Practical Magic: Glamoury and Tealight Hearths

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K is for Kicking Ass

I had been slowly acquiring archery equipment since Christmas.   While Katniss was admittedly and unashamedly the tipping point for me, there have been others.  Buffy.  The Amazons from Xena.  I wanted to know what it would be like to be able to kick ass.

Buffy is not interested in excuses.

I took my intro to Archery class and it was a stark moment of clarity for me.  Not in a I AM MOMENTS AWAY FROM KILLING AND EATING MY OWN PREY AND BECOMING A PREDATOR sort of way.  More in a, girl this is going to be a looooooong journey. Our class was taught by a perky geeky girl wearing a red shirt with the Chinese blessing cat playing with string.  She was relentlessly upbeat while she drilled safety issues into us, all the while managing to be incredibly assertive.  Her calm demeanor had a steel undertone from being Olympic trained in competitive archery and the Vice President of the NJ Archery association.  She would decide who would be allowed range privileges.  She was a little younger than me and I was deathly afraid of her.

Half the class claimed to want to learn the recurve bow but they were traitorous cowards who bent under her sharp glare and meekly took up the compound when she "suggested" to do so.  Watching me be scolded from the moment I stepped onto the range until the moment I left probably didn’t help the cause either.

I would not be deterred!  We were allowed to learn whichever one we wanted and damnit,  I wanted to learn the recurve.  Katniss would not have looked nearly as cool with a compound.  There's a beauty and grace to shooting recurve that's not there with a compound, not to mention skill and strength.

The recurve is hard.  Getting honked at about my stance and the way I held everything and did everything did not do my always tenuous-at-best nerves any good either.  I almost cried out of frustration at one point until she got all up in my personal space bubble and whispered in my ear, It doesn’t matter for the rest of them.  With the compound, they will still get really close to their targets consistently.  Even if they're standing incorrectly.  Even if they're not trying very hard to aim.  You’re different.  You need to be good at this right now all the time or you will never get good.  

I took a deep breath and I shot my arrow.

I needed more than a week before I felt brave enough to go and practice what I learned.  I went during the day on a Monday when I knew no one would be there because I needed to practice without getting distracted by being told that I suck beyond measure.  In some ways that made it better and in some ways it made it worse.  I felt less anxious but my internal monologue was less than kind.  I put myself through a half hour before I felt like crying again and then I left.  The next Monday I went, I took Jow and was able to hit the board consistently which I desperately needed.  Now, I'll likely start practicing with my local SCA group.

I’m impossible to teach anything, especially anything physical, thanks to being left handed to write and right handed for everything else.  My brain gets jumbled and confused.  I’m one of those rare female INTJ/ENTJs which also means that I suck at listening when being taught because, naturally, I know best.

But if I really want to learn something?  I will keep pushing and pushing no matter how much it hurts.  This has always been my saving grace/downfall (we'll be getting more into all that in the third installment of my Glamour series).  I’m a pusher, Cadie.

It’s not uncommon for me to be faced with people I care about a great deal telling me why they can’t do what I do.  In other words, that person can't achieve x goal of theirs like I can achieve y goal of mine.   Generally, I now respond to that was a calm, "Right now it’s not a high enough priority to you and that’s okay."  You know what the knee jerk reaction to this statement is, right?  HOW DARE YOU TELL ME THAT IT’S NOT A HIGH ENOUGH PRIORITY.  I WORK REALLY HARD AND SHOULD BE TOLD I’M AMAZING AT EVERYTHING AT EVERY TIME AVAILABLE.  

I follow it up with examples from life. I have sample chapters that need to be written for two books for two interested editors, but I still have a lot left to be written.  I have not yet started circus classes, I don't do yoga at home, I eat carbs like I will never be allowed to eat another again after today, my house looks like toddlers are in charge of cleaning it, there are Nuno scarves to be felted, blog posts to be written, light and water offerings to be offered, the list goes on.  I have chosen to make other things higher priorities for myself.  Sometimes to retain sanity.  Sometimes because of the time of the year.  Sometimes to make enough money to pay my bills.  Sometimes because I’m feeling lazy.  Sometimes because I need a break and some self care.  All of those reasons are perfectly valid, but they’re choices.

