Ready? Steady? Go!

Wow. I guess this is the “Farewell” post. It’s a little bit hard letting go. Thanks to everyone who listened to my insanity and helped me feel a little more sane over the past couple years. (Because, “Yes, Virgina, there are bad Witches.”) I hope you hang out to hear Hazey tell her stories too. While she’s a site younger than I am, she has a good head on her shoulders and quite a yarn to spin.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013–pop over to http://www.EhshaApple.Wordpress.com if you haven’t already, you can pick up my travels post-Bad Witchery over there.

I’m sure, as things go , I’ll be back to poke my nose in from time to time. But until then, I have some blogging advice for Hazey, The New Bad; y’all feel free to eavesdrop.

Twelve points for twelve months.

1) There’s no need to tell your story all at once. Folks are happy to listen if you are entertaining; therefore, episodes are better than a movie-length post.

And you’ve got enough to say that you don’t have to be repetitive.

2) Poioumena, parables, metaphors, and fairy-tales are good for telling more of the whole truth than can be put in words. Folks identify with certain stories and know how those stories “feel” so you don’t have to work so hard to put them in your pointy shoes.

3) That said—keep control of your metaphors. Ain’t nothing worse than a metaphor what can’t stay on track. Plenty of “Bad” metaphors out there have run amok of their authors and shown folks that the emperor is truly and completely nekid. Make your logic hang together or folks’ll notice. Our reader is smarter than the average bear (and they know how to make sense of a film’s ending).

4) Metaphors are OK. But don’t lie. Just don’t. It ain’t worth it; the truth is so much more frightening and entertaining anyhow.

5) You aren’t “The Bad.” Remember you are just reporting on “The Bad.” And you have seen that shite as up close and personal as any of Stephen King’s protagonists.

And, as we continue to see–some folks are always gonna think it’s about them. You can’t second guess yourself. If it stings them, must mean they have a guilty conscience–ain’t nothing you can do about that.

6) That said, this is not about revenge; this is about warning others that Pennywise is not actually a clown and that they shouldn’t patronize Leland Gaunt’s little shop of horrors.

7) You are learning loads of new things right now. Information is pouring in and out of you at break-neck speed at this point in your Witchy career. You should share that information and all the great new lessons you are learning—but you should also know when to STFU. When it comes to “secrets,” remember that your audience understands that there are things which cannot be said.

8) Don’t dicker with your numbers. Nobody cares in the end. I pulled up a “Bad” blog not too long ago which purported well over two-thousand “followers.”  The little box came up and asked if I wanted to join 627. Now that’s just embarrassing. We keep our numbers under wraps here for a few reasons: A) The number that pops up here is grossly inaccurate. I’ll explain the logistics of Tumblr, Twitter, FB, etc. later. B) If it hurts someone else’s pride that we have X and they have Y—enough so that they have to make smack-talk about it Online—then we will just remove the info. We ain’t out to rub it in.

Speaking of (A), everything posts to a parallel site on Tumblr. We can discuss Facebook and Twitter and the WP stats function later. It’s not interesting enough to go here.

9) Speaking of “followers,” your audience does not “follow” you—you are not their “leader.” They are your audience, your sounding board, your patient ally, and occasional (when necessary) adversary. Do not presume to make them your subordinates as other bloggers have done. You’ll do better to have 1500 “friends” than 600 “underlings.” (Hell, I’d rather have 600 friends than 1500 underlings.) If no one else ever visits, I’ll be here right by your side, reading, laughing, crying, goading.

10) Speaking of things with which you should not dicker—readers’ comments are sacred. Only SPAM gets deleted. Otherwise, how’s anyone ever gonna trust you?

11) Never blog UI. I believe that’s what the “Save Draft” button was specifically designed for. Trust me. Sometimes you don’t want to publish that shite until you are sober. And rehydrated. And maybe caffeinated—but that’s a whole ‘nother problem.

12) Finally—but most importantly—have fun. This is for blowing off steam, not for generating pressure.

I adore you. I’m already proud of you.

Ready? Steady? Go! (Take this bad broom and fly!)

Sage advice from the original.

Hel and Back

This one spans three decades and may take a minute. Grab a drink and put your feet up.

It was 1980 and I sat in the church van with Maria Villalobos-Ramirez, Lourdes Bacardo, Anita Rodriguez, and Dolores Ortega. Between the five of us we had gone through all of the butane in Anita’s Clicker portable curling iron, half-a-bottle of Love’s Baby Soft, a tin of grape Lip Lickers, and a full eyeliner pencil and a lighter.

