We Can All Be Arks

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“You, reading this essay: you are an ark.”

From Asa West

From a car window, California fuchsia might look like just another ornamental flower. A few bright spatters of red along the parkway, surrounded by the kinds of no-fuss shrubs installed by landlords and people who spend most of their time indoors. Compared to the exotic species like hibiscus or ficus, species that simulate lush tropical landscapes, California Fuchsia might even look rather scraggly and small. Is it the type of plant a driver will notice at all? Maybe people appreciate the showy little tube-shaped flowers, or maybe it’s not impressive enough to warrant a glance.

But you don’t get California fuchsia’s whole story from the window of a car.

Epilobium Canum ssp Canum, native to the California Floristic Province, is an integral member of foothill and coastal ecosystems from Oregon to Mexico. If you suspect that the size and shape of the flowers would be the perfect size for a hummingbird’s beak, then you’d be right: it’s a favored flower of several species of hummingbirds, along with the white-lined sphinx moth, the giant swallowtail butterfly, and the California dogface. What’s more, California fuschia also has a long and beneficial relationship to humans; it’s historically been used by the Chumash as a vulnerary herb, healing wounds in the same way that calendula has been used by Europeans.

Speaking of vulnerary herbs, did you know that yarrow is a California native plant? The feathery plant with the corymb inflorescences, a favorite of #WitchesOfInstagram, grows around the world and may have been propagated by ancient settlers and explorers. Gardeners savvy to its healing properties will eschew the brightly colored cultivars and look for Achillea Millefolium, with its plain white flowers that work well in salves and attract butterflies and bees. But, like California fuschia, yarrow can look pretty plain compared to all the exotics.

In fact, that supposed plainness is why so many native plant communities have been obliterated by developers fixated on turning California into a hybrid of England and Hawaii. You can buy a white sage smudge at Whole Foods to go with your essential oils and appropriated dream catchers, but when you pass real live white sage on the street, it looks like a vaguely pretty but rather uninteresting background shrub. The elder tree (ssp. cerulea) is summer deciduous in California and looks dead during the hottest months. The seedheads of sages and buckwheat turn brown after flowering. The authors of California Native Plants for the Garden are stark in their description of the colonization of California: “Compared to the rich greens, bright flowers, and bold textures of subtropical species,” they write, “the natives must have seemed dull and gray.”

How sad, that a shallow and limited idea of beauty can lead to the deaths of entire ecosystems.

#

Last spring, my husband and I scoured Los Angeles for a new place to live. Our options were limited, especially since we had one kid and another on the way, but I found a listing for a two bedroom condo in Koreatown from which the commute to our jobs on the west side wouldn’t be too catastrophic. (Nine miles, only an hour each way, not too shabby by L.A. standards). We went to look at the place and found it had a back door, and outside were two neglected alleyways and a cramped ficus tree. My daughter promptly tried to climb the tree while I wandered the alleys to look at the soil, which was compacted and rocky and covered in garbage. The land was hurting, its surface a raw abrasion, and I knew as I felt the quiet weight of a geis settle onto me that this was where we would live. The spirits of this place had been waiting goodness knows how long for someone, anyone, to come and stick up for them.

After we moved in, I set about getting permission to clean up the alleys, install a small container garden, and plant some drought-tolerant natives. The backlash was immediate. Two neighbors dismissed new plants as against the rules and thus self-evidently bad, citing decades-old regulations in the building’s covenant. Another got upset and tried to get the building manager to shut me down, calling plants a fire hazard (although it was unclear how plants were a fire hazard when a path littered with junk apparently wasn’t). The status quo bias was formidable: anything perceived as unruly or out of the ordinary was attacked like a virus. I couldn’t make sense of it. I still can’t. Is this the same bias that makes people resist renewable energy and doggedly support capitalism, even as it sucks away their resources and erodes their lives?

If only, I found myself thinking, my neighbors could have heard Lili Singer speak.

My husband and I had taken one of Lili’s gardening classes at the Theodore Payne Foundation, a nonprofit in the San Gabriel Valley that propagates native plants. He and I had sat with 30 other gardeners in a little classroom with no AC, taking notes as Lili described plant communities and design principles. For the most part I happily geeked out over wildflowers and sages and coast live oaks, but at one point, the class suddenly turned profound.

