- Posts for Witchy Wednesday tag
Waning Days | Our Prairie Nest
Waning Days

The late summer days are here. In the South and Midwest, school has started. My kids go back next week.

Usually, this is a liminal time – of winding up and winding down, simultaneously. Of excitement and sadness. We’re at the height of the dog days of summer, but they’re tempered by the return of the school bus. I feel the pull in both directions, to busier and more active days, but also to slow down and take in what’s left of the season. Even though I’m not a “summer person,” I try to savor it. The expiration date makes it that much sweeter. I like to watch the sunset, appreciate the golden light of the sun as the day fades and the edge dulls on the heat.

This year there’s a fear around the return to school. My daughter’s favorite peers are staying home to start the year with remote schooling. It’s an option I prefer for our family, too, but isn’t feasible unless it becomes a requirement. In fact, I’m not-so-secretly hoping the school has to flip to their remote plan from August to October. If I was the stay-at-home parent, I’d have already made the decision and taken responsibility for guiding my children’s education.

The elephant in the room is, of course, Covid-19. Coronavirus. And people who aren’t qualified to speak authoritatively on the pandemic would have us think it doesn’t affect children or doesn’t affect them as badly. This is flat-out wrong. No one is immune and no one knows the extent to which they will be affected.

I do believe the school district has our kids’ interests at heart, but I have zero faith in the governor, let alone the person currently referred to as the president. We’re lucky in one respect: we live in a rural town and our case count has been low. That doesn’t mean we’re immune, though. Far from it, especially with Omaha so close!

So I’m going to hold my kids close, make sure their masks fit properly, and keep them in our little bubble as much as possible while making the attempt to live a somewhat normal life. We’ll go out and watch the sunsets together and hope that next year’s golden August days will come with less uncertainty and more contentment.

Witch or Bitch | Our Prairie Nest
Witch or Bitch?

In 1997, the song Bitch by Meredith Brooks came out and many women embraced it. You probably still remember dancing around to it, thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m hella edgy!” But how many of you read the book Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel, published in 1998?

Elizabeth Wurtzel died today, but I think her work went out with the 90s and that’s just as sad. When Prozac Nation came out, it was highly praised by readers and critics. How many non Gen-Xers have read that book, though? Or Bitch? If you haven’t read any of her work, I urge you check it out. Very little has changed since either book was released and I think they remain relevant today.

Bitch came at a time when I needed to read it. I’d spent the first 5 years of my adulthood apologizing for being the person I was and trying to be something different. But as 1998 came around and I was circling back to the things that mattered to me – instead of to someone else – Bitch was like a call to action.

In particular, I was re-embracing my Pagan beliefs. For a time, I’d set them aside to explore monotheism and found that none of it made sense. How could it, when everything about the Abrahamic religions is merely a retread of the Pagan beliefs that came long before? Why follow a copycat religion when I could look deeper and further back, when I could connect with humanity and nature instead of some abstract idea of divinity?

My ex-MIL did not take that well and she specifically informed my husband at the time that “The devil is in your (our) house.”

So Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book “praising difficult women” came when I needed it the most, when I needed someone to understand me and accept that, yes, I am a Witch and that’s not going to change. Most of us have the same need – to be understood, to feel accepted just the way we are, to be allowed to live and let live. Something in Bitch gave me that, as well as the strength to continue on my own path, not worrying about someone else’s judgments about me.

Fast-forward a few years into the future, when some officer whose name I don’t even remember informed my now-ex-husband that he could never vote for him to be president, because of my religion. Hey, random officer whose name I’ve forgotten? This is for you and everyone who thinks like you:

I think Elizabeth Wurtzel would approve.

Rest in peace.

Friends | Our Prairie Nest

As October nears, I feel the pull of the seasons stronger than ever. It draws me toward home with nostalgia for family and New England, and… certain friends.

The idea of a “friend” has changed over the years, and I have some thoughts on it. Probably cynical ones, mind you, because I don’t think that, outwardly, a friend is what it used to be pre-internet.

At its very core, the idea of having a friend is to have a support system – someone who shares some of your interests and views, someone you can have fun with, and who is also there for you when life is not so fun. It’s kind of like a spouse or partner, except there’s no desire for physical intimacy and no romantic attachment.

