Tag: The South

Why I’m Thankful For Prayers (even though I don’t believe in their God)

Growing up in the South, most conversations that involve tales of hardship end with a hug and one party saying to the other, “Well, we’ll be praying for you.”. As someone who doesn’t follow any of the branches of the Abrahamic faith that influences every bit of life below the Mason Dixon Line, even something as innocuous as prayers can get overwhelming. If I had a nickel for every time someone informed me that they were going to pray for me, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. It seems like everyone wants to include you in their conversations with the Lord. And really, I’m okay with that.

 

To a lot of believers down here, not being a Christian makes me an uncaring godless heathen. Which is funny because as a polytheist, I have more gods than fingers to count them on. And as a person, I’m an Empath. So I care. I care a whole hell of a lot. While I don’t think of prayer in the same way most Christians do, I believe there is something powerful in communicating with the beyond. When that communication is done for the betterment of someone else, no matter who is listening, it’s incredibly meaningful. Whether you’re talking to God like a Southern Baptist, taking part in your daily Salah, whispering to The Goddess, or chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo there is something profoundly magical in the connectivity of that act of compassion.

To me, magic is all about energy. It’s about being connected to not only yourself and others around you, but to the Universe. So taking your energy and manifesting it into something positive for someone else is huge. It’s a big piece of everyday magic we all agree is powerful but we don’t talk about. It’s like telling someone to have a good day, wishing someone a happy birthday, or saying bless you after someone sneezes. It’s taking a bit of yourself and turning it into hope for someone else. That’s what prayer is for me.

I know it’s easy to think that the people praying for you are doing it only for themselves. And you know what, maybe they are. I’ve never inquired as to the rhyme and reason of someone’s prayers for me. I’m not naive enough to think that some of them weren’t straight up “Please Lord, help this girl find Jesus” ones. But, I’d be willing to bet you all my nickels mentioned earlier, a lot of them were for good outcomes. I’ve lit candles and cast circles for people who would have burned me at the stake for doing so hundreds of years ago. And I did those things out of love with the hope that they helped. And in the world we are living in right now, we all need all the help we can get to achieve a good, safe, and peaceful life.

So please, if you feel moved to do so, pray for me. Meditate for me. Chant for me. If my name and my situation are put upon you, do what feels right in your heart of hearts. Because I promise you, every time I feel that need, I will do so for you. I’ll just do it in my own way.

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Cankles and their cotton picking connections

According to Google, a cankle is “an unusually thick or stout ankle.”  If you take a look at the images that pop up after that search you will see cankles are huge punch line in what sees to be a never ending fat joke. A lot of the memes circulating right now are at the expense of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Whatever feelings you have about them, you can agree that insults of this nature are low brow and juvenile. You will also notice a lot of “Get Thin Quick” style ads willing to help you eliminate your unsightly cankles for the low, low price of $19.99. Usually these ad have some mind blowing before and after pictures and a giant Click Here NOW!!

So, based on that, cankles are a bad thing right? Something completely and totally unattractive. Another thing women need to change about themselves to fit into the ever shrinking category of “Acceptable.” We mustn’t let ourselves be too thin, or flat, or hairy, or fat, or anything else that might be too much or, conversely, not enough. We must always, no matter the situation, be attractive. And we must never, ever have cankles.

Guess what? I have cankles. Big, thick, stout calf ankle hybrids. Starting after my scarred up knees, my legs flow, like fallen logs down a stream, into the flatlands that are my big wide feet. Since late elementary school, these chunky stems have been hidden under pants. People may assume, but they don’t for sure know. But I do.I have big cotton picking cankles.

And even though I’m using “cotton picking” as a tongue in cheek adjective, there’s some truth there. Going back many generations, the women of my blood line worked in the cotton fields and mills, picking and spinning the crop that made this part of the South.

