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Uncoven Issue #22

Episode 25 – Scarlet and Blackbird Get Introspective 

Join these two as they chat about the value and witch-like essence of Marie Kondo’ing your shit, and what it means in general to evaluate importance in the life of a witch.  Are there self-destructive habits, or do we make choices?  It’s an esoteric episode, y’all!

We are ALL OVER the ‘grams, folks.  Check us out.
Follow Hex Rated here (@hexratedwitches)
Follow Blackbird’s poetry (@blackbirdwyrd)
Follow Jaye’s writings and amazing natural photography (@lady_jaye_of_the_wild)
Follow Lily’s gorgeous artwork (@my_blue_veins)

Don’t forget to check out our web-o-net pages at Hex Rated Podcast!

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New Year, New You? Fuck That.

Shadow work is a hot topic in the witchy community.

I mean, anything involving “shadows” must be edgy and cool and goth as fuck, right?

Holy fuck, let me tell you it is not.

It is not edgy. It is not cool. Maybe it‘s goth af? I‘m not, nor have I ever been, goth; so it‘s hard for me to say for certain.

Here you are with your spite and envy and wrath, filled with judgement and vindictiveness. Here you are with your baggage, lugging it around like you‘re late to what‘s sure to be the most turbulence-filled and uncomfortable traveling experience of your life. The baggage you never open because it‘s filled with refuse. Filled with dirt. Filled with insects and pests and locusts, the kind biblical plagues were made for.

The baggage filled with your trauma. Filled with your shame. Filled with the parts of yourself and your experiences that you bury and hide like you‘re a filthy animal storing for the snow.

Well, the snow is here. The blizzard has come.

Open up your motherfucking baggage, sweetie, because that‘s the shadow work. It‘s not edgy. It‘s not cool, it‘s not fun, and no one is going to be able to tell you how to do it. Maybe you need therapy, maybe you need some group counseling, maybe you need to take an honest fucking look at yourself in the mirror and come to terms with the very flawed but very beautiful human staring back at you.

It will not be fun. You will change. Kind of. Because right now, you‘re not fully you yet. I mean, maybe you are, maybe you‘ve done the work, whatever that may be for you. I‘m guessing though that you could probably dig deeper, that you could probably pick at those scabs a little bit more, let them bleed, feel that pain, and then bandage them and let them heal.

New year, new you? Fuck that. It‘s not a new you, it is you. It‘s not time to become new, it‘s simply time to become you.

~Lily

Elbow Deep with Blackbird

yd2This one might be short, because hey, that’s all I have in me right now, starlings.  I am menopausal and tired.  The renewal of the year does not always mean a renewal of spirit.  In fact, since the start of the new year, I have felt almost as worn down since our big move last summer.  I’m cranky and sullen and want to sleep 24 hours a day.

I think we all tend to put a great deal of undue and undeserved pressure on ourselves to live some sort of Instagrammable life, and there’s a part of me that wants that, too.  I mean, I want to be authentic, but I want the authentic part to be “always trying.”  Yeah, but what happens when you straight up do not want to try??  I Marie Kondo’d my drawers and closet last weekend, and have now moved on to my spare room AND I JUST DON’T WANT TO.  I also had to do work work this weekend, which I didn’t want to do.  I want to lay in bed and watch nature shows and sleep intermittently.

Sometimes, we can strike a compromise, though, which is what I have ended up doing this weekend.  I did some laundry, I took a nap.  I did some work, now I’m gonna eat some fucking popcorn and then turn out all the lights, burn some incense, and sit in the Pigeon position until I can’t feel my hips anymore.  Taking care of yourself is not always starting some new mental pact with yourself.  Sometimes taking care of yourself has to be a compromise, because while I want to lay in bed all day erry day, I have to live in the real world, too.
Balance.  If anything, that is my word right now.  Not for the year.  Not because I’m trying to achieve something new.  But because balance will help me be more true to my practice, more true to those I love, and most importantly, more true to myself.  Emotions are like a river, and while I will continue to feel them, they don’t own me.  The river doesn’t have to be like the river at the end of Cape Fear.  And if it does get crazy and stormy and your feelings are like a tongue-speaking maniac, be calm and set them the fuck on fire just like Juliette Lewis did.  Chances are, much like Max Cady, your feelings don’t always speak the truth.

