They only want to fade away
Naturally, rising from the afghan only
For a bite of food
A little brushing
Each sleep a little longer
I started off calling myself a Wiccan because that was the term used in most of the books about religious witches when I was a young teenager. I decided to drop the word Wicca recently because of its associations with “fluffy bunnies” AKA young people, or people who have only surface understanding of “love and light” witchcraft. “Fluffy bunny” books aren’t bad. If a person has a true calling, they’ll use the books about Wicca and NeoPaganism to find Paganism and witchcraft.
NeoPagan. I don’t like the term, never did, and now the prefix reminds me of Neo-something else. I read an essay the other day wherein the author insisted that people like me are NeoPagans. Don’t call me a NeoPagan or tell me I’m not a real Pagan. I’m 45, almost 46, and I’ve fought my way back onto the Pagan path despite Christians, atheists, and fellow witches trying to dissuade me. I make the path, as Alice said in the 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland. Now I’m finally Alice.
Last night, I finally read the definition of modern-day Paganism that has eluded me: “As Modern Paganism is, technically, a newly rebirthed religion the question of authenticity with regards to validity is moot – someone, somewhere along the line, whether it was sixty years ago, six-hundred years ago or sixty-thousand years ago, made it up at some point. That has no bearing on its validity.” (Joanna Der Hoeven, “Dancing with Nemetona,” Chapter 5, Page 34.)
So there it is. I feel called by certain ancient Pagan goddesses. I also feel called to spellwork, but not so much ritual. I never did care for the excessive ritual associated with Wicca. I like my solitary study and practice, probably because of too many people trying to shame me for my beliefs over the last 30 years.
At my lowest point
They all avert their delicate gazes.
Boundaries are something we all must have, especially if you spend a lot of time on social media. You need boundaries at work (oh boy do you) and at home and with friends. Otherwise, you end up being the person I used to be: a doormat, always apologizing for myself when someone else got in my space or just behaved badly towards me.
I just started reading “Dancing with Nemetona” by Joanna Van Der Hoeven. Nemetona is a name of an enigmatic Celtic goddess who guards sacred spaces. Before I started reading the book, I thought that She just guarded sacred groves and springs. She’s actually a Goddess of all sacred spaces, including hearth and home. I was oddly delighted to read this. I first encountered a feminine energy that I believe was Nemetona when I was very young, at Catholic school, sitting in a grove of saplings surrounding a shrine holding a statue of Mary. I thought that the feminine energy was Mary. Now, I believe it was more likely a much older Goddess, and since the school and the grove were sacred, safe spaces to me, Nemetona fits.
(I know I’ve told that story multiple times, but it was a formative experience in my life. Mary was the Divine Mother, the first Goddess in my life, but I wasn’t meant for an organized religion that elevates men above women and exists in buildings, lovely though they might be. I’d rather be outside right now, sitting on a fallen tree, even thought it’s almost 5 am and 28F.)
The author of “Dancing with Nemetona” is a modern Druid. On page three, she discusses the concept of the nemeton. She says, “When I first began delving into Druidry, I was taught to find where my edges were. Some people liken it to your aura, that space around your that still holds your energy without physical form.” Like the familiar aura, the nemeton changes colors depending on your interaction with people, and cats, and trees, and rocks, and all variety of other things. The nemeton isn’t just your body’s “mood ring.” It is your space, your sacred space, and it interacts with the nemetons of everything around you. Houses hold energy. Specific rooms in houses hold their own energies. Sometimes your nemeton pushes others away. Sometimes things like trees use their nemeton to communicate welcome or rejection to people who can see the nemeton.
So the nemeton is a type of psychic boundary. Intruding on someone or something else’s nemeton can give you different messages: go away, I’m hurt, I’m busy, etc. Because I am so hardcore about boundaries, I find this concept fascinating. Some people have problems setting boundaries, let alone enforcing them. I used to be that kind of person. I still too often let people get close to me, then have to shut them out when they violate my boundaries. Some of them know my boundaries and still behave badly. Others have never met me but come at me disrespectfully, and I slam my walls down. Maybe my walls are my nemeton. Maybe I expand it to keep out the people who disrespect me. “Disrespect” is the new way of saying, “They crossed my boundaries” or “They got in my personal space.”
I have rules about social interactions developed from physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse. Anyone who has known me in any context for a month should know my rules:
- Never tell me what to do.
- Never call me by my first name unless we’re friends.
- Never touch me.
- Never touch my things.
- Never go into my bedroom.
- Never mansplain to me.
- Never reply to something I say with, “You’re wrong.” If I’m wrong, I want to know, but if you show your ass instead of calmly explaining to me what I’ve got wrong, I’ll cut off all contact.
- Never come on my property without permission.
- Never lie to me, steal from me, or cheat on me. You’re dead to me.
Yes, those are a lot of severe rules, and I have very good reasons for each one of them.
Most people probably aren’t as definite and relentless about their boundaries as I am. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. All I know is that every one of us has the right to boundaries, edges, sacred spaces, sanctuary. I could go into another long blog post about sanctuary, but it’s too late and I’m too tired and worn out from being sick.
I’m going to continue to guard my boundaries, and I’m really looking forward to reading more of Dancing with Nemetona.
“Why do you make me sick
When I love you so?”
I asked the earth.
“I can only see you
Through this window.”
The earth replied to me
“I did not make it so.”
Into the car, both sixteen
Not knowing you were drunk
Waking up in the ER, sent home
Waking up at home, leg not obeying me.
Broken back, you came with gifts
I still have one
You escaped to college early
Left me behind
Later in your house
When I said, “You drink too much,”
You said I was a Professional Victim.
Tuesday night, you died.
Soon, another slice of night
Missing my garden
And the sunset persisting
The textures of bark
Throughout the mild
Cardinals at the feeder
Putting out corn for the crows
The trees already reaching for me.
No costumes or garish
Makeup, just a bare face
Door shut locked tight
In with the ghosts
Slices of pie at two empty places
At their table
It will always be their house.
I went around the side
Of the house
Found the boulder
Poured out my libation
The dark of the year
Is just fine.
The collapsing house looms
Over the highway
Folding in on itself.
When I have to drive by, I measure its decay
The white curtain still blows
From the upstairs window-
Maybe my Nana was born In that room.