A is For Apple

“What’s in a Name?”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1)

I have been trying to work my way through a number of Q&A posts on Heathenism to little avail. One of the questions I’ve tried to address is this: “What are Heathen dietary restrictions?” [1] There are as many answers to this question as there are Heathens to answer it. For instance, Wyatt Kaldenberg, author of Perceived Heathenism & Odinic Prayer, argues that Heathens have no use for any chemicals as entheogens aside from alcohol:

Northern Heathens did have a shamanic drug that is referred to many times in ancient literature. Our shamanistic drug is called alcohol. . . . Marijuana, peyote, opium, and most other natural drugs aren’t native to Europe. . . . alcohol, not drugs, is our magical doorway to our Gods. (Kindle Edition. CreateSpace. 2011. 143-145)[2]

But this leads me to a different question. How about coffee? Chocolate? Jasmine tea? [3]

And, in my typical stream-of-consciousness style, this leads me to a completely different train of thought.

The question was asked by a reader, a seeker – but who is giving the answer, The Bad Witch or the real me?

The person typing on the keyboard drinks a lot of coffee. The Bad Witch might say, “Hell no, that shite is terrible for you, you should never partake of the brown-devil-of-caffeinated-lusciousness.”

Though, then again, she might not. One never can tell with TBW, can one?

A few of you know me in real life and know that Ehsha Apple is my nom de plume. The rest of you, I’m sure, know that my name is not The Bad Witch. The Bad Witch is a persona adopted after a bit of evolution in this blog. I started out “reporting about” bad witches and, in a perverse transformation, I accepted The Bad Witch as my nomenclature. Referring to myself in third person was my (the real me) way of distancing myself (the real me) from the things The Bad Witch does and says (she is often very naughty and foul-mouthed, indeed). To take it a step further, I use the acronym TBW to draw further attention to the visage.

According to Narrative Theory by Ismail Talib, there are three personages necessary to create a narrative: the real life person behind the keyboard (or pen) – the real me, the presumed author – the Ehsha Apple, and the narrator – The Bad Witch/TBW. In this case, The Bad Witch is your narrator. She is not (exactly) the real person behind the writing. Ehsha Apple is the presumed author, but because she too is a false persona, she too is not (exactly) me.

I have an author friend who uses a nom de plume and has another persona. While I didn’t develop my methods based after hers, I’d be glad to steal any ideas from Momma and Homegirl! [3b] Momma, imho, is the fucking bomb.

The Bad Witch is fond of her too.

This is just to say, as pen names go, it’s done in creative writing circles. It’s not weird, it’s not “out there.” It’s certainly not devious.[4]

A, perhaps extraneous, side note about “Ehsha Apple”:

While I can’t give you all of the ins and outs, I can tell you that Ehsha is a derivative of my maternal grandmother’s name. In Mvskogee, it means “blood” (feminine). In Sanskrit Esha/Eesha/Isha (E/sha and I/sha) means “pleasure” or “desire” and “Lord” respectively. (Think: Ganehsa, Raveesha, Venkatesha, and Umesha).[5] In Hebrew, Isha means “woman.” And Eshmai is “I am She” in reverse. (You can see more about magical names at Open Path.)

Apple, on the other hand, is a little more convoluted. Rather than it choosing me, I chose it.[6] In the moment, it was a nod to Eris and the Apple of Discord and then later it was a reflection of Idunna’s Apples. But it turns out that, aside from being the typically depicted Edenic taboo, apple is also a racial slur. Particularly in the American Southwest, Native Americans refer to those who are “red on the outside and white on the inside” as “apples.”[7] Ironic, no? My whole upbringing – the “white sheep” in a “red” flock, I was teased for my blue eyes and “pale face” – reinforced my desire to be true to my Native heritage. And, what do I pick to signify myself? A frickin’ apple.

This is all to say that when there is thought and consideration taken for psudonyms, they can be powerful and revealing.[8]

Of course y’all know my name is legally Angela–or Dr. Farmer, depending on who’s speaking.

In the end, my point is that I don’t always practice what I preach. I don’t have to. Because I’m not the one doing the preaching. The Bad Witch is a much more bad-ass chick than Ehsha (and Ehsha is a little nicer than the real me). The Bad Witch is here to call me out on my own shit and Ehsha is here to keep me from going postal.

“Schizophrenic?” you ask? As a fan of Deleuze & Guattari, I say, “Abso-fricking-lootly.” I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This post is (make up work for) 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] Most Heathens don’t consider “restrictions” but think more about consequences in the standard, “You are what you eat,” philosophy. Some Heathens are steadfast in insisting that there are certain foods we should never ingest (especially if we cannot pronounce them) and some Heathens are Vegan, Vegetarian, or Pescitarian while others insist that humans are Omnivores and should consume meat.

[2] I’ll read just about anything on my Kindle.

[3] I’m not condoning drug use, I’m simply questioning the logic of something I formerly took (a little) for granted.

[3b]  ISBN: 9780956665881 – Just buy a copy, wouldya?

[4] The issue comes to blows when an author doesn’t understand the function of noms de plume (noms des plumes? I mean, we all have our own pens, right?) and tries to hide behind a persona and simultaneously claim authenticity. (Check it out, my introduction and my first post, “The Bad Witch at the Watering Hole,” clarifies that while I am the character called The Bad Witch, I am not a bad witch.) If a pen name is about distance and an acronym is about further distance, how can either speak to authentic voice? They can’t. A City Girl on MySpace can’t be A Country Mouse on WordPress and have both be authentic. Both are avatars, and that’s fine. But let’s call apples “apples,” shall we?

[5] Now, I didn’t do this on purpose, it just happened. I was going on a Creek term. I am not of East Indian descent and it didn’t occur to me. I guess I’m just lucky it didn’t turn out to mean “slovenly drunkard.”

[6] There had been a mythological party, there was a snubbing and a (Golden) Ass – it was all about vanity, an nitwit passed out apples, there was a dispute and a stream of competitiveness, I shouted “Hail Eris” and got the eff out. It seemed reasonable at the time.

[7] I’m not fooling anybody – I’m absolutely white on the outside, like my daddy instead of my momma. So what does that make me? “Human,” I’m told.

[8] Some names are just grabbed out of the air or put on for airs. These names can bite my – – shuchyomouth.