Thursday, December 26, 2013

Adult children estranged from parents

I have been reading around this heart-wrenching subject. Some of the stories - on both sides - are very distressing, yet this seems to be an increasing phenomenon. I would point to several common factors in the cases I'm reading about:
1. The parents have difficulty allowing the children to grow up. Sorry but that's just something that happens & there's no point avoiding it.
2. The relationships that I'm seeing described are usually quite unboundaried, by which I mean the parent will do something that the child finds unacceptable. That is one thing but the parents tend to ignore requests to stop, or attempts to put personal boundaries in place, which leads to...
3. The relationships are usually quite invalidating, which means that the reasonable wishes & views of the child are not respected.
4. This has a tendency to carry on through generations.
I call as my first witness (yes, I know this is a strange phrase to use, but this has a purpose, since the Hound's going somewhere with this)  this passage:
'I am pretty much estranged from my whole family, most of the time, for the last 23 years since I stopped drinking. I don't know your situation, mine has to do with I wanted a path of healing and recovery, and not one person in my family wanted the same. I was quite self destructive in my early 20's, until I began recovery/healing, and really, I often wonder if my family of origin would be more comfortable with me if I had continued to self destruct. I have two brothers who died way too young, one at 18 and the other at 42. Just in a nutshell, what I said wanting recovery and I felt that to get that, I had to leave that family, for the most part.' (
This person was clearly left with no option if she wanted to stay alive.
Again, & this example better illustrates the kind of relationship I'm describing above:
'My mother is just a garden variety control freak, not abusive, but my college roommates, ex-husband, and now SO have all picked up on something "off" about her. As an adult I realized that it's that I always had to be the one to draw the line as a kid, because there was a sense that she wouldn't stop at anything to get her way. (Unfortunately, my ex-husband is similar in his dealings with me.) I can see from others' postings that my mother actually didn't take it very far, but it was a little scary to feel that sense that she might. Her own mother was alcoholic and abusive, and my mother, as the oldest girl, had to raise her younger brothers and sisters, so that situation improved from one generation to the next--my mother drinks but isn't alcoholic, is a control freak and can be mean and use "spankings" or slaps but never got out of control and beat us.' (
I call as my next witness a clinical psychologist in a newspaper article. Unfortunately the article (a capture illustrates this post) is not very clear but I can see how this problem foments in parent/adult child conflict around growing up & the way it persists across generations. I mean, so does alcoholism. Your parents really do fuck you up in all sorts of ways (I'm secure in the knowledge I'll never be a parent myself). The source of that article is:,762833. From a Witch point of view, if you have reached a point where your relationship with someone is so destructive that there is no option to get out, then that may be your will. This, of course, is one of those cases where ones Will & decision-making will not be completely without conflicting emotions & ambivalent feelings.
I have one more source to quote on this, it is by an etiquette expert called Mary Jewell ( One of the suggestions that comes up on google when you search for adult children estranged from parents is, interestingly 'How do I become estranged from my parents?', & this was right there on the first page. The sources I have referred to above are all ones Ms Jewell uses, in fact her article is my primary source for the difficult things reposted above, but she uses them differently. I always understood etiquette to be about manners, but she is not writing about that, she is writing about morals. An etiquette article on this subject would be about how to behave in this kind of difficult family situation, but she is rather interested in criticising children who make the decision. For a start she describes the relationship as unnatural, which is more the province of theology & philosophy than etiquette. Her theological posture is made clear by her quoting the Bible at the beginning of the article: if this was really an article on etiquette it would not begin by telling people they were breaking one of the Commandments. I also notice that the newspaper she quotes has a heavy Christian slant, & that her other articles on assert such things as that parents should be married - in fact I haven't seen one article by her that seems to me to refer to etiquette rather than morals.
And this is where it seems to me she gets very naughty with her sources (since she doesn't seem to know what etiquette is she has presumably not heard of netiquette). I have quoted these sources at length to provide the original context as a foil for direct quotes from Ms Jewell's article to show her use of them. For a start she draws her description of estrangement as 'unnatural' from the article by a psychologist in the newspaper article. I'd have to repeat that the newspaper clearly has a Christian agenda (therefore, I'm thinking, pro-God-created nuclear family), however the article also seems to me to allow much more for the complexities of a situation than Ms Jewell is. It is not going straight to 'you've broken a commandment & chosen an unnatural life'.
Ms Jewell refers to the first quotation I make (with a direct link) like this:

