Someone recently asked me, “So, are you a witch?” after hearing that I write about witches.
First thought in my head: Does that mean Twilight author Stephenie Meyer is a vampire because she wrote a fictional series about vampires? The lovely Anne Rice has written dozens of cult classics about vampires and witches, does that mean she is a vampire and a witch?
Okay, I know that was a little facetious. But seriously, why does it matter? The year is 2015, right? Right?!?
I mean, I got dressed in actual clothes and put on makeup and left the house so that someone could ask me that? Is it just me?
As an introverted author (hermit), I always get nervous when people start with the small talk.
First they ask, “So, what do you do?”
Admitting I’m a writer earns me a smile of admiration (or a sideways glance) and polite, skeptical questions. There’s “What kind of writer?” which sometimes feels like code for “Are you a journalist?” or “Who pays your bills?”
I tell the truth, which leads to inevitable follow ups like “What kind of fantasy?” and the dreaded, stomach churning, “When is your book coming out?” ACK.
Telling someone I just met that I’m a YA fantasy author often gets me the you-probably-think-you’re-the-next-Twilight-mom look. That look is always returned with a big, wide Sadie smile.
In fact, yes, I am hoping that I am the next phenomenon fantasy writer.
I’d be insane if I didn’t hope for that. What writer would not want rabid fans who stand in line for hours to buy your books, wear t-shirts with your characters on them, and stand in line again when your books are made into movies?
In truth, I’ll be over the moon if any stranger–basically anyone I am not related to or know from high school–reads and loves my book.
Anyway, I wrote a book about witches, and now I’ve been asked if I am a witch.
Maybe they wanted to know if I’m trying to proselytize others into witchcraft. The gracious J.K. Rowling was accused of such nonsense, and people even went so far as to ban her books. There are plenty of books that have been written with the express purpose of religious conversion, but mine isn’t one of them.
Ask me if I’m a witch on a non-hormonal, second cuppa joe day and I might take the high road. I might reply that it is possible that several people in your life are “in the broom closet” witches. Seriously though, when you think of some of the worst deeds in human history, often they’ve been committed in the name of religion, so you can’t blame people for keeping it to themselves.
Speaking of some of those “worst deeds”, an excerpt from my book: (shameless plug)
On the flip side, maybe people want to know if I’m an experienced witch who aims to accurately represent like-minded folks. If that’s why you’re asking, then hold onto your lucky socks because I have done my utmost to write in a balanced way that shows good and not-so-good people within all walks of life.
Ask me if I’m a witch on an under-caffeinated, crankier day and you might get a sarcastic answer something like this gem someone shared with me: “There are almost 5,000 gods being worshipped by humanity. But don’t worry…only yours is right.”
Honestly, I’ve said worse.
Or I might just give you a creepy smile until you walk away. *cackle*
I know it’s not nice, but it’s also not nice to ask the question, and here’s why.
Many, many people still assume incorrectly that being a witch involves any or all of the following stereotypes:
1. Wearing nothing but black. On any given day of the year I wear lucky Halloween socks and black yoga pants, does that count?
2. Worshipping the devil. Holy crime shows! Step away from your TV remote! NOT TRUE. Witches share core beliefs yet are varied, similar to the sects of Christianity—Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, etc—but I’ve never met any who believe in the Christian devil. NO SUCH THING among witches.
3. Casting evil spells or curses on their enemies. Most witches believe in the law of three, meaning if you choose to do negative things, your negativity will return to you multiplied by three. Just like holding a grudge toward someone—the one who loses the most in the end is you, and often the other person is completely oblivious to your misery. So that would be NO.
4. Making people do things against their will (like fall in love or have sex). Um, trying to make someone do anything against their will is wrong—especially when it comes to sex—so that would be under the categories of NOPE, NO WAY, and YIKES. See also number 3.
5. Performing creepy blood sacrifices. Seriously, put down the TV remote. NOT. TRUE. Given the horrific historical persecution of witchcraft, do you really think witches would commit violence in their spiritual practice? Think about that for just a second… then revisit number 3. Witches are often the kindest caregivers you’ll meet. For generations, witches have helped the most vulnerable in society: domestic violence shelters, soup kitchens, suicide hotlines, animal rescues, and hospice care—just to name a few.
6. Stirring cauldrons, green skin, and pointy hats. If you count a slow cooker as a cauldron and a green thumb from herb gardening, then yes. Pointy hats are worn only as part of a costume for Halloween or a Harry Potter themed party.
Most often people ask if I’m a witch because they’re deciding if they trust me or my sanity, as a result of the above list of preconceived ideas. I’m willing to concede that it might be possible that occasionally it’s just out of pure curiosity.
So… the facts—ANYONE on this diverse planet might:
- light candles or incense
- sit in silence, pray, or meditate
- make offerings or donations (money, food, etc) to their faith
- take communion
- give or receive a blessing/healing
- give/seek wise counsel
- affirm or confirm beliefs, alone or with witnesses
- sing, chant, or read sacred texts
- outwardly express beliefs through appearance (clothing, jewelry, tattoos, etc)
- volunteer to help people, animals, the environment
- abstain from eating certain foods
- respect nature/living things and enjoy the wonder of life itself
- celebrate the seasons/holidays
…and the same is true for witches!
The real point of THE RECOLLECTION OF TREES is way beyond religious viewpoints—it is that settling for being normal is a mind-numbing, soul-sucking, unachievable, outright lie. Trying to be normal usually involves shrinking to fit into someone else’s constructs of normal. No one is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. Normal is an illusion.
The TRUTH is you are enough. In fact, ENOUGH is vastly different from normal. ENOUGH is perfectly imperfect. The best and worst parts of you are enough, but they are anything but normal or ordinary.
My personal truth? I’m striving for the extraordinary version of myself–and on the enchanted days when I glimpse her, she’s usually wearing lucky Halloween socks and transcribing from somewhere between the worlds.
P.S. Science has confirmed we are made of the same stuff as the stars, so one last poignant meme…
(ICYMI: my last blog post explained the delay in my book launch. I hope to announce the new pre-order date soon.)