[The Rules of Exile] Rule No. 7 Trust Your Process

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Oh my sisters.  What a week this has been.  The stories kept coming and coming and coming and everything just got grosser and sicker until none of us knew what to do anymore, really.  None of us knew the whole story, whether we were welcomed back to court from former exile or kept to the countryside, far away from scandal to make new lives for ourselves.  The local empire was burning and none of us could look away, even as more and more of us left court to keep ourselves safe, to stand together.  All any of us have been able to do is to stare into this horrible dumpster fire.

I’ve been asked to tell my story over and over again.  I’ve held space for my (gender neutral) sisters who have reached out to me privately to tell their stories.

This hasn’t been a great moment of solidarity.  This hasn’t been some rally where we can all make ourselves feel better because we went to a thing.  We’ve all been traveling down some really dark roads, mostly in solitude, sometimes with a panicked cry to each other but mostly just replaying old bad tapes over and over and they don’t break, just rewind.  I’ve cried more in this last week than I think I’ve cried in a year.  For the first few days, no one knew what to do with me.  People present me bouquets of their problems not because I’m so soft and squishy and endlessly supportive but because I am usually far more practical and solution oriented.  If someone metaphorically hits me in the face, I leap up to fight.

For the first few days, I didn’t leap up.  I didn’t fight.  Nothing could make anything better for me.  I was handling my adulting tasks (go to work, take meds, eat a food, drink a water) but anything beyond that was beyond me.  I kept saying I needed a little time but that didn’t seem to make anyone around me stop looking at me like I might drop dead from the slightest provocation.

For those of us in exile, sometimes we all struggle hard.  We suffer injustices and grief and sorrow that can be difficult for others to understand or difficult to understand how we’re processing these difficulties.  The death of a loved one, a physical assault, the loss of a job, a divorce, the systematic oppression of your sister queens on a local level.  Whatever it is for you.

What to Do When Your Local World Turns Sideways:

  1. Trust your process.  A2 said that to me today.  I realized that was a large part of the problem I was having and those going through this whole disaster with me – we feel like we can’t trust our process because oh holy shit, our process got us to this tire fire.  If not being able to trust one’s process doesn’t make one get semi-catatonic and sometimes somewhat hysterical, I don’t know what will.  I knew I would be okay again.  Everyone else was scared because I don’t usually fall on the floor but I know I sometimes fall on the floor and get back up.  It doesn’t have to make sense to everyone else what makes you fall on the floor and what makes you punch someone back, it just has to make sense to you (and maybe your therapist).  When we stop trusting ourselves, that’s how we lose the game.  Take time, assess what you can fix, assess what you fucked up, assess what you need to move forward but work towards trusting yourself again.  Don’t let anyone tell you how long it’s supposed to take or how short a time period it’s supposed to take.  If you are able to fulfill your adult functions, heal at your own rate not at the convenience of others.  If you cannot fulfill your adult functions for more than a few days, find professional assistance to get yourself back on track.
  2. Don’t spiral ever downward, take action.  My freshman year in college, my women’s studies first year seminar professor had had about enough of us.  The class was mandatory so the enthusiasm levels varied greatly.  Sometimes, she could corral us well enough to have some really sincere dianic circle levels of personal sharing.  Sometimes I’m sure she felt like an underpaid daycare worker.  One day, when her natives were particularly restless, she threw her hands up in the air and exasperatedly said, “What do you give a fuck about!”  That is a good focus point.  I give a fuck about survivors being believed.  RAINN does a lot of hard work to that end.  If you want to get delicious indie made perfume oil by Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs, they made a line that benefits RAINN.  I have gotten hella lazy about fundraising.  So I’m brainstorming ideas to give them money.  Idea No. 1 will happen in a week during my Bad Bitches Brunch.  There is now a “champagne tax” that I will be charging friends which will all go to RAINN.  I have more ideas.  Figure out what you give a fuck about and how you can work on that.  Focusing on that helps you not completely lose your shit.
  3. Chop wood, carry water.  Routine is really hard to maintain when you’ve lost your will to live due to your local world no longer making any sense.  It is really seductive to lie on your side drinking wine, eating cupcakes and watching reality television to escape from everything.  Endless scrolling through Facebook.  Playing video games all night.  Whatever your garbage animal behavior is.  You know what it is.  Dedicating yourself to something else feels like garbage.  Let’s not play.  But it feels less like garbage than metaphorical dumpster diving.  I have done extensive research on both methods, so trust me.  Reorganize your crummiest area of your house because you can feel accomplished after.  Hone a perfect french manicure.  Learn French.  Go to the gym.  Read books.  Go to yoga.  Take walks.  Journal.  Think of it as a training montage.
  4. Magic, always.  Feel powerless?  Piss in the ocean.  It can’t hurt.  I did a healing ritual for myself and my sisters.  Is it going to make everything all better?  (Nothing makes everything all better) It’s an action.  It gets you through the next moment.  And maybe, just maybe, it will help someone even just a little.


None of this is easy.  We didn’t become sister Queens by gliding through life unscathed.  We are no strangers to pain, to grief, to hardship, to despair.  We were always going to be the devil’s daughters, we always walk a crooked line.  We are restless, sleepless, burning with anger, collapsing with sadness.  But we can hold each other up.  We can light tealight paths for each other to follow.  We can wake up and breathe and fight for another day.  Together.

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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