Rain Water Washes Her Away

I must apologize for not writing sooner, my laptop is currently without a charger. This post comes to you via my phone, I hope y’all enjoy.

rain

“Let’s go back, back to the beginning
Back to when the earth, the sun, the stars all aligned

‘Cause perfect didn’t feel so perfect
Tryin’ to fit a square into a circle
Was no life I defy

Let the rain fall down and wake my dreams
Let it wash away my sanity
‘Cause I wanna feel the thunder
I wanna scream let the rain fall down
I’m coming clean

I’m shedding, shedding every color
Tryin’ to find a pigment of truth beneath my skin,
‘Cause different doesn’t feel so different
And goin’ out is better than, always stayin’ in
Feel the wind”
-Coming Clean (Hillary Duff)

Last night the rain came to town. It rained all through the early morning light. Now it’s almost lunch time and I’m sitting outside in shorts and a tank top in January. Things could be weirder.

I love the soothing sounds the rain creates when it hits the roof and windows. It usually lulls me into a nice dreamy state and allows me extra beauty sleep. However, this rain storm was not so inclined to live up to my fantasies.

I did not sleep soundly, I tossed and turned but most importantly I dreamed. I dreamed a dream that was so real and so terrifying it shook me awake. At 7:30 in the morning I’m usually not the most pleasant person to be around but today has been different. I woke up to the quite of the early morning, the birds weren’t even awake yet. I decided that laying back down, falling back into dreamland was not what I wanted to do. I got up and started getting ready for the day, fed the animals, and let them outside. After the morning fuss was taken care of I wandered back into the bedroom and lit some herbs to relax me. I sat there, still brutally haunted by my dream and even the herbs weren’t helping.

The only thing I could do now was to think about my dream and what it could have meant. In the dream I lost someone close to me and it was heart shattering, it broke me. In reality, I never thought the person from my dream would make me upset to lose them.

So here’s what I think. I think subconsciously if I opened myself up it would break me, so to speak. But in my conscious mind I am comfortable with saying I don’t miss them in my life.

I have decided that I want to open up and let the rain wash away what I’m holding onto on a subconscious level.

Recently, someone took red acrylic paint and painted a streak in my hair. It showed me the part of myself I had gotten rid a few months ago. A part of the real me, I caught a glimpse and I wanted her back. I cleaned the paint out of my hair and applied red hair dye. Last night I also decided to give myself a baby dread. Just one for now, until my hair grows back out.

So, I have two transformations occurring at the same time. I’m washing away everything that was you and isn’t me and reclaiming myself. At the same time I’m acknowledging my subconscious feelings and taking the steps to change, let go, and move on.

I cannot say I haven’t been avoiding coming to terms with this for a while now. This isn’t the first dream that’s pushed me in this direction either. I am taking responsibility for my actions and becoming the respectable person I know I am.

With everything that’s been going on in my community recently I’ve been doubting things, but if I sit back on the sidelines watching them play ball, I can’t really complain when my team loses.

So as part of my goals for the new year I am taking an active part. I want to be able to look back and know that I was a part of making my community and town a better place for us all no matter what you believe in or what team you play for. I will not stand back and let my community become divided and fall. I was raised in this town and I’m proud of it.

The rain has stopped for now but the grey clouds still float overhead and it makes me wonder if there’s more storm to endure…

Until we meet again,
Hazey
Blessed Be xoxo

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Bonus Round

Back when I was talking about Mercury going direct, I mentioned that if “between July 14th and . . . August 8th . . . you ‘react[ed]’ to something you should have ‘reflected upon” and now you seem to have screwed yourself into a sitchyation without a decent exit plan, “there’s always the Blue Moon (conjuncted with Neptune = water) at the end of the month to try your hand at amending the situation.” I suggested that this was particularly good for “those bells that can’t be unrung, stones that can’t be unthrown, words that can’t be taken back, and acts that can’t be – um – unacted.

To elaborate on what I said in “The Gale,” the intersection of Confrontation and Forgiveness is a two way traffic exchange – a cross roads if you will. Four way stop sign. Yield. Right of way and all. (I don’t know what I’m saying, now I’m just rambling and hoping this means something to one of y’all.)

Well, that’s coming up on Friday, isn’t it? Just around 8 AM, to be precise. In a Mercurial hour (in my neck of the woods). Flow tide (to high) indicating change.

If timing is crucial to your Work, then take a look at all the water/emotion and communication.

  • Full Moon
  • In Neptune
  • At Flow Tide
  • At Mercury Hour
  • If only it were a Wednesday. . . And while Libra is “air,” we still have the concept of the scales of balance and justice.

If you aren’t too busy at 8AM Friday, maybe it’s your bonus round good for a do-over, an apology, a little backsies.

