family magic

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“The sacred is not in heaven or far away. It is all around us, and small human rituals can connect us to its presence.”

–Alma Luz Villanueva

Magic is not something that exists outside of everyday life for my little family, which consists of myself and my two children, whom I have nicknamed Sun and Moon. They have never been pushed away from my practice, though much of my current work is inner, not outer. I do not hide my Goddess statues from them, nor do I speak in hushed tones with those that share my beliefs. If my children question what I am doing, I explain to them as plainly as I can.

In homeschooling using a Waldorf Inspired method, my children have learned more about respecting Nature (though they have their moments of pulling leaves off of living plants and bark off of trees); they have also learned to speak a simple prayer of blessing over their food at every meal. They have developed a friendship with many of the Land Spirits here, and have named a tree at a local park the Faerie Tree, where they leave offerings of pinecones and leaves and sticks. They build little huts for the Fae in the yard from the bark and leaves and sticks they come across, and they greet the birds every morning.

These are small moments that invite the sacred into their lives, and I am proud that they have the connection with the earth that they do.

I am not the type of person who celebrates with elaborate rituals – ceremonies and rituals have never come easily for me. I prefer simplicity, perhaps a simple phrase or prayer said over a lit candle. Planning a ritual, writing it out, and prescribing a schedule for things has never inspired me to practice on my path. Dancing, singing, drumming – though these are fantastic ways to raise energy, my health has been in such poor condition most of my adult life, I just do not see myself celebrating in those ways.

My mother did her work in the dark of night, once I was already in bed – she danced and she sang, and sometimes she drummed. She journeyed and she put spells into the Universe, all under the light of the Moon where no one would disturb her. She taught me basic information: how to raise energy for a working, how to read the sea, how to feel the world without my hands, and the most common uses for herbs and flowers and other natural items. However, she rarely spoke of magic as I have come to understand it.

Magic was not something to be taught to children, and according to her, I would be ready to know more once I had mastered the lessons she was teaching me. I never did master those lessons, not during my childhood. I was never able to control my emotions enough to properly channel energy, nor was I able to sit still long enough to journey.

My grandmother taught me divination during High Tea, reading tea leaves and discussing dream interpretations. My mother did not entirely approve of it – divination was not something that children needed to concern themselves with, as it held too much power. My great-grandmother taught me how to speak to the flowers, to sing to them, to give offerings to the Land Spirits to ensure the plants grew. She taught me more of the sea, for my great-grandmother had a sacred connection with the waters.

As I grew older, my great-grandmother taught me a form of magic I would later come to understand was Kitchen Witchcraft. She, of course, never used the word Witch – it was Folk Magic. She put spells on all of her cookies, to make them sweeter and to bring the person eating them happiness; she enchanted the tea we drank with peace and serenity; she kept an ancient skeleton key by the front door, and a horseshoe over it.

My grandmother wore charms and perfume she had enchanted to increase sales when she went out to sell roses – she was known as the Rose Lady during those late nights when she walked up and down Cannery Row, selling bouquets of roses to starry-eyed lovers. Every rose she paired with baby’s breath and a single fern, she charmed to bring love and peace to the relationships of the buyers.

I was lucky to have magic around me every day as a child, despite my mother’s attempts at keeping it from me. Regardless of the mental, emotional, and physical abuse that I endured more often than not, by those who were never supposed to harm me, I had those small sacred moments to look forward to.

Now that I have children of my own, I find myself struggling to bring magic into our lives. We have suffered our own tragedies and have lived through more abuse than children should ever have to endure, and that has hardened my spirit a bit. Slowly, I am willing to bring little pieces of magic in by teaching my children about things my mother had kept secret because I “was not ready”. Though my daughter is able to sit long enough to hear my words, my son’s energy is so volatile that he finds himself straying from the circle to dig, or build, or run. They both show a deep-rooted interest in my workings, and I hope to, one day, help them both along their paths.

I have learned, in my nine years of motherhood, that magic is not the ritual or the ceremony – it is the love between brother and sister that will never fade, regardless of the fights; it is waking up earlier than the children to enjoy the sunrise; it is making a special breakfast, filled with love, for everyone to enjoy.

Every movement, every breath, every creation we put ourselves into – this is the magic of my childhood. Hands deep in the earth, feet running over mossy rocks in the river, playing tag in the rain – these simple things are magic. Seeing the spark of creativity in my children’s eyes, hearing them create worlds in which to play, watching as they speak to the bugs and the birds and the trees – these are the small, sacred moments that we share with one another.

I have so much to teach them, so many things to show them before they leave my arms for the world – how will I ever do it? Simple. By being with them, I am sharing all of my knowledge. Our family magic is rooted deep within my spirit, and each day I share a bit more of that magic with my children.

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