Cutting Through the Smoke

IMG_6601I began this blog as an outlet to share my thoughts on magic, politics, and my particular spiritual practices for two main reasons:

Firstly, I lost one of my closest friends and confidants this summer. He was my first introduction to a powerful, righteous witch. He was also my mentor. When I met him, he had become burnt out as a teacher and thus never suggested taking me on as a student. However, through the years as our friendship progressed, he taught me much about the craft through example, through working magic and rituals together, and from our many philosophical conversations.

He and I were very different. I was attracted to traditional craft, steeped in lore with a dark aesthetic beauty that glitters like garnets. He was a Reclaiming witch, who practiced from a perspective of social justice, and his spellwork leant itself more to emotional and social healing. He was a sociologist by trade, so it made sense that his approach to magic reflected his understanding of dysfunctional political systems.

When he passed unexpectedly, it upended my world. I needed comfort and guidance through this rough time, and yet my brother and soul friend was not there to steer me through it. I depended so much on him, but never realized exactly how much, how very vital he was to my existence.  He was my sounding board and his absence has left a large hole. I hope to make this blog my sounding board where I can work out the details of my own philosophies and enrich my craft. This blog will be dedicated to his memory.

Secondly, there has been a pernicious infiltration of extreme right-wing ideas into both witchcraft and paganism, both here in the States and abroad. This runs quite counter to everything I have always believed these practices/philosophies to be founded on. When I was a child before I even had a name for these things, they were my escape and shelter from a conventional and deeply conservative upbringing, an upbringing that said you must make yourself to be a square peg- if you weren’t born one- to fit in a square hole and there are no other options. Coming from such a background and finding relief within pagan witchcraft, it seems very strange that others come to it with such closed-minded stereotypical ideas, wanting  to push everyone back into those square holes. Are not witches and pagans a phenomenon because we don’t fit into those tightly constrained social categories, and that maybe we never wanted to?

Paganism is the spiritual outlet of the creative mind, and witchcraft is the practice of those outside the norm. We see that the world is more full of gray areas and that not everything is as it seems. That requires a mind with far less limits, a mind that sees most barriers as figments of social creation, a curtain to be pulled revealing the truth. That is not the purview of the right-wing hysteria we are now witnessing infiltrating every corner of paganism and witchcraft. Those things are not for the white supremacist,; not for the nativist, nationalist, tribalist mentality that right-wing conservatism promotes. Their mantra is “conform, be different and be damned.”

Therefore, I wanted this blog to be a getaway from the creeping authoritarianism so prevalent today, a pocket of air through so much filthy smoke. So if you’re a lefty of any stripe: democratic socialist, socialist, Marxist, communist, anarchist, progressive, free-thinking liberal, or just plain old open-minded witch or pagan, please pull up a chair and relax.

Now a little about myself. I was born and raised and still live in the heart of Appalachia, in a wild land of ancient rolling mountains and mist within a river valley whose fog is as thick and alive as any found in San Francisco. If you go out on an early autumn morning and walk into it, you may lose yourself never to return.

I live in a town, one of the few in a largely rural state, but even so no more than a ten minute drive in any direction will put you in the deep center of rural America.

Storytelling and magic is embedded in the culture and the land here. Nearly everyone of old Appalachian stock has a story of a great grandfather, grandmother, or strange aunt who employed magic in one fashion or another.  I myself have family members spoken of in hushed voices. Sadly, I never knew them and so have never been sure if any of the stories were true or just colorful exaggerations.

I have a husband and son and far too many animal friends for my income. My husband is a Christian, but in a very loose sense. My son knows I’m a witch but we don’t talk about that to outsiders because that can get a kid beat up or otherwise ostracized in this crazy paradoxical place. We live in an old drafty house with a wild unkempt yard filled with all sorts of plants and critters not usually found in town. I work magic when I get spare moments but think and read about it obsessively. If you think we might have a bit in common feel free to drop in and we’ll cut a pocket in the smoke together.



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