A Witch Awakened, and a Witch Alone… a Different Witch


My grandmother made the best sancocho, Dominican stew, in the universe. My stomach used to rumble in blissful song every time she was cooking it. I used to go dizzy with delight when the scent of seven meats, a larger number of herbs and every vegetable you can think of, danced together in a cauldron womaned by old hands who knew how to love.

But for the longest time, I couldn’t eat my grandma’s stew…

The aroma of sancocho was finger-linking yum, but for the first six or seven years of my life, the sight of the thick meat-and-vegetable-rich mix made me retch. My grandma stopped making the stew. We stuck to fruits, tostones (fried plantain), and anything that didn’t send my stomach into pandemonium.

Then a woman who loved books, teaching, and witchery moved into our village. She invited a few people over for a Sunday meal in her yard. She made sancocho. My grandma asked for fruits and maybe some bread for me. The book-lover-teacher-witch was confused. “The child has been drooling over the stew all day. Once or thrice, I was sure she was going into scent seizure and everything,” she said laughing.

My grandma explained that I liked the smells just fine, but the sight and taste (we were braver than it was wise once or thrice) made me sick to my stomach. The book-lover-teacher-witch gave me a funny look before walking away and going into her house.

She came back holding three pinkish bowls, a strainer, and hot water in small a saucer. She put everything on her rough outside kitchen table, and said, “Sit.” My grandma and I sat, and watched the book-lover-teacher-witch put meat in one bowl, vegetable into the other, and then strain a serving of sancocho into the third bowl. With the hot water, she rinsed off the vegetables and the meat. Then, gently, she put the cleaned pieces into the just as clean liquid. “Eat,” she said.

I looked at my grandma. She shrugged. I ate. It was perfect. I think I cried, but the tears might have been coming out of my grandmother’s eyes. Sancocho still is one of my favorite foods, but I’ve learned to control my OCD enough to be able to eat it without the book-lover-teacher-witch’s cleaning ritual. Well, most of the time… if I’m tired, stressed out, or nervous, I still can’t eat mixed foods, foods that touch on the plate, or meal my brain perceives as unclean.

This is my second time reading Debora Geary’s A Different Witch. The first time, I emailed her to say that her from the soul and to the heart storytelling made me cry, laugh, and feel not so weird. You see my Wicked Luvs, Beth, the main character in this story is a witch with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Beth’s kind of autism doesn’t confine her to the chaotic realm of her brain, but it makes life difficult and terrifying at times. But this miracle of a woman doesn’t only survive the jumbled up hand Nature has dealt her; she lives with grace and with her chin up. She can do this because she has a partner who loves her. Who helps her see, understand, that being different is not a bad thing, it’s just different. And no one can make that a bad thing, unless she lets them.

Many of the characters in A Different Witch get to understand the same about Beth. And I’m almost sure that if you are not lucky enough to know what this means, reading the novel will help you see into the brain and heart of “a witch awakened—and a witch [who used to be] alone. A different witch...”a woman who understands that in order to be brave, one must first embrace fear.
If you haven’t experienced the world of A Different Witch, do—you might find it to be quite magical ;-)


Share |

39 comments:

  1. oh my wickiest darling...I can hardly wait to read this. Ry the youngest of our witch pack will benefit from any insights I can glean from life. Thank you for sharing this. Besos, Oma Linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debora's child lives with autism, so I think this series will be great for you. She understands so many things... and when the fiction comes with so much reality, plus a bit of fantastic magic, well, the experience rocks ;-)

      Delete
  2. Interesting. I had an uncle with just such a food problem. No one in ther family would have ever guessed it was an actual disorder. Sadly he had not witchy teacher to help him. Thank heavens you did!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I consider myself a very lucky person. Every time I have a huge problem, I seem to stumble into someone with a heart just as big who helps me work through it and make things better.

      Hope your uncle was okay, eventually.

      Delete
  3. I loved that Deborah created a witch that really didn't fit into Witch Central. Witches who were nervous or didn't want to fit in, still did mesh quite nicely. But Beth will only ever be able to take it in small doses. I liked that, because I'm very much like Beth. I love people but only in small doses, or I get overwhelmed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I read a review on Amazon (two people gave A Different Witch 1 star and I couldn't believe it). According to the lady who wrote the review, Beth was too perfect and her quirks were annoying. I was left open-mouthed, how can someone miss the point so horrendously?