For me?

I keep thinking about forgiveness and how, like recovering from addictions, it’s a daily commitment. I have this one person (not) in my life who ripped my heart to shreds, stomped all over it, tore my family life to bits, threatened everything I had ever worked for, forced me to make choices rivaled only by Zofia Zawistowski’s (not exaggerating), and set me on a road to four years of unnecessary penance. I was actually expected to be happy when this twisted relationship married into my family (they announced the engagement on my birthday, btw). When I wasn’t, I was ousted.

By my sister. The one who practically raised me. And then, in turn, I took care of her children. Who then took care of my children. Who now cannot speak to two beloved cousins, an aunt and uncle, and second-cousins their own age.

I wasn’t invited to the wedding, by the way. As a matter of fact, the bride told the groom that if I showed my face, she wouldn’t go through with it. “It’s her or me.”

I met with my “niece,” my former-best-friend (and magical partner of sorts). A Sagittarian who, despite her constant mantra, “I apologize!” couldn’t make a sincere apology if her life depended on it. I met with her in the weeks after the wedding and told her, “I know you didn’t ask me to, but I forgive you for everything you did to me and my family.” I couldn’t carry that hurt around anymore. So I laid it all down, sword and shield. Laid it down at her feet and left it for her to deal with. Walked away.

DownDown. Both of em downDown by the riverside. Sword and shield. Don’t study war no more. Lay all that mess down. Sword and shield. (Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 120.)

I thought that was going to be that. But – I have to decide every galling day not to pick it up again. I see it: my sword and my shield just laying there getting rusty. I want to pick them up. I want to pick them up and slay things. I want to wage war on every birthday, every Mother’s Day, every Christmas, every time I hear Night Ranger, every time I run across a photo of my nephew as a baby or my sister and me at my graduation, every time my mother calls and we have to avoid the subject, every time I drive near their neighborhood. But I don’t. I resist. With every fiber of my being.

Anyone who thinks forgiveness is “passive” has never really forgiven. Maybe never been forgiven. Because knowing, as I do, what a daily struggle it is to forgive – to actively forgive – I think that if anyone were to forgive me a transgression that big, I would realize what a gift I had been given.

Now, before you go beatifying me Saint Bad Witch, A) I’m not dead yet B) I haven’t been able to replicate that feat. There’s this other, not unconnectedthing. We’ll go with “thing.” I vacillate between A) being full of rage and hate and anger and hurt and B) not giving a rat’s arse.

This is not forgiveness. This *is* passive. This is, perhaps, avoidance.

Like I told Aubs earlier today, the most crucial step in forgiveness (according to Bertie) is in “confrontation.” It requires articulation. In my case, I have no desire to confront or articulate or spin any amount of energy on that – issue. We’ll go with “issue.” (See, I’n such a state of avoidance I can’t articulate – even when I try.)

So, is this where Bert says to elicit divine intervention? When confrontation and articulation are unattainable? And I don’t mean intervention to sic the gods on the other – I mean to intervene and cause a situation where articulation is possible.

I always assumed she meant unattainable because the guy is dead or the woman carries a Glock. But maybe an argument could be made for asking the divine to give us a hand when we just can’t get ourselves arsed-up enough to articulate, to confront, to forgive.

But that means working on myself. Right? Asking the divine to change me so that I am prepared to and capable of confrontation and articulation and, therefore, forgiveness. Alas, as the great prophet Michael Joseph Jackson taught us, “If you wanna make the world a betteh place, take a look atcha self and then make that – change.” And then we are back to my regla número uno: Change your insides in order to manifest exterior change. Above, below, microcosm, macrocosm, blah, blah blah. It’s easier said then done when you’ve got a groovy sword and shield that could make some serious external modifications. And right fast too.

No worries, readers. I have no desire to use the sword. The shield, I’ll hang on to if it’s all the same. And if it comes to blows I can be like Tyrion Lannister in the Vale. (For those not Ice and Fire geeks, he kills an attacker with a shield.)

For Friday, I believe my bonus round will be to work on tenacity. On accout’o’ I’m getting worn around the edges with this forgiveness crap.

Last week I felt sincere Schadenfreude when I heard that she had suffered a series of losses. This is not my usual character. I felt a wave of relief when I realized that I didn’t have to see her name (with my family name attached to it) on a door-plaque every time the elevators opened one floor too soon. (Yes, we worked together too.) I hoped against hope that something would happen that would cause someone to get peeved enough, see my weaponry laying at her feet, and skewer her with my discarded sword.

Indeed, I am losing the grip I once had on this forgiveness thing.

