Supermarket Magic Review Part 2: Ableism Boogaloo

Welcome back to my review of Supermarket Magic!

After suffering through multiple transient ischemic attacks while reading the Ethics chapter, I happily moved on to the meat of the book — the good stuff.

He starts this part of the book with an intro that includes his main reasoning for writing the book — basically, he wanted to write something that made witchcraft more accessible.

Hahahahaha. You’ll hear more of my opinion on that later.

The intro also includes how-to instructions on how to make magical oils, potions (brews — basically teas), magical powders, and magic vinegars. This is all useful stuff, and I’ll be using these instructions.

He then starts the chapters with the recipes, and they’re divided up by purpose, which I find useful. The first chapter is on Clearing/Cleansing because, quote, “it is very true that if your life and home are too cluttered, nothing else can get done very well.”

I mean, for some people, sure, but others live just fine amid heaps of clutter. Look at my husband.

The clearing/cleansing chapter has one of my favourite recipes: Four Thieves Vinegar. It’s not the exact one I’ve used before, but it’s close. However, his instructions for making it are…way more involved than they need to be. He tells you warm it up in a pot before cooling it and bottling it for four days.

Bruh. You can just put the herbs into a mason jar, cover them with the vinegar, seal the lid, and let them steep for a while. Couple of weeks maybe. Shake them off and on. You don’t need to actually cook it, unless you want a shorter make time.

Having just the “cook it on the stove” way of making it and not giving the alternative? Not super accessible. (But more on that in Part 3.)

Regardless, things were going okay until I hit the chapter on Healing.

An image of Ned Stark from Game of Thrones holding his sword. Text above and below him says "Brace yourselves / Ableism is coming"

Heal Thyself (Of Thine Internalized Ableism)

The chapter on Healing not only contains some more lovely “All witches believe/are taught/blah” but also some good old fashioned ableism and food-shaming. Also some weird stuff about how you need consent to do magic for/on people even if it’s healing, but that “sending general healing energy their way is fine!” Dude. No.

But ok, on to the ableism, which actually comes after the food shaming, but I’ll address it first.

He says that in order to be good/successful magic practitioners, you need to be physically healthy, and that if you’re in a “weakened state” you can’t practice magic effectively.

Ok, fine, to his credit he says “relatively healthy,” but I’m not giving him any slack on this. The idea itself, regardless if it contains that caveat, is a bullshit, ableist one.

What the fuck is “relatively” when talking about health? How do you define it? I can tell you right now, able-bodied people have a way different definition than chronically ill people do.

For me, “relatively” healthy means I’m not in extreme pain at the moment and my stomach isn’t trying to murder me for eating literally anything. I don’t have a headache and I’m sort of awake, though probably still tired. I’m still not very energetic and I’m certainly not able to do any intense activity. That’s a good day for me.

The bottom line is, I’m usually in what someone able-bodied would call a “weakened” state these days. So I’m really tired of able-bodied magic practitioners telling me I’m a failure of a witch because of shit that’s completely out of my control. Walk two moons in my orthopedic shoes, buddy. See how you fucking like it.

I Eat Only Imaginary Food

Before he makes this ableist comment, he talks about food (the comment is in the section about food). I’m not sure I can paraphrase this bullshit effectively, so here’s another direct quote (which might be very upsetting or even triggering if you have a history of disordered eating like I do, so read at your own risk):

“Where would we be without good, real food? My definition of real food is a little different from that of most people: for me, food has to be nutritious and as close to whole as possible in order to qualify. Cake is not real food.”

This was the paragraph that knocked my rating from 2/5 to 1/5, and made me almost throw the book across the room.

This paragraph is food-shaming GARBAGE, and it completely SPITS on the idea of accessibility.

  1. All food is real. IT IS NOT IMAGINARY.
  2. Food sustains life, therefore it is holy. (Credit to Kiya Nicoll for the phrasing.)
  3. Nutrition is completely individualized. Unless you know my exact history, you don’t get to tell me what food is real or not for me!

You know what the greatest irony of the past 8 years has been? Over that period of time, I have developed steadily worse acid reflux. It is now so bad I cannot eat anything without extreme pain unless I take a Nexium every day. Nexium is the strongest drug there is for this problem and I’m on a high dose.

But that’s not the greatest irony. The greatest irony is that the foods that cause the most pain and discomfort for me are the foods that a) I love and b) are what fat-shaming, food-shaming assholes are always yelling at me to eat more of, as if it’s going to magically fix my problems.

