Tiny Hearths Everywhere: Nobody Loves No One (This World Is Only Gonna Break Your Heart)
I may not have book learnin’/ but I have charms to win the race. . . – “Thimble Island”, Rasputina
Sarah Lawless gently but firmly busted open the flood gates of what’s been on my mind magically since . . .since I realized I would never be a ceremonialist with formal training because it’s not where my head or heart is. I also realized somewhere in there that I would never be of the dirt worshipping variety of Pagan/Occultist either which felt really isolating and lonesome because I felt like those were the camps I had to chose from until I realized that the Romans were Pagan and had no problem living in towns and going about their business without forced time in the woods or initiated practice. I’m never going to be gathering herbs in the woods. I’m unlikely to have children, so I can’t relate to the Pagan mom blogs. I don’t do a lot of high woo ceremonial worker. I’m shit at meditating. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Sometimes it feels more of my magical practice is about what I don’t do than what I do.
Over the last year though, I’ve realized more about who I am and what I do. That I’m hearth based. I like large group rites but I also like my solitary practices. Glamour is important to me. My hearth is important to me. My gods are important to me. Most of the time, that’s enough but sometimes it feels v. “blahblahblah nothing to add to any conversation that happens on the blogosphere ever”.
I’m in a weird place, because I try to keep things as real as possible when talking about my magical practice. This means I’m not constantly telling you how awesome I am due to my magical practice and how awesome you’ll be if you just do what I do. Slapping one’s junk on the table seems to be a big part of the burlesque act in Occultism. You need to be the sexiest, the smartest, the richest, the most natural, the best taught. The best, best, best.
I thought about taking on a persona like that. I’m a writer first, a witch second (sigh. I don’t even know wtf to call myself anymore magically if we’re being totes honest here. Witch doesn’t feel exactly right anymore but neither does occultist or sorceress. Magic user feels like a D&D campaign. Pagan doesn’t feel like the whole picture. And anything outside that starts to feel a special pony princess title. We’ll stick with witch for now). Writer first? I was a writer long before I was a witch, it defines who I am much more than witchcraft. As a writer, I’m accustomed to writing in a “voice” that is appropriate to the audience. Occultist blog readers seem to like what is sometimes called on the larger blogosphere “big dick swinging” blogs.
But that’s not me. And it’s never been me. Besides, what if I wrote a book? Did I want everyone to look at my boasting of awesomeness and be judged and found wanting? Like, “Fuck this chick, dude. She hasn’t read that many magic books all the way through, she doesn’t have any awesome initiations. Blahblahblah told me that she’s been divorced and she lives in a shoe box and makes an inconsequential amount of money as a NANNY which isn’t a real job. Also, I hear she’s a bitch and does not always play nicely with others because she has a big mouth.” I guess when I first started blogging I felt like if I just put all that out on the table straight from the gate, you can make your own decisions about if I’m someone to listen to. It meant I didn’t have to build another public face I had no chance to live up to in my real life. I needed to not put myself in that position again because I was (and am) working really hard at becoming Real in the Velveteen Rabbit sense of the word. I didn’t want to get lost in an echo chamber again. I didn’t want to worry about who I was supposed to be for who anymore.
Radical practicality. It’s everything I believe in with magic. If you like dealing with big formal rites, it’s cool. If you like reading lots and lots of books, that’s okay too. What I start to have a problem with honestly is when it feels like it’s some kind of hipster Occultist circle jerk where everyone has to have the most obscure books and initiations to contribute to the conversation.
Should you change your practice for me because I disagree with how you may do things? I’m not changing them for you! No reason for you to change them for me. Hell, I married a Hermetic so obviously I don’t mind that other people like high ceremonial magic. I understand the desire for history, the proof that magic is old as humanity and that we aren’t all New Age hippies are into camping who think all fairies are nice. But everything was new once. Everything was someone’s UPG once. And as for New Agers/Wiccans, almost everyone I personally know on those paths are really stable, optimistic, financially solvent, calm people. So we don’t want to be associated with them because . . .? Oh yeah, we’re cynical, anxious, depressed and constantly in flux but we’ve got real magic!
We all have something to teach each other. And we all get caught up in our own areas of passion, it’s why we’re passionate about it. But sometimes that makes us all (myself included) act like we’re something out of the White Wolf Role Playing Game Mage: The Ascension where each tradition’s prejudice against other traditions are all universal and neatly summed up in a few sentences. And it doesn’t work that way. But sometimes? I lump everyone who’s into grimoires into the same category and all Mom Pagans in the same category and . . .that sucks, dude. It’s not fair and it’s not accurate.
We need to leave enough room at the table for everyone – dabblers, serious practitioners, strict occultists, spiritual occultists, eclectics, traditional witches, chaos mages, country witches, city witches, suburban witches, a little space for everyone.
And sometimes I forget that my blog isn’t just a place for me, it’s a tiny tealight hearth for everyone who stops by. I haven’t been responding to comments like I used to, I haven’t been commenting like I used to, I haven’t made my posts as open for conversation as I used to. And I think most of the blogosphere has fallen into this habit. It’s harder to bounce off each other because we get caught up in what we are and what we aren’t. I know I do. But let’s try. Let’s try to be more open, less defensive, more thoughtful and more engaging. What do you think, blogosphere? 2013?
So tell me, what are you working on in your practice? Where are you succeeding? Where are you failing? What’s new in your practice? How have you been changed by your practice this month? How have you changed your practice? What’s frustrating? What’s a new accomplishment?
About the author
Deborah Castellano is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches & Pagans magazine. She writes about Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Deborah's book, The Arte of Glamour is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Her craft shop, La Sirene et Le Corbeau specializes in handspun yarn and other goodies. Her Craft shop, The Glamoury Apothecary specializes in handcrafted items for your magical/occult practice. In previous lives, Deborah spent seven years as an Executive Assistant and founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters. Deborah is a social media dork and can be found wasting far too much time on Ravelry, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram and Tumblr.