I Used to Think People Like my In-laws were a Myth

I guess I was a dumb ass little kid.

The elementary school I went to was less than 10% white. It was also a magnet school for the more seriously disabled students in the district. The foundation on which I built my worldview was that this was the way the world looked. My middle school did nothing to discourage this worldview. My high school had a higher white population and the students tended to somewhat segregate themselves, but it was very liberal and we even had the good ol’ Westboro Baptist Church protest at it for our lgbt acceptance.

Let me tell you: I was not ready for the “real world.”

I was the kind of kid who preferred the company of the ESL kids (English second language). They tended to speak less and what they did have to say was interesting. Sometimes I sat at the “lesbian table.” (Which I didn’t discover that they were all lesbians until my senior year and which did not effect my friendship with them at all.) 

In high school gym class, there was a young man with facial tics. He was very quiet and people tended to talk at him more than to him. We hung out. His name was Tyler. We started dating. Then one day, he brought me to meet his family.

Up until this moment, I thought that people like his family were a myth. A gross exaggeration used as entertainment on tv. As it turns out, they are very real.

As I stepped through the door, his older brother turned and said, “Wow. You brought a Mexican?”

For the record, I am actually not Mexican.

Tyler froze in the doorway in terror. 

Tyler’s mother, noticing that there was a potential problem, interjected, “I think he just means that you’re not really the type of girl these boys usually bring home.”

This did not solve the problem.

Tyler’s father looked up from the tv and said to me, “It’s not a bad thing necessarily.”

As if I needed his reassurance that I wasn’t a bad thing. As if his graciousness assuaged my fears that, alas, even though I was a lowly, useless not-quite-white person, he would allow me into allow me into his home.

The problem continued from there. From confederate flag belt buckles to lifted trucks with smokestacks to spouted racial slurs and rampant homophobia, they were something straight out of an ugly fairyland. 

When Tyler proposed to me a couple years later, only my mother knew beforehand. His father was furious. His mother was disappointed. I settled in for a lifetime of telling them to fuck off.

I helped Tyler find a psychiatrist who diagnosed his Tourette’s Syndrome and prescribed him medication to help control his tics. His parents didn’t “believe in” things like that.

My in-laws are willing to help us when we need it, but delight in hating everything I do along the way.

A couple weeks ago, my car’s alternator took a shit. It was towed to the nearest place it could stay: my father-in-law’s welding shop. A couple days later it was brought to my in-laws’ house where Tyler fixed it.

When I got it back:

Naturally, I was liks, “Who the fuck wrote on my bumper sticker?”

It was either someone who worked for my father-in-law (which is basically just his sons and nephews) or someone at my in-laws’ house.

But since I pointed it out, of course, I’m the bad guy. I’m “starting a stink and it’s probably about time you take that bumper sticker off now anyway, don’t you think? I mean, he’s not President anymore and you can just peel it off.”

Excuse you, bitch? Maybe your stupid fuck nephew shouldn’t vandalize other people’s shit.

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Pop Culture and the Tarot

I once heard someone say that they don’t “do pop culture in their tarot.”

It wasn’t necessarily snooty, but it got me thinking: fucking why?

Is the human condition so much less meaningful now than it used to be? Do our struggles only count if we shit in the gutter and die in our 14th childbirth but we only have eight kids alive? Our hard times and good times have changed as we’ve progressed as a species, but they’re still just as important. 

Old things hold magick, but so do new things. A new, wild idea is just as powerful as a tried and true tradition. 

Popular culture is a great way to make the ideas of magick, and especially tarot, real and relatable. 

Jesus and Odin made sacrifices, but so did Harry Potter and Gansey. 

Here’s an example: According to learntarot.com, the King of Pentacles is, “enterprising, adept, reliable, supporting, and steady.” Okay. Great. But what does that look like? What does a King of Pentacles look like in action?

 

But if I said Julian from Trailer Park Boys, bam. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. 

Or hey, remember that time Donald Trump became the President of the United States?

I drew the Seven of Cups…what does that mean?

There’s just so many options.

Hey, I drew the Seven of Wands, what does that mean?

Iconic.

See?

I will use my Legend of Zelda tarot deck until the day I die, because I see no difference between that and outdated versions of events and people.

Tarot Spread: Singing Over the Bones

Seeing as it’s the Autumnal Equinox/Mabon, I figure it’s a good time to share one of my tarot spreads. I make a lot of these and write them down, and I need to stop hoarding them.

This spread was inspired by the story of “LaLoba” in Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs. If you haven’t been reading this book, what the hell have you been doing?

Anyway, here goes:

1. You: Your present state.

2. Find the Bones: what have you lost/let die?

3. Assemble the Bones: Why did you let it die?

4 & 5: The Song: How to bring it back to life.

6. The Spirit: What will this bring to or bring back to your life?

The Magick You Get

Once, my brother said to me, “I’m pretty sure the sound of the universe is just mom saying: you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

And I’m pretty sure he’s right.

While this applies to every aspect of life, I was thinking about it concerning the “types” of witchcraft available to a person.

