About two weeks ago while I was in Minneapolis, I bought an emotional support narwhal. Not a real narwhal of course, but a small anime-inspired, pastel-colored stuffed animal sporting a silver horn and a rainbow emerging out of its blowhole.
My logical self will tell you that Narly is the perfect size for a travel pillow, because he is. He makes a fantastic pillow and was a great price.
But my emotional and more honest self will tell you that I needed something soft, squishy, and happy-looking in my immediate grasp. It had been a pretty rough week saturated with some unexpected deaths, losses, and stress – and I had a major festival to navigate over the next 3 days, followed by a high-pressure house-hunting trip. Sometimes you just need something bright, happy, and soft to hug and hold on to – and not have to worry about consent, personal space, or killing something because you squeezed it too much.
After finishing up our week of house-hunting successfully, I was worn out from the emotional, mental, and physical roller-coaster – and really, really tired. So rather than packing Narly in my luggage, I had him under my arm as we waited to board the plane. In sorting out our boarding numbers, the older couple in front us struck up a conversation – the woman noting my “unicorn whale.” (And not the first or last person to do so, how do people NOT know about narwhals???) After announcing that our move from Seattle to Providence wouldn’t be that drastic because “they both do a lot of seafood” (not the first similarity I would list), she looked us up and down. Her eyes rested again on Narly then glanced to my brightly colored owl purse with a tiny cookie-bearing Pusheen hanging from it, contrasted by my vintage motorcycle jacket, dark dyed duster, and blue-feathered fedora. She then proclaimed we’d be fine, citing my “young” accouterments. (Thanks random lady from Chicago?)
I found this whole exchange rather odd and mulled it over during the first flight. I tend not to judge others by how they look, but more about what they do and more specifically: how they feel to me. I forget that not many others do the same.
I rarely step outside of myself and try to see what others appear to see. Though I know I generally fail at “dressing down” to achieve “normal.” I could wear the most boring sweats (if I had any) and still somehow stick out like a sore thumb. I side-eye the term “age appropriate.” I don’t dress or adorn my body or spaces to please anyone else but myself. Instead I gravitate to things that visually make me happy, inspire and fascinate me, and generally that I find interesting and worthwhile. So that’s what I generally wear and surround myself with.Which includes emotional support narwhals, tacky purses, and both dark and shiny things. And magically, I believe these things are all rooted in a sense of play. You could call it glamour magic (if you look marvelous, you’ll feel marvelous), but I think all magic requires a sense of play and imagination. Much of sympathetic magic relies on visual and other sensory connections. The herbs, the stones, the colored candles, the songs and chants, the incense – they all are threads that connect a stronger pattern for our brains. That’s where the power truly resides – in us, in the spaces between dancing neurons in our minds.
Play in the sense of working your imagination, using story-telling, and engaging in a bit of fantasy from time to time strengthens your magical muscles. How? Why? Because the better we can see the pattern and imagine how we can change it, the more likely we are able to actually accomplish the transformation. We tend to think of play as something just for children, but where’s the joy in that? Also, take into consideration how much more of the world children are able to perceive – especially concerning spirits and other beings. Their brains are more flexible, not yet walled in by social structures and weighed down by grim logic.
Yet, so many Witches get bogged down with “will we be taken seriously?” There is a tendency to become rigid in ritual and rites, and focus more on “doing it right’ versus doing it well. A heavy focus on “being respectable” and “socially recognized” – by a system that has longed looked down its nose at Witches out of fear, greed, and discomfort. Sure, there is a time and a place for everything – but it’s hard to successfully drive a vehicle if you’re worrying about how it looks to everyone else from the outside.
Of course, I’m not saying to take a one-way trip to fantasy-land 24/7. I’m still very much engaged in the “real world”, or at least have managed to fool most of the world into thinking I’m a functioning adult for now over 20 years. But allowing yourself a bit more play can definitely be a healthy engagement for you – mind, body, and spirit.
And I heartily endorse all emotional support narwhals.