Yeah. Salads. Vegetables. Fruits. I love that shit, and it’s the worst for my reflux.

Even with the Nexium, I cannot have more than one small bowl of salad in a day. If I do, I am up all night in agony.

Fruits? They put me on the toilet for hours. Veggies aside from salad ingredients? Need to be cooked if I’m going to survive.

I adore these foods. I really do, and I always have. And I can’t have them in the abundance I would like, because it’s so painful I want to die.

You know what’s NOT painful for me to eat?

Processed foods. Well, ok, not all of them. Some of them are still pretty fucking painful. But for the most part, stuff that’s been processed more is less likely to cause severe agony.

So Mr. Furie, you can take your food shaming garbage and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Maybe then you’ll know the pain of eating whole foods for me.

(Also, dude? Cooking is processing food. In fact, most of the foods you pick up in the supermarket have been processed in some way. Define your terms.)

After the ableism, he gives more of this sanctimonious diet advice, and I think about setting things on fire.

To his credit: the one good thing he does do in this section is warn against starvation diets and cutting calories as a way to lose weight (it’s pretty dangerous in general). He gets a point for that.

Make-up exists but bisexuals and poly people don’t

The next chapter is on Love, Lust, and Beauty Magic. In this chapter he gives you a spell to draw your soulmate to you. It’s written for an opposite sex pairing, and then he gives modifications for if you’re gay or lesbian. There is no easy way to modify it for if you’re bi and want to attract someone of no designated gender to you, it’s pretty gender essentialist, and he doesn’t even seem to realize that bisexuals exist. Or poly people, for that matter.

Maybe it’s that by this point, I’m getting fucking fed-up, but honestly…dude. You could have written a gender-neutral “draw my soulmate to me” spell. ARG.

On the plus side, he does have some make-up magic in this chapter, which was refreshing. So few books even touch on that as a Thing.


It’s getting long again, so I’ll see you in Part 3 (yes, the final part).


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Review of Supermarket Magic: Part 1

Review: Supermarket Magic by Michael Furie

Warning: this post is going to be long and ranty.  EDIT: yeah it’s now 3 posts. SETTLE IN.

I really wanted to like this book.

Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. I’m starting this review before I finish reading the book because there’s so much to say.

I started this book with high hopes for it. It looked good. A book about accessible witchcraft done with mundane items from the grocery store? Yes please!

Sadly, it barely lives up to that one criterion.

The first two chapters are okay. Furie is writing from a Wiccish point of view, which I would be more okay with if he stated that upfront and didn’t write so many “All witches believe/know/do/say” type statements.

He’s also very much a believer that his way of doing magic is the right way. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with his methods — they do work for some people, after all — but it is irritating that he can’t even acknowledge that there are more ways to skin the proverbial cat. Instead, it’s “Do magic this way or it will never work.” Yeah, ok buddy.

Despite these two issues, the first couple of chapters do have some useful stuff — namely two mini-spells for dealing with anxiety/people-crush at the supermarket. That’s something that should be touched on, so I’m glad he did.

Then we get to the ethics section and…Morrigan take the wheel.

Ethics for Lazy People

This book literally tells you that if you put the caveat “with free will and for the good of all!” into your spells, you never have to worry about unintended consequences.

Direct quote:

“Well, if you send all your magic out with the intention that it be for the good of all, you never ever have to worry about unforeseen negative consequences from accidental, irresponsible, or so-called black magic. Any spell you cast with the intention of “for the good of all” already has a built-in safety net to prevent any and all controlling or cursing elements of a spell from manifesting in the first place, thus saving you from having to endure the consequences.”

No. Just no. This is 100% wrong and it’s basically an ethical bandaid for lazy people who don’t to actually think about what they’re doing. You can’t put a boilerplate cover-your-ass disclaimer in your spell and then wipe your hands of any consequences. That’s not how this works.

A picture of the "That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works" meme.

101-type books need to stop teaching this bullshit because it’s creating scores of magic practitioners who don’t think about what they’re doing before they do it, and then get to cry victim when they get bit on the ass.

Look — if you do the legwork before casting a spell of figuring out possible consequences and either can’t find any negative ones or they seem very unlikely to you, then putting a small disclaimer in the spell isn’t a bad idea. It might not work, but if you’ve done that work of thinking about the ethics, then you already realize that. It’s a just-in-case, hopefully this will kick in if it needs to but it likely won’t need to. Like tornado insurance if you live in BC.

