Okay so I need some help, because I’m starting to see a pattern evolving.
Yesterday as I was driving home in the dark, my headlights caught a red-breasted robin sitting in the middle of the road. Birds tend to take flight before you reach them, so I thought for a moment that this was a toy someone had dropped out a window, or that it was already dead. But as I approached, it turned its head. I didn’t see it take flight as I swerved to avoid it. I looked in my rear view, but in the dark, I couldn’t see whether it had made it or whether it was still lying in the road.
Today, I was at the grocery store. I came back to my car to put my groceries in the back seat, and as I was returning the basket, I noticed a car that had a bird, mangled and dead, caught in the grill below the headlights. It looked like a yellow-tailed swallow, from the colour of the feathers, but I couldn’t see any blood. I thought at first it might have been fake, a twisted joke, the sort of prop that people tend to attach to their cars down here for shock value. But I leaned down to look at its claws, and I saw that it was real.
I don’t know if someone’s trying to get my attention or if there’s a message to be interpreted here, but the pattern of dead birds—especially songbirds being struck by cars, which is an exceedingly rare thing—has me listening.
Does anybody have any suggestions or a direction to point me in? I don’t know where to start, except to look to Hela, but I’ve had her prod at me before, and this doesn’t feel like her.
So I’ll probably tell you guys about it later but we held a circle because of reasons, and I’ve never done like…a proper circle before nor have I had the opportunity to work with my friend RoboAnnie before, but that was a really enjoyable experience, me and her and Tyro working together, with my and Annie’s respective patrons helping.
Ugh. All the deities. All of the mischief-making chaos gods wrt lighters refusing to light and paper refusing to catch and candles going out, jfc.
Also met Sigyn.
Who is an extremely forceful presence and who sort of swept into the room and didn’t give us a name and then we had to figure out who the fuck, but I had a conversation with her and she’s lovely.
But yes. More later. That was entertaining.
Apparently I needed my ass kicked into gear.
I’m gonna go start on your food now.
Being a Disabled Witch
I still get kind of weird using that word, since I’m mostly-abled most of the time, but I’m also now used to having my life structured in a way I can deal with easily enough. For all intents and purposes if you threw me into someone else’s schedule I’d be disabled, so let’s just roll with that word even if it’s not 100% accurate at all times.
There’s an article on About.com that covers some of the physical hurdles that the disabled and chronically ill can face in the Pagan/witchcraft communities, and while it’s not bad as far as jumpstarting a conversation about mobility barriers, it doesn’t get into the less pleasant side of what the communities sometimes think about the less able-bodied.
(From here I’m going to talk about just one community, because there is a lot of overlap and my experiences lie in that overlap, but I don’t intend to erase non-Pagan witches and non-witch Pagans. Y’all are out there and awesome.)
Imma honk my horn one more time and bring up my fibro. (It is riding heavily on my mind anyway due to the flu flaring it the hells up.) I joined a coven for a little bit and ended up being tossed due to, I assume, expressing my opinion* on one member’s assertion that I had magically attracted my own illness and subsequent unemployment, and other people had miraculously cured themselves of cancer, so why couldn’t I? In browsing around various communities online I saw more of this same kind of attitude pop up now and then: basically, you’re magical, right? So why can’t you heal yourself?
There’s also the very weird way that people with more obvious disabilities are romanticized, about which there was a pretty good Tumblr discussion not long ago. “Indigo children” don’t need structure and treatment for ADHD, they’re ~magical~. Blind people can somehow miraculously see/detect things that sighted people can’t because it’s a ~gift~. And while I really like large portions of the book, weird usage of kinda appropriated terms aside, Urban Magick has this one little bit that I just want to light on fire in which the author (Christopher Penczak) asserts that the mentally disabled homeless talking to themselves are actually ~talking to city spirits~.
What the actual fuck?
So you get the delightful experience of either being somehow ~more magical~ due to your disability, or ~less magical~ due to not being able to somehow fix yourself.
Yes I like using ~woo woo tildes~. Don’t judge.
And heaven of your choice or not help you if you decide to use real scientific medical treatments over herbal, Chinese, energetic, or homeopathic treatments, because then you’re ~out of tune with Nature~ somehow. Bitch please, nature fucked my brain up to start with. Cancer is also natural, and birth defects, and tornadoes, and all kinds of awful shit. ~Nature has no fucks to give~.
Sure these alternative treatments can help. Okay, I actually don’t mean that about homeopathy. But the rest, yeah, maybe. The worst you’re likely to get is a good placebo effect and those can be really powerful. But what’s with all the medical-shaming? It’s fucking weird.
That’s pretty much what it is, too. “You need to use modern medicine? Ew. Something must be wrong with you.” WELL, YES, or I wouldn’t be using it, but what the hells does that have to do with my worth, practice, or ability to be part of a group? Nothing. It’s just shaming, and thinking you’re somehow better than someone else because you didn’t have a bad thing happen to you. Throw in magic on top of that sentiment and you get some of the bullshit I’ve noticed in the community.
I feel like it’d be great if I could wrap this up with a thesis statement but I kind of can’t. I’m mostly just hoping to get a conversation started that needs to be had. But, at the same time, I kinda feel like I’m preaching to the choir by having it here, ‘cause most the Tumblr witches I’ve met are way awesome people and many even deal with their own difficulties. I’m hoping to get my thoughts together a bit better and maybe find a better outlet for this theme at some point.
*The opinion I expressed in person was “Uh, no?” The opinion I expressed later on Tumblr was “THIS PHILOSOPHY IS A FLAMING BAG OF BULLSHIT.” I can see why someone might get angry about that, but really, I have better things to do than hang out with victim-shamers.
Shit, I’m sorry you get these attitudes. And I totally agree, this conversation needs to happen. But, like you, all the people I interact with are pretty intimately aware of how invisible illnesses and disabilities are not easy to fix. I guess we (in the sense of people aware of ableism and pwd) need to figure out good talking points for having this conversation in events and in closer social groups (covens, circles, etc).
I hereby want every Pagan/witchy convention/conference to include a panel on racism, cissexism, ableism, sexism, and heteronormativity in the community and how to avoid them.
Yes please! I got cornered at Pantheacon last year by some woman who’d overheard me mentioning my fibromyalgia during a conversation which did not involve her. She lectured me for like fifteen minutes on how it was all due to ~unshed tears from my childhood self~ or some shit! I was so taken aback. Just, what.
I’ve heard a lot of flak for pagans/witches who take psych meds, too — which, not helpful, assholes! Psych meds can have weird energetic effects (which I’ve learned a few techniques to mitigate), and if we in the pagan community could actually talk about this shit without all the added magickal stigma on top of the cultural stigma, it’d be really nice. Like, I don’t take my psych meds for fun, I take them so I can function.
Also, woo-woo tildes are my new favorite punctuation.