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Author: SJ

Finding shadows and creeping back toward the light.

Finding shadows and creeping back toward the light.

Hello, world.

Words that I’ve typed more times than I can count, as a child of the Internet and a software architect who had computers in my home while the Internet was new and still forming. See, I still capitalize Internet, like an old-school user who remembers when it was something most people didn’t understand or use. They still don’t understand it, but everyone now uses it.

I’d hoped those words would lead me to what to write next. I hadn’t wanted to stop blogging or writing in my journal, but between the pain of grief at personal and world events, pain in my body, and taking on a magic new identity, a law student of all things, I didn’t have the energy to write. My entire being was sapped by stressors, for months.

And now that I have a break from school, I’m still not sure how to get back to writing. And everyone talks about healing, and I know that’s part of what I want and will be, but I don’t know how to heal the gaping wounds in my self. To be truly honest, I don’t know how to love myself, flawed and broken and hard. I take comfort in the fact that others love me as I am, and that keeps me going. But if I’m going to learn about healing, shouldn’t I extend the same unconditional love that I give others to myself? I don’t. I hate my body, I hate my past, I hate how I got to where I am. Everything I do extends from wanting to prove to others that I am worthy, I am capable of being loved. It works for others, my wonderful community of supportive friends, quasi-coworkers, and foster-family. It doesn’t work for myself.

That’s not where I thought I was going with this. But the words write themselves, and if I’m going to take myself where I want to with Witchling in Flight, I have to let myself be vulnerable: because that’s where the healing magic will take place.

It’s hard to come to this conclusion, and it makes me want to reach for chocolate (which I’m not allowing myself for a month; more on that later, perhaps). Somehow, I need to give myself space to be vulnerable and empty out a dark space in my psyche, so that I can shine brighter and for more people than my close set of friends.

Time will tell if I’ll ever be ready.

Let’s talk about grief

Let’s talk about grief

My very bad joke of the last two weeks has been that, gosh, if I’d known that grief would cure my sleeping problem, I would have tried it ages ago! (Or not.) For weeks, I’d set my alarm, wake up when it went off, put it on snooze, then fall soundly asleep for another hour or two. I just need so much more rest than I’d been giving myself. Now when my alarm goes off, I stare at the ceiling while my body numbs itself again to the pain and grief of the last two weeks.

And now I sit at home with time to focus on school work for the first time in a week, and I feel too numb to focus.

On Monday, Nov. 7, I was keeping my friend supported and taken care of while she pulled through a mental crisis. The possibility of a Trump presidency was starting to feel like it could actually happen, but I couldn’t let myself focus on it, lest I break down in fear.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, I put on my “I Voted” sticker and told myself that love for all will win this day. People in the United States can’t possibly have that much hatred for their fellow humans. Love and unity would win that day.

Later in the day, I got my last phone call telling me that my grandfather was in his final days. I’d thought I’d heard this before, I’d thought he would keep going as he has been for months. I steeled myself, but I hadn’t really expected him to die yet.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, I woke up in a world I hadn’t thought possible. Anger and hatred had won. We weren’t going backward as a society, we were going backward as humans who care for each other. I somehow made it through school. I texted almost all of my close friends. I told them we would hold each other close. I got ready for having a planning meeting on Friday evening to talk about where we would go from here. I told everyone I could that I am there for them, too.

On Friday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, I woke up and laid in bed for an hour, staring at the ceiling. My phone rang. My mother had had a medical procedure the day before and was still recovering, so my dad gave me the news: my grandfather had passed overnight. Did I still want to go with them to the funeral in the state where my mother’s family lives? Yes, I did. We texted flight plans while I emailed everyone I knew I needed to to say that I was going out of town for the funeral. Professors were supportive. Friends brought me food, hugs, chocolate. One friend I made a key for to take care of my cat while I was gone. Another made sure I got to the airport safely and that my car was fine for the week I’d be away.

I’d had a Sierra Club meeting scheduled on Friday, and there plenty of staff had red eyes from crying. We fumbled through our meeting, changing everything about what we’ll do next. That night I had a planning meeting with friends about how we will hold each other. On Saturday, Nov. 12, I emailed one of the few classmates who I like, a Muslim woman, to tell her that I’m here for her during school. She responded that there have already been incidents of hateful words said in school.

