[Rules of Exile] Rule No. 8 You Have a Right to Sanctuary

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Exile has a way of grinding you down.  Sure, finding the hollow of our hunger will make us strong Queens, but that feels really abstract after nine hours on your feet in your copy room mediation cave where you’ve started to wonder key things like: will you ever read a book again?  Will you ever write again?  Can you still feel feelings?

Add to this, whatever austerity you were once willingly putting yourself through but now you have stopped fantasizing about sex things like a normal person and instead are immersing yourself in fully developed reveries about ground beef.

Maybe, sometimes, you are going to the gym.  But cycling only because it’s the only time you have to text people you actually like and look at Insta and pretend you are a person.  Also, it’s quiet there and no one talks to you except when you manage to not double book yourself for the millionth time and your friend Xtina goes with you.  Xtina is a trainer and pole instructor and gets up at 3:30a.  She’s in exile too but still somehow has a will to live and reminds you not to be such a moody cow about yours as she barks at you through various tortures she’s devised just for you which is flattering but also torture.

On your living room table currently: An empty water bottle you have not actually drank out of in a day, your wedding ring, your fit bit, a wine glass, a coffee cup, three milk stout bottles (left hand of course) from last night with your husband, a memoir you are supposed to be reading and reviewing and possibly interviewing the author for, sea salt (your best friend’s contribution), cocoa nibs and cheese whisps you’re not supposed to be eating, a shot glass, a highlighter, heart burn pills, a mason jar full of your valentine’s day limited edition oil, your husband’s million notebooks, a lighter and Fiona Horn’s book that your editor whimsically threw in for you just in case.  Your husband has pants hung over a chair in the dining room because his exile isn’t exactly easy either.

Your body has started attacking you because that’s how it shows support for your troubles in exile, by temporarily disfiguring you.  You have a large patch of eczema on your clavicle that your husband and mother keep making worried pecking noises about and are never reassured that this happens, you have a med check with your doctor in a couple weeks any way and when exactly are you supposed to go to see her and then a derma when you have to bust your ass just to leave “early” (after an hour an a half of OT) to get your hair did so you don’t have to look at three inch roots and collapse into an exile fueled depression about it.  You rub salves into it regularly and it itches, especially when they talk about it.  Your lips shed skin constantly, your scalp is as dry as the Sahara and you’ve started pulling your nose ring out in your sleep again.

But on Saturdays, when you work only five hours instead of ten, you start to regain some willpower, if only for a moment.  You take yourself on long walks through shops even though you don’t have much money really because your housewares keep betraying you too just to add more insult to injury.  You are still waiting to be paid for your book, your tax return is already going to the Queen mother who helped you when your circuit breaker betrayed you in the fall and you have a shiny new water heater that you didn’t want either.  But you have a little, and it’s good to walk it all out and to see new things.  You can afford small things – a wash and salve for your face/clavicle, a new bb cream, gorgeous glitter from Nyx to put in your hair when your roots come back and this time you’ll be in too deep to get them done but you can at least sparkle, colored lip balm to help with your lips.

But there is still time for revelations in the copy room and you realize that all of your beloved medieval Queens had a right to seek sanctuary where no one could bother them.  Even if it was the crypts in Westminster Abbey.

Perk to being a post-modern #QueenInExile: You don’t have to chill with dead people’s bones in cold, damp nearly lightless conditions unless you want to.

So, you may be saying to yourself that you don’t have space for a sanctuary.  I disagree.  I share a 725 sq ft condo with Jow and I have space.  Now, if we’re talking really small living, it may be a little harder but like everything else, it’s about priority.

For me, it started with a dream about Mary M. who was young and tattooed/pierced up and had a pop up bookstore the size of my bedroom in my dream.  She had a gorgeous huge yard with a pool and flowers everywhere.  There were people outside in various states of undress – drumming, laughing and getting down.  She had an amused while tolerant air about her about the shenanigans outside and people would tumble through the door, talking and laughing and looking at books.  She wanted to carry my book and have me give workshops which made me shy but flattered.  I was telling J. about Our Lady’s appearance and he said that sanctuary space is important.  I went into the copy room meditation cave and started thinking about that.

