Lighter of Mind


During the summer of 2001, I was stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The end of my first Marine Corps contract was approaching. I was spending a lot of time considering whether or not to sign up for an additional four-year enlistment. I was in a very good place: in charge of my own armory, about to finish a degree in social psychology, working alongside my best friend, in love with a good guy who loved me back, I had no bills… I rechecked my list thrice, liked it, and began to lean towards staying in.

Then 9/11 happened…
    I was transferred to The School of Infantry…
       The guy who loved me began to behave like a certifiable jerkwad…
           I couldn’t go to school while teaching combat training for 12-15 hours a day…  

But I still had my best friend, remained in love with my witchy self, had no bills, and got to spend my days (and many of my nights) in the woods. Okay, so I didn’t exactly have time to enjoy all the wonderfully-wild greenery Camp Devil Dog had to offer; not while leading patrol and land navigation exercises, setting up ambushes, shooting machineguns, running my platoon until my students were ready to puke their guts out, and still making sure that their young minds stayed sufficiently alert to dedicate one to two of hours to the study of combat theory.   

At the end of each day, I was as exhausted as my students were… and ready to take a break. However, I’ve never asked anyone to do something that I wasn’t ready to do myself. So while my students reviewed the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the rules of the Geneva Convention, I studied something new: the English names and American lore for plants I had known all my life and for a few I had seen for the first time in the South.  

It was very difficult to learn anything while my brain was screaming, Why in the name of Ares’ godly balls have you kept me awake for so damn long? In order to inspire my grumpy brain-housing group to forget about sleeping, I had to make the process very attractive. Because September 11th was a time of fear and turmoil, my brain eventually embraced the idea of staying awake and learning about herbs used in protection spells.

I’ve always been able to learn easier and faster when the knowledge is attached to a story. So I started writing Of Death and Blooms, a tale about characters named after plants and herbs that represented resilience, protection, love, luck… Jonquil, Cedrus, Althea, Tamarisk and Yvonne were some of my first characters. They fight to survive in a world sickened by death, pain, mistrust, loss, and impending doom. I loved the story. After 28,000 words, I was not only learning the English names for herbs, I was also falling in love with writing fiction. The final chapter broke 89,000 words—my first “novel”. I put the story away when I was transferred to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and began working for the Headquarters Marine Corps Casualty Section.   

Then many years later (last week), I entered the Lighter and Whiter - Spring Clean(ing) and The MEF’s Mind, Body, Soul 90 Day Challenge and focused on the mind before touching the body and the soul. I completed tasks I had been putting off (renewed my car registration, shredded old documents…), read a book outside my preferred genres (Adam Schwartz’s A Stranger on the Planet—it was awesome!), and I was rummaging through my old writing folders when I found Of Death and Blooms.

The old piece began dancing in my mind after I read A Book of Worlds (ABoW) and The Order of the Twilight Star (ToTS), web series by Ashtoreth Eldritch. I’m enchanted by what she is doing. ABoW tells a nonlinear story, through character profiles, based on Tarot cards. And ToTS is delicious “derivative work that pays ([she] hope[s]) tribute to the works of Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, H.P Lovecraft, and W.B. Yeats.” I’m just sitting here hoping she writes on, and on, and on…

Ashtoreth Eldritch inspired me to read my 2001 work (which, by the way, is not half as terrible as I expected it to be) and to consider sharing bits of it here and there, as I fix it. If enough of you are intrigued by the concept behind Of Death and Blooms, I’ll go ahead and start posting more of it. I do write for you, after all, don’t I? After I’m done with my edits, I will publish the old draft and the polished piece—I can’t wait to see how I’ve evolved (or not!) as a fiction writer in 13 years of on and off practice ;-) 
this stunning lady looks like no one in my story, but her costume made me think Of Death and Blooms
Now that I’m feeling Lighter of Mind, I shall focus on exercising my body and soul.
How are you taking care of your mind, body and soul, my Wicked Darlings?

