I rode along the streets of my mother’s hometown of Abbeville Alabama and thought to myself, this feels strangely like home and wildly like a foreign land. So many emotions and so many memories flooded my mind as the whole trip to Alabama unfolded from start to finish. I had not been back to Alabama since I was 14 years old, I am now 39. In the last 25 years a lot of things have happened, I have lost myself and found myself several times over. Regeneration is the name of that spiritual game for sure.
I did not go to Alabama for a spiritual retreat, and I did not think that I would find some things that I had desperately been missing in my spiritual path. Nonetheless, I went to Alabama and came back a different person. I am still uncovering what this means to me.
For most of the time I spent there I was between a hotel room and a hospital room watching my Aunt in her fight for life. What I didn’t expect was a deep connection with the land, the stories of my ancestors, and the spirit of my family members. Growing up estranged from my family has been very hard, and has unintended consequences (and some intended I am sure) of being distant. But in this process it means that I am also estranged from some of the intricate stories that help to give context to my family story, and the magic there within.
I took the makings of a small altar with me through the airport and to the hotel room that I would reside in for the time I was there. I laid out pieces gifted to me by my closest magical friends, a candle from a local shop and some written spell work. I found solace in the comfort of my altar, the laughter of my family, the phone calls with my husband and my computer at the end of the day.
I could write a book about the many different things that I learned and experienced on this 4 day trip, and maybe one day I will. I figure I will, in the meantime, write some blogs about some of the things I extract from the trip and share those thoughts.
Inherently connecting with the land of my mother’s family has led me to a place of deeper understanding about the magic that comes from my people. Assimilating into mainstream Wiccan culture means that much of my own own cultural magic became of little value within the larger construct. For years I focused on the magical practices taught to me by the teachers I have been grateful to have, and ignored the magic of my people that I had been distanced from.
I got to touch the soil on this trip back home. I heard the stories of my mother’s people, some of the history of our lineage, and touched the dirt of significant places in the area. I even got to collect some of the dirt and rocks from the various places of my family.
It was truly amazing on one hand and on the other hand I watched my aunt dying in the bed of that hospital room. Magically awakened in my grief, I came and went through Alabama as if it were a dream. The strong bonds of family in turmoil linger to this day and I feel spiritually changed.
In the coming weeks and months I have committed to write more about my trip, explore some of the stories I got to learn, and unpacking the magical significance. I have come to understand that so many of us are in the process of understanding how to integrate our family magic, cultural treasures, the overculture of our Modern Pagan communities into our individual practices. I feel the complexity of this is magnified when being a person of color, and therefore an important part of the spiritual process for Black Pagans.
In the meantime I will share the poem I wrote for my aunt when she died, and a picture I found last night in my mother’s papers. The picture is of my mother and two of my aunts with me on the porch of my grandparents home in Alabama. It was my 4th birthday. My aunt Jimmie is kissing me…… She was an amazing woman.
All That She Was and Will Be
Big smiles and golden heart
Memories of childhood hugs and stern love.
Strong in her mind and and in her faith.
Brilliant eyes, smooth skin and all woman.
Proud of her family and profound in her care for them.
In love with her husband year after year after year.
Always silly and funny at all the right times.
Memorable to everyone she met, leaving an impression for years to come.
A place of safety in a sometimes unsafe world.
Larger than life and pure magic in this child’s eyes.
Mama Bear in full effect.
My sweet tea making, greens cooking, casino playing, music listening, church going, family loving, fun having, God praising, grandma spirited……..Aunt Jimmie
My Aunt Jimmie Lee
She will always be….
Honored, Loved and Remembered.
She will always be…
My Aunt Jimmie Lee