Some years back, before I started blogging, a few coworkers took me out to celebrate a breakthrough in a particularly difficult case. There was a client who had been assigned to our case management team for many months before I got there. This individual wouldn’t leave the house, wouldn’t allow anyone to enter the home, and would show up for follow ups only once in a blue moon.
When I read the case, I noticed that the client would lose our services if two more mandatory contacts were missed. I got in my car and drove to the client’s house. I just sat in the driveway… waiting… like a creep… Nothing happened the first day, but I went back the following morning, before heading to the office. The client walked out of the house with three dogs. I walked up to them, and the smallest of the dogs growled at me. I stopped, put my pink notepad on the ground—yes, very professional pink!—and sat down, extending one hand and smiling at the dogs.
“They don’t like people,” the client said.
“Neither do I,” I said without looking away from the dogs. “People tend to suck rotten ass.” I think it was the first time I used that phrase.
The little dog was the first to venture my way. The two big dogs followed shortly after.
“Do you mind if I walk these beauties with you?” They were beautiful pups, but as malnourished as their human.
The client squinted at me, suspiciously.
“You can sniff me, too,” I said, “as long as you stay away from my butt. We aren’t that close yet.”
The client laughed a loud toothless chest grumble that made me think, Recommend smoking cessation and make a dentist appointment. The client didn’t say no or yes, but there were no complaints when I started walking next to the group.
A few weeks later, the client was following a care plan that worked for all involved. That was what we were celebrating, when an outreach worker—a case manager in charge of presentations at churches—said to me, “I don’t want to offend, but I might. I’m asking because I thought I knew, but after meeting you I’m not so sure anymore.” I nodded, and she continued. “What kind of religion is Witchcraft?”
I chewed my bite of spinach, bacon and pineapple for longer than it was probably necessary. Drank some water and wiped my mouth with a napkin. Returned the napkin to my lap, after folding it neatly. Then I said, “It is about trees, and energy, and gods, and individuality, and community; there is balance, too, because good and evil aren’t always themselves, you know? Sometimes you wish for rain for your crops, without thinking that your neighbors are getting married outside. It’s paying attention, so that your good intentions don’t end up becoming the bad magic that ruins someone else’s wedding…”
I went on and on and on, my Wicked Darlings. What I quoted isn’t even a third of what I said that day. All of it is true at its core, but it isn’t exactly what I meant to say. It has taken me years to figure out what I wanted to say then and put it into words. This is not the post where I tell you what being witchy means to me (today), but I will soon (in many posts, I suspect).
I’m writing to share another example of my words not saying what my brain means. It happened when I replied to “The Balls of Yahweh; Sunday Thoughts,” in which Francie discusses the “re-emergence of the Goddess” and asks if She needs “a man-god to keep her company.” This is what I said:
Me, a week ago – “I think everything, groups in particular, need balance. Both female and male aspects of Nature make a [w]hole. I get a bit uneasy around groups that are only for women or only for men—they feel… artificial. I’m not saying that craving separation, every now and then, it’s a bad thing. For instance, I doubt most men would want to join a Let’s Talk about Our Hot Flashes Circle. But when it comes to keeping the world turning, everything is needed in balance.”
Me, a few days after the first comment – “This post (and my reply to it) has been in my mind ever since I read it. I was thinking that what I said is sooo very unclear. I mean everything about balance being necessary, and about male and female aspects, but there is so much more to it… You see, I don’t think that opposites (when it comes to gender) ha[ve] only to do with men and women. Take Debra and her Rare One, for instance, they are both females but they are also opposite sides of a whole.
I need to sit and think about this one. I must, or it’ll drive me nuts. It’s bringing up other issues, too, which have to do with the [way] we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’) say things. As much as I want to, often what I say in words is not exactly what I mean in my heart. I’ll be back…”
Like I said in the comment above, I spent many days thinking about the post… After way too much time not finding a way to put my thoughts into words, I went to reread Francie’s entry and the replies to it. And you know what, my Wicked Luvs? Debra, She Who Seeks (and who happens to have lovely hands), said it for me:
“I have always thought that ‘genderizing’ various human characteristics is problematic. All humans are capable of feeling, doing and being everything. I don’t believe in intrinsic ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ characteristics. As far as I’m concerned, therefore, our human concept of the Divine encompasses everything in perfect balance. What we call that Divine concept is irrelevant. So I call it the Divine Feminine because female imagery resonates most with me. I don’t feel the need to invoke a corresponding Divine Masculine for balance or wholeness. Speaking of that divine balance, it incorporates both light and darkness too, in my opinion. Or good and evil, if you use those terms. The Divine is simply the source of all…”
I started blogging because that day, years ago, when a coworker asked me about Witchcraft as a religion, I didn’t have the right words to say: To me, Witchcraft is not a religion. It is being alive and living. I don’t believe in gods the way most people I know do. I think of gods as powerful intentions and thoughts that are true to those who believe in them. Yep, it’s clear that I might have to blog and live for many more years before I can fully explain what the last three sentences actually mean. Yet, I feel I’ve been doing an okay job at showing what witchery means to me.
I started the process by recognizing my own ignorance, and accepting that it was okay not to know everything—no one does, even if they really think they do. The best teachers are those who go through life living, learning and letting other people watch. So I watch… It is the reason why I read every comment left on my blog (and reply). And as you can see, reading the comments at other people’s blogs helps, too *cough, cough, Debra rocks*
Learning isn’t always easy. Finding descent and knowledgeable teachers is even more difficult. Adelina explains some of what I mean in “Egos and Elders,” her latest contribution to Kallan’s Sunday Stew. She offers good weapons for the battle. Yes, I said battle. I think that the inability to say, or show, or make what we think of the world into some kind of graspable art is a type of malady everyone should fight against. For ignorance, when left unchecked and allowed to fester in its own juices, turns into a cancer that rots everything it touches.
Your thoughts, my Wicked Luvs…
“Falling… or Escaping???
Take control of YOUR LIFE”
by Gina Morley