Deep Winter

We magical folk always tell each other, “Be careful what you wish for.” The kicker is that what we want sometimes turns around and wants us in return. And then—it gets us.

Let’s just say I’ve been got.

I’ve always wanted to write a memoir about some of the particularly nasty experiences I have been in and borne witness to as a witch, surrounded by witches. My justification for never finishing the thing was that I didn’t know the ending. Good writing knows where it’s going. Even if the writer doesn’t know at first, the story itself leaves a trail of breadcrumbs along the way; a good writer can find that trail and follow it home. The breadcrumbs have finally settled and I can begin to digest the trail—but I’m not sure I really even want to follow it back home. Because, ew. Maybe in my old age.

Yes, I realize that birds are a problem in my metaphor.

Around about this time last year, I left off drafting a memoir and started writing A Year With The Dísr, a ritual book of sorts crafted especially for my kindred. I thought, “Well, the seasons are cyclical. I don’t need to know the end.” What I didn’t know was that I was going to have to live the cycle in order to truly write from a place of deliberateness. I drafted that one and it rang as hollow—a set of rote formulae for seasonal rituals like every other rote formula for seasonal ritual. I wanted a stronger sense of gnosis to guide me in uncovering the Mysteries of creation, death, and rebirth.

Be careful what you want; it might just want you in return.

So, about 117 pages in, I put it aside. And not exactly by choice—it seemed something wanted me enough to pull my by the ear and teach me a cosmic lesson.

Two years ago, we changed the name of our kindred and changed the emphasis of our attentions. Immediately after that, we started seeing purposeful growth. But Midsummer of 2013 saw a boom in attendance and participation—a heyday, if you will. As summer turned to autumn, we saw hardship and loss (strikingly manifest at our Lammas celebration)—and we faced it as a family. That Yule, in good Heathen fashion, we did what we had to do and culled out the resources that were most draining and fed that which would bring us most strength. (I’m not talking about people necessarily, rather activities and goals.) We held a celebration the following January and solidified our commitment to each other. Oimelc/Imbolc followed and spring saw an uphill battle—especially for a few of our members. By Midsummer we were, again, firm in frith and expansively joyful. However, as the season waned to Lammas, so did so much else. This time, I had to face much of it without my kindred—not because they abandoned me, mind you; but because two really wicked incidents derailed our Mabon and Yule celebrations, leaving only a Winternights celebration in between.

Around October, things took a turn for some of us. Winter was deep, lemme tell ya. But I kept saying to everyone, maybe in hopes that it was true for me too, that the fire was returning with the spring. The land would renew with the sun. Day would dawn.

This was a genuine test of Faith—capitol F, Faith. If I really believed that as the seasons turned, our lives followed suit, I had to believe that in the crocus there is Hope—capitol H, Hope. Headed for another Oimelc/Imbolc, I can already feel the stirrings of profound optimism.

Don’t get me wrong, on paper it looks like life is shite right now. I’m still seeing clients but basically out of work—my beloved vocation as teacher unfairly torn from me and with that, a large part of my identity. Some dear friends are facing total devastation and, as is my calling, I find myself a rock in a tumultuous sea—this is rewarding but simultaneously draining. You know this, I’m sure. At 15, 18, and 20, my kids are facing their own challenges, but we are facing them together and head-on. One of the blessings of Deep Winter has been that my husband and I are clinging to each other in a way that the previous 25 years only dreamed of. Communication and trust are at an all-time high and anxiety and hostility at an all-time low. Spring brings with it the promise of a full partnership: familial, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Winter was rough but it doesn’t depart without some beautiful recompenses.

Another of those reassurances is the return of my kin. With that comes the return of my inspiration to write, to finish projects left-off in despair. There is renewed inspiration to strengthen old community relationships and build new ones—while steadfastly avoiding toxicity. Inspiration—even leaders need a muse, and I have rediscovered mine in my kin. For a minute, I wasn’t sure we would even reconvene at Oimelc, but I am looking forward to the respite that comes in the arms of people who love me dearly—even when I feck it all up. “Even if the bread isn’t fully baked.”

And, of course, even par-baked bread can leave a crumb-trail to follow home.

Now that I’ve experienced two full years that rise and fall with the seasons, I feel that my wish has been granted. I have seen the death and rebirth of creativity, security, affection, and all those other things that make the world go ‘round in a directly personal way that has edified me. I can apply this cosmic education to the project at hand in a way that makes it more than rote formulae.

And, having taken a few hour hiatus in the composition of this post to talk to a magical student, I have a plan for the next round of perfectly timed priesthood preparation.

Though Deep Winter held its hidden blessings, I’ll be happy to see the fire of spring return. And though it was a rough row to hoe, I’m blessed to have gotten what I wanted.

Brace yourself. Spring is coming.