That does not mean you can just slap a disclaimer on all your magic and never think about the ramifications, or that the disclaimer will make you safe. It will not make you safe.

If you are fucking around with magic, you need to be ready to accept the consequences of what you do. Good or bad. You can’t hide behind the boilerplate and whine that you didn’t know so you shouldn’t be punished. Well, ok, you can, but it’s not going to work and it’s just going to irritate anyone who might be able to help you.

Infinity of Bullshit

In this same ethics chapter he talks about how all witches are taught about the “Infinity of Solution” concept, which is “the belief that no one needs to suffer for our happiness to exist”.

Ok. A) That’s patently bullshit. Should we be trying to destroy others in order to feed our own happiness? No! That’s an asshole move. But that doesn’t mean that our happiness might not inadvertently cause suffering for someone else.

Example: spiders are perfectly happy in my house, including in places like my shower or raining down on my hair. I am a massive arachnophobe. Those spiders’ happiness adds to my suffering, and vice versa: for me to be happy, they need to be evicted. We try to do this as humanely as possible, but sometimes they’re suicidal.

This is how life is.

“But Morag,” you say, “Maybe he wasn’t talking about beings like spiders but just other humans. Surely other people don’t need to suffer for us to be happy!”

Ok, fine, here’s another example using humans only.

My friends are constantly getting pregnant. Every time I turn around, there’s another pregnancy announcement on Facebook. Every one of these announcements cuts me like a knife through my heart because I desperately want to be pregnant and we cannot afford it. We have been ready for kids for 2 years now and we have no options until I graduate from my new field of study and hopefully get a good paying job.

I have maybe 8 years of childbearing left. The clock is ticking, and I don’t graduate till December or do my practicum till January. I’m looking at at least another year before I can even start my new job. Every day we do not have a child, I am suffering. And my friends’ happiness adds to that suffering.

Is part of me happy for them? Of course. But the rest of me is in agony.

There is no way for that to be avoided. Your happy announcement is going to hurt someone you love — someone struggling with infertility, or loss of a child, or extreme poverty that makes it impossible to even consider starting a family.

And when — if — it comes time for us to make that same announcement, it will cause suffering for my other friends.

Of course we should try to minimize suffering around us. When it comes time, I will be reaching out privately to those friends I know are struggling, to let them know ahead of time so they can brace themselves. But if we predicate our happiness on no one ever suffering from it then we will never be happy.

Finally, point B.


I have been practicing witchcraft since I was ten years old. That is twenty-two years. I have studied many different forms of witchcraft, including various types of Wicca. I have literally never heard of the Infinity of Solution before.

There are A LOT OF WITCHES out there and the ones I’ve already talked to about this book? They ALSO haven’t heard about this BS.

If the witches you know are the ones who know this, STATE THAT. Stop trying to talk for all of us.

Sick Gainz, Bro

Yeah, we’re still on the ethics chapter.

Furie also says that magic should never be done for personal gain. That old chestnut!

He goes on to “clarify” that he distinguishes between spells that would actually better your life and spells that are frivolous. While the example he uses is probably pretty frivolous (a spell to get a better car than your neighbor’s), this entire section is slapdash and honestly irresponsible.

Who decides what’s frivolous? Who is the arbiter of what personal gain spells are acceptable versus those that are not?

Plenty of newcomers to witchcraft are too TERRIFIED to do spellwork for themselves because it might be ~frivolous~. They’ve had the NO PERSONAL GAIN refrain shoved down their throats by irresponsible 101 books and it sticks.

I know because I used to be one of them.

Later, thanks to studying things that aren’t NeoWicca, I learned to look at magic differently. To sum it up: “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”

There is nothing wrong with doing magic for personal gain, and in fact it’s a great place to start to warm up your magic muscles.

I Thought We All Ran on Pagan Standard Time

For some reason, he also harps a LOT on spell timing in the ethics chapter. He actually lists as one of the “rules” at the beginning of the chapter that you MUST do spellwork according to the phases of the moon.

No. Just…no.

