One of the most difficult parts of exile is that it’s not always voluntary. When you are not presently exiled, it’s easy to tell yourself that because everything is awesome in your life, everything is awesome in everyone else’s life. No one is forced to stay in marriages they don’t want to be in, everyone’s workplace is a joy, money is something that is easily obtained along with good, healthy food, no one is ever forced to bare their necks to someone who wields power over them in the interest of survival. This is the 21st century, after all! If you don’t like something, why just leave! If you were actually good at being a Queen, certainly there is always a job for you, family can help support you and there’s never, ever a reason to grit your teeth and stick out something you don’t want to do for either a greater cause or simply to survive.
Even I am not immune to this in my exile. The moment you put me in a seminar and we are asked to talk about our workplace difficulties, that is everyone’s immediate response. Except for the instructors who have seen enough hot messes to know that “you need to look for another position immediately!!1111!!!” is a stupid response to someone whose position is part of a dying field when they are currently making decent money and have good benefits. It is such a 1986 bullshit privileged thing to say to a person about work or home life decisions that I immediately lose respect for the other person when it’s said. Like, zomgoats, Betsy! Thank god you have distilled my incredibly nuanced problems at work and/or home down to such an easily managed proposition that I totally have not thought of! I would have never ever thought of leaving if you didn’t point out to me that that’s an option! You are such a god send. Nay, savior.
But that doesn’t mean you have to just sit there and take it. Yes, you will sometimes need to appear as a supplicant to survive in exile. That’s a piece of advice Joanie gives Peggy on Mad Men w/r/t the switchboard operators as she armed Pegs with gifts as well for the switchboard operators. It’s also something Jow and I will hiss to each other on occasion a la would Victoria Beckham tone her face only once a day? NO LADIES SHE WOULD NOT. If you don’t know admin structure, this is where being a supplicant gets really interesting. A switchboard operator (or, now, a receptionist) typically makes significantly less than her secretary counterparts. That doesn’t matter. If you are smart, you always kiss the receptionist’s ass (nasty thing, one of the operators says with an airy laugh about Pegs’ predecessor, she could never get a call through!). Power doesn’t always come from above. Are you dependent on a medical prescription? A pharm tech makes $12/hr. You may make more than that and be part of a different social class. Guess who controls your drugs? Guess who makes the calls to your insurance when things go sideways? Guess who calls the drug company on your behalf if you don’t have insurance? Guess who could decide they are out of stock of your meds if you are being a big enough bitch? Daycare providers make on average $9.40/hr. They also control how much adult time and attention your child gets during their day. If you think being snippy to your daycare provider after a long crummy day at the office doesn’t go on your permanent record and directly affect your child’s daily life, you are sorely mistaken. That is definitely a place to be a supplicant. But it does go in the obvious direction too. Your boss. Your spouse. Your case worker. Your doctor. Your lawyer. The world is full of people who have control over your basic human needs and man, if that doesn’t get you down sometimes, I don’t know what will.
That said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan past ALL OF YOUR JOKES ARE SO FUNNY AND YOU ARE SO ATTRACTIVE AND SMART. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have an end date for yourself in dealing with these shenanigans. Remember, impoverish exile was never the plan for our medieval sister Queens. The plan was either to get back to court (where all the money, attention and power lived) or to live quietly and privately while generating an income (usually collecting rents- which was always the first thing rival monarchs would cut you off from) and not getting involved in plots or conspiracy. Your plan in exile is also to do more than survive too. You need to thrive. You need to do more than just get through the day. You know what practical things you are supposed to be doing. Arrange your face. Be Final Girl ready. Find out what your options really are to escape or get back to court. In modern life that means arranging your finances, secondary income streams, get your physical appearance in order, talk to professions as needed (therapists, lawyers, accountants, stylists), do what you need to do. Figure out what you need to be happy. Really happy, not bs Facebook/Insta happy. Start making that happen. Do what you are supposed to be doing.
But also, let’s get your witchcraft game in order. You need to start stacking the deck in your favor and stop worrying about fairness. Worry about fairness when Forbes starts talking about you. Until then, save it. As always, follow your moral compass.