Balance.

Blackbird

Book Witch: the Gift of Fear review

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Reading, Gavin de Becker’s the Gift of Fear,
I was surprised at how relevant it was to Blackbird and I’s discussion about self-inquiry, honesty, and investigating and re-purposing or finding value in yucky feelings.Although I found it a quick read, the book is dense and I won’t review it in its entirety here. Briefly, de Walker is a professional threat analyst who consults on security, criminal profiling, and prevention.  He is also candid throughout the book on his childhood experience of domestic abuse which provide a personal nuance to a topic that has become his profession. The chapters address high profile assassinations, anonymous threats, stalking, workplace violence, domestic abuse, and  violence from strangers.  Scenarios are demystified  with case studies in narrative form, hard data about crime, warning signs or techniques for civilians, and protocols the author’s firm uses to assess the potential for violence in the field.We’ve all seen survivors struggle to explain the instincts that saved them from danger saying, “I don’t why I was suspicious” or “I can’t explain what seemed off.”  De Walker’s point is actually that these brave, but perfectly ordinary people did know. Their intuition is not coincidence or luck.  We are all processing very minute details faster than our conscious minds can acknowledge. That might seem a little less mysterious than supernatural senses or guardian spirits, but I find this revelation to be exceptionally empowering.  It is not a gift bestowed at random to a blessed few, it is something we all possess.

Whether your conscious mind registers it or not, you are constantly evaluating what is out of place, too loud, too quiet, too fast, too slow, if someone near you is signaling anxiety or aggression or ease.  In fact, intuition even works in your sleep. We have all slept through very loud but also very commonplace noises only to awaken to a subtle but unfamiliar or out of place sound.

For example, a  woman described a sudden panic to leap out of her seat and lock the doors of the car she was waiting in. It was as if an unseen force compelled her out of nowhere. In reality, she saw a 3 inch patch of blue denim in the side mirror out of the corner of her eye.  Her brain registered that it was too close, moving too fast. It was the shirt of a man who would try to abduct her.

Anecdotes like this one are fascinating and worth reading in the context of the book.  However, in case you never do, here are some methods that jumped out to me as useful exercises in developing intuition of any kind, not just danger-related response.  They are also tools for self-care and self-inquiry into the types of response we mistake for fear but are anxieties of our own making or conversely the habit of dismissing or explaining away genuine intuitive signals that can protect us.

Fuck Politeness
Fans of My Favorite Murder know that way too many people shove their “stranger danger” spidey-sense deep down when they should nope the fuck out because they are worried about seeming rude.  De Walker supplies emphatic evidence on why accidentally upsetting a well meaning stranger is ALWAYS better than being targeted by a predator who meant you harm. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, remember, “He has nothing to contribute to the topic of your personal security. Your survival instinct is a gift from Nature that knows a lot more about your safety than he does. Nature does not require his approval.”

Fear is mean to be brief
“Fear in not an emotion like  sadness or happiness, either of which might exist for a long while.  It is not a state, like anxiety… Worry, wariness, anxiety, and concern all have a purpose, but they are not all fear. So any time your dreaded outcome cannot be linked to pain or death and it isn’t a signal in the presence of danger, the it really shouldn’t be confused with fear. [However],  It may very well be something worth understanding and trying to manage”

Make a List
This thought game is for identifying a culprit, sussing out a reasonable motive, or if the threat is a genuine indicator of violence.  Obviously for situations when you have time to reflect on the safety concern, not for situations when you are interacting with someone who is making you fearful. I also think it would be handy for recovering other types of intuited information that the conscious mind is trying to explain away, dismiss as unimportant, etc.