I’ll give him this: he at least does go into astronomy a little to back up his beliefs on how the moon phases affect us and our magic work. It’s the bog-standard “full moon for blessings, waning moon for getting rid of, waxing moon for drawing to you, new moon for shadow work/etc” that is so common in so many forms of Wicca-inspired witchcraft. Personally, it’s what I ascribe to, too, so I liked seeing the astronomy stuff in there to give it another level.

However, I’ve met plenty of witches who don’t ascribe to those meanings or even give two shits about the moon, and even one whose entire view of the phases was opposite.

Astrological timing can help with your spells — IF that’s what you ascribe to. But it’s not a rule that you need to work by the phases of the moon and even if it were, it certainly wouldn’t belong in the chapter on ethics, for Selene’s sake.

A picture of Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean with the text "They're More What You'd Call Guidelines" over it.

Here’s a Secret: The Secret is Bullshit

The ethics chapter ALSO goes into a lot of detail about things returning to you, peppered with super-liberal use of “The Secret” style philosophy which…I mean I don’t think I need to get into why that is a load of horse manure.

I do think we need to be conscious about what seeds we sow, but that’s not the same as “Think positive and life will be rainbows shooting out of the asses of kittens!” Which is what The Secret basically is.

The one thing I actually liked about the ethics chapter (which probably should have been in the magical basics chapter, but I guess he needed to pad his word count): he mentions specificity and generality in spells and a general rule as to when to use each, which makes a lot of sense.

Basically, he says that when you’re doing a spell to draw things to you that to be general or vague usually works better than to be specific. But when you’re doing a spell to banish things from your life, you want to be more specific. The example he uses is if you cast a general spell to remove all the obstacles from your life, you might lose the obstacles you actually like and choose to keep around — like your friends, spouse, kids, pets, etc. Plenty of things that are good in your life can also be obstacles, so with that sort of spell it’s good to be specific.

Generally speaking, though, the ethics chapter knocked my initial estimation of this book from 3/5 broomsticks down to 2/5…and I thought it would stay there.

I was wrong.


This review is getting pretty long so I’m going to break it into two posts. Join me next time when I talk about more horrific bullshit in a book that shouldn’t have it!

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Putting “Honor the Mothers” on hiatus

I’ve come to realize something over the past little while.

I need to put Honor the Mothers on pause.

This project started as a way for me to clean my house and connect it to my spirituality and also write a book in the meantime. Then I decided that I couldn’t do a year and a day of cleaning because I would go insane (even if that’s what it will take to clean the garbage heap I live in). Also…the book as it was sounded boring.

So I pivoted, to it being a project where I spend a year and a day investigating 13 different things that are classed as “women’s work”, the idea being I’d delve into the spiritual mysteries of the mundane, the strength of the women who came before me, and learn a bit about myself in the process.

I still think it’s a great idea and I still want to do it. I just can’t so long as I’m living here.

This place is…I don’t even have a word for what it is. I can’t keep it clean. I’m totally unhappy here. I’m basically sticking it out until we can move next year (which I’m praying will actually happen).

At present I’m attempting a few things to make living here more bearable, but I have no idea how well they will work. I’ve no idea how my magic is going to continue to work so long as I’m in this place. It seems to mostly fizzle out or backfire; the last super effective spell I did in this house was during the solar eclipse. I think harnessing the power of that cosmic event is what made the spell work, not me overcoming the barriers put down here.

As I’ve said, there has been some lifting to the stifling spiritual atmosphere in this house, but not enough. Maybe it’s not just a malevolent entity crouching here. Maybe the house is also built in a shitty energy sink, where crappy energy just pours into it. Or maybe so long as my landlady resides above us, her nasty personality will continue to seep into the place, a veritable egregore of yuck.

I’m still going through hell, but I’ve decided not to make it any harder on myself. Or on the work. Honor the Mothers will suffer if I continue to work on it while living here. So it’s being put on a back burner until we live in a house that isn’t actively at odds with my happiness.

However. I am going to be working on a new witchcraft book over the next little while; one I can do work on while living here. I don’t want to say too much about it publicly yet, but excerpts will be posted at my Patreon once I’m deeper into it. If you’re interested, you can see those excerpts for $1 a month.

Thanks for sticking with me through my extended hiatuses. I’ll admit, I thought I’d be writing here more during my first semester back at school. I wildly underestimated how many spoons 5 classes would suck out of me (read: all of them, plus 50 billion more). I think my face made a permanent imprint on the cafeteria table I slept on twice a week for 14 weeks.