Gardeners and conservationists preserve these native species, Lili told us, not to keep them on life support for all of eternity, but in the hopes that someday they’ll be able to flourish on their own again. “California fauna evolved alongside these specific plants, and they need these plants to survive,” she said. “If you save the plants, you’re also saving the insects, and the birds that eat the insects, and the animals that eat the birds. You’re saving whole ecosystems. Your backyard can be an ark.”

She was referring to Noah’s ark, of course, but stories of devastating floods can be found in mythologies all over the world, a specter of annihilation that haunts our collective psyche, a warning whispered by the gods. In the Epic of Gilgamesh,* a group of gods decide to destroy the world, but Ea, “the cleverest of the gods,” warns Noah’s predecessor Utnapishtim:

Reed fence, reed fence, listen to my words.

[Utnapishtim,] King of Shuruppak, quickly, quickly

Tear down your house and build a giant ship,

Leave your possessions, save your life….

Then gather and take aboard the ship

Examples of every living creature.

In this version, the gods are not unanimous in their decision to destroy humanity; in fact, they quickly come to regret it, “cower[ing] by the palace wall, like dogs” to escape the rising water. To me, this version feels truer to our experience of climate change than the Noah myth, in which the instigator of the flood decides which humans are virtuous enough to survive. If climate change were a punishment, then the corporations, lobbyists, and politicians responsible, rather than the most vulnerable and innocent among us, would be hit the hardest. Indeed, we can almost see the 1% in Gilgamesh’s council of gods: foolishly believing themselves to be above destruction, deciding that the world is theirs to destroy and all its lives theirs to take, only too late realizing that they, too, are vulnerable.

I thought about just going ahead and planting the plants, even doing it in secret to avoid getting fined, but after I experimented with a little flower bed and someone kicked it to pieces, I realized my neighbors were not above simply tearing up anything mysterious they found. The sickness plaguing our land isn’t just physical. A dark and troubling thing happens to people’s minds when they live long enough under capitalism. They begin to hold life itself in contempt, seeing any other organisms not as partners and companions, but as competitors and threats. They view the new family down the hall with suspicion and anxiety, ready to attack if property values sag. They grow used to monocultures and conformity and balk at the sight of an unruly hedge. They forget how to be a community; one neighbor plays loud music at 3 a.m. and shrugs at the thought that it might bother people, while other neighbors call the police instead of knocking on his door. There are literal floods happening, yes–and droughts and famines and hurricanes and wildfires–but we’re drowning in something else, too.

We can be arks, I found myself thinking after the class. On the first full moon after we moved in, I brought my ritual supplies to the roof of the building to perform my first esbat in our new home. Not for the first time, I found a part of myself preparing to instruct my daughters in witchcraft when they come of age (if they want it, of course). This is how you’ll explain the compass, a little voice said as I conjured the quarter spirits. This is how you’ll teach scrying, it murmured as I closed my right eye and gazed at the moon in my bowl of water. Then I thought: I am an ark. My body, my mind, my knowledge, the traditions and wisdom I’ve stored up inside me. I carry them through the years so that I can pass them on, and so that their recipients can pass them on, and so forth until the calamity has passed.

You, reading this essay: you are an ark. The god Ea whispers to you through the reeds. What are you carrying that’s worth saving? What do you hold that must be protected and sheltered until conditions are right for it to fly free? Your devotions to the old gods and your knowledge of the Ways? Your friendship with the good folk? Your gateways through the hedge? The mass-produced books on Paganism, as lovely and important as some of them are, are not living knowledge. The written word kills the witchcraft. What’s alive lives in your body, and nowhere else.

#

Happily, I eked out the majority board approval I needed to plant my natives. I bought my seedlings–some fuchsia and sagebrush and golden currant and blue-eyed grass and elder, plus some California poppy and baby blue eyes seeds, and a compact Cleveland sage that wouldn’t tolerate the clay but might do all right in a pot–and, after a good rain, put them all in. I was afraid the soil was just too bad for them to thrive, but as I dug, I noticed it was teaming with earthworms. The land was impatient to be healed.

