Boondock Witch

“I have no shame, I’m proud of where I came from, I was born and raised in the Boondocks. . . and I can feel that muddy water running through my veins, and I can hear that lullaby of the midnight train, and it seems to be that it sounds familiar.”

Little Big Town

Mmm hmm. I’m Southern.  Raised by a woman who came across the river ’round about fourteen wearing homemade dresses and knowing how to chill milk in the river.   I was ashamed of this kind of living, speaking, loving and dying all the way through my doctorate degree.  Now, I’m ashamed of that.

Let’s chat a bit about being Southern, being Country, being a Hick and why all that is just alright with me.  Ya’ll ever seen Southern Christians pray? Cook for a funeral? Hold hands?  Raise babies?  I have.  Made me a much better Craftswoman.  Something in this red clay Alabama dirt, something rich and wild left by the Trail of Tears, runs in my blood like muscadine wine.  I’m just outright okay with that.  I never did have much truck with folks who couldn’t make peace with their roots.  Now, I do not expect that other cultures are not just as fine, as I have had the honor of being entrenched in a few and found them to be just as sound.  I reckon they have their traditions and memories and love and food.  My celebration and declaration of the wonders of the South is not in resistance to others that are just as valid.  No, it’s just that I know this place, these histories, these smells.  And they are righteous.

Someone near and dear to me, a Northern brother who came to the South and called it home, asked me recently what I thought of those who have a few preconceived notions and derogatory words to say about the South.  My answer to him was the same as my Grandma’s to me about twenty years ago: “Let them think what they want.  Let us look crazy as a bessie bug.  We like it that way.  Keeps our secrets safe.”  I’d add that it also assures us of cheaper living, more land and a mystique that I prefer.  But, just for fun, let me dispel a few tidbits for those who are not privileged:

We have been practicing the craft on this land long before a ship showed up.

Praying is magic.  Pure and sweet.

Family and their traditions are the stuff of honor here.  Storytelling keeps our ancestors alive.

Banjos, fidders and harmonicas tell better stories than people.

Fried chicken, collard greens and homespun butter are vessels for healing and divination.

Elocution, when done nice and slow like molasses dripping off a biscuit, takes time and patience.  Slower sometimes is better, if you know what I mean.

When our Elders go a bit hatty, we set (go with the linguistics here) Grandma on the porch, hand her iced tea and a pellet gun.  Now.  That’s respect.

Southern land holds the reverence and deference of a church.  Those connections are taught at birth.  Pagan?  Oh, hell yeah.

Haunted houses are like a Tuesday down here.  Well, I know more Christians who hex Mr. So and So’s house on the way by on a Sunday drive than I do Pagans.  We are born believing in spirits.  Anyone ever heard of Savannah?

The oral tradition is alive and well.  Everyone here knows everyone’s lineage, comments on those who don’t respect that fact, and enacts a certain justice against those that would beat their wives, leave their chillun’, or lay around ornery and lazy and not support their own.

“Their Own” means something here.  For real.

Yes, yes, we harbor a shameful history of racism and bigotry.  So does the rest of the country.  Truth is, I don’t have a single friend who doesn’t despise this fact.  Nor do I have a single memory of my life without my African American, lesbian and gay and Muslim friends embedded within in them.  Folks don’t talk about that.  Doesn’t make for a good movie, I suspect.  Let the rest of the country think what they want.  Then go read The Help.  (And do shut up about the title.)

Last one, I Swannee.  (Folks down here don’t like to swear.  Grandma always said a river can take it.)  We respect “the old ways.’  Now.  That can be anything from grinding corn like our Cherokee ancestors to feeding strangers.  Is there anything more righteously, heartily Pagan than that?

I have spent so many decades in shame over these deep roots of mine that I refuse to feel anything but sanctified over exalting them today.  Why would any of us, no matter what our upbringings were, deny our heritage?  Is it not in the truth-telling of our beginnings that we find ourselves?  As a craftswoman, I refuse to sidestep notions of political correctness when it comes to accessing the spiritual realm.  Big Momma (aka Mother Goddess) would have my little, white ass over such a move.  And she knows how to throw a shoe.

I write in testament to my roots.  I write as sacrement to my heritage.  I write in hopes of handing down something that smells of the earth from which I sprung.  I write in honor of who I hope to still be.  As far as I can tell, that’s the least we can do.

And I’m Pagan Hick.

Blessed Be,


8 Comments on “Boondock Witch

  1. A) I love that song.
    B) “When our Elders go a bit hatty, we set (go with the linguistics here) Grandma on the porch, hand her iced tea and a pellet gun. Now. That’s respect.” This is my favourite – though it seems there should be a stainless steel bowl of snap peas or string beans involved here somewhere, with small children learning to pull the ends off the suckers while they learn the stories of their kith, kin, and clan.

  2. I’m so glad that we have gotten to the place where we can embrace our roots. I can remember Momma talking in whispers (even when no one else was ’round but me and the Holy Ghost) about her mother’s “Indian ways” (aka “clairsentience” or whatever). I hatelove the story of her changing my name before we left the hospital so’s I could have a “white” name because she was afraid that the “native embrace” of the late 1960s/early 1970s wouldn’t last. And afraid that Daddy’s people would find out she wasn’t “all white” – only for me to find out last year that Daddy wudn’t neither!! Hate that I can’t both be on the Dawes List AND be a McDougal. Love that I am both. Our Big Mommas and Grandmommas are looking at us and saying, “Finally. Now that’s right, girl. Amen.”
    Thanks for this sugah.

    • Ha Ha! Love it, my English sister. I feel the same of yours! We are far to separated by an ocean. Wish we could have wine! Love, Seba

  3. Amen to all of this! You know, I get that whole “OMG SHE”S SO WEIRD” thing from both my non-pagan AND pagan friends/family. Why? Because I’m some hybrid of both. I’m a pagan, so that means I should be some long peasant skirt wearing tree hugger.. and I’m Southern, so that means I should be a conservative, “lord bless her heart” sorta good old girl. Why can’t I be all those things? I AM all those things. I put up my own tomatoes, bbq sauce, jams and jellies. I plant a garden. I like sweet tea and I like sittin on the porch. I talk about wipporwill’s and know my land and the animals that live on it. I know the plants and trees in these woods. I use all the phrases and words and have the thick accent. I like moon pies and RC Cola. I’m like sooooo many of the people I know and love, I just believe different and see the Earth, the land, the world from the eyes of an ancient.. I don’t go to church.. outside IS my church. Being pagan and southern aren’t mutually exclusive, in fact – I reckon they go together like blackeyed peas and ham. Being southern IS, in so many ways, pagan… and it’s a shame most don’t realize it.

    Gods I love this blog. Girl you rock my socks!

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