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My maternal great grandmother, Grandmaw Katie, worked the fields with her husband Ott,  and their five children. ( Sidenote: Grandpaw Ott passed away before I was born, so while he is a family member, I don’t really know a lot about him.)  From sunup to sunset, they would move through the fields, hunched over at the waist, plucking the little balls of fluff out of their thistle homes. The fields they inched their way through were owned not by ‘well to do’ farmers but by ‘better to do’ farmers. No one was well off in their corner of the world. They picked cotton and tended the fields in exchange for a little clapboard house to stay in and a few dollars per bale.

It was a hard life but Grandma Katie was a hard, tough women. Story goes that she picked cotton right up until she was in active labor with one of my great uncles. She then went into the house, birthed the baby, and was back out in the field before the sun was down. I remember her being mean and stern in the way that only a grandmother can. And I remember, she too had big thick legs and cankles.

In her later years, they would swell and become stiff. Her knees would become hard and refuse to work right. Her ankles would expand over the edges of her good church shoes.  Both those legs traveled many miles inches at a time to keep a roof overhead. They stood hours upon hours in front of hot stoves, frying every part of the chicken to feed the hungry mouths at the table. They bowed at the knee to give praise to her god, and jumped and jived to the out of tune gospel music her sister played at reunions. Those legs worked a sewing making to make clothes out of flour sacks. Those legs birthed a generation, and held the ones after. They were the legs and cankles of a goddess.

When I was around 10, while hanging out looking at his motorcycle, my maternal uncle grabbed my calf. He laughed when I yelled.

“You got them thick Grandmaw Katie legs.” He said, working his fingers into the thickness of my calf, something between a tickle and a pinch.

I was ashamed, feeling the weight of a what I thought was a male declaration of my unsightliness. I was a young girl, I wasn’t suppose to have old lady legs. I was suppose to be little and pretty. I was not.  I pulled myself out of the uncomfortable air that surrounded us then and went back inside. I remember at the time, not fully understanding why I felt so weird by his comments. It would take me years to unpack all the things from that day. And if I’m truthful, I’ll admit, some days I still carry that memory as part of my heavy mental load. The next time I saw him, and every time after, I made sure to wear full pants.

A lot of time has passed. So has that uncle. And now, after a life of  being ashamed,  I’m proud of these thick legs and these stout cankles. I get shit done with these things. I’ve birthed a generation of my own and spend everyday helping them become who they are. I work a modern sewing machine pedal with these chunky extremities, making clothes and bags out of fabric a little more expensive than flour sack fabric. I worship my gods and goddesses with these legs and feet, using them to walk under the moonlight.  These cankles are important. And while they might not fit in most conventional boot sizes, they are wonderful.

As much as they are mine, they also belong to those who came before.  They are one of the links to not just my ancestors, but their strengths as well. I can only hope that wherever they are, the women that came before me are pleased with the woman I turned out to be. Cotton picking cankles and all. 

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Low Class Witchcraft

One of those most daunting things about my recent belief voyage is feeling slightly outclassed.  Witchcraft, Wicca, the Mystical and the Occult, often have a flair for the dramatic. Candles and robes, crystals and essential oils, sliver ceremonial tool. Just so much stuff!  The practical side of me keeps considering the cost associated with all this. And after reading the Modern Girl, Mystical World book, I was feeling a little too low class to take part.

Let that sink in for a minute. I was feeling like I couldn’t commit to what my soul was calling me to do because of my socio-economic status. My family’s situation is better than some and less than others. We don’t face fears that we will go homeless or even hungry. But we do have three children. And as we all know, kiddos are expensive.   Because of this and my upbringing in cotton mill generational poverty, I don’t feel comfortable spending money on myself when I know there are other needs that need to be met. I also don’t think MFMW made me feel any better. Sorry, I can’t go on retreats to find my OM. Sorry, I can’t drop hundreds of dollars on supplies to do rituals to put me in touch with my gods and goddesses and,more importantly, myself. Designer shoes and crystals? Yeah dude, that ain’t happening.

