When I was a little kid, we were raised in the local Southern Baptist church of Taylors, South Carolina. The thing I remember most about my religious upbringing was how much I dreaded Sundays. I loathed those “holy days,” but if I ever argued, I was quoted this scripture, and press-ganged into compliance:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.— Exodus 20:8-10
Sundays for us were stiff, anxiety-ridden, oppressive, demanding, socially-judged, and quite often heart-breaking. It was hard labor to get our household to wake up early, all scrubbed clean, dressed like porcelain dolls, and hauled over to the church with our pot-luck dish ready to share afterwards. I’d say mom worked her fingers to the bone on these supposed “days of rest.” They were a terrible lot of hard work, for the whole legion of church women who’d cook the feasts and lay out the pot-luck spreads down in the fellowship hall of our Church’s basement that one week every month when we’d have to stay for lunch as well.
By contrast, in my witchy house, we spend our Sundays in radically different ways than I was raised in the Christian Church. I try not to interfere in my children’s choices on this day. I do like to invest part of my own day preparing a nice meal for us to share, because I love to cook, and I’m one of those mother’s whose “love language” is often spoken through nourishment. I’m sure I picked up that trait from my holy-rolling mother, who among all her diverse qualities, was an excellent cook who made sure no one in her purview went hungry.
To me, Sundays are days of absolute autonomy and freedom. I’m not raising my children in any particular tradition – and they’ve been free to pursue their own paths as they see fit. I share my ideas and witchcraft practices with them when they inquire, as does their agnostic, physicist father, and their Hindu-adjacent, radically free-spirited step-father, and Buddhist-inspired, Mormon-Raised, Professional Counselor step-mother. It’s an eclectic mix around our tribe, to be sure.
On Sundays we honor our nature. We wake up whenever our bodies want to wake up; eat whatever and whenever our bodies wants to eat. We read what we want to read, craft, game, work or laze about in whatever way feeds our individual spirits. Sundays are the holiest of days in our week, too. With the insane pace of our normal hustle and bustle of work, school, extra-curricular activities all week long, I do everything in my power to keep our one and only day at home together unplanned and sacrosanct.
If I did wish to observe the holiness of Sundays as a witch, it would be to honor the power of the Sun, himself, through some act of planetary magick. Perhaps I attune to the masculine elemental fires of Will and do whatever I feel like doing. Or I seek connection with Father Gods in leadership and protection of our tribe. I might nurture some personal ambition, celebrate a success, or indulge in acts of happiness and hopefulness. Most of that time, it takes the form of rest and freedom.
When I think of my childhood “sabbath days” from the perspective of planetary magick I think only of Saturn’s energies, and its bondage, restrictions, and attempts to atone for original sin through repentance, obedience, and servitude. Saturday, ruled by Saturn, was definitely the more appropriate holy day to celebrate their sadistic god, alas, which is when Jewish law originally decreed it.
While my mom essentially coerced us kids into practicing her religion against our will every Sunday (with two services including Sunday School, and again on Wednesday nights, and Saturdays during that one church basketball season,) I realize that is a normal expectation among Christian parents. So, I try to see the love in there and forgive her for that bit of spiritual violence. I’m afraid it was also part of her “love language” to try and “save” everyone she met from an imaginary dimension of mortal doom. Le sigh.
But my childhood Sundays weren’t all bad; in the afternoons, after the hellfire and damnation part was over, and the tithes had been extorted into the collection plate, and the plastic pleasantries exchanged…and those special weeks where we could actually go on home to a family meal around our own table… We could finally shed the crinoline dresses and uncomfortable patent leather shoes, and relax a bit before the evening services began. In those happy memories, there was usually a home-made feast with her famous fried chicken and all the fixin’s. I’d help my mother in the kitchen, and she’d let me shake the chicken joints in that brown paper bag filled with the flour and spices. Then she’d carefully show me how to tend the electric skillet as they fried up golden brown to perfection.
Above it all, I miss that personal time spent with my mother at home, and wish she was still here with me among the living for me to tell her so. Perhaps some Sunday soon, I’ll choose to honor my ancestor with an attempt for the first time in decades, to recreate her famous fried chicken. That definitely seems like a witchy way to keep my Sunday holy.