Gardening might seem to some like a paltry, even indulgent form of activism when Nazis are killing people in the streets. But the nurturing of threatened species requires radical hope–which Jonathan Lear defines as hope that “is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is,” and which Junot Diaz says “is not so much something you have but something you practice.” There’s a chance, and not a small one, that someone will kill all my native plants after I move away; after all, people all over Southern California are still hard at work tearing up natives to replace them with sod and concrete. But the act of planting keeps despair at bay. Perhaps one of my plants will release one seed that will fly somewhere safe and carry the species forward. Besides, liberation becomes easier to imagine when you get a tiny glimpse of what lies on the other side. Your body remembers a future with gardens, and that promise propels you to action.

After I put the plants in, I tamped the moist soil down and made the berms and offered each plant a little breastmilk to welcome it. I went inside and fed my children. My husband and I hope to move out of the city in a few years, to a place near a forest where I can tend a real garden instead of an alley, but my geis puts me firmly in this place until these plants are established and the birds and insects have learned of their presence. I hope that when I leave, the spirits will be able to protect these plants, or at least that status quo bias will work in their favor. I hope this patch of land will be a sturdy ark, sailing patiently towards a time when riotous, joyful life will thrive again.

*Translation by Stephen Mitchell


Asa West

Asa West is a sliding-scale tarot reader blending traditional witchcraft with earth-based Judaism. Her writing has appeared in Witches and Pagans Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, and other outlets, and you can find her at tarotbyasa.com and instagram.com/tarotbyasa.

 


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Shopping Malls Are Awesome (A Post About Burnout)

So this happened: Obama was in town yesterday morning and it took me over an hour to get to my daughter’s preschool, which is five miles away from our apartment. For the first half of the drive, I fumed about the traffic. 2.5 miles an hour? Really? This is the best we can do? It didn’t have to be this way. Los Angeles is the city whose comprehensive streetcar system was forcibly dismantled by the oil industry. For the benefit of Angelenos, you might ask? Oh, goodness, no. For the oil industry’s benefit, my dears. For their benefit.

Santa monica traffic jam
Rush hour on the 10 (Image credit Wikipedia)

During the second half of the drive, I switched to fuming about the sprawl. Why was the only affordable preschool five miles away? I was mad at myself for having normalized something so absurd. When you combine SoCal sprawl with a wealthy minority able to pay $2000+ a month for fancy preschools–and let’s not forget a public university in the center of the richest part of town, forcing public employees like me to either spend way too much on rent or commute 3 hours a day–then you get bonkers situations that just become people’s realities. When I visited New Orleans a few years ago, a friend of a friend said she’d just turned down a job offer. “It was too far from home,” she said. “It was four miles.”

I choked on my sazerac.

When I finally got my kid to preschool yesterday, I was ready to cry. This was my telecommuting day, surreptitiously granted to me by my supervisor (the official request got lost somewhere in the bureaucracy and we gave up), but I was stranded five miles from home. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t buy another coffee this week; I’d make my own. I hate spending the money and I’m always forgetting my travel mug. But you know what? After living through Obamajam, I went ahead and got a latte. And a croissant.

I don’t want you all to think I’m looking for pity, because among LA horror stories, mine is incredibly mild. (Although I will throw this out there: if anyone knows of any librarian positions opening up in Portland or Olympia, please let me know.) Rather, I want to call your attention to the bit about the coffee. Before I worked 9 to 5, I made myself coffee every morning. Sure, I’d often write in coffeeshops, but the idea of buying my morning coffee was absurd. Making coffee is such an easy thing.

It’s such an easy thing when you’ve got the energy.

* * *

A couple of years ago, David Cain went back to working 40 hours a week after 9 months of traveling. Realizing he was spending way more money on stuff than he had before, he made this observation:

[T]he 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.

Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.

Of course, you’re here at a radical anti-Capitalist blog, so you know the history of the 8-hour day. Capitalism cares about Capitalism, not people. Still, I first read that article right after I’d finished library school and started the first full-time gig I’d ever had in my life, so seeing my exact situation so clearly articulated felt like the moment you look in a mirror after wiping away the steam.

And what’s hilarious is that the organization I work for isn’t for profit, at least in theory. Libraries don’t make money. But you’d better believe we’re expected to put our forty hours in each week. Why? Well, because, that’s why. I get work emails timestamped 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night. My colleagues and I have entire conversations about how tired we are.