Things like Facebook have complicated this idea of friendship. For example, I don’t see all of my Facebook “friends” as friends. A few are friends in the traditional sense of the word – people whose company I enjoy, who I can do fun things and talk about shared interests with, and exchange gripes about our lives with, but we’re talking maybe 5% of the people in my entire “Friends List.” And at least one of those friends doubles as family, because I’m lucky enough to have a great bond with my sister.

Some were friends once, but we’ve grown apart. I like that we’ve kept in touch, but the bond isn’t as strong or there at all. That’s just a fact of life. It’s nice to keep up with them, but I won’t be scheduling coffee dates with them from 1400 miles away.

Where does that leave the other people on this “Friends List”? Some are online friends only, people I’ve “known” for a number of years online and would be happy to meet in real life, but distance prevents it. These friends were discovered through a specific shared interest, but also have other qualities or shared views that I value. These are fellow writers, readers, and genealogists, and there’s often another quality or aspect to their personality that makes me want to keep up with them, too.

Some are other moms whose kids are the same age as my daughter. I like these moms and I enjoy hanging out with them. However, that time is sporadic and not likely to change. That’s okay. I don’t mind that, but I’ll be honest: I prefer their Millennial, 20-and-30-something company over my own Generation X, anyway (and my rant about how Generation X disappointed me and let the world down is a whole other kettle of fish). So I don’t pass up a chance to see these moms, if I can help it. In fact, I’d like to spend more time with them.

And it’s not that I don’t hang out with the moms whose kids are the same age as my son; it’s just that I don’t know any. My son doesn’t participate in social activities or parties that have ever necessitated my presence, so the one time I briefly met other mothers was the year he flirted with the idea of playing baseball. They already had their mom cliques, as opposed to the moms I met when my daughter started pre-school. Of course, they’ve formed their social groups, too, but it was a lot easier to be welcomed among them from the get-go. As far as the high school moms, well… it turns out they’re part of the Gen Xers I want to rant about, anyway.

That leaves what I call “friendly acquaintances” – local people that I socialize with, but with whom I have nothing in common. They aren’t people I can call when I’m out of gas and stranded, or to vent about something. Most of them aren’t people I would socialize with outside of school or scouting, because not only do we not have enough in common to draw us together, they’re also just too different than me when it comes to values, views, and more. And, honestly, I don’t want to socialize with them beyond what’s necessary. At some point, these people won’t be on my “Friends List” because I won’t have to participate in activities with them as our children grow up. I won’t be worried about offending them by rejecting a friend request or unfriending them once my daughter has either graduated or we’ve moved.

That’s where it comes across as cynical, I suppose. I certainly see the value in having acquaintances who are different. But we aren’t talking cultural differences. These are stark political and religious differences, and all they do is remind me of how uncomfortable it is to be in the Midwest, sometimes. These are the people who send friend requests that, if I didn’t have to see them face-to-face, I would otherwise reject.

That sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth. I really don’t have any interest in befriending Conservatives or loud/hardcore Christians, for example. Many of these people post or share things that are insulting to anyone who doesn’t share their political views and religious beliefs. Sometimes, all they talk about is their church this and their church that, and they have to inject it into every conversation. It’s obnoxious, to say the least.

The thing is, I’ve had enough of seeing and talking to these kinds of people to know how this goes. They are who they are, and I am who I am, and there’s really no need to pretend either of us want to be friends. It’s okay with me not to get a friend request from you. Just because we see each other once or twice a month in real life, you don’t need to feel obligated to send me a friend request.

These folks always get Unfollowed by me and placed on a specific list. This way, A. I don’t see their posts and B. I can hide some of mine from them, if I so choose. Even if I do see what they post, it’s not going to sway my views or beliefs. No matter what, my children (aka the Atheist Teenager and Wannabe Witch Child) are not going to attend your church event or Vacation Bible School, and I’m still going to vote blue.

Rather than hope people will change, I’m simply at an age where I just want to find “my people.” That’s all. Nothing against anyone else for not sharing my views or beliefs. It’s just “that I don’t have the time or energy for that.

