Well. Slap my face and call me drama, I missed something about as big as a hay-baler in the middle of town square. Those who know me well know that I am fond of saying “it was like a Tuesday” when it comes to those moments that happen commonly, often and with a regularity that most of us older folks pine after. For instance, “some witch” makes up a public ancestry that couldn’t be farther from the truth of what she/he told you over ten years of fires–it was like a Tuesday. Or, the tires go bald at the same time as yor’ tags are due, the herd of domesticated yard-yappers need their shots and the dryer goes pffft. It was like a Tuesday.
And I never understood Monday.
Recently, I have been on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule at the local university, allowing my-southern-ass to recoup lost time for tribe business, book-writing business and other catch-up kinds of hullaballoo. I’ve jumped on the Pagan Blog Project (thanks again, Rowan!) and am in negotiations for Boondock Witch, all whilst homeschooling the Southern Fried Teen (when I’m not threatening him with my wooden spoon for daily teenage tomfoolery) and holding down a sustainable marriage and small farm. And Monday has been the same ol’ bitch she has always been . . . shoved all careless-like up against sweet Sunday and shaking her taxable finger at my witchy nose. Until today.
It was like . . . a Monday. The likes of which I have never witnessed. Now, I’ve heard tell that when someone casts bad juju at you, you get rewards from the universe . . . but I understand magic a bit more pragmatically than that. That is, until I thought it out. As crafters, we all know that when we believe in something, hard and fierce, it comes into being in the most delightful, sinewy ways. Sokay. Then, does it follow that: when someone casts against you (in jealousy, revenge, or just plain meanness) that iffin they believe the aforementioned premise, it will befall the victim? Hmmmm. Seems to be. In all my born days, I have only had one actual enemy take the stage of my life, and it certainly did not escape my witchy radar that some black astral goo had been shot in my direction. I tried to take the high road (well, I have friends in this town that date back sixteen years) or even placate my wounded pride (it’s not X’s fault, she cannot help herself) or even defense (and that one works right smart, y’all, as long as you have your ethics lined up first), but without fail: I was struggling through the murk and mire of someone else’s hate and resentment. I could feel it like a borrowed coat, you know the kind, all lumpy and uncomfortable . . . too tight or too big and in that color you associate with hospitals. With briars in the pockets.
Yupper. That damnable coat kept showing up on my little frame ‘ary damn day, whether it was cold out or not. And so. I did what I was taught: I turned to Big Momma, prone and distraught, a slobbery mess of “I tried to handle it on my own” and half outa’ my head from the onslaught of “aggressive casting” that had been hurled my way. And that’s when I remembered.
For almost forty-three years, my Grandma loved me special. Whether or not that fact drove the rest of my family to distraction doesn’t matter anymore, but I have felt quite the orphan since her death on account of the loss of that “specialness” in someone’s heart. That unadulterated, thick, sweet love that she held for me incited rivalry, resentment and even ostracization . . . but it saved my butt over and over as I traversed a significantly scarred life. Consider this: I am an Aries, born on April 4th. Not a whole lot going on in my chemical/psychic makeup that would allow me to wallow in victimhood, or ask for help, or simply reach out for a little stabilization when the winds get to whippin’ up and the dogs start to howl. Somewhere in all of that was Grandma: you are strong. You are so, so smart baby girl. You are special. There’s a heaven touch on you, baby. You are loved. And still. It didn’t occur to me until last night to ask for intervention.
But I did. I knelt hard by my new pear tree when ‘ary one else was sleeping, looked up and remembered who I was, am, and will always be: I am Her Granddaughter. I am not a whipping post for a desperately overblown ego, I am not a “mark” for an angry, lonely witch, I am not just another subject in the Party Pagan World. Without her, I had forgotten to love myself in that rooted, organic way in which I had been rocked from the cradle. I had forgotten my “heaven touch,” that blessed, sacred mark upon my soul that thickened my bones against hungry dogs and steadied my blood against black magic infection. I had laid to waste the nourishment of ancestral protection (Cherokee, Celt, Apache) and allowed a mongrel to steal away with my Divine Inheritance. And then . . . I got pissed.
I have said before and I will say belligerently again: iffin’ you dance around in manure, it will stick to your heels.
When she was still living on this plane, my sweet Grandma told me of this the caster: leave her be. She is not of our kind. Stay focused on your kin and your heart and do not wallow in her well. I suppose it was my nature, as a previously abused wife, to assume that I could change my enemy. Make her kinder. Make her consider “real” ethics, rather than those that she had charged as her demons. And still, I forgot the first premise of curses: we hold an active role in accepting them. Sometimes, the hardest moment is letting go, y’all. Have you ever watched crabs in a bucket? The Southern Fried Husband is fond of telling this one: when one brave soul attempts to pull himself out to freedom, the others will grasp him and pull him back down to a fate of a boiling pot and a little Creole seasoning. My goofy ass had started to understand this moment as being like a Tuesday, as in “normative” behavior that I should accept and slop down with a biscuit in my daily world.
Does that sound like the kind of mantra my Grandma would have pumped into my developing Alabama soul? Ah. But I had become accustomed to giving too much, accepting emotional abuse, emotional manipulation and general asshattery. I suppose it’s a Southern thing, to that extent: we want to be polite. We endeavor to do the right thing, syrup yor’ pain and variously work ourselves cross-eyed towards funding yor’ dreams. We grab our shotguns when you holler “WOLF!” and run after the apparitions you deem threatening to home and hearth. We bleed for yor’ babies, talk down your Mommas and stand beside you even when we know that there ain’t nothing in that word you spewing but ugly. Laws, we are the carriers of original sin, the cross and anything else your heart is too egotistical or lazy to haul across the unexamined life. And when we finally kneel, under a tree on Southern dirt, to face the nature of our existence? We remember.
Dying for yor’ sins is redundant and unoriginal. And it sure shouldn’t be done every Tuesday.
And so, today? I woke up after dreaming of my Grandma all night. It was a rainy Monday. For the first time since we moved to the country, the lamp I inherited from Gran (the only thing I was allowed to inherit) suddenly started working again.
The chickens laid double the eggs they had been spittin’ onto the hay, two new donations came through for our family church, I read through the fine print of the letter denoting my new raise at work and one fragrant gardenia flowered by the porch. In October.
Hi, Grandma. I remember. I am strong. I am so, so smart. I am special. There’s a heaven touch on me. I am loved. And I chopped those crab claws right off whilst jumping outa’ that bucket.
Guess what’s for dinner, y’all?
It was like . . . a Monday.