Tag: Family Grimoire

A Family Grimoire: Practical Magic

Fennel in bloom

A few weeks ago I tweeted that I wish I had a family Grimoire because witches seem to have all the fun. A twitter acquaintance that I’d never gotten to know responded by telling me she was actually working on one for her family. It didn’t actually occur to me that I could WRITE ONE. We got to talking and discovered between us the kind of kinship that reminds me why I keep myself open to knowing new people.

The day after tomorrow I have to face my year of sobriety head-on so that I can reclaim aspects of my self-hood and health I know I need if I’m going to live a long life. It’s not important what happens after a year. The thing is to get through the year. Just one of them. Then, re-evaluate what I need at that point. It’s just one of those things I know I need and feels impossible to achieve.

My dear friend Nicole Montesano, a journalist I met while living in McMinnville, has given me such courage and buoying – just by knowing me so well she was able to pinpoint my strengths and remind me how much I love a challenge. I am so fortunate, so fortunate in the people who hold me up when I need extra spirit scaffolding.

Earlier today I came across a freshly hit cat in the road. Bleeding, crying, left to suffer by whomever hit her. A beautiful ginger with some white on her belly and feet. Blood ran out of her nose and I don’t know from where else, but there was a lot of it. I pulled over at the same time a truck pulled over. An old lady got out and scooped the cat up in her arms. I don’t think she was the person who hit the cat, but it’s possible she was. What I know is that the old lady had long white hair pulled back in a pony tail, she didn’t care about blood getting all over her. She was as distressed as I was. I asked if I could do anything to help. She said there was a vet close by and pointed across Santa Rosa Avenue vaguely. I reached out to the ginger cat and barely touched her fur, afraid because part of me knew she had to be in so much pain and how many bones were broken and how many organs rupturing? She was crying out in the most awful awful way that crushed my heart and tore at my bones. The old lady set her in her front seat and took off. I got back on my scooter, shaking, and bit back the awful feeling of shared pain, the kind when you can feel it from another being as though it was your own.

I’m not going to get her cries of pain out of my head and heart for a long time. I find solace knowing that she was rushed to a vet and if her injuries were as bad as they looked I’m sure she was euthanized as painlessly as possible. I’ve seen euthanization of pets and I can say it’s very peaceful. If her injuries weren’t as bad as they looked I’m sure she was given pain relievers. She’s either dead or recovering, but she isn’t still in the middle of the street getting run over or swerved around by irritated drivers. She’s as safe as she can be now.

The experience has shaken me up. It’s not that I haven’t seen this before. I found my beloved Snoozie (Suzy) dead by the curb on the opposite side of the street from my house. Philip hit a beautiful black cat one night and he searched the bushes to find where it ran off and we canvassed the apartment building near which she’d laid down. We discovered that she was a cat abandoned by some renters who moved. We took her home in a towel and with a lot of tears and love we buried her with honor.

Anyone who knows me well already knows the shocking truth that I think the least valuable animals on the planet are humans. We are an energy and health-sucking virus. Other animals play by the rules of nature and haven’t found a way to cheat her. Many humans think this is what makes us superior, I think this ability to cheat and sicken mother nature is what makes us a deadly virus on the planet. I’m not rooting for us. That bother you? LEAVE ME.

I have shared my story in order to heal through group talk. I have set my crushed heart before my two newest 4 week old feral motherless foster kittens and found healing with their lust for life and the first gifts of trust from the most scared one, named Tonic. I sought healing at my stove by making a big batch of black bean and corn soup.

And I have beer tonight.

After all that I thought about what I’m going to do with myself for a year to get through nights like this. I need a fairytale. Not a Disneyland version. I need a myth, a mist, a story to get lost in. My fiction writing, yes! But more than that, for the times when I need something simultaneously more gritty and more fanciful. What is a family archive, if not built on a thousand points of wishful thinking versus visceral memory? We all make up the family myths that suit us best. We all indulge in wishful thinking and a healthy dose of fantasy with our very real family histories. Why not have fun with them?

A Grimoire is a family book of spells and lore. My spirit twin showed me that a Grimoire doesn’t have to be literal spells but recipes for living, for food, for spiritual fulfillment, for FUN. It’s basically a “How To” catered specifically to a particular family. How to get rid of demons, yes. How to please your family with a pie, yes. How to heal knee scrapes with a secret family salve, yes. The potions for a life well-lived are different for everyone. No two family Grimoires are the same just as no two family’s blood lines are identical. No two family’s cultural experiences are the same.

So, to keep my mind bent in a healthy direction, I’m thinking of how I might organize such an enormous undertaking. I’m considering what family recipes to canonize, which in itself is an enormous laugh because if there’s one tenet this family “prays” to it’s “change tradition and make it fresh in your own eyes”.

There’s no recipe in my family that’s been handed down through all the generations of time. We come from poor people who apparently didn’t set much store by handing down recipes predicated on desperation. On my side we come from people who have moved ever Westerly and remained poor and uneducated until the generation before last. I’m pretty sure it’s not that different on Philip’s side.

I’m imagining rustling up that precious index card my mom wrote her recipe of tamale pie on. I know I’ll never make it her way exactly because she leaned heavily on green bell peppers in my youth which have never agreed with me. So I’m thinking about what treatment I’ll give that. If I can find her original index card (which I definitely had at some point) then I need to include it in its original form. But I’m thinking I’ll follow it up with my own newer modified version. It would be in keeping with the spirit of our family. Everything old is reinvented to meet new needs.

I’ve got sepia photographs in my head.

I hope this task I’ve set myself is enough to see me through. I hope this project is big enough. I hope I can make something worthy of being lost in the mists of time and under the floorboards.

At least I’d like to find my sense of fun again, like ribbons of quartz skirting through dark rock mountain slides.  I want to find the kind of fancifulness that produces such oddities as “thousand year old eggs” which clearly aren’t more than 100 hundred years old no matter how creepy they appear.

I dread how much harder it might be for me to sleep. Already I can’t breathe on my own skin and it seems that I can feel my breath on my skin no matter what the hell I do to cover my skin with oppressive blankets or direct my breathing away from my body. I swear all I have to do is imagine the feel of breathing on my skin and I FEEL IT. At the best of times I’m a poor sleeper, but without alcohol I’m usually an abysmal sleeper.

No matter.

It’s time for bed.

One more day.

Kiss your loved ones, tuck into the night.