RITE OF PASSAGE

Seba had written a guest blog on Witch-Blog at:

http://witch-blog.com/2011/10/rite-of-passage/

Unfortunately, the page is long since gone. Luckily, the content was archived by the Wayback Machine and so was not lost. It is replicated below. The Wayback Machine was unable to save any images or styling in the archive, so it is text only. —Wulfbrand


Too many times, we must be reminded to make magic a part of our everyday lives. I find this deeply sorrowful. To walk in magic, to perceive the Spiral Goddess in her deep spin, to understand that the word “maternal” as integral to our locus of being, is to become buried alive in the mundane. I write from a specifically American-Southern point of view, primarily because: I live it. Every time I remember to do so. If this sounds ironic, so be it. My endeavor, as a Craftswoman, is to slip past the irony into a Rite of Passage; it is, after all, human nature to learn the hard way. Stay with me. Southerners tell story the long way around the barn.

Last night, after a brilliant outside dinner with friends and family, I worried myself out loud on the way up the porch steps: “Too many cigarettes, too much wine, too much butter, too many late nights.” After all, this old gal (about nineteen-years-old inside) is unfathomably forty-five now. Only so much wear and tear before the machinery gets creaky and a bit weathered. My daughter, innocent and corrupted and beautiful and way too alive, put me firmly in my place: “Whatever, Mom. It could all be done tomorrow, and today I walked in the light.”

Damn. Nothing like a child in a clover headdress to make you remember to LIVE. Now, my daughter and I, in the grand tradition of mothers and daughters in the deep South, have fought and clawed and cried our way through our relationship as if we couldn’t decide whether to hold on to each other or find a nice iron shovel. Like my mother, and the one with whom she danced with for over ninety years, I need my daughter to shake the dust off of my flawed sense of time (it can only come from the fresh-skinned) and the ideals we have built around us like a protective fence against the past. And in one brief moment, turning on my sandal to go into the house and straight to bed at 2 a.m., CRASH. I remember. Cream soda. The smell of honeysuckle drying on the vine. First kisses, broken dreams, playing with the wax of a burned-down candle, carving out my life in daily bursts of idealism all against the backdrop of sultry Alabama nights. My mother’s young face is there, too, broken by my fight to be nothing like her, to be just like her. I can hear the heartbeat of one hundred years of women in this moment and, for this time, I cannot breathe.

And there you have it. I had given it all up like an outgrown dress and had never once thought of letting out the seams. Unfathomable, as the women in my family had always built in a hefty seam just for such an occasion of growth. Later as I slipped away to sleep, exhausted in that bone-deep way, I remembered one of the last things my grandma told me: “Outside I’m old, baby girl. Inside, I’m running. I’m swimming, feeling the water against my body and it’s strong and young. That’s what I am.” Grandma couldn’t swim, never even tried, but it sure didn’t stop her from throwing me deep into the water that day. The lessons we learn as women here in the South are, most times, the sort that crystallize nice and slow, born of words that fall out of the mouths of our matriarchy and embed themselves (sometimes quiet painfully) into the permanent back-memory of our psyches. Everything takes its sweet time down here. And then, just when you think you’ve gotten it, righteously safe in taupe Ann Taylor shoes, voter card in your wallet, no late charges on that water bill . . . you realize it. You have become an adult. And you have forgotten everything.

Recently, a male colleague and fellow Southerner, stepped into a conversation between myself and my strong, African American female student. The subject was the patriarchy (laws yes, here in Alabama we just call it “men”), when Dr. X piped up: “You know, doesn’t really matter so much down here. Creek and Cherokee women saw the writing on the wall and just married into the land, matriarchal in nature, and that was all she wrote.” Took me a minute. Took her a minute. But there it was. Our love of nurturing, healing food. Legends, lore, stories, songs. Family crests disguising themselves as cookbooks, tribal convictions against sorry men, fast women, bad mothers—all masquerading as Sunday suppers. Heirloom tomatoes, friendship bread, dinner rings passing down through native lines that draw a longer tale than any storybook. And finally, the tradition of daughters and mothers, fighting for ground, holding on for dear life, struggling to break away/stay together as fresh tribunes are formed out of dusty ones. The final honor of carefully drawing lipstick across cracked lips that once taught you the rite of “yes’m.” Always knowing, despite it all, that she was either your best friend all along, or wishing that she had been. Matriarchy. Who knew it could swing both ways? A true Rite of Passage.

Crash. I remember. It was right there all along. I wrap it around me like an afghan, I make it my own dress, and in it I dance—with my grandma, my mother, my daughter. There it is, spinning all goddess-like on this beautiful harvest night, breathing on its own, waiting. Life.

I walk in its light.

Blessed Be.

Seba

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