I don’t know how to keep it together.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, I met my parents at an airport and commenced a week of stress, secrets, and lies. We met with an attorney four times to get the ball rolling on closing my grandfather’s estate. I sat with my mom each time, to help her navigate the confusing words that attorneys say. We spent six hours at the viewing of my grandfather. We went to the funeral, and we watched them lower his coffin into the grave next to my grandmother. We dealt with realtors, we never figured out how to navigate disputes over who gets his deer head mounted on the wall. The air outside was fresher than indoors, so I breathed better outside than inside for the first time in years. We learned of a long-kept secret while one of my aunts decided to keep secret from her husband the truth of something that happened that week because he couldn’t handle his own emotions.

It was a long, hard week, and I ignored the results of the election the entire time.

I’m not sure even now how I’m supposed to feel about all of this. I am not sure I can feel for a while yet. I think I need to get through the next two weeks of school. I hope I can hold it together until then. I know I can hold my friends as much as possible while I get through this. I know that my communities care for me no matter what. I know that this will get me through.

We will get through together. That’s a promise.

Radical self-care: Put your damn oxygen mask on

Radical self-care: Put your damn oxygen mask on

It’s been a rough week and a half for us Stateside, so I want to implore you all to make sure you’re taking care of yourselves while fighting injustice. Do you need to keep off the news as soon as you wake up to get yourself grounded and feeling more ready to take on the world? Do it. Do you need to take a break one evening and watch a silly movie with a friend? Do it. Do you need to go to an animal shelter to pet cats and dogs and let go of some stress? Do it. Do the things that fill you with strength.

It’s a radical act to care for ourselves and our whole well-being, but it’s worth it. It’ll keep us strong enough for the long haul, and that’s what this will be. Stop and assess yourself now, and continue fighting and watching news only if you know you have the strength for it.

Two Tarot cards next to one another: XIX The Sun and 5 of Pentacles from the Fey Tarot.
Basking in the things that give you strength now will keep you able to continue fighting injustice.

If you need healing, consider getting healing tea blends from Asali Earthwork. Or a supportive Tarot reading from Siobhan’s Mirror. Maybe smoking herbs and crystals are more your style. For a Tarot reading that connects with your ancestors, High Moon Femme Tarot will be your conduit.

We’re in it for the long haul. Let’s make sure we take care of ourselves so that we have the strength to keep fighting.

News! News! I’m so excited!

News! News! I’m so excited!


SJ Witchling has been admitted to the law school of xyr choice. This law school’s application asked biographical data such as Preferred Name (required) and whether one wished to identify as a flavor of LGBT. Gender was not a required field. (SJ declined to state xyr gender, as the two options were “male” and “female”, and SJ feels either or both of those on any given day.) SJ is looking forward to beginning xyr law career in August, and the admissions staff and faculty at the school-of-choice appears to be just as excited to orient SJ to the campus and law student life. Xe feels like xe is dancing on Cloud 9.

Before classes begin, SJ is preparing to read Law School Labyrinth; take tours of the campus; meet with xyr faculty advisor; conduct informational interviews with lawyers in the environmental advocacy world as well as professors in that field; and, oh yeah, work part-time on the weekends; cover xyrself in glitter at summer festivals; get back into the Tarot world; find a new apartment and move to it; and do some website consulting on the side.

Pretty sure SJ doesn’t know how to stop and breathe. 🙂

State of the SJ: taking a break

State of the SJ: taking a break

Sadly, my breaks tend to include a lot of self-flagellation, with a day of breaking down crying for hours instead of being content with going at my pace instead of everyone else’s for a few days.

I’m not good at giving myself a break.

Blackberry bush toppling into a pond
A blackberry bush falling into the pond

I’m at my parents’ for a while, which is a rare opportunity to feel completely comfortable in my skin and in the house. I can take baths. I can take advantage of their membership to a salt-water pool and go swimming. I can spread out my Tarot cards and the books I’m reading in the living room, in the dining room, in the family room, and I’m not afraid that I’ll be judged poorly for my reading choices — my parents know me, they love me unconditionally, I’m not sure if they understand my Tarot and Pagan inclinations, but they certainly encouraged me to pursue it when I was young, with buying books and letting me research into it. My housemates might get it, but they don’t really get ME, so I don’t want to open up the conversation to begin with.

And there’s space here.

