When I left coven work to become a solitary witch, this is not what I had in mind.
On March 20, our state, like so many others, fell under a Shelter At Home order and to do the right thing, my husband, Eric, and I closed our metaphysical store until the order is lifted. At the time, we thought it would likely be a month or so, but as the crisis has progressed, it appears it will be longer. Admittedly, at the time, I did not feel afraid or inconvenienced. I was sad to leave my shop – I really love that place – but my overwhelming feeling was one of profound relief. I certainly did not like what was going on, but the idea of locking away in my home felt absolutely delicious. I was always one of those kids who prayed my mom would send me to my room… that is where all my stuff was.
Self-quarantine? Come at me, bro
My home is my sanctuary and by nature, I am a hermit. I go through cycles in my life where I come outside, blink at the cursed sunlight like a groundhog on February 2nd and then begin to create activity in the world because some errant husband or other person decides I need to get air and see people and be some kind of stupid force in the world. After a while, usually two or three years, I go inside and slam the door closed and do not emerge for a few additional years, usually because some person got uncomfortable with me isolating and tipped over the complaining level to the point that I decide to go be productive in the world again. I do not play especially well with others and I love and respect people far better when they are not under my feet nonstop.
In January 2013, I decided to write a book that had been built up in me for two decades and so I booked an author event five months out for a book on which I had not written a single word. By the time the author event happened, I had written three books and within a year, I had written thirteen. I was doing what I always wanted to do, but it also meant that periodically, I had to leave my house and promote the book. It was only a few times a year, so living as a reclusive author the rest of the time was fine. It was like a nice compromise between being a hermit and being productive out there in the world.
In 2014, for reasons I still cannot fathom, I launched a botanica (magic shop) and since then, I have worked out there in the world nonstop with my own involvement growing. I went from working only weekends to opening a bigger, better shop and working long days five days a week. After spending a year being on tap to people fifty or so hours a week, self-quarantine sounded like a dream come true. Social distancing? I invented it. Try me.
I could get the book done that I contracted with Llewellyn knowing good and well I did not have time to write it.
I could make videos… so many videos… for my YouTube channel.
I could host live-streaming, interactive video classes!
I could lose a hundred pounds and emerge after the crisis like a butterfly from the cocoon!
I could clean my house from top to bottom.
I could sleep, dear Goddess, I could sleep and sleep and sleep and get up when I wanted and go to bed when I wanted and nap if I wanted and… sigh.
I would burn up social media, refining my presence and force myself to remember that I have an Instagram account I need to use.
Photos! I would take so many photos.
I would develop new products for when we re-open the store.
Gasp! I would read books I didn’t write!
I would drift off to sleep by the fire while Eric massaged my feet and then he would gently remove the earbuds from my ears and turn off my audiobook, covering me with a mink blanket as I murmured something precious in my sleep and rolled over and pressed my face against the cushion. Oh and in this scenario, there are two cats sleeping on my lap and yeah, a thunderstorm outside.
I would smoke copious amounts of marijuana and blow out my chakras and tickle my kundalini with the feathers of Nirvana on the regular.
I would calmly reassure my scrambling, frantic, panicked students and friends who would whisper about how together I was, how I was a marvelous source of strength and wisdom during the crisis.
I would have afternoon sex and re-awaken the Goddess within me because she is all about afternoon sex and hasn’t spoken to me in a ridiculously long time.
I was like Burgess Meredith in the old Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough At Last.”
Except if you have watched that episode, it does not end especially well.
As of today, I am three weeks into isolation. I left the house one time during those three weeks to go get supplies from the shop. So far, I have accomplished very few of those marvelous things.
I have the sleep part down. I am usually good for nine or ten hours at a time. I have determined that my sleep window is 2:00 am until noon.
The book I pitched to Llewellyn and loved, that I taught seminars on for three years, I now despise. I look at it and it looks at me and we wait for the clock to strike twelve so we can see who will shoot the other one in the face first. This book is an albatross around my neck. It is the Stairway to Heaven to my Robert Plant, except that Stairway to Heaven is brilliant and, well, completely written. I will finish the book. Some may even find it useful. It will not be my magnum opus. It will be a book. I can already see my editor frowning and writing vision notes that are almost as long as the book itself. Phoenix writes books and for vision notes she gets back a blank page with a smiley face emoji on it and a coupon for a free Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen stapled to it. I get weighty tomes with “See me after class” written on it in red Flair marker. For those who do not know, vision notes are the fix-it tickets authors get from their publishers telling them where they bombed in writing their first draft of a book.
I have binge-watched so many things on Hulu and Netflix and Amazon Prime that I am running out of things to watch. The falls I take down YouTube rabbit holes make Alice’s look like she stepped off a curb. I will discuss “Tiger King” like it is freakin’ “Hamlet.” I have watched so much TV that I no longer get prompts from Netflix. They know good and well I am still there.
