Practical Magic: Glamoury and Tealight Hearths

Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic

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Deborah Castellano

Deborah Castellano

Deborah Castellano's book, Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (Llewellyn, 2017) is available: https://www.amazon.com/Glamour-Magic-Witchcraft-Revolution-What/dp/0738750387 . She is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as the Llewellyn almanacs, Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches & Pagans magazine. She writes about Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her craft shop, The Mermaid and The Crow (www.mermaidandcrow.com) specializes in goddess & god vigil candles, hand blended ritual oils, airy hand dyed scarves, handspun yarn and other goodies. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their two cats. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.
[The Rules of Exile] Rule No. 10 You Don’t Get to Be My Last Great Whatever (Includes Spellwork)

Queen Catherine of Aragon was sent into exile because she had the nerve to be aging and menopausal.  A popular legend in that particular histo-mythic cycle is that Henry sent her away (sometimes, with Cromwell to do his dirty work for him because that was the kind of stand up guy he’s remembered as) without saying good bye.  She was once married to his older brother Arthur in a castle in the wild but Arthur got sweating sickness and died.  They were only married to each other for a short time.  She then had her first encounter with exile where she lived somewhat modestly (again, accounts vary depending on the histo-mythic teller) and supposedly bargained for fish and sold her plate while her dad and her ex father in law dawdled over what to do with her.  Her father was a war monger with a bunch of kids, he had no problem waiting.  Her ex father in law held his country in a tight fist, he had been exiled so many times by his mother (Lady Margaret Beaufort) that he too could wait.  Neither appeared to find this particularly cruel, and neither did a seasoned politico warrior like Lady M.  Like . . .I get stressed out not knowing what’s going to happen in a day while still being aware of certain potential outcomes.  I don’t know how stressful it is to not know what country you’re going to live in and/or who you’ll be married to.  Queen Cat’s ex father in law drops dead and she is married off to Henry for almost twenty years when she receives the message, u had too many ded babies, lulz.  super soz.  going 2 marry anne bc babies + she is way hot.  she will only put out if i put a ring on it. thx for nearly twenty years of marriage!  Best of luck or whatever.  Or, you know, no message past whatever Cromwell tried to piece together.  Whatever the medieval royal equivalent of dipping out of a pack of cigs was.

She died in exile a little into Queen Anne’s reign, with only a few of her ladies and servants.  Sometimes the wheel (of fortune) is in your favor, sometimes it’s not.  It was for a long time for Queen Cat, but then she never planned for Queen Anne. Partly because I don’t think anyone, even someone who had headed a battle with Scotland like Queen Cat did, could have planned for Queen Anne.

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Unveiled.

Hands down, grief is generally my least favorite emotion.  It’s so big and inescapable and words never express it correctly.  What I didn’t know prior to two weeks ago is that it also protects you.  It’s an anesthetic veil wrapped around your eyes  (and your mouth and ears too for good measure) that prevents you from being bothered by anything that is anything less than urgent matters.  Your grief, your pain is so overwhelming that you are required to be cared for by others because you cannot care for yourself.  You need to be fed, you need to be focused, you need to be loved, you need to be hugged–

You need to be treated like an actual human being.

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You Can’t Break Up if It’s Already Over

So, in Sicily, my brain was completely clogged with salami, seafood, veal, cheese, pasta, blood orange mimosas, arancini, cannoli and wine.  We were surrounded by the gorgeous sea and because there's a volcano there that still erupts periodically, the whole island is positively fecund with wild olive trees, wild pomegranate trees, poppies, wild oleander, jasmine, almond trees, chamomile, orange trees, lemons.  Like, by the side of the highways, randomly growing in archeology sites.  Palermo is like an explosion of Etsy fever dreams - herb gardens and succulents on every balcony and coverable piece of sidewalk.