We were headed to camp (yes, think Jesus Camp only less affluent) and we were singing. Songs that started out about roadtrips, “Lonely days turn to lonely nights, you take a trip to the city lights,” “Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends / I found myself further and further from my home,” and “I gotta be cool, relax, get hip, get on my tracks. Take a back seat, hitch-hike. . .,” disintegrated into, “There’s gonna be a heartache tonight,”[1] “I wanna kiss you all over,” “Oi, oi . . . I’m a powerload . . . watch me explode!” That’s about when Brother Preacherman said enough was enough and that we should sing gospel songs instead.

That’s when TBW decided to rebel. I parodied a choir-girl stance and began, “Hey Momma, look at me, I’m on my way to the Promised Land.” Right on cue, the other girls chimed in, “We’re on a highway to Hell!”

Brother Preacherman was too tolerant of my bad behaviors.

We think of going to Hel as a bad thing. We tell the feckheads in our lives to go to Hel. Some of us even provide directions. But as someone who’s been to Hel and back, I can tell you that the ride sucks, but the return has its rewards.

Let me explain.

Part One: I left the comforts of my rather insular covens and headed for The Bamas in 2002. I worked on my doctorate, raised my babies, and kept doing my thang. I tried “coming-out of the broom closet” once or twice—okay, constantly—but very few people understood what I was up to. There was an “English Graduate Organization Prom” that I attended with my new-found grad-school bestie that first year; I had only been around for a few months and I thought it would be good to mingle. I was wearing a headband right on my hairline; a die-hard-fundie (who had made off-color comments about a pentagram shirt I wore to class) asked me, “Do all of you wear those?”

“All who?”

Wicc-ahh, wit-ahh, whatever you call yourself.”

I had been pegged by a Church of Christer—but for a totally banal headband.

I threw a bang-up Samhain party (which I referred to as a “Samhain” party rather than a Halloween party—and was met with “a whaah?”) some weeks after that and all of my Witchy-Chachkas were very visible. Everyone must have thought they were décor.

Another time, a few years later, I sat on my back porch with my immediate supervisor (and friend), her fiancé, The Only Other possible-Pagan (she was ambivalent at the time), and The Bad Husband. I don’t remember what precipitated the event, but I was reading Tarot. My boss wanted to know, “Where’d you learn that?” Just as I was about to tell her everything, the other woman shot me a terrified look that said, “NO! Keep your mouth shut!” To this day, I wonder what she was afraid of?

After that, I wore pentagrams, spiral goddesses, serpents, and medicine bags to work. You name it, I tried signifying with it and no one saw me. (I still have a giant “Witch” sign over my desk—next to a rune glyph, a spiral goddess pendulum, and a little portrait pin of Marie Laveau.)

All of this is just to say that when I decided to make myself known, I had to take my stav in both hands and pound the ground. Hard.

I think I was a little out of line. Much like singing AC/DC in a church van.

Because that action set me on a road to Hel, through the fires, and into relationships with some of the Baddest Witches eveh.

Part Two: The Descent

It was Summer 2007, I had just earned a Fellowship: the department was paying me to finish my dissertation rather than teaching. The above mentioned grad-school bestie was so resentful that I had gotten the award rather than her that she “broke-up” with me. No shit.

The Only Other possible-Pagan took a job in another state and shoved off—and not on good terms.

In late-May, I set the need-fire, I took my stav, and I called for three witches that would teach me what I needed to learn from here on out.

See “The Witch’s Duh.”

I had just met a brand-spanking-new grad-student with the craziest aura I have ever seen. (She is the #2 of my “Trance” post, btw.) Having sent my children to stay with family in Chicago,[2] by July 3, I was three chapter drafts into my dissertation. There was a toga party.

That’s how it began.

After that, there were 12 months of phonecalls with her voice on the other end saying, “Oops, I ended up in bed with the wrong boy again, can you help?” and “I’m drunk and the boy I like is being mean to me, can you help?” Imagining her as salvageable, I always did. But the relationship wasn’t entirely unreciprocal. Having felt like I had bled every ounce of my person for others, I had little to no sense of self left in the cupboard. We joked that she thought she was “all that” and that I didn’t even believe I was “a bag of chips.” But her unbridled vivaciousness would not contend for her BFF (actually, this relationship was the first time I’d heard/applied this term of endearment) to be less than awesome. She said that she loved me and she brought the dead parts of me back to life.

It was February of 2008 when I decided to dust off my grimories and hit the books harder than ever.[3] By April, I was ready for my last elevation with Bertie. I graduated with a PhD in May. Over the summer, The Only Other Pagan came back to town and we made amends. She had wholeheartedly adopted Witchiness—plus she brought a friend back with her.

We were tightthighttight for three months.[4]

Then, in September/October, I got talked into rigging a Dom-Jot table. I take full responsibility for having gone along with it. I lost my mind that fall and nearly lost everything else by New Year.

