[In the Name of the Muse] Poison & Wine: Death is the Only Option

posted in: muse | 2

You only know what I want you to/ I know everything you don’t want me to/ Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine/ You think your dreams are the same as mine

I. Depression

There is nothing about me that’s okay right now.  I’m falling asleep by 9p to get up at 6a to work anywhere between 2-12 hours at my day job and then I come home and I try to write something for my blog or my novel because I can’t concentrate enough right now to research.  I have three shows this weekend in three totally different venues (ladies who lunch/church ladies/people who like to recreate the middle age through clothing, fights and craftsmanship) so it’s going to be a total headfuck going from “Oh darling, these scarves go for $200 at Neimans.” to “No, my dyes aren’t period.  My artwork isn’t either.  I know, women didn’t wear corsets on the outside.” to “Your granddaughter would love a special perfume oil that her friends don’t have!”

I wake up exhausted.  I go to sleep exhausted.  I hurt because I have fibromyalgia which doesn’t magically go away when I need it to.  I will set up and take down three times this week which means bins full of my wares, figuring everything out just to shlep it back to my car.  No one helps me.  I have to put on my most joyful smile, my best most appropriate dress for each venue and be winsome and not socially anxious.  My reward for this is to come home and get my Etsy shop ready for the flurry of sales that will happen starting on Wednesday.

And my uncle is still dead and there will still be an empty seat at Thanksgiving.  No matter what we do.

I have a broken heart, unwashed hair, unpolished fingernails, pain in my knees and ankles.  I promised myself last year that after the holidaze I would get to rest.  But I didn’t.  I applied for scholarships for spinning, I applied to big sheep and wool festivals even though I was terrified and rejection letters are rolling out all over my Facebook and I don’t know if I should be more scared if we got in or more disappointed if we don’t, I did more shows than I’ve ever done, I wrote three pieces for Llewellyn that will be published in their 2015 annuals,  I kept my mother company, I kept my uncle company and mostly I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be happy or carefree.  I stay in this purgatory where I am never quite good enough to rest but never bad enough to quit.  I make micromovements towards success.  Towards freedom.  Mostly, I burn.  I’ve burnt through the tears of last year, burnt through the crippling anxiety, burnt through the self doubt that chained me, burnt through my physical pain, burnt through my emotional pain.    I’ve made myself barren.  My dreams are full of being buried in graveyard dirt, the insects cleaning my skeleton while I still breath, waiting to see what I’ll become.  I’m nothing but fire, bone, blood and ash now.  So I rise.

C’est la vie, C’est la mort./ You and me, /Forevermore. /Let’s walk down the road that has no end/ Steal away where only angels tread /Heaven or hell or somewhere in between /Cross your heart to take me when you leave /Don’t go /Please don’t go
Don’t go without me

II. Denial 

“He didn’t even buy anything good with the money he got!  No boat, no fast car, nothing!  Can you believe that?”  He was laughing, but I could tell he was worried.  I was worried too.  It’s all we ever did together anymore, worry.  I would spin, my roving cascading over the oxygen tubes.  We can’t say the things we’re thinking.  That he’s dying.  That he’s not ready.  That I’m worried that my mother won’t be able to weather losing him.  That I won’t be able to weather losing him.  That our family will be broken in ways that will never be fixed without him.

So we laugh instead.  I say, “At least you had a Jag!  And a chalet!  I just blew threw a ton of money in my twenties and have hardly anything to show for it!”  My mom frowns at both of us, too much the accountant to even fathom blowing through the amounts of money that my uncle and I have spent.  We both try to look contrite but we’re really just giggling, thinking about all the lovely dinners and drinks and fancy jewelry we once bought.

I stand up to give my mom some time with him and busy myself in the kitchen to make plates full of chicken marsala, tortellini salad, antipasto, garlic bread and make a dessert plate stacked with cannolis, cider donuts and torrone.  I bustle back and my uncle tells me how good everything is and he eats, really eats.  It’s the last time we’ll eat together though I don’t know it at the time.   We talk about the cruise Jow and I were just on and how though my uncle had a proud career in aviation, he never took a cruise.  “I always meant to,” he said.  “And I meant to go sky diving too like your sister.  But well . . .”  We don’t say it.  We never say it.  “Don’t let your writing become something you always meant to do.  Make sure you do it.”   I promise him I will.  We pass the afternoon happily, my uncle and my mom reminisce about their childhood.  How there used to be all sorts of peddlers who would bring nuts, candy, potato chips and even carnival rides for the afternoon right to their block.   We leave, feeling content and hopeful.  We’re blissful in our ignorance that we would only have him for a few weeks more.

Since then it’s been a fire in my  throat.  I can’t abandon my calling.  All of my ambition, all of my striving has reached a fever pitch.  Deathbed promises have a way of doing that.

