks knuckles) Let’s have a sit-down about fairness.

(I SO want to do a joke here about Fairness and Karma walking into a bar.  Damn it.)

I reckon the hardest lesson I ever learned was on this subject, right here.  I hollered NOT FAIR! from the time I was born and nary a time did it change anything.  It was almost like there wasn’t a magic fairness fairy in the air giving a hot damn.  Go figure?  Last week, I put this meme up on my FB civilian page:

I've attempted to find the originator of this meme.  The closest I can get is:  http://i-want-it-in-the-worst-way.tumblr.com/post/58551617524/twitter-on-we-heart-it

I’ve attempted to find the originator of this meme. The closest I can get is: http://i-want-it-in-the-worst-way.tumblr.com/post/58551617524/twitter-on-we-heart-it

I knew what it meant to me:  that expecting the world to be fair will land you in a victim’s position.  That you SHOULD be fair, but not as some form of exchange rate.  That being fair is it’s own reward and its private, rare and even spiritual.  That the world will rarely pay you tit for tat and that expecting it to do so can get you eaten.  Like that.  Most folks got it.  One?  Lost her ever-lovin-dog-shit on me.  I was accused of racism, communism, “bullshit,” and aggression to name a few.  Apparently, I’ve killed Santa and fairies and faith, all in one fell swoop.  Damn.

I’m good.

And probably would have answered that FB friend a little more, um, nasty if Rooster #3 had not taught me a lesson.  (Although, I chewed her ass up but good.)

You see, for him?  I’m the lion in this meme.  Most assuredly, I’m the lion.  (And I have no goofy ideas that he somehow “knew” his brother ended up in the freezer.  Nor do I identify him with an actual human being.  Pfft.)  But, at the end of his day, I was as fair as I could be–considering the rules of order in my home, my land and my understanding of the universe.  But from his perspective?  He should have run free in an utopian universe void of coyotes and laden with herbal goodness.  See how this works yet?

Let’s try it another way.

Should the world be fair?  DUH.  Is it?  Um, hellllllooooo?  I work a full-time job, two part-time jobs, my hubby works one full-time and one part-time.  We are, well, poor.  With no parents to pay for our educations, give us land or even a coffee pot, we are doing the best we can within our circumstances.  We love our kids, give to whomever we can, treat our land and our animals ethically and worship with fervor.  Is it fair that we don’t have the means to send our kids to college?  Hell, naw, it ain’t.  Is it fair that we struggle while others wallow in their money, hiring maids and taking vacas as if there aren’t starving people in the world?  Hell, naw.  It ain’t.  Is it fair that we both were sexually abused as children?

That rape happens every day?  That apartheid, genocide, crimes against humanity occur every second?

NO.  It certainly is not fair.

So.  What are we going to do with that?  It certainly cannot all be “Karma,” raping and murdering and generally causing inhuman asshattery across the globe on the daily.  That’s just not going to hold water, folks.  Okay.  Let’s move on to: we are being taught character.  Sista, please.  Some of us have enough by now.  So.  WTF?  Why are things soooo unfair?

And my answer to that is simple: who gives a shit?  The important thing is what are YOU going to do about it?  As Pagans?  As humans?  And for me, the answer is simple, but the implementation is complicated.

Work towards “fair.”  I know, I know.  It sounds like I am contradicting my own damn self.  But, hang in there.  We haven’t considered magic yet, the secret weapon against an unfair universe, the energy gifted unto us to untangle unfairness, to thwart asshattery and to avenge cruelty and disproportionate situations.  Magic, I contend, is the Kryptonite to “unfairness,” the great leveler to injustice and the most fair tool we harbor in our physical frames.  Some of us innately have it, some of us don’t.  And that’s not fair.  So, the question is:  how to use it?

Well.  If a lion threatens you or someone you love . . .

(Makes me think that rooster is magical, somehow.  He didn’t just holler: I’m a victim!  I’m a victim! while ripping out the throat of everything near and dear.  Naw.  Mayhap that rooster knew his situation was dire.  Mayhap he couldn’t fake his demeanor to save himself, on account of his roosterness.  But you should have seen him cuddle the hubby. You can’t fake that kind of affection, um, when you’re a rooster.  Course, he’s out there now weeding my garden and gnawing up sleeping grubs like it’s his job–because it is, now.  His situation might not be fair . . . but it’s closer.)

And none of this gets us closer to fairness.  But it does snuggle our bumms up nice and cozy to magic.  And that, Batchildren, is where we land.  Magic.  The last frontier against an unjust world, and it was there, all along.  That wondrous, liquid, non-malleable energetic force that runs straight into the mouth of “lions” like . . . it’s its job.

Because?  It is.  Those of us who have it *should* use it to level fields for others.  We *should* (but often forget) to treat it with reverence, use it communally rather than to satiate individual (rooster?) desires.  Those of us who do this already tend to be poor–all of our energy and resources focused upon the real victims out there who have not yet (or maybe never will) be capable of lifting it into the air to defend themselves.  In other words: magic and unfairness, or what some call evil, is the battle we should be fighting.

And if you expect the world to be fair, lie down and cry when it isn’t, wail against the injustice of it all while the rest of us sweat and work and fight the beasts of unfairness?  You are wasting energy.  You are carrying a protest sign (or worse, hiding in the shadows) while others are storming the castle.  Yes, you have the right to cry.  Yes, you have the right to be resentful, injured, indignant.  But if you don’t want to end up in the freezer?