Part Three: In Hel and Back Out

In January 2009, I had a Naussican spear through my chest (see “It’s a Wonderful Q” for this reference), and found myself standing at the Gates of Hel without a shovel.

I started teaching Witchcraft on a more formal basis; I knew that if I was going to have to climb my way out of Helheim, I was going to need to buckle down. I spent the next ten months mentoring Witchcraft students online and teaching a select few in person. I spent those same ten months deflecting ridiculous fallout from that fight with a Naussican. I started writing a book called The Bad Witch Files—but I never knew how it ended, so it never went very far. It still calls me in bits and spurts.

I continued teaching (secular and religious) and learning and practicing and trying to piece my life back together in some way that looked like life, even if it still smelled of sulfur.

In October 2010, I started blogging here and you can go see the milestones for yourself. I think it was summer 2011 before I realized I was on the road back from Hel. I knew the journey was going to be long. And I knew that if I was ever going to make it all the way out, I was going to need to articulate myself—use my voice.

And—here was the hardest part—then I had to work through forgiving myself.

But, in order to avoid the calm stillness and silence where certainty resides, I kept myself a moving target, often chasing my own tail. Having spun m’self round and round, I have finally come full circle after traveling to Hel and back.

Part Four: The Return

It was back in February 2012 that I finally found the new mentor I had been craving. I had studied and practiced all the Hermetics, Ceremonial Magic, Theurgy, and Goetia I wanted to alone. After ten-fricking years of going it alone, I was ready to be taught, lead, united with others.

I looked to him to teach me all about Teutonic Shamanism. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to drain him of everything he knew, leaving me back at the drawing board.[5]

Right back where I started.

Fortunately, I did not go to jail, but I did collect $200. And by “collect $200,” I mean “pulled my head out of my arse and found my voice.”

Yawp, bitches. [6]

At the beginning of that shitefeckedup four year trek, I knew I had Heathen ethics, I knew I had High Ceremonial practices, I knew I had a moral compass aligned with Matthew 25:40, I knew I had a Helluva sound occult education behind me, and I knew I had – gifts—we’ll go with “gifts.” But I had never been forced to articulate what I “was.” I always considered myself a Heathen Sorcerer, perhaps because my childhood nickname was, “Y’lil’heathen,” perhaps for more substantial reasons stemming from my appreciation of the Anglo-Saxon ethics I learned as an undergraduate. I laid claim to the title “Sorcerer” in my early 20s, before I was even a mamma.[7] But, while I knew what it meant in my body and in my soul, I was never really sure what that might mean—you know, on paper, with other people looking at it.

Polyphanes wrote a post last week that struck a chord with me. He wrote: “I’m so far over the place, hither and thither, that I break a lot of people’s definitions, preconceptions, and labels. In other words, as befitting my Hermetic nature, I’m a trickster and don’t fit into any one bin, since I’ll just flit right out and into another one. I’d be like a Schrödinger’s Cat of traditions, except with less neurotoxin.” 

I felt a little like an unexplained Copenhagen interpretation too.

I’ve given you the rundown of my Jesuit educational upbringing with Bertie. Though Bertie tried her best to balance Catholic Christianity and Occult-Paganism for me, I held on to some of the vestiges of my Evangelical fears of “evil” and “Hel” for quite a while. I’m not ashamed to admit that. But, today, it seems like a lifetime ago that I was articulating my sense of Evangelical Detox. That’s not to say I discovered it in 2010, but that I had just found the voice to articulate the experience.[8]

Perhaps the most profound experiences are what ended my ongoing tailspin in the last few months. Having gotten back in constant contact with Bertie, I was pressed *from the outside* to journey back to the inside. Having lost Brother Preacherman and Mama Lisa over the summer, I was shocked into appreciating the “call” (or were they saying “caul”?) other folks saw hovering on and about me. Having learned what I’ve learned from Maman Lee a few months back. And having been pressed by The Road Less Traveled to reeeeealy articulate the difference in several traditionssome of which are my own, some of which I didn’t understand nearly as well as I did after being asked to clearly express those distinctions—I found that my voice was there all along. It was a little browbeaten and tired, it had been vilified and colonized—but it was still audible. And it still sounded like me.

Back in December 2011, I think I busted through some hymeneal (hmmm, hymnal?) membrane when I clearly articulated my thoughts about the word “vagina.” It had been—dare I say it—pricking at me for a while. And much like really good sex, once I found the right spot, it was all over.

In February 2012, I picked up the stav I had left idle for too long and started working on Teutonic Shamanism[9]—very close to the pathworking Bertie had taught me in the 90s.[10] It was these pathwork journeys, ironically, that brought me back out of Hel. And how I found my voice.