I’m still recovering, but getting there. Hopefully will have another post up here in the next couple of weeks.



If You’re Going Through Hell…

Sometimes it doesn’t work, and you have to learn to be okay with that.

I’m not trying to tell you what to feel; I’m talking about my own experience as a magic practitioner. Sometimes my magic doesn’t work; sometimes it straight-up dies. And it’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I can be okay with that.

Coming to magic from not doing it, I saw it as something that would fix all my mundane problems. I saw it as, well, magic — but the Hollywood type, not what it is. Even when I swore up and down I didn’t see it as Hollywoodesque, I did. I believed it would work and do things that I could not. I believed that if it didn’t work, the fault rested squarely on my shoulders. Somehow, I’d fucked up.

The truth is sometimes you can do everything right and nothing works still. This applies to everything in life. There is no shame in failing. Failure always has a lesson — often it’s a lesson about where you screwed up. But if you didn’t screw up? Then the lesson is that even perfection in work won’t equal perfection in outcome. Life has too many variables.

The question becomes, when you accept that sometimes magic doesn’t work, how do you continue to believe in it? If belief is a solid part of magic,* how do you continue that belief when sometimes it fizzles?

*Ok, not everyone ascribes to this, and it’s not true for all schools of magic. But it’s true for some, and for enough, that I want to address it.

To address this, to find the answer, you need to look at your mundane life and the beliefs you hold about it.

Sometimes, running dishes through the dishwasher doesn’t work; they come out not clean enough. Do you stop believing in doing the dishes, or do you just run them again?

Sometimes, turning in a job application or resume doesn’t net you anything except infuriating silence. Do you stop believing in yourself as a worthy candidate, or do you keep plugging away?

Sometimes, the way you’ve found most effective to deal with people doesn’t work, and you have a severely unpleasant encounter. Do you stop believing in the efficacy of your social skills?

Of course sometimes the answer is “Ok, something here isn’t working; time to pivot.” Maybe you need to rinse the dishes first or update your resume; maybe your social skills aren’t as polished as you thought. But other times, there’s nothing to pivot. It just didn’t work.

And yes, we go through periods of disbelief when this happens often enough. I know frustration with the dishwasher has made me put off washing dishes for up to a week; I know applying for jobs is a particularly soul-sucking endeavor that makes me question my will to live. I don’t know much about effective social skills, but I do know there have been times when I know my behavior was not the issue and yet…people. They’re people.

The difference is after these small periods of disbelief, of losing faith, I get back to it. I do the dishes again; I send out more resumes; I continue interacting with other humans.

So why can I not apply that to my magic?

The thing is, I can, and I think I’ve finally gotten to that point. I don’t know how or why, but something finally clicked for me recently: sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s not your fault.

You just have to keep trying.

In the immortal words of Churchill: “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.

Dealing with constantly failing magic can be like hell. But we need to keep going, or we won’t get through it.


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Housekeeping Note

(This wasn’t posted first at Patreon because it’s not really a true post, just a note on housekeeping at the blog.)

So I was doing both Steady and Patreon because, hey, options, right? But to be honest…it’s too much for me. It’s too much for me to keep track of two different sites for crowdfunding my work and I really really need to reduce the load right now. School is eating my face and that is becoming literal because I think my classes have transformed into some Lovecraftian horror that’s going to rampage all over the Tri-Cities area.


I’m removing Steady for now. I’m not going to delete my account; I’ll probably just keep it dormant. Maybe later it’ll work better as an “also” thing.

Instead, I’m installing the Patreon WordPress Plugin so people can see Patron-only things here at the blog in a manner that is more streamlined and easier for me. Hopefully I’ll be better about remembering to make things public within a few days and not, like, a week, but during the Winter Semester I will likely be very imperfect.

I hope this works for everyone, and I also very much hope it removes enough extra stuff in my brain that I’ll be better able to provide quality content here on Everyday Magic.


My Quick and Dirty Imbolc Ritual

Ok, it wasn’t that dirty, but the phrase works better when I include it. It was VERY quick and I found myself mentally comparing it to a quickie in a gas station bathroom with a loved one. Not that I’ve ever done that. Yet.

Wait, actually, it was pretty dirty, because…Imbolc Eve (for me, I celebrate sundown Feb 1 to sundown Feb 2; I know others do it different) fell on a Thursday. Ie, last day of school for the week, ie, I’m fucking exhausted. Not only this, but in the middle of me re-organizing my bedroom/office/place with all the shrines and witchy shit. I wasn’t done with said reorg, so my shrine to the Three was in 2 boxes.

