Practical Magic: Glamoury and Tealight Hearths

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[Rules of Exile] Rule No. 12 Let Yourself Off the Leash

I had developed a serious unrelenting hatred for a particular young salesgirl.  You have to understand, my experience with her ilk that would visit our office was with her rival company.  Those young women were well dressed like fancy stewardesses, clicking into the office with treats, dressed in conservative corporate gear, perfect lipstick.  They were like deadly viper assassins of the sales world – they would come in, ask for someone, remind me that they can give cpe, hand over their classy treats, smile and leave promptly.  I love them unapologetically.

But this new breed from the other company was . . .just the worst.  Crummy cheap treats (bad), lingering (worse) and overly familiar (death knell).  I couldn’t stand the way she would dress, all hipster casual cute like this would endear her to other tired older admins like myself.  I had a plastic mug from her rivals that was a pretty blue on my desk and I used it for candy related trash so I would not find mystery wrappers strewn all over my desk because some of our clients are goddamn savages.  She immediately assumed this swore my allegiance to her rivals instead of it being a nice colored mug in the cabinet I found, making me dislike her even more intently.  I moved from dislike to outright hatred when she came with some of her brethren at ten to five and proceeded to linger.  Bitch ain’t nobody want to talk to you!  Also, why you got a posse?  Is this suddenly a dangerous neighborhood and no one else but you got the memo?

I would seethe about this.  When I started to consider murder, I knew my Exile had suddenly become dire.  I kept wearing the same things to work, my tasks this time of year post-deadline are repetitious, I was in a deep, deep rut at work especially, but outside of work as well.    It was time to let myself off the leash.

So I spent the two weeks figuring out what to let slide and to give myself permission to fully submerge myself into the dumpster and be a complete garbage animal.  Right this very moment, there’s a very full sink with dishes that I am very consciously ignoring so I can blog.  Because I haven’t had a chance to blog in ages because I’ve been writing for my class and much like when I was writing my book, I could only manage so much at once.  But my last class is out and now I have no reason not to blog . . .Besides a not insignificant amount of Tarot to read but that will pass too.  Nothing grinds you down like exile because the only thing worse than the tower you’re locked in is the prison your brain becomes where nothing outside of exile seems important anymore.  It doesn’t matter if you swiped your sister’s gold embroidery floss on the way out the door, you don’t want to sew.  It doesn’t matter that there’s a field of flowers by your tower and you are permitted to go outside for an hour with your guards and pick flowers, you just lie in your bed and stare at the ceiling.  It doesn’t matter that you are permitted letters, they are in a stack in a basket, unread.

Free Your Mind/ And the Rest Will Follow

Read.  Reading and listening to audio books is so critical for me because it reminds me I’m not alone when listening to creative types’ memoirs which always involves a lot of rejection, failure and crying with wit and wisdom (recently: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  Mindy Kaling and Yes, Please Amy Pohler.  In queue: GuRu RuPaul).  But also, it’s good to read fiction too.  It takes your brain to different places even if it’s not going to win a Pulitzer Prize any time soon (or ever).  These things are critical for Exile.  I have been reading Big Little Lies, A Court of Rose and Thorn, The Walls Around us and I am just starting The Parasol Protectorate.

Listen to new music.  If you listen to the same music all the time, it won’t open your heart because it’s too familiar.  Changing up your music can change up your Exile.  New obsessions for me: Bad Wine and Lemon Cake, The Jane Austin Argument (the not-AFP version, that one is fine but she AFP all over it and I like hearing Tom sing), Flatlands, Chelsea Wolfe, Queen, Perfume Genius, I Wish I Wasthe Moon, Neko Case, Girl Gang, Gin Wigmore, Never Tear Us Apart, Bishop Briggs (great cover, also her song River) and Dead in the Water, SPELLES.

Watch new things on telly.  Listen.  For once, the spooky offerings are pretty good this year, you should get in there.  The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has gorgeous magic and beautiful songs and spells that they have clearly hired someone to write and for that alone I love it.  The Haunting of Hill House is mostly intense family drama with just enough scary weird shit happening.  The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell has Dita Von Teese as a ghost, incredibly naughty (actual) muppets and Christine McConnell unapologetically annoying the would be Miss Marthas of my generation by having zero effs to give about how complicated her work is and how little instruction is actually given to do it.