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42 comments:

  1. WOW...that is another incredible part of your life shared with us...thank you for that vision of your past...
    I must admit my mind, body and soul are taking a bit of a battering at the moment....I shall overcome it though...I always do :o)
    Time to get my witch on!!
    xxx

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    1. I might have to still your phrase and start saying, "Time to get my Witch on!" lol It sounds powerfully cheerful. Our bodies will do what they must and most of the time all we can do is follow their rhythm. So I, too, will get my Witch on ;-)

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  2. Thanks for telling more about your personality, Magaly. The Marine Corpse experience of yours is such an unbelievable thing! I guess it also inculcated (better enhanced) many strong features of your character what helps you no win life to overcome difficulties and heart breaking events.
    I'd LOVE to read Death and Blooms! Sounds great :)
    Have a wonderful day, dear! Hugsss!

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    1. You are always very welcome, my dear Anna. The Marine Corps was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It helped me adopt healthy habits and make them my own, and let's not forget that it also taught me that farmer are not the only people who wake up at zero-dark-thirty to get the sun in the mood ;-)

      I shall post some Of Death and Blooms!

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  3. Oh Fuck Yes!!!! I would love to read about these characters. I only had boy children, but when first talking with hubby about such things we picked the name Althea Jasmine Morley for our first girl child. It literally translates as "the little Jasmine flower that lives by the moor meadow" :D...and to be kind to my body and soul...I go out in the garden of course :D XXX

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    1. Oh Gina, you will LOVE Althea, she is a fantastic mixture of Mother and Crone who has never stopped being the Maiden. She's funny, daring, powerful, gentle, and possesses a witchy muscle that I've learned to adore. And she loves deeply... the latter is what I like most about here ;-)

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  4. The way you talk about reading and writing, it must be wonderful falling in love with something like that! I wish I had half of your energy, you always seem to have tons of interesting pots boiling (Swedish saying). I'm glad you got my assignment working for you and got some stuff done!

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    1. I LOVE that saying. I had no idea it was Swedish, okay, I didn't know that it was a 'saying' at all. You won't believe it but the document where I keep posts-in-progress is titled "Brewing in the Pot" lol

      Falling in love with words is one of the most powerful things that has ever happened to me. Stories allow me to go everywhere, to be anyone--especially myself ;-)

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  5. I know your focus in the blog was your writing but my reaction was 'how the world changed between your generation and mine'. All we ever wanted was for women to be allowed to be whatever they wanted to be - stay at home moms or soldiers on the battlefield. When I read life stories like yours you can't even imagine how much it means. There is still work to be done but things are so much better! Love this post!!

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    1. My life and my writing are so eclectic that the sentiments transfer to most posts. We have come a long way as a society, even if we still do a bunch of narrow-minded nonsense. We have indeed come a long way... and moving ;-)

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  6. I for one am certainly intrigued and would love to read this work. Knowing the inspiration behind it will making that much more interesting! Looking forward to it!

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    1. Yay! I will probably choose something steamy--Beltane is here, and you know? The fire is in the air. But as things move along, you'll notice how the (plant) names sprout.

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  7. What a cool idea to write stories personifying the herbs and plants in order to remember their names and properties better! Very clever. I look forward to reading some of your rediscovered gems!

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    1. I am very clever, didn't you know? And modest. Yes, my modesty is one of my many impressive qualities ;-)

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  8. Yes, please!

    Also, I'm in that space where I'm trying to learn more about the names/lor of my local plants but having a hell of a time finding decent information. You have impeccable timing as always. Any suggestions, love? :)

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    1. How can I say no to all that enthusiasm?

      On finding out, I always go for the simplest step first: a local plants manual. Then try to find the nearest Botanica (for your herbs), nursery (for ornamental greenery) and some old person who loves plants for everything else. Sometimes, after I moved (and being in the military I moved a lot) I would walk around my neighborhood to check out gardens. I would pretty much walk up to the house, introduce myself, and ask about their beautiful blooms--most gardeners were so proud, that they forgot to think that I was kind of weird lol

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  9. my wickedy darling....of course. I'd love to be immersed in another of your worlds. I love the bits and pieces that are sewn together when you share your life with us. So much explained, so much left to the imagination....that's my girl, lead us on to more.
    Oma Linda

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    1. And I'll weave and build for my Oman Linda ;-)

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  10. So, when was 'Of Death & Blooms' released?