As for the journey, it’s not at an end. But I’m glad to be trading in these uncomfortable shoes.

So here’s what I’ll tell you in the next few posts:

  • What it means to go to Hel and Back in Teutonic Shamanism
  • Why I’m settling deeper into a new path (or, really, praxis)—that’s not different, just a better amalgamation of what I always was
  • What I’m teaching in Delta, Alabama next month and in Auburn, Alabama in November and December
  • How all of this relates to Wolves and Ulfarnir
  • How you can go to Hel too!

Thanks for sticking it out for this long post.

B, Q, 93,

TBW


[1] Which I thought was, “There’s gonna be a party tonight.”

[2] One of whom, at not quite twenty, we lost this week.

[3] Ergo the 2008 in my email address—that was the year I set “stuff” up under the name Ehsha.

[4] This is all a sort of side-story which is more of an irritation than anything real. But it bears mentioning given what I had requested—three witches to teach me. Boy howdy. Witch’s Duh.

[5] This is no disparagement on him. It’s just that everything was the same stuff I had been teaching for years myself—just with different names.

[6] Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass. I’m teaching this in a few weeks. Squee.

[7] I remember the conversation with my sister. I didn’t have the language to discuss High Magic versus Low Magic yet, but I knew the connotation of “Sorcerer” versus the connotation of “Witch.” Having always understood Wicca as initiatory, I never laid claim to it as an eclectic idea. I still have a hard time getting my head wrapped around non-initiatory Wicca as “Wicca.”

[8] And it seems kinda trippy to me that I started envisaging an online Pagan Seminary back in September 2008 and started actually working toward it by publishing the results here nearly three years later. Now, here at the end of 2012, it seems the time has come to fully articulate that ambition.

[9] I don’t know how many of you saw the “Wyrd Sister” page before I turned it into the retail page it is now. If you missed it back in January, it aimed at being a page which cataloged my last leg of training in Seiðr. It rapidly got too close to STFU mysteries, so I switched it.

[10] And now I have vajay and stav and pounding jokes running through my head—that’s appropriate.

Guest Post: Sister Ehsha

Just after going back to Chicago last Christmas, I had the great fortune of reconnecting with some folks from my past. Dora is one of those people. She asked me if she could “snitch on The Bad Witch” in a way that only a little sister can do. I told her she could as long as I could interject in a way that only a big sister can do. The body of the blog is all Dora, no editorial privilege taken. The footnotes are all Bad.[1] The title was a compromise. 

She wrote this back in August (swear to gods—every word of it—like she’s some sort of soothsayer or something :) ); but I never posted it. It seemed ill-timed considering some of the flack I was taking from a fellow-Pagan-blogger. It is precisely because of that flack that Dora insisted I post it now. Here’s how the IM exchange went down on Thursday:

TBW: It just seems defensive and I have nothing to defend.

Dora: Then let me do the defending.

TBW: I don’t need that.

Dora: I know. I need it.

I am truly flattered by every word here. I’m afraid you are going to ruin my reputation, Dora. People might go thinking I’m a softie.

When I saw that The Bad Witch let her student write a guest blog, I thought she might let me do the same. I knew Ehsha was blogging here, but I never read “The Files” until about six months ago. It’s not that I wasn’t interested. It’s every time I would read it, I would hear her voice and miss her. I go by Halldóra and I went to college with Ehsha. We studied under the same mentor in our twenties. I consider it my privilege to call Ehsha my sister. There have been a few jabs about the “Truth” concerning Ehsha’s integrity. As a sister, I cannot sit by and let it go unchallenged.

I was a (non-traditional aged) junior and she was a masters student the day we met. It seems that Ehsha whirlwinded into the religious studies classroom. She was wrapped in a green wool cape. This made the auburn curls that flooded from her crown to her waist look like a fountain of copper and fire.[2] When I saw her, my breath caught a little. She was beautiful, yes, but that’s not what I mean.

Worst picture ever, but it’s the one Dora wanted.

There was something about her, all around her. I was afraid of her at first. But the second we were face to face, I saw that she was tiny, not more than five-two, one-ten,[3] and her eyes were gentle. She was kind to me and made me feel comfortable in a very unnerving place. Later she told me that I looked terrified and that she wanted me to feel safe and relaxed. Even later she told me that it wasn’t out of altruism that she took me by the hand. She says that she wouldn’t have gotten anything out of the class if I was “being weird.” She contends that it was a totally self-serving act. I don’t believe that for a second.

As long as I’ve known her, Ehsha has felt the need to hide her niceness. This makes sense given the number of people I saw take advantage of her generosity. In school, people were always begrudging Ehsha her grades, her luck, her charm and her tenacity. She’d say, “Oh, I can be a real bitch, trust me.”