When I first started on the “left hand path,” I was eleven. (This isn’t really when I started, but when I found words to apply to what I did and believed.) I imagined my basement bedroom as a dungeon, and I decorated everything in sun, moon and stars shit. My mother bought me A Witch’s Book of Divination (because my mom is cool like that), and I propped that bitch open on my music stand and lit candles and felt witchy as all hell. 

I would see photos of old-fashioned kitchens cluttered with bottles and jars and hanging herbs and I would think: that’s what real witchcraft looks like. I decided that, when I grew up and got my own kitchen, then I could be a real witch.

Fast forward 7 years and I surveyed the kitchen in my duplex. The light wasn’t warm enough and the floor was white tiles and the table I had was glass, not wood, and I knew this just wouldn’t work for being witchy. 

A year later,  I moved to another duplex that was a block from the cemetery where generations of my maternal family are buried. Ley lines converge there and the whole area is weird as fuck. By this time, I had decided that maybe “real” witchcraft was more of the Celtic variety. I needed lush greenery and damp abundance for witchcraft. Unfortunately, the Colorado ground was hard and dry and wasn’t good for growing shit. So I still couldn’t do “real” witchcraft.

During this time, the dead made constant contact. I had a very strange couple years there that were NOT GOOD for my mental health. When I found out I was pregnant, I decided that we needed to move. 

We moved to a house right in the middle of the city. Sirens blared down the street at all hours, shootings at the apartment building at the end of the street, neighbors that couldn’t mind their fucking business. Well, this shit wouldn’t do for “real” witchcraft. The chaos outside became chaos inside the house and my own head as I had two children two years apart, and then discovered I was pregnant AGAIN about a year after having had my second.

My husband lost his job and we ended up desperately renting out our house and moving into my inlaws’ basement.

At the time, I thought my Magick had died.

Moving in with the kind of people they are and just having discovered I was yet again pregnant, my magick reawakened. I was mean and vengeful with it. In an attempt to get a handle on it, after I had the baby, I enrolled in yoga teacher training to try and find a better outlet. I tried here. I really did. But the culture surrounding the yoga was not conducive to magick in any way. I decided I must have been doing something wrong because I wasn’t like them at all, and yoga people are magickal, right? Right? Maybe “real” witchcraft wasn’t even witchcraft as much as it was rose quartz and dreamcatchers.

I call this time the Dark Time. My magick had become something to be feared rather than something I celebrated. I never left the windowless basement and a suicide hotline was called and it was just overall a bad fucking time.

Then one night, it unravelled. It was like an ego death, except that I’ve never used any drugs besides weed in my life. It was a Kundalini Awakening and an instant of Enlightenment and all of those other names used for the same thing. None of this exists and this is all that exists.

The next morning, I told my husband that I was leaving with or without him. We moved back into our house (which had been all but destroyed by the tenants). 

Cramming together the pieces of my life and taking stock of what I now had, I discovered that I still had my magick. “Real” witchcraft was something that was going to have to wait because I had small children. We celebrated seasonal changes and started little traditions which, of course, wasn’t “real” witchcraft.
Finally, a few months ago, we bought a house in a rural area on an acre of land. I’m not going to lie: the kitchen’s witchy capabilities were what really sealed the deal. 

Right away, I started to notice things about the house and land that would prevent me from doing “real” witchcraft. This shit is straight-up desert. Where’s the magick in that? And the animals and kids take up a lot of my time. How will I have time for witchcraft? 

And then I realized:

It’s been witchcraft the whole time. 

“Real” witchcraft is working with what you have and the land you’re on right this instant. 

Musings on Magick and Money

I’m a naturally suspicious person. Some people mistake it for curiosity, but it’s generally rooted in suspicion for me.

That being said, so you ever get suspicious about why people in the tarot/magick/new age/whatever community are doing what they’re doing?  Do you ever suspect they’re only fucking with you because they want your money?

To be clear: I’m not saying in any way that everyone in these communities are out to gouge you. I, myself, run an etsy shop selling crystals and handmade jewelry. I do this because I like making things. Too many things. More things than I can keep and give away to friends and family. So I decided to sell some of it so that I can keep buying more shit to keep making shit. I love it and I hope it shows. But I’m not just trying to reach into your wallet.

Anyway, it has recently come to my attention that good ol’ Doreen Virtue has become Christian and denounced tarot. People are shocked and hurt and outraged. (I don’t give a fuck because I’m personally of the opinion that her damn angel decks are a slap in the face to serious cartomancers everywhere.) So what the fuck? I’ll tell you:

With the burgeoning tarot community in the last few years, people have been jumping in with all kinds of money-making ideas. Decks of all kinds for readers of all kinds. It’s a wild smorgasbord of decks. And yet, we’re a tumultuous customer base. We ebb and flow. We grow in ways people may not expect. The tarot community is growing away from Doreen Virtue’s work. So, having wrung all the money from this group, she changed tack at the speed of light, pandering to a different demographic, even if it meant denouncing the very people who made her.

But there are others. Many others. Slithering in the underbrush. I look out for things like certifications you pay good money for. I spent almost $3,000 for a yoga instructor certification, and I came out having learned that most yoga people are fucking annoying and very little else. I also look out for sudden appearances in the tarot community when previous products have been completely unrelated. 