Advertisements

Dark Night of the Soul 2.0

I did that thing where I exposed my heart and then ended up surprised to see it thoroughly trampled. Silly me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not maudlin or melodramatically, romantically distraught. My heart’s just broken. It hurts and it’s exhausting.

And I’m not a kid. I’ve had plenty of heartbreak. Ain’t none of it ever measured up to this.

You see–over my six-month hiatus, I had a bit of a life-changing adventure. The beginning of the year saw me defeated by a number of things in my personal life and left me questioning all those things which I imagined as “essential” to my identity.

  • A good mother
  • A strong leader
  • An ethical person
  • A spiritual person
  • An effective teacher

Things happened with my kids, my job, my marriage, my tribe, my family of origin, my physical household–all of which left me ready to fling up my hands. Not bad things (mostly–one was pretty damned bad), just irksome thing that didn’t win out on the side of benefit when considering cost. Then Midsummer rolled around and I had something to hang on to. Something easy that was all benefit. Something sparked in me and I had the tenacity to move through the rest of the year. Something saved my effing life–and I didn’t even realize it needed saving. If you read my post from August, you know I had taken a turn for the outright hopeful.

I felt as if everything was divinely ordained. That, for whatever reason, the divine was placing me in a particular position to do something good. Or at least meaningful. Even if only on the personal level. And I needed something good and meaningful on the personal level–so this was a real boon for my ailing spirit. I really listened to spiritual guidance and chose my steps with great care and deliberation. They weren’t all easy, trust me. This road was paved with shards of glass. But it seemed an absolutely worthwhile road–and I was alive. 

Yeah. Well. All things end. This one just ended abruptly and in a way that leaves me asking why the gods put me in such a position in the first place.

I’m pretty sure I misstepped and had the cosmic rug pulled out from under me because I was “disobedient.” We don’t really think in terms of “sin” and “damnation” but there is a sense of “obedient” and “punitive.” Plus, the one sort-of (it’s too complicated and personal to write about) triggered the other. It’s hard not to see a connection instead of a mere corollary.

Nearly Winter Solstice and the decline comes with the seasons. Ah, I love a good pathetic fallacy.

When I saw the end approaching, I have to admit, it was damned hard not to whip up the witchyness. It has taken a good deal of willpower to keep myself from tossing magic on top of desire and the fear of loss. There’s a part of me that knew from experience that all I had to do was *that one thing* and I could turn the tide for myself. But, there’s the other part of me that knew from experience that the unintended consequences, “Monkey Paw Style,” of magical intervention can be devastating.

Yesterday was my birthday and in 36 hours I managed to accumulate more loss than in the past year combined. Today I’m struggling against anguish that crushes in waves, leaving me gasping for air as I get pulled under again.

The thing about mourning is that it comes and goes. I know this. Eventually it comes less often and stays gone longer. But when too many losses happen at once, the mourning tends to get confused. The feelings of loss for one thing (that might have been manageable on its own) gets conflated with and compounded by other losses.

Some might say I’m embarking on The Dark Night of the Soul, after which I will find peace and enlightenment. Part 220px-JohnCrossof me says, “I hope so.” The rest of me says, “Bah.” I never much bought into Eckhart Tolle anyhow.

But considering this term, “dark night of the soul,” goes back to–at least–Saint John of the Cross, I can consider it in Tolle’s terms without too much chagrin.

It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. … Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.  Sometimes it’s triggered by some external event, some disaster perhaps, on an external level.  The death of someone close to you could trigger it, especially premature death, for example if your child dies.  Or you had built up your life, and given it meaning – and the meaning that you had given your life, your activities, your achievements, where you are going, what is considered important, and the meaning that you had given your life for some reason collapses.

It’s a great way to approach the holiday season–I promise that’s irony.

Rather than flinging my pain outward with magic or banal actions that potentially cause more damage, I’m spending some quality time in my head with some awesome poets.

I think Kahlil Gibran captured the experience of The Dark Night of the Soul best in his poem, “Defeat,” from The Madman:

defeat

I’ve not come to terms yet with the final line–do I really want to be dangerous? Part of me cringes, the other part says, “Hell yeah.” Someone recently said to me that there was no one more dangerous than the person with nothing left to loose. I argued that a witch with nothing left to lose was more dangerous than anything.

I suppose the trick is to hang on to at least one last shred of something that’s worth losing. It’s a risky business: caring. It’s a sight riskier to stop caring, throw caution to the wind, and cast blindly into the aether for a balm or compensation for loss. Better to just vomit and move on. It’s working for me today.

If you’re in a dark spot, hang on. Morning comes. And I’ll be on the other side of night looking for you.

 

And because it’s therapeutic, I’ll be writing about “regret” and “remorse” over the weekend using T.V. Tropes and Idioms at The Big Bad Words Blog.

