[In the Name of the Muse] In the Name of Desire: The Hazards of Love

posted in: feminist, muse | 1


And I am a writer, writer of fictions / I am the heart that you call home / And I’ve written pages upon pages / Trying to rid you from my bones / My bones/ My bones / And if you don’t love me let me go / And if you don’t love me let me go

My skirt has poop on it.  I mean, I washed it but the point still remains that my skirt has poop on it.  I guess I could look at it as some kind of auspicious omen but really it just means a tiny human pooped on me. desire

Sometimes, I feel like the only thing I’ll ever do is stare out someone else’s (much nicer than mine) kitchen window, watching the world pass me by.  When will it be my turn?  My constant cry is as plaintive and annoying as any of my Tiny Charges.  My gods and spirits answer with the same distracted answer I always give, Soon!  

Soon.  Whatever that means to a bunch of beings who can dilate time enough to make Dr. Who shudder.

My house is clean, I have a new oven, I can pay all my bills, my living family and friends are all in good health.  Shouldn’t that be enough? I wish I could say that it is.  But it’s not.  Not lately, so close to achieving All of the Things and yet none of them achieved in their entirety.  The wanting comes in waves and sometimes I’m gliding on the crest like an otter and sometimes I’m just drowning in it.

Right now, I simply wait to see what the universe’s next trick is.  Will I shoot the moon or get just close enough to lose completely?  So many possibilities that I’ve been working so hard to achieve are building together into a rolling, graceful breaker.  Will I dive into the gate or be washed ashore?  Time will tell and the universe has nothing but time.

I don’t.


It was late one night /I was awoken by the telephone/ I heard a strangled cry on the end of the line / Purloined in Petrograd / They were suspicious of where your loyalties lay / So I paid off a bureaucrat / To convince your captors they’re to secret you away /And at the gate of the embassy /Our hands met through the bars /As your whisper stilled my heart / No, they’ll never catch me now/ It was ten years on / When you resurfaced in a motorcar / With the wave of an arm/ You were there and gone

My circle sister has the Southern drawl of someone from a Tennessee Williams play if the heroine swore a lot.  She gave up cooking with her first marriage, she’s a round dancer and secret Dancing With the Stars aficionado, she spent her professional life as a social worker (in the HIV/AIDS department before she retired) and she’s been raising hell in the name of the sisterhood, LBGT rights and Paganism for quite some time.  She never seems to get too discouraged to continue the battle for equal rights for everyone, a trait I find incredibly admirable as I often feel too beaten down to continue the struggle.

She was also a spy for the feminist revolution.  It was something I was sworn to secrecy for quite some time but it’s now been written about in a compilation book of feminist icons.

It was late one night and we were drinking coffee.  I was drinking decaf espresso and poking at it doubtfully since I still hadn’t gotten the hang of drinking espresso yet and I didn’t think vanilla soy milk would improve it, no matter how hard she insisted it would.  I loved being in her house, it’s a gorgeous mid century full of tomes about feminist theory, Goddess art work and elemental shrines everywhere that wasn’t covered in saucy Pagan/Feminist pins.  It felt like a perfect snapshot in time of Second Wave Feminism.  My circle sisters call it The [Her Name] Museum.

I don’t remember what we were talking about, when she decided to tell me about it.  I remember staring at her blankly, thinking how could that even be possible?

Decades ago, she took on considerable risk to join a radical group of conservatives who were bombing clinics and killing doctors and made them think she was one of them.  Part of what made her so believable was her very conservative upbringing.

She went to their retreats and events, dressed conservatively, with a tiny goddess hidden in her bra.  She was often far from home and surrounded by people expressing views that made her feel sick inside.  At some events, her hotel room had obviously been searched.  She worried what would happen if they found out who she really was.  Would she be beaten?  Would she be raped?  Could she even be killed?  She didn’t know.  But she believed so strongly in her cause that she was willing to face any of these terrible outcomes.  Luckily, she was never discovered.

After these events, she would pass on information to her feminist organization to try to help keep more people safe and to keep events where both groups would be present from getting out of hand.

It would be easy to call her fearless.  But she wasn’t.  She was sick with fear. Even sicker with fear was her eventually-to-be second husband.  But he never told her how afraid he was for her because he knew that it would distract her from her mission and he believed in her cause as strongly as she did as he was a feminist as well.  I know I could be brave like my sister was, I don’t know if I could be brave like her husband was.  I can’t imagine what it would feel like to send a lover into (necessary) imminent danger and put a good face on about it.  Bravery has two sides; the side that will do whatever it takes for what you believe in and the side that holds a rock solid quiet conviction.