Maybe I’ll even find what Dr. King called, “radical forgiveness” (Strength to Love). Bearing in mind that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing, maybe I can locate the strength to lay down that other sword and shield too. (Instincts screaming, “Noooo! Keep the shield, keep the shield!”) But then again, maybe I’m going in the wrong direction. Maybe when working on forgiveness I best start with the man in the mirror.

Peace y’all.

TBW

The Gale

Batten down the hatches!

There’s a hurricane in the Gulf. (Last I checked it went back out and is headed in for a second helping of Alligator Sausage Cheesecake.) Best of luck to everyone in Isaac’s path. I mean it. I’m-a-prayin’.

I was recently told, in a commentary about how busy I stay, that I was the kind of person who, if it were raining outside, I’d do a rain-dance and call up a hurricane. I don’t think it was intended as a compliment, but I decided to take it as such. It’s accurate anyway. My reply was, “Well, hurricanes are nature’s way of restoring balance.”

Can I go on a bit about some things that seem unrelated if I promise to try to make sense in the end?

The Tempest, 2010. Helen Mirren as Prospera

In the opening scene of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero brews up a storm to bring his wrongdoers’ ship ashore to where he can exact justice. Restore balance.

This was never my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays but I love what Julie Taymor did with the film in 2010. By casting Helen Mirren as “Prospera,” Taymor changed the whole tenor of the story, in my opinion. The dynamic becomes “female sorcerer” (and you know how I feel about that) and “mother/daughter,” which is both less creepy for a modern audience and more believable – and perhaps a little more forgivable in the way Prospera treats both Caliban and Ariel. Well, Caliban at least. And it nicely mirrors Caliban’s relationship with his mother, Sycorax. Good Witch, Bad Witch sorts of stuff.[1]

As the storyline goes, one thing leads to another, one revelation follows another. Folks we thought we could trust end up being bumbonnets, folks we thought were unscrupulous end up saving the day, and Russell Brand does a little dance. Just like real life.

The thing for which Prospero/a needs justice is defamation by and subsequent unlawful loss of his/her dukedom to his/her brother. Would n’t it have been awesome if Taymor had cast a lady villain too?

By using spells and incantations and a spirit named Ariel, Propspero/a get to the bottom of the misdeeds. Those who don’t reckon reveal spells and reversal magic can be bent to operate according to the will of the sorcerer have very limited imaginations, and (I suspect) limited experience. Prospero/a, like many Rennaissance magicians, is very inventive – and experienced. In the end, s/he gets what she wants and all is forgiven. Balance restored.

That’s right. Forgiven. Go figure. It’s fiction.

As an interesting (to me) note: Bertie wrote a book about forgiveness, not as an intrapsychic (i.e., love and light) sort of thing, but as an interpersonal phenomenon where the maltreated are required to confront their aggressors – and if it’s not possible or ill-advised, victims should elicit the assistance of the divine for confrontation and retribution.

All this talk about “justified Work” along with the emails and comments I’ve been getting from some of y’all makes me want to sit and ponder a hurricane for a spell. And what it means to be in balance.

They tell us that Isaac has veered away from my particular part of the state and that Furfur and friends have their sights set on other locale; but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel its effects. Yesterday, an oppressively warm wind blew across the plains and made The Bad Witch’s hair do that thing where no fastener in the world will keep it in check. This morning I awoke to a wet lawn and four little hens facing their first week without a rooster,[2] asking me, “What’s up?” and “This coop isn’t going to blow away, is it?”

On Facebook, in private messages, all over, y’all let me know that having some clearer parameters of “justified” work has helped you out. I’ve passed the word on to Maman Lee. But I want to be clear about something. When the winds are whipping , you have to know that you are going to feel the effects – even when the storm veers to the west. Because we put energy out there. The energy will seek balance. There might be a bit of reverb on that. No, I take it back – there will be a bit of reverb.

Not all reverb is bad, mind you. I can really dig a G major with an E in the bass.

But the point remains, when we believe that we belong to an interconnected universe, how logical is it to believe that sending energy out will provide us a totally insulated space where none of the aftershock or recoil or whatever metaphor you like will not reach us? It’s not logical. Newton: Law III. We can plan well and try to assure that the “equal reaction” will work in our favor. (Oh, yes we can certainly do this.) But we have to plan for it.

Plan. Construct. Craft.

Let me share a TV plotline. I recently got wound up with The Newsroom. Smart show, btw. Totally fiction. Anyway, the main character revises his contract to get a little something he wants – specifically to have a little power over the female lead. Then, a few episodes later, he discovers that this negotiation left him open to a direct threat from executives. In his renegotiation, he forgot to close the window that said his ratings had to be somethin’-somethin’ lest he be summarily dismissed. (Or somethin’.) Now, he no longer wants the power he so desperately desired – and yet, his arse is flapping in the wind. On account of – he asked for it. Isn’t that just how it goes? You cast a little “mojo” and get what you want and all is well and then, before you know it, Jane Fonda has you by the metaphorical balls.

