The summer after I graduated from high school, my family moved to Calgary for about six months. I’d gotten a job at a bank there, and my mum wasn’t quite ready to let me go, yet, so we all made the move. I lived in the basement of the rental house, listened to late night radio, learned about yoga, saw the ballet and the theatre live for the first time ever, and read my way through part of the downtown public library. I devoured The Spiral Dance, and Drawing Down the Moon, and What the Buddha Never Taught. I found a group of women who called themselves witches and stayed up late on full moon and new moon nights to practice arcane rituals, drink wine sweetened with honey, and talk about philosophy, activism, politics and a revolution of non-violence in inspiring, poetic and engaging ways. They made me one of them, in their way. They made me feel like this body I had that was always too thin or too muscular or too awkward or too brown was beautiful just because it was mine. They made me feel like this voice I had that was always too squeaky or too loud or too quiet or too musical was resonant just because it was mine. They made me aware that what makes us women is something other than what Seventeen says, or what Cosmo says, or even what our own mothers might say. We are of the earth, and the earth is precious. So are we.
Anyway, my personal version of Wicca was far less demonstrative and far more mainstream than theirs was. I wasn’t into the robes or the wands, though I did carry a little black dagger for quite a long time. I didn’t buy into covens built around Roman gods or Celtic mythology, though I did follow The Witches Book of Days for a few years. I wasn’t really into Tarot, though I’ve owned a few decks since then. And while palmistry and numerology have always been interesting to me (which is maybe one reason why I loved The Night Circus so much), the magic (magick?) of it could not be overcome by my own, undying scientific skepticism. Wicca, like most pagan faiths, doesn’t require a commitment to one god or one path. It’s an earth-based religion, and is consequently a unilateral proponent of cultural and spiritual pluralism. But, it didn’t feel like home, to me. I met with my little coven of graduate students, housewives and teenagers for the last time shortly before my family moved back to Brooks. We hugged and made empty promises about keeping in touch and closed our circle like we always did:
Three, for each face of the goddess: maiden, mother, and crone
Times Three, for the truth that each face alone represents this trinity
Times Three, for the strength in knowing
Three, nine and twenty seven are historically significant figures in numerology and religious symbology. And while I haven’t called myself a witch in over a decade (you’re welcome), and haven’t made Green Men out of raffia with paper wish hearts to burn during a Beltane (May Day) barbecue in almost as long, those numbers still mean far more to me than they should. Nine days after the first of May, nine years ago today, I stood in front of a woman in a dress printed with springtime and said “I do” to my best friend and the love of my life. I didn’t need the wedding. I didn’t need the dress or the flowers or the favours or the buffet. I just needed him.
Mike mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that the kids might like making Green Men with me, every year, something I hadn’t thought about since before our wedding. He’s right, of course. They’ll love it. But since my fondest wish has come true already, they’ll have to help me come up with another one.
Happy Anniversary, my love.