Here I can curl up on one couch, or go downstairs and curl up on the other, or go outside to visit my dad’s wonderful and, dare I say it, witchy garden, where bees are pollinating the blackberries.

Two blackberry flowers with a bee pollinating one
Bees eating, getting ready to give us blackberries

(There’s a huge rosemary bush, and a huge sage bush, which I like to think of as protection and cleansing agents for their home, and there’s mint, and oregano and thyme, and all kinds of non-edible plants, and citrus trees, and just so many things in the backyard!)

Rosemary bush with a log to the side
So much rosemary for the kitchen witch!

While I’m here, I’m supposed to be meditating, and taking baths, and going swimming, and contemplating what I want in life. So of course that triggered a panic attack and so much fear because I am just so tired of reaching and reaching and reaching for the path I was supposed to follow, and failing. I graduated from college five years ago (five! five! where has the time gone), and haven’t had an interview for a career-path job, let alone held one. The career center at school tells me it’s all about networking; well, I’m an introvert who despises networking, but loves volunteering and building connections. Has that helped? Nope, not even the jobs I’ve applied to where I knew people who told the hiring managers to consider me got me an interview. No wonder I don’t have much confidence in myself — when I try to do the things I’m “supposed” to do, doors slam in my face.

I’m lucky enough that my parents have been able to help support me during this really challenging time to be young and alive, and that they want me to have what I want to be happy in life. After the break down, I got myself back up, patted myself on the back for turning in my law school application, and wondered what the Gods would have me do next.

Turns out, once I ask, They were happy to answer: Tell Our stories.

A stick of incense burning to facilitate communication with the Gods.
Asking the Gods what to do next

Work with the Tarot, break into writing stories again, and do what you need to do. What you need, SJ, is different from what others need, and you’re forging your own path. It’s hard, and scary, and insecure, but your path is the one that’s best for you. Keep at it. You are loved.

Coming out of the Woo closet: diversity in activism

Coming out of the Woo closet: diversity in activism

I’m an activist. I’m strongly impelled to work toward the betterment of the world and its inhabitants, and I’ve drawn my line in the sand at clean air: I petition, I call, I lobby elected officials, I organize other activists to follow through on their projects to demand we stop burning coal at the dirtiest coal plant in my state, and to ensure strong protections to make sure we have clean energy and in turn clean air and water.

I’m also disabled, queer, gender fluid, and a witch, and I’m only remotely comfortable telling the people I work with — the people who rely on me to run meetings and to understand the big picture of why we’re taking the actions we’re taking — about one of them. My story of my history with asthma is a huge part of why I fight for clean air, but I don’t look disabled. No one sees the hours of preparation, the background processing of whether or not I can take a walk on the day that I’m running a meeting, or the migraines keeping me in bed for days, or the pain in my knees that has me hobbling around at home. And they definitely see me as a woman, when I feel more gender fluid or genderqueer than female. They don’t know that the secular face I present isn’t actually secular but Pagan and Polytheist, but afraid to tell anyone about those identities.

Yesterday, the organization I work with held a training about furthering their goals toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I keep attending trainings on this topic, because while I fight for clean air, I see it as a small issue that’s part of the web of all the things that are keeping we the people and the planet from being whole. So I want the organization I work with to think about all matters of social justice when we do our work: racial injustice, ableism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and so on. We should not be an all-White organization protecting the environment, because the environment exists and affects All People. The horrors of polluted air disproportionately affect poor people, poor people are disproportionately people of color. I go to these trainings with this sense of the interconnectedness of the web of life, and I often leave with a sense that something is missing. The training is never fulfilling.

Yesterday, as a dear friend of mine left in the middle of the training, upset and made invisible by the conversation about “diversity” but really meaning “people of color”, I realized that I’m always holding back those parts of myself that might rock the boat. I realized that while we’re so fixated on our diversity meaning “make people of color join our movement”, we are dancing around the issue of other marginalized identities, and we cannot make our spaces truly safe and inclusive until we acknowledge all types of diversity.

And that means that I need to acknowledge these parts of my identity. So here I am, announcing, at least, to this part of my world: I understand intersectional identities, and I have intersectional identities as well. I am not the young, healthy, White woman you assume I am when you first see me, and I will do my best not to assume anything about your identities from how you look. I look forward to hearing from you, and sharing stories, and healing each other from the injustices and trauma done to us all.