They would see each other at clinics from opposite sides.  He said later that he almost wouldn’t recognize her, she seemed so different from her energy to her clothes to mannerisms.  Even when they would see each other, they would have to pretend they didn’t know each other.  Her believability to the radical conservative organization depended on that.

My circle sister is a feminist icon, but to me she’ll always be my other mother.



From ore I labored you /From cancer I cradled you/ And now: this is how I am repaid?/ This is how I am repaid?/ Remember when I found you/ The miseries that hounded you/ And I gave you motion/ Anointed with lotions/ And now: this is how I am repaid?/ This is how I am repaid? 

You have brief moments of spark, where I almost believe that you could (finally) fully set yourself on fire.  Where I almost believe that you will do everything that makes you feel afraid (and the list is so long and unnecessarily complicated).  That spark, that glamour where you could convince anyone to do anything.  Even your stubborn, mulish self.  And I think, yes!  Yes!  It’s finally happening!  We’re finally getting somewhere!

But then you use that spark to get into a meaningless nothing fight with your husband and slump over on the couch watching reruns of court procedurals (a habit that I find disgusting, along with your PEH, for the record).  You eat the same things you always eat, you do the same things you’ve always done and you expect . . .what?  Not to get the same things you’ve always gotten?  Oh child.  You would be hilarious if it was intentional.  But it’s not, so it’s just sad.

I feel you hovering in that place where you think giving up is an option because you don’t see your world forming in the way that you expected it to.  You cling like the ghost you will be someday to the things that are familiar.  Why would you ever think that success would look like anything you wanted it to look like?  Why would you think that I would ever look or act like anything you expected?

You think that success will somehow keep you safe and that it will give you all the things you want so desperately; security, calm, good health, Enough of Everything, a map of promises that you can refer to whenever things get difficult, love, approval, attention.

You were never built for those things, it’s why you want them so desperately.   You will never have those things in large enough quantities to satisfy you unless you are willing to give up everything that makes you you.  You pretend for moments that you could, to jostle me, to make sure I’m still awake.  You resentfully list all of the accomplishments of your peers and bitterly covet everything that is not your own.  As if other people’s accomplishments were ever yours to take!  As if you are anything but an adjacent planet in the same solar system!  You don’t even share a sun or a moon but you expect your path to be the same as theirs.

You make yourself small when you resolve to keep your eyes on your own paper.  You need to be more than a school girl at a cramped desk.  You are a globe, my tiny insignificant charge.  A world that only you can circumnavigate.  Full of your own flora and fauna, full of your own air and stars.  Let yourself quicken to riotous bloom.  You will never be able to anticipate everything I will bring to your little planet, so stop attempting to understand the inner workings of my far more complicated mind and instead tell me the world I long to hear.  Just say yes.  Just say yes.  Just say yes.

To everything.  Until you don’t know where you are anymore and you no longer care.  The best maps are the ones that were never written.


This is the story of the boys who loved you / Who love you now and loved you then / And some were sweet and some were cold and snubbed you / And some just layed around in bed /And some, they crumbled you straight to your knees/ Did it cruel, did it tenderly / Some they crawled their way into your heart / To rend your ventricles apart / This is the story of the boys who loved you / This is the story of your red right ankle

From The Secret Heart of Lakshmi
(Shri Mahalakshmi Hridayam)

Om. I sing the praises of Lakshmi, 
Whose essence is supreme auspiciousness 
And whose body is formed of golden light. 
Her entire being sparkles with the radiance of pure gold. 
She bears the golden lotus 
And the golden vessel filled with seeds. 
Seated at the left side of Vishnu, 
She is Shakti, mother of all creation. 

I sing the praises of Lakshmi, 
Beloved mother of auspiciousness, 
The eternal one 
Who confers delight, 
Fulfills all desires, 
And guides all endeavors to successful fruition. 

With my mind focused 
On her majestic sovereignty, 
Ever do I call upon the queen of the gods.
Again and again I praise that supreme lady. 

I sing the praises of Mahashri, source of wisdom, 
Mahashri, source of every success and happiness, 
Mahashri, source of all good fortune, 
Mahashri, eternal source of auspiciousness. 

I glorify Hari’s beloved, source of prosperity, 
The everlasting one 
Who grants the delight of Self-recognition, 
The charming one 
Who gives birth to speech 
And its amazing variegations. 
I glorify that goddess 
Who bestows happiness sweet and everlasting. 

O Goddess, existing as the entire world, 
You dwell in all beings as their essence. 
O queen of endless bounty, 
May your brilliance illumine the darkness of space 
As you protect all of creation. 
O Shri, I bow to your lotus feet. 

