Tiny Hearths Everywhere: Nobody Loves No One (This World Is Only Gonna Break Your Heart)

posted in: dilettante | 33
Hottest video ever? Yes. Like any of our ritual experiences ever? No. (Wicked Game, Chris Isaak)

I may not have book learnin’/ but I have charms to win the race. . . – “Thimble Island”, Rasputina

Sarah Lawless gently but firmly busted open the flood gates of what’s been on my mind magically since . . .since I realized I would never be a ceremonialist with formal training because it’s not where my head or heart is. I also realized somewhere in there that I would never be of the dirt worshipping variety of Pagan/Occultist either which felt really isolating and lonesome because I felt like those were the camps I had to chose from until I realized that the Romans were Pagan and had no problem living in towns and going about their business without forced time in the woods or initiated practice. I’m never going to be gathering herbs in the woods. I’m unlikely to have children, so I can’t relate to the Pagan mom blogs. I don’t do a lot of high woo ceremonial worker. I’m shit at meditating. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Sometimes it feels more of my magical practice is about what I don’t do than what I do.

Over the last year though, I’ve realized more about who I am and what I do. That I’m hearth based. I like large group rites but I also like my solitary practices. Glamour is important to me. My hearth is important to me. My gods are important to me. Most of the time, that’s enough but sometimes it feels v. “blahblahblah nothing to add to any conversation that happens on the blogosphere ever”.

I’m in a weird place, because I try to keep things as real as possible when talking about my magical practice. This means I’m not constantly telling you how awesome I am due to my magical practice and how awesome you’ll be if you just do what I do. Slapping one’s junk on the table seems to be a big part of the burlesque act in Occultism. You need to be the sexiest, the smartest, the richest, the most natural, the best taught. The best, best, best.

I thought about taking on a persona like that. I’m a writer first, a witch second (sigh. I don’t even know wtf to call myself anymore magically if we’re being totes honest here. Witch doesn’t feel exactly right anymore but neither does occultist or sorceress. Magic user feels like a D&D campaign. Pagan doesn’t feel like the whole picture. And anything outside that starts to feel a special pony princess title. We’ll stick with witch for now).   Writer first?  I was a writer long before I was a witch, it defines who I am much more than witchcraft. As a writer, I’m accustomed to writing in a “voice” that is appropriate to the audience. Occultist blog readers seem to like what is sometimes called on the larger blogosphere “big dick swinging” blogs.

But that’s not me. And it’s never been me.    Besides, what if I wrote a book? Did I want everyone to look at my boasting of awesomeness and be judged and found wanting? Like, “Fuck this chick, dude. She hasn’t read that many magic books all the way through, she doesn’t have any awesome initiations.  Blahblahblah told me that she’s been divorced and she lives in a shoe box and makes an inconsequential amount of money as a NANNY which isn’t a real job. Also, I hear she’s a bitch and does not always play nicely with others because she has a big mouth.” I guess when I first started blogging I felt like if I just put all that out on the table straight from the gate, you can make your own decisions about if I’m someone to listen to. It meant I didn’t have to build another public face I had no chance to live up to in my real life. I needed to not put myself in that position again because I was (and am) working really hard at becoming Real in the Velveteen Rabbit sense of the word. I didn’t want to get lost in an echo chamber again. I didn’t want to worry about who I was supposed to be for who anymore.

Radical practicality.  It’s everything I believe in with magic.  If you like dealing with big formal rites, it’s cool.  If you like reading lots and lots of books, that’s okay too. What I start to have a problem with honestly is when it feels like it’s some kind of hipster Occultist circle jerk where everyone has to have the most obscure books and initiations to contribute to the conversation.

Should you change your practice for me because I disagree with how you may do things?  I’m not changing them for you!  No reason for you to change them for me.  Hell, I married a Hermetic so obviously I don’t mind that other people like high ceremonial magic.  I understand the desire for history, the proof that magic is old as humanity and that we aren’t all New Age hippies are into camping who think all fairies are nice.  But everything was new once.  Everything was someone’s UPG once.  And as for New Agers/Wiccans, almost everyone I personally know on those paths are really stable, optimistic, financially solvent, calm people.  So we don’t want to be associated with them because . . .?  Oh yeah, we’re cynical, anxious, depressed and constantly in flux but we’ve got real magic!

