[Dear #QueensInExile] I Intend to Survive . . .So Now What?

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Dear Sisters,

I know how to survive.  I’m a goddamn cockroach.  Exile?  No problem.  I can armor up, I can smile to show that I’m pleased, I can carry switchblades in both sleeves.  I can work eighteen hour days.  I can hustle.  I can write a motherfucking book during tax season.  I know how to fuck someone up magically, socially and professionally.  I even know when when to throw the apple and when to fold my hands together in my lap.

What I don’t know, what I haven’t known for a very long time, is how to lay my weapons down.  I don’t know how to treat myself gently anymore.  I’m kind to myself, but I’m not gentle.  I don’t know how to be a beacon of light or love.  I don’t know how to be kind to a body that has not always been terribly kind to me.

I felt like no one taught us how to survive.  No one taught us how to manage exile.  No one told us what to pack, what to leave behind.  No one told us that those closest to us would betray us.  No one showed us who we would need to betray to survive.  No one instructed us in the magic we would need to use in the heart of the dark.  So once I started getting the hang of exile, I wanted to give my notes, because if we can’t survive then the game is over.

So, in theory, now I’ve won the game.  I survived exile.  I have a (mostly) good marriage.  My book sales are not shameful.  I have a 401K plan.  I have medication.  I have loved ones.  I have a small business.  I have webs that I’m spinning, spinning, spinning.

Of course, everyone is asking me about my next book.  And I think about musicians I read about on Spotify.  Like how London Grammar did a world tour, kicked ass and took names and then went back to their old lives for a year before even starting the next album.  How Fiona Apple has only done three albums.  I thought before having published that being prolific was how you won the (book) game, but now I don’t think so.  I feel like I need time to experience life, to grow and evolve, to do ritual work, to read, to soak things in.  And that it’s okay that my (book) womb isn’t just endlessly spilling out babies.

With the movie just out, Jow and I have started reading A Wrinkle in Time together since he’s never read it.  I never realized how much all of Madeline’s books shaped me and how truly radical they were and still are.  It brings me back to a much younger version of myself.  It makes me think of other versions of myself that were softer and more gentle.  When I was a very young witch, I just wanted to heal myself.  I’ve spent a decade since slapping duct tape on wounds and moving ever forward.  Faster.  Harder.  Stronger.

I want to make my body faster, stronger and harder.  I want to make my insides softer, gentler and more light filled.  I feel like those opposite Great Works can work together, but it’s not easy.

I knew when I got published, it would make some people frown.  Friends, enemies, whatever.  Because it forced them to look at their creative endeavors and see where they were coming up short.  But not everyone in my circles has burning creative aspirations so it was more in selected pockets.   Part of why I keep dawdling and being so half assed with my body stuff is because I know that changing my outside will be met with a lot of resistance.  Because of the same reason really, if I start busting ass on my diet and exercise and suddenly I have abs (I mean, a wish is a dream your heart makes, right?) and all the other stuff, it’s a lot to have to accept in someone you love when you may find yourself wanting.  If I have a very obvious Thing (my weight) then clearly, everyone can back the fuck up and feel self congratulatory that  I’m not that great.  I mean, I have tons and tons and tons of issues with food and weight.   There’s also this weird subconscious feel that if I really shift my body and (maybe) even shift it so much that I’m not seen as fat anymore, I have betrayed the whole fat girl sisterhood and I have made all kinds of judgements about other people’s bodies just by virtue of changing mine.  Like I looooooooove watching people eat of all sizes, especially if it’s something I’ve made.  It’s so satisfying.  But if I change my eating habits, then I’m making all kinds of (silent) judgements about other people’s habits and that feels exhausting so previously I would eat a cupcake and then go to bed and just not deal with it.

The thing is, after my encounter with being forced to take a med that did so much less for me (#QueensUp #CraigsDown) and having experienced my body sort of collapse, I never want to feel that way again.  Like I am at the mercy of some dudebro telling me what medication I can take and telling me what my body was worth.  I feel like I’ve struggled so hard for so long with my body and fibromyalgia, now that my body is finally working, I want to really get it to work.  I also feel like I want to talk about that experience.  Like, I’ve never taken any pictures of myself in a yoga pose despite being taking yoga for four years now because I’ve also felt like I was never good enough to show my poses because I never completely dedicated myself and I’m not naturally good at it and I’m still struggling with it.  But I really want to share my experiences and I feel like I would feel motivated seeing someone who is not great at something do something, so that’s me in fish pose which is my favorite.

One of many of the perks of being friends with Xtina is that she’s a trainer and she’s helping me figure out how hard I can push myself.  I want to focus on feeling present in my body as well as strong in my body instead of feeling either like a glass figurine or like I need no accommodation at all whatsoever because neither is true for me.  I’ve been meal prepping all weekend which is a surprisingly satisfying place to put my crazy during tax season.  As is going to the gym and bicycling for 45 minutes because I can text and be left the eff alone and feel like an actual person while still maybe accomplishing something.  I have never worked out this much during tax season before.

Like I’ve really figured myself out as an artist and in my relationships. But my relationship with my body is my last big hurdle.  I feel like I love myself more than a lot of people, but also that my body should be amazing with zero effort. Which is totally fucked up because what in life is zero effort?  Not writing, not marriage, not relationships, not housekeeping, not crafting, not career.  Zero things. So I want to give my body the same kind of care and attention I’ve given everything else and to treat it as sacred. Because I’ve lost a lot of that in the last decade.  I want to get back to a witchcraft full of positive vibes and crystals and self healing because why not, you know?

So, that’s what I’m working on currently in my copy room/meditation cave primarily.  I’ll be curious to see where it takes me.




Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


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