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Unexpectedly Magical

finding the magic in everyday life

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Witchery & Magic

Summer Solstice 2017

Three years ago was the last time we truly observed the summer solstice as a family. I was pregnant with Little Brother at the time; after his birth I struggled with trauma, postpartum depression, and the regular craziness of new motherhood plus caring for Big Brother’s special needs (undiagnosed at the time).

Here we are three times around the sun later, celebrating in much the same way as we did before:

We wrote our intentions and wishes for the future onto paper and then folded those up into boats. We dipped the boats in oil and lit them on fire and then I sent them down the river. We also sent sunny flowers down the river and I made a flower crown. It was lovely. Afterward the kids waded in the water and tried to convince us to let them go full-on swimming. At home Hubby built a gorgeous fire in his grill and we shared a late supper and marveled at the length of the day.

After the boys were in bed I settled into my crafty/witchy corner and did a spread.

VIII Strength really stood out to me. Looks like I need to keep at the being strong thing, but I should temper it with patience and gentleness. My time to break free isn’t here yet – again with the patience thing. Overall it was a cohesive reading that delivered its message clearly.

Next year Hubby wants to add canoeing out on the river or lake and releasing the paper boats via canoe; that way we can follow them. I look forward to what another trip around the sun brings us.

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Good Vibes in Unexpected Places

The local pregnancy helpline my family volunteers with had a crafting event last weekend; folks were invited to craft ornaments that would be sent out to donors. I took my oldest son with me because I know how much he enjoys crafting; I also brought him because I think it’s important he regularly do things that are for others. I was surprised to see the church’s parking lot packed with vehicles, but even more surprised to see the throng of people inside the building working on projects. The space was abuzz with happy chatter, children playing, people working… the sounds of community. Most of the people were putting together blankets (the kind you tie around the edges) for a local charity; we found the group making ornaments and joined in. My son excitedly began smearing glitter glue around and making small talk with the kid sitting next to him. Parents supervised while also working and teenagers went back and forth from minding the younger children and helping with the crafts. Nobody was stressing out about the toddlers running around or babies screaming – it was clear that families were welcome and children were loved. Nobody gave us strange looks for being the obvious outsiders; everybody smiled and was kind.

The good vibes in that space were amazing! Even my son picked up on it and asked if we could start coming to this church on Sundays. If it weren’t almost a 30 minute drive away, we probably would try to attend. As we were leaving we explored more of the building and peeked into the sanctuary; the beauty of Catholic churches still shocks me. I realize some people find aesthetic beauty to be frivolous, but for me, a beautiful space allows me to open myself better and experience the spiritual power found in holy places. My son seemed to be feeling much the same and stood in hushed awe as we took in this place.

As I’ve studied Catholicism, I’ve sensed that the orderliness and predictability of liturgical worship will be a good fit for my son. He struggles horribly with anxiety and a need to be in control/know exactly what is going to happen. He had a meltdown before his birthday that was triggered by his anxiety over not knowing exactly what was going to happen on his birthday and what presents he was getting. The kid does NOT like surprises. A church service like I grew up with, which often included shouting from the pulpit, was relatively unpredictable and would surely send him into fits of anxiety. As I look back on my own experience with those kinds of services (which I attended a minimum of three times a week) I can see that they caused me anxiety as well. Yes, in comparing the two forms of worship, I can wholeheartedly say that liturgy is my preference.

This Sunday, if nobody is sick or otherwise indisposed, I’m going to take the oldest to church and see what he thinks of Sunday school and possibly Mass. He’s expressed a lot of interest in attending some kind of church, and is generally very interested in spirituality, so it feels right to help him embrace that interest. Our local parish is well-respected in the community and the religious education program has high praise from the therapist my son sees, so I don’t have many concerns about my son’s wellbeing or safety. This whole thing is kind of strange still, but discovering the Catholic community has brought a lot of joy into my life and helped me grow spiritually, even if I’m going into this as a ChristoPagan witch. 🙂

A not-so-happy Halloween 

October Musings

Perhaps the timing is odd, but this October finds me yet again contemplating a union of my pagan beliefs with a form of Christianity – Christopanism. The Catholic Church, with its long, rich, dark, and even magical history, calls to me. Mother Mary calls to me, along with St. Brigid, Sophia and others who (in my mind) represent the divine feminine and can be considered goddesses. 


I so deeply crave a church community, but finding a place nearby that I feel comfortable attending has been difficult. I’ve been toying with the idea of visiting a Catholic Church for two years now, ever since Mother Mary connected with me during my pregnancy with Little Brother, but I haven’t yet been brave enough to go. My respect for Catholics is at an all time high, largely due to the humanitarian work they do. Here in WI, they are the people of faith showing the most compassion to the community around them. They are feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and clothing the needy – and doing it with love instead of judgement. 


