|Publisher:||She Writes Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
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Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys . . .
I hated those damn monkeys. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, it seemed like every other house had them. Usually carved out of wood, sometimes ceramic. One with its hands pressed tight over its ears. One shielding its eyes. One whose palms obliterated its mouth.
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” adults would say sanctimoniously. My family was agnostic, and most people we knew in Southern Californiaaerospace engineers, lawyers, doctors, and other well-educated professionalsdid not attend church. There were no crucifixes in their homes. Just the monkeys. It appeared that the three monkeys were their gods, the “see no evil . . .” homily their one commandment. I couldn’t have explained why those monkeys, and that saying, made me so enraged. But whenever I found myself in a room alone with them, I would stick my tongue out defiantly. I would see everything, hear everything, and speak the truth, no matter what anyone else thought.
The word denial must have existed in the dictionary, but I never heard it spoken. Denial was the river in which we bathed, swamand sometimes drowned. Good people pretended everything was all right, even when it wasn’t. No one was alcoholic, husbands never beat their wives, children were not molested, homosexuality had disappeared with the ancient Greeks. Negroes were happy with their lot. Why else would they be constantly singing? A good woman did not want to work outside the home, being designed only to raise children and treat her husband as if he were a demigod. If children crouched under their school desks, they would be safe from an atomic blast. Margarine was better than butter. Everyone was happy. So happy! Happy all the time! But when I went to my friends’ houses and saw their mothers hysterically slapping their faces or staring vacantly out the window at the blue California sky, swilling martinis while the baby wailed unattended behind the closed nursery door, I had my doubts. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that everything was a lie. And the reason people couldn’t see or admit that it was a lie was becausesomehowthose monkeys were controlling their minds. What was the source of their malignant power? Were they more than stone and clay? Were they related to the evil flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz? How could they be defeated?
When I was a much younger child of four, my grandparents’ purchase of a black-and-white television set launched me into years of recurrent nightmares. From the beginning, the television set in their living room frightened me. Even when it was turned off, I would make as wide a berth around it as possible. That picture box showed a terrible world, a world that looked much like ours did, but a world in which the color had been drained out: a world of drab grays. My recurrent dream was that an enormous spider, like a Godzilla-sized daddy longlegs, was stepping with its long, delicate legs through the city and countryside, sucking the color out of everything the way I had seen spiders suck the juices out of a fly. I would wake up screaming. What if this dreadful spider came to Glendale and Manhattan Beach? How could we live without color?
But as an older child, I understood that black and white was a trick of a certain type of film, not a color-thirsty spider. I did not yet understand that my nightmare had been a metaphor, that the human color-suckersracists, McCarthyiteswere in full force in the 1950s, and that their evil creeds would need defeating again and again. I made a conscious decision to resist monkey mind-control. I decided the monkeys only had as much power as people gave them. And I refused to shut my eyes or my ears, though the thought of my father’s belt sometimes caused me to shut my mouth.
Things seem more simple and straightforward in black and white, without all that distracting color. And it’s a lot easier to ignore evil than it is to fight it. Though the monkeys’ power was imaginary, a child trying to make sense of a nonsensical world, the power I gained by resisting their command to shut down was not.
Table of ContentsCONTENTS
Introduction: Broth from the Cauldron
Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys . . .
Miss Muffet, Revisited
Just a Coincidence
Snakes Hate to Shed. Butterflies? Don’t Even Ask.
The Emperor Has No Seals
The Great Depression
No Two Alike
The Man of My Dreams
Bear with Me
First Hit’s Free
Those Pesky Miracles
A Hawaiian Ghost Story
Thistle While You Work
Crown of Creation
In the Stranger’s Guise
It’s Only Chinatown . . .
Tree of Life
Here Comes the Judge
Canyon de Chelly
The Power of Rage
Lost, and Found
Hex Marks the Rot
For Heaven’s Snakes
Genuine Spurious Placebo
The Z That Stands for Zorro
Be Live It
The Tooth Fairy vs. the Easter Bunny
Ninja Turtles vs. the Fairies
You Had Me at Hello
A Child’s Garden of Magic
Follow the Leader
The Fame Game vs. the Tree of Life
No More Peaches
The Key to the Garden
Water Is the Heart
Walk on Water
On Her Own Two Feet
Sudden and Quick and Light
Terror and Love: The Twin Towers
The Trident vs. the Torpedo
Monde de Mondegreens
Wisdom in Small Packages
The Whale in the Forest
The Man Behind the Curtain
Dancing with Dolphins
Don’t Judge a Book . . .