Big Bad Words

The Bad Witch uses Bad Words.

92nwBbv

 

Seems logical. If you want to see some of my bad words, go look here.

http://thebigbadwordsblog.wordpress.com/

 It’s secular and has almost nothing to do with what you read here, but it’s my word-doctor-voice.

Strange and Change

This is really odd.

I’ve seen an overwhelming spike in traffic on my web-presences in the last few months without doing anything. Literally—without even posting a single status. If you read this blog regularly (or even if you’re one of my new acquaintances and just take a peek at the posting dates), you know that I have been comparitively silent for about six months. Life has been a roller-coaster and I’ve been holding on, white-knuckled, during the loopty-loops.

I admit, it does make me a little paranoid to see that I have 403 new views in any given week. And it’s not just here—it’s on my Academia.com profile, my LinkedIn profile, Facebook—both witchy pages and homesteading pages. Like I said, it’s odd.

So, for anyone stalking me, investigating me, or simply interested in me and my daily totterings about, here’s what’s what over by here.

  • I’ve (almost completely) decided to leave the academy permanently and am looking at re-entering the corporate world. The pay is—no exaggeration—300% better, the people suck less, and there are tons of perks (like potentially working from home). So, having spent the last six months filling out teaching applications for jobs starting in August 2015, I’ve started looking at jobs that will make way for a “real” summer vacation. In Italy.
  • Speaking of applications, it’s college application deadline season and I’m pulling teeth to get transcripts and test scores together for my son, the professional procrastinator. But one perk is a foreseeable campus visit to Savannah.
  • I received encouraging legal information and it looks like I’m about to dive in to get some sort of settlement on the past year’s BS.
  • My love-life has been tumultuous but rewarding. My social-life has taken a profound shift for the better. My interior-life is—well, sort of in limbo if I’m being entirely honest. But as soon as the weather breaks, I look forward to getting out of my own head, redecorating a few rooms, and changing things visibly for the better. Other than that, the chickens are chickens, the bees are bees, the dogs are dogs, and the cats are cats.
  • But my artistic life—even if it’s not publicly evident —is blossoming. I’ve been writing poetry again and am submitting poems for publication. I’m painting again—mostly experimental techniques, so it’s hit or miss.
  • And I’m taking an extended break in teaching and tribal leadership to finish all of the writing projects I’ve started over the past two years.
  • Aaaand—I cut off all my hair again. I do this from time to time—seems to coincide with the urge to redecorate. Anyone of you who’s been here knows what this is all about.
  • Another thing that’s about to be revampped is my writing habits. I’ve taken a very necessary hiatus from blogging and am now ready to start putting my thoughts into words again. A great many things have substantially changed for me over the past six months, so you can expect to hear a change in my theological perspective as well as the rest of my worldview. Along with the loss of ten inches of hair and nearly three stone of body, I’m a different person than I was six months ago. Trauma will do that. Ironically, these changes are because I have reclaimed the person I was before all the trauma. I’m sure I’ll explore that in writing soon enough.

With that, I leave you for the porch and a girlfriend who brings me Diet Coke, cigarettes, and smoked bacon because it’s Tuesday.

And I leave you with the quote that has gotten me through the last leg of this wild ride:

HairBeingPulled

 

 

Samhain and Winternights

Looks like I’ve been at this Community Building thing for six years and this blogging thing for four. I’m always amazed when I go back and read posts from years past. Enjoy.

Witchcraft From Scratch

Samhain-Altar-2007-small

I found the article I referenced in my last post and was reminded that it was for the newsletter for The United Pagan Federation (October 2012). If you are interested, here it is:

Most Pagans recognize the term Samhain (pronounced: sow-an), meaning “summer’s end,” as the “Celtic” origins of Halloween. There are plenty of mythologies surrounding that particular night (or nights), but we aren’t exactly sure what the pre-Christian Celts, Gaels (Picts), and Manx did to celebrate—if the celebrated at all—because their custom was to pass knowledge down in secret, without writing much down at all. But we do know that Samhain was relatde to the nights that separated the warm seasons from the cold seasons (either the beginning or the end of summer). Unlike the equinox, when the light half of the day could be measured against the dark half of the day with great accuracy, many scholars believe that Samhain…

View original post 757 more words

Irony, Theater, and Even More George Bailey

Yes. As you can likely guess, a lot has been going on in life that has kept me from writing. Many, many wonderful new things have entered my life and they require nurturing and careful attention. (There is, of course, a smattering of SSDD at several WTFs an hour, but that doesn’t even bear discussion–also I know when to keep my mouth shut.) One of the emotional-whiplash inducing effects of being a proper magical-type is that we get what we want, but it doesn’t always arrive in the vehicle we imagined.