While reading Witch by Lisa Lister (side note: I’m going to reread this wonderful book and bring you guys a review soon. It was so good!) I realized those things don’t really matter.  I didn’t need certain items to strengthen what I believe.  All I needed to do is awaken what was buried somewhere deep inside of me. The ideas of the kitchen witch and the granny witch resonated with my soul.  It’s that practical everyday magic that I feel drawn to. So, it’s what I’m going to focus on.

I come from a long line of women who did what they could with the little they had. If you think feeding a gaggle of people on a pound of beans ain’t magic, you’re mistaken.  If you can’t see that magic in keeping the house warm when you’re out of cut wood, you’re blind. And that ability to chase off the nightmares with nothing but some loving words and a silver coin? Pure magic. That’s what is inside of me. That’s what I need to remember. Having pretty robes and shiny tools won’t make one bit of difference if I don’t follow the path my feet know.

 

There is no wrong way to be a witch.

I’m going to wake up the part of me that remembers how.

Wake up witch, we got magic to do.batborder

 

Power Outages

Some people say that when you are open to it, the Universe guides you. That it gives you gifts, like a mama cat leaving a half dead mouse on your pillow. It knows you need the nourishment, but even more so, that you need the experience.  The limitations of my experiences kept me for totally agreeing that was gospel. I think too much, second guess myself too often. And that’s clogged up my ability to see and review these gifts from the Universe. That is until this happened. This chain linked series of events opened my eyes and showed me that, if you pay attention sometimes you get just what you need to be laid right out in front of you.

In the early hours of a Tuesday morning, some unlucky bastard ran his car off the road and into a tree. The driver was fine, but the tree was not. It had found itself a brand new home by crashing into a substation that supplied power to a large section of this small town. That power outage split the lumbering county in half. The northern half had power, while those to the south were without.

It was on that Tuesday morning I had an appointment out in the southeastern part of town. I don’t follow local news so I had no idea there was a widespread power outage. My only concern was getting two kids into a car and being able to make an 8:45 am appointment. Ever try to get two kids under the age of 5 ready and out the door in a quick and timely manner? Yeah, it’s about as easy as tying snakes in knots. Somehow, we all ended up where we needed to be with ten minutes to spare. It was then that we caught up with local events.

“M’am, we ain’t got any power. You’re gonna have to call and reschedule.” A very exasperated lady standing in a darkened door hollered at me across the parking lot.

Seat belts were buckled and kid tears were shed. Apparently, not being able to go into the darkened unairconditioned building was heartbreaking. I pulled out of the parking lot only slightly more annoyed than I should have been and started home.

I passed the DMV, giving them a mental middle finger for making me wait the last time I was in there half a year before. I passed the consignment shop that had a mouse problem last time I had visited. I passed the yellow house with the little yellow well house out front that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I slowed down after that house because the new police station was just up ahead, right past the fabrication shop that was owned by one of my distant cousins. More specifically, my dad’s uncle’s son.

And there, sitting on the tailgate of a blue S-10 was my father.

Here is the part where I tell you that I’m not on best terms with my biological family. I’ll explain it all later, but remember Cinderella? Well, instead of an evil Stepmother and stepsisters, I had an evil Mother and a father who was on his third marriage and was getting close to his fifties when I was born. When I married my husband, the ties were severed. After a few tries, I realized that my mother just wasn’t good for my mental health. The drawback was that cutting her out, cut him out too. I’ve never fully recovered from that.

So to see him, after all these years, just sitting there talking smack with the fellas caught my breath in my throat. The decision was easy. I was there. I had a block of time suddenly empty. Without turning on my blinker, I gave in to the message the Universe was sending me. I turned into the gravel parking lot and got out of the car.

Two minutes later, I was wrapped in my father’s arms.

I want to tie this back to my original point. Because of a series of unfortunate events, I got to see my father. It was exactly what I needed. The Universe gift wrapped an experience just for me. And by not second guessing it, I received two things. One was a salve on a decade old wound. And the other was the first step of a relationship with something greater than myself.

I’m listening Universe. You don’t have to knock out the power to get my attention again. 

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