Witches of AmericaBook - 2015
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This is the classic launching point of ancient myths and movie plotlines alike: the would-be apprentice petitions the master for training, and, once accepted, she is launched down the path to initiation and a new identity. So how to approach this teacher, who isn’t a kung fu master (or whatever)? How does a person approach a witch for training? Do I make a pilgrimage to her door and camp out in a tent until she lets me inside? Do I impress her by memorizing Aramaic texts and reciting them backward as I crawl over broken glass? Do I shave my head, fast for ten days, and then tap out a Bat Signal to her in Morse code on my straw mat?
In reality, the answer is obvious: I e-mail her.
Then there’s that word for what comes next, not around the corner but someday: crone. I find that single-syllable word a little terrifying because of what it stands for – the final stage, the time of life that this culture looks at as post-sex, post-options. But in this place it’s a term of respect – shorthand for “lady who’s lived longer than you and likely seen more than you, so shut your mouth while she’s talking.”
I want to understand the strange confidence necessary to climb onto the roof and sing to the moon, or to write out commands in your own blood; to train in a secret tradition and be initiated; to move out to the middle of nowhere and drag heavy stones to stand upright in your very own henge; to say, I have a trajectory in life. I want to grasp the moment when that confidence becomes conviction; to know what it’s like to believe, without doubt, that you hold the key to the Mysteries, that you are capable of magic. I decide to press deeper, to try to discover just what that faith is built on.
Because I envy them, the believers. They have guidance; they have clarity; their days have structure and meaning. And, quietly, for a long time, I’ve coveted these things – after all, they’re what most of us want badly, regardless of whether we consider ourselves lapsed Catholics or born-agains or strident atheists...When I put my work aside, I have to admit that I am searching – hopefully, and with great reservation – for proof of something larger, whatever its name.
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