For Lammas, we sit down with three thread-pullers, Remy Savard, James Gardner Davis and Jonathan Ayers, to examine craft, weaving and masculinity. Together we discuss the Masculinity Wound and find ways to shape-shift, knitting ourselves and materials into something that fits.
Remy Savard (he/they)
Born at the tail end of Gemini, Remy is a shapeshifter. From an early age, they would use whatever they could put their tiny hands on as a disguise, whether it was corn husks, drapes, a beach ball, or even a paper grocery bag to transform into a television. Constantly failing at masculinity in their daily life, they quickly found their way through theatre and stage performance, where they could finally succeed by borrowing other people’s skin. Transformation has always been a fascination for them and they feel at their most powerful when they work with matter to help it take a new form. Their favourite magic tools are their knitting needles, spinning wheel and infusion vessels. Designated potion witch of their household, they use water as their primary ingredient.
James Gardner Davis (he/him) is a writer, weaver, handspinner, natural dyer, gardner/forager on Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne lands. He approaches these enchanted practices through his hedge druidry and Irish polytheism. A traitor to his own race, gender, sexuality, and national privilege, James is interested in breaking down our inequitable society by empowering people to participate in the active construction of their world through magic, handcraft, and community building as a means to building a radically egalitarian future. James would enter a wizard battle to the tune of Stormkeep’s melodic black metal song “The Seer.”
Jonathan Ayers (he/him) is an alleged Renaissance Man, a confirmed Jack-of-all-trades, and therefore perennially under-employed. In recovery from pursuing
creative careers in theatre and opera, he is an erstwhile knitting instructor, former café owner, fanatical food transformer, and compulsive materials hoarder. His current craft practice is best described as unmaking; his principal kink, as reorganizing. His regular haunts include the fridge, the pantry, the stove, the garden, the library. A middle-aged white cis-gay, polyamorous and queer, this grumpy witch spends too much time in his tower (3 rd floor Montreal apartment) teasing out knots of ethics and relational dynamics, generating lists of aspirational projects that will take lifetimes to complete, and researching hard-to-source ingredients for future nourishing spells.
Read the transcript!
Risa: [00:00:00] welcome. Welcome home to the Missing Witches podcast. Welcome, Kevin. Welcome, friends and strangers and, uh, tech witches and harvest witches and activist witches and, uh, whatever flavor you fucking feel like today, we're excited to see you. Are you making berry offerings? Are you just barely surviving?
Risa: We love you. We want to... Make the biggest, joyfullest tent of this work of the resistance and the re enchantment as we have it in the name of our new book. And part of that means looking at like who feels at home in our circles and how we make spaces of home feeling. Um, and we're really not anti men.
Risa: That's just never fucking been a part of it for us. Fuck the patriarchy forever. But, but men have suffered under that [00:01:00] system for a long and brutal time. And it's just something we want to think about and talk about. And Lunasa seems like a time to think about it. You know, you have these traditions of a warrior god or a craftsman god and Some people will talk about today, talk to today might know more about that than I do and certainly know a lot about craft and have wrestled more with masculinities than I have, although I've wrestled with my share.
Risa: Um, so we welcome our friends, our wise friends today to a conversation that we're sort of loosely making a container to call. Mm, craft, masculinities, and magic. These are friends who weave beautiful things, literally and figuratively, and we're so excited to be with them today. Amy, how are you, before we open up the [00:02:00] gates to these kind, magical people?
Risa: And how are you feeling about Lunasa and Lamestead? I
Amy: love a halfway point, as you know, they're so bittersweet. The halfway point between the first day of summer and the first day of fall is, it's hot and sweaty but there's a shadow on the horizon, and as a witch I kind of love that. I kind of love these like non binary halfway points and between equinoxes and solstices and that kind of thing.
Amy: So this is a very comfortable time for me. I'm comfortably being hot. I'm comfortable being sweaty. I'm comfortable taking a moment to enjoy the fruit of a harvest before I get into what I have to do next. So again, this time for me, sometimes it's those first berries, those first wild raspberries that I find in the yard.
Amy: Um, so [00:03:00] yeah, again, it's a balance of forward thinking and also just like languishing in the heat and swinging on a hammock. Um, I always find myself between these two places on these between times. And I'm so excited to be hanging out with our guests today. And again, get into that, you know, non binary universe that we actually live in, where we can question gender essentialism, and we can ask, like, what does masculinity mean to us, and you, and all of you who are listening?
Amy: One of our first events that we did as Missing Witches, we were invited to talk about the divine feminine. And so we went into that with our presentation, largely questioning, okay, well, we then we need to ask, what is femininity? What does that mean? Before we can get into the divinity, first, let's try to define the femininity.
Amy: So again, um, [00:04:00] Remy, specifically, maybe I'll So I guess we'll start with you and your introduction. And I want to, I want to say something first that maybe you can talk to is that when we met, you told me a very interesting story about the history and origins of knitting. And we were kind of laughing about how it's now become perceived as like a feminine domestic art.
Amy: When, based on what you told me, um, It was an act of survival. It was a hunting mechanism. Anyway, I don't want to say anymore. Hi. Our guests today are Jonathan and James and Remy and we're so grateful to be in circle with you all today. Thank
Risa: And so we'll invite you and we'll start with you, Remy.
Risa: Introduce yourselves in whatever way feels right. Who are you? What are you bringing to this conversation today? Where are you? How are you feeling? Also, I want to say, all of these, uh, friends, we [00:05:00] asked them to send their bios and so you'll see them in the show notes and stuff. And I don't know if it is like, uh, humility, uh, in the, uh, that's tied to the state of the sort of, Complicatedness around being human and especially male these days, but none of you listed your actual accomplishments, which I thought was sort of delightful.
Risa: So feel free to continue to not list or or name check as you feel as you feel called to.
Remy: Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Risa. There's so many things to say. Wow, I don't even know where to start. So, um, actually, when I got the email, um, and received the invite for taking part in this podcast, uh, talking about masculinity, one of my first reflex was [00:06:00] like, why me then? I was like, what, what, how can I talk about masculinity?
Remy: I don't even know, like, what it means to me. Um, so just to put in context, I definitely identify as a queer person. Um, my gender is an uncertain thing. It's a fluid thing. Um, I think I'm a very, very, uh, air. person. My chart is like full of air, no fire. Uh, I'm very fluid. I go with the flow a lot. And so I've, I've actually struggled in that like a lot thinking about this question about masculinity.