This is the woman who opted to add elective ministerial rotations to her graduate class schedule each and every semester. The woman who volunteered at Misericordia Home, giving physical tenderness to severely disabled children who were hardly ever touched by human hands except for during medical treatments,[4] and at nursing homes, reading to lonely elderly people who lay, forgotten by their own children,[5] and at child protective services where she rocked fitful drug-exposed infants for hours on end. The rest of us worked at food banks, animal shelters, or on building-upkeep projects. She took whatever volunteer slot no one else wanted. Her class folder had Matthew 25:40 on it.[6] This is the woman who referred to herself as a “bitch.”

It was a wall. We all knew it. And we all let her do it. After all, she was doing our dirty work.[7] I’m a little ashamed of myself for not supporting her more back then. I was not a bit surprised when I learned that my old school-mate had started calling herself “The Bad Witch.” My first thought was, “Wonder who made her need that wall.” I assume someone begrudged her something and she hide behind badness. Am I right, sis?[8]

I know that my feelings about Ehsha have more to do with my idealization of her than anything else. But she could have left me sitting alone and terrified in the class room, couldn’t she? She could have taken the relatively easy, “cleaner”, volunteer slots, after all, she was a grad student and had first pick. Couldn’t she? She could have said, “To hell with this, I have my own babies to rock”, couldn’t she? She says she couldn’t. And I understand that. Ehsha seems to be propelled by a force beyond her. This makes her simultaneously endearing and terrifying. If you have ever met her in person you know what I mean when I say that she’s magnetic.[9]

Want to hear another story? I want to get these in. Ehsha might not let me snitch on her again.

Bertie gave us an assignment to “find our inner sovereign”. To illustrate what she meant, she told us a story about Ehsha. She was always telling us stories about Ehsha.[10] There were a few girls in Ehsha’s cohort that were very New-Agey and they were coming up with names like “Mother of Virtue” and “Queen of Strength” and “Lady of Power” and such. When Bertie got to Ehsha, Ehsha looked at the other girls like they had painted their faces green as Ehsha would say. She said, “I don’t want to be the ‘Mother of’ or ‘Queen of’ or ‘Lady of’ anything. I want to be the thing itself. Not it’s wife.”

That lesson was good but what’s even better is what follows. Here’s the pure Ehsha moment. One of my cohort asked what Ehsha finally settled on to represent her “inner sovereign” and Bertie laughed. She told us that the other girls had extravagant, showy  names and Ehsha had come up with “something magically nonmagical.” Like when Bertie was trying to teach sigils and lamens and Ehsha’s point of reference was gang tags.[11] Or the time she compared blocked energy to inner-city parking. Or when she told us that her pneumonic device for the directions of the elements in the northern hemisphere involved a Beastie Boys song.[12] I could go on. This time when Bertie insisted that Ehsha give the example, she muttered that she always imagined herself as The Godfather when she needed to feel powerful.[13] Magically nonmagical.

I’ve gone too long, so I’ll just end by saying that I have always been crazy about my sister. First I had a crush on her. Then I respected her as a senior student. Then I had a crush on her again. Then loved and admired her as a sister. Now I remember her fondly and miss her company. But I’m content to have her in the disguise of The Bad Witch and I’m delighted to share her with you.


[1] And I apologize ahead of time. There are lots of them. Mostly just snarky comments and conversational asides.

[2] Not anymore. Now think mid-back with a long grey streak right down the left side and the remnants of five years of poor bang choices.

[3] Had to be more than that. I think I was pregnant with The Boy Child. Oh, no wait, maybe I was just pregnant and didn’t know yet. As soon as I found out, I sort-of shaved my head, remember?

[4] These children were pure love. It was easy to find joy with them.

[5] This was a little more difficult. I think I was permanently scarred by my rotation in the dementia ward.

[6] Only on one side; the other said, “That which does not kill us makes us crotchety and prematurely grey.”

[7] It just wasn’t yours to do, honey.

[8] *crickets*

[9] Magnets repel if they have the same polarity.

[10] “Ehsha, Ehsha, Ehsha” = “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.”

Now that’s a scary thought. I will never, never, never let Bertie write an exposé about me. The only thing more terrifying than having your magical sister tattle on you is have your magical momma tattle. Oh, lords, the metaphorical potty training stories alone. It’s bad enough that Dora told a (substantially cleaned up) second-hand Bertie story.

[11] You can take the Witch out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the Witch?

[12] It was when we had to go widdershins and I kept skipping Earth. And it was The Ramones, Acid Eaters album. It was the 90s, what can I say?

[13] I had it all worked out with consiglieres, Moe Green, Luca Brasi, and canoli. My spiritual system is the Sicilian mafia.