I’ve told you about “The Witch’s Duh.” This is it. Sometimes balance will be restored and it will do so in such a way that leaves our hair twisting in the winds and our chickens wondering, “Will this thing blow away?” Balance is not always “nice.” It is always, however, right.

Go ahead. Grumble. I’ll wait.

Another pop culture reference? The Butterfly Effect. Only without Ashton Kutcher. You can think that you have all of your ducks in a row and then, duh, a butterfly sneezes in the rainforest. Or something like that.

This is all just to say – know that when we cast, justified or not, we are changing things. She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes (Starhawk). And She will always – regardless of how we feel things should work out – create balance. This is why I always urge my students to work on interior change to manifest exterior change. Because guess what? Exterior change will manifest interior change. It just will. And if we are off-balance when She decides to blow a hot wind on a Tuesday night, we will blow right over.

I’m a little beat from a wild and windy Tuesday, y’all[3] and I realize that I may not have lived up to my promise to make sense. But I didn’t want to get tucked in before I cleaned up that pothole for you. Watch out for this one, sometimes you think the road’s been paved and – bam – like a myoclonic shock during a freaky dream, you are suddenly slammed wide awake wondering, “Will this thing blow away?”

The Road Not Taken, I haven’t forgotten you. I just want to make sure I give you good info – so let me double-check some things and I’m on it, deal?

Good night, see you tomorrow.

TBW

[1] And for crissake – I mean this to say that there is no difference between what is perceived to be goodness and what is perceived to be badness. Untwist your panties and move the eff on.

[2] I took Lola, the rooster to North Alabama to live with The Bad Daddy’s hens and make some behbehs.

[3] I made the mistake of taking a substitute teaching job for the week, oi.

And I have lots of friends in NOLA; been arranging transportation and lodging via text since Sunday. Fortunately my two favorites are in Alabama and New York at the moment, so Phew!

The Bad Witch on The High Seas

Originally written on 7/19. Now that I’m back on U.S. soil with the internets, I will show you what I’ve been doing.

I watched the bayous slip behind me for several hours today. I kept thinking, “I have the sun (fire) and I have the water and I have the wind (air). Will I miss the earth?”

As an aging Sagittarius with mouths to feed and mortgages and tuitions to pay (and an airy spouse to keep on some kind of beneficent tether), I have had to learn to temper the blazing fire in me and become more practical, more pragmatic, more pedantic. My moon is in Gemini and the air likes to fuel my Sagittarian fire. However, as I work toward equilibrium with all elements, earth seems to win out more and more these days – which may not, in the end, be a very good thing at all.

I have the intuition and generosity of water, the bookish rationale and wit of air, the passion and inspiration and gregariousness of fire, but more than all of those things I am all about longevity. I tend to be tolerant of bullshit (to my own frustration). And I tend toward physicality in my expression of affection, in aesthetics, in emotional outlets, and in my sense of humor – which tends toward the lower stratum. (Like many folks of Scottish descent, TBW loves a good poop joke – but it has to be a *good* poop joke.) I can be very bull-headed indeed. But I am also very well-grounded. Fortunately, I don’t have any of the scarier earth problems like stagnation or agoraphobia. That would never do on a ship like this.

So, as I sit with the sun above me, the wind in my hair, and the uncustomary roll of water beneath me, I want to look at earth. More particularly my relationship with earth.

A fire/air native, you can imagine what a ball of intensity I was at twenty. Fiery red hair to boot. I had already lived through more commotion than most adults ever meet, and I seemed to burn the brighter for it.[1] I had become accustomed to the audible gasp folks made when I walked in the room. I perceived it a normalcy that traffic and attentions and great bodies of water parted when I walked past. Not because I was particularly more attractive than anyone else in the room, nor because there was anything especially charismatic about my demeanor: just because I was a living blaze of dynamism.

Eventually, I grew to realize that I couldn’t just pour out my energies unreservedly lest I deplete myself. I’m not sure when that happened. I was sincerely wild, rebellious, idealistic, imaginative, and entirely emotional. But unlike many fire/air natives, I was able to channel all of those qualities toward results.

Despite a family of origin where a high school diploma is rare, I had already had (and abandoned) a career in finance,[2] had already had (and abandoned) a military fiancé, had married a man I fell in love with (literally) at first sight and had three children with him and together we owned a home in a major metropolitan area. I had earned a double-major BA and an MA (without financial assistance of any sort aside from scholarships and fellowships), was teaching at a fairly-competitive private university, and was a published poet. I had also completed three of five arduous levels of magical training at the knee of my exacting mentor and had (momentarily) converted to Anglicanism and had become a postulant.[3] All before my thirtieth-birthday.