I think my biggest fear is that people will see my feelings as narrow-minded or cynical or misanthropic, but the plain truth is I’m just done with fighting uphill battles. I did it for almost 20 years with my ex-laws. Instead, I would rather lend my energy to something positive. Part of that happens by spending time with others who share the same path as me.

I just want to find “my” people. That’s all. And I acknowledge that most people, especially in the rural Midwest, aren’t going to be a part of the circle I want to find or create. So even though I’m afraid everyone will see that desire as a negative, to me it’s a positive, an acknowledgement that I don’t want to waste my precious time and energy on things that don’t serve me well.

And let’s paraphrase my favorite line from one of my favorite movies of all time when it comes to relationships (romantic or platonic): I’d rather be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong ones.

Fall is On the Way | Our Prairie Nest
Fall is On the Way…

Don’t deny it – you know it is. At least, I know it is by mid-August. Many people follow the calendar-marked days for when the seasons begin, but not me. I pay attention to other cues, the ones I see in nature every year. Mid-August to December is my absolute favorite time of year and here’s why.

For me, August signals the end of summer. The days are still long, but you can tell it’s getting darker earlier. The singing of cicadas and crickets gentles from the more obnoxious tones we heard throughout June and July. Here in the Midwest, the cornfields go from tall and green to flat tracts of land, corn harvested to leave behind stalks that quickly turn golden-brown.

In September, certain animals pass through our yard with increase frequency. We see more deer, hear more coyote laughter, receive a visit from the ducks and geese on their way to warmer climates, and then one last hurrah from the blue herons. Everything that was green goes golden, and the leaves will start changing before the end of the month.

This time of year, I get extra nostalgic for home. While I like living in the Midwest, I will never love it. It’s “home” in the sense that I have a dwelling built here, but my heart 1500 miles away, north and east. Still, the nice thing about Nebraska is that the seasons are similar to New England’s, if a few weeks behind. So I can almost pretend I’m where I want to be.

As far as this time of year, I think most Witches prefer autumn, wherever they live. Why do we feel this way? Various reasons, of course. For those who follow the Oak King/Holly King mythos, the Holly King defeated the Oak King at the Summer Solstice and now reigns. I tend to go with the Wheel of the Year imagery. The wheel turns to the dark half of the year. Why do I love it?

Something about the “hibernation” brings out the desire to work harder, to prepare for and push and survive through winter. The longer nights make me want to cozy up with books or family history research. Genealogy is a wonderfully productive passion that has many facets – not just finding out ancestors’ stories, but also sharing them. I love the sights and smells of autumn, from the leaves to the crackling fire on the hearth.

Daniel cooks and bakes all kinds of comfort food this time of year. Some days, I come home to cookies, pies, and breads. Maybe there will be shepherd’s pie or beef stew for dinner. Who knows? Whatever it is, it will warm me up and make me think of the times my family got together for dinner.

I love to look back on the year and see what goals I reached, and then look forward and set goals for the new year. And, on a very basic, personal comfort level, I don’t miss sweating in the heat! I think I’m actually allergic to summer, since my skin flushes the moment I step outside when it’s 80+ degrees. 😉

This turning inward is more productive and useful than the “lazy days” of summer. And while I prefer it, I recognize that we need both. Hence, my effort (is that an oxymoron?) to relax and let go over the summer months. In the fall, I don’t feel so bad about giving in to my desire to go, go, GO! Because even sitting in front of the fireplace with my laptop, working on genealogy or writing means I’m getting something done.

Of course, it’s not fall without a look at death. As a Witch, I have no issue with this. It’s going to come, eventually, and I think it’s better to look it in the face than worry about what it brings. The earth slumbers and we know its “death” is temporary. Bulbs will bloom again in the spring, leaves will return, and the long nights of darkness will give way to more hours of daylight. Many of us who identify as Pagan take this time to honor those who have passed, to visit with them, and share our remembrances.

As the Autumnal Equinox approaches, I’m not filled with dread for the coming winter – not even of the practical “Hope it doesn’t snow when I have to drive to work” variety. I’m ready to follow wherever the darkness of the days leads and come out on the other side.