We all have something to teach each other.  And we all get caught up in our own areas of passion, it’s why we’re passionate about it. But sometimes that makes us all (myself included) act like we’re something out of the White Wolf Role Playing Game Mage: The Ascension where each tradition’s prejudice against other traditions are all universal and neatly summed up in a few sentences.  And it doesn’t work that way.  But sometimes?  I lump everyone who’s into grimoires into the same category and all Mom Pagans in the same category and . . .that sucks, dude.  It’s not fair and it’s not accurate.

We need to leave enough room at the table for everyone – dabblers, serious practitioners, strict occultists, spiritual occultists, eclectics, traditional witches, chaos mages, country witches, city witches, suburban witches, a little space for everyone.

And sometimes I forget that my blog isn’t just a place for me, it’s a tiny tealight hearth for everyone who stops by.  I haven’t been responding to comments like I used to, I haven’t been commenting like I used to, I haven’t made my posts as open for conversation as I used to.  And I think most of the blogosphere has fallen into this habit.  It’s harder to bounce off each other because we get caught up in what we are and what we aren’t. I know I do. But let’s try. Let’s try to be more open, less defensive, more thoughtful and more engaging. What do you think, blogosphere? 2013?

So tell me, what are you working on in your practice?  Where are you succeeding?  Where are you failing?  What’s new in your practice? How have you been changed by your practice this month?  How have you changed your practice?  What’s frustrating?  What’s a new accomplishment?

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.  


33 Responses

  1. “Let’s try to be more open, less defensive, more thoughtful and more engaging. What do you think, blogosphere? 2013?”

    I hope this happens, I really do. I don’t like reading about keeping up with Jones’ — I want to read about what individuals are doing right now in their magic and worship. I want to see all the differences, all the unique tiny hearths. They are so much more beautiful than seeing the same thing regurgitated over and over. The magic we’re doing right now is so varied, so original, that there is so much more we can learn from each other if we share it. My friends all have the most varied magical backgrounds from high to low magic and we get along swimmingly, filling in each other’s blanks.

    I’ve stopped interacting as much too, stopped writing and sharing as much. I hope to remedy that this coming year. I think the best and biggest change I made to my practice was to stop going by what everyone else says, does, and believes, and listen to my own heart instead. To do what I’ve done all along, but didn’t think was good enough or exciting enough… So it’s back to talking to trees, creeks, squirrels, and dead people for me. I fail at formal ritual and sabbats, but succeed at dreamwork, omens, herbs, and celebrating with friends.

    Wishing you and Jow and all your readers a fabulous new year!
    Sarah recently posted..Is It Just Me?My Profile

    • I think in 2012 I personally got distracted by trying to keep up with the blogosphere Jones. It’s not why I started blogging and it’s not why I started reading. I need to be mindful of that for myself. I want to celebrate the differences again, not feel irritated/excluded by them. No one can keep up with All The Magical Paths, it’s silly to think that I could!

      And I feel the same way about my practice, not thinking it was good enough or exciting enough and I need to step away from that and be in touch with what is in my head and my heart.

      Happy new year to you too, Sarah! I hope the woods are filled with wonders and paths for you in 2013!
      Deborah Castellano recently posted..Tiny Hearths Everywhere: Nobody Loves No One (This World Is Only Gonna Break Your Heart)My Profile

  2. I’ve held onto my words for so long, that the very act of giving them voice is a journey in itself.

    Thank you for sharing your “tiny hearth” and may others’ hearths be rekindled.


  3. I miss yacking with you.

    I know what you mean about the “best, best, best” contest. I feel like I’m in that game all the damn time. Like, in real life.
    Less-so the blogosphere.
    Urban Meliad seesaws between all-recipes-all-the-time and entries for The Pagan Blog Project – and thank goodness for that project because it gives me something to build Actual Content around. But so much of it is “I… don’t really know what I’m doing. FML”.

    RE: Where are you succeeding? Where are you failing? What’s new in your practice? What’s frustrating? What’s a new accomplishment?

    I actually started looking at Elder Futhark runes for use in sigil magic the other day. There are ones that are for “creativity and wealth” or “achieving goals” and, when I saw that, I was like “You mean someone already thought of what that should look like? Fuck yeah!” and started doodling stuff on my own head.
    So that’s a thing.

    What am I failing at: Oh, the usual. There’s a million things that I’m Not Doing – at this point, that means Daily Yoga plus vocal warm-ups plus lightling incense on the regular. But… well, “but what”. Yeah. So that’s where I’m failing.