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    1. I'm thinking October, for All Hallow's Grim ;-D

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  11. I can't wait to read your story!! How have I been taking care of my mind, body and soul, lots of gardening right now and I am loving it ;o)

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    1. One of this days, I want to garden until I pass out. For now, I'll write and take care of my few pots. Maybe if I write enough, I can buy the land to plant that garden :-D

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  12. I forgot to say, I love the picture of the girl ;o)

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  13. 9-11 pulled the rug out from under many feet. I am thankful that our troops were being trained by your fabulous witchy self, and I am thankful to you for your service.
    Your Day of the Dead Dame absolutely brings to mind the phrase "Of Death and Blooms"! I canNOT wait to sink my eyes into this botanically inspired tale. I am working on my last post for Whiter and Lighter, a tale of good intentions, broken resolutions, re-structured goals, dark days, bright nights, and a sunshine filled day with lots of gorgeous strong women who somehow rubbed off on me...I am feeling more confident than I can remember feeling for years! I have cut back on my coffee intake, as my ulcer is back, and drinking large quantities of green tea and sapodilla tea. Working on learning to extract the oil from my Moringa tree seeds to make my own skin/hair potions. Bring on Beltane! I'm feeling blessed by abundance!

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    1. Dark days... but we got up and kept on keeping on, right?

      I can't wait to see your Whiter and Lighter post. You've been kicking serious butt!

      I hope you share some of your oil extracting skills ;-)

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  14. You've made my day to know that I've inspired you to revisit something that you loved and learned from. "Of Death and Blooms" sounds amazing. Like many others, I'd love to read it as you share it with us.

    I am going to have to use the phrase "Why in the name of Ares’ godly balls have you kept me awake for so damn long?" or some variant of it around my beasties just to watch them convulse on the floor in laughter. I have the feeling that it will be used when dealing with college financial aid forms and the labyrinth of red tape I'm getting tangled in... *headdesk*

    But for now, a glass of whiskey, some dark chocolate, and a suspense film to unwind form the day. My soul is going to thank me for it in the morning *wink*.

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    1. You must give detail account of your beloved Beasties reactions to the art of mythological cursing lol

      I was just telling a friend that I am extremely glad to have ran into you in the blog-world. I feel that our writing is around the same age in the maturing process and it is nice walk the path with someone else--especially when you enjoy each other's tales.

      I hope your soul thanked you a lot ;-D

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  15. I always enjoy reading your blog. You have such a beautiful way with words.:)

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  16. "Why in the name of Ares' godly balls.....", I just pit Coke all over my keyboard.

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  17. Ares' godly balls. That just made my whole day, thank you for the laugh.

    Love this post filled with a little more insight to our favorite ( and modest ) Witchy Writer!

    Your story sounds so intriguing,I can't wait to read it!

    The picture you included here is captivating. Love her, and it fits "Of Death and Blooms" perfectly in my mind.

    <3

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    1. Yep, my modesty is legendary--I'm always telling everybody about how awesome it is ;-D

      I hope you like the story. And I agree, that picture is amazing. All the work I saw in the site is fantastic.

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  18. WOW! Thanks for sharing. I live in NC now and about 45 mins to an hour from Jacksonville. I can't wait to read your story. You now have me intrigued. I started writing last year. I was sick of not writing down what was in my head and my husband to ld me to stop typing. So I did. I am on chapter 2 now. Its a slow process cause of my life but when I have time I right a few words or put them on a recording on my phone and go back and type.

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    1. I enjoyed NC very much. The weather was wonderful and the antique shops plentiful. And the flowers... oh!

      I'm glad you are writing again. There is a freedom that comes to the heart when we can pour our feelings into a store or 13 ;-)

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  19. I would definitely be interested to read this, if you'll share.

    I love the photo, by the way. :)

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    1. I'm glad because I'm writing it! And I love this photo, too. It would make a great All Hallow's Eve attire ;-)

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  20. There is a "lightness" to this post....like a re-emergence of quiet things that dwell within our hearts and blow tiny kisses onto our thoughts :)

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    1. I love the look of your words, their sounds... for it is true. The feelings that inspired this post were like whispers from those years, murmurs that asked to regain strength and be fleshed out into stories ;-)

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  21. My Magaly, you are an amazing woman. Warrior, witch and inspiration. I truly love the idea of cleansing body, mind, soul and honestly am facing some mid life cleansing right now. It is such a process, isn't it?

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    1. If there wasn't something called a "mid life cleansing" before, then there is now! I will probably start getting ready for mine ;-D

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