'Reading blogs written by estranged people can be interesting. People work hard to justify their choice of an unnatural relationship, describing beliefs and reasons for which they choose estrangement from their own family.'

Obviously having beliefs & reasons for a choice is wrong. There is also *no* compassion for the obvious difficulty & distress of the person in my first quote. But her use of the second quote is more unfair, taking one phrase *completely* out of context & choosing to ignore the indications of a difficult family life given in a lengthier extract:

'[...] a person just needs to select some dynamite descriptive words, such as 'garden variety control freak' or 'toxic.' to label one or both parents. Next, a person must select 'happy' people with whom to socialize.'

The irony is she has a point, which needless to say she completely (I would hate to imply wilfully) misunderstands: it is totally likely that the pattern of estrangement will continue over generations. She implies in her article that these parents function as bad role models. I think it more likely these parents are so screwed up by their own parents, they cock it up themselves & get estranged. But Ms Jewell wouldn't know that, because she's intent on not listening, criticising people's morals, & painting these already damaged people as somehow bad.
Do I have concrete suggestions? You bet. 1. Parents, listen to your children. Really listen. Show an interest in them. Take time to talk with them.
2. Most important, give credence to what your child says. 'Oh, you exaggerate,' repeated enough, becomes, 'You're a liar'.
3. If your child tells you they don't like something, stop doing it.
As an adult if your relationship with your parents is deteriorating, try to get a disinterested party as an intermediary. Both sides must be prepared to hear some hurtful things. If you try & fail to make it work (on either side), then, the blessing of the witch upon you. We cannot always work relationships the way we want.
I wanted to end this post with a quote on etiquette or manners, but I think it may be wasted on Some People.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Urban grimoire: ancient incantations for use on plumbers, electricians, & other trades

I'll grant you the illustration to this post is somewhat gratuitous, but suited to the subject none the less. Today I want to share with you two powerful incantations that have marvellous effects on all builders & other tradesmen. They have been passed down in my family tradition for years & years, & are one of the things I learned from my mother, when she was teaching me witchcraft. Truly, the effects are miraculous if they are used properly at the right time, but the instructions must be followed to the letter, or all is lost.

Essential preparation: Paying for work done by cheque. This step is traditional & essential to the working of the spell. It is not necessary to do anything to the cheque, although further effects may be caused by allowing the cheque to carry other spells.

Correct timing: After you have paid for the work but before the cheque has cleared. One of the advantages of this method is that most traders present cheques to the bank in multiples, which increases the time frame you can work this spell.

Essential disposition: You must be dissatisfied with the work. The importance of that cannot be overestimated. On the other hand it works better is you can manage a certain icy coolness. Raging fury will not help much here.

How to use the incantations: they can be used several ways, as long as the actual words communicate themselves to the trader, whether by phone, text message, email, whatever.

The spell is in two steps.

First you ring your bank (or log on) & cancel the cheque. The effect of the incantations is lessened if you don't actually do this. Remember the Witch must be a person of her word.

Next your ring up the trader (or write, etc) & say the words of the incantation to him. The words must be said aloud & it should need only one repetition. The words are:

'I have stopped the cheque I gave you.'

This will cause the trader to stop in the middle of whatever excuses they're giving you & take a deep breath. It is at this point they will start eating out of your hand. The trader should not give any more trouble. If they do you can use the second incantation, once again being prepared to follow through. This one has regional variations. In Britain the version that works is:

'I will report you to Trading Standards'.