The second I got home from school (and two tests that were surprisingly difficult) I started work on finishing up my room re-org. I moved the bed to its final place and put it up on its risers, and then measured to make sure the shrine table would fit at the foot of the bed. My eye did not fail me; it fits perfectly. There’s even room to spare. I then moved said incredibly heavy table because it’s actually a sewing machine in a table to its new spot, and set up my shrine to the Three.

Cue the dirty ritual, because I haven’t showered from school and moving furniture. (hey kids, don’t do this at home if you have a spinal injury like your uncle Morag. So many ows, not enough time.)

First I set all the brats that needed blessing on the shrine, because I can’t do it outside and we don’t really have a hearth (my dirty, horrific devil beast of a stove does not count). Then I set out my jar of Imbolc Water, which is part water, part Everclear, mainly so it keeps. And then I got the offering: end piece of a loaf of Wonder Bread with some butter, both of which I split in half — one half for me, one for her. Plus, Fireball Whiskey.

I stood in front of the altar, put her bread into the offering bowl, and said some words that I don’t recall but were about offering the bread and sharing in it. I took a bite of mine. I then poured Fireball into her glass, and took a swig from the bottle. I thanked her for all her blessings, and asked that this Imbolc she walk with us and we walk in her light.

Then I said sorry no candle, but I was so tired I’d probably burn the house down, said “I love you,” and went to the living room to watch some TV with Mr. Morag before bedtime.

It felt good, and I actually felt some mild connection during it. So whatever evil’s in this house is losing its hold, and I’m feeling more confident.

Also finally getting my shit together to do a ritual, albeit a super quick one like this, does wonders for my state of mind.

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There is a Monster in this House

I have spent most of this month (and year) trying my best to be positive about everything. I have a tendency to let the worst five minutes of a day become the whole day. I didn’t want to do that this year. When I fill in a square on the Year in Pixels page in my planner, I trend towards days being generally good.

This went fine until a communication error from Student Loans gave me my first truly bad day of the year, and I spiralled into depression for a good 24 hours. But the next day I bounced back, and I’m still committed to making myself see the good this year.

That day taught me something, however. You see, for the first 20 days of January, I didn’t have house problems. I didn’t feel miserable about my house. I have finally started to feel that something here is lifted, and I think it’s likely in large part to some prayer that’s being done on my behalf by someone I know online, who I often disagree with, but who likely has more experience in spiritual warfare than I do.

Since he started praying that the presence in my house be lifted or prevented from fucking up my life, I have felt small differences. I truly feel the reason I have been able to keep my positive attitude up this month has been because the presence, whatever it is, is weakened through this prayer.

But this week I discovered, the presence is fighting back. And it feeds on depression.

As soon as I let myself give into depression, things went wrong again. The chain in our toilet tank broke and I had to fix it while fighting back tears and suicidal ideation, hand frozen in the waters of the tank. The mini-flood that had happened earlier this year got worse, and now I have to check the storage area under the stairs for dampness. The landlords decided right when my bedtime was was an ideal time to deal with the flood by banging around and making a hideous amount of noise right where my head is when I sleep.

There’s a monster in this house and it wants my sadness.

Well, I’ve decided it’s not going to get it. I won’t feed you anymore, monster. I don’t know how I’ll do it, seeing as clinical depression ain’t something I can just magic away, but I refuse to let you win.

I don’t know where you came from. I don’t know if you were here first. I’m sorry if that’s the case, but letting you win means letting me die, and I have to choose myself first. Find a different place to exist. Find peace.

You won’t find your food in me anymore.

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Joy & Grief: figuring out my Samhain Advent

I completely dropped the ball on doing fire festival advents this year. In the wave of grief following the death of my friend and the death of my mentor, it seems very important to me that I actually follow through with Samhain advent.

Despite living in a house that is spiritually blocking me, in which I am drowning, I can hear my Father call to me now that it’s October. It’s His month, and my favourite month, and a time for me to experience both joy and grief.

This week at church I started crying when talking to the priests after service; they offered to let me sit in church for a while, and then one of them sat with me and let me spill out all my messy emotions all over her. She thanked me for sharing part of my story with her.

