Tag Archives: divorcing a real witch

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Divorcing a Real Witch Book Cover 1st edition ... probably only, but whatever.This book hits print on May 30, 2014.

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What Divorcing a Real Witch is really about

It's most confrontational to me. #pagan #divorce #amwriting #relationships
The title suggests to the stereotype bound that it’s a Darrin versus Samantha story. In a way it is – my ex did actually discourage me from practicing magic. But as a few that have previewed it already can already tell, it’s really about something often glossed over in gossip rags and even some self-help books:

Divorcing a Real Witch is about self-care.

Self-care sounds like a gentle, simple concept – but is actually pretty radical. It invests in the belief that we become better human beings when we invest in ourselves and address our emotional lives. It also  upends gendered assumptions about who does what in terms of care taking.  Men do not need a womanly breast to soothe their souls and heal their egos. Women do not need to prove a goddamn thing about their characters to strangers in which no transaction has manifested- not even to other women. No adult ever has any obligation to making mommy or daddy proud. If  as fucked up as my own parents, you owe it to yourself to forget them.

Women and men are both bullied out of learning positive self-care skills. These days, “evolutionary biology” is the excuse for interfering with these skills. Ultimately both genders have a capacity to reason that exceeds phantom  impulses assigned their genitals to excuse bad behavior. They can – but few roadmaps remain of how.

There are people who just want something to be different this time. They are in the right head space to understand the nuances of looking to the self to effect outer change.

Divorcing a Real Witch is for them.

So what if you’ve never been divorced?

The next most common question I get after the “so what’s a real witch, anyway?” isn’t a question, it’s a statement usually by someone under 30. “But I’ve never been divorced, so I’d probably never read this book.” Now, on a surface level that makes sense. Why read about something you know nothing about?

091110 203 -2010 Autumn Stillwater

On a deeper level, there’s a big problem with that, especially if you are Wiccan and work with a coven. It’s even more problematic if you ever want to lead a coven.  I’m not saying that anyone should or shouldn’t read the book – it wasn’t a party to write and it’s almost painful to know how fast it will be read given the 9 years it took to research and write it. But even for those who have never experienced divorce themselves, it’s relevant. At least, it’s relevant within the Wiccan religion. Also, reading is the first thing most of us are supposed to do when we know nothing about something. That’s how we take care of that “nothing” part.

Presumably, some of these Wiccans that have never been divorced are community leaders. 2nd and 3rd degrees that lead covens. Maybe they have friends outside the coven that come to them for spiritual needs, too. I certainly did the entire time I still practiced with a coven.

If you are leading a coven or assisting with spiritual needs… divorce is going to come up. Any competent clergy person has to have some understanding of the other person’s experience, even if that clergy person hasn’t gone through that experience him or herself. If you are sincere about serving the community as part of your priesthood you’re going to need SOME set of tools to deal with divorce. Not just your own divorce, should that happen. Believe me, divorce will happen in your community, it will happen to someone you know and it will happen more than once to someone you know. Not everyone will talk about their experiences and it won’t ever be the same experience from person to person. But someone in that mix will need your help – a priest/ess for a handparting ceremony, some advice on breaking the psychic ties. In nasty cases, protection magic plus some serious tailoring for a given situation.

Real priesthood – any religion – isn’t about showboating. It’s never about power. Oh, powerful people are chosen as priests – and they are chosen to serve. The people picked tend to have plenty of power with or without the witchcraft. Yes, Wicca is a very celebratory religion but it’s with the understanding that life will be serious for us from time to time. When that happens, it’s fine to be mirthful – but a good priest will still, with careful judgment and reason, help those going through a spiritual crisis.

So if you’re serious about attaining a 3rd degree elevation (if your tradition does that) or serious about using magic to make the world a better place, understanding how divorce impacts other Pagans and having a few tools to help those people along the way is a good idea. Maybe someone will read Divorcing a Real Witch, get all worked up, and present a much better set of ideas and assistance than what I’ve put forth. I think that would be awesome! Better material for better priests! Yes!