In my mid-thirties, I had moved a thousand miles from home, had earned a PhD, had published a number of academic articles, had resolutely returned to my Pagan roots, was elevated to the fourth of five arduous levels of magical training at the knee of my exacting mentor, and had climbed well into middle-class-dom.

At thirty-seven, I got tired.

Damned tired.

In my exhausted folly, I recklessly mistook age for wisdom and followed the bad counsel of an older friend to let the fire inside me erupt. Inside four months I was left with nothing but smoking ashes – even the bad counselor had deserted me. As a reaction, I used all the earth I could find to smother the flames I had brashly ignited. Terrified of backdraft, I built walls of earth to brace against the wind that swirled around me.

This is a fairly understandable reaction, no?

But the long-term consequences of burying my innate disposition in earth and stone have been a little more unkind than self-immolation would ever have been. About two years after the initial explosion and subsequent um . . . snuffing . . . we’ll go with “snuffing,” the residual effects of that short-term burst continued to decompose the landscape around me. So I threw waddle and daub at the problem.

For two more years I remained fearful of a sudden flashover, so I built my temple of earth, earth, earth. Then, not too abruptly, I realized that in meditation, I would “get stuck” in my third chakra. Know what I mean? If you do, then you do. If you don’t, then I can’t really explain it. Everything was quiet on the southern-front: too quiet. I had sacrificed my nature in the name of balance.

Eventually, I realized that pyrolysis was inevitable, even the earthiest edifice would eventually crumble. I was honest with myself. I knew what I was: unadulterated fire with an abundant oxygen supply. I realized that if I put enough earth on a volcano, it would blow sky-high at its inescapable ignition. So I spent two more years working toward digging at the embers of my being while maintaining a safe perimeter.

  • Silly as it may sound, I dressed as a phoenix for Halloween.
  • Silly as it may sound, I wept openly when Danerys Targaryen survived her own death-pyre and brought dragons back to The Seven Kingdoms.
  • Silly as it may sound, I asked for a Kindle Fire for Yule and got it – with a red case.

As most of you know, I had a shite week-from-Hades about a month or so ago. The unrelenting emotionalism of that particular roller-coaster-ride left a crack in my edifice.

Just enough for the smoke to rise and make the whole dadgum neighborhood smell like barbecue.

Just enough for the heat to make ripples in the air around me and flat-out-frighten the idiots who had been carelessly pouring gasoline around me for the past four years.

Just enough to make a whole group of cold and hungry folks (knowing the warmth and nourishment found in flames) come out of the woodwork saying: “Ooooohh” and “Ahhhhhh” and “Ohhhhhhh.”

Just enough to make me sit up and say, “Enough dirt, dammit.”

Just enough to land my ass on a cruise ship with no earth to be found.

This is the art that was just outside The Bad Stateroom.

So, as I sit with the sun above me, the wind in my hair, and the uncustomary roll of water beneath me, I want to look at earth. More particularly, at sloughing (some of) it off.

I think y’all might just be in for viewing a metamorphosis.

Imma toast this unfamiliar fruity little drink that my waiter, Fernando, just brought to me to the phoenix as she rises from the ashes. Join me?

Sláinte!


[1] I grew up in Latin Kings’ territory on the South Side of Chicago but ran with a number of Satan’s Disciples just before the big war between SDs and Two-Six; TBW could whip a Two-Six-Folk gang sign like no other white-girl. We met in Brother Preacherman’s church and hung out in the church parking-lot; many of my other “brothers” became Evangelical preachers. This makes me giggle.

[2] For which I had a real estate license, a securities agent license (Series 63 and Series 7), and state and federal insurance licenses.

[3] That lasted about two years. Considering what I learned in those years, I don’t regret a minute of it.

Bad Witch, “Goad” Witch

I have been asked, on a number of fronts, “If you’re The Bad Witch, who’s The Good Witch?”

After explaining that “The Bad Witch” didn’t originally apply to me, but to the Bad Witches on whom I was reporting (ergo: The Bad Witch Files) and that I took on the moniker as a bit of a joke (based on a snarky t-shirt) which I ended up embracing (blah, blah, blah), I try to explain that by “Bad” I really mean “Challenging” or “Intending to be a goad.” In other words, I like to poke y’all ‘til you squirm.[1] And because I’m bored with defending myself on this front,[2] I thought I’d write one long post and be done with it for good.

The Bad Witch is a gadfly. If she bugs you it must mean that you’ve got something to bite.[3]

We are all pretty familiar with the good cop/bad cop interrogation routine, right?