At this point the wind will be taken completely out of their sails & any remaining bluster will vanish, to be replaced by placatory pleadings, which is when the Witch will tell him what he's going to do now.
I know this works: I used these incantations only this morning. The plumber changed from protestations of unavailability for the next six months, to being in my house ten minutes later, & the problem being sorted, to my satisfaction & for free, half an hour later.
This may not seem like a terribly sensible post, but darlings, this is what is meant by all acts are magical acts. Magic of course is causing change in conformity with Will. In my previous post I talked about the lack of attention to what they are doing that happens among those who do not live the Willed life. Sometimes these people will meet someone who does live the life, & will find that change is occuring before they know it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A particular problem in dealings with non-witches

This one has only really dawned on me recently, even though it helps to explain much of the ridiculousness in the world.
First things first: delineate what I mean. It is apparent that there are a number of ways in which people approach their daily round, & deal with the people they meet. The exact opposite from the witch's approach may be that of a clergy sexual abuser: they are quite happy to proclaim one thing, some of them may be tortured by their urges (although plainly a lot of them are simply not bothered), but what they say & what they do are two different things. I am *not* saying anything about Christians per se here, I have chosen this as the perfect example of the opposite of the witch's approach.
The witch's approach is this: this morning I gave a bag of stuff I've cleared out to the RSPCA shop round the corner (Hecate will accept this as an offering: she has a particular fondness for Guidedogs for the Blind, but actually cats & red mullet were also sacrificed to her in the ancient world). I signed up for gift aid to stop Mr Taxman taking more than the law insists. This, from a Witch point of view, is a holy, a sacred action, the work of the Divine through us & within us.
This is also reflected in the attitude the Witch takes to it. I may merely be giving a bag of stuff to a charity shop, but my Will is that cruelty to animals stops, & those who are cruel to animals are punished. There should be no small action of the Witch's life which is not willed in such a way. When I put my clothes in the washing machine, my Will is that I am clean & nice-smelling. At work my Will is to give the best service possible, to earn in return the money I live on.
Like this, each action fits into a greater 'plan' of living the Willed life. By doing this I affirm my importance in the world, the importance of each of my actions, & the relative importance of everyone one & every thing else. For example my donation to the RSPCA affirms the importance of protecting animals thrown out at this time of year. The ideal for me would be that no one of the Witch's actions is thoughtless, unWilled, unconsidered, on the spur of the moment. The Witch *must* aim to be completely trustworthy, completely living a Willed life, because sooner or later we will have to exert our Will to changing reality, & if we're not in shape, we won't be able to.
And this is where it becomes difficult when dealing with non-Witches, who won't feel the need to have something so for no other reason than that I say so. Between the completely Willed life & the other extreme where you think everyone is pretending (which is what you get in a personality disorder), there is a huge chasm of people who aren't bothered. They 'get away with' whatever they can: they do as little as possible at work, they steal what they can from people, they make *no* effort to Will their life.
Once again please understand that I am talking about two extremes & lots of shades in between. Witches fail in their Will, & similarly people who don't call themselves Witches can live in the way I describe, they might just label it differently. And I certainly don't have a problem with that if that is their Will. Imagine then what I thought on coming home today to find two girls 'delivering' collection bags for the RSPCA in my street: in reality dropping them on the ground outisde each house. They obviously were not bothered, & plainly were quite shocked suddenly to have a man giving them a bollocking (I didn't feel the need to hold back) for this: as far as they were concerned they were doing the minimum required.
My Will is that cruelty to animals stops. This will plainly be best served by efficient fundraising & donation collection, rather than turning the collection bags into litter sponsored by the RSPCA. I have used the magic tool of an email complaining about this & telling the RSPCA's head office how I shall not be donating again (the local shop didn't answer the phone). My Will is that this stops, so I have also put that out in a little spell. Those girls are going to stop doing that or they are out, for their lack of consideration.
Over-reaction? Nah. Once you start the Witch you might just as well give up now, because this is the other thing living the Willed life does: it makes you act decisively & effectively. Just watch it if you're delivering charity bags!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Season's Greetings