Remy: Um, because I, I actually didn't know how it It [00:07:00] was like I was identifying with that and it's when I was writing my bio that I actually realized my relationship to masculinity is like tightly tied to failure and I'm really happy to be a able to talk about failure because I think that, um, being raised and socialized as a male person, um, like failure was not an option, especially coming from a very, uh, like science oriented family.
Remy: Failure was not an option. Um, it was only, if it was a positive thing, it was only, um, a tool to then succeed. It was never enough. Failure was never enough. And, um, I think my whole relationship [00:08:00] about, like, with masculinity is about, like, the Enoughness or like lack of enoughness, um, which I guess formed the person that I am now and like the air entity that's, uh, now like always questioning, um, like who I am and what I am.
Remy: Um, I want to, uh, go back to your, what you were talking about, Amy, about, uh, knitting. So, I, I'm a knitter, um, I've knitted for, I don't know, a couple of years now, um, and actually remember exactly, uh, the story I was telling, and maybe, um, my, uh, viewpoint has changed a little bit now. I think now, I know that there's this.
Remy: Um, common [00:09:00] belief or like this belief now that, um, knitting, uh, came to life through I think fishing and was actually, um, a way to make these nets and that these people were, uh, usually men, um, and there's this claim that, uh, knitting was actually And I'm putting some very, like, big air quotes, uh, by men.
Remy: I have like, I'm now questioning everything I know about history. Um, especially that we have this very, very, uh, like white centered revisionist, uh, education, um, and that, um, And, and male supremacist as well, [00:10:00] so I, I'm really ambivalent, or like, I, I don't know what to think about this, uh, this, like, narrative, especially that it's sometimes, or maybe too often, used, uh, by other male crafters to justify their place, or like, S.
Remy: Um, like assess, uh, superiority or not superiority, but just saying like, you know what we were doing that before you or something like that, which I think is very, um, problematic. Uh, also, it's a very male. Um, attitude to think of it as like a competition, like who was there first and who did it first? So who has the claim on it as like our invention?
Remy: Um, [00:11:00] So, I don't remember what I said about that, uh, Amy, and if it had to do with, like, claiming something, I am deeply sorry that I once thought something like that.
Amy: No, I think, I think you and I were talking more about, like, the arbitrariness of gendering any kind of activity, and how it's interesting that something that was used to make clothes was possibly, um, used to make fishing nets before that, and both of these are opposite gendered, but it's the exact same.
Amy: Action just used for different ways. So the whole thrust of the conversation was about like these arbitrary labelings of things as masculine or feminine. So yeah, no, we were always gay.
Remy: And like, and now I'm always thinking like, let's remember that, um, uh, this like history comes from like the texts that were selected.
Remy: That [00:12:00] made it through the books and that, um, many other, uh, societies or communities have been doing these things and, like, never made it through the cuts, uh, because they didn't serve the people in power. So, um... Yeah, I think it's a good idea to remember this, especially when we're talking about, uh, male or, like, male presenting figures in, uh, crafts that are, uh, mostly dominated by women.
Remy: Um, like, trying also to, like, leave the space of, like, we're also okay to be invited in these spaces. And not have to claim property or anything like that.
Risa: James, do you want to jump in next and do your intro and respond?
James: I [00:13:00] really do, that was wonderful. Um, I'm James. Um, I'm playing around with using my mom's maiden name, Gardner.
James: I live in Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Ute lands. It's commonly referred to as Denver. Um, I feel like a lizard today
Jonathan: because it is hot. Um, I'm
James: all fire. I'm like all fire science it seems like. Well, I'm a Virgo, uh, sun. Whoa! I'm a Virgo sun. Um, so I'm a little bit of earth and fire. Um, And so, yeah, I mean, I'm just this person who's been on this pathway for a long time, this masculinity pathway, um, and I can't underscore enough that the idea that masculinity is bound up with feelings of failure, feelings of shame,
Jonathan: um, feelings of not being enough.
James: I was really good at being like a Chad. Um, like [00:14:00] I was like really good at it. Like I was like, um, just really good at it. Like I, well, until my mom died, then everything, you know, that everything falls apart. Right. Um, but you know, I had your typical, you know, typical sort of absent father sort of storyline, um, where I was earning love by playing a sport that I was good at because I played it six hours a day to gain recognition and love.
James: So, you know, a lot, a lot of the way I talk about masculinity is my response to it. Um, and my response to, I mean, I was like thinking about it before we dropped that drop down, but like this masculinity wound, um, and this constant need, at least in my life, even as a cisgendered heterosexual man, to define myself in opposition to What I, what I think is one of the most oppressive things that I have to deal with on a daily basis, and things that I don't have any interest in.
James: And because I've made that choice, I'm not welcome in most spaces, [00:15:00] where people that look like me, that sound like me, typically are accepted. Well, at least until like I start talking about my values because I'm a traitor to every form of privilege that I have. Um, I have no interest in, um, this is where like the areas rising comes out.
James: I have no interest in being down with the, the chads. Yeah, it's all fire. It's all very, it's all very fired in my fire area right now. We're setting up boundaries. Uh, we're burning bridges. Um, We're doing all that stuff, mostly to my, to my father, who has, who is absent. Um,
James: getting to the, I, I think the other thing, it's interesting how all this stuff is already, like, coming up right away, and stuff that I had sort of, like, like, uh, indexed in my mind.
James: The way that men use selectively use history as a way to place themselves in and then claim ownership. Um, it's classic glass ceiling stuff, right? So I'm a sociologist by trade. Um, I make money by being like a researcher or whatever. [00:16:00] Um, and in sociology, we call that You know, um, women and femme identifying people, uh, run up against that sort of glass ceiling, right?
James: They can only advance so far because of patriarchy, because of gender bias, because of pregnancy discrimination within workplaces. Um, and oftentimes what men will do is... They'll go into female dominated spaces, and then they're able to use those sort of cultural narratives to justify getting paid more.
James: Um, so that's all super interesting to me as a sociologist who's, like, very, very interested in, um, taking away those sort of boundaries, um, and doing away with gender as much as we possibly can within a system that is so built on selling as identities based on
James: Um, anyways, before I get too far along, I'm a weaver.
James: I'm a death worker. I love that I didn't put I'm a death worker in the, uh, Am I, am I
Risa: didn't mention sociology at all.