    I *did* actually get some writing – and some submitting – done today. A poem for a queer-pagan magazine and a story for a charity smut-anthology (which is actually how I got ahold of those runes – the characters are Vanitru-leaning Northern Traditional chickies, so they’ve got runes all over the place and – relevant – on their bodies).

    What’s frustrating is realizing how much I *don’t* do, how much I *don’t* know, and how much action (and the potential for failure/shame/humiliation or personal danger/damage therein) scares the ever-loving fuck out of me. I’m a theory-head to the point that I hide behind it to avoid DOING. I couch everything in “maybe” and I don’t act… to the point where it’s becoming embarrassing. 🙁 So I guess that’s my goal: Theorize/ruminate less, actually DO/act more.

    Wish me luck. O.O
    Meliad recently posted..O is for Offerings – Pagan Blog ProjectMy Profile

    • I miss yacking with you too! I miss interacting. I think by the nature of the next book I’m working on and that I’ve gotten a little bit of stability for now, I’ll be able to interact more. Once I started working with fams with only one short baby nap or no baby nap at all, it crushed my interactions. But I’m adjusting.

      I think it’s okay to not know what you’re doing, I think it gives you a lot of space to explore and try new things. 🙂 I feel like I’ve been trying to know who I am and what I’m doing magically for the last ten years, it’s only been a very recent thing that I’ve clicked on what I do. And that’s probably temporary at best!

      The runes sound good for sigil work. 🙂 If you have a physical set, maybe pick one for a week to put under your pillow with a tiny sprinkle of mugwort and jot down your dreams and/or if it changed your daily life.

      My spiritual practice has taken a nose dive too. I need to magically cleanse the house now that it’s actually clean again. I need to make more offerings.

      I’m glad you got some writing done! Here’s hoping to an action filled 2013!

  4. Er… As a side-note. I think of you as a Crafter. Like “big C”. Because the magic you do, and the magical stuff you make, is all candles and home-brewed oils and hand-spun yarns and the like. It seems to fit. YMMV though. 😉
    Meliad recently posted..O is for Offerings – Pagan Blog ProjectMy Profile

  5. I would love to see everyone be more open and more real in their blogging in 2013, and I will do what I can to contribute to that. There is such an atmosphere of one-upmanship out there among some spirit workers on the one hand, and on the other hand of people thinking that since they aren’t exactly like Ms. Big Important Spirit Worker or Witch A that their lives aren’t even worth blogging about. I don’t like it. I would like to, as Sarah mentioned, read about real people doing real things, not about people who want to be just like someone else, or who want to fit some imaginary ideal. I’ve been through this myself, so I’m not just pointing fingers here; it’s only recently that I came to accept that what I do is what I do, and that while it may not sound as fancy or impressive as what other spirit workers/godspouses/whathaveyou are doing, it IS genuinely me, and if my gods and spirits want me doing other things They will tell me so. And the people who impress me the most and who I’m most interested in reading about are those who–like you and Sarah–strike me as being genuinely themselves in the same way.

    Like you, I am currently in a bit of a conundrum as to what, exactly, I should be calling myself. Witch doesn’t seem to fit anymore since I don’t do a lot of magic, per se. I interact with my gods, look after the land spirits and dead things, garden, mess around in the kitchen, spin, and occasionally string beads together. I’ve become increasingly hearth oriented, and while I do poke around in the wilds around Eugene I don’t do it in any kind of overly ritualistic way. And although I am a medieval history buff, medieval occult history bores me to tears; it’s the queens and their love lives I find fascinating. 🙂 I work with runes (I am Odin’s), but even with them I need to relate them to my daily life and practical things or it all falls flat for me.

    I feel like a lot of things in my practice have been falling into place since this past October (finally!) and it all looks a lot more simple than I had expected. It isn’t really even something I need to integrate into my life because it IS my everyday life; except for big rituals such as oracular seidhr, there is no real separation there from the things I normally do. My biggest stumbling block, all along, was that I kept trying to make things more complicated than they needed to be.
    Beth recently posted..Direct ContactMy Profile

    • While “witch” still fits for me – particularly in the Terry Pratchett sense of the word – I find “animist” and “polytheist” fit nicely, too. “Witch” is great for the practical-spellwork aspect of things (and the community-service aspect of things), but “polytheism” and “animism” are handy for explaining the super-basics of my cosmology without having to name a specific religion along with them. Maybe something like that would work?
      Meliad recently posted..O is for Offerings – Pagan Blog ProjectMy Profile

    • I guess, theoretically, we could look at the atmosphere of one-upmanship as a sign that we’ve made it as a group of people because it gets sort of 30 Rock’s version of Six Sigma

      which was *the* thing to be a high up in within the business world. ;p But I completely agree, I don’t like that the ultra competitive nature of that kind of atmosphere leads people to believe that their voice isn’t important and . . .I really don’t like that.