We have entered the dark side of the year with a vengeance now, so this post is to say Season's Greetings & a cosy & cuddly Yule. The illustration shows a sequence   from the fourteenth-century Graduale Birminghamiensis. It was published by the Henry Bradshaw Society at the beginning of the twentieth century, but did not achieve wide use beyond St Agatha's Sparkbrook & St Alban's Highgate. My own translation (you see, I've got hidden depths, I can play Scrabble) of the first few lines is:
A reindeer there was, Rudolphus,
In possession of a bright red nose.
And if it should ever happen that you saw it,
You would say that it glowed.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A sorbet opportunity

I was going to make a colossal linguistic error in this post by commenting on how the Chinese character for 'crisis' includes the character for 'opportunity'. Fortunately I checked my facts before writing this, & it turns out the component mistranslated opportunity is better translated as crucial or critical point (, which as it happens better suits where I want to go with this post anyway. This is the test for evidence-based witchcraft: when you find confirmation in the hedge, you're in the right direction.
Years ago I read Margot Adler's 'Drawing Down the Moon', in which she has an interview with Z Budapest. I don't have the exact quote in front of me to hand, but Budapest speaks about her suicide attempt being a turning point in ther life. After that she returned to the true attitude of a witch, that of turning bad things around & using them to your advantage.
This definitely refers to an outlook on life characteristic of us, refusing to be put down or give up. This is what has happened to me this week. I was actually talking to someone at work about how I was fed up with doing the same incident report for a matter which is obviously not being solved.
Than a customer's relative presented me with my crisis/critical point, & blasted the matter into a whole different playing field. She thinks she is being critical of me, she thinks I am the root of the problem she's identified, but with knowledge she doesn't have I know I am not. I have been thinking about bringing a grievance about this matter, but if I turn this crisis into a critical moment, hopefully I won't need to.
Give a Witch lemons, & she'll turn them into sorbet.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why I Like Silver Ravenwolf

