Series: Divorcing a Real Witch

updates and insights into handparting customs and the realities of divorce among Wiccans, witches and other neopagans.

Divorcing a Real Witch intensive survey: beta testers needed!

This entry is part 11 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

I’d still like to get a few more beta testers for the Divorce and Wicca survey I have up. It’s long, but allows you to skip non-relevant to-you questions and you can save and come back. Betas need not complete the total survey. Betas also need not fit the survey qualifications. Right now I just need to know that the survey works and will continue to work as it gathers more data.

Also, aside from Witchvox and the Wild Hunt, any recommendations of places I can promote it are very, very welcome. Also, when the time comes, tweeting it, reposting it to your Facebook, or posting it to your own groups will be much appreciated.

I do plan on posting on the Pagan News Service group on Google, and I am plotting in my head for an article series – one for Witch’s Voice (highest readership) and on the advice of Gordon at RuneSoup I’m also thinking of pitching some articles for an “Advice from a Witch on Divorce” article to various women’s magazines. I may be a little too late, hard to say – I would guess that most monthlies are doing their fall issues now.

I got some valuable advice yesterday about what else I will need to do to get this book off the ground, so I’m hanging in there.

So if you want to beta test leave me a comment and I’ll follow up with you by email.

The next phase of Divorcing a Real Witch

This entry is part 12 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

I’ve got a first draft on the proposal now, and holy crap… it’s weak. I still believe the book itself is pretty damned strong if still in a first draft, but right now the overview would fail my “short attention span” rule. For now I’m leaving it sit. I already had to trash more than half of the second chapter, intended for the book proposal – it was too personal and way too far from the topic of what happens to those who, by proximity must observe and are therefore affected by your divorce.

In the next month, I’m hoping to get the proposal into a condition where I’d let another human being look at it. I’m also just about ready to release the great big survey on Wicca and Divorce, and I am going to need that puppy Tweeted, Facebooked, Tumbled, and email-forwarded like mad. So for those of you who want to help, this is me letting you know… this is HOW you can help. By letting anyone and everyone everywhere in your neopagan sphere know that there’s a survey I’d like them to take. I’m getting the legalese worked out, along with the privacy notice. I do indicate on the front page that many questions may be triggering, so we’ve built in a way for participants to skip questions, or go to the bottom of a page and hit “send” and then walk away. There’s really no way to ask these questions without sending someone back to a therapist. Just writing this book, especially in the wake of recent life events, has depressed the hell out of me. And since writing a book is never just writing a book, I’ve still got a long journey ahead with a god-awful depressing subject. It’s like being locked in a room with one of those twits who likes to say “But my life sucks more!” until you are forced to shush and listen to a litany of indeed, suckage. That’s not the book’s fault; that’s just the nature of the subject.

Right now I’m stuck in an in-between. Divorce is a very serious subject, and I am a very funny woman. Alas, this is to the detriment of the book. So I’m struggling to negotiate the right headspace between the “fly free and wacky” approach that generates my best writing, and the “I must take this seriously to be taken seriously” approach that allows me to broach heavy topics but that is not really a palatable read. Curse you academia! ((Not really. Nothing worse than slipping on a banana peel and landing on a trampoline, anyway.)) YOU did this to me!

So there I am. Just a little bit stuck.

The survey is up – please, PLEASE spread the word to divorced neopagans you know

This entry is part 13 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

OK, the survey is up and ready to go. If you or someone you know is neopagan and has been divorced for 1 year or more, please ask that person to participate in this survey. It is intended to grasp the range of experiences happening within the community for a book and a possible online documentary.

I am looking for

  • Neopagans who have experienced divorce
  • Those who have been divorced for one year or more (it takes about that long for all the consequences to come to bear)
  • You need not identify yourself fully – pseudonyms are allowed
  • You can skip questions that are not relevant to you or are too upsetting for you to answer, or complete a survey page and simply leave it

You can go to the survey at survey.dianarajchel.com.

Survey extended

This entry is part 14 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

I’ve extended the survey for those who have experienced divorce and who identify as neopagan to October 31, 2010. I may extend it again. This is for my book, currently with a working title of Divorcing a Real Witch.
What does knowing all this unpleasant stuff about divorce mechanics do, and how does it help you?

1. If you are neopagan/Wiccan or any other type of non-traditional spiritual type who has experienced divorce, you get a safe place to talk about your experience. I’m not sharing the information that makes you identifiable, and using the explicit identifying material such as your name only if you give me explicit permission to do so. Incidents shared will be given pseudonyms. Also, I’m surprised at the popularity of throwing angry cats.