You are destroyer of poverty, sorrow, 
And fruitless endeavor. 
In my state of wretchedness and scarcity, 
I place myself at your lotus feet. 
O Shri, anoint me with your merciful glance. 

O Mother, be gracious. 
Cast upon me your glance, 
Moist with the nectar of compassion. 
Let flow your mercy into my home. 
Clinging to your lotus feet, 
I bow to the one whose look 
Destroys the pain that dwells in my heart. 
I bow in reverence to you, O Shri.

Glory! Glory be to Lakshmi, 
Who appears and disappears in the twinkling of an eye. 
Glory! Glory be to Padma, 
Dearly beloved lady of the lotus. 
Glory! Glory be to Wisdom, 
Seated at Vishnu’s left side. 
Glory! May all offer glory and salutations to Shri, 
Wellspring of prosperity. 

Glory! Glory be to the goddess 
Worshiped reverently by the assembly of gods. 
Glory! Glory be to the auspicious one, 
Good fortune embodied as the daughter of Bhrigu. 
Glory! Glory be to the ever-spotless one, 
Celebrated as supreme knowledge. 
Glory! Glory be to the one 
Who exists as the goodness 
Inherent in all things. 

Glory! Glory be to the delightful one 
Who dwells in the magnificent depths of the sea. 
Glory! Glory be to the golden one 
Whose beautiful body sparkles with brilliant light. 
Glory! Glory be to the charming one, the resplendent one. 

Glory! Glory be to the tranquil one. 
O auspicious goddess, 
Arrive quickly!



Perhaps I am a miscreation/ No one knows the truth there is no future here/ And you’re the DJ speaks to my insomnia/ And laughs at all I have to fear/ Laughs at all I have to fear/ You always play the madmen poets/ Vinyl vision grungy bands/ You never know who’s still awake/ You never know who understands and/ Are you out there, can you hear this?Jimmy Olson, Johnny Memphis,/ I was out here listening all the time/ And though the static walls surround me/ You were out there and you found me/ I was out here listening all the time

We are churning the sea of milk.  Sometimes, it feels like nothing will appear out of it.  We wait to see the things that we expect, the things we want to see.  If we confine ourselves to only one vision of our futures, we limit ourselves.  We need to be single minded in our passion when we are churning the creamy ocean but when unexpected Goddesses and unasked-for auspicious gifts start manifesting from all our churning, we need to be prepared to welcome them into our lives, even if they come in shapes and forms that are difficult to recognize and not what we were looking for when we started this exceptionally arduous venture.  The real trick is recognizing the difference between milk and butter.

The wanting comes in waves and sometimes I’m gliding on the crest like an otter and sometimes I’m just drowning in it.

Bravery has two sides; the side that will do whatever it takes for what you believe in and the side that holds a rock solid quiet conviction.

The best maps are the ones that were never written.

The eternal one /Who confers delight, / Fulfills all desires, / And guides all endeavors to successful fruition. 

The real trick is recognizing the difference between milk and butter.

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.  


One Response

  1. Too right, my dear.
    How can you recognize a gift when it comes, though?
    I think we cling to our visions of what success looks like because they are recognizable.
    I don’t know what your Muse’s idea of success is for you. I don’t know if it’s like Heather Dale’s success – in that to recognize it, she had to redefine what “success” meant to her so that it could include niche markets and a fairly nomadic lifestyle – or if it’s something else.
    To devour the world is terrifying. It’s consistently made clear to me (to you, to all of us) that being a woman with an appetite, with ambition, with desire, is to be a woman in danger because she is dangerous.

    What you said about keeping yoruself small by keeping your eyes on one particular prize is… familiar. I find that every time I take a step towards, well, expansion – opening up and becoming my bigger (biggified?) self – I follow it up with back-tracking like Woah, as if to say “I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean to Have Opinions” or put myself out there, expose myself to the vulnerability that comes with visibility. Do you do the same?

    I have no idea what success looks like for me. What you’ve described – a clean, functional house, all the bills paid, and everyone you care about being in reasonably good health… plus the chance to create-create-create on top of that? That does sound like success to me.

    Maybe it’s my Protestant upbringing, but I keep figuring that, if I’m on the right track towards whatever Destiny is at play, I would be getting little “possitive feedback” carrots to encourage me to keep following this particular track. Maybe that’s idiotic of me, or maybe they have a different idea of what a carrot looks like…?

    I don’t even know.
    Meliad recently posted..Q is for Queerness (Otherness, Sexual Deviance, and The Witch) – Pagan Blog Project 2014My Profile

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