Imagine: David Caruso brings you in for questioning. You’re sitting all alone in a cement-block interrogation room with a two-way mirror. Who do you prefer to see? The Good Cop or The Bad Cop? You aren’t in any trouble, really; they’re just trying to uncover the truth. Then the Heavy comes into the room. She asks you direct, pointed questions, makes you very uncomfortable, and leaves. You sweat for a minute then The Softie comes along and brings you a soda-pop and a snack, tells you soothing stories, holds your hand, listens to everything you have to say, looks into your eyes, and says “Trust me; if you tell me everything, I can make sure The Heavy doesn’t come back.”

Then she lifts your prints from the soda can and reports everything you told her.

While the good cop/bad cop routine is teamwork used to close a criminal case, the good witch/bad witch routine doesn’t really work like that. Primarily because the good witch and the bad witch are not in cahoots. Our metaphor applies to a set of non-cooperative constabularies: me and the anti-me.

Anyone who knows their Freshman year rhetoric knows about the false dilemma (either/or fallacy). Things aren’t always as dichotomous as they seem – or are they? For me, it seem that the issue between “good” magic (and witches) and “bad” magic (and witches) is caught up in a linguistic strand of signifiers that prefers bipolar morality to the difficulties inherent in ethical choices . . . and intent.

It’s slippery isn’t it?

Ethically, we do not work magic in order to hurt people; but we do work to protect people, right?

Right?

Hmmmmmm.

As an (extreme) example, consider this: Pedophile Joe has eluded the police and you are concerned about the children in the neighborhood. When you protect the children, don’t you – by default – “harm” Joe? I bet he’d see it that way.

Likewise, when you seek to bind someone to a situation (even if you perceive it as positive), you are exacting a manipulative and “controlling” influence.

The trick is – why are you doing it and what do you hope to gain?

The Bad Witch could wholeheartedly get behind throwing Pedophile Joe in the cauldron; at the same time, I would exhort you not to attempt to keep someone you love by your side – even if that’s where they want to be.[4]

In its purest form, magic is a gift given to us to bring us closer to the divine; therefore, it should be directed inward, not outward. That’s not to say that magic can’t be used to affect material situations, just that we must study ourselves very carefully before we decide if it should be used for those purposes.

My mentor always taught me that we don’t use magic because we want to make something happen, but because we want to make ourselves worthier of the gift itself. And that “bad” magic or “black” magic is that which is intended to manipulate or control others or situations.[5] Most agree that “Black” magic is the manipulating of energy planes done by the self for the self, not necessarily to the detriment of others, but to gain something (typically material) for oneself.[6]

So does that make us all Bad Witches?

Sorry, that answer is above my paygrade.

Therefore, let’s go back to the good cop/bad cop scenario.

The Bad Witch is direct, will call you out on poor manners, will tell you when you’ve effed up (and will, likely provide a way to make it better), will make you very uncomfortable if you are lying, and will leave when your company has become trying. However, TBW will not deceive you. What you see is what you get. It’s all on the sleeves of her scary, scary black robe. [7]

The Good Witch is the one that gives you someone else’s ruby slippers and tells you that magic can and should be used to get all the candy in the candy store. The Good Witch brings you a metaphorical soda-pop and a snack, pacifies you with anesthetizing stories, gains your trust and promises to protect you from The Bad Witch.

All while running your prints.

That, my friends, is The Good Witch.

If I am indeed The Bad Witch and my goal is to goad you into a new level of introspection (while exploring my own innards)– then what is The Good Witch doing?

If The Bad Witch is the one who tells you the truth (follow me on an uncustomary binary headtrip for a moment), The Good Witch must be full of shite.

Let me take it a little farther. Most likely, The Good Witch is all touchy-feely and lulls you with a false sense of love: initially preferred to “tough love” for its saccharine charisma. But how nourishing is saccharine?

The Good (“Fun”/“Alluring”/“ Mollifying”) Witch only offers “false love” – that psudo-psychology term for the kind of relationship that poses as love but really asks for sacrifice in return for domination and abdication of selfhood, the kind of “love” that hampers personal growth out of fear of being surpassed, outdone, or abandoned, the kind of “love” that wants us to limit contact with others by making us doubt, mistrust or be suspicious of others. What’s more, it’s the kind of “love” that makes others doubt, mistrust or be suspicious of us.

Admittedly, The Good Witch is more fun to party with, she has a nicer ass, and her cookies always have just the right amount of chocolate chips.

But will she respect you in the morning?

Or in a year.[8]

The Bad Witch (read Tough-Love Witch) will goad you into thinking for yourself. And then let you make informed choices, sometimes you will do this kicking and screaming. But she will be devoted to supporting your choices. That’s hard work – for both of you.

But where does that road lead? Not many are willing to travel alongside a Bad Witch down a tough road. (Remember: If she bugs you it must mean that you’ve got something to bite.)

