Trees and fog and the sky and witchy things.
I recently made myself a little pentagram necklace since I could never find one that matched the one I wanted. It’s tiny and painted with green enamel. The chain is gold.
This summer I nested and finally found the tarot cards I was meant to learn how to read from. (Traditional decks never felt right.)
Now it’s early autumn and I’m thinking about the way I make art and mend and care for objects I wear and keep within my living and working spaces.
How do I engage with ritual and how does this connect to the narrative surrounding my work, as well as my life? I guess these are questions I’m asking myself, as I find myself getting back into a way of making art that feels more like I’m allowing an intuitive flow, and this flow is asking for a little more directed attention than I’ve had it in me to give, in a while.
It’s a question I’ve been asking when I think about the way my life feels more like my own and how it should be, when I consider what my spiritual beliefs are- as personal as they are, and how these beliefs and rituals are expressed.
It’s rooted in nature AND the toxic day-to-day living that includes too much stuff, too many cars, too many ideas, too much hunger, consumption and anger, too much electronic light, distracting work, paychecks, bills, opinions… It’s rooted in the ocean and the plants and the dirt and the sand.
I’m getting to a place where it’s feeling more connected and it’s been leading me to valuing my spiritual life in a clearer way, linking to my art and art-making processes. I’m admitting that it matters, even if I feel like I’m fumbling along.
I’m here for my mother and this is complicated. We are complicated. She is complicated. Aging is complicated. I’m her only child able to help, so I’m choosing to do so.
It’s easy to fall into old traps and ways of thinking. As is the case for many of us, mothers can push some very specific buttons and I do my best to try and move those buttons away from her now bony hands that can’t help but continuously try to push, push, push.
She has the same ideas and anxieties and scapegoats she always had and I guess it would break a lifetime’s worth of something at the core of who she is to even acknowledge that I’m no longer along for that old ride. But I’m not here to fight. This is where it gets tough.
There is something I’m working out. I can feel it, but it’s hard to pin down. I’m trusting and working on things like boundaries. My work revolving around her is helping me in other areas of my life.
I feel it’s a needed return. Some kind of circle will be closed up, or something will be sealed and done. That’s how I feel.
It has to be linked to my personal belief system, in order for me to follow some kind of intuition toward a feeling of correctness and completion and then moving on toward something else. Letting go. Giving thanks. Being kind, as well as firm. Bringing in and maintaining some kind of comfort or peace.
Making a home with my partner, especially in our latest space, is giving me a great deal of contentment and joy. Having a designated art studio, a garden to tend to, a warm and welcoming place for others to gather- I’m truly enjoying taking care of what I have. I didn’t come from that kind of energy and this life is separate from the one my mother created and is comfortable within. It took me a very long time to understand how to grow and celebrate my own, unique version of that sensibility. I needed it.
My mom’s life, as prickly as it seems to me to be, is a dream she has snuggled right into, but she can’t admit that she is kinda content, and I believe she is. I can see that this is most likely the best it can be, and that’s good. It’s something good.
I am a hedge witch. Yes, this is what I am. I am going to say that I am this. You can laugh if you want.
I had heard the term before and didn’t give it much thought. The word, “witch” is so weighted and I admit it is connected to so much silly stuff. That’s okay. I’m making it okay. I can be silly too, although I don’t connect my witch-life with silly things.
I learned that a hedge witch practices independently, like me. I make up a lot of my own rules. Following intuition and listening to nature and the moment, as best as I can, is important.
The term seems to come from the idea of the [lady] who lives in the house in the woods or the neighborhood with the wild hedges and mysterious things. Your typical “witch” story character, in a way. The hedge witch home is sort of a living thing, and I’ve always found pleasure in engaging with all of my living spaces in ways that felt like a relationship, even when I used my imagination and played house with friends, as a child. Over time, I developed a sort of internal conversation with all that I feel lives within the spaces I find myself nesting inside of. I consider the history of past dwellers, the energy that’s still there, the clearing that might need to be done, the honoring too. Gratitude. Objects are in some way, alive. Walls and ceilings. The flow of water through pipes. Wind blowing from one window and out another-
I guess one doesn’t have to be a witch of any kind to have a relationship with their living and working spaces, but it gives me a sense of power and connection to develop rituals with dried herbs and rocks and plants and bells and feathers, sand and salt and sticks I find on the ground below trees I really love. Sewing, weaving and art-making fits into this so well. I realize how much better things are when I remember all that reminds me to trust and to listen and to enjoy and be still and patient. To be as kind as possible and to be of service. It’s also what tells me to draw boundaries and stand firm, when I need to.
I mention all this because I’ve started a writing project, exploring all the parts of my witch-life, as a way to accept my naming it. Because naming it has suddenly become important. I’ve been taking notes, and I realize this identification connects to experiences in the past and rituals I didn’t even understand as witchcraft and also how pop-culture’s representations of the witch led me to find my own version of this kind of life.
I think there is something to share in it all, but we’ll see how it goes.
Issues of identity are complex, especially when linked to the perceptions others have with systems of belief. My way, for a long time, was to mostly keep these things to myself. I didn’t want to have the weight of “the witch” to lead people to make quick assumptions, or to think I’m interested in attempting to control or harness the power of dark and harmful things.
There is already a lot about the way I see how I'm perceived, as an artist and an art teacher, that I’ve taken on and tried to manipulate- through the way I dress and present myself; the way I compose my identity as I move through stages of life. It’s been useful.
Signifiers matter, and I’m excited to teach students who are courageously challenging the rules connected to gender, from the past. I also worry about them, as it seems they are taking on a lot at such a young age. Life is a struggle for all of us, but teenage years are especially tough and so much new stuff is swirling around inside of humans during that time. So much is changing. To understand that you are something different from what you may look like or live like means that you also have to absorb the energy of outside confusion and anger, when people realize they cannot put a pin on who you are. The belief that we can define another living person based on agreed upon rules is just bonkers, but comfortable. I see this happening even with my lovely LGBTQIA+ students, when they share harsh judgements of people we hear about, that come directly from popular internet sources that they believe are rooted in kindness and acceptance. Nuance is hard to allow into any of our heads, even when we require or desire everyone to take that into consideration when engaging with the person we are. It’s easier to hold onto comforting threads of belief that are tied into some distant but familiar perception of sureness. The truth is that those threads are all tangled up, from beginning to end, but they can be beautiful that way, even though it’s confusing to navigate.
This is where my witchiness lives. It’s also what my art is. This is why I’m afraid to give it a name, but I think I’m going to try and do it anyway.
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