Jonathan: But again, like
James: we're so fluid, [00:17:00] right? Like the minute you
Jonathan: unmoor yourself,
James: the minute you unmoor yourself from like these, these labels, right? Um, you start to realize that it's so situational.
James: Yeah, I'm a lizard today. Like, I even wondered, like, what of, what of use I'd be able to say, because I've basically been outside as much as I could be, um, with having a wage labor job. As you can tell, I'm, like, still sweating. Uh, I came inside from, like, riding my bike, being outside, it's, like, 90 degrees, and I'm, like, still sweating.
James: Jeez, I'm a lizard. I'm a lizard.
Risa: I, I'm really loving the, the fire and air spirit of these introductions and I want to hear Jonathan what you're inspired by from this. I also want to point out that Jonathan and Remy are at different, different rooms of their house right now, which I love and I want to include love in these stories of masculinity and I want to include craft and how we find our [00:18:00] ways to love.
Risa: Um, but Jonathan, you don't have to tackle all of that now. I just wanted to hear what you're, what you're thinking and how you're feeling.
Jonathan: Hi, um, my name is Jonathan. Uh, I am also a strong fire sign, uh, Aries, Sun, Capricorn, Moon, and Cancer rising and thinking about that triangulation, uh, really interests me about how that informs a lot of, uh, what I do about like.
Jonathan: Bunging boldly into the fray, uh, with care and being intensely stubborn, uh, about, um, values and things that are important to me, um, but that also bring me to states of retreat, uh, and withdrawal. And that's maybe more where I'm at today and for a certain time, actually, uh, pulling away. Uh, backing off, backing [00:19:00] up, like holing up in my tower, as I wrote in my bio, my, you know, our third floor Montreal apartment, with a view of the mountain and the like fresh air blowing through and a vague sense of the horizon to remind me of, uh, the prairies, uh, where I grew up and that sense of being able to see laterally and from very far distances, being able to watch the storm blow up, uh, and like roll in towards you and, uh, I think some of that.
Jonathan: I mean, so much of my childhood perspective is you've also all shared, um, comes to inform things. And so I think about that landscape. Actually, it's really important for me about the sense of seeing things coming from far off. And that also has to do with anticipating danger. And that is another important part of what masculinity means for me as being a terrain of danger and threat.
Jonathan: And [00:20:00] something that needs to be navigated, uh, either to, out of, like, for self protection, uh, in some cases for the protection of others. That's not necessarily been my experience so much. Um, it's more about trying to
Jonathan: win this war of attrition or, like, manage being under siege, uh, for what feels like constantly. And that, My, my sense of like masculine identity is not something that I've been troubled by or like in deep consideration over or something that needs to be changed. Uh, it was more about the strange expectations that that brought on for other people and that I seemed that I felt very clear on who I was, but that didn't translate to how other people approached me or what they thought of me or what they wanted from me.
Jonathan: And that trying to figure out how to translate the. [00:21:00] The eyeness of being the like, um, the mystery that I was also trying to uncover about myself and yet not seeing that well reflected in the eyes of others. And as a. like growing up queer, uh, you know, white cis male, uh, who found a space to shine in theater and like musical theater and choir and like expressive, uh, spaces, expressive performance spaces, uh, in the late eighties and early nineties.
Jonathan: Of course, everyone thought Thought and knew in a way that they had access to knowing that I didn't, that I was gay, and that that meant that they had this like privileged information over me that they then tried to use. And that also was a kind of war to deal with of saying yes maybe that might be true but not in the way that you think and actually fuck off you have no like space to be in my space about this and that if I had something to share [00:22:00] with you about this that would be my business.
Jonathan: And so like my, my sexual identity, my gender identity and expression are all things that are, they're difficult to pick up and like look at because I felt like they were foisted upon me and that, uh, I got, um, like tarred with some brush. Um, we were talking about Alice in Wonderland and the like this image of the in the Disney cartoon version of the like roses being painted red and these like very sad standard rose bushes dripping with like red paint all over the place and being very shoddily done and maybe I felt, um, yeah, tarted up in this way somehow, uh, of trying to present something that would be acceptable.
Jonathan: Uh, and recognizing that the things that were clearly not acceptable about me, uh, I had to find my own quiet space, um, [00:23:00] to live them. So that meant a lot of hiding, and a lot of closet work, and a lot of shadow work, and a lot of silence. And they're things that I'm trying to think about, and find ways to articulate, and like, give room to, give light to, uh, and give space for.
Jonathan: I also knit. And, uh, and, uh, and quilt, but, uh, and cook. Um, but it's hard before I used to say that I would define myself. I, I'd never wanted to define myself using nouns. And that somehow those kind of the nouning of things of like the being a thing, um, was not. Uh, something that I could accept and that was especially about being gay or about being a man or about being anything.
Jonathan: I said, no, I'm a verb. I do things. Uh, and I'm, it's in the doing, but now, uh, I'm really trying to [00:24:00] find space to not only do because there's a very performative aspect to that of like, I can only exist if I'm in action, I can only exist if I'm producing something, if I'm, you know, moving forward, if there's motion and that the sense of yeah.
Jonathan: rest that's necessary of recuperation of feeling is not doesn't feel like that kind of doing that kind of activeness that can be defining that kind of mad rushing around to prove that one is worthy of taking up space and so now I'm talking about my craft process as a process of unmaking or of disassembling of taking apart of rearranging Of reorganizing.
Jonathan: And so I kind of, I think, uh, I'm like a compost heap right now, and I'm, I'm in it. And that's quite luxurious and strange. A place to be. I
Risa: did [00:25:00] wonder, um, I would love to hear more about from, from maybe Remy, but from all of you. And Remy is a starting point. Like, what does the idea of craft or when did that idea start to intersect with how, who you were and what did it give you?
Risa: If it gave you anything, is it tied to. Is it tied to your sense of self? Is that sense of self, you know, something beyond masculinity? Is it, is it, does it, is it a rewriting or reweaving of masculinity? Is it tied to your magic? I don't know. So I'm just curious.
Remy: Thank you. Uh, it's a very interesting question.
Remy: I think, um, for me, it all comes back to, um, sense of failure, uh, which then, uh, Led me to, um, be kind of obsessed with transformation. [00:26:00] Um, I wrote in my bio that I consider myself a shapeshifter. Um, and I think, I think both figural, figuratively and, um, literally. Um, like, I've started doing gymnastics as, like, when I was two.
