CRAFTING LOCAL: BALANCE, BITCHES AND MATER BEDS

And I can taste
That honeysuckle and it’s still so sweet
When it grows wild
On the banks down at old camp creek
Yeah, and it calls to me like a warm wind blowing.
— Little Big Town, Boondocks

Balance.  This word has come out of my mouth more than my favorite curse word lately, and that’s saying something.  If pagans had a motto (that they all could agree to) it would be this concept of balance.  But lately, I have been conceptualizing this idea in a whole new manner.  Go figure–it only took forty-six years.  Have I mentioned that I’m an Aries?

I remember the anguish of being ten years old and my first lesson in balance.  It was “free time” outside, there was this balance beam and my lanky ass waited until all of the gymnastics gals were done with their somersaults and tight-wire acts to tip toe over to that long plank.  Assured that they were busying themselves with gossip, hair flips and Bonnie Bell lipgloss, I attempted to walk–practically pissing my britches–across the beam.  For just a moment, I felt it: confident, strong, weighted just right in white Keds, just before I heard Suzanne B. behind me.  Look at you.  You think you’re a gymnast, doncha?  Dummy.  And . . . I fell.  Bloody knees, humiliation.  No balance when you’re ass-first in the dirt.

You see, this is where the other little thing has been wearing on my brain.  Stay with me.  So, balance sounds all nice and cheesy safe until we forget about our real, visceral location in the universe.  Like mean-girl-land.

Let’s try this another way.

Last Mabon, we were all snuggled up in the back forty with Mabony foods and fire.  Somewhere between beer bread and presentation of corn dolls, the assumption was made that we were in a particular numerical harvest . . . on account of that’s what Pagan Wikipedia had declared.  Hmmm.  Now, all those books and standards were carved in a land far, far away from lower Alabama where it’s eighty degrees by March and often the same well into October.  Turns out, we’re semi-tropical.  We have loads of red clay.  Our roaches could drive a VW and our sun sets much later than many other geographical locations in our sweet world.  See:  our geographical/physical location doesn’t just matter, it’s critical, ‘specially if we want sweet maters.  It’s like I tell my magic students: you can have all the secret/standard words, stand in a certain direction, throw on your purple cape, wear that pentagram and holler on all witchy all your little heart desires . . . but if you haven’t considered the ground under your feet, not much is gonna happen.  Lessen you count the funny looks you get the next day from your neighbors.

Yesterday evening, I took on my last student for a good while.  The sun was still warm, I was having a little hair of the dog and we were gnawing a bit about what would be expected in her witchy learnin’.  If found myself repeating (like some old, forgetful bitty) over and over: because we want something to happen.  Everything else is just, well, performative.  Just imagine: we craft a little ditty out of Egyptian spice, throw in a bit of English Rose, shake a little Ethiopian pepper and fire over the whole shabang in Indian oil (dots, not feathers) while speaking a foreign tongue.  How y’all think that little spell is gonna land?  Mmm Hmm.  A bit to the left, I expect.

Riddle me this, Batchildren.  Why do we get all uppity about eating local, growing organic, farm-to-table dining and such but do not incorporate those pragmatic, earthy premises to our magic?

Aha.  That’s what I thought.

We want something to happen.  Then what the blue blazes are we doing in the back forty with a foreign magic?  Laws, we look silly as hell.  Then we’re all why didn’t my spell work?  I said all the “right” words.

Balance, anyone?

Now, I’m not denying that we bring other places with us.  After all, we are some righteously recycled souls from some righteous lands.  The question remains: must we deny the ground beneath us to assuage our wander guilt?  Listen: no one has more Irish blood coursing through their veins–lessen they’re straight off the boat–than SFW.  On that count, I honor my ancestors, call Samhain by its rightful name and have been known to bless a soul or three in a Gaelic tongue.  And then there’s the Cherokee in me, three generations back, and a rough thrashing of Apache from my paternal line.  Now.  I live right-slap in the middle of the Cherokee Trail of Tears–not Limerick, or the Isle of Wight, nor Arizona–and so?  And don’t think it’s escaped my wily head that the Irish settled down South back in the day.  It was a recipe that made my skin.  I reckon some Celt hottie turned to some mocha Cherokee and suggested babies.  Aho.  And thanks, y’all.  Someone pass the cornbread, someone pass the mead.  Looks like we’ve got a party called Seba.

Hang on.  I’ll make the point in a bit.

burn.jpg

Last year, my tribe got a little cagey and built a Burning Man/Green Man out of the fourteen foot mater vines we had chewed on all summer.  It was the most thumpin’ burn I have ever seen at Samhain: adorned in cucumber and old honeysuckle vines, thrashed through with bamboo from the back and sprinkled with last year’s ash.  That sucker popped and spit and made it look like a Pagan Fourth of July (and got some of us a bit anxious about the po-po) before the night was through.  You see, it was local in its bones, it hankered to our Celt ancestors and was lit up under a late “Ripe Corn Moon” of Cherokee land.  Balance.  It’s ash went down into 2012 mater beds and a bit has been saved . . . for the land beneath our feet in October.  I have this little saying about ash:

Give unto the new seedlings the sacred ash of their ancestors.  May the circle be unbroken.

Balance, y’all.  On account of we want something to happen.  Everything else is performative, theatrical, cerebral masturbatory crap.  Doesn’t compost well.  Many things may be woven in contradiction, but laws save me from such a thread when it comes to my spirit.  Some things are sacred.

But wait–I haven’t forgotten 1976.  That’s right, I’m the fallen colt by a balance beam in a land far away when the air smelled different and Suzanne B. is standing over me in an Etienne Agner belt and perfect hair.  And I looked up at her, from gravel and disgrace, and I said:

At least I tried.

And then I got back up.  And then I walked it again, chanting I will, I will, I will walk over you.  Bitch.

She was my geography.  I had to balance between my desire, her hatred and a fifth grade schoolyard.  She never forgave me.  I’ve never loved myself more.

Fuck ’em and feed ’em fish.  Let’s practice local on the ground we bleed upon, cry upon and roll around like belligerent children.

I am Southern.  I am Cherokee/Celt.  I live in the Bible Belt.

And I’m a righteous witch.

Blessed Be,

Seba

Seba O'KileyComment