My mother’s stares of amazement were punctuated by heavy lidded blinks of reality. It began when she wondered out loud as to what Rabbits and Chickens had to do with Easter. “Well, mother”, I began, “it’s an ancient Pagan fertility thing.” I explained the reasons for the season and when I finished, she responded with a very surprised, yet respectful exclamation of, “really”.
She’s well aware that her only daughter is a Witch, but she never talks about it, at least to me. The times that she does bring it up are rare, but this often leaves me with a feeling that not only has she accepted it, but there seems to be an underlying knowing that this has been my calling all along. Like the time when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she inserted the words, “You wanna do something about it?” into our conversation. This threw me for a triple loop because it was as if she was acknowledging that she believed that I could. Never doing anything Magickal for anyone without their permission, I accepted this as her request. The spell was cast and she just celebrated her 93rd birthday cancer free.
Just last week another comment was made, this time by my sister-in-law. We were in the church where my mother’s youngest brother’s funeral was taking place and I was using the time before the service to talk with my oldest brother and his wife. I was remembering when I was about 4 years old, visiting my grandparents on my mother’s side, who lived in an ancient monument of a farm house. As soon as the car came to a halt I’d run through the house and out the door that lead to the back porch. There I’d call Emily, a calico outside Cat that I had managed to tame and name. Off in the distance, I’d see the grass in the fields move as she soft pawed her way toward me to eat the combination of milk and day old home made bread that I offered her in the bent tin dish.
Apparently, Emily got around because every year she’d produce several batches of kittens, extremely feral and hidden. Every year I’d find them, usually in the barn or the woodshed. Eyes glowing in the darkness of their make shift den, they’d growl and hiss, but I would tame most of them to the point that I could hold them and they followed me around like the piped piper. My grandmother called me ‘katze mutter’, which was German for ‘Cat mother’ and I’ve lived up to that reputation ever since.
I was reminiscing about how I’d take the small wooden blocks of scrap lumber that got burned in the wood stove and set up ‘alters’ and ‘pulpits’ on the back stoop and there I’d play ‘church’ and preach to my congregation of assorted sizes of felines. My sister-in-law laughed and said, “you were doing it even then…you must have known”. I settled back in the pew and her words struck me as they rattled around in my head. Again, some means of acceptance interwoven with the knowledge that I was a Witch who teaches and preaches and was somehow meant to.
I’m not sure if it’s because I was an odd child who became an even odder adult that it is readily taken in stride that I should have come to this. Perhaps it was my vivid memory of being an infant in a crib or the time when I was 5 and was suddenly overtaken by dread that manifested in the form of loud wailing and screaming. The great-aunt that lived with us and served as a ‘nanny’ to my brothers and me was visiting friends. It was after dark, she was on the other side of Milwaukee and traveled by city bus which was not the safest thing to do. My parents tried to comfort me by saying that she planned on staying over night should it get late and that’s why she wasn’t coming home. The crying and screaming persisted because I knew something was terribly wrong. Soon the phone rang with the news that Aunt Alma had been hit by a car and was in the emergency room. As my parents got ready to go there, the phone rang again with the news that she had died.
This was the first of many psychic experiences that I came to dread as I was growing up. Not only were they always linked to tragedy, but in the classrooms of my Lutheran school I was told that the ability to do this was linked to the devil. I can’t help but wonder why the threat of Satan is acceptable, but exposing children to the realities of life is considered traumatic. It’s this kind of questioning that got me in trouble all the time…even then.
As Ostara approaches I am made aware that another holiday is shared by those who ‘borrowed’ much of their traditions from mine. The Bunnies, eggs and baskets of cellophane grass line store shelves along with the ridiculous chocolate crosses and ‘Jesus fish’. Another holiday that I will celebrate alone in spite of the tandem practice of the other. Ostara is also the birthday of MoonShadow, the Coven I created over 20 years ago. Members came and went over time, but the ‘family’ that remains is truly that which was formed of perfect love and perfect trust. You know who you are and you know that I love you.
I’ll explain what the Spring Equinox is to many ‘grown ups’ who only know that it’s the first day of Spring because the weather man said so. There I go again…teaching and preaching. Maybe I’m not the only one in the family who had psychic tendencies when it came to knowing that following the beat of a different drum was something that I was meant to do… in devoutly constructed circles of light.