      While she’s not a queen and a bit post-medieval, have you looked into Lucrezia Borgia? I’m totes into her right now.
      Deborah Castellano recently posted..Tiny Hearths Everywhere: Nobody Loves No One (This World Is Only Gonna Break Your Heart)My Profile

      • I don’t know a whole lot about the Italians yet, but will have to make my way over in their direction. 🙂 (Have finally made it from England to France, and may I say that the French are, in my opinion, completely insane? And I do have some French ancestry.)
        Beth recently posted..So you wanna be a godspouse? (some plain talk)My Profile

        • I read a lot of French aspirational books so I can agree. I knew there would be problems where “dating” does not exist as a concept in the culture. ;p But oh the food! The clothes! The full of not giving a shit!

          I think you’ll like the Borgias. They’re . . .motivated.

  6. I’ve often suffered from the “what am I?!” conundrum myself not to mention the guilt for all the things I don’t do. But even though there are certainly some things I wish I was better about, I think that’s part of the beauty of paganism (or whatever we want to call it!) Even just taking notice of the seasons or the sabbats or the weather can be a form of ritual and magick. I think our tiny hearths are always burning in our heads (or our hearts to be a little corny!)

  7. When White Wolf was working on Mage, and I was working on what would eventually become Exalted for them, I asked Geoff and John about the traditions… And they basically said, “this is how the real occult community operates. We’re just adding stronger magic to it.”. That’s a paraphrase of a months long email exchange, where weeks would go by, and it’s more in the way of offhand comments than direct discussion, but that’s the essence of it.
    Andrew B. Watt recently posted..Travel, Interrupted. With Friends.My Profile

  8. Oh, yes, yes, yes! Exactly – especially the “hipster Occultist circle jerk” bit. I’m guilty of having my moments, but taking a year mostly off has made me realize that a lot of the striving is just noise and the innate drive to be the valedictorian of magic. If I belonged in any of those big groups, I’d feel at home there instead of hopelessly out of place. And that’s not a failure on my part or theirs.

    I need 2013 to be the year of UPG, where I’m not afraid to talk about the weird stuff, the dreams, the things that go bump. If I read people’s blogs because they make me feel less alone in that, the least I can do is be more open and authentic and less rigid and afraid about what people think of it. A mostly dead (forced) year off has changed me. Made me better and stronger and braver. Out with the ill-fitting trappings of other people’s gnosis, in with owning my own.
    Peeps recently posted..PhotoMy Profile

  9. “Let’s try to be more open, less defensive, more thoughtful and more engaging. What do you think, blogosphere? 2013?”

    My own little corner of the blogosphere thinks this would be lovely!

    A while back, I wrote about the “responsibilities” that I thought both readers and writers (and commenters, who are fulfilling both the “reader” and “writer” roles) had when engaging in internet discussions of faith. I’m fairly sure it might be a good start, if you don’t mind my sharing… http://nuannaarpoq.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/netiquette-for-faith-discussions/

    I think too, we have a duty to ourselves, to be more authentic. I blog in a niche of a microcosm of the blogging world, where there seems to be a fantasy that we should all be about living in some sort of Pagan Good Housekeeping magazine. Eff that! Sometimes my day isn’t magical. Some days its just dirty dishes and bratty kids and annoying person in traffic on the way to lunch, and really–trying to magic-cise (like Jazzersize, but different :D) those things is more work than its worth. It is great to share about what works for us…but when “what works for me” creates the perception that “I never fail or struggle”, or that “I think that only my way is the way and you must be doing it wrong”, or that “I think I am super awesome coolness better than you” there is a horrible, horrible problem.
    thalassa recently posted..Food for FridayMy Profile

    • I think that’s a lovely well thought out post for faith discussions and gives everyone responsibility all around. 🙂

      Pagan Good Housekeeping, lol. I know some of those blogs! I would sort of love for that to be a real magazine.