Write out three or more choices or scenarios with the intention of picking one.  By knowing that at least two are going to be “wrong”, you free yourself from the judgement of being “right” or “reasonable” and let yourself flesh out possibilities that may have merit or reveal concerns you might have ignored as a “wild guess” or “crazy.”

“Satellite” Information
While conducting interview with clients or survivors, de Walker takes note of a  phenomenon he calls “satellite” details which are seemingly extraneous or unrelated to the topic.  In these anecdotes, the extraneous information is often the most pertinent clue.

For example, one women was receiving anonymous messages urging her to move “or else” and other threats. The threats were intimidating enough that she was in the process of relocating. In the course of brainstorming possible suspects, she went on a tangent about how moving was a burden but that she was grateful that she lucked into meeting a real estate agent that was helping her.  You guessed it, the guy she mentioned in passing turned out to be the culprit. Even though her conscious mind had convinced her she ought to be grateful for the new acquaintance’s help and that a total stranger would have nothing to do with the threats, her intuitive mind picked up on the clues that their “chance” meeting was suspicious and his motives were insincere.  This intuited information surfaced as a seemingly meaningless tangent.

Sometimes the intuited information is actually a revelation about one’s own motives and anxieties.

A woman was afraid of being followed at her workplace.  When elaborating, she specified that she was afraid of being followed on the way to her car  because she was often “the last to leave” and it was dark and quiet and she was alone. The satellite detail of “being the last to leave” repeated several times.  When pressed and asked why she didn’t simply leave earlier, she insisted, “Oh I can’t! If I did people would think I’m lazy.” To sum up a much longer and detailed conversation, the woman’s worry, which probably felt real to her, was actually tied to her anxiety about being perceived as a valuable coworker not an actual attack.  This is certainly not to say that being alert in vulnerable situations is unwarranted. But as the author points out, this person was describing a persistent worry in the absence of a physical threat.

It would hard to use this technique on oneself, but could be employed with a trusted friend.  Word vomit, let the friend listen or even transcribe the conversation, then pick out the extraneous information.  Then, the friend can ask further questions about these satellites and discover their relevance. Be open and keep talking.  If you find yourself saying, “I don’t know why I said that” or “That doesn’t matter” or “it’s silly” keep rambling anyway and have your friend be pre-instructed to keep picking.

Look into the Abyss
“Acts of extraordinary horror and violence happen, and we cannot learn why they happen by looking at rare behavior as if it something outside ourselves. To really work toward prediction and prevention, we must accept that these acts are done by people included in the “we” of humanity, not by interlopers who sneaked in.”

Interestingly, the way the author demonstrates this truth is not by anecdotes about how notorious criminals have a soft side or by coaching the reader to feel empathy for these predators. Rather, he asks the reader to conjure up most horrible, deranged act one person could do do another. Something “original,” worse than any movie or headline.

Now here’s the kick in the tits: that fictitious scenario has most definitely been done to someone. If you can think it, it exists somewhere. That capacity for horror exists inside you. You have the ability to conceive of it, even if you would never act on it or derive pleasure from it. As Nietzsche observed and FBI behavior scientist Robert Ressler reiterated, “When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you.”

Contemplating the nature of understanding versus acceptance, seeking explanations but not excuses, even the nature of fear and predation itself is not your run of the mill “love and light” fluffy self help, but that’s not what we witches are here for, is it?

Final Thoughts
This book has lots of insider info on profiling if your a true crime junkie.  It also has loads of street smart techniques for spotting, shutting down, or surviving violence that you can memorize and use right away.

However, the stuff I most enjoyed and why I picked it up in the first place was that spooky curiosity about how the mind works. How do we accomplish feats of perception and bravery?  How do the minds of dangerous people work? How can they commit acts of cruelty even it it threatens their own freedom from incarceration? For me, to call on unseen forces and make magic always comes back to these questions.

