Tonight’s pure white silver moon is a coin dropped in the well of cosmic waters. Wrapped in my cloak and lying on moist earth, I dive in, and I am the well maiden, guarding mysteries of the deep. A jeweled sword is in my grasp for any brave enough to reach for it.
Soon, too soon, I creep back across illuminated grass, its wetness leaving secret footprints up the walk to my domestic world again- and I sleep with dreams of grails, and heroes kneeling at the altar of the eternity I weave by hand from my whispers and strands of my hair.
Last night, I tell you, the air was full of spirits. I walked outside into the darkness with my dog for his last outing of the night and the misty thickness wrapped around me like velvet. I could see out into the meadow beyond that it was likewise thick with mist. More to the point, I couldn’t see out into it at all. The mist was like a living thing, swimming along the blades of grass, and wildflowers, into my yard, and across my face and hair.
In the corner of the yard where trees cover the boundary between my space and the park came cracking, just a wee bit, like branches under the feet of wildlife. I paused and looked down at my dog who paused long enough to look at me and try to figure out why I wasn’t wandering around. He heard nothing, or if he did, he was supremely uninterested. Therefore, I’m quite sure it wasn’t a deer or another critter or he would be after it like a shot. It was something more interesting.
I looked longingly into the misty dark where something out there wanted to play. I wanted to as well. I could feel the wildness well up into my chest and my pulse speed up just so slightly in my ears in readiness to run for that field, through that field, listen to it, dance with it, speak to the spirits of the night. The grass was so soft and dampened under my bare feet. The earth was so rich. The spirits were waiting.
Then the litany of “I have to” sentences came and crushed wildness right out of me.
I have to get the dog inside
I have to wear appropriate clothes if I intend to go out there
I have to wear bug spray because there are ticks
I have to be aware that I’m a woman and 34 acres of darkness isn’t too safe
I have to get to bed
I felt all of my social programming completely defeat me, and the eagerness drain right back down through my feet sadly into the earth. I felt all of the “be realistic” and “be an adult” and “you have responsibilities,” come and ruin everything.
Truth be told, if I were unmarried and childless, I would have ignored most of that list. Sure, I’m not okay with the tick thing but putting on pants and bug spray would solve the only two “have to” items I cared about. In would go the dog, and out I would go, to dissolve into the foggy dark. I’m not afraid for my safety, and I was not tired.
Things change after marriage and kids, though. At least, they did for me. While all of the household was perfectly safe and I was not needed, I would have to inform my husband that I’d be out for a bit. No problem. However, being very practical, he would ask me to bring a flashlight and bring one of the two way radios in case I need to call for help, and don’t forget that bug spray, and isn’t it a little late for this, and shouldn’t you be getting to bed? Etc. He would say all of the stuff I had already said to myself because the real world “have to” list is a real thing. Grown women don’t run around in 34 acres of dark fog alone at night when they really should be in bed. What kind of example does that set for the kids? Alleged maturity. It ruins everything.
I’m not an idiot; I wouldn’t do something that was honestly dangerous. I do know the difference. But I’ve been “adulted” and civilized and constrained. I walked back into the house. I whispered goodbye to whatever was in that back corner under the trees. I got into bed and I wondered, am I living authentically? Nope. How many nights of full moons or eclipses or tree frogs or falling leaves have I denied myself due to the real or perceived pressure of “real life and responsibilities”? So many.
When did I allow this all to happen? There’s a reason the kids are happier. They are more free. I can have them come inside for the night, but their hearts don’t give up on the dream of what it will be like when they’re grown and no one makes them come inside. Apparently I parent myself right into bed even though I’m finally free to do as I please, and have been for a long time now.
So now I added a “have to” to my list. I have to figure out how to fix all that. Wish me luck.
I was pretty agitated through this substantial task, because the whole big thing was a train wreck. Chaos fest.
So as I gathered up and put away every jar of herbs, every vial of oils, every pen and bit of paper, the random charms and spilled garden soil, crystals, feathers, and stray poplar buds, I realized, “It got this way because magic was afoot.”
Big magic in my wild world doesn’t consist of perfectly painted or chalked out symbols on a mysterious, immaculate temple floor or hooded, robed people chanting the ineffable names of who knows what, wreathed in candlelight and swimming in the smoke of rich incense.
While that does sound kinda fun, that’s not what big magic looks like in my kingdom.
Big magic looks like herb bits everywhere, and a candle dripping wax over there on the altar cloth that will take me forever to get out. It looks like charms, twine and stones and roots, feathers, and drops of my blood.
It’s mixed in with hand drawn personal sigils and my squirrely penmanship I can’t quite read- but it’s okay because I don’t need to.
Big magic smells like extremely fragrant oils I just spilled right in my lap and for sure on the carpet. It smells like my hair starting to burn because I bent too close to the candle to reach for the water from the holy spring. It smells like the lavender in the bowl to my left and dusty angelica powder.
Magic tastes like sticky honey in a jar with prayers tucked in, or pennies in chalices of water or corn meal and salt all over my table top. It looks like my mom’s thimble collection in her china cabinet next to little bottles of my “come to me” oil, a half burned novena candle, ashes of incense, and a handful of skeleton keys.
My magic sounds like the wind outside my window, a dog barking down the street, the crackling candle flame, and precisely the right song coming through my earbuds to which I hum along- probably off key.
Wild magic feels like creeping up the stairs and the hot shower when it’s all done and the exhausted sigh because privacy only happens when it’s way past my bed time. It feels like my eyes fluttering shut, and my skin on smooth bed sheets.
Magic feels like sweet secrets that are gone by morning.
