Daily Archives: August 22, 2014

Q is for Queerness (Otherness, Sexual Deviance, and The Witch) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So… Miss Sugar has a post on Being The Other as a witch (in the sense of magical-practitioner/spell-crafter rather than in the sense of someone who practices Wicca). This has got me thinking about queerness again and about how “witch” is tied up with “sexually deviant woman” in much the same ways as “slut” and “dyke”. See… I do magic. Sometimes I even do it professionally, as folks who have commissioned jewelry from me will know. I’m a spell-crafter, as well as an arts-and-crafter, if you will. 😉 I’m also a femme dyke and a professional naked person and, as such, I’ve got some personal freedoms tied up with the human rights of (and denial there-of, and the resulting tacit encouragement of violence against) sexworkers. I live in a neighbourhood where multiple people make their living – in an official, “I’ve got signage in my front windows” capacity – as diviners and fortune tellers and umpteen others do so in a more casual/unofficial way (myself included).
 
My neighbourhood is full of (a) racialized and/or immigrant/new-comer people, (b) kinky, poly dykes, (c) broke-ass, working-poor, fixed-income, and otherwise economically-screwed people, (d) sexworkers in various fields & on various career paths, and (e) folks who are some or all of the above at the same time. It’s a neighbourhood that is full of Othered People, is what I’m getting at. If you’ve ever read “Baseball Magic” (or Mama Fortuna’s blog, for that matter), you’ll know that people turn to spell-craft and divination and similar when they can’t control their situation through more mundane means. No surprises, then, that neighbourhoods where marginalized people tend to live also tend to be neighbourhoods where witchcraft flourishes (relatively speaking, at least) as a trade.
It’s also not surprising, being as we live in The Patriarchy, that women who know-damn-well that they possess personal and sexual agency and don’t act like good, little, self-policing Stepford Wives competing for men’s attention, are (a) scary as fuck to said Patriarchy, and (b) Othered all the heck because of it.
 
Witch has always been a word leveled, like a threat, against “sexually deviant” (too pretty, too ugly, too wanted, too wanting, too available, not available enough…) women. So has “dyke”. So have “slut” and “whore”. We are all related.
Glamour is a tool of the vamp, the femme fatale, the witch as beautiful seductress. Femininity is art/artifice/artificial, set up in our cultural narrative as lie in order to make masculinity look “natural” and “honest” next to us.
 
This shows up everywhere from the damn Maleus Malificarum to the fairy tale witch who is set up as “woman gone wrong” with her stealing/eating of children, her house on chicken-legs or made of questionable-yet-alluring materials, her seducing of men away from their wives, her dangerous beauty; to relatively recent pop-culture icons like: the spooky, short-skirt-wearing, self-identified “weirdo” girls in The Craft; Jilly the “bad girl” in Practical Magic – who was totally comfortable using her power to her own advantage and who was also kinky, promiscuous, and generally “wayward”, right alongside her “good girl” sister Sally’s status as a witch being an open secret “she’s… different” whose “coming out” is commented upon by her co-workers – two characters who, in different ways, ping dyke buttons on their own; Willow Rosenberg who, as she grew in her power and her comfort there-with, also came out as a dyke and took a trip down her own “wayward”, stand-in-for-recreational-drug-use, path; and Lisle Von Rhuman (Death Becomes Her), the seductive, sensual, dominant, sorceress who holds the secret to eternal life and perpetual youth.
 
Goddess Spirituality, labrys pendants, and similar iconography have had a few surges in popularity as a means of flagging dyke to women who might want to hook up with you – the late 70s and early/mid 90s being two that I can think of myself. (Starhawk definitely had a hand, intentionally or not, in that one. Morning Glory Zell, too, for that matter – bi, poly, and pagan both of them).
 
Slut, dyke, and witch are all set up as “home-wreckers” in various ways, and thus contrasted to the “home-maker” status of idealized/expected/“respectable” (safe) womanhood.
Whore, Slut, Femme, Dyke… Witch.
Witches are transgressors.
We are Circe, every one of us.

Q is for Quilt – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So, as-you-know-bob, there’s a tonne of stuff out there (relatively speaking, at least) about spinning and yarn as can be used in magic – spinning for trance work in Seide, for example, or using yarn (hand-spun or not) for binding or other knot-magical purposes. But, being as I’ve started sewing more of my own clothes of late, and being as one off-shoot of that is that I’ve got a small (thank goodness) but growing (er…) bag of scrap fabric sitting in my craft cabinet, I’ve started wondering if quilting isn’t somewhere in my near future. To that end, I have started wondering how quilting can be turned to magical purposes.
I mean, there’s the obvious stuff – stitching pieces of people’s old clothes together in the form of patch-work is a way of binding them together, strengthening family ties, and so-on – but I’m wondering what else it can do.
 
Creating quilts as devotional art, for example, by choosing colours and patterns that would appeal or depict your patron deities. Quilting wall-hangings that fit with a given seasonal rite as it pertains to your own bioregion. The act (and final product) of quilting as a multi-layered means of ancestor remembrance/connection – both as a skill-set and with regards to which fabrics get used. Using the pattern of stitches to, say, cursive-write a spell directly into the quilt without “lifting your pencil” (that would actually be really difficult, since quilts are on the big side and needles tend to need re-threading multiple times during the quilting process). Including specific elements/components in the quilt’s stuffing or stitching different stone beads into a quilted wall-hanging might also apply.
 
Right now, the fabric scraps I have are bits of various wedding dresses (mine and my wife’s) plus some scrap fabric from a dress I made for myself, and the odd shirt or two that I’ve tailored. Not a whole lot to work with, spell-wise, but using scraps of my own clothes – stuff I’ve made for myself because I wanted something specific to fit my needs and my desires – could be a great way to quilt a glamour spell for myself, for example, using the quilted fabric (with or without some sort of warming in-between layer) to create a magical dress or skirt for myself – in the same way that I’m creating a Fetish Shawl for myself out of yarn that I’ve hand-spun and then knit into various stripes – and treating it as a means to stitch bits of my empowered, desirous Self back together.
 
Might be worth a shot.
 
Thoughts on quilting magic? Ever tried it? How did it go?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.