Seeking – this site – turns a decade old today, which is a fine time for a look back at how I got here, and to thank all the people who’ve made this site (and me) better along the way.
First, thank you to everyone out there who’s told me an article here really helped them. Thanks to all of you who’ve linked the site or an article, or recommended it to someone. I love getting notes from people, or seeing a reference link come through my statistics dashboard, and realising it’s helped someone.
And thanks to my friends, who put up with me figuring out how to phrase something, and to my various tradmates and witchy students who’ve gotten the earliest iterations of this work out of me.
Most especially, thanks to all the folks at The Cauldron over the years who have asked great questions. I’d guess at least half of the articles here either started as a reply I made there, or were directly inspired by a discussion.
Then (ten years ago)
I started writing Seeking as a project to rewire my brain. In November of 2009, I had a serious health crash.
I was exhausted all the time. Not just tired. This was “It’s the middle of winter in Minnesota, and I am too tired to walk across this parking lot, surely it will be fine to hang out here in the sub-zero temperatures for a bit until I can go on.” (Do not recommend.)
I couldn’t focus. At the worst of it, in December 2009, I couldn’t even read for five minutes. Read anything. As a librarian who reads anything that sits still long enough, this was really distressing on basically every level. Or would have been if I’d had any energy to be distressed with.
Everything was amazingly hard. Cooking. Cleaning. Getting myself to and from work. Doing anything useful at work. I did my best, but it took all my will power, all my focus, and a lot of life hacks (and a cleaning service) to begin to manage. A bunch of the not-so-dire symptoms weren’t much fun, either – my temperature regulation went haywire, so I’d alternate between sweating and shivering every hour or two, for no external reason.
I started getting medical treatment that helped in February of 2010, but it took a while for the meds to kick in and for us to find the dosage I needed. In June, work told me they weren’t renewing my contract, and I was unemployed. (In hindsight, I really should have looked at FMLA leave, but no one suggested it to me, and thinking was super hard. And as a single woman living on my own, the finances were also tricky.)
So there I was, that summer, applying for jobs as I could, and not working, and trying to figure out how to get my brain back. The meds had started helping. My mother was helping with some of my expenses (like my health insurance payments.) I was able to take a 3 hour nap every afternoon, which I desperately needed until the spring of 2011. I was doing some body modality work (Feldenkrais Method) that turned out to be really helpful over time.
But everything was still incredibly slow, incredibly hard work. It never felt fluid.
I thought that if I could sit down and write the things I knew well, maybe I’d figure out how to get my brain going again.
So I sat down. I had been working on building a small coven, and I do a bunch of online conversation. I knew that if I wrote up things that I’d use later, I’d be building myself (and maybe other people) something useful later.
The earliest articles took hours and hours, even for quite short pieces about things I knew well. But slowly, over time, I went from it taking me 10 hours for 1200 words to it taking me 5 hours, then 2-3. (These days, if I’m focused on writing and know where I’m going with it, 1000-1500 words is about an hour of writing time for me.)
I could see things improving. I got a better sense of what worked for me, and what I needed. I could feel the connections re-forming, and settling into something I could do things with. I got my reading back.
Along the way, I was part of the con committee for the first Paganicon in March 2011 (as hotel chair, but helping with other stuff as needed). Doing that helped boost my confidence about being able to manage things again.
I got a new job in the summer of 2011, and moved across the country, and went on from there. Moving was hard in a whole lot of ways – leaving the amazing community of Paganistan, and friends (though, um, there’s nothing like ongoing chronic health issues to show you who your actual friends are.)
I was living in very rural Maine (a town of 8,000 people, and the next larger town was 45 minutes away.) Driving was still particularly exhausting for me, so I didn’t get to explore as much as I’d have liked. On the other hand, that meant a lot of time at home to write.
I kept working on Seeking. Sometimes I’d write something on a forum, and save it, because it was a good explanation. Sometimes I’d make a note of a thing I wanted to talk about. Some months I added multiple articles. Some months I added none.
And of course, life happened in there. I spent 4.5 years living in Maine, then in early 2015, budget cuts caught up with me. I’d already been having issues with ongoing migraines from a desk move, which did not help anything at all.
Moving to Massachusetts and starting my current job was and is fantastic in many ways. But I calculated at the time that I spent 160 hours between September 2014 (when I started a concerted job hunt, because I could see budget cuts coming) and April 2015 (when I got my current job) travelling for interviews. Not applying to jobs, not preparing for them, not even at the interviews. That’s just the travel time. It was super exhausting, and I didn’t do a lot of extra writing for some odd reason.)