During service, I stood up during Thanksgivings and said Hych’qa for Uncle Ray and his presence in my life and in the world, for the changes he brought into my life.

On my way to service a crow flew low in front of my car, right at my eye level, very clearly *making* me notice it. Then I drove past a dead animal; I crossed myself (as I did when I was a child, until my father yelled at me for it) and asked Mother Mary and Manannan to take the animal into Their arms, to comfort it. I saw another, different dead animal by the side of the road after service on my way to my errands, and I made the same prayer.

Both times I felt a response. Faint, compared to some of the experiences I have had, but *there*.

Driving home after my errands filled me with dread, because while I was outside the house I felt alive and connected, and focused. I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish that day. And I knew as soon as I got home, that focus would disappear, and that connection would break.

I am living in a tomb.


So how to approach Samhain Advent living as I am? How do I attempt to explore the mysteries of Manannan, of life after death, when I can barely keep my own life together?

I don’t have an answer. The purpose of this post is for me to noodle one out of my tangled, jumbled thoughts.

I know I want to focus on three different aspects of Him, one for each week of advent. I haven’t figured out those aspects. Brighid, for Imbolc Advent, was easy — I went with healing, writing, and smithing. Those are the most common 3 aspects associated with Her, so it seemed a no-brainer.

Manannan I haven’t quite worked out yet. I almost said “worked the kinks out of yet”. Which I think He’d laugh at a lot.

Well, there’s a starting point: humour, and its place with death and tragedy.  He loves a good laugh, yet He’s there to take you to the afterlife. He rules over death with a smile on his face, but it’s not a cruel smile. He’s there to welcome you, whether it be with gentleness or ribald jests.

(The more I think on the aspects of my Father, the more convinced I am that His spirit-brother in the Hellenic pantheon is Hades.)

Laughter in the face of tragedy seems awful to some, but I really think it’s one of the most truly human things there is. It’s part of what makes us *us*. This week I’ve been watching movies while I knit scarves to sell at the Cranberry Fest on Saturday; among them, The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2, and Armageddon. Both movies deal heavily with facing death, and what did characters do? Crack jokes.

And when the characters crack jokes, we the audience *feel* something — we feel like we can relate to these people even more. Because of course you crack jokes in the face of certain death. Of course when a pair of T-Rexes knocks your trailer half off a cliff and you’re hanging on for your life and your friend comes to save you, you ask him for 3 double cheeseburgers, no onions, and an apple turnover.

Of course, because that’s the most human thing to do. Because in the face of death, we cling to life, and what makes life livable: laughter, joy, mirth.

I think Manannan loves us for that.


Manannan is a god of death, which means he’s a god of cycles. The cycle of death and rebirth; the cycle of water as it goes from ocean to atmosphere to rain to the surface of the earth again. The cycle of light to dark. The cycle of planting to growth to ripeness to rot, to compost, to fertile ground ready for spring.

The cycle of emotions; the cycle of highs and lows that takes us through life. Good cycles…and bad ones.

Often we’re too busy drowning in these cycles — in life — to really be mindful of them, let alone change them if they’re hurting us. We get stuck in things without even knowing what we’re stuck in.

Part of Samhain advent for me will be examining the cycles I’m stuck in, and trying to work to extricate myself from the harmful ones. 


I always thought I’d associate Brighid with things like feasting — she is a hearth goddess, after all. But while she is goddess of the hearth, and it may be her fire that cooks the food, it’s Manannan who is host, because in the end everyone returns to him.

Everyone — alive or dead — is welcome at His table; everyone is welcome to break bread and feast on bacon with him. The food is never ending, and no one is allowed to go home hungry.

He is the father on the block who makes sure all the kids get fed, no matter what’s going on for them at home. He sends his kids to school with extra food in their lunch bags to share with their friends. He’s always making more than enough food so there will be leftovers to give to people who hunger.

And while you’re at his table, he’ll ask you with a kind word about your day, and he’ll really listen and care about what you have to say — and you’ll go home with more than just your belly full. 


Advent starts next week. I think I’ll start with feasting — it’s Thanksgiving weekend here and we’re having dinner at the in-laws’ on Monday, so the timing is right.

Then I’ll do Cycles, and finish out the month with Laughter — something I think I’ll need as Samhain grows nearer.

I don’t know what actions I’ll be doing yet, but having my focuses is a big first step. It gives me a place to start.

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