An Interview with Maman Lee

“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Rick, Casablanca 

More a fan of conjuration than “conjure” in my youth, it wasn’t until about ’08 and Mama Lisa that I started taking Houdoo a little more seriously. Previously, my head was too full of Charles Chestnut and Brer Rabbit. Now I realize that Chestnut was right-on and that B’Rabby is more like my own Mvskogee Rabbit than he is like Walt Disney.

This is where my highfalutin scholarly education ties my shoelaces together and then stands back and laughs from time to time.

Bertie and I have been chatting a good deal lately and she, knowing that I was late to jump on board the rootwork boat under her tutelage, has been egging me on to “study more.”

I have been.

But as much as I like books, there are some things they just can’t teach. These things require mentors. And my preference is always a well-seasoned august woman with the ability to put me in my place with a simple snap of her eyeballs.

This is why my biggest complaint about finding a mentor remains that there are a lot of silly-arsed charlatans trying to mentor folks. This is as true for Hoodoo as it is for any other tradition. That’s not to say that there are no good root doctors, but to say that the loudest and most visible are showboats without a solid foundation beneath them.[1] This is too bad, because Houdoo, I am learning, is one of the most magnificent traditions around.[2]

After letting me toss my own net and letting me come up short, like a good patron, Bertie (re)introduced me to Maman Lee, a rootworker I had met when I lived up North; she had come to the university to speak at a number of colloquia and to guest lecture in classes. Bertie hoped Maman Lee would make a suitable substitute teacher for my late friend, Mama Lisa. However, unlike Mama Lisa, I can understand every word Maman Lee says the first time around, I can reference scholarship without worrying about being misperceived as condescending (and can expect to have “intellectual-stuff” lobbed back at me without a pause), and I can make urban points of reference since Maman Lee is also from The Windy City. Unfortunately, unlike Mama Lisa, pushing a century of Louisiana bayou living with a siege engine, Maman Lee is only about four years my senior: half Mama Lisa’s age. Blech.

I asked her if when we Skype she would mind wearing age makeup since I’m more comfortable with older women. She said, “No problem. As long as when we Skype, you try to be a young black girl since I am more comfortable teaching my sisters’ children.”

This is my place and I have been put firmly in it.

The Bad Witch and Maman Lee have had a little Skype exchange about the nature of “rebound” and, with Maman Lee’s express permission, I’m about to share some of it with you. How’s that?[3]

It all started when Maman Lee asked:

ML:     What’s your favorite thing Bertie ever taught you?

TBW:  I guess the most useful thing she taught me was how to clean up and reclaim my energy. You know? Like when you cast energy out and maybe misfire a bit, you need to keep that shite from becoming a bad boomerang joke. Or when someone is blowing psychic smoke out of their arse at you; you can’t keep their flatulence from coming, but you can make it smell a bit better. Or when you’ve done someone a kindness only to be met with a knife in the back; you want your energy back, I mean, you lent it to them but, in the end, it’s your energy and you want it back. But you want it back without all of their poop on it.

ML:     Bertie taught you how to do that?

TBW:  One of the first things, sure.

ML:     How?

TBW:  Um, I’d have to check with Bertie before . . .

ML:     Naw, hon. We are going to get along just fine.

TBW:  Right. I see what you did there. Did I pass?

ML:     Ha, yes, of course. Don’t be offended. Can you tell me when and how this works if not how to do it? I just want to have a touchstone with you.

TBW:  I’ll try. Say for instance someone has a bee in their bonnet and wants to fling some sludge your way, there’s a way to put up a sort of filter. The sludge is neutralized and incorporated as best as it can be. Say, someone unduly curses your car. The curse falls on you, but it happens on the best possible day in the best possible circumstances and with the best possible outcome. Hell, if you’re real good, you could even get a new car out of the deal. Same goes for your own energy. If you cast for someone – you know, on their behalf, at their request – and they turn out to be a real pill, then you can reclaim what’s rightly yours. This is funny because it usually leaves them standing with an empty basket going, “Heeeyy? Where’s my apples?” Truth is, they were my apples and I took them back. Can this serve as a touchstone between what I’m talking about and justified Hoodoo?

. . . .

ML:     So you see, the difference between Work[4] that is justified and Work that is not is a matter of degree. It’s like you were saying, if it’s your energy, you will get it back. But whether or not it has poop on it is a matter of equality.

TBW:  So, I have seen a lot of people try to define what is justified and what is not justified when cursing or jinxing or – hey, help me with the lexicon here, what’s your preferred term?

ML:     Working.

TBW: OK, Working. But I’ve never gotten a clear cut answer on where the line lies.