There are always a million red flags in retrospect. The magickal tarot community draws new opportunities for businesses every day, just make sure you’re giving your money to legitimate situations.

Harry Potter and the Major Arcana, pt 1

Remember when I used characters from Harry Potter to describe court cards? Yeah, I’m doing that shit again. But this time, we’re doing the majors. 

THERE ARE A MILLION WAYS TO DO THIS. For this series of posts, I’m going to use Harry’s entire journey through all seven books. 

THAR BE SPOILERS AHEAD.
0. The Fool

Ready? I’m skipping the first book entirely. Harry’s not comfortable enough to even venture forth confidently until the Chamber of Secrets, so that’s where I’m going to put him for the Fool. The Fool thinks he’s got shit figured out. He doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know. Harry sets out with his faithful little dog (sorry, Ron) with his eyes trained so confidently on his success that he just might step off a cliff. I can guarantee you that Harry never once thought, “Wow, I sure hope there aren’t any enormous fucking snakes rampaging around the school petrifying people this year!” He didn’t even know this was a problem one could have. This isn’t, of course, to say that it will lead to his downfall (it didn’t), but that he simply wasn’t prepared for the kinds of shit he might run into. He thought he was ready with his books and quills and wand, but wizardy bullshit was waiting just around the corner to pry his world right the fuck open. 

1. The Magician

If I were to give Harry a significator out of the majors, I would give him The Magician. And no, not because of the whole magic thing, but because the Magician is about taking action and knowing how to use what’s available to you. Harry’s fantastic at scraping and scrambling and stabbing possessed journals with fangs ripped from a dead snake’s head because that’s all he had at the moment. But even before that, he had decided that he wasn’t going to stand by and wait for someone else to save Ginny when she had been taken to the chamber. Something needed to be done, right fucking now, so he gathered his little resources and set out to fix this shit himself.

2. The High Priestess

The High Priestess generally represents a kind of self-awareness. Often times, self-awareness involves realizing that shit is much bigger than you originally thought, and that your part in it may be smaller than you had been thinking. Remember in the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry is crouching under a table in the Three Broomsticks listening to Fudge tell Madam Rosmerta about how Sirius Black betrayed Harry’s parents and that’s what led to their deaths? His day had just gone from cheerfully sneaking out of the school to go to a candy shop to suddenly wanting to kill a man. The High Priestess had just revealed to Harry the scope of the problem, and leaned in to whisper, “You ain’t shit.”

So How DO You Work with Shadow?

I’m always on here bitching about when people only focus on the light, but someone recently asked how to work with shadow then. That’s a damn good question.

As with all shit like this, I can only tell you how I do it, and I’m sure there are a million different ways and they’re all equally effective. 

Firstly, you’ll have to go out in the dark. Metaphorically. Leave your flashlight behind in the warmth of the kitchen. If you bring it, your eyes won’t adjust. Grab the shovel from the porch on the way. When you reach the edge of the woods, you’ll realize you’re not there alone.

It might look like a monster. But it might look like a friend, a family member, a teacher. They will make an attempt to stop you from entering the woods. You may have even come this far before, but decided to take the advice of what looked like your mother warning you not to enter. 

This is not your mother. Nor is it a friend. Smash its fucking face in with your shovel. These are woods you have to enter.

After this, leave your shovel there. Any digging you do will be with your bare hands.

In the dark, you’ll trip. You’ll trip a hundred times over a hundred different things. Now is that part that takes time: stop and find out exactly what you tripped over. Examine it in detail. It will be gross and sticky and all manner of terrible, but look at it anyway. Dissect.

Once you’ve discovered how it works, leave it there. It belongs in the dark. These are not the kinds of things you display proudly on your mantlepiece. 

Often, I trip over people I want to punch in the face. 

In middle school, I was strolling along and fell hard. Soil in my mouth, I sat up to see what was in my path. It was a stone statuette of a girl who had been in my history class. I spat out most of the dirt in my mouth and had to swallow some. It had been my fifth day at the new school, and a boy had loudly pointed out the fact that I had a Harry Potter book in my arms along with my world history book. His mocking tone had dared the rest of the class to disagree, and none of them did. But one girl in particular had stood out because I knew for a fact that she had a notebook that said Gryffindor on it. But she went along and laughed at me with everyone else, like it wasn’t right there in her fucking backpack. 

At first, it was easy to try and dismiss as hurt that the class had made fun of me, but the next night, it was there in my woods again. It wasn’t until I had tripped over the goddamn statuette several times that I realized it was more than that. It was deeper than that. There was a girl who obviously liked Harry Potter too, but she had been perfectly willing to denounce it to fit in. Her weakness bothered me. She didn’t do what I would have done.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Once I realized the underlying issue, the statuette lost its power. I buried it among the roots of a tree in the dark. 

Find. Dismantle. Understand. Repeat.

Every person you hate, every idea you revolt against, every irritation: look at it long and hard. It’s uncomfortable as fuck. But you have to do it. You have to.

Ask why over and over until you hit the very foundation. And then move into the next question. This is how you maintain your shadow.