Eat all the things.  I had been taking a sabbatical about having effs to give myself about what deliciousness I had been ingesting.  Fall is my favorite and over the past few weeks, I’ve had: frozen spiked apple cider, a ridiculous amount of apple fritter bread, veal pastrami, homemade demiglace, venison, irish sausage, acrepe folded into a purse filled with more smoked salmon and crème fraiche (along with a pumpkin cupcake with mascarpone icing and drinking chocolate at a place that bills itself correctly as The Snuggery), freshly baked bagels, maple lattes and homemade gingerbread cookie.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just enjoy and put a pin in it to worry about it later.  Exile can be difficult if it feels like you’re eating prison food constantly.

Get a hearth.  Over the summer as my body exiled me from one of my favorite jamborees, My Favorite Houseguest (MFH) suggested a fire at home.  I was feeling salty AF because all of my little friends were going (including MFH) and I sullenly snapped that I don’t have any place to put a fire pit as well he knew.   He reminded me that fires come in these neat super new inventions called candles and that’s all I needed for a fire.  He was annoyingly right as usual and I had read the Hygge book over the summer so I should have known what he meant.  Obviously the past few months, I’ve been making it into an actual sacred space (well.  Let’s not get too crazy.  Jow and I insist on calling it The Gingham Altar a la The Great British Baking Show) but we have enjoyed trips to TJ Maxxx together to smell all the jumbled up candles and select our favorites which usually run us about $8 and last two weeks with fairly constant burning.  I got a large slate tile that I put little plastic knobs on the bottom (which cost maybe $4) and a small cakes stand at TJM for like five bucks.  There’s a small ghost pumpkin, a wreath of mums that I strung and a wreath of black roses (also strung together on red silk thread by me) that Jow had given me for finishing my first cycle of my workshop intensive without having a nervous breakdown.  Also in the mix: a wooden taper candle holder of Jow’s that he wasn’t using currently with a few tiny white deer from Christmas because you can’t tell them what to do, a tiny ceramic cauldron from Target that I got for $3, a Virgin of Guadalupe candle I’m burning that I got for fifty cents and a black skull with glitter, pearl eyes and a tiara that I got from Pier One for $3 on clearance.  I have enjoyed messing around with this regularly.  But all you need is a candle and a firesafe coaster to put under it.

See peoples.  If you were a reasonably good pony in Exile, you usually were allowed to see a few people – your family, perhaps some close friends, maybe your ambassador and there was always the option to make friends with the other people locked up alongside you or with your guards or servants or whatever.  It’s easy to want to isolate yourself in Exile, thinking about everything that has been taken from you, kept from you and given to others.  In the words of Finn the Human from Adventure Time, The road you’re on leads to nowhere.  You need to exchange new ideas and see that people care about you.  If you can only handle an hour or two for whatever reason, many people are happy to share a meal or get a drink or coffee with you.  That hour or two can be a breath of fresh air for you.

Perhaps a few cocktails (if you imbibe).  I have recently learned by the horrified face by a potential personal trainer that I weeded out thanks to Xtina that three drinks a week is just shameful.  So, obviously, more red wine, mulled chai apple cider (with rum), artisanal cocktails served by cute boys with beer and pumpkin beer is the only reasonable solution.  It is nice on occasion to not be super uptight about the calories in alcohol.  You are in Exile and no one was telling Mary Queen of Scots not to drink expensive wine with dinner.  Why not you?

Consider ridiculous and impractical solutions.  Part of what makes Exile so hard is that we get stuck in our Exile ruts where we start to think that maybe we’re actually anchorites digging our own graves in our homes in our spare time.  Sick of your job?  Look at jobs you’ve dreamed about but told yourself that you couldn’t have.  You don’t have to quit your current job and make a mess, have a day dream for lordess’ sake.  Have a polite short talk with a beautiful person at a shop.  Pick out ridiculous clothing you can’t afford and pin it on Pinterest.  Why?  So all these things will be yours no matter what?  No, silly.  So you can give yourself space to dream for a hot minute so your heart doesn’t shrivel up inside your body.

if you have the money, buy a thing.  Something small to remind yourself that even in Exile, you still have glamour.  You still have agency.  I just bought two thimble sized stemmed cordial glasses at a thrift store for fifty cents.  It looks like fairies should drink out of them but they will not.  They are mine.  As I get closer to forty, it has become much easier to claim things for myself and to share what I actually want to share not feel obligated to do so.  (Cordial glasses from Ikea and even glass shot glasses from Ikea get snapped up annoyingly quickly for my goddesses and spirits to receive offerings from)


Eat, drink and be merry, Sister Queens, for soon we discuss the dark side of living deliciously.

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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.


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