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In the past few years, I’ve been so bogged down with getting divorced, buying a house, my sister’s marriage and baby and now starting my own business, that my Dianic Wiccan circle was always the first thing to go on my schedule. Fridays would find me tired and run down, the stresses of the week culminated so that all I would want to do is order a pizza and drink wine and watch television. Besides, at this point I’m barely Wiccan anymore anyway, right?

During these years, without realizing it, I had become coated in a crisp cannoli shell. I started to prefer my own small hearth magics and became results driven and the intellectual side of magic – blogging and thinking with an occasional trip to my grove which is also filled with charming cynics like myself.

I had become cynical.

It seemed like a lifetime ago since I was that twenty year old girl who needed mentors and role models and to be accepted as she was, fuck ups and alternaness and all. I never knew the divine feminine until then and I never knew I could be take a religious leadership role. The Craft had come out, but Willow had not yet become a witch on Buffy yet and Charmed hadn’t yet started. We were still taught the importance of to be silent because you could still find yourself in harm’s way for being a witch.

Somewhere in my late twenties, when my marriage was falling apart, I started falling away from my Circle. I always went once or twice a year, kept in touch with my sisters and all, but what had once seemed shiny with the Divine Feminine and sister space and the Goddess is alive/ and magic is afoot started to seem . . .airy-fairy. Less serious, less scholarly. Less important. Something I had outgrown.

Yesterday there was to be a circle meeting and ritual, discussing our future. I felt obligated to go. After all, these women had had a hand in raising me, had contributed to who I became, had loved me and cared for me. But I also felt that familiar familial feeling of obligation and resentment. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay home and drink wine and watch Gossip Girl.

But I went, grudgingly. My sisters hugged me tight, exclaiming over their prodigal daughter and I felt that all too familiar feeling I feel around my family, guilt for not being a better daughter.

We went over our circle’s issues (running late has always been a big one to give an example) and I felt like we were all committed to making things more feasible for everyone and that we had refocused our group’s intent.

We then did a simple handwashing ritual. And . . .I can’t find the words to explain it, how it feels when we’re on. When we’re all focused and present and sharing sister space. How safe and calm it can feel, being protected in our little snowglobe between worlds. Womblike. Since starting the French Experiment, I’ve tried to focus more on appreciating simplicity, especially in daily life. There was something sacred as we went through the rites and then came to the hand washing. I’ve done that particular ritual before but . . .I think maybe I wasn’t really able to appreciate it yet as a Maiden. I’m not sure why that is but while I thought it was pretty, it didn’t resonate with me. I think as a Maiden I had a hard time sitting still and a hard time appreciating anything that didn’t come in a martini glass or with an expensive price tag.

We used a beautiful silver ewer with a silver ladle with warmed rose and rain water. Each of us would wash the hands of the sister sitting to our left, thinking about what we loved about our sister and what she brought to circle. I don’t know what M. was thinking when she washed my hands and dried them but it was really hard not to cry, I was just overcome by the love and the beauty of the gesture. My hands felt clean in a way that they haven’t in a very long time. Clean hands, clean heart. When I washed D.’s hands, I thought about how gentle and kind she was and how she always knew the right thing to say and her music. It was just really powerful watching the other sisters’ wash each others hands so carefully and kindly, a small gesture of love and care.

And I thought about how easy it is in our community to wrap ourselves in our intellect and our cynicism and talk about how the world is burning anyway, man so we should use our magic so we don’t get screwed in the process and make sure we get everything we can. It’s easier to make a sarcastic joke. I do it all the time.

It’s hard for me to sit there with my squishy creamy insides hanging out, to be sincere and open and loving and kind without worrying about how I’ll be preceived. Without turning away from it with a biting comment and a puff of a clove or sip of wine, but to just sit there and allow myself to be changed by it. It’s. Really. Fucking. Hard. And I think that’s why I keep turning away from it and away from my sisters because most days I’d rather be hard.

What I learned last night is that we need both, the hardness and the softness. The hardness pushes us through the difficulty of life and keeps us driving to succeed even when we’ve failed over and over again, the softness is what gives us a light of some kind, a grace to enjoy what we made ourselves hard for.

I need that for myself, that permission for softness, a magic that looks inside not outside and isn’t always about input and output, that space to be gentle and surrounded by love. When I came back, Jow said I seemed different and he’s right, I was. I came back changed, centered and softer. And I need that.  So I’m going to do that for myself more, start going to circle more often again as a gift to myself.

Ending at 10:30 instead of 12:30 though does help my enthusiam for the prospect.

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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