Remy: Um, so like. Changing my shape all the time, moving through space, um, in an unconventional way, um, but also in the figurative sense, um, the idea of playing with codes and like probably coming from a desire to fit in, um, trying to, you know, Learn the codes and then apply them [00:27:00] to then fit in, uh, feeling like in my day to day life, I was failing at being a little boy.
Remy: Um, I soon realized that I was actually. to play with that. Um, that actually one of the things that made me fail as a, as a socialized male, um, was my big sense of, uh, like my big sensitivity. Um, and like this, overflow of emotions, but mostly this like being sensitive to things and maybe attuned to people's energies.
Remy: Um, so it led me to this realization that my, one of my powers was to [00:28:00] take these codes and play with them and apply them. Um, and that's probably why I started doing theater, uh, at the age of five, uh, which then became one of my careers. Um, but it was always about this transformation, about transfor like transforming things.
Remy: And I think the craft transformations.
Remy: Seeing the work of like shoving something through something else and make it something else. Um, and then, for example, thinking about knitting. Like this thread, that's so tiny and So easy to break, [00:29:00] um, by reinforcing it with all of these loops and, and making it something so beautiful, which is actually, just as I'm talking about it, like, I've, I've been questioning the sense of community for a while now, and now realizing that it's actually a community that we're building when we're knitting or weaving something, because all of these joints, are reinforcing the whole thing, the whole fabric.
Remy: So I think in order to, like, create this, this beautiful community, it requires transformation. Um, and it was a beautiful way for me to witness it and understand it more. Um,
Remy: and also, like, it's, it's always felt magical. Like, for me, for me, this, [00:30:00] this is when I am able to... I don't actually see my magic. Uh, because most of it is usually invisible. And, uh, the transformation of object is... And, like, practical, visible way of doing magic. Um, and I'm a very visual person. So, being able to see my magic, um, was very empowering.
Remy: Um, and getting this, finally, this sense of, of, of success. Of succeeding at, Uh, transforming something that was, uh, fleece, and then spinning it into yarn, and then from this, like, very fragile thread, making it a garment, and, or dyeing it and using something to, like, put color in my life, um, and other people's lives too, because they get to see me being so colorful.
Remy: So, yeah, I think I... [00:31:00] Maybe I went a little sideways, but,
Risa: um, no, that's exactly where I, I want to go somehow, right? I want to, I want to pull at these threads. Exactly. I want to think about for myself too. I mean, I, I think about moments where, uh, a meditation in a Trying to understand what was wrong in my life and where I needed to go and to transubstantiate previous experiences and alchemize them was, was spent embroidery, you know, it was just like I had to go step by step.
Risa: I had to, it was all freehand. Like, I just had to think my way through the fact that I could survive mistakes that I could adapt. I could take another step. It would be okay. Um, James, I, I know I, we need to hear your story of coming to weaving now if you're comfortable with it and tell us. Yeah,
James: and I just want to say [00:32:00] the first, based on you talking about embroidery, I mean, One of the, um, so the person that taught me how to weave, um, Sarah Neuber was somebody who was very big on the neuroscience tied to weaving.
James: It just so happens that a lot of people in Colorado that are, um,
Jonathan: interested in
James: weaving and teaching weaving, Rebecca Metzoff as well, they're all highlighting the, um, the healing aspects of weaving to literally put your brain back together after trauma. Like, there's a reason why vets, when they came back from World War II, they would put them down, um, I don't know specifically about whether or not they were knitting, they probably were, I specifically know about weaving, um, and literally that was their way of walking home.
James: Um, and weaving has been my long walk home for, A long time, you know, I talked about how good I was as a Chad. I laugh at myself all the time because I [00:33:00] just have such a self deprecating sense of humor I just can't help it, but it's. You know, I was this person that excelled at everything they did because I wanted to be accepted, um, by my father.
James: Um, you know, I wasn't given the option to really, like, do art. You know, it was, you know, uh, PhD by 28, uh, tennis in college, you know, whatever. Then my mom died. That I got crippling OCD. Um, I went to, I taught a class the next day after my mom died. Um, I was in full plow mode. As I call it. Um, but her final wish was to learn how to weave.
James: She was a prolific crochet artist. I mean she was amazing. I still have all the blankets. A lot of my woven language that I use in my weaving is based on the symbols that she put into her work. So, um, my, my very My embrace of the feminine and the divine feminine is [00:34:00] very deep and it goes from always being accepted in female dominated spaces, sociology, also female dominated space, um, and finding allies for people that looked at masculinity, um, class inequality.
James: Um, homophobia, every phobia, xenophobia, every phobia that I am against, finding allies in those female dominated spaces. Um, so my mom passed away, she wanted to learn how to weave. I ended up taking a rag rug class in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is like literally an epicenter of weaving. Um, it's the convergence of the Dine weaving culture, which goes back literally since Jump Street, in terms of Dine culture.
James: Spanish settlers, like there's literally folks that are direct descendants from the Spanish conquistadors that live in villages, predominantly Spanish villages in northern New Mexico, that [00:35:00] are the Trujillo specifically, that are master weavers, they're amazing, they do the whole cycle. And then there was a bunch of the back to landers that came there, specifically Rachel Brown, and I got really wrapped up into that.
James: I was just like absolutely entranced by that, this idea that you could weave in a circle. You could literally take A fleece, spin it, dye it with flowers, um, and weave it. Um, and that to me is the most magical, it's as close, it's as close as somebody can get to feeling like a god. And I talk about this a lot in my writing, but like you do, you feel, like you feel how divine you really are as a human being when you're wrapped up in that cycle.
James: And I'm not saying this is like an ego trip, right? Like I don't like... you know, whatever. Like, this is sort of like on that whole like Alan Moore tip, like the British writer, um, who talks a lot about magic. He created his, he became a ceremonial magician at 40. He, like, announced this at his 40th birthday party.
James: I'm gonna be a magician. He literally just made up his [00:36:00] god. Like, Alan Moore is great. Like, I love Alan Moore. Like, he's just, he's wonderful. Um, and like, the interesting thing that comes about when you're on that pathway of healing, and the fact that your whole craft is bound up with death work, that's bound up with losing your only person, um, your family, um, is that you go through this, like, tremendous, like, Death and rebirth process.