      Have you ever seen the Mormon Mommy Bloggers? They’re hip and fresh faced and always seem to have everything perfect. If you ever want to do a little bit of “emotional cutting” as Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City would say, that’s the place. Sometimes I want to steal their lives, man.

      I think more people in the Mommy blog/Pagan blog (and crossover blogs) need to be more honest about their struggles and failures. I think it’s a really brave thing to do. It’s really hard for me to talk about because everyone wants to be envied but I’ve tried to be really honest even when I didn’t want to be. Talking about success is easy, talking about your unwashed hair and how there’s cat vomit on the carpet you’re trying to ignore for just a few minutes (just me? okay. ;p) is much harder.
      Deborah Castellano recently posted..Tiny Hearths Everywhere: Nobody Loves No One (This World Is Only Gonna Break Your Heart)My Profile

      • Ugh, I have read quite a few of those. Emily Matchar, blogs @ New Domesticity on the convergence of where feminism and domesticity meet (or butt heads), often has a bit to say about them.

        Heck, I admit that even I’m guilty of it from time to time. I don’t think that anyone wants to be so pathetic as to wallow in the reality of reality all the time, as a reader or a writer. But then again, since it happens so seldom, how refreshing would it be to see on some of those food/interior decor porn sites “dude, today my life sucked because of X, and I couldn’t find a redeeming lesson to learn or a craft to make to escape from the suckitude”?!?

        (I just went a’googling, and apparently I’m behind the times and missed the #confessionbear meme)
        thalassa recently posted..Food for FridayMy Profile

      • I like NorthWest Edible Life for that (real life stuff) stuff.
        She’s a Radical Frugality/Urban Homesteader type with a couple of kids, and she periodically does “reality check” posts where she talks about how life isn’t all local-seasonal-home-grown-beyond-organic food (and similar).
        It doesn’t feel like Emotional Cutting to read her.
        Meliad recently posted..O is for Offerings – Pagan Blog ProjectMy Profile

  10. Bah, all my favorite bloggers seem to be full of bullshit these days. The ones screaming about how they aren’t, ARE the ones that have been the most bullshity. You keep it reeeaaaaallll. Like, you’re not the best at everything but you’re the best at keepin’ shit real.

  11. Oh, I can so identify! And I enjoy the way you do things; you are real, your life is real, your work is real, your magic is real.

    I’ve struggled with exactly the same things; feeling as though I need to keep up with others in the blog-o-sphere somehow. I gave up on that, because I’m not them. I’m me. Simple, yet effective. That’s all I need to know and all I need to do. Why attempt to change it?

    I can continue to learn from others; no problem there. But, I’m not going to attempt to be anyone other than who I am anymore. If anyone feels I’m not “doing it right”, that’s their problem. I achieve results which suit me and my life. Really, that’s all that matters.

    Good on you, Deb!
    Rose recently posted..Flowing Back on TrackMy Profile

  12. Deb… you are awesome and everyone would be just as awesome as you if they did what you do.

    Being as awesome as you is on my list of things to do in 2013. At least for a little bit. Heck, even one post. 😀

  13. “‘Also, I hear she’s a bitch and does not always play nicely with others because she has a big mouth.'”

    You used that big mouth to stop in and offer some words of comfort to me about The Divorce, despite the fact that we barely know each other and you were really busy with your wedding, a new job, etc.. So I think you play pretty nicely with others, and I’ll poke anyone who says otherwise in the nether regions with a pointy stick.

    It really does mean a lot to me, and I did see your most recent response, and I promise I’ll be getting back to you in a day or so. In the meantime, I hope you get the care you showed me back a hundredfold. 🙂

  14. Well. Thanks for that. I nearly choked to death on my wine since I was laughing so hard over the image of a bunch of occult bloggers waving their dicks around and flopping them on tables.

    An image, I assure you, that will haunt my nightmares.

    I found myself blowing off blogging a lot in the past few months. I’d still read… but then I wouldn’t comment. I stopped writing down notes in my journal for my own entries. I had this general sense of, “so-and-so already said it better, so who gives a shit?”

    Which is annoying, since I WANT to engage with people. So. That’s my 2013 goal: to be unafraid of putting myself out there, and to stop worrying about the people with huge dicks. Just being honest and vaguely amusing is enough for me, really.

    So. Thank you.

    • Imagine the dicks flopping at the next Pagan/Occultist event, you won’t be able to stop laughing the whole time. 🙂

      I’m glad you’re joining me on the blog front! <3

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