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