ML:     That’s what I’m trying to say, there’s no black-and-white. And it’s not about intent. You can intend to harm and have it be justified. You can intend to do no harm and it would be unjustified. Didn’t you say that you didn’t think it was acceptable to cast a spell to bind someone to you, even if it was done in love or for the intent to protect?

TBW: Right. I see.

ML:     We on the same page yet?

TBW:  I think so. I mean, I’ve never been one to shy away from solid protection or reversal Magic. As a matter of fact, I’m damned good at it. But this is not exactly the same, is it?

ML:     This is not just Magic or even reversal Magic, it’s enemyWork. We aren’t talking about sending someone’s bad energy back to them three-times-over. That’s all well and good and it works like a charm as they say. But we are talking about initiating the energy based on what someone has done in the physical world. And we aren’t talking about Work done on or for nice people either. We are talking about Work done on enemies. We like to think we can all just get along, but in this big world, there are bad people. And we are obligated to ourselves and to our families to protect ourselves from bad people. And in some parts of the world, there is no justice system. And there are those of us for whom the justice system simply does not work. So we use our God-given powers to exact justice. And we know that if we are morally and ethically in the right, we can perform the Work without fear of repercussions; when the energy comes back – because it is going to come back – it won’t have poop on it because we Worked within an ethic.

TBW: Even when cursing.

ML:   Sure, even when cursing. Look, it’s like this. A woman who curses her rapist. He made the first move. He broke the first rule. And it’s not just like he hurt her feelings, that’s something she can control, right? We control our own feelings, yes? You can’t Work on someone just because they called you a bad name or because they hurt your feelings or looked at you sideways. It has to be more than that. It has to be a real infraction. Therefore, the rape victim is justified because the degree of the rapist’s infraction was as great if not greater than her revenge. In this case, I’d be hard pressed to find a revenge that exceeds the harm done by rape. Plus, if she crafts her Work properly, she will make the punishment fit the crime. She might make his penis fall off. Either literally or figuratively. If a parent were to goofer – you know “goofer,” right?

TBW:  It’s severe. Goofer dust is meant to kill, right?

ML:     Possibly. Not always. Sometimes you can cause a fate worse than death. Know what I mean?

TBW:  Right.

. . . .

ML:     So if a father were to goofer the man who murdered his child, or if a woman were to Work on the person who abuses her or her child, or if a spouse were to Work on the person their partner is fooling-around with, or if there is a stalker or a vandal or a thief, these things are justified. You see? But the trick is that the severity of the Work has to meet the risk or damage or pain caused. You can’t exceed the situation dealt by the other party. It’s really an eye for an eye in this case.

TBW:  So, the punishment has to fit the crime. Hurt feelings are no reason to justify enemyWork. Got it. And enemyWork is justified if the offending party poses an ongoing threat or if they have evaded other forms of justice.

ML:     Hey, even if a rapist or murderer goes to prison, I see enemyWork as justified.

TBW:  What about more banal stuff? I mean people do bad things that aren’t rape and murder. This is where I get hung up. The example I always use is the one where I have no problem staking a pedophile out over a metaphorical fire ant hill, but there are issues that are less extreme. What then? What if somebody owes you money or something less harmful, yet significant?

ML:     Any threat of violence. Any attempt on your livelihood. Any – got it? Anything that will hamper with your work environment or your reputation at work. Unless of course, you earned it. If you are embezzling, you can’t Work on a whistleblower. I mean, you can, but it isn’t justified. Any damage to your property or pets or children. This includes intangible damage. Say someone is trying to get you evicted or trying to ruin your ability to lease or purchase. Like I said, if you don’t pay your rent you can be evicted, so this has to be damage done to you out of meanness. If someone is trying to run you out of town just because they don’t like you or because they are afraid of you, that’s what I’m talking about. Character assassination, harassment, stalking, bullying, or repeatedly spreading lies about you. Especially if this causes harm to your work environment or home environment. This is all justified Work. Situations where someone has hampered with your personal safety, your finances in any way, your ability to earn an income or succeed in your line of employment – whether or not you earn money from it – see where I’m going with this?

TBW:  Boy-howdy. One-hundred percent.

ML:     Someone hampers with your marriage, your home, your career, your reputation, and especially your children and animals? Then you are justified in performing enemyWork so long as you don’t exceed the damage they did.

TBW:  What happens if it’s not justified? Or if you go overboard with revenge?

ML:     First, you can cross yourself. It will all backfire. Here’s a specific thing I see happen, ghosts.

TBW:  Ghosts?