Ultimately, it’s the same conundrum as dealing with death. I’m sure most of these people have no idea what it’s like to die, either. If they are competent, responsible members of the priesthood they still have to do something to plan for a funeral service and maybe even get some grief counseling workshops along the way. Divorce is an extension of this same issue. A good clergy person of ANY religion must comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Divorce will definitely become a huge part of that over the years for any priest/ess.

The Answer to Divorce Prevention

People keep asking: How do I prevent a divorce?

Children of Divorce
Children of Divorce (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Delayed marriage.

That’s really too simple. But it’s a start.

Personally, I don’t think divorce should be prevented. When you banish divorce you raise the murder rate. Allow divorce and the murder rate goes down.

What about the children?

Any children divorce damages were screwed up by their parents, not by their parents’ divorce. Divorce doesn’t change the people in a relationship. If they were loving parents who put the kids before their egos while married, this should continue after. If a parent was dysfunctional and the other parents expended energy keeping them in check that will come out as well. It would come out sooner or later, with or without marriage.

What about these children?

It’s only been recently determined that the human frontal lobe doesn’t complete development until age 25. Maybe it finished formation much earlier in generations far past – but these days, no. 25 is still very young. While I don’t advocate denying the rights of basic adulthood until age 25 ((although some already are ranging from car rental to colleges acknowledging student as financially independent)) I do think that as a personal choice, deferring marriage to at least age 26 is optimal. If you don’t want to defer having children too long, I see no reason to connect that to creating a marriage contract with the person you make children with – a parental contract would likely be more in order, especially one separate from a marital agreement.

The 21st Century Prenup

A new breed of prenuptial has become popular: one that does not plan for the event of divorce but that lays down how a marriage shall proceed. While the people that use it who make TV appearances are creepy types who believe in wife subjugation and the like, it’s actually a great idea for sane people to try. It forces people to have conversations before marriage that get skipped to often – like “how do we negotiate buying a car?” and “do we need a job chart?” Even “So one of us gets laid off. Now what?”

A parenting contract might also prove helpful and preserve the safety and rights of prospective children. Co-parenting is often a separate issue from marriage – I definitely suffered from a parenting style that placed parenting as subordinate to the marriage partnership, and this is how I wound up being abused by one parent with no intervention by the other. This still happens to others and perhaps in the process of discussion about said contract you can see any red flags regarding the person with whom you plan to combine your genetic material.

I still don’t believe divorce is something that should be prevented. Saved marriages don’t actually save people and until women got the right to file for divorce far too many wound up dead. Given the still appalling rates of domestic abuse worldwide, we need that safety valve – and I think that we need to change how we think about marriage and admit it’s not the right stabilizing force for a healthy society.

 

Gay marriage, gay divorce

Wedding-chantelois-gomez
Wedding-chantelois-gomez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are two admonishments that have accompanied the creation of Divorcing a Real Witch:

1)Don’t forget the children

2)Don’t forget same sex couples.

Same sex marriages can also end in divorce. Straight or gay, we have the same somatic cues built into us, have the same ability to love or hurt our partners and have the same issues going in and out of marriages.

The added complication to this is that while more states legalize same sex marriage, those same states are not legalizing same sex divorce.

As gay marriage becomes increasingly legalized, I do think what will happen is this: 50% of the marriages will fail.

Why?

Because 50% of all marriages fail – and marital failure does not always mean divorce.  This marital failure rate is used by some parties as an excuse to harken back to “good old days” that were really quite dreadful. This failure rate continued even in places like Alabama that attempted to make divorce illegal. Along with hideous messes involving inheritance, bastards, and mistresses, the murder rates skyrocketed. Once Alabama allowed divorce again, its overall mortality rate improved.

Divorce, whether for couples gay or straight, is a necessary safety valve on society.

I would hate to see someone exploiting the circumstances created by denying same sex couples the right to divorce to “demonstrate” through false circumstances that same sex relationships are more violent than heterosexual relationships. The statistics – including the probability of violence and the factors that contribute to violent behavior – remain the same. Sexual orientation does not factor into that.