The Good Witch (read False-Love Witch), on the other hand, wants to tell you what to think, who to care about, what to do/read/eat, when to jump and just how high; then she will pat you on the head like a good puppy when you comply. This is a much easier road – for both of you.

But where does that road lead? Are you willing to follow a Good Witch down a false road?

Many are.

I pray for them.

B, Q, 93,

TBW


[1] Not entirely unlike the ha-satan who observes human activity with the intention of locating folks’ sins and challenging them. Like the celestial prosecutor who brings human iniquity to trial. He got called “Devil” too.

[2] Not from you, my loyal readers; from those who have been fed a series of bull-cupcakes – and they ate them with a spoon. They lick the poop-icing off their fingers and everything. It’s kinda fun to watch. Gross, but fun.

[3] And there is no The Good Witch. There are some people who like to think of themselves as my counterpart. Some who like to believe they embody “The Good Witch.” However, after we study this designation, I don’t think anyone is going to strive for that sobriquet.

[4] I always ask my Momma not to “pray” for me for these reasons. It’s bad enough that I seem to be stuck living in Alabama, I don’t need to move to North Alabama.

[5] I’m using scare quotes to indicate my understanding that the values “bad” and “black” are arbitrary.

[6] Yes, yes, there is a such thing as “grey” magic – a balance or “middle path” that helps you without harming anyone else. But, to be honest, most folks find “balance” too difficult to maintain because they find it easier to rationalize their desires and disguise cravings under a veil of altruism. This extends beyond the scope of my argument, so I’ll save it for another day.

[7] Because, after all, I am very menacing. Grrrrrr. Argh. And boogadaboogada!

[8] In my experience, I’ve seen that people like this tend to have rotating relationships that vacillate between devoted to discarded.

B is for Black Work

The Bad Witch has been very naughty indeed. I have placed my chickens before my . . . well, second B posting. Not paying close enough attention to the gameplan of the Pagan Pages Blog Project, I posted my C blog before my second B blog. I amend that here.

I have caught my tail this week. 

Ever see a dog (or a cat) just before it starts to chase its own tail? You know how this will end – if it ever does – and you want to say, “Dog, go after something a little more useful. That there is just y’own tail, son.”

I know this phenomenon well. I have a Catahoula – a hound among a pack of herders – she has a tail like an alligator. She can *take* *you* *out* with that tail. Entirely on accident. (Schutzhund trained, she can take you out anyway, but that’s another blog for another day.) Most of the broken dishes in my house have met with that tail. Little will wear her out like getting going on a good tail chase.[1]

Laying in the sun on a lovely afternoon, she will thwack herself good and hard with that booger and swear up a storm til she gets it. Then, once she has her own ass in her mouth, she usually looks at me – tickled and slapping my knee at her silliness (it’s funny to see a killer acting a fool, ain’t it?) – drops her tail, sits down, and – as much as a dog can blush – she blushes: “Oh, Lord. I’ve done gone and chased my tail again, y’all.”[2]

Now I suppose it’s that bitch’s turn to laugh at me.

You see, I had been basking in the sun, minding my own business, when out of the blue, I spotted something twitching. I tried leaving it alone. I truly did. I left it alone for two whole days but it kept on’a twitching. Right there in my peripheral vision. Then I thwacked myself with that booger good and hard. Just as I was revving up to chase, everybody told me, “Now, Bad Witch, that there is just y’own tail; leave it be and do something useful.” But no, I had to make sure for myself.

You know how it is. You’ve done it too.

I even did a little divination to find out if it was, in fact, my own tail. Yup.

Just imagine the amusement of onlookers, tickled and slapping their knees at my silliness (it’s funny to see a killer acting a fool, after all). Imagine: The Bad Bitch chasing her tail, stopping to consult the I Ching: “Stagnation,”[3] and proceeding to chase her tail some more.[4]

But, today, the chase ended. I finally caught hold of it. Bit down good and hard on my own tail. And guess what, ladies and gentlemen? It’s the same ol’ass it’s always been.  Now that I’m standing here with a mouthful of my own, very familiar, tail-fur, I’m slap-amazed with myself for having spent a whole week of precious time and energy chasing after what I knew full-well was m’own damned tail.

Why, oh why, oh help me Jesus, would The Bad Witch chase her own rear-end like that?

  • Because I was bored? Hell no, I have a full and busy life.
  • Because I mistook it for something else? Aw, baby, I knew what it was all along.
  • Because when I thwapped myself, it hurt? Not even a little.
  • Because I wanted to see if it was still attached? Because I wanted to see if it still hurt when I bit down good’n hard? Hmm, mayhaps.