ML:     Suddenly you might have specters in your house. My mother calls them “haints.” You get a sense of paranoia and see darkness everywhere, no matter how you try to overcome it. Then a run of bad luck. Real bad depending on what you did. Ha, and who you did it to. You could also get crossed just by trying to Work against somebody who is especially charmed. When the spirits have a favorite, they will take up for him or her. You go after a favorite and you better make sure it’s justified. So ghosts, then bad luck. Then, you could – I’ve seen it happen – lose all of your mojo. I’ve seen talented rootWorkers take the wrong job and Work on somebody and it turn out not to have been justified. They just didn’t do the right readings ahead of time, you know? And then? Nothing. Not a thing in the world works for them. All their magic is just gone. What we do is a gift. And it can and will be taken away if we misuse it.

TBW:  Wow. I never thought of it like that. That’s a big difference between Hoodoo and Magic or Sorcery.

ML:     Yea, Hoodoo is not about formulas or the order of the universe. . . . I’ve seen people get crossed based on Working on suspicion. Once there was a man who thought his wife had cursed him so he asked a rootWorker to get revenge for him. . . . The wife had done no such thing and so the curse hit her and him both. And the rootWorker. He didn’t check to make sure it was the wife who had cursed his client. People are often so quick to jump to conclusions about who cursed them. Really, most of the time, in my experience, it’s just bad people reaping their own bad juju.

TBW:  Bad juju. Right. Got it. So, to recap – aside from the clearly illegal stuff like theft, murder, rape, assault, and so on. It is not justified to Work against someone who simply doesn’t agree with you or someone who expresses a distaste for you. It is justified to Work against someone who undermines your reputation or lies about you or tries to run you out of town or make your business fail or make you lose income or customers or whatever. It is not justified to Work against someone who hurts your feelings, because your feelings are your control. But it is justified to Work against someone who continually harasses you or your family. And the best bet is to make the punishment fit the crime. Like if someone wants to ruin your reputation, it’s best to Work against their reputation rather than, say, their dog or their car or their whatever. . . . And it has to be kept to the same degree, right? So a size 2T infraction does not justify a size 6X enemyWork.

ML:     True. But, this is sometimes out of your hands. You can Work for something that is the same size as the initial infraction, but sometimes it gets bigger than you Worked for and this is out of your hands and not on your mojo. Sometimes the spirits get a little ticked off when they see people doing the same thing over and again and they take it into their own hands to meet justice.

TBW:  And always confirm that you are Working against the right party.[5]

ML:     Always. Double check. Triple check. Check until you are sure. . . . And do not let your personal feelings get in the way. If you are too emotionally tied to the situation, let someone else read for you.

. . . .

Maman Lee also gave me a rundown of times when justified Work requires a warning-fire of some sort. Like when someone is too goofy to realize that they’ve stepped on the wrong toes – if it’s not too big a deal. (If it’s a big enough deal, no warning is necessary.) Then we should give the dolt a heads-up that if they don’t make complete recompense by, say, two-weeks from Tuesday, then we will begin such-and-such enemyWork. She says that unfortunately if they are too hardheaded to know what they’ve done in the first place, chances are they will be too hardheaded to make recompense. But it’s in our best interest to work with this ethic.

Good advice from my new(ish) friend. Thanks M. Lee!


[1] Recently, I had an exchange with one who disallowed any comprehension that Witchcraft, Wicca, and Sorcery were all very different concepts. I made an attempt to explain but inevitably had to throw my hands up and walk away from that one. Some folks are steadfast in their refusal to be informed.

[2] And again, I don’t mean New Orleans tourist fakery, I mean genuine American Houdoo.

[3] Lots of times I agreed or expressed comprehension. I won’t transcribe those “uh-huh”s and echoes.

[4] I had gotten an email from her before and she capitalized Work. Now when I hear her say it, it’s capital W: “Work.” I kept it that way for stylistic reasons in enemyWork and rootWork. And, as indicated by ellipsis, I edited out some reinforcing conversation. Hopefully I faithfully kept all context.

[5] I kept thinking about the case of The Evil Bitch.

Crossroads

Well, damn.

The Bad Witch just opened an email. You know the kind? The kind that makes you unable to answer the phone or work or do anything real for a few hours.

Well, here I sit. A few unproductive hours later with a couple of phone calls to return.

My sometimes protectress, often teacher, and always kick-ass Voodoo-Mama-friend, “Mama Lisa,” crossed over on Saturday at the age of 98.

That’s a good run, I have to say. But it’s also kinda hot on the heals of having lost another spiritual guide, Brother Preacherman.

I’m jes feelin’ a little . . . at the crossroads.

Farewell Brother Larry

Good night to the man who constantly called attention to me in a Church of God prayer line: “I see the call [caul?] of God on you, child. The spirit is all over you!”

I made fun that I always forgot to open my circles.

This morning, Brother Preacherman died while preparing his Sunday sermon. Hope I go like that.

Love you, sir. Always did. Always will.

In the name of the Christ whom you taught me to revere,

TBW