Practicing Pagan: rituals and actions to feel in tune with my Deities

Practicing Pagan: rituals and actions to feel in tune with my Deities

I mention in the sidebar that I’m Pagan, but I’ve never talked about what that means, because I’m not sure yet. I’ve spent over a decade reading about Wicca before coming to terms with the fact that it doesn’t work for me. I love the trappings of religious witchcraft, but a couple of fundamental beliefs of Wicca don’t work with me. That’s left me floating and unsure about what I believe and how I go about showing my devotion.

So one morning while I was meditating, I was surprised to feel a nudge to write here about what I’m doing. Something about it being more concrete if I tell people a bit about my beliefs and what I’m trying to practice, as well as making a commitment to it.

A miniature clay tree on carpet
A home for the spirits in my house, tucked away where my housemates won’t notice it

The commitment part is important because I’ve failed, recently, in my daily devotions to my Deities. For a while, I was offering part of my tea to the spirits around me, and incense and a candle to my Goddesses and Gods, trying to get into a rhythm of these daily devotions, and suddenly I stopped. What stopped me? Were these devotions not enough? Was I not feeling like I was truly connecting, and subconsciously decided against doing it anymore? Was I in too much pain again? (Incense and scented candles can trigger asthma attacks, if my asthma control isn’t good, and headaches if I’m the slightest bit sensitive. Which I have been for the past few weeks.)

The key, I think, that makes it hard, is mindfulness. A lot of times I do these activities by rote, without stopping for a few moments to recognize whichever entities are present. Using my phone as an alarm, the moment I wake up, I see all the emails and text messages and life that I’ve missed out on while asleep, and I get so anxious to get caught up, that I forget to ground and center myself in what it means to be me. The last couple of days, I’ve managed to undo a little bit of that, by having my phone on airplane mode while I sleep. It’s not perfect, because I still have that anxiety pushing me around, but it’s a start.

Now to find the best practices for me to feel connected and protected. That’s why I read as much about paganism as I can: to find practices and rituals to keep me connected to my Goddesses and Gods.

There’s a dearth of daily spiritual practice in our rational, secular culture (as a white United Stateser), and I have no rituals from childhood to associate with my current spiritual work. Making things up as I go along is an uncomfortable practice for me: as a perfectionist, I want to do everything right the first time. But that’s not possible for we imperfect, irrational creatures, and it’s not fair to expect that of myself.

Candles, Tarot decks, and miscellaneous clumped together in a small space
My messy altar

I expected to make an altar full of things that are meaningful to me and to my Gods, but because I don’t have a lot of private space — I have two housemates whom I keep these things from — my “shrine” is set on the top of my dresser next to my jewelry, and there’s not a particular rhyme or reason to it. I always expected I’d have things that matter to my spiritual practice, but right now it’s a collection of candles, incense, Tarot decks, and miscellany that managed to find its way to my room. It’s not as ordered or well-kept as I’d like it to be.

But it does its job of reminding me to take a moment to say a prayer for my ancestors, for my house spirits, and for the Deities Whom I honor. And that’s the part that matters.

So while I’m not entirely sure, still, how I’m practicing and what I believe in, I am taking my first steps, and they are important ones. I will continue them and keep trying new things. And I will continue sharing my spiritual journey with you all here.

Looking for guidance on your own spiritual journey? Book a reading and let’s discover what will work for you.

$5 one card readings now available!

$5 one card readings now available!

On Saturday, I met with a friend to “help” her with getting her garden together. (And by “help” I mean “yay I got to play with seedlings and dirt for a bit!”) I brought over my Tarot cards, because apparently that’s how I roll these days, and did a one-card reading both for her and for me. And she asked me why I wasn’t offering readings online yet, because so far what I’d read for her has been affirming and helpful, and she knows I could help more people by offering more readings.

Today, I finally got it together to put up some terms and a button to send me $5 to pull a card for you. Take a look here, and I look forward to working with you!

(P.S. I’m doing a lot of juggling these days, and a lot of it is behind-the-scenes work on blog posts. I’m sorry I’m not more visible, but that’s what I have going for me right now I’m afraid. 🙁 Feel free to add me on Twitter or Instagram to check in!)

