What witches learn on their family vacation...
Every moment is a teaching experience...
Inside: Thoughts on how our relationships change, what witchcraft can help us do in our relationships (and what it’s for), plus, a reminder about the Witch Guide coming out on Thursday.
Dear Witch Fam,
This weekend I went for my yearly trip to my Dad’s house. I’ve noticed my reaction to him has progressively changed over the years.
When I was a child, I LOVED to visit my Dad. I did it twice a year (summers and Christmas vacation). And I liked it because I was desperate for my father’s love and affection…
…and also because we did things like camping and fishing, and going to the Pizza Garden (Ray the bartender would give me rootbeer flavored dum-dums).
When I was a teenager, I started to realize I couldn’t really be myself around my Dad. He was conservative, machismo, unpredictable (sometimes he’d be interested in discussing “spiritual things”, then other times he’d say it was all just a load of crap).
While I was at my Dad’s I felt like I’d just have to shut off my personality, like turning off a robot, and then spark myself back up when I got on the plane to go home.
He couldn’t see me anyway, not really, so why bother trying?
In my 20s, I went for years without speaking to my Dad. By that time I was furious at him: he was violent, patriarchal, unwilling to take responsibility for hurts he’d caused. And I couldn’t speak to him without trying to get him to see what he’d done wrong and apologize.
But, in my 30s, I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere trying to get him to see my point of view, so I’d just tell myself when I visited him that it would be like doing anthropological field work.
I wouldn’t get attached to what he said, I wouldn’t take it personally… or so I’d tell myself before I went up to visit. But inevitably I WOULD take it personally and we’d get in these blow ups where I’d try to prove him wrong and then he’d say things like…
… “I’ll be damned if I’m going to be lectured at by a woman.”
(Have you ever noticed how certain conservatives DELIGHT in baiting you and trying to wind you up by saying the most offensive things they can think of – also bizarre things, like, “Men who like arugula on their pizza should be taken out and shot.”?).
But now I’m in my 40s, and my Dad is 74 and I’ve noticed things about my father that I couldn’t see before…
He’s much frailer now, not the huge military brawler that he used to be. He has trouble walking. His personality is still the same, though he’s mellowed a lot, he doesn’t have the energy to be so confrontational, he spends every day sitting in his easy chair reading John Grisham novels. Now he’s like a grumpy old terrier.
My frustration has shifted to affection.
(Side note: I am in no way saying that you should dismiss YOUR frustrations at anyone you feel has done you wrong. I trust your judgement on who deserves your affection and care and who doesn’t).
But here’s why I’m even bringing this up…
… my Dad always likes to tell me how when we were growing up, he did the best he could. He likes to remind me how one of my siblings told him, “Well your best wasn’t good enough.” (And in my mind I often think, “they had a point”).
But seeing him now I realize, he really WAS doing his best. (Not that our emotional needs were met by that, but I do see that he really was trying).
Now that I’m secure in myself, and don’t need his validation, but most importantly, now that I have the TOOLS to self soothe, and I no longer need to self abandon in order to have family (which I absolutely DID have to do when I was younger)…
… I realize that my father probably has undiagnosed OCD, ADHD, and anxiety, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, he has NO emotional tools.
Like, he might not even know that there are such things as emotional tools.
Imagining another person’s point of view
Helping others feel comforted and safe
Helping yourSELF feel comforted and safe
Identifying your own emotions
Understanding that you might have conflicting emotions, and that others might as well
Taking responsibility for harm you might have caused without believing you are an irredeemably bad person (side note: you will ONLY take responsibility for causing harm if you understand that doing so doesn’t make you a monster)
Tolerance for frustration
It must be so difficult to go through life like that!
And the thing is, so many men (so many people in general) of his generation are like that.
I’m amazed that civilization has made it this far.
Seeing him in the vulnerable state he’s in now, rather than as the larger than life hero-monster I saw him as when I was a child, my heart breaks for humanity.
How much we want love! Yet, how few tools we’ve been given to cultivate it.
Like… we have nuclear bombs but not the ability to hold emotional complexity?
We’re so lonely. Even in our families, we’ve been lonely for centuries.
As I always, I want to turn this story back to witchcraft. (Even though while I was there we were mostly just watching Naked and Afraid).
Point 1: Witchcraft is the process of reweaving the tattered webs of relationality between all beings (through ritual).
Those webs have always been there, but somewhere along the way, our ability to perceive them, let alone cultivate them, was destroyed. (Colonialism in alls its forms being the likely culprit).
Point 2: Practicing witchcraft can help us cultivate the capacity to both acknowledge and heal our wounds, and the wounds of others.
Witches are powerful. The more we cultivate our inner power (which is the ability to create transformation according to our will, in solidarity with other beings), the more we are able to reweave the web.
This Thursday is the New Moon in Virgo, when you’ll be getting your monthly Witch Guide for the upcoming solar season (Libra).
To get the Witch Guide, join our Moon Circles, and more, become a subscriber.
Libra is all about creating balance and harmony in our relationships and in the world.
I’ll be giving you lots of practices to help you cultivate harmony using the ways of witchcraft.
In the meantime, may the Mystery guide you.