I'm reading one of Silver's books in bed. An innocuous pastime, you would think, but strangely nobody ever thinks I'm being serious when I say I like her writing - I don't really even have a problem with her personally, apart from the relentless exhausting positivity of her earlier books, which seems to be toned down a bit in the one I'm reading now.
She is also probably one of the Wiccan authors who gets the most bashing, both on the internet & when her name is mentioned at any witch gathering. To me the reason for her getting such a bashing is self-explanatory, & is not the obvious one, so I want to give my own take on some of the things I have heard or read about her.
She is often accused of Christian-bashing. True she says some very negative things about the Christian religion, some of them probably not as well judged as others. There's a passage in Teen Witch where she talks about something along the lines of obedience to a slave god. She may be overstating the case to make a point, also I don't know her own background, whether she has had bad experiences with the Christians, but given that Wicca & Witchcraft have developed in conscious opposition to the surrounding Christian milieu, I would call that a fairly accurate statement of the difference between us & monotheists. I think also some of the things she says are clearly aimed - misguidedly or not - at young people who in the nature of the case feel misunderstood & are seeking to define their adult personality is contrast to their parents & the world they've been brought up in.
One of the most criticised passages in Teen Witch - where she tells the teen witch that parents may not understand but Silver does, & if they don't understand, to explain witchcraft to them as the worship of angels - is to me a wildly misjudged attempt to deal with a difficult problem. Alternative religions are always misunderstood, but a better way of telling people would be to say that the person is interested in a religion whose name is witchcraft, which is a 20th century creation, & suggest reputable sources of information. Silver has, to me, clearly tried to help the troubled teen & gone badly wrong, in terms of the repute of the religion. Interestingly she speaks in a slightly different vein about this subject in the one I'm reading now (Solitary Witch), aimed clearly at young people but not as obviously as Teen Witch, in the context of people having difficulty dealing with a loved pet dying. Her tone in this book 'sells' the subject better, & would hopefully make it plain to a parent finding this book under the bed, that our religion has ways of dealing with death & dying aimed at being helpful while being different to those around us. I also find it interesting that she plumps for angels, the immediate source for this in a magical context, of course, is the grimoire tradition, where they also served at times as a camouflage for the magician!
As a magical person I feel the need to respect other people's magic. This is the point. The whole point. There is almost no other point, because this is the point of the willed life, that your own magic, rightly understood, will lead to the development & distinction of the self, & will not clash with other people's wills, rightly understood. If somebody wants to do witchcraft a la Martha Stewart, if this is their will, up to the point it clashes with other people, my will is not to have a problem with that.
Similarly, her publisher (we know who I mean) tends to publish books aimed at either beginners or a mass market. Leave the poor woman alone, already, she's given so many people a foot up into the witching!
My main criticism of her is this: she plainly has not (or had not, the tone of her books has changed slightly over the years) taken on board the concept of polarity. Broomstick, Cauldron, & Teen Witch are exhausting, one-dimensional feasts of obsessive positivity, trying to banish any action that may or may not be construed as negative, or even the emotions that may lead to that. And *this* is the reason she gets the bashing: if you concentrate solely on one end of a polarity, you attract what is at the other end. I suppose I would reluctantly accept that I am a 'dark pagan' myself. Reluctantly because it's making the same mistake the other way if you concentrate only one side. The proprietress of a magical shop I only go in occasionally tried to get me interested in gothy vampire tarot decks, & I'm not interested, because for me the darkness is the stuff we don't talk about easily, which when really encountered truly allows you out into the light. Similarly my shadow side picks up snails off the pavement after it's rained, to stop them being trodden on.
Those who would only focus on the light invite their darkness, & vice versa. Similarly fluffy bashing invites you to be surrounded by militant white lighters & fluff bunnies at every opportunity. Would you really want that?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What I Really Want for Yule

Don't worry, the picture isn't what I want, it's to illustrate my general attitude to a feast dedicated to pretending to be bothered by anyone else's plight, in the dark side of the year. You see this post was inspired the other night when I was sitting waiting in the Chinese & looking through The Big Issue. I don't buy it myself, the principle of it is supposed to be 'a hand up, not a hand out', but the sellers round here take the beggar's approach of looking pleadingly & manipulatively at people.
I also understand that The Big Issue must be heavily dependent on advertising revenue, but it still struck me the nature of the adverts it had, most of which were appeals for various heart-rending causes, with variously heart-rending pictures. These ranged from stray cats in Greece to a charity aimed at preventing loneliness among old people at 'Christmas'. I consider myself fairly immune to advertising, or even retail tricks. I know many of the tricks, & for many years haven't routinely watched broadcast TV: when you only watch recorded TV programmes of your own choosing without adverts, it changes the kind of attention you give to advertisements, reducing the passivity that leads to the adverts getting into your subconscious. Rather, you develop a heightened awareness of the disjunction that happens when an advert appears & you become more aware of how the advert is drawing your attention.
Be that as it may, the adverts in The Big Issue pressed buttons in me - to the extent that I have no recollection of what the actual articles were about! It reminded me of the sheer extent to which the world is not the way I would will it to be. Abuse suffered by a stray cat in Greece at the hands of a human is not the cat's fault; the loneliness suffered by an old person may or may not be, since humans have more agency, & frankly if you're an old devil you bring it on yourself. It made me want to *do* something - interestingly not quite the adverts' desired effect since I got no urge to give money to the charities in question.
If this was anyone but me it would make me think that this is such a witch thing, the urge, when seeing something you know not to be right, to do something to rectify it. It's also such a witch thing to be aware of my relative impotence in the face of global injustices. And of course being me I want to get hold of the whole picture & find a longer-term solution. What do I really want for Yule? I want a world where all beings are the right size. I want a world where people who cock it up for themselves don't do so or else are able to find ways to sort that. I want a world where people are unable to take advantage of other people. I want a world where nobody & nothing is used & abused.
Of course I'm aware I'm being idealist - *somebody* once said 'the poor will always be with you - but I'm a witch & see no reason why the size of the problem should deter me. People who say to themselves, 'I'm being impossibly idealist' are the ones who are guaranteed never to attain their ideal. Faced with the hugeness of the problem I'll start chipping. I may influence individuals only but this is how the re-enchantment of the world must happen. I suppose this is what I really want for yule.
Because it must begin here. Recently a friend started something that began with her bringing a grievance against her employer. She had no idea what she was starting, yes she had huge doubt as she went along, but has now completed what she started & brought something much greater to fruition. And of course Nelson Mandela has died this week, & we witches know that the end of one thing always brings on the beginning of another thing. The important thing is that what comes next is Willed.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