For most of my life, I’ve hated shopping malls. The sterile environment, the false sense of public space, the asinine stores filled with mass-produced crap. Ugh. But a creepy thing happened after I had a child and started working full time. One day I needed a new pair of sunglasses. Another day, a birthday gift for my husband. Then a pair of flats for work. Each time I walked into the mall, I found…I enjoyed it.

I liked being there.

Partly it was because I didn’t have the kiddo with me and I felt free. But honestly? The atmosphere was soothing. There was something about the airiness, the pleasant temperature, that calmed me. And then, of course, there was the little endorphin high of buying a thing. Malls are a laughable substitute for the healing properties of nature, of course–but here, they’re a lot easier to get to than regional parks.

Because parenting in a nuclear family (another gift of Capitalism) and working full time with a commute drains the fuck out of you. Which is exactly what it’s designed to do. So all of your highfalutin ideals–I’m gonna clean my counters with vinegar and grow all my food in a container garden and ride my bike everywhere and use the flat bar skate rails to go to all the rallies and sit at my altar every night–start to crumble. Because they take effort you don’t have and they don’t seem to be making a difference anyway.

Again, I’m not trying to solicit pity (or, it should go without saying, advice). What I’m describing is the norm for those who have the remarkable good fortune of nabbing full-time jobs.

If you do a Google search for “burnout,” you’ll get tons of articles on how to recognize/prevent/deal with burnout at your job. But our economic system has zero incentive to keep you energized and interested in your work. Because if you’re like most Americans, there are few other jobs you can just skip off to, and you’ll spend more money trying to make yourself feel better. Burnout makes you apathetic. Ironically, cynicism can make you quite compliant.

* * *

After the Charleston massacre, I’ve been thinking about an incident I witnessed a few months ago involving some white radicals. These white radicals decided to host a group discussion about police brutality. I wasn’t there for the first half so maybe something really transformative and inspiring happened, but when I came in, the more radical radicals were yelling at the less radical radicals and everyone was loudly crying. I wondered: what did they think they were accomplishing? We librarians are really into assessment, and I found myself mildly curious about what a survey six months out would reveal. Had the more radical radicals won anyone over to the cause? Did they make anyone measurably less racist? Or did everyone settle right back in to whatever beliefs and habits they’d had before the discussion, except with a nice new layer of resentment?

As I sat there, numbly listening to the sobs and hiccups, I thought back to the feminist blog I’d once written for, whose main writer didn’t give a shit about women of color and spent a conspicuous amount of energy hating on mothers. (“How dare they ask for milk on airplanes! How dare they bring their kids to restaurants!” It was really noticeable.) I thought back to all the wars I’d witnessed in the feminist blogosphere, symptoms of a movement devouring itself from the inside out.

I remembered why I’d faded out of radicalism, even faded out of activism altogether for a time. It was so exhausting. You could pour an infinite amount of energy into activist work and never feel like you were making a difference. I knew way too many people who either began to fetishize anger, lashing out right and left, or just gave up and faded back into the mainstream. Started buying sweatshop clothes again. Let their subscriptions to radical magazines lapse.

* * *

Obviously not all radical circles are the same. I know there are perfectly healthy radical cells and movements out there, and I applaud them. This post is for those who have had less-than-inspiring experiences.

There are two cures for burnout. The first is obvious: don’t work so much. I’m glad self-care is emphasized in radicalism, but unfortunately, things are looking bleak for the rest of society. There is absolutely no reason why we need to work forty hours a week or more, but here we are.

The second cure isn’t as immediately apparent. The work you do has to have an outcome. Something measurable. Something meaningful. A thing that wasn’t there before that makes you feel good. Think about your Paganism: would you continue to give offerings to a deity or perform a spell for weeks or months or years if the practice never had any positive effects? Sure, you might turn your frustration into shame and become a religious fanatic, but more likely you would just stop doing it.

Again, not so applicable to paid work. But crucial for justice work.

And here’s where assessment gets really challenging: when you realize that the work you’re doing isn’t effective, you have to be willing to stop and switch to something else. Because throwing yourself into pointless work is nothing more than a slow spiritual death.

* * *

I really don’t want my daughter to grow up in a place like LA. My Reclaiming community and my coven are here, so it’d be really painful to leave, but I think it’d be worth it to get to a place with forests. A place where I could have a real garden. A place with less traffic and lower housing costs. A witch in a traffic jam is not a happy witch.

