Tree City Witch: Irma & Rebirth of a Witch

I apologize for my absence. I had, and still have, a wicked deadline, and then Hurricane Irma happened. And happened. And happened.

First there was the week of panic and preparation. Prepare for tropical storm winds. Prepare for hurricane strength winds (not normal for my inland college town). Prepare for tornadoes. Have a safe room ready. Prepare for at least two weeks without power. Stop the presses and get busy. After all, you could die.

Photo from U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Domain, via WikiMedia.
Photo from U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Domain, via WikiMedia.

Well-meaning friends had good and bad advice, and my landlord told me to head for a shelter. I told him, and others, to stop putting their anxiety on me. He hung up the phone.

I swear I was relaxed. At first. I told a friend in an email that the storm could “blow me.” I was that blase. “Leave me alone I got deadlines! I got shit to do!”

And, furthermore, I had drawn good cards. I’m a Tarot Reader. GOOD CARDS, including the Empress and the Ten of Pentacles for me and my house for storm outcome. The storm was on the way though, and the tidal wave of town emotion took me along with it. Not that I blame them. We were all preparing for a handful of possible worst case scenarios and what if’s.

The fearful collective energy of the town, fearful with good reason, was itself a tornado. But I wouldn’t go to a shelter. Nobody asked us to. Inland. We got this.

So first there was panic and preparation. Then there was the night of the storm. Then there was the aftermath: power outages, cleaning up, damage assessment, and a tree fell on my house the morning after. Luckily, the roof, and myself, remained safe although I’ll never forget the sound of the bark breaking and splitting in half. I only mentioned three parts though. There is a part four. Emotional recovery. The exhale. Assessment of trauma and whether the heart has stopped beating so damn fast. Not being afraid of the rain. Not being afraid of the wind. Not being afraid of buying cream because what if the power goes out and doesn’t come back on for over a week.

Now it’s a week later. Now is the time to get back to business and normal life, including my column here. I want to tell you a story about that night, the night of the storm.

Dear reader it was terrifying. The most terrifying thing was the sound. Nonstop rain all day, I wondered if my house (elevated, not flush on the ground) would kiss the inches of rapidly rising water. And then, once things really got going, there was the wind and waving branches outside my bedroom window, branches from a live oak, which, my landlord said is so strong they don’t fall — and yet I heard stories of live oaks falling from Hurricane Irma, full heavy branches swung loose on the heads of houses.

The most terrifying sounds were the booms – sometimes transformers (causing houses to lose power) but also the crack and snap of trees falling nearby and the slam of my backyard’s locked gate. At the time I didn’t know what that particular sound was, but its boom woke me up. Oh yes I did sleep at least an hour that night because after the first part of the storm, the tropical storm winds part, there was a lull. I thought it was over.

But then the lull ended just as the weathermen on the news radio station predicted. The worst was yet to come for my area, in the wee hours, when it would be close to sunrise, and once those roaring winds started up, I went to my safe room, my narrow walk-in closet where I had stored the crank radio, water, cat food, flashlight, batteries, food. I forget what else. Everything needed for a semi-long stay.

"Among the Waves" by Ivan Aivazovsky.  From WikiMedia.
“Among the Waves” by Ivan Aivazovsky. From WikiMedia.

But the reason I’m telling you this story is for the witch story.

I was scared. The whole night felt like an out of body experience. Although my house is one-story I felt like I was on the second floor (no clue why). Terror of what would happen next. Would the house survive the night? Would we survive the night? Would anything be left the next day. It was me and Goldy alone in the world. We had the radio until the power went out at 3 am. Other people, alone in the storm, were calling in. There was one woman in her car (her car!) with her dog and two pet skunks. I’ll never forget it.

So I rolled around inside this scared feeling for easily a good hour or so, in a panic, regretting my decision to spend the storm alone, until some part of me, deep inside of me, got angry.

This part of me said: STOP! ALIZA, YOU ARE A WITCH. If you cannot control (yes, control) THE ELEMENTS, the wind and the rain then what kind of fakakta witch are you anyway? YOU CAN DO THIS. You can keep your house safe. You can keep yourself and Goldy safe and you can protect your house and push any damaging winds and rain away. Push them away. And that was exactly what I did.

Dear Reader, this is a true story, coming from true belief and true experience and not magical thinking, but MAGICKAL thinking. My witchcraft has never been based on theory or books, but on real life experience, actual spellwork. Natural magick. And what happened happened spontaneously. In the middle of my fear, I had a job to do. To act instead of be acted upon. To push back and protect.

I also conjured the face of my worried landlord (or perhaps he showed up on his own), his wool-like hair, and that his spirit was guarding this house, which is far more his than mine. I am merely a temporary caretaker and tenant.

Everything changed after that. I gathered my anger and my power and I kept our little world safe. Even the next day when the tree fell on the house, we were safe.

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