2. If you are neopagan/Wiccan who has NOT experienced divorce, you get two benefits long-term from helping this book come about:
1)If you go through a divorce, it will help to know what other people have done. It reminds you you are NOT alone. It also gives you a place to work from if the stress shuts off the creative part of your brain that designs ritual. 2)If you are a clergyperson, it’s a specific guidebook on the topic. It won’t make you accredited as a counselor or anything, but it gives you a platform to work from, especially if you do get that counseling accreditation from someplace like Cherry Hill Seminary.

So, how can you help? In a way that takes very little effort, where you need not leave the computer. You just need to direct people to http://survey.dianarajchel.com. If you have the ShareThis plug-in you can send it to multiple spaces at once. Or you can click thumbs up on StumbleUpon. Otherwise, you can just cut and paste that link – drop it in your Facebook and Twitter, send out a message to your pals still on Myspace, comment on the Reddit Link to it, add it to your delicious.com bookmarks, digg it – just the clickity you’d do without really moving anyway.
Just a little bit of help from all of you goes a long, long way.

Great, so how’s the book coming?
Along.

After evaluating where I’m at with the rough draft of the entire book (sitting at around 65K right now) and with the book proposal (in the third draft on the opening chapters right now) I’ve decided it’s OK to slow down, as long as I keep working at it daily. ((Well, more or less daily. I’m also engaging in a gym exercise schedule because I have to face the fact that I need to look a bit more conventionally attractive if I want any of my creative work to get the chance it deserves. For me this in itself is a long, long road and is not actually about weight, though it is about health. But not because I believe overweight is unhealthy, counter to “common knowledge” thought that is. Read Fat Chic, you’ll get it.))

I’m finding I’m excising all the stuff about my personal history. I’ll work it back in later, or maybe use that stuff to write a memoir down the road. With Mercury Retrograde starting August 20, and with planetary conjunctions making waves right now, I’m thinking this is a good time to lean back and really analyze my work, get feedback, do yet more revision. (Remember: Mercury Retrograde is a RE opportunity. Revise, reconsider, remember, relax.)

I’m also trying to work up a little something for Witch’s Voice that will hopefully bring the survey to the attention of people who want to participate, and I did exchange emails with the Minnesota Pagan Newswire Collective. At some point we plan to do a special interest story – and at some point, I plan on bringing all those journalism skills I developed in college to them.

That’s where I’m at – still working on that book!

Why the liability release on the divorce survey was removed

This entry is part 15 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

I noticed in a web search last week that there was some confusion about the liability release for the Divorcing a Real Witch survey. That’s because…

  1. it’s included in the language of the survey itself
  2. and it’s more important that those who go in front of a camera sign a release.

While it’s all implied I realized that neopagans especially get kind of fuzzy and weird about anything involving publishing. It’s a combination of a widespread misunderstanding of an already incomprehensible business with a unique cultural blip – we are among the last groups to place importance/fame on book authors over television and movie entertainers.

Any data released from the survey will not be accompanied by identifying data unless the survey participant explicitly allows it. I also intend to release a portion of the data in strictly numeric forms in order to add to demographic data – ages of divorce, number of marriages, etc. Since we have little in the way of demographic data as to exact numbers of neopagans in the world (or just in the USA) the information likely won’t reveal much in terms of the overall population. It might, however, show some commonalities in experience among neopagans that go through a divorce.

Divorce and Wicca Survey: a new approach

This entry is part 16 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

OK, so I’m still not quite satisfied with the number of responses I’ve received. So I’m taking a new approach, that’s a bit more work than an all-call, but likely to produce results:
I’m going to contact universities with any type of Pagan or magical studies programs. Divorce and university environments go together like gossip and a grist mill. I also plan to start going through local groups as well, contacting major cities. If you are one of those located in a major city, or you are connected to a university neopagan community, please contact me or comment here. Any help is good!

How The pagan conversion experience is a lot like divorce

This entry is part 17 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

Being pagan, especially when you convert, has a lot of the same elements as divorce. You leave behind a religion that wants you to stay forever, and any shared relationships end up disputed: everything you do is wrong according to the Christian view, because it’s pagan. It’s polytheist. It puts other gods before whatshisface. That whathisface acknowledged other gods existed, are not any more or less fictional than whatshisface, opens an oft-unexplored doorway. In a manner of speaking, it’s a slip up on the part of Moses to even admit those other gods might be real. You’re looked at as a cheater, and adulterer, as evil.

Because you followed your heart and spirit.