James: I feel like I'm dying and being reborn now, like it feels like, like every season now, but like when you start to get attuned to it, like you start to see and you know we talked a little bit about the shapeshifting aspect, right? Like Romeo talked a little bit about that. Druids, historically, are shapeshifters, right?
James: They're the sort of like outside of Convention people who like our hermits, they live on out on the hedge, like nobody can contact them, right? Like, unless you're really going to go find them. I really like that aspect of [00:37:00] being a hedge druid. Um, cause, uh, go figure with my fire sign. I don't get down with many of the established orders
James: whatever reason.
James: It has a lot to do with like social and political beliefs and that not lining up with mine. Um, but. You know, a lot of this whole journey that comes in, and what I've realized, um, being a crafter in female dominated spaces, and being allowed to be in those spaces, and being invited in, um, and just making myself, like, not, you know, making myself small, but just not trying to take up much air in the room, um, is you realize how much of masculinity is this liminal state?
James: I mean like if you really start like realizing that you don't fit into the buckets, like you might like do certain things like you're okay accepted, but the minute you start calling people on treating women as objects, the minute you start talking you're not wanting to use any, you know, any homophobic slur in like normal vernacular, you're immediately kicked out of the club.
James: Like they kick you out, they burn your armchair that you use to [00:38:00] like watch sports ball with everybody and you drink beer and like you're done, you're cooked. You're kicked out. Um, and you start, you, you start to see the veil of masculinity. Um, and you, you, specifically within my own Irish wisdom tradition, it's a re weaving.
James: And weaving, it's crazy how much they mention weaving, um, within the Irish wisdom tradition. John O'Donoghue talks, he like, he uses like weaving metaphors like every five minutes. Um, so John O'Donohue being like the, like basically the, the heretic Catholic priest who left the church because he could not be held by the church, the church could not hold, um, John O'Donohue, um, because his ideas were too expansive.
James: Um, but it's all in line with. Reweaving the masculine in with the divine feminine and finding that balance so that all people, regardless of what society, what bucket they want to put them in, can use the powers, can wield the powers of creation, [00:39:00] can wield the powers of destruction, and that all of the, all of the binaries about who's supposed to wield that, you know, you know, this goes back to what Yvonne O'Byrne was talking about in your, um, You can tell I'm nerding out now.
James: I'm like referencing past issues. Can you tell I listen to that podcast? But she, you know, she talks about like how in Wicca, you know, her book Inclusive Wicca has done a lot of work to try to break down those, those binaries. And it's huge. I mean, that's, that's what craft does for me. That's what craft, craft is, you know, weaving, spinning, dyeing, foraging, growing plants.
James: Doing that weaving in a circle, um, has allowed me to access my own divinity, has allowed me to explore mysteries within my own ancestral traditions, has allowed me to decolonize my practice in ways and my own, like, life in ways that I never could fathom. I mean, it goes on and on, right? It's all intersectional.
James: You know, it's, it's masculinity, but it's class, but it's gender, but it's sexuality, but it's, uh, colonialism, right? It's everything. [00:40:00] Um, but I think, me specifically, I had a big masculinity wound and I needed to rectify that, and I think one of the big healing aspects has been craft. Um, and been able to find people who'd be willing to accept me, um, when I was kind of thrown out because I didn't believe what everybody else believed.
Risa: Jonathan, does that ring true for you too, your experience of connecting with craft? Like spaces where you, I don't know, Jonathan and I like cook together and it's a pleasure and a joy, you know, to watch someone who knows. So much about the craft of food and ingredient or, you know, hearing stories about knitting and like May's first quilt is, was one that Jonathan gave her, you know, um, I think of you as someone with a profound love and appreciation of craft, but I don't really know how you think about that.
Jonathan: Well, [00:41:00] I hearing other, other people talk about it. I really became over overwhelmed by emotion and I have some very personal, like, uh, long away things that I want to share that there's an interesting thread to follow on this, and that there's an extremely personal and like sensory quality that I think is what links me to, to the craft that I would.
Jonathan: identify as the thing that I'm doing with my hands. And actually the thing I'm doing with my hands right now while I'm talking is like rubbing these, uh, recycled African like glass beads that I've threaded on this, uh, strand that is really just for me to like finger and feel and like have sensory, um, feedback from.
Jonathan: And it actually helps me stay kind of like still and concentrated. And the act of doing this while listening. Of course reminds me of the story that my mother tells about me as an infant, [00:42:00] which is that, well actually the circumstance, my parents didn't want me to have a security blanket. They were very concerned that They were going to have to go through this terrible, um, parting of me, uh, their, you know, their infant child with this, uh, disgusting, you know, uh, messy, stinky thing that could never be washed and could never be left behind.
Jonathan: And, uh, and so to preemptively avoid that possibility and that grief, they swapped my blankets out every day. So I never had one blanket. I had a, like, plethora. Of abundance and it's wounding in a way to think about that. I also didn't have one caretaker, but I had many that I went into care at six months and that I had many people who were like worshipped and loved me and [00:43:00] like to care of me, but there was no.
Jonathan: sense of like a single source or like a reliable place. My therapist is aghast and was from the very beginning, you know, many years ago when I told her this story and she went, but the security blanket, it's a transitional object. Like it's important, it's important to bond to this thing and then to give it up because it's like so developmentally like essential to developing a sense of self about being able to like leave this, be able to self soothe and then leave the of comfort about being able to like, let it die, to put it away.
Jonathan: And so my, my infant, uh, pre like cognitive response to this situation was to pick the fluff off of the blankets to pick those like acrylic, like nubs that would sit in the surface of all of these like early 80s. Uh, you know, synthetic, uh, woven or knitted things and collect them into a tiny little ball.
Jonathan: And then I [00:44:00] also was, you know, uh, in the story, shamed for not having developed sufficient manual dexterity early and being in a low percentile about my ability to, like, do things with my fingertips. And so I would take my, uh, fists. Uh, my kind of clumped, uh, you know, non definitive fists to like hold this clump of, uh, acrylic fluff and rub it up against the side of my face, uh, for comfort and that, that was my way to self soothe.
Jonathan: And that was my response to this. Uh, like storm of, uh, sensation of textiles of, uh, variation of smells of all of that. And I have no memory of that. It's just a story that was told. And now that I retell that story in this way, it's interesting. I try to think about these things in an axiomatic way, which is to say, what if, what if this meant this thing?