On right questioning

The illustration to this post has set me thinking about certainty, doubt, authority & questioning, from a Witch point of view. You see, the phrase 'question everything' makes me uncomfortable since nobody ever actually questions everything, everybody actually always has some certainty, or at least theory on which to build. The sarcastic example here, of course, would be to comment that the person who sprayed that graffito obviously didn't question his or her right to deface a public place with an inane comment!
'Question', in this context, I suppose is therefore a criticism of some kind of authority. The implication is 'Don't believe everything you're told', which is different from not believing anything. At its extreme it leads to an excessive dualism where nothing is real - dangerous when taken to where Christian Science takes it, although they merely deny the reality of the 'physical' & accept the reality of the 'spiritual'.
From a Witch point of view we have an embarrassing relationship with evidence for our position, namely that there isn't any. We also end up red-faced in the search for authority for our position: attempts to find an authority - usually founded on an invented or mistaken history - leave us without an authority. My personal opinion is that since Witchcraft as a modern religion has always been created in conscious opposition to virtually everything conventional religion stands for, we might as well continue this & take the position that we do not need an authority for our Witchcraft.
This also draws nicely on another element of the Witch figure, that of the outsider onto whom people project everything that they don't want, making us these anti-authority figures. I mean, these same people are quick enough to turn to us as an authority when they need some magic!
It is, of course, essential to examine our own presuppositions & the basis on which we pin our certainties. This is in a great magical tradition of the necessity of knowing yourself, since it's the magicians who have some unacknowledged interior stuff going on that tend to come unstuck. I do love the story of the chaos magician who did a paradigm shift to that of a fundamentalist Christian & has been one ever since.
Which brings me nicely to the question of 'everything' - it is actually humanly impossible to doubt everything at once, since you really would go off your head. Perhaps a better word would be 'examine', & this is another activity that can bring magical people into trouble, if they neglect it when necessary. My anecdote for that is the famous one of Tanya Luhrmann, who was completely upfront that she was seeking admission to Gerald Gardner's original coven for the purpose of research. She comments in her book on the perceptive shift she found happening in herself, by which she became less questioning & more inclined to interpret things as caused by magical agency.
I personally don't have a problem with this idea, since in magic the principle of 'It is so because I say it is so' is so often the turning point to the free exercise of the Will which causes real change to occur. I'm sure she would hate this idea, but she actually cast her spell on the coven. I have limited sympathy for the coven's feeling of betrayal when she published the inner workings of the coven: she was upfront about what she was doing, but she describes them forgetting this. Their failure to examine what was happening caused the 'betrayal': they should either have refused her admission or come to some other relationship of limited exposure with her.
In true Witch fashion I have come full circle back to where I was at the start, the nature of questioning, the need to do it, & what everything can mean. Also in true Witch fashion I don't feel inhibited from tackling these truly monumental questions in a single blog post!