And, in my experience, the universe lurves the heck out of some irony. Not that I don’t appreciate a good cosmic guffaw–I can laugh at myself as well as the next witch. Or at least as well as the next witch should–we know what we’ve signed up for. And I often get a hearty belly-laugh from the way the universe chooses to dole out “blessings” (typically with my fists raised, alternating between gratitude and utter confusion, and with “WHY” in the back of my throat). I love irony. We have to in our line, right? Remember always, “The Witches’ ‘Duh‘.”

Irony is the way of the aether.

That’s about what’s what up in here. Everything is truly good–but everything truly good requires a lot of fecking work. And appreciation for irony. And emotional-whiplash.

But, I thought I’d take a break from this magically delicious week and fill you in on a few things. If the ins-and-outs of my (rather humdrum at times) life amuses you–read on. Because that’s all this post is really about. No deep insights. No flowery language. Just me, shooting the breeze.

spread

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long at all, you know how I feel about George Bailey. (If not, here y’go.) And if you’ve read even this far in this post, you know how I feel about irony. I hate one and adore the other.

So, get this.

A couple of months ago a dear friend came to my door and said, “We need to do something just for us.” Of course, I agreed. This friend and I have spent years wrapped up in our childrens’ lives and never really bonded over anything other than child-rearing and kindred-building. “Just us” sounded splendorous. “How about instead of trucking the kids to theater practice all the time we try out for a play?” Dude. This friend and I have been buds since our grown boys were in grammar school together. She knows my sweet-spots.

Side Note: The play was changed at the last minute. Charles Dickens was scheduled but there was a copyright issue. So the play was changed to something that made me laugh so hard I cried.

I spent all of my high school and most of my undergraduate years on some sort of stage. I joked that I went into teaching for the “captive audience.” My theatrical resumé is both impressive and embarrassing–as most theatrical resumés are. I’ve played everything from Velma Kelly to Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace (with full-body fat-suit to make me look less apparently female). I’ve played boys. I’ve played girls. I’ve played mystical creatures. I’ve been the trollop. I’ve been the unkissed virgin. I’ve been the crone. I’ve been the vaporish-aunt. I’ve been the vindictive daughter. I’ve been the lead. I’ve been ensemble. Ain’t much I haven’t done. One thing I never played was an elderly man.

Well, ladies and gentalmen? It was thisclose.

Another side note: My daughter is playing the male lead in the high school Fall play currently running this weekend. She’s magnificent.

I went to audition for that play. And as I sat reading the monologues, I wondered just precisely what role I even cared to play. I mean, I kinda hate this particular story and fairly all of the characters involved. That’s when the director announced that she had licence to “gender-bend” the roles. And I had it. I knew. In my bones. Even before I introduced myself to a director who had heretofore only worked with my children. I knew I had the role.

By now, you may be wondering what play our little community theater is presenting this holiday season.

By now you may have guessed if you have payed attention to my thoughts about irony.

Wait for it.

This November, my community theater group is presenting It’s A Wonderful Life, adapted for stage by Anthony Palermo. And I will be playing the role of “Ms Potter”–who hates George Bailey.

pic_giant_100312_C

I won’t be cross-dressing for this role (much) nor be in a wheelchair (much) but will be taking a rather Cruella Deville in Prada tack on the anti-George Bailey–complete with a thick white streak in my hair (per the costume director’s suggestion–I squeed). The big problem has become that I adore the young man playing George. It’s kinda hard to hate him.

So. Irony. Yes. But where’s the magic?

In a life that’s often overwrought with (actual) doctors, (actual) lawyers, and (actual) Indian chiefs, I stole a moment for myself. In days that often leave me asking for divine affirmation–this. This is the highly ironic answer I was given: “A’right, you wanna venture back onto the small stage? Here ya go. You wanna know if your life is on the right track? Oohkaaay … but don’cha know all divine answers are like a slap upside the head? Quit asking.”

With all the fun of Mercury in Retrograde and upcoming Winternights/Samhain celebrations, I’ve felt pulled in more directions than C3PO on Bespin’s Cloud City. But the silly, ironic, time-consuming reward of being part of this little production is knowing that my gods can still laugh at me and yet allow me to laugh along with them (both at them and at myself).

Obviously, It’s a Wonderful Magical Life. Even when it feels like Pitfall! level 50. Some misguided angel may just show up and save your life by jumping off a bridge in front of you.

See? Told ya. Nothing profound to see here this time.

Hee-haw and Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls.

06

Migration and Housekeeping

If you’ve been reading with me long enough, you know that I have/had another blog called The Bad Witch Files. I’m in the process of migrating those posts here.

1343980836735_1343980836735_r

 

I don’t plan to delete TBW Files, so old links will still work. I just ask that you pardon the toodling that is bound to happen over the next week or so.