Tangled Up

“Deb can read to your brother and do a puzzle with you.  Deb can do anything.”  This probably would have been a more convincing statement if I wasn’t delivering it directly into a couch cushion.  It was a long week with a lot of long days.  The same could be said of most of my weeks lately.  It can be hard to remember why I’m working so hard, let alone to remember I’m capable of altering my universe.  My practice is lacking, my inner life is lacking, I feel lacking.

Logically, I know I’m accomplishing a lot but all I can think of is the next task.  It’s hard to be present during leisure times and it’s hard to not be thinking of the next thing that has to be done, the next hurdle to be jumped.

Right now my eldest Tiny Charge (a whole three years old!) is into Everything Disney.  Her consumption is carefully regulated but she loves all the music.  “Let It Go” is her nap protest song, we listen to the Frozen Pandora station in the car.  All of the big Princess “Finding Yourself” songs play in rapid success on our way from play school to the park.  

What’s a fire and why does it – what’s the word?/ Burn!/ When’s it my turn?/ Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that world up above? 

There must be more than this provincial life!

Who is that girl, I see staring straight back at me/ Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?/ Somehow I cannot hide who I am, though I’ve tried/ When will my reflection show who I am inside?/ when will my reflection show who I am inside?

Here I stand/ And here I’ll stay/ Let the storm rage on/ My power flurries through the air into the ground/ My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around/ And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast /I’m never going back,/ The past is in the past/ Let it go, let it go/ And I’ll rise like the break of dawn/ Let it go, let it go/ That perfect girl is gone

It’s kind of a lot having your quarter life existential crisis being summed up into bite sized pieces meant to be consumed by would-be toddlers pretend princesses.  But they won’t be princess at all, even though we live in an oligarchy which makes me afraid to think how that’s going to work out for Gen Z because . . .I don’t know about you, but the fact that 65% of their jobs depend on ethereal “jobs that don’t yet exist” seems a bit terrifying.

When it’s not Frozen in Toddler Pretend Princessville, it’s Tangled.  And I know Frozen is problematic on a lot of levels,  but what really aggravates me is the Disney take on Rapunzel.  In the original version, it seems pretty clear cut that the woman raising Rapunzel isn’t a particularly kind woman and what Medieval Era babe doesn’t want to get the fuck out of dodge to bear a million of some random’s babies?  I mean, options were limited to say the least and you were probably going to die of plague if not childbed.  Okay, fine.

But have you seen the end of Tangled?  In a nutshell, Rapunzel figured out that the King and Queen were her real parents, Mother Gothel tries to kill the dude who Rapunzel knew for all of three days who was trying to take her daughter away from her so Rapunzel decides allow her mother to be thrown out a window and to give the last bit of her magic to the random boy to heal him and to live happily ever after with two people she’s never before met.

Now.  Certainly Mother Gothel is far from Mother of the Year.  She pulls Marie Calvet competitive/manipulative bullshit on Ranpunzel every ten minutes or so but does Megan Calvet Draper ever throw her mother out the window on Mad Men?  No.  She does not.  The mother/daughter relationship is a lot more complicated in Tangled than what Disney would lead you to believe.  I highly doubt that fairy tale version Rapunzel was given a gallery, a chess set, paints, books, ballet lessons, pottery lessons, knitting, a guitar, puzzles, darts, a sketch book and the means to sew new dresses which is explicitly stated in the song “When Will My Life Begin?”.  Rapunzel is also obviously in good health, well fed and well dressed.  

By now you must be wondering, why is Deb obsessing over this?  Well, for one thing, I’m getting brainwashed myself with having to read this book about twenty times a day.  But more honestly and more truly, I’m obsessed about this because I was adopted by my parents when I was three days old.  My younger sister is biologically their child, it was a fluke that my mom was able to have her.  So!  Let’s get some questions out of the way!

Q. Do you feel your parents treated you differently because you were adopted and M. wasn’t?

A. No.  Mama Castellano’s love is not biologically driven, if anything it’s merit based.  We have both earned and lost points based on our actions many, many times.  More seriously, my mom still calls me her gift from God.  So if the Almighty gave me to Mama Castellano as a special present, on what planet am I going to feel less loved?

Q. Do you want to find your biological parents?

A.  Ehhhh?  At one time I did kind of and my mom was supportive about it.  But I heard a lot of horror stories about how bio-moms tend to not be super stable Mabels so I’ve never been all that interested in general.

Q. Can people tell that you were adopted?

A.  Nope!  And that probably made things somewhat easier for me.  I look enough like my family that my sister and I are often told how much we look alike.  We both smirk at each other (the ultimate inside joke) and say, “Thanks!”


This obsessive need for Rapunzel to find her “real” parents rubs me all sorts of the wrong way.  My bio-mom isn’t my “real” mom, Mama Castellano is my real mom.  She’s been my real mom for about 99% of my life.  She’s financed my hopes and dreams and my mistakes, she’s the one I call almost every day, she’s the one who gives me encouragement or a smack down as needed.  I’m grateful to my bio-mom for having me but she’s my bio-mom, she’s not my real mom.  Was my mom perfect?  No, of course not.  She absolutely did the best she could and always loved me which is all any parent can do, really.  We were too much alike during most of my twenties and we would get into Brave confrontational poses a lllllllllll the time.

Classic Deb and Mama Castellano Faces

Like it or not, Mother Gothel was Rapunzel’s real mom.  She raised her for sixteen years, set boundaries and gave her as many advantages as she could and loved her the best way she could in a completely flawed manner.  You think that when I was 23 and all, “You can’t tell me what to do, MOM!  I’ma split from Catholicism and become a idol worshipping heathen and I’m going to marry that boy you hate!  WHAT!  Nothing, nothing!  You can’t do nothin’ about this!  So there!”  that if my mom had some kind of saint spell to lock me up in a tower and dictate my entire life that she wouldn’t?  Um, no.  She would have done it so fast I would still have some Wasband spit in my mouth.  Is that the right thing to do in New Parenting?  No.  Would I be seriously tempted myself if I ever had a Tiny Deb giving me that face?  Um, yeah.

I think it’s really messed up that the message being sent to young girls is 1. if you don’t like the parent(s)* you were given and the rules they are giving you, hold out that maybe you have estranged royal parents to come in and take you away and 2. You should give the last bit of magic you have immediately to the first boy you meet that you like.

Dear sweet baby Ganesha, if I had done that, my loser high school boyfriend would still have all my magic and if that’s not a terrifying thought, I don’t know what is.

We need to teach our children to look to save themselves, not to look for a prince to save them.  We need to teach them to hold onto their magic and their power and not give it all away to the first people who claim to love them.  And if we ourselves haven’t completely received that message for ourselves, we need to work our hardest to assimilate into our bones now.  Today.  Because holding onto your power is one of the most fierce kinds of magic you can perform.  And if you’ve given pieces away as we all do, I can’t recommend The Iron Pentacle Mediation in T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft enough to take your pieces of yourself and your power back.


* I’m not talking about abusive situations here.  Obviously, that’s a completely different kettle of fish and one you should seek help for.

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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