      Delete
  4. I think you just introduced me to a new series. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is fun. It is sweet. It is magical. And if I had the chance to live in a fiction world, Witch Central would be it.

      Delete
  5. I sometimes have stupid Little OCD things that drive me (a little more) crazy, usually when tired, so bedtime can take longer :/ When when my babes were young I was telling my sister how it was bizarre but my daughters had strange food habits, the oldest will not touch fruit, or even carry a bag if it has fruit in it, or stay sitting next to a person if they are eating fruit, the youngest doesn't like any of her food to touch on the plate... My sister pointed out the fact that was why my plate was always different to all the others in the family, that No one else cared but I would never eat my dinner if foods 'touched' and how I would not even touch raw meat with tongs and gloves, and then she said "what about the eggs?" Ahhh yes the 'egg' thing is a long story LOL I will share it one day, but Let me tell you I almost did not last day 1 of my casual job in a kitchen while going to art school because of my "egg" phobia...
    But this is what I think, and could be wrong, but I have a theory that some personality types are more susceptible to little quirks, and maybe creatively wired brains even more so? I have noticed a lot of empathic and spiritual people often have this creative (flaw?) gift too... Anyway, getting way off track, Deborah's book sounds amazing, methinks I will grab a copy, and Magaly, I think coping skills are amazing, maybe this is why our little 'quirks' sometimes help (as well as hinder) and I'm so happy you found a way to enjoy Sancocho! I guess the missing ingredient was a pinch of wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the creative brain has a lot of power to consider the things that seem tiny to others. We see a lot of the beautiful in life, and while looking at the precious, we must see the ugly, too. It's worth our time and the challenges, methinks... ;-)

      Delete
  6. Such an intuitive lady! She sounds amazing.
    Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment but i was soo busy!
    The thing with me is that i can not have just a little bit of chocolate, and i am proud to sya that this Vday went by without any!
    I stay off love potions too. In highschool i did n't! I was so often in love and i used to cast so many of them. With hubby we have tried many things, especially with our annual handfasting ceremonies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This lady has a way with words and a power to see (and write) the best in people. I enjoy her prose. A lot.

      Yummy chocolate ;-)

      Delete
  7. That stew sounds yummy! I'm happy for you that the woman was able to help you enjoy it once again. A Different Witch sounds intriguing; I will have to check it out :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is an amazing novel. I'm always waiting for her new publications, thank goodness she writes really fast! The next one comes in March.

      Hm, I might have to share my sancocho recipe ;-)

      Delete
  8. One of my granddaughters goes into spasms about "mixed" foods as well. We smile and love her and give her her compartment plate. Works like a charm.
    Hugging you
    SueAnn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "spasms" describes my exact condition when my mom used to put me in front of a plate of food and force me to eat. Things didn't go well, or sanitary...

      Delete
  9. Wow, what a great review! I love your descriptive writing skills, Mags. As a really good friend of mine once said, "Oh honey. We're ALL a little OCD."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you read Debora's work? I hope so. If not, I'm envious of you because you'll get to enjoy them for the first time. Her books are delicious. You know I care little for fiction that isn't dark and bloody, but her work is not that at all, and I LOVES it ;-)

      Delete
  10. I agree with Kallan we all have some kind of an OCD order. I know I do. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess the world can be happy because there will be a lot of people cleaning all day lol

      Delete
  11. Oh sweetie, what a precious memory. How very special of your beautiful grandmother "womaned by old hands who knew how to love" (OMG! I LOVE that) to be so very understanding in your reaction to mixed foods, and how wonderfully instinctive of the wise witchy woman to help you to enjoy the delicacy.