Jonathan: And then I reacted that way. What [00:45:00] information could I draw from that? And so I think, I think about that nervousness. That, um, like drive or like anxiety in my fingertips about trying to do things about trying to hold on to something that then feels fleeting, uh, and that, that also has a lot to do then to a sense of like.
Jonathan: Identity. Who am I? Like, who am I to myself? Who am I to these other people? How can I, uh, be seen as worthy of care and like being picked back up again or being like, um, uh, being received? And so, that maybe state of anxiety, we think about as a like a what if kind of way. Let's imagine this infant. Um, power and mastery become really important things.
Jonathan: How can I be sure that [00:46:00] I can rely, uh, on the world? How can I be sure that I will be in a secure, safe state? And, uh, so becoming fiercely independent is, uh, one. I won't rely on anybody. Um, and I'm really attached also and was as a child to the sable of the little red hen who asked everyone to help, uh, with the planting of the seeds and the watering and the harvesting of the grain and the grinding of all of these things and, uh, and the refrain all the time.
Jonathan: It's like, oh, well, if you won't help, then I'll do it myself. And that, that kind of mantra came through of like, I'm the only person I can really rely on, uh, to take care of myself in this way, which is not to malign the abundance of care that I received and the support that I had, but this like deep internalized sense of I'm alone and I need to figure out how to make this work.
Jonathan: And so [00:47:00] craft became a way to. Develop and exert mastery. And one of the primary ways that that came up as an adolescent was being able to come home, uh, as a teenager. Or even as a like preteen and make lunch, uh, and being able to have access to the space. Actually, there was a big, a kind of ongoing fight from being extremely young to like, why can't I just go home?
Jonathan: I can take care of myself. Uh, you know, this story when I was three about trying to make pancakes to for everyone for breakfast, uh, and like getting up early and knowing how to do all of the things and having followed all the steps in one of my first meals. And then, you know, Not having woken my parents up, uh, wanting to surprise them.
Jonathan: And, but realizing that I could get all of the things, the pancake batter and the milk and the eggs and all that stuff, but I couldn't reach the bowls. So I made it on the counter and that's not a particularly good strategy, but it's like a nice place to start and being like, Oh no, I know how to, I know how to [00:48:00] do this.
Jonathan: I knew how to walk home. I knew how to get to my address. Uh, you know, I asked my father to let me out of the car to walk home when I was coming home from preschool and I showed up on the front door and I knocked, I knocked on the door. My mother answered and she was the gas. She's like, where's your father?
Jonathan: What? It's like, Oh, I walked home. I'm fine. It's no big deal. And, uh, and she said, well, what? She saw my father off. She was like, what were you doing? Why did you let him walk home? And he said, I was driving in the car right next to him the whole time. Like it was fine. But I was so convinced that, um, that I could do these things.
Jonathan: So food. Maybe as a like not diagnosed or like not sufficiently important like higher level deal of dealing with a kind of hypoglycemia or just like consistent like grumpy hangriness about needing to eat that finding a source of nourishment and being having a constant source of nourishment is really important for me.
Jonathan: And so as a teenager, my mother started to do a master's program, uh, at [00:49:00] during night classes when she worked during the day. And so it became then my responsibilities, the oldest to start to like, learn to cook and take care of the family. Uh, my father makes great breakfasts and is good with eggs, but that was about it.
Jonathan: And so, uh, for my younger sister and I, like I started, uh, making food, which was making lunches and making meals, and that meant that I could go home by myself at lunch, I could invite people over, I could carve out my own space, or I could live this kind of independent feeling as a, you know, 10 year old, come home and eat Kraft dinner, or come home and do these things.
Jonathan: And so. crafting this nourishment from raw ingredients or out of a box and a few simple things from the fridge, you know, Mr. Noodle's package, uh, some chicken wings, uh, boiled and then broiled with Louisiana hot sauce, uh, some Classico spaghetti sauce with, uh, ground beef fried up. It's like, these were many of my first meals, but you know, when you started at 12 and never stopped, like, [00:50:00] suddenly.
Jonathan: The deep, deep dive into, into mastery and the power, that power of being able to offer a sustenance, but also nourishment, uh, and care, the sublimated form of care and saying, I can provide myself with this elemental comfort every day. The beauty of eating, uh, being able to eat, of having access to these foods, uh, and being able to assuage this distress.
Jonathan: That's inside of me, and it's inside of other people too, and to be able to do that with, with ease and reliability, I think is where the, my sense of power around that really comes from. And I have a lot more to say about knitting and other things after that, but that was a long pitch so I'm happy to cede some space for someone else.
James: totally joke by calling myself Chloe Hans. Like today, like it's like part of me making fun of myself, [00:51:00] like, because my wife is a clothing maker, right? Like, she's literally like, I mean, like, designs her clothes, can sew everything. And so I was coming into like fiber art as this person who's just was like in the realm of ideas.
James: Getting off of a PhD, um, you know, could like, could like, make, very interested in using my hands, but didn't have a lot of the training to do it, and I would joke in the beginning, uh, we both went to the first, um, weaving class together, um, Sarah loved Lily's weaving, like, absolutely adored it, and like, Lily just, every, every time she does anything fiber related, it literally just shows out, you're like, she's like, she'll just show up, and it's just amazing, and so I would joke about calling myself Club Hands.
James: Um, but like, you know, you sort of see, like, you know, it's, it's interesting, uh, what men do in those sorts of contexts, you know, it's a touch on the idea of mastery, right? Like me constantly downplaying my own ability, [00:52:00] um, but also like it being weird, like thinking back on that first experience, like, yeah, my first weaving is ugly.
James: I still have it. I like my whatever my Instagram grid, like if you go back, I'll 700 posts or whatever still there. I'm not going to delete it. Um, But it's interesting this idea of self sufficiency is also like tied into my story as well in terms of like literally my dad like didn't show up at the hospice when my mom was sick.
Jonathan: Um, he didn't ask about
James: her after she passed at a dinner a day later. We were just like it was just my sister and I like you just had to figure it out and luckily I found weaving and you know everything else associated with it just sort of uh digged me out. Um, of that and to have that avenue, it's just interesting when you find it, you know, like just, you know, in terms of your life corresponding it at such a young age, I think for me initially, like body movement was a big thing, like with tennis, like even though there was this whole component of seeking attention, there was still this, this place where I could control [00:53:00] things, um, in a deeply uncontrollable context of being between two divorced parents who were, you know, battling one another.