Conversion and divorce are of course both far more complicated than the above sentence implies. There’s no way to generalize, really, ever – but you need at least a few top category labels just to have the conversation.

Why aren’t we talking about this divorce from society in the Pagan conversion experience? I don’t really care for the “there is no conversion.” This is true in sexual orientation. We may be born with certain religious proclivities, but these are not biological. This need to blend the de-politicization of gender and sexuality with religion within Paganism is understandable, but also is not applicable.  If you don’t want labels on your gender or spirituality, great, but at least in spirituality, I need them and others like me need them because it helps with the acculturation process that always happens when you convert from a dominant religion to a minority faith.

Or, as it was put to me during an intercultural communication class my senior year of college: “Culture is oxygen. No one can live without that context.” Even forming an opposition to dominant culture is allowing ourselves to be informed by it. Taking a rebel stance to dominant culture means that dominant culture is what dominates us.

In Wicca, it seems my continuous practice is a combination of loosening the holds of dominant culture – “Jesus is real” while picking and choosing what parts of dominant culture I continue to participate in – mostly, capitalism. There’s also an element of picking and choosing within Wicca, an abhorrent idea to those who believe that a faith is only sincerely practiced when taken wholesale. “I might not like the commands of Kemet,” one practitioner once said to me, “But devout faith isn’t supposed to be easy.”

No, perhaps not. My faith isn’t easy, ever.  But I think it should come from a natural place within me, where my values do not conflict with some outward religious standard of what is “right.”

This conflict of self with religion does resemble the conflict of self with an unsuitable partner. I lived with a lot of disappointment – marriage is not supposed to be easy is the message received. Yet marriage is important. Marriage makes you an adult. Marriage helps you grow up.

This is bullshit.

There is no single path to adulthood, self-acceptance or the divine.

Why I’m writing about divorce

This entry is part 18 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

Out of all the things I could be writing I have focused the greater part of my energy on neopaganism and divorce. Do it yourself dentistry would be a more fun topic to write. It’s daunting, it’s personal, it’s painful, and I truly believe it’s necessary. It’s so necessary that I’m not even all that concerned as to its salability: I’m putting something out there for someone to use, that’s taken years of my life both through my own divorce and through the research, writing and continuous editing of this book. It’s not that other books haven’t been written on the topic: Lorna Tedder got there first with her own experiences (warning, site has music that autoplays.) Most books about handfasting and neopagan marriage ceremonies include a chapter on handparting. It’s nearly impossible to go to a gathering without finding a few people who have been through divorce, often naming their religious calling as a factor in the splitup.

The Wife as an Entity

This entry is part 19 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch

In occultism, entity refers to any personality you work with in a magical context. Usually it acts as a catch-all term for spirits, gods, demons, or even elementals (although this last tend to be less personified than the others.)  A thought form is an entity created by a magician or magicians, usually with intent…and sometimes completely by accident. Sometimes, in fact, a thought form can erupt without any guiding intent from a magician.

When a thought form erupts/comes into being without guiding intent, it’s usually the result of collective belief. Most of the time, someone directs that belief somehow. The person or persons directing may or may not be what we would see as magicians, but since they direct the energy produced by attention and stimulated belief, they end up serving the same purpose.

Divorce: So what did your parents say?

This entry is part 20 of 25 in the series Divorcing a Real Witch
Children of Divorce
Children of Divorce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a persistent misapprehension that “nuclear family ” means “functional family.” It does not. Even without a divorce to divide that house, abuse, pain, addiction can all persist – along with it some unfortunate beliefs that prevent people from taking responsibility for healing those wounds.

I grew up in a nuclear family. The mantras from my parents on divorce were pat, nuclear-family stuff, from the perspective of parents with no experience with it.

Divorce wasn’t a new concept to either – both had divorced peers. But until later in my childhood, neither had to deal with it from within their families.

My father came from a generation where divorce DID NOT HAPPEN because Catholic. My mother resembled January Jones in Mad Men. If there was a problem, you didn’t talk about it. You never admitted wrongdoing because it meant admitting weakness; to allow quarter to others made for a bigger moral failing than taking responsibility. Everything children or husband did reflected on her; no choices came from the agency of thers. ((I have recently learned that this may have been a symptom of the formerly diagnosable Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s been downgraded from disorder from an untreatable disease to a personal choice of behavior. Either way, she fits every symptom/tactic outlined.))

The messages about divorce from my parents just got weird – they wanted to judge but got called on to be non-judgmental. Their resulting responses to the reshaping of American culture came out in strange and dissonant ways.