The White Witch in the Land of the Holy Cross
Names changed to protect the humans
I was having a mixed time down in Santa Cruz. I felt, as I always do on the California Coast, that this was God’s country. The glittering aquamarine sea embraced the land with bracing authority, softening its grasp with whispered wisps of fog that rolled off the susurrant waves. The sun bathed us in golden sugar, the cormorants and pelicans frolicked on the rocks, the ash-blonde babies squittered about on the pearly sands, and everywhere, humans and animals alike moved with the slow indulgence of the blessed.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
All this natural splendour lay under a suffocating Kraken of disposable beige housing and water-guzzling lawns that nobody played on, of Lexuses whose windows had never been rolled down, of freeways that went on forever, and of Fat White Self-Obsessed Spoilt People who knew and cared for nothing other than their own oblivious supremacy. People drained away their lives hermetically sealed in the human equivalent of those plastic clamshell packages that can’t be opened even with utility knives, and didn’t even know it. But that was their privilege, as members of the Overlord Caste. The bulk of the people interacting with the environment were filthy crazy bums who, just as in San Francisco, boiled over with drug-fueled but well-deserved class rage, who screamed filthy abuse at the top of their furious lungs, who chased people, and who wanted to get their revenge on the world by wreaking violence wherever they could.
Not that it mattered. Nothing here mattered, except that the roots of the expensive blonde dye jobs everywhere were regularly touched up every four to six weeks, that the beer was craft and artisanal and locally sourced, and that the bums of the young girls hung out of the bottoms of their cutoff jeans shorts somewhat more than was legally possible.
Even the soft rolling pink flesh of the juicy young ladies didn’t matter down here, rendered irrelevant by unawareness. Somewhere where sex existed, this land would be ariot with luscious orgies — but here, the bared butts of the young and fertile were as meaningful as samurai swords flushed down a garbage disposal.
Whatever, man. Don’t harsh the mellow.
That’s the job of the bitter homeless wolves, sad and crazy, and out for mass revenge.
This place was plumb spoiling for a witch. And I knew just the woman to save the day.
I knew Maya from our old days back in Witch School. She had become if anything even more beautiful and magnetic, even more various and beguiling. (But that’s women for you. The stars that light up this darkling plain. If I could change sexual preferences I would.). She had moved to this oceanside paradise a few weeks prior. Her husband was still down in the City of the Lost Angels. I liked her best as she was, on her own, sharing a home with another siren. Their nest was full of mermaids and the kinds of sparkling treasures that mermaids accrue on their briny travels. I could not imagine a man trespassing on this haven of feminine freedom that she had wrought all on her own. She had changed her whole life to suit herself. So few of us know that we can do that. So many of us prefer to follow paths instead of striking out on our own and leaving trails where previously none existed.
But she had been blazing her own trail her whole life, as mermaids and witches do.
Once upon a time….
The girl from Virginia went to college in Spain. She learned about gypsies who want to give you rosemary, and flamenco dancers in ancient caves, and tapas and shawarma, and the red-blooded fullness of life. She hit her head on a marble piazza while playing Frisbee, but it was ok, because she was high on cocaine provided her by some musicians she was staying with. Her family got sick of Spaniards Everywhere. She lived and grew and had the kind of adventures one has while abroad. After that, how could the US compare? — She investigated everything that was interesting. She learned about wine the way an artist learns about paint. She went down the Waldorf School teacher-training rabbit hole because at first the idea of hands-and-heart-first education sounded wonderful. But, as I have heard from other experiencers of the Waldorf approach, soon it became disturbingly cultish and repressively brainwashy. She investigated shamanic healing practices.
Then she fell apart, the screws potentially loosened by the combination of Waldorf and shamanism, or perhaps it was just her time to do so. She woke up wishing she would not wake up, and spent the day hating herself. She wished she were dead. Here was an issue that, for the first time, her parents could not help her solve. So she put herself in the nut house and got held there for three long days. No doctors saw her, just as no doctors saw me when it was my time. They wheeled her in a wheelchair down into the basement and left her there, trapped against her will, not telling her what was going on, drawing her blood to test for drugs. Finally she convinced them to free her by figuring out what they wanted to hear at her trial as she petitioned for her liberty, and they allowed her to go. ….I had exactly the same experience. Because when it comes to the mental health system, the United States is still partying like it’s 1799. We treat anybody who needs help dealing with the horrors of our dysfunctional modern society like they’re the most abominable excrescences of the universe, dangerous criminals to be hated and deprived of every human right, instead of actually…helping them.
After they set her free she took antipsychotic drugs for six months. Now she lives her life, as we all do, in ways that help her avoid getting stuck in the loony bin again. She recognizes her depressive tendencies, and recognizes that she has an addictive personality and a desire for drink.
We are all Chinese swords with red tassels redirecting the world’s attention. Maya would initially look like the last candidate in the world for depression and alcoholism. She is the wittiest, liveliest, funniest, most light-filled and charismatic young witch I ever met.
Balance exists in everyone. We all have our light side and our shadow side, and without one or the other, we would not be ourselves.
She supported a man for four years, when she was right out of college, working sixteen-hour shifts, while he stayed home and drank beer. Because we allow ourselves to maintain the kinds of relationships that would make us bitch-slap sense into any friend who told us they were conducting such a one themselves.
She started a music review blog, the Bar Napkin Review. She loved a band and interviewed its handsome Colombian lead guitarist. They fell to talking and she felt that she could keep talking with this musician for the rest of her life. So they got married.
Balance exists in every relationship. They all have their light side and their shadow side.
The witch and the musician were both young and beautiful and artistic and interesting and vital and compelling. *And* their lives were as full of challenges as anyone else’s. They lived in LA and he played with his band and she put up with it and felt suffocated and stunted and miserable. He was happy and getting his artistic needs met, and she was trapped and lonely and frustrated and unheard. This dynamic continued for a long time. They would talk about it…and their talks reminded me that in Spanish, the word for “a knock-down drag-out screaming fight” is “discussion.” Plate-throwing discussions. He refused to help. She hated life in LA, he liked it, he made music with his band, she couldn’t get work….
Gentle Reader, the story does have a happy ending. But as with many people, things had to get really bad before she could allow them to get better.
One day she had a dream that told her to move to Santa Cruz. She knew this was right for her. For she visited and another witch introduced her to her herbalist coven. The place felt right. She was happy. She tried to convince the musician to come. He wouldn’t. Finally he said he would join her, while still being musically based in LA. You know — right after coming back from Abu Dhabi.
As one does.
She splits her time between Santa Cruz and rural Virginia, where she takes care of her aging parents and stewards her grandfather’s cottage by the river. In Santa Cruz, she studies witchcraft and does outcall bodywork sessions. Driving hours for each session, she has time in the car to work on vocal practice and her nascent singing and composing interests. She will be starting yoga teacher training soon. And next year, she plans to become a part-time beekeeper on her visits to Virginia. She takes care of her musician, she takes care of her clients, she takes care of her little dog, and she even took care of me.
I would say, I hope someone is out there taking care of *her*, but she seems to take care of herself just fine.
Witches of the world unite.