James: And I was asked to be the quote unquote man of the house. Yeah. to defend people, right? All that garbage. Um, and that was, you know, I've always found these little spaces where I could be the master of my own domain. And guess what? I'm a very independent person as well because of those experiences because I couldn't depend on other people.
James: Um, and I could only depend on myself to bring myself out of it, you know, for Latin, the classic male sort of like not going to therapy for years sort of consequences, right? Like I have OCD for years. Don't realize it. Nobody can help me with that. Um, I tried to meditate my way out as, as, as most, uh, as a lot of, uh, uh, white folks have done.
James: Uh, it looked to Buddhism and there's nothing wrong with it, right? [00:54:00] Like if you're doing it right. I just was a particularly bad Buddhist and had all the wrong reasons for being a Buddhist. I was just trying to bypass stuff. Um, but yeah, I really liked the idea of. reclaiming mastery, um, in a way that is healing.
James: Um, and that really, that part of your story really resonated with me. And I think the rearticulation of masculinity for people who are much more in line with the liminal state of masculinity is extremely healing and extremely important to give back to other men who also want the, uh, sort of exit. Path exit exit strategy outside of the sort of the the iron cage of masculinity.
James: I'm drawing on Weber. I know it's iron cage of rationality. I'm being dramatic. I'm being a sociologist, but I'm just going to do it. The iron cage of masculinity
Jonathan: is the same as rationality.
Risa: I want to invite you all to go with that [00:55:00] idea. I want to talk forever, but also I really want to be respectful of bedtimes and and the times that we've carved out for this.
Risa: Um, Imagine the audience for this podcast. Okay. So it's mostly women, but all of those women are thinking perhaps right now about the man in their life that they will send this episode to. Don't you think? I feel like, I feel like this might be one where you're like, maybe you could listen to this and hear.
Risa: Something that feels familiar or like welcoming or, or like, that feels like a kinship, right? Like that's what I want. I want those men to, to know that there isn't an exit strategy from the cage, from the brutal cage and that it involves us, you know, a circle of love, these, these stitches of care and finding a pathway out that still values your mastery and your skill.
Risa: Um, and your [00:56:00] craft and your protection but also doesn't rely on you being all those things all the time that has space for all your diversity and your non binary glory. Um, so that's my invitation. Closing remarks. I
Remy: find it really interesting to hear how like it seems like the three of us came to like a mastery in the sense of, of, Um, relying on, on oneself and this idea of I can do it all by myself, um, and I am going to figure out how to do this from A to Z. Um, for example, I started knitting and then at some point I was like, Oh, I actually would like to dye my own, my own yarn.
Remy: I want to choose my own colors. Um, [00:57:00] and then, oh, I'm actually really interested in spinning. I would really like to start from, from maybe, like, comb, comb fiber, or carded fiber. Um, the only thing that stopped me from starting from a full fleece was That we don't have the space here and it needs to be cleaned and it needs a place to dry.
Remy: Um, and it's a big, big curse that we're not willing to, uh, welcome in this apartment. Um,
James: I mean, you don't just have like a whole closet full of places. That are waiting to be cleaned. No, I think that's, I do, I do now. I'm just joking. It's just funny that I, cause I totally, I totally commiserate.
Jonathan: Turn the camera around so you can see the pile of boxes that are full of fleeces waiting to be spun.
Remy: mean, it's like fleece, fleece and yarn and fabric. Um, but the, the thing that I am, it made me realize. Yes, [00:58:00] and I'm also, I'm make, I'm also making this, uh, parallel with something else that's, uh, more intimate in my life, um. And I was, like, hesitant to, um, decide whether I would talk about it or not, um, thinking that this, uh, podcast will be, um, listened to quite widely, uh, and shared, um, but I think it, I think it makes sense and it's, it's, it's a, it's a good parallel to do, um, I, I do rope bondage, um, as a personal, uh, intimate practice,
Remy: publicly with other like minded people.
Remy: Hello. Um, even teaching, um, abroad and, um, I identify mostly as a bottom, bottom leaning, uh, practitioner,
Jonathan: which means
Remy: that I receive the ropes, um, [00:59:00] and it's very interesting to hear most. People who get tied up, um, And one of their motivations, or one
Jonathan: of their, um, Like,
Remy: like their motor for doing that is the idea of letting go of control.
Remy: Um, could be like, I know many people who have a lot of responsibilities in their day to day life and they need to learn to let go of control. Um, or they need to have this space that feels secure to
Jonathan: put their
Remy: safety into someone else's, uh, someone else's hands. And I never really, um, identify with that. I [01:00:00] never, never able to resonate with this statement.
Remy: And for me, it's always... It's been a feeling of being in control and, um, I'm actually a lot more comfortable being tied up because I feel a lot more powerful when I'm on the receiving end, uh, because I know that all the decisions are made, not all, a lot of the decisions are made based on my input or based on my reactions and my safety.
Remy: Um, and in the last year or so, I, it made me question a lot, um, like these reflexes of needing to be in places where I'm always in control. And why am I, [01:01:00] why am I not able to, or why am I not willing to give up control? And to like fully trust, uh, and I think it's this huge trap of toxic masculinity that men can only rely on themselves and, uh, that we have to be the ones fixing things.
Remy: And we have to be the ones, uh, finding solutions or, or making sure that,
Remy: that we get to our destination. Um, and all of this, it's just smoke and mirrors. Like, it's, and I know that, and I've known that for a while, but yet, [01:02:00] even in the practices that I, um, engage in, in order to undo these things, I still get stuck in these traps. And I think it's, uh, one of the biggest traps of masculinity, or toxic masculinity, is...
Remy: Um, to not trust that one can lose control and that it's okay.
James: And that resonates with my experience completely. My, my toxic masculinity, my articulation of toxic masculinity is saying I can, I can fix myself. I can control my own mind because it's my mind. What did it lead? I just tied my brain up in knots until I couldn't see my way out.
James: Of the labyrinth that I've created in my own mind. Exactly. 100%. That's all toxic masculinity, right? And craft provides that, to me, this sort of [01:03:00] decentralized space where a lot of that stuff drops away. When you're just doing a repetitive task over and over and over again, that's why I like bicycling.