Warming weather means… PLANTS

Warming weather means… PLANTS

After that serious post, I want to write something with more levity: maybe something like help my brain is in serious gardening mode. The problem is that I’m no gardener! I used to have some success with plants, but lately it’s black thumb for everything I touch. But I won’t give up! Nor will an excellent grandfatherly fellow volunteer, who likes to enable my desire for green things. This January he enabled it by giving me this beauty for my birthday.

A baby Christmas cactus with a bow stuck in the dirt next to it.

Last year he gave me cuttings, but taking a vacation or two without someone to water them was a bad idea. I won’t give up this year, though. I have plenty of people to help me figure out what in the world I’m doing, and every time I tell someone what I want to do in a backyard garden, they nod sagely as if I’m making sense. Between the grandfatherly volunteer, a gardening friend, and a friend who’s a soil expert, and a friend who grew up learning about landscaping, I figure I have a good team of people to ask for help.

So a couple of weeks ago, my landlord floated the idea of a vegetable garden by me, and ever since I’ve been daydreaming about what to do and how to do it. I do think that my landlords are too overwhelmed to do anything with a vegetable garden, though, and I’d have to put some kind of fence around it so that their chocolate lab doesn’t get excited and tear up whatever I may plant. Neither of my housemates seem to have any interest or expertise in growing things, so it seems like it falls to me, the least outdoorsy of all of us, to figure out what kind of gardening I want in our backyard.

And I’m so on this. (Well, except for the part where I haven’t yet gone to the store to find prices for wood planks to make a raised bed and chicken wire to keep around the bed and talked to the landlord about what she thinks, and have I mentioned that I’m the least outdoorsy and also most disabled of everyone in this house?)

At least I have a team of people who like to talk about gardening with me!

When I last went to the garden store a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t leave without a plant. I bought a philodendron and managed to make it unhappy by forgetting to water it for a few days. Yesterday I finally got around to repotting it. Here it is in its nice new pot soaking some water up:

A newly potted philodendron plant soaking up water

Here it is today in its home in the window:

The potted philodendron in a window

It’s already perking up extremely well! Hopefully this means I did it all right and can move on to plotting a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard. Wish me luck!

Having it all figured out

Having it all figured out

You know, a lot of blogs tell you they have the answers to everything, and I’ve always been staunchly against having the answers. I have what works for me, I have ideas and opinions, but answers? If I had the answers, where would I need to go next in my spiritual path? The search for truth and mystery is a journey that never ends. So while I’m here, I’ll share my journey and the insight I have gained from it, but I will never have everything figured out—and that’s okay.

A lot of blogs put me off because the authors make it seem like they have everything figured out and that they’re going to help you, too, learn How To Life, and yeah, nope. I’ve internalised the idea that I can’t post something unless I have something big to say, something well thought out, something that will enlighten readers. That’s a lot of pressure! Why do I let it get to me?

I vented recently to a friend that one time, the internet was all about what we could create with it. We teenagers made web sites to our favorite musicians, movies, and TV shows, worked pretty graphics, learned every bit of HTML and CSS we could to make web sites that shone our love for the creations. Then Google Adsense came out, and suddenly people were growing up and learning the importance of having money for sustenance, and adults were figuring out that the Internet could be “monetized” and suddenly blogs and web sites weren’t about talking about the things that made us happy and excited, they were working on gaining audiences so they could make money. So of course they’d put themselves in a position of authority—who would buy their books or e-courses or sponsor their speaking fees if they weren’t an authority?

Then there were blogs about how you, too, could make a lot of money by blogging, and then people clamored to write their own blogs to make money, and then suddenly there were all these people on the Internet blogging with the goal of making money instead of talking about the things they’re interested in. Now it seems like ALL blogs out there position themselves as an authority on something, relying on the capitalist structure where if your authority isn’t behind your product, you aren’t doing it right. And we the people writing the content ARE the product.

That’s a structure that just doesn’t work for me. I’m a person first, and can’t turn myself into a sellable product without repressing what makes me me. (Though I’m more than happy to charge for services rendered—want a Tarot reading? Maybe you’d like some advice on web sites? I’d be happy to charge for those things, but I won’t tell you I’m THE authority, just what I’ve learned on the Internet over the last fifteen years.) I won’t write about how to do this thing or that thing and expect you to believe me as the last word. I will write about what I’ve learned while figuring myself out, and how I came to the conclusions I’ve come to, and ask questions to get to more answers.