There’s a pub on the south side of town/ Time stands still while there’s still wine around/ She’s the one in the calico/ The one who’s always and never alone/ Keep her glass full of cheap champagne/ She will tell of the man with no name/ Smoke and mirrors have done her in/ She’s in love and she won’t be again

III. Anger (An Open Letter From My Muse)

You’ve reached the point that you’ve accepted my bridle, you’ve accepted my bit.  You know who is the horse and who is the rider.  But still you fight me, an admirable trait in a horse, less so in a human.  A horse still has spirit.  A horse is still remembering what it was like to run free and unfettered.  You revolt by tying yourself down into slothful internet use, reality television, eating things that make you feel disgusting and sleeping all the time.  It’s not attractive.  It’s not healing.  It’s gross.

If you’re going to fight me, at least make it pretty.  Put on your best dress, your highest heels, your reddest lipstick and dive into the clearest martini, the darkest chocolate, the bloodiest meat and dance like someone is putting hundreds into your panties.  Remember what you’re living for.  Remember what it’s like to feel infinite.  Remember I know exactly how many breaths you have in your body.  It’s sooner than you think.  You have too much to do to waste so much time disengaging.

We’re not speaking until you get it together.

Ain’t going back to Barton Hollow/ Devil gonna follow me e’er I go/ Won’t do me no good washing in the river/ Can’t no preacher man save my soul/ Did that full moon force my hand?/ Or that unmarked hundred grand?/ Ooh, underneath the water

IV. Acceptance


She appeared to me in a dream
She said
Her face a canvas of wode
She handed me a feather
and told me to give it to you
She said you’d know what it meant

Whenever there is a battlefield
She is there
She said
When you are able to put your hands
into the river of black oozing sorrow
and not fall in
Instead grow a pair of white wings
like Hers
that will hold you up
when you can’t stand
and make your spine a thing
of steel
that’s when you’ve won

I know you said this is the
worst day of your life
since daddy died
She said
It got better

Each day a little at a time
She said
Moment by moment
Breath by breath

I’m proud of you
She said

It’s impressive
How much you’ve
Became you
But better
She said

Stand your ground
Dig your heels into
the mud slick with blood
and battle
Whispered words do more than
swords most days

Never give up your power
Steal it back
Eat it whole

But don’t mistake your power
as freedom from the river
Your wailing and tears
Crimson soaked cloth in hand
Some things can’t be forgotten.

One engine barely makes it away/ One engine barely makes it away/ Hold on, they’re breaking their bonds/ Hold on, they’re breaking their bonds/ One engine barely makes it away

IV. Bargaining

Dying is the ultimate change.  It’s the ultimate unknown.   It’s what we fear, it’s what we’re hurtling towards.  If we are supposed to be practicing magic, we must be magic.  You’re not living a dress rehearsal, you’re living your life.  Right now, you’re dying your death and being reborn as you read this.  Every day on a cellular level, we’re dying and being reborn in a million tiny ways.  If your cells can do it, why can’t you?

I’m nothing but fire, bone, blood and ash now.  So I rise.

I can’t abandon my calling.

Put on your best dress, your highest heels, your reddest lipstick and dive into the clearest martini, the darkest chocolate, the bloodiest meat and dance like someone is putting hundreds into your panties.

Some things can’t be forgotten.

 If we are supposed to be practicing magic, we must be magic.

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.  


2 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing this. I cried – it is so beautiful. A reminder that we forget to live.

  2. Deborah,

    Thank you so much for this blog post. This is what I needed to read today. I have seasonal affective disorder and spinal arthritis, so since November started I have slept more than any human ought. My mother, who I was taking care of because of her artritis, died unexpectedly in May. I had put certain parts of my life on hold to take care of Mom, which I would do again in a heartbeat, but this year began with a feeling like things were really starting to come together. Especially as the growing season began, and I was considering expanding projects, etc. Then the rug was pulled out from under me. I did what one does to try to survive, and things were beginning to become more bearable. I was beginning to accept that Mom had joined the Ancestors, that there would be that empty seat, that quietness. And then November happened, and I have ignored life as much as possible. What your Muse said, what you wrote, about eating food that makes you feel awful and numbing one’s mind with internet and TV, that’s what I have been doing. I desperately though, want to live and be the magic I need to be, and sometimes it is so difficult to get out of the bed in the morning that my prayers become “help me get through today,” instead of “guide me that I would be the best I can be today.” I think there is something to learn from this. What is my depression trying to teach me? I do think ultimately Someone is trying to say, “put on your best, no matter what; do your best no matter what, because you might not get the chance tomorrow.” Or more aptly as your Muse said, “Put on your best dress, your highest heels, your reddest lipstick and dive into the clearest martini, the darkest chocolate, the bloodiest meat and dance like someone is putting hundreds into your panties.” Thank you again for sharing something so personal and meaningful. You have changed the course of my day.

    Many blessings,

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