    I cannot believe you are on the side of that mountain. I'd rather eat all of my food jumbled into a volcanic mound (which I assure you is not something I would do) than do that. It makes me nervous just to look at that photo, you brave wicked love. Mina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I seem to go through life collecting amazing woman who know how to take care of my weird witchy heart. I am lucky, you make me so ;-)

      Delete
  12. Your grandmother and the Witchy woman sound like beautiful women. Both my sister and I have had food issues growing up. She still won't eat food that touches on her plate. Even if it's in a soup or stew, she eats everything separate. My issue is with serving utensils. I can't eat food if they are served with the same spoon, like if the same spoon that's used to serve corn is used to serve potatoes. I wind up washing the utensils. My mom was told by our pediatrician that it's a nervous disorder but she never liked the thought of that so she just winds up indulging our eccentricities lol. But, the Gods bless her, she keeps the pasta and sauce separate when placed in the fridge lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you love someone you do things to make them happy, which you never thought you would do for anyone. Those of us who stand on the receiving end, remain always grateful... and weird lol

      Delete
  13. That's you on the side of the mountain? Wow!! I don't think I would be doing that! Well, I guess I could, if I didn't look down ;o) Great review about the book! And, I love your story! I eat my food strangely too, I guess for other people ;o) Like pie, I eat the inside first and keep the pastry for last. Don't know why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like my pie burned. Not crispy, not toasty, but burned black. And so hot that I can barely touch it. Yum!

      And I'm sure you would fly over any mountain ;-)

      Delete
  14. I'm like that with meat. I have to actually cut off or not eat something. And pasta that grandma gets her "pasta sauce" on even just a little bit I can't eat it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's it, it's clear: Witches are weirdly magical lol

      Delete
  15. "A Different Witch" made me cry the first time I read it; gave me chill bumps the second time I read it, and opened something inside of me the third time. It is truly the most moving of all her books, and something many people could benefit from reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shed a few tears, too. I agree, A Different Witch might be Debora's most powerful book yet. There is so much going on, and all of it important. I thought my heart was going to fly out of my chest whenever Moira come into the page... I'm wondering what will happen in A Celtic Witch.

      Delete
  16. Wow, very deep. My Cuban husband makes sancocho every once in a while. It's amazing what a little knowledge can do and how it can change your life. No wonder a witch is a wise women....Im glad you have been able to deal with your OCD, I think I might have some of that. I dont like different flavors mixing, like pancake/syrup with my eggs, eggs and syrup yukkk! Need to check out the books you mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't laugh, but I can't even mix my pancakes and syrup. I must put my syrup in one little bowl and my pancakes on a plate, and dip one chunk at the time. It works.

      Yum, sancocho with Cuban spice. Yum ;-)

      Delete
  17. Oh my....I need to read this book! The battles I had with my son to get him to eat anything other than peanut butter sandwiches...they are still his "go to" food if I let him. I can get him to eat stuff like stew now, but I can see he is only doing it to please me. Like Beth he loves the smells when I'm cooking, but has to separate the different food types or eat them in a specific order...and to a mother that will cook and eat ANYTHING it has been my biggest heartache over his aspergers. :D XXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beth doesn't have that many problems with food. Other than the fact that she needs nutrients that doesn't alter her brain chemistry too much. The one with all the no food mixing issues is yours truly ;-)

      Delete
  18. What a lovely story you shared today! Thanks!
    Family used to make fun of me because I make meatballs with two spoons, I can't touch meat with my hands... Yuk! And then one of my aunts said Neither can I, I always use spoons too and since she was a lot older no-one ever dared to make fun of me again. Such a blessing... I don't like stuff (sand, dirt, food, anything sticky or glue-y...) on my hands...
    I might look into this series, it sounds magical! ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Modern Witch Series is wonderfully magical. Give it a go, you might like it.

      I have a friend who runs away if you are even working with raw meat. Raw chicken is his kryptonite.

      I think the brain it's an amazing thing, and I'm sure it has its reasons for keeping us away from certain stuff ;-)

      Delete
  19. What a great read your blog is and this review is no exception. It is good to be different but hard sometimes for others to accept or understand it. This book sounds like the perfect read to doing just that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Understanding things we don't know about can be difficult, indeed. It is one of the reasons I chose to write Pagan Culture, four years ago. So many people go around thinking that Witches are ugly individuals who live weird lives and do weird things... but sharing bits of ourselves give them the chance to 'see.' If they fail to look and analyze after that... well, their loss ;-)

      Delete
  20. The book sounds good and I love the way you wrote your review. x

    ReplyDelete