So you can imagine that despite the fact that I am absolutely shamefully horrible with any language that's not English, I desperately wanted to stay.  I mean, 65% of women in SIcily are unemployed, but dude that is right on track to have the life that Ali Wong always dreams about, that I want too! ("I DON'T WANT TO LEAN IN!  I WANT TO LIE DOWN!)  But blahblahblah you have a husband or something and a "career" and a stupid business and another book to write and the crushing oppression of your life back in Gilead/America to deal with.  Because yes, in SIcily you can get a literal bunch of asparagus or a beautifully laminated Saint prayer card from a vending machine for a Euro, but the fact remains that they would be having none of my proud freak shenanigans there which would eventually get old.  Eventually.

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[Rules of Exile] Rule No. 9: You Get What You Get and You Don't Get Upset

I'm leaving for Sicily on Friday.  I'm grateful to go back to the Motherland I have never known, my exile so deep I only know her face from a glimpse in a movie.  It's vague in my head, it's vague in my mother's head too.  We imagine sketched outlines of churches, food that will be sort of familiar, a volcano .  . . .somewhere.  My sister remembers bright glimpses from her time as a flight attendant but nothing overly substantial.  A wine she had liked when she still drank, a particularly pretty town.  The details have lost their sharpness over time and have been replaced with a whirlwind of elementary school activities for her son.  

It's the first time we will travel, the three of us together in well over a decade without any husbands, children or our uncle.  I am nervous about everything - the fact that I only know one phrase that I doubt will endear me to my estranged homeland, the amount of travel required to get there and get around there, being trapped on someone else's schedule for we will be on a little old lady tour, something I swore I would never do.  It felt very far away for me, it still feels very far away despite being six days away.  I'm not packed, Amazon boxes full of travel pillows, brita water bottles, homeopathic jet lag pills, pashminas, walking sandals that I'm trying to break in, space bags are strewn around my living room.  It has not yet been a month since tax season ended, I'm still desperately running, trying to check off a never ending list of things that had been put off but now must be put on, I'm trying to keep up with going to the gym and meal prepping.  I'm trying to read, I'm trying to write.  

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[The Rules of Exile] Rule No. 7 Trust Your Process

Oh my sisters.  What a week this has been.  The stories kept coming and coming and coming and everything just got grosser and sicker until none of us knew what to do anymore, really.  None of us knew the whole story, whether we were welcomed back to court from former exile or kept to the countryside, far away from scandal to make new lives for ourselves.  The local empire was burning and none of us could look away, even as more and more of us left court to keep ourselves safe, to stand together.  All any of us have been able to do is to stare into this horrible dumpster fire.

I've been asked to tell my story over and over again.  I've held space for my (gender neutral) sisters who have reached out to me privately to tell their stories.

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[Rules of Exile] Rule No. 8 You Have a Right to Sanctuary

Exile has a way of grinding you down.  Sure, finding the hollow of our hunger will make us strong Queens, but that feels really abstract after nine hours on your feet in your copy room mediation cave where you've started to wonder key things like: will you ever read a book again?  Will you ever write again?  Can you still feel feelings?

Add to this, whatever austerity you were once willingly putting yourself through but now you have stopped fantasizing about sex things like a normal person and instead are immersing yourself in fully developed reveries about ground beef.

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[The Rules of Exile] Rule No. 6 Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum

My hair is currently in what could very graciously be called a Fraggle Updo currently.  My bra is already off and I am wearing a long t shirt that says "Wild at Heart", grey sweat pants, two seasons ago Victoria Secret slippers.  There is a trickle of menses between my thighs, my snout is encrusted in dry skin from the week long illness I still haven't shaken off.  My hands smell of Gardenia because I spilled some essential oil on them while trying to fix a candle.

O my sister #QueensInExile.  We are in the heart of the dark.  Truly.  This is where dreams are burned into the backs of our eyes.  This is where we make our triumphant to court, crowned in glory and holly, cloven orange pomanders jauntily swinging at our waists, champagne is an endless fountain and marchpane cascading from the table with the possibilities of the new year bright in everyone's eyes.  This year, we whisper to ourselves and each other, this year will be different.

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