Now, I don’t know if that last guess is true. It feels like it’s getting on to something – but I don’t like to think of myself as that dumb or that self-destructive. I guess it’s time to start digging around in the yard to find out where the bones are buried (forgive my mixed metaphor; though about a dog, I realize this one doesn’t follow the grand narrative). It’s time for The Bad Witch to get back to some kind of Black Work.

But you have to hear me right. Black Work is not Bad Work.

In Alchemical terms, The Black Work, or Nigredo, is the stage at which the prima materia begins its transformation.[5] This is where decomposition takes place. It may seem counterintuitive to want to “decompose” the self, but it’s a step that is necessary in order to purify the self. Decomposition is the process of breaking a conglomerate material into its constituent parts. Here, the unnecessary or downright harmful “impurities” can be cast off.

Imagine a lump of unrefined ore. Before it can become a useful tool, the impurities must be burned away. We often call this catharsis a crucible experience. Or, at least I do.

In Jungian terms, the “shadow aspect” is that part of the unconscious mind where our repressed failures, lingering childhood fears, character deficiencies, knee-jerk sensitivities, and involuntary drives wallow like swine in corn husks and the rotty-old-psychic-tomatoes-that-get-crushed-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden-bucket-and-raked-out-into-the-slop. These parts of ourselves lurk in doorways waiting to trip us up like clumsy Catahoulas with anaconda-like tails. I have heard the process of examining the shadow-self called “work of the soul/shadow,” “The Shadow Process,” and “shadow work.”[6] (This last term keeps coming up in unrelated conversations, so I thought I should perk up and pay attention.)

So, as initiates, we always begin with The Black Work. We must. There is no point in trying to fashion a sword out of raw ore, now is there?  Some folks try. I wish then good luck with that.

Occasionally, like this week when I wonder why I’ve spent s’damned much time chasing my tail, I find myself retuning to do a little soul-searching. This doesn’t mean I didn’t get it right the first time. It doesn’t mean that I have a faulty soul. It just means I still have parts of my tail (tale?) to investigate. You see, the Black Work isn’t the last step in purgation.[7] We must always strive to burn away unnecessary shit that seeps out from deep in our nucleotides. Like titanium, we have to go through multiple phases of purification before becoming our final product, no?

Whenever there are bad Witches in the community, others come to the conclusion that some Black Work needs to be done on that bad Witch’s part. But whenever I see someone else whose painful distortions and repressed fears are thwacking them across the thighs like a sinewy Catahoula tail, I think, “Hmmmm, me too?”[8] After all, I’m no less human than the next Witch.

P.S. Imma dig up an old email I sent to a friend a few years ago outlining a good method for “Soul Mirroring.” I’ll clean it up and post it to Open Path.

P.P.S. I apologized to one of the onlookers who had to watch me chase my tail this week. He lovingly reminded me: “The sun doesn’t get mad at the clouds that block its view of the Earth, after all.  It has other things to care about and shine on.” ❤

I’m sorry for showing my ass – and then biting it. I’m gonna get myself together, darlin’, and rejoin the human race 😉

I guess we all shine on . . .

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://onewitchsway.com/pbp2012/).


[1] I am lying. None of my dogs chase their tails. Raccoons and squirrels, yes. Their tails, no. I needed a metaphor. Forgive a Bad Witch? Tail-chasing is believed to be a sign of neurosis in dogs. I may be neurotic, but my dogs are just fine.

[2] A rescue from Katrina, my Catahoula has a thick swamper accent.

[3] Hexagram 12: “Stagnation” or “Selfish Persons.” It reads, “Stagnation is brought about by inferior persons. There exists no advantage – even to persons of exceptional character and virtue.” (Trans. R. L. Wing. Doubleday, New York: 1982).

[4] The I Ching is a snotty little oracle, isn’t it? Unlike the Tarot where if you don’t like the answer, you will get a variant that tries to coax you into compliance, the I Ching just tells you to, “Wax’a floor,” or “Paint fence.”

[5] Forgive me for oversimplifying. Those of you who are into Alchemy, you don’t need me to reiterate the finer points; those of you not into alchemy, these finer points would be extraneous to my thesis. If this post piques your interest, study on, my friend.

[6] In Part 2, Step 1, 1 & 2 of Initiation Into Hermetics: ”Introspection or Self-Knowledge,” Franz Bardon “Without self-knowledge there will be no real [magical] development on a higher level” (35). I give you this source as a model to follow if you do not have a decent mentor to guide you. This secular one doesn’t suck either: http://integrallife.com/awaken/shadow/practice-3-2-1-shadow-process

[7] There’s the White and the Yellow(s) and, some agree, the Green(s).

[8] Oh, but don’t get me wrong. That I eventually land on introspection doesn’t mean I didn’t start out wagging my finger like the rest of them.