The Cork Army
Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.
After my grandmother died, my mother found a small notebook in which Arbie had written down all my cute “sayings” when I was a child first learning how to talk. The first sentence it recorded was: “I want to be a Witch someday. Not Tuesday.”
Being a twenty-eight-year-old Witch whose coven meetings were held on Tuesdays, I burst into laughter. I read through the little notebook and sawto my amazementthat every other sentence was about Witches. How does a child between the ages of one and three, growing up with no television, develop such a fascination? How does a Republican girl raised in an agnostic, scientific household become a Witch?
My mother had the answer.
“You see,” she said after I finished perusing the notebook, “you were always like this. Witches, magic, what the birds were saying out in the garden. This is all you ever wanted to talk about. We never encouraged you in the slightest.”
I patted her arm comfortingly. “It’s true, Mom. You never encouraged me.”
“The only explanation is reincarnation!” she asserted. “You were always like this, from the very first.”
I nodded sympathetically. “It’s not your fault.”
Do people choose a path, or does it choose them?
Wicca, or Witchcraft, comes from the root willow. The willow tree is flexible, bending with the wind and not breaking; magic, too, is flexible, responding to and moving with the flow of energy. While in math, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, in the world of matterand spiritthis is not so. Witchcraft is known as “the twisted path,” not because it is perverse, but becauselike lightning moving through the sky, or a river carving out its courseenergy follows the path of least resistance.
Hence the structure of this book, which is not the classic chronological memoir. Sometimes the truest way to tell a story is the twisted path, the journey through the labyrinth, the path that doubles back on itself, full of odd turns, improbable coincidences, and strange miracles. The key is the thread of meaning that we carry as we journey to the center and return again.
I have been a Wiccan priestess teaching shamanic classes since 1976. I have been teaching year-long apprenticeship programswhich I call “Hogwarts for Grown-ups”since 1992.
Initially, people often enter Wicca, Witchcraft, seeking control. Not usually the control of others, but wanting to control their own lives.
Magic has sometimes been called “the art of coincidence control.”
But somewhere along the line, most of those who come hankering for power find their concept of power has widened and deepened to a flow far vaster than anything their egos could possibly generate or fathom.
They exchange the illusion of mastery for mystery.
Or as I often joke in my apprenticeship program: “They came for the magic. They stayed for the food.” They discover that magic is the art of changing consciousness at will. Or, sometimes, accepting the changes which have been forced upon you, and forging them into something powerful.
Some of the most sacred and remarkable revelations of my life have occurred while I was engaged in ritual. Most of them have occurred when I was engaged in living my ordinary, amazing life.
Since Shakespeare wrote the lines, “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble,” in his play Macbeth, our culture has shied away from the image of Witches cackling over a seething cauldron as an icon of unspeakable evil and horror.
But a cauldron is only a big soup pot, something every family in old Europe cherished since the beginning of the Bronze Age. Often it was their most valuable possession. Because of it, whatever they gathered or raised could be thrown together with a little water, and a nourishing soup or stew would emerge.
The cauldron has been a symbol for magic because it is an earthy metaphor for transformationthrow a bunch of disparate elements together and they somehow become more than the sum of their parts.
When used for medicine, the cauldron could combine herbs into a potent, healing tea or salve.
So the cauldron became known as a magical implement, the cauldron of changes. But its powers are for good, not harm. The Cauldron of Cerridwen holds the inspiration from which all artists and poets must drink to be inspired; it also carries the promise of transformation that transcends death: the mystery of rebirth.
Stories simmer in our minds, often for years. They can be nourishing and delicious as soup; they can be as potent as medicine. The Witch is one who stands outside of the culture, in a little house in the woods, with her herbs, her observations, her stories, and her wisdom. She brews soups and spells, potions and cures. These are some of the teaching and healing stories that have emerged from my journey. They are serious and silly, simple and profound, and they are all true. So scoot your seats a little closer, hold out your bowls. I’ve been brewing this hotchpotch for forty years and it’s ready now.
Have a little broth from the cauldron.