And of course, picking up and moving takes time and energy. And my current job has a lot of content knowledge it took me time and focus to pick up. About the first two years I worked there, a lot of my brain time was focused on that.
Here I am, settled in a delightfully pleasant apartment, a town over from the town I grew up. I have a different cat than when I started this (my beloved gleaming-eyed Athene died in spring 2012). Astra, who you see below, has been with me since later that spring.
I’m in the same librarian job I’ve had since May 2015, and I still love it (and they seem to still love me.) It’s a particularly good fit for how my brain works best, which is wonderful.
Right now, I’ve been working at home since the middle of March, and that seems likely to continue (at least most of the time) for a while to come. I get to do things that I’m excellent at, and that make the world a better place (usually on a very personal level), which feels great.
I’m steadily building up a coven, with one initiate, three students who just finished their Dedicant year and are figuring out what they want to do next (and whether that involves the coven or not), and two Seekers. I’ve got connections in the local community here, and hope for more of that when there’s less pandemic.
I have other things I love. I’m living near two long-time friends (and their families), and when there isn’t a pandemic I get to see them once a month or so (and talk between times.) I’m writing books people who don’t know me enjoy (and I love writing them.)
What I’ve learned and done
I’ve developed a knack for spotting the places where books leave things out over the years. I don’t mean the Mysteries, or things that are private, or even just the things that take a lot of context and explanation. But a lot of popular witchy resources aren’t great at connecting pieces of information, or at explaining why you might want to do something a particular way, but here’s when you might want to vary it. Or what to do if that particular way doesn’t work for you.
I’ve also got a particular interest in accessibility. How do you build a meaningful personal practice when your body (or your mind) are not reliably able to do things? What do you do when things get hard that helps you get through the hard parts?
There are places where a certain level of something is necessary to do what you want to do well – skill, knowledge, commitment, discipline, regular practice. But are we setting artificial limits where we don’t need to? How do things like consent and holding up your part in making things happen play into that? How do we make sure that our witchcraft is as inclusive as possible, while also having standards or entirely reasonable personal preferences for how we spend our time and energy.
(One of the articles in my draft folder right now is about what my practice is like. Another is about how there are things I don’t do. Not because they’re not perfectly reasonable parts of other people’s religious or witchy lives, but because that’s just not a thing I want to spend my time on.)
Where to next
Seeking is going to be around for a good while to come. However, I’m looking at what I might want to focus on or add. If you’re reading this, feel free to drop me a note via the contact form (or if you got here via Patreon or my newsletter, you can use those to get hold of me.)
I have a long list of articles I’d like to add eventually, after all, but if there’s one you’re interested in, I could move it higher in the queue.
In general, I write about things that are part of my own practice, or at least pretty similar. (Write what you know!) I sometimes touch on other practices to put things in context, but I’m unlikely to write about a thing I don’t do at all. I also obviously don’t share material that’s considered private or oathbound in my particular tradition.
However, I’m always glad to consider a topic.
My priorities right now are:
- Filling in gaps in the existing material so that there’s a more cohesive line of things to read in order for specific common questions.
- Continuing to talk about adaptations for practice and learning for different situations, and accessibility options in general.
- Adding more resources (books, podcasts, and other websites that seem likely to remain stable) to the resource section of articles.
One of the things I know I want to do (since I’m now set up to turn text into ebooks and self-publish easily) is to turn some of these essays into ebooks. It’s a different way of interacting with the material, and may well include more exercises or activities than the articles here on Seeking involve.
If there’s a topic you wish I’d tackle first, let me know, but some of the ones I’m thinking about (based on gaps I see in other places)
- How to go from “maybe I’m interested in this” to building a plan to learn more about witchcraft/religious witchcraft in a way that works for you, and helps you build a foundation of good resources.
- Developing a daily or regular practice that is flexible enough to adapt your life and changing circumstances.
- How to go about learning more and deepening your practice over time in a way that’s sustainable and works for you (and your brain and life).
- Making your practice accessible and sustainable based on your needs (but understanding what trade-offs you might be making, so you can make decisions about them.)
I also have the project I’ve been working on since about 2003, the Better Pagan Research project, which will be book-length, and which I still need to figure out how to tackle in the current iteration. (That’s all about how to research stuff for religious or magical use.)
That should keep me busy for a while! But if you’ve got other ideas (would you be interested in a course about some of this stuff? Some other format I’m not mentioning here?), please let me know.
Thanks for being here, and thanks for reading all of this. Blessings and may the world treat you kindly.