~Scarlet

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Politi-Craft

An on-going list of political and social action items to keep you aware in these rage-inducing times. 

– Use the Americans of Conscience worksheets to make and Action Plan and Self Care plan for 2019.

-Friend of the podcast and Scarlet’s middle school-high-school-college classmate Amy Patrick is going viral, l aying down engineering facts about the proposed border wall!

–  Consumer Technology Association, revoked an innovation award from Lora DiCarlo’s company geared toward women‘s sexual health, saying it ” fit into any of our existing product categories.” And yet, they have recognized or hosted exhibitors such as an virtual porn company and a sex robot for men.  What do you suppose the REAL issue is, hmm?

-the National Film Board of Canada launched Indigenous cinema, an extensive online library of over 200 films by Indigenous directors.  Here’s a list of top picks from the archive from the directors and programmers themselves!

-This app makes your phone buzz when you approach places where women made history.

-1,000-Year-Old Illustrated Manuscript o f Herbal Remedies Available Online 

-Complete Guide to 2019 Artist Grants & Opportunities

Still useful stuff:

– Check out Jen Hoffman’s new year activism challenge with her activism plan worksheet and a bonus self care worksheet.    Sign up for her weekly newsletter which is so ridiculous more thorough than ours!

– Join the Handmaid’s Resistance!  Get updates about events, resources, organizing your own event and more.

– fire up that cellular device and oppose the rollback of birth control coveragedefend childhood immigrants and DREAMersdenounce Trump’s ban on transgender troops, tell DeVos to maintain title IX protections for campus assault victims.  Or pick any other five issues from 5 Calls, there are 31 active issues!  Bonus points: follow up with emails and faxes through an app (see below) or good ole snail mail.

– Try the  Stance app. Record a voice message and will send it directly to your representative’s phone.

– Head to the  House of Representatives website to find your rep in congress and contact them! Emails are great, phone calls are better, but do something. Contact them until the poor, unpaid interns who have to answer the phones all day know you by name. Contact them until everyone cries because you will not stop until your rep knows exactly where you stand on all the issues.

– Follow your congress(wo)man on Twitter or periodically check-in (if clouding your social media feed with their trash is too repulsive), representatives will often tweet about upcoming town halls. Attend town halls.

– If you are in a time crunch and want to contact your senators or representatives but can’t get to a town hall, check out this genius texting bot called  Resistbot.  You will have to come up with a short message, but the bot will fax your legislators DAILY if you so desire.  Resistbot is now available on Facebook Messenger, with even more features than ever.  If you are not using this, it is simply the fastest, best way to contact your state and federal representatives.

– The  Women’s March is a goldmine of resources and suggested actions to combat the growing voice of racism, bigotry, and sexism. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as well!

– Check out  The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) handy-dandy doc  Know Your Rights for when you’re out there on the street peacefully protesting and expressing your motherfuckin’ right to civil disobedience. In fact, while you’re at it,  donate some cash monies if you can. Here in ‘Merica we vote with our dollars.

– **NEW!!** Indivisible has released a brand new version of the  Indivisible Guide.  New congress, new rules of engagement.  Check it out!!

-If you are a Texas resident, you can go to the Texas Legislature Online and sign-up for an account, allowing you to view legislative content and add bills to an alert list. Whenever a bill you’ve put on your list is updated, you’ll receive an alert. Also, feel free to check out our list of Texas legislative bills that we are monitoring and updating. Stay woke, witches.

-Check out Planned Parenthood Texas Vote‘s guide on attending legislative committee hearings where the public is given the opportunity to provide input and feedback on proposed laws.

– Don’t over extend yourself! Yes, we’d all like to fix all the problems right the fuck now, but that’s not practical. You will burn yourself out if you try to keep up with everything in this country (and world for that matter) that needs fixing, so we recommend you come up with a short list of the most important social issues to you. This does not mean you don’t care about everything! We know you do! But we can’t all be doing everything all the time.

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Hocus Pocus, bitches.

 

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