In the meantime, I go easy on myself for stumbling once in awhile. I buy the coffee. I linger at the mall. But these things are just anesthetics. All they can do is numb you.

Here’s to a future with healthy communities and vibrant landscapes: a future that we create by doing what works and letting go of what doesn’t.

Morrigan, Queen of the Witches

“The witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it.” -Peter Grey, Rewilding Witchcraft

When I took Iron Pentacle, one of Reclaiming’s core classes, I had only the vaguest idea of who the Morrigan was. I knew she had something to do with crows. There was an intense-looking statue in the shop that hosted the class. She was Celtic? I didn’t know. I didn’t think about it.

Overall I’m very happy in the Reclaiming Tradition, but our approach to deity–at least, in my particular community–can feel a bit like a gumball machine at times, with a different god and goddess invoked for every ritual, class, or planning meeting. At best, our relationships to these deities can feel a bit shallow unless we work with them personally. At worst, gods–whether they’re entities or archetypes–sometimes don’t even show up. Halfway through the evening you realize you’ve forgotten who was supposedly invoked.

That was not the case the night we worked the Power point of the pentacle.

Partly it was because the teachers’ invocation rocked. Partly it was because we did some especially deep work that night. But that session was one of the few times that the deity called was unmistakably present. Present, strong, and very interested in a roomful of witches.

After we worked with the Morrigan that night, I became obsessed with her. My classmates–soon to become my coven–did, too. It was clear that she was powerful and that she’d scooped us all up. But I was puzzled. When I’d started practicing witchcraft almost twenty years earlier, the Morrigan had been absent from all my books. Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves only mention her in passing. Granted, you access different information in your thirties than you do as a teenager, but it still struck me as odd that a goddess so rich with archetypal and magical significance, a natural ally for the burgeoning witchcraft movement, seemed relatively dormant until the beginning of the 21st century.

Isn’t that interesting? Global capitalism soars to new heights of oppression and destruction, and a goddess of sovereignty suddenly appears on the scene?

As I went through the process of becoming a devotee, I struggled to figure out what my relationship to the Morrigan was. Most sources I found emphasized her association with battle and nightmares, and I couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling her so strongly in my garden. I felt her in the twining of the jasmine plant and the spiders spinning webs over my pots. I felt her in a gale and a meteorite and the swaying branches of the jacaranda trees. For me, she was the breath of the wild world buried under a bloated civilization. I explored literal notions of warriorhood; I looked into some martial arts classes. But that just wasn’t the language she spoke to me.

The Táin is a very interesting myth. If you skim it, the Morrigan seems like a mean, almost petty figure, trying to bring Cú Chulainn down after he rejects her offer of love. After he injures her during each of her attempts, she has to trick him into healing her, and he grows indignant at having been fooled. Cue the trumpets: waah waaaah.

But the meaning of the story goes much deeper than that, of course. Here’s one possible reading: as goddess of sovereignty, the Morrigan is the personification of the landscape that forms a symbiotic relationship with its inhabitants. Usually this relationship is characterized by a symbolic marriage between the goddess and the king. Cú Chulainn isn’t a literal king, but as half-divine champion of the Ulstermen, he plays a similar role. The land offers itself to him in a spirit of partnership and love; Cú Chulainn rejects it under the misapprehension that he needs no such partnership; and the land subsequently hinders his efforts–not out of spite, but as an effect of natural law. In tricking Cú Chulainn into healing the Morrigan’s wounds, the land attempts to bring him back into that mutually beneficial partnership, although Cú Chulainn is still too pigheaded to see the benefit.

Here in the 21st century, one might read this story as a clear parable for capitalism. We’ve rejected the land and it’s begun to hinder us, sending us droughts and superstorms and deadly temperatures. The only way our story ends happily is for us to reestablish our partnership with the land by healing it–and, unlike Cú Chulainn, we need to do so willingly.

As I studied the Morrigan, I learned that I wasn’t crazy: many scholars refer to her as an earth goddess. And her role of spirit of the land isn’t far removed, I think, from her roles of sovereignty and war goddess. Humans are creatures of earth, dependent on healthy ecosystems, and we see across the globe that oppression and environmental devastation stem from the same root causes. I’m not the first person to wonder if, in this age of mass, mechanized violence, the Morrigan isn’t gathering an army.