James: That's why I like weaving. That's why I like spinning. It's this space that you tap into when time slows. You know, it's very similar to right. I mean, it's just that we all know that feeling right whether it's you get it at your altar. I get it at my altar, but I get it in other places too. Um, and the ability to unweave it.
James: I mean, the basically when I decided to go to therapy, I was sitting at my loom. Um, being a typical guy. I'll stop using the pejorative term. Okay, I'll stop doing it. It's rude. Even though I'm making fun of a formal version of myself. Um, and we were listening to like a Krista Tippett, I'm being podcast, uh, open quote, close cut, the power of podcasts, missing witches.[01:04:00]
James: um, and it was about like, just, you know, sort of like the neuroscience and like the, what we had found, I forget who the person was, but it was just basically like a purchase to anxiety, like mental health approaches to anxiety. And all of a sudden I'm just sitting here. And I'm like, I'm going to therapy tomorrow.
James: What? Like what? And I can't tell you the number of times that's happened with fiber art. It's weird. It's a completely, uh, it's magic. It's just complete and utter magic. And all of a sudden I'm in therapy and then I'm doing exposure therapy and going to the 47th realm of hell through exposure therapy, facing everything I've ever afraid of.
James: Right. Whatever. I'm really good at suffering because of the tennis shit. Yeah. So I did the advanced exposure therapy course. Yikes. Don't ever want to go back there. But I'm like totally comfortable with the underworld now, okay? Totally [01:05:00] comfortable. I want to go on so many asides, but I'm going to stop. All that resonates.
James: This is wonderful. I can see why we're all talking. This is great. We're all interwoven in such a wonderful way. It's really
Risa: beautiful. Yeah, I'm so excited just to... Just to let you meet and get to hear you talk. I hope that we can meet again and keep talking because there are so many more ideas. James, I'm going to come back to you because I want you to think about what your, um, what the message is you're going to slip through the gates to the men.
Risa: Trapped in versions of masculinity that they want to find their way out of. And Jonathan, I want to come back to you first. Yeah. There's so many things you could respond to how just pick up any threads that feel right.
Jonathan: I want to pick up a thread about this, uh, immediate and burning decision to go to therapy.[01:06:00]
Jonathan: And for me, uh, it was about rage and it was about trying to figure out what to do with this anger. It's like constant. Volcano, like magma inside of me, uh, and trying to figure out, uh, like why I was in such like angry distress, like walking down the street and having someone walk too close to me and just feeling like ready to like totally wig out and like scream.
Jonathan: And that the felt the sense of being constantly invaded or slighted by, uh, other people, by sounds, by smells, um, by neighbors, uh, you know, uh, by the city, by the like press of humanity and being unable to, to kind of face that. It became interesting for me to think about and feel how much the sense of rage was actually a [01:07:00] secondary emotion, something that was like manifesting on the surface and that the like primary emotion underneath that was sadness and that I was really, really sad about a lot of things and that I had like, Oceans of grief that felt uncrossable.
Jonathan: And that, uh, has to do with giving up a lot of things, giving up on a lot of things. I trained as a theater artist and I stopped. And I had been trained hard as an opera singer and then stopped, um, part of my return to handcraft had to do with trying to anchor myself in reality and something concrete that I could hold on to after working so much in the ephemeral, uh, even cooking is like a very transitory thing, nourished and maybe, you know, gain or lose weight related to it, but it doesn't [01:08:00] have this like, you know, tangible, ongoing feel and the sense of the pleasure of being in rehearsal, of creating, or the supposed pleasure of being in the studio, like singing and practicing, which for me was always terrifying, um, of working things out, but then the next day, like having nothing to show for it.
Jonathan: The real practice of it being like, you just need to show up every day and keep going. And that if you don't do it that day, well, then it didn't happen like going to the gym or like any other thing. Whereas, uh, with knitting, when I picked it back up, something that I had learned as a child in admiration from watching my mother, uh, be able to do these things, uh, and saying, I want to learn how to do that too.
Jonathan: Uh, but I picked knitting back up while I was, uh, in school as a, as a classically trained vocalist and opera singer, cause I needed something quiet. I needed something I could do with my hands while I was sitting in an orchestral rehearsal waiting 40 minutes to stand up and sing my two lines and then sit back down again.
Jonathan: I needed something that would allow me to pay attention, uh, but that, [01:09:00] where I wouldn't feel like I was losing my mind. And that had a lot to do with, or it led me to realize that there was a sense of abundance to be found in very small things. And that I could time travel, which was to say, I could expand and contract the sense of time by connecting with my hands and material goods through repeated meditative gestures, though that wasn't the purpose, it was a collateral benefit by just picking out each stitch, as Risa's talked about, and like finding where the needle wants to go, of like repeatedly Making these same gestures over and over again as a spell as a, as a call to something to some beautiful future that seems worthy of preparing for, and therefore an active hope of wanting to reach forward to this future me who would have this thing that I would offer to myself.
Jonathan: Uh, [01:10:00] And kind of jump over the thousands of hours of prevaricating and like work and carting this around through airports or, uh, you know, Uh, in, you know, living rooms and in front of, you know, countless books on tape or whatever. But just that suddenly this thing would have, uh, it would exist from something that didn't exist.
Jonathan: But I would have like alchemically conjured something out of this long spun strand. And, um, that was really helpful for me also in recovering from not being a performing artist to be able to say, I want something that I can shove in a bag and put in the corner and punish and say, I want you to think about what you've done.
Jonathan: You're being very bad right now. You're giving me an extremely hard time and I don't like that. So you're going to go over there and I'm going to ignore you for as long as it takes for me to figure out what the fuck I'm going to do with it next. And, uh, then pick it back up again and not really be lost.
Jonathan: In the way that if I didn't sing for two weeks [01:11:00] that I had a lot of work to do to pick back up again, that the, my access, my immediate access to that would be gone.
Jonathan: So there's this thread of abundance that's become increasingly important as I become increasingly less employed or increasingly less financially like solvent. And I've started picking things up out of the garbage and, uh, scrounging for fabrics by what's cast off. And an idea of, I'm going to quilt with this one day, but what's actually really been, it's about trying to fill up the pantry, to fill up the cupboard, and to create this stash with some sense that this will provide me with endless opportunities, endless material to work with.
Jonathan: And I have more things that I could ever do with, but it still lets me live in hope when I look at them and say like one