- Get rid of your your frenemies. If you have frenemies, you’re wasting too much time and energy on them. Your blood pressure is also higher when you are around them verses an out and out enemy. It messes with your head and literally messes with your heart. Cut ties. Get a personal effect from them. On a piece of brown paper bag, write their name and wrap the personal effect in the paper, wrapping away from you not towards you. Get a lemon, cut it in half. Rub the paper in the lemon on both sides while focusing your intention. Leave it at a crossroads after dark and (literally) don’t look back. Dip each lemon half in salt. Put each half outside your front door. After 21 days, toss the lemons.
- You need to sweeten up your spouse as long as you need to live together or your boss as long as you work together. This is working your will over another person, so be clear on what you’re doing. Write your petition paper with what you want the other person to think about you. Sprinkle the paper with cinnamon and lavender. Fold it up tightly, towards you. Put it in the bottom of a small jar. If you have any personal effects from your spouse or boss, add it. Pour honey over it. Seal the jar. Seal in your intention. Burn a white candle on top for thirteen days and then weekly.
- Make sure everyone at work or the PTA has nothing but nice things to say about you. Do this by getting a coffee grinder and grinding your own Stop Gossip spice mix: 1 piece whole cinnamon, 3 cloves, 1 teaspoon allspice berries, 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Grind to a find powder. Add 1 heaping tablespoon to a quickbread. As you stir the batter clockwise, put your intention into it. Bring to work/the PTA meeting the next day.
- Where’s your money magic? Get a mirror glued to your stove to reflect the burners. Get two lodestones and feed them gold filings. Get a High John root and feed it High John oil. Get a quarter from your spouse and a quarter from yourself and put them together in a shot glass and fill it with honey. Put a mirror under it. Get a six pack of Resurrection Plants and get it delivered in two days from Prime because this is the world we live in now. Keep them watered.
- Trouble with someone wielding power over you and being a jerk about it? Hit up your recent ancestors. The ones who remember you as a tiny adorable baby. The ones who always cheered for you. The ones who always slipped you a twenty when you needed it. Tell them about your problems. Bring cake. Catch them up on the family gossip. Let them take care of it. If how they will take care of it worries you, ask them not to do x or y. Or leave it to them if you trust them like that.
- Are you sloppy with warding your house and collecting garbage energy? Get some Florida water and seal the edges of the doors of your house (especially closets), mirrors, window sills. Sprinkle some over your threshold.
So let’s talk about potentially really being in exile. Maybe none of your ancestors are good to talk to. Maybe you are exiled from your home religion. Maybe you don’t come from a religion that talks to saints so it feels weird. Maybe you never cultivated a relationship with the goddesses. So now what? Who do you cry to when you feel like crap about being in exile and you don’t want to talk to any of your fleshier friends because they are tired of hearing it and you are tired of saying it.
Offerings are a powerful exchange (and weapon) in exile and it would be a shame to miss the chance to be a supplicant to the spiritual world. Which I know, some of you do not like. But let me tell you, good luck finding a spirit, an ancestor, a goddess who does not think that they know better than you. So, why not look to our actual Medieval queens? The worst that can happen is nothing (or something!). They would naturally think since you are likely not a full blooded royal that they are on a different level than you anyway, so why not go with it?
I suggest for fixing your situation, Lady Margaret Beaufort. She retained her power throughout her life, she was not a stranger to suffering for her cause and she was a savage political animal. Be prepared, she’s going to want to touch everything and be fairly disinterested in your ideas on how to improve your life. Suggested offerings: austerity (namely fasting), red roses, donations to your favorite college (Cambridge if you really want to suck up), half spring water/half red wine, beeswax candles or red candles.
A suggested novena:
O Lady Margaret Beaufort
You who became Margaret Regina
Without ever being queen at all
Lead me to victory against all odds
Aid me in forging my own fate
May I have riches, influence and excellent husband(s)
Forever and Ever, Amen.
It’s hard out here in exile, Sister Queen. But you’re not alone. Change is more possible than you would think. Magic even more so. Keep the faith, keep your head up and remember your ambition.
Deb’s book is available for purchase. Her shop is stocked with ritual oils for your practice and handspun yarn. If you have already read her book, won’t you please make her publisher happy and leave a review?