“Late capitalist culture simply does not care what our fantasy dress up life is like as long as we work our zero hour contracts, carry our mobile phones and keep consuming. The reason that social services are not taking your children away is that nobody believes in the existence of the witch….Marching in lock-step with what used to be called mainstream, but is now mono-culture, we have disenchanted ourselves, handed over our teeth and claws and bristling luxuriant furs.” -Peter Gray, Rewilding Witchcraft

“Witchcraft is a tool against oppressors. It sides with the oppressors at its own peril, for power is ever fickle, and our gifts ever mistrusted by the bullies and abusers who would make our power their own.” – Jason Thomas Pitzl, Witchcraft Today–Witchcraft Tomorrow: A Manifesto

Witchcraft is becoming synonymous with warriorhood.

How can it not? How can we practice plant magic when our plant allies are covered in pesticides? How can we believe in an immanent Goddess and let other human lives be destroyed? How can we “sing, feast, dance, make music and love” knowing what fueled the cars we drove to our secret places? At this juncture of history, to be a witch is to be a warrior. Diana and Aradia and Hekate are commonly known as Queens of the Witches; now, by necessity, the Morrigan is taking her place alongside them. Queen of sorcery and prophecy. She who sees the cycles of history.

penot-witch
“Départ pour le Sabbat” by Albert Joseph Pénot

But the Morrigan isn’t asking us to adore her with more trinkets and cosplay. It frustrates me when I meet holier-than-thou devotees who are eager to dress up as ancient Celts and call themselves warriors, but sniff at the idea of fighting any actual battles. Why waste your time phone banking or blocking freeways when you could be out shopping for replica swords? What on earth does a war goddess have to do with politics? (Yes, a real person actually said that to me, although they didn’t phrase it as a question.)

Let’s face it: about 90% of magical and spiritual work doesn’t involve cool costumes and elaborate rituals. It involves listening to your deepest self and doing what needs to be done. This isn’t to say that rituals aren’t important; I hear the Coru priests are as good at battlefield devotionals as they are at direct action. But if your rivers are being poisoned and your neighbors are being murdered by police and you’ve only got an hour to spare, then your priorities should be clear: put down the incense and do something.

Witchcraft is warriorhood. It wasn’t always. If I’m reincarnated as another witch in 500 years, I hope that my practice can consist of dancing in meadows and wearing flower crowns. But we witches of the 21st century drew the short straw: we got a poisoned earth and a rabid kyriarchy and an angry goddess. Yeah, it sucks. It’s our job to rise to the occasion.

It’s true that the Morrigan is also known as the Phantom Queen, and I’ve seen people warned away from her for this reason. “You can’t handle her,” the warnings say. “She’s too dangerous. Her name means nightmare, you know!”

If you don’t feel a need to work with the Morrigan, then obviously you shouldn’t. I’m not proselytizing here. I know many fine warrior witches who work with Hekate or Ceridwyn or Isis or Inanna. But if you’re feeling that tug from her–if she’s invading your thoughts and dreams and she’s not leaving you alone–then I’m going to give you some advice that runs contrary to what you’ll hear elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid.

Because, yes, the Morrigan is scary. Yes, I’ve seen some deeply disturbing things in dreams and trance. Yes, working with her might lead to physical or psychic injury (although if that injury isn’t transformative in some way, then something’s off).

But I guarantee–and I’m talking especially to you, white middle-class Americans–that nothing the Morrigan can do to you compares to the horror of human trafficking, drone strikes, militarized police, environmentally-caused cancers, nuclear meltdowns, or any of the other myriad effects of capitalism and kyriarchy that ordinary people deal with everyday. If you’re hearing her call, then listen to what she’s saying. Why be afraid of the Nightmare Queen when we are living in a fucking nightmare?

To be a witch is to be a warrior. This is not an ego trip, friends–it’s an obligation. Most of us didn’t ask for it, but we do have to own it. Even if we don’t know how to be warriors. Even if we’re not sure what the word “warrior” even means.

I can’t tell you what your warriorhood should look like. Suffice it to say that if it’s exactly what you always imagined warriorhood would be, with all the pomp and splendor you’ve always craved, then it’s probably not helping a whole lot. Seek out the unglamorous battles. Don’t strive to get your picture taken. Just do what needs to be done.

The Goddess has offered you her love; your job now is to heal her.