Pick up the damn sword.  Hollerin’ NOT FAIR never saved a soul.  It should, but it doesn’t.

But magic, pure-unadulterated-thick-loving-justified-energy magic, does.  Every. Single.  Time.  And: if you ever find yourself to be the lion?  Remember.  You are what you eat.  :)

War Eagle.

Seba

*I adore lions. This post is in no way meant to be derogatory to lions; rather, I am using a metaphor here.  (I am rather particular and fond, however, of tigers.)  I am also not against roosters.  Or victims.  In fact, the only thing I am against in this post is Unfairness and the impulse to lay down to its altar.  Aho.

**I am also not degrading true victims.  I’ve been a rape victim, myself.  I am, however, suggesting that those of us who are strong enough to do so should fight the aggressors of victims valiantly–at least, until they find the magic (and strength) of fighting back.

***We named #1 Mufasa.  Thought y’all would enjoy that.  Still taking suggestions on #3  . . .

(I see all the places this post could have gone, but at 2044 words, I laid down my pen.)

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Dancing in the Moonlight: Celebrating Love

And the ride begins.

And the ride begins.

Little darling
It’s been a long, cold lonely winter
Little darling
It feels like years since it’s been here.
“Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles.

“Do you ever just put your arms out and just spin and spin and spin? Well, that’s what love is like; everything inside of you tells you to stop before you fall, but for some reason you just keep going.”
Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman

I remember it so well and the weather today is helping.  Summer 2008.  I had not dated in nine and a half years–the grind of grad school, publishing and raising three kids had taken precedence.  And it should have.

But I was lonely.

It was sweltering.  Late July, sweat running in and out of strange places and doing strange chemistry in all of them.  My teen boys were coming undone, having come back to Alabama from an alien run of professorship in the midst of summer, and rarely home.  So there I was.  A teacher without a class, waiting for fall.  Waiting.

The night I called for him, it was just my sister and I on the porch.  (So many magical things happen on porches in the South.)  I carefully wrote my list, no longer afraid to get what I was asking for:

1.  Loyal, beyond normal reasoning.
2.  Kind and good to my children.
3.  Funny and creative.
4.  Non-abusive.
5.  Spiritual and accepting of my path.

And the list went on and on.  It was an old, Southern spell:  write down 100 things you want in your mate.  Sleep on it.  The next day, knock the list down to 50.  Continue until you get your top 10.  Bury with rose petals next to a blessed tree close to your home.  Wait.

Believe.

Magic is strangely, belligerently simple.  What we call “loopholes,” it often uses to run energy along and through by determined currents.  My loophole?  Well.  I had forgotten age.  I had forgotten income.  But:  I damn skippy had not forgotten the meat of the thing.  And so . . .

There he stood one week later, bouncing at a local bar in a black t-shirt and making me feel like a cradle-robbing cougar for noticing.  I was forty-two, he was twenty-seven and looked younger.  The details of what came next are fairly private: it was hot that summer.  Why, even the bees vibrated at night, the pines were taller and our mosquitos looked like aircraft carriers.  And what was happening in our little town was nothing short of an epic throw-down between desire, will and a fat dose of temporary insanity.  No one was immune.

Pre-hubby.  What a summer!

Pre-hubby. What a summer!

I had whipped up a tornado.  Dogs howled, folks lost their damn minds and I reckon part of that one is on me, magically speaking.  Some might still blame their own misbehavior and shenanigans on my little “unleashing” of passion in 2008.  Might, I dunno.  Mayhap we are all, in the end, accountable for our own hot mess.

But in the end?  Love won.  He knelt on crunchy orange leaves in October, a simple leather ring on a napkin, and asked me to risk my nice, solid, boring life for one that regarded valleys and truth over financial security and a 401k.  On December 6th, two women officiated what we later affectionately deemed: The Redneck Magic Potluck Wedding.  A seventies-tastic soundtrack wore our stomping feet into the wee hours.

To Hell With The Dress

To Hell With The Dress

I ended up in jeans–on account of you can’t get down hiking up a dress.  And, even now, I can hear that song winding in and out of a December night:

Summer romance, spinning into Yule, bringing back the taste of magic with the return of the sun.  And that is what it all was.

Who needs heels?

Who needs heels?

The return of the sun.  I had waited so long to love again.  So long, thinking no one would ever accept my weird, love my strange.  Holding out all those years, waiting.  I walked down the aisle to:

While my dear German friend belted her heart out, sick as a dog.  Because that’s what it was.

Me and the Bestie: The Madonna pose.

Me and the Bestie: The Madonna pose.

Magic.  Pure, chaotic, purposeful, unadulterated magic.

Tonight, we celebrate our anniversary with two of the dear friends that attended that blessed eve.  Two other couples, just as dear and present that night in 2008, are still very much in our lives–celebrating our friendship with as much vehemence as the sun returning after a long passage through a wintery hell.  Those of whom we have lost were not meant for this kind of day: warmth against ice, faith against circumstance, light drowning out the darkness.  And tonight, I want you all to celebrate with me, and my love, and remember something pure you might have left in the colors and naiveté of your childhood:

Love.  Always.  Wins.

Blessed Be.  May you all resist settling for what may be and cast for what you deserve.  Ask yourself: are you willing to stay safe?

Or fall?

Seba

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