There is an air of mystical, magical wonderment surrounding Catholicism. The idea of joining something ancient, something centuries of my Irish ancestors likely were involved in, is tantalizing. My biggest hang ups with Catholocism have been the martyrdom and self-degradation found in many stories of the saints, the patriarchal hierarchy, and the opposition of gay marriage. I’m realizing that I don’t have to agree with 100% of a religious group’s teachings to participate, though the fundamentalist, cultish mindset of my Baptist upbringing has made it difficult to come to this realization. 


After being on the fringe of society my whole life, I’m tired of the pain of never fitting in anywhere. I’m tired of being different. I’m scared about my boys’ growing up without a strong sense of community and belonging. These emotions naturally play a part in my religious considerations. With no local family and very few friends, what do I have to give them? Big Brother (and now all of us) is finding community by being in public school, and it’s awesome.  What could belonging to a church community give our family?

What Do I Want to be When I Grow Up

People were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I never had much of an answer apart from knowing I wanted to get married and raise a family. Plenty of possibilities presented themselves to me -photography, church music, youth work, massage therapy, missions – but my sporadic nature kept me from settling on something. In college I changed my major several times before settling on a humanities major that focused on literature and history. What would I have done with that degree? Not sure. The development of fibromyalgia prevented me from returning to college so I completed a few credits online to receive an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. I took an online course in photography, hoping I could make that my future career, but life had some dramatic twists that have not made photography a priority for the last few years. I still love it, and am finally pulling out my camera again after a long break. Maybe I’ll pursue it more seriously as the boys continue to grow older. Or maybe I’ll pursue my zillion other passions. 😁 

Things I’m currently passionate about learning/doing:

  • Tarot reading
  • Herbology
  • Kitchen witchery
  • Crocheting with goal of opening an Etsy shop
  • Activism – consistent life ethic issues such as: adoption, foster care, food banks, poverty relief, orphanages, disability rights, Down’s Syndrome rights and adoption, environmental protection, domestic abuse, crisis pregnancy support, unjust war….
  • Maternal mental health
  • Learning sign language
  • Research
  • Speaking out about abuses in fundamentalist religious communities 
  • Teaching and being involved in the local homeschool community 
  • Natural family planning
  • Studying Journey of Young Women’s program that equips women to be mentors who will support and guide girls on their transformative journey to womanhood through Girls’ Circles

And my list continues on and on. 

In reflection, I find it… amusing that, now that I’m in my chosen career of motherhood, I find myself pining to be involved in activism at a level only attained by someone who is childless or no longer raising their children. It’s frustrating at times, but I also realize that, in all seriousness, I would not have the same understandin of many of the matters I’m so passionate about if I wasn’t raising children. Motherhood has changed my perspective in ways I couldn’t have previously imagined. 

I began mothering Big Brother a bit before his 2nd birthday; I was 23 at the time – much younger than most of the other mothers I ran into at parks and the library. I honestly do not regret skipping the career phase most 20 somethings choose before starting a family. The time for charity work will come soon enough, as my boys outgrow their dependence on me. It’s already happening, bit by bit each day.  😔😭🤔😕😊😄😁

Looking for Group aka Building My Village

When I first moved to the Madison area, I didn’t know a soul. I jumped onto Meetup and even Okay Cupid to find friends for my husband and myself; I joined Facebook groups and sent out vibes of community; I had limited results, despite hunting around for about three years. Craigslist actually yielded a friend, but she moved away and we lost touch. In-person community has been hard to come by, although I’ve had better luck this past year. 

Fast forward to today, when I’m hopping back on Meetup because a Red Tent group is forming in Madison (!!!!!!). Glancing at other groups’ (particularly moms’ groups) events reminds me of why my previous attempts fell short: 

1. We have no nearby family and no money for childcare, so unless Hubby can keep the kids I don’t go out by myself.

2. For the reasons I just mentioned, Hubby and I can’t get out without the kids, although his social anxiety and other quirks usually make him uninterested in doing that. Plus he has 5 food allergies/sensitivities.

3. I don’t have a lot in common with the other mom’s in the Meetup groups. They are having their first child in their thirties – I’m 26 and have a 5 year old (by adoptionish) and an almost 2 year old. They have one kid or the siblings are at preschool/school, so they can enjoy special play dates of single-aged children or meet moms for coffee at posh cafes – I homeschool and neither child does the quiet coffee house thing. They usually have money for lunch out and whatnot – I usually don’t, but if I did I’d have a difficult time due to my food allergies and rowdy children.

4. I have health issues that impact my abilities: fibromyalgia, bad back, Ehlers-Danlos Type 3, an allergy to milk, an intolerance of gluten and eggs as well as things like onions, garlic, and cooked tomatoes. 

5. Big Brother is a wild child who cannot sit still or control his volume leaves for the world. He wants to kiss everyone and has no sense of personal space. He experiences ADHD, anxiety, and Sensory Processing Disorder. He’s also gifted and experiences asynchronous development (older brain, younger emotions) and intensity of personality. His temperment and high needs make social events stressful.