Shared space becomes difficult with enough time.  Not impossible, but difficult.  I don’t know that I would describe myself as territorial per se because that seems a lot more alpha and a lot less community guppy than I usually tend to be, but I have spent a long time building this tiny condo into a hearth.  For me that’s been expressed in some interesting ways.  Like if I really don’t like you or trust you, I don’t want you in my space.  This becomes interesting when you share said space with a husband but we’ve mostly figured it out I think.

The beginning of this revelation really started at an event I was going to where I had my own suite. I’ve never had my own hotel suite (or room for the matter), it’s always been mine and someone else’s. This was very much my space, where I invited others into it. That set a very powerful standard for me. I loved nesting into my space, arranging my macarons and St. Germain just so. My sheepskin draped over the leather coffee table. My clothes hung up, my sinks and bedside table put together just so.

I loved deciding where my altar would go and not needing to consult anyone else. It was a space for thoughtful glamour choices with music I liked best. I liked seeing how capable I was. Forgot my phone charger? No problem. I called the nearest 5 Below and asked them and then took myself right over there to pick it up, listening to radiomancy omens on the way. I picked up a quartz tiara on a whim, which wound up to be my most complimented item. I loved telling admirers that it was 5 Below, not as compliment apology but a triumphant caw that it’s for all of us to access, if desired.

I set up my altar to Babalon on the desk, intentionally arranging my vanity next to it so I was constantly sitting next to it. Purple embossed velvet, a crimson opened pomegranate, a sfogliatelle shaped like a yoni, a tiny gold tea cup with the word tramp scrawled across it, shining rose quartz, a delicate peacock feather, a red wax sealed love potion, snowy deer antlers, a pink glass container with a perpetually lit (electric) candle, a perfume I had mixed for this, an amethyst glass container for the perfume with curled reeds to spread it in my room. Soft rabbit skin. A glittering compact, a shimmering perfume atomizer, a picture of Her. Dried flower petals strewn across the altar.  It was a heady experience that made me think about Pennsic.

Part of why I think last Pennsic (for me, two years ago) was so hard for me was that I didn’t have a room of my own, so to speak which is actually more like a tent of my own.  It took me a while to figure that out because I was too busy being upset with everyone and I had just finished writing my book which apparently makes me postpartum crazy.  But this year, I haven’t just finished writing a book and I now know I need a retreat so that I can do whatever I want whenever I want to.  Including, being left the fuck alone.  And I got so excited to be able to decorate a space with no one else in mind.  I’ve been slowly acquiring house/tent wares a la Jael once I had that revelation.

So, I could see the value of having space that was just mine.  It made me think of the party me and Jow had for our birthdays and the happy memories I have from it.  I started thinking, what if I made the teepee a permanent sanctuary fixture?  I talked to Jow about it, figuring he’d be frowny faced about it, but he was completely into it.  I also wanted some rules:

  1. Nothing fun happens in the teepee without me.  Reading and magic can, but nothing else.  It’s my teepee.
  2. If you use my sanctuary, you are to reset it back to its “default” setting.  No weird energetic dead bugs, no husband flotsam.

Again, Jow was very into it.  My clavicle situation may have contributed to his willingness, but I’m not going to look into it.

I really spent some time intentionally setting space there.  I got a velvet blanket and a meditation cushion.  I made a small altar.  I got a tiny essential oil diffuser.  I strung fairy lights.  I put in the sheepskin I was gifted by Ro.  I set my intention.  I consecrated my space.

Think about being little, what was better than a blanket fort?  Why not have one now for your Work, for a chill space, for a space to read and create?  I cheated in making mine a bit as my structure was premade but in the words of Ferris, if you have the means, I highly recommend it.  Get yours here.  I use clothespins to completely close it when I’m feeling really anti social.  Don’t have the means?  You would rather build your own?  I appreciate industriousness, Sister Queen.  Get some ideas here, here and here.

Because . . .we may as well dream while we’re in exile, Sisters.


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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