So as we draft these laws allowing full human rights, let’s be thorough. Remember the children. Remember the gays, and their right to marry and divorce. Remember what’s needed to keep mortality rates low.

 

 

 

Divorce at School

Grounds for Divorce (song)
Grounds for Divorce (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divorce at home: it just wasn’t done, not in a good family. School sent me a completely different message about divorce from the one I got at home. Literally half the kids in the second grade had divorced parents.

At age 8, we were all too busy being 8 year olds to be concerned about the whole “broken home” aspect, and when our 2nd grade teacher tried to teach about divorce, she got a crash course in how generations don’t experience even traumatic events the same way. Careful inquiries were made as to what a child’s last name and what his/her parents’ last names were. On the first day of role call, each of us were asked whether to call mommy or daddy when we got sick. Looking back, that had to be the direct result of some teacher’s in-service.

I do think the kids of divorced parents were treated differently. By the time we all graduated, our class valedictorians and salutatorians all seemed to come from nuclear homes that either had money or kids from “good” homes that had strong connections to higher-ups in the school system. The one exception, KS, had phenomenal test scores and parents that held her captive in the name of God.

The teachers assumed an attitude towards children of divorced parents – unless divorced themselves.

But the kids themselves didn’t repeat those behaviors, at least not at the elementary school I went to. Notably, along with the divorce rate it also collected the lowest income students in the township.

“Yeah, my parents are divorced. They have been since I was 2. It’s really no big deal.” More than one kid said this about themselves. Not one mentioned any desire for Mommy and Daddy to get back together, although a few wished Mommy or Daddy would ditch the annoying boyfriend or girlfriend. I didn’t even hear someone make that wish until a friend’s parents divorced when we were 16.

The used in parental battles understood their parents machinations. Dad thought his life sucked because Mom took everything, and Mom still didn’t have enough money to raise the kids. The children of divorce knew neither parent benefited financially or socially from the divorce.

It seemed to me that children who saw their parents split up after they hit their teens took the split harder than the younger children. The Catholic-versus-Baptist influence tended to direct its claws most directly at teens; the prevalence of both judgmental religious views probably made the trauma worse.

The irony of this is that parents likely waited until their children were teens, assuming they could handle the divorce at that time with more ease. Perhaps some chose to wait until they no longer needed a partner for childcare. Some knew of their parents conflict – those who saw the fighting expressed relief when the divorce happened.

8 year olds didn’t take their parents’ divorce personally but teens did. I wasn’t privy to what other children hears in their own houses about divorce. All I saw was what they brought to school with them. Some, I knew, assumed I lived better because my parents did not divorce – and they couldn’t know what I went through any better than I knew what they went through.

Divorce: So what did your parents say?

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.

The Affair

Un divorce, roman de Paul Bourget
Un divorce, roman de Paul Bourget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She expected judgment. Now I know it wasn’t just low self-worth – she judged everyone else.

I was struggling with graduate school, isolation, a marriage that disappointed rather than enriched. I failed to notice how little I heard from her. She often skipped communication for months, even years at a time, saying that she did not have time to write, that she didn’t like to, and since we both worked for less than living wage, phone calls did not happen often if at all. She did struggle to verbalize, and I did not think about it. When I did work in a call, she told me of circumstances stark, but common to our age: a boyfriend become roommate, dropping out of college because of a family illness, and the frustrations and loneliness that come from living in an area of the country with little opportunity.

After my divorce I emailed her my new address. She called me within a day: she had a new boyfriend she wanted me to meet. When I called her back, she said “He knows about my past, and he doesn’t care.”

That was strange. “What past?”

“Oh… I had an affair.”

I wasn’t shocked she had one. I was shocked she didn’t tell me. I said so.

“Well, you were married at the time, and I figured you would be mad.”

She thought I would judge her because she would judge herself. She didn’t understand that I cared about her first.

The man had kids. The wife knew. As usually happens in these situations, my former friend wound up the final sacrifice on that couple’s altar to whatever meanings they attached to marriage. The man, having explored what he needed, went back to his wife and kids. The wife used her for a free babysitter for a little while, then dropped her.