I am eating, as one internet meme put it, “as if I am dying in the electric chair tomorrow.” I went back to Keto for a week to squelch the cravings and make some weight-loss progress and I ate more Keto foods than any human should be able to hold. Food is delicious and delightful and reassuring now and we are having a love affair of Thelma and Louise proportions.I do get dressed every day. I act like that makes me somewhat civilized. If I smoked, you can bet I would use a long cigarette holder right now and wave it around dramatically while a four-inch ash refuses to fall off of it.
None of the online classes I intended to host have manifested yet. I started to do an Ostara ritual with Eric and my Facebook feed was so overloaded with virtual Ostara rituals that it did not seem worth the effort. So I didn’t make the effort.
I started to host a virtual Santa Muerte (Saint of Death) veneration that we host in person every New Moon, but it seemed rude as hell to bother Her when she is so busy.
I have done a lot of magic for other people. I am greatly relieved that the fire is still in my hands and I can channel good things for others, so setting the lights (candle magic), remote healing, spiritual cleansing, remote house clearing, and Tarot readings still happen on the regular. This keeps me from feeling like a total under-the-couch dust bunny.
I think a lot about my adult kids, especially those who are out there working as essential employees, and wonder if I will see them again.
I remember my babies, my six sweet little love bundles that I carried under my ribs and cradled on my chest. I miss them. I wish I could cuddle my toddlers just one more time and kiss their sweet heads. I wish I could sit down my younger self and give her a serious talking to. Maudlin thoughts I would never have are now omnipresent.
My daughter made a mask for me. It is beautiful and I cried. She orders me not to go out and I realize that I am now one of “them.” I am the old woman the kids have to take care of and monitor to make sure she takes her blood pressure medicine and doesn’t get taken in by insurance scams. How did it happen? It all went by so fast! I was hot thirty years ago, don’t you know? Thirty years… It used to be that we were not supposed to trust anyone over thirty and now it has been thirty years since I was young and vivacious. In the blink of an eye, “young and vivacious” turned into “old and eccentric.” Did I mention the maudlin thoughts?
My husband goes out and gets whatever food or supplies we need. Friends noticed and remarked that in a comment on his sister’s Facebook post that he said he doesn’t “let” his wife go into stores. What? What? When did that stop being a gauntlet thrown at my feet, daring me into action? For a solid five minutes, I scrolled furiously through posts looking for the offending comment so I could “Oh reeeeallly?!” it and let him know he had clearly lost his damned mind. Then “WHAT?” turned into “Whatever…” and I just didn’t care anymore.
Stroke the chicken’s neck and she goes right to sleep.
I have absolutely the funkiest, strangest dreams I’ve ever had in my life.
A day or so after we closed down the shop, approximately four feet of snow fell on us and our power went out for five days. Good times. Then the power came back on and it started to rain and most of the snow went away and life started to return and then we got another foot of snow and it stayed that way. We are only now starting to see some ground out there again. I post photos and people tell me how beautiful it is and how jealous they are and I think bad things about them and go watch more Netflix.
Seriously, I am grateful
I am not unaware of my blessings. I have it so much better than most and that is just objective observation, not bragging. I can do at least some of my work from home. Of my six adult kids and their loved ones, I am now down to two kids plus a significant other for one of them, out there in the fray of exposure. The others are safely in their homes observing social distancing.
I do not feel compelled to human companionship and outside entertainment, so truly, staying at home is as great as I knew it would be. I just don’t do what I thought I would.
I have a partner who is willing to go out and hunt and forage and bring back supplies (because, you know, he doesn’t let me go into the stores – not that I want to anyway).
I don’t have to adjust to being around my husband all the time because we are together all the time anyway, even when there is not a plague raging outside.
I am not not enjoying the lock down, so I am leaning heavily into the parts of it I love and trying to minimize the parts of it that are challenging and disappointing. I am demanding less of myself, if that is even possible. I am letting my empathic self process all the emotions I get from the outside without judgment. Water over rocks. Water over rocks. Catch and release. Let it roll away.
I am forgiving myself for not being a beacon of wisdom, hope, and strength during a pandemic. There are many smart people out there doing that. Apparently, they are stronger and more evolved than I am because all I want to do is pull my covers over my head and go into those funky dreams. I read what they write and think, “Dear Gods, they are all so clever!” I think about weighing in with something that might sound remotely intelligent and I realize someone already said something even more insightful, so I slip back into the hedge like Homer Simpson.
This is my experience and I have to realize that I can be kind and loving, but I am not required to step up and play Moses to part the Red Sea and lead the frightened Israelites to the Promised Land. I am going to sovereign-out my little solitary witch fishbowl and breathe. I am going to be engaged in the moment without lamenting what is no longer there or lusting after what we hope is coming in the future.
Meanwhile, I have heard they are cobbling together an additional episode of “Tiger King,” so I will just be over here…