I spent most of the last two years profoundly uncomfortable working on my book and my two shops - The Glamoury Apothecary and La Sirene et Le Corbeau.  Overworked, stressed out, not much of a social life, hair in questionable condition.  If you want to kick ass, if you want to achieve the next level in your whatever, you can’t do it and be comfortable.  Sorry.  Scratch that, rarely does anyone get to get to the next level without being profoundly uncomfortable.  It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of changes and it’s not the hottest thing to bring to your relationship.  You have to take risks, you have to put yourself out there, you have to work a lot.  A whole lot.  Just because you like doing something doesn’t magically make it not work.  I work pretty much from the moment I get up until the moment I go to sleep with an occasional break for socialization and leaving my house.  

My bestie, April teases me about how much television I watch (um, a lot but she’s a Netflix junkie so whatev!) but I watch a ton of television because it’s something to do while I spin.  I have friends over and I spin.  I bring my spinning with me.  I write during my day job on breaks.  I’m going to start reading during them too for my research for my next book.  I never stop working because that’s what I need to do to get to where I’m going.

If you don’t want that kind of life, that’s more than okay!  Most people like working eight hours a day, making a comfortable salary, having benefits and a decent amount of free time to spend with friends, family, lovers and on an occasional hobby as well as an hour or two on their spiritual practice.  This is a lovely way to live and it’s why most people chose to live this way.

But if you want to start a business, climb as high as you can on the corporate ladder, start a serious meditation practice, get a black belt, do daily ritual practice, write a book, lose 50 pounds in a year or anything else in that vein, don’t ever think you can do that comfortably and without sacrifice.  Because you can’t.  And just because someone else makes it look easy or makes it look like "an overnight success" doesn't mean that it actually is easy for that person or that the success came quickly.  A figure skater makes a triple salchow look effortless at the Olympics, but it starts with a single salchow (which is not very easy, I can tell you from personal experience) which is pretty complicated in itself with edges and checks and your 6 and 9.  Before that?  You need to be able to do about a bazillion backwards crossovers so you can work up enough speed to make the jump.    

Figure skating parallels aside, when has magic ever been comfortable?  We do magic to change ourselves, our local universe and to shake up our internal ant farm.  If magic was easy and didn't require much work for it to be successful, wouldn't everyone practice magic then?  When has it been easy to find three hours to do a complicated ritual when you don’t live alone and work a full time job?  A lot of people like reading about magic a lot more than doing it.  Understandably so, when you perform magic, you’re inviting the universe/spirits/gods to notice you.  Really think on that for a moment.  Think on your greatest desire.  Now think about how you can't control what will happen to get you there or how you'll feel once you're there.  Do you still want it?  Do you want it badly enough to Work your best magic and work harder than you've ever worked in your life, giving up unknown small and large comforts to get there?  As Workers we live in a constant tension, strung between hope and fear that we will become what we pretend to be.

What are you willing to sacrifice on the altar of your dreams?  Is it worth it?

Only time will tell.

Last modified on
Deborah Castellano's book, Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (Llewellyn, 2017) is available: . 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 ( 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.


  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch Friday, 07 February 2014

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. And your point about priorities? Yeah, ouch. I needed to hear that. Don't know that I WANTED to. :D

  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor Sunday, 16 February 2014

    Your instructor's whispered words were a balm to my traditionalist soul. I was a devotee of the recurve bow going as far back as 1959. The day I first saw a compound bow in a movie (it was Deliverance), I instinctively thought that - apart from killing something quickly and efficiently - there was no point; for all the skill involved, one might as well shoot a crossbow or a rifle. Not that becoming a marksman with a rifle or crossbow doesn't require its own set of skills - but you know what I mean.

    Our personal priorities and values give life meaning. Some people will understand where you're coming from, others may think you're just being silly. So what? This is your story. Let them figure out their own.

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