When she learned of my divorce she judged me like she would judge herself. It had to be my fault somehow. We were “only divorced on paper.” I had to be taking advantage of him.

Clearly, something was wrong with me. I couldn’t make a marriage work.

She couldn’t break one up.

 

Publishers don’t really do that anymore

Nathan Fillion at the 2005 Serenity premiere.
Nathan Fillion at the 2005 Serenity premiere. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

E-readers, rampant piracy and just plain outdated business models have turned publishing into totally different animal from what it was, or what it has ever been fictionalized to be. Just like most actresses have bodies of ridiculous proportions, the characters themselves enjoy careers of ridiculous dimensions. The show Castle comes to mind. Castle is a best-selling, richer than God novelist who wines and dines beautiful women. Only his duties as a father hold him back from losing himself in the mirror ball of relentless glamor. So charismatic is both Nathan Fillion and his character that he co-stars with a cardboard cutout and no one seems to care. Book tours happen every few seasons because that’s what publishers do… in fiction land.

Now, to reality: the only modern novelist that falls in the “richer than God” category is Steven King. I’m pretty sure that most days of his life, his wife is lucky if he puts on some pants before he scratches his balls and heads over to the keyboard. His breath probably stinks, his glasses have smears and at this point in his career he likely does his damnedest to get out of book tours. No, we’re not discussing Neil Gaiman/Mr. Palmer here. Dudes that marry rock stars do not count.

Divorcing a Real Witch went to editors this week. Since then, the question asked most about the book: “So when are you going on tour?”

I really wish more people would ask, “Great, so how can I help you get the word out?”

Books tours… don’t really happen anymore. They didn’t all that much in the first place. While I am in the coming months putting together workshops on divorce and handparting ceremonies for Pagans that I plan to offer to metaphysical shops within a 500 mile radius (and perhaps anywhere with friends that have relatively few cats and crashable couches) but that will not constitute a book tour. That’s stuff I’m going to have to pay for myself. First, most of those shops require room rental. Then there’s gas, food, lodging, supplies… I  won’t be able to offer my workshops free. Not only will I need to pay for gas for my car and lodging, there’s the matter of assembling the material in the first place.

My book especially will not get any special treatment.  First, it’s not a glamorous subject: divorce. I write it as a journalist, not as a mental health expert, famous mistress or even as a Big Name Pagan. It’s a bummer to begin with and all too easily buried under the topic of same-sex marriage.

Next, It’s a first-time book from a first-time book author. I’ve been published before, but never something book length and more than 10,000 words. My publisher has no idea how this is going to turn out. They’re going on an educated guess based on my willingness to market the book and based on their current goals in their corner of the publishing market.

Because the publisher is relatively small and niche based, so is my marketing budget. To get them to help me with marketing I have to earn it. So that means the first 1000 copies have to come from my own marketing efforts. A book tour will not be how that happens.

How will it happen?

With a lot of help from my friends.

By help, I mean:

  • tell everyone who might have even the slightest interest in the subject of divorce from a non-montheistic perspective about the book. Yes, divorcees, of course -but sociologists, anthropologists, nosy people, non-denominational ministers, people coming out of long non-marital breakups, people preparing for marriage – tell them all. You can start by sharing this blog post EVERYWHERE.
  • Pre-order the book when pre-orders come available. No, really, that makes a MASSIVE difference in how long a book stays in print. I’m skipping putting in an index so you can get it to your e-reader with as much ease as possible. Yes, there will be a print run too.
  • Write about me. Interview me. Have me on your podcast or vidcast. Pester me to write something for your publication on this topic. Now is the time to hit me up. I give a great interview.
  • Ask me to come to your shop and teach a workshop – maybe something on “turning your ex from a toad to just that guy/gal you know.”

So no, I’m not going to have a book tour. That does mean that you can be part of what makes Divorcing a Real Witch successful – and through this I can bring some success your way, too.

 

 

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