6. Little Brother is also a wild child. He’s gifted as well and has a personality as intense as his red hair. He doesn’t let himself be managed and is physically strong enough to use his weight to get what he wants and cunning enough to make things happen. He’s a runner and can unlock most doors. We’ve resorted to using a safety harness whenever we’re out to keep him from dashing into disaster. 

7. We’re a fringey, nerdy, weird family. Hubby is a gamer, I’m a witch, and we homeschool. I cover my head sometimes to help deflect energy (I’m an empath) and often wear maxi skirts and odd clothes. Hubby makes foam weapons. BB knows more about The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon than he does about Spider-Man or other superheroes. LB stills nurses with no end in site. We have a family bedroom…. Etc. We’re quirky! 

I guess it’s obvious I feel a strong sense of otherness; not in a “me versus them” kind of way, but a “there’s them and there’s me and we are in different worlds” kind of way. Joining a local homeschool group has helped me connect with people who I have things in common with – yay! I’ve met families with special needs children, families who have similar values, and families who also want to find a group where they fit in. Hopefully the Red Tent will expand my village and perhaps turn up a fellow witch or two.

Anyone else find themselves in a similar place? 

Artwork from Mama Panya’s Pancakes, a lovely story about community. 

Be Careful What You Say in a Witch’s Kitchen 

Hubby stood in the kitchen, gearing up to wash some dishes, and began to grumble about our tiny kitchen. “I hate this kitchen!” he declared. I immediately knew this was unwise and told him not to say such things, but he didn’t take his words back. 

Later, as he washed dishes, he sliced open his knuckle on a spatula(!!!!) and had to go get stitches. After he left I walked into the kitchen, curious to see how a spatula had managed to do such damage. I briefly considered chiding the sink and dishes, but then I recalled Hubby’s sharp remarks and understood. 

My tiny galley kitchen may be less than ideal, but it’s still a sacred space full of magic; don’t mess with a witch’s kitchen!

Busy Days

Dragon-fighting, bread-making, and bullet journaling – oh my!


I’ve been busily organizing, de-cluttering, planning, and reading up on my current obsessions (Earthschooling/Waldorf, the Goddess Brigid, and kitchen witchery). And keeping track of everything in my beloved bullet journal (how did I live without it?!?!). I recently decided to jump from the plan (or lack thereof, haha) of unschooling Big Brother to buying a Waldorf curriculum for his kindergarten year. When the time is right I’ll dedicate a post to why I made this choice. For now, I’m very pleased with my baby steps into Waldorf life and am thrilled to see our house and family coming closer to peacefulness and joy. 

Forging Relationships with Deity

How does one find a relationship with a new deity after being raised in a fundamentalist Christian tradition? How does one approach an ancient goddess after spending most of their life believing the only true deity was singular and exclusively male? How does one seek out a partnership* with a deity after believing deity was both all-knowing and all-powerful and required servitude?  How do I put aside these worldviews I no longer believe to be true and replace them with something completely different? What must I do or say?


I’ve contemplated various deities** over the last few years – Cerridwen, Arrianhrod, Saule, Sophia, and Brigid – but a patron deity remained elusive. I studied each deity and learned something from each story but eventually moved on to another deity. The only deity I’ve ever come back to is Brigid. She is the deity my kitchen altar is dedicated to and is, probably, my long-sought-after patron. I’m giving us until Imbolc 2017 to decide whether our partnership is right for both of us; if it is, then I’ll plan something ceremonial and official. As a very fluid person, commitment is a bit scary for me… but I feel like I need the stability. I’m ready to be done with my five years of spiritual drifting. Identifying as a witch, after four years of denial (a knee-jerk reaction to my first husband’s fear of me when I timidly broached the subject) has been freeing in ways I never imagined. My anxiety has eased up, I’m happier, I feel more fulfilled, and my family is happier as a result. Mommy being stable and free to be her witchy self is powerfully positive; having an established patron deity can only ground us deeper as a family.

 
Imbolc is six months away; I’m looking forward to what these months will bring. If the last few days are any indicator, these should be some of the happiest months of our lives. Even if Brigid isn’t who I partner with for the long haul, I will still be forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from her.

*If the concept of partnering with a deity – rather than serving without question – is new to you, join the club! I stumbled across the concept on Instagram recently and was thankful to read someone expressing this simple-but-shocking concept. Witches make things happen. Witches don’t sit around waiting for a deity to grant our wish – we call on deity to aid us as we send our intentions into the world and work to create what we need/want. Ours is an active spirituality, complete with personal responsibility and free will. 

** My deities-of-interest have all been female. I believe in male/female balance in areas of spirituality, but for now I’m only pursuing goddesses. About three years ago I had a vision in which a god smiled and conveyed to me that he would be waiting for me to be ready to embrace male deity again. He pointed me to his female counterpart and I knew I was to embrace her. I’m still focusing on the Goddess at this time. As my boys grow older I will likely relearn what it means to be masculine (something I’m already relearning thanks to my husband) and discover the God.

 

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