Yes, there’s a mess to clean after enchantment has been brewing. The disaster is sublime. My witchcraft is not pretty enough for instagram. I walk between worlds, whispering incoherent things with my hair in a messy pony and probably wearing pajamas. Yet, when I return later to find golden threads of magic I have woven in between all of the bits of chaos, I know it has flown true.
Well, we’re almost into July now so it seems like a strange time for a Land/Sea/Sky sorta witch to talk about sowing. I know. Yet, as I was weeding my super duper weedy little amateur garden, I was doing some thinking.
I’m growing a few veggies, and some fruits and a few flowers and herbs. Surrounding them all is the relentless army of weeds. We have finally gotten some rain and I use the water from the rain barrel (glorified bucket…..) to water in between rains. I really think the water fresh from the sky does a better job for my plants than the sprinkler.
It’s a good metaphor for life. If we want to grow good plants, we need to start from healthy seed. If we want to those plants to yield, we need to nourish them well.
People speak of the same when it comes to our magical practice. People talk about the importance of making good reciprocal offerings to the spirits of nature and guides, etc, if we want to have a good yield from our magical work. I don’t necessarily disagree. It makes sense.
Yet, I think it’s easy to overlook an even more fundamental step. What use is a glorious offering to nature if we do not attend to the care, nourishment and love of our selves? If we are not whole and healthy ourselves, how can we expect our magic to flourish?
After all, *we* are the ultimate offering that we make to the magical world every day. We need to cultivate ourselves; care for ourselves.
If you show me a witch who is horrible at self care, I can tell you that she or he also isn’t getting much magic done. I have been that witch so I’m not judging; just stating a fact. Just like you would not offer crappy offerings to the spirits, you cannot offer your untended self to be part of the magical world and expect great results.
Just like you cannot make a garden flourish with motor oil, you cannot make your magic flourish with a polluted life. Your pollution could be poor health choices, horrible relationships, toxic vocational situations, over-commitment, and lack of self love.
Every good person I have known has faced at least one of these. There’s no shame in it, but we have to fix that mess if we want our magic to flourish.
It can start simple. Little seeds of self care is all it takes to start. An extra couple glasses of water. An extra fifteen minutes of exercise. An extra phone call to a friend, or a few extra minutes to read. Stretch. Maybe say no to something you’ve been saying yes to because you feel guilty. A hot bath.
So maybe your little seeds of self care will take off slow like the watermelon ones I planted in my garden that are still microscopic.
Or, perhaps your little seeds are going to burst out everywhere and take over and run amok like weeds. That’s okay too! Some of what we call “weeds” are the prettiest thing growing in the ground on any given day.
They’re also tenacious, and that’s a good quality to have. Plant a couple of self-care seeds this week okay? I’ll do the same. Report back! You can use the comments below or the contact form. 🙂
Through my many travels in literature and writing, I developed a project that examined fairy tale heroines from some of the most well known stories, including Snow White, or as the Brothers Grimm titled her, “Little Snow White.”
The Grimm version tends to be a bit darker than the Disney one many of us encountered on film, but the general theme remains the same: wicked stepmother is jealous of step daughter’s radiant beauty and tries to kill her off. Sometime soon we’ll discuss another way to look at the stepmother but not today.
The “old woman is evil, young beautiful (and docile) woman is worthy of being loved” is a common motif with so many useful and rich themes in it, there’s no way to capture that all here. I just want to carve a bit off of it.
Today’s reflection is that Snow White is quite nearly a non-person in all versions of the story I have come across. She has no kind of judgment at all. Yes, she is young. We have some sympathy for her, sure. She was minding her own business, and then her stepmother had her taken to the woods to be killed. Not cool.
However, after she was safely rescued by the dwarves, and they told her “for crying out loud, do not answer the door,” she keeps answering the door for her tricky murdering rival. A pretty ribbon to tie up your corset? Sure! Suffocated by corset and dead.
A lovely (poisoned) comb for your hair? Sure, why not.
A beautiful delicious apple? Well, you know I got killed twice already
but that apple looks nice so I suppose….
The only direction she hears is from the dwarves and even that direction, she does not follow.
After a somewhat disturbing scene in which a prince is desperate to purchase her body in its glass casket (creepy and filled with subtext), she’s delivered from death by accident. The prince declares that loves loves loves her! (Bear in mind, she’s been dead their whole acquaintance) Because she was chosen by a prince while she was prettily dead, she gets to be the queen. Happily ever after.
She did not even need to be *alive* as long as she was beautiful. That’s messed up, and it demonstrates what folklore taught girls about their role in life, what love is, and why following the rules of the men is best. If girls really mess up, they may yet be rescued by a prince…if they’re pretty enough.
But time has passed. One cannot simply be dead and pretty if they want the crown.
Sovereignty involves the ability to reason through hard moments. In our lives, perhaps someone wants to undermine us at work, or sow dissension in our relationship, or generally make us feel terrible, verbally abuse us, and turn it around to make it seem our fault.
All kinds of nastiness happens in daily life. And let’s be honest-sometimes we are unkind to ourselves and we don’t need a villain. Doesn’t matter if we’re pretty. No one is going to hand us our own personal power, while we lay around functionally dead or inactive.
Take advice, sure. Always accept wise counsel and consider it. Also, don’t get me wrong; if someone rushes in when you need help, don’t let that resource just pass by. Building allies is good. Waiting for rescue is not.
Be ready to kick down the evil queen’s door and run her out of town. Be ready to slap the poison apple out of the enemy’s hand and say, “no thank you.” You’re probably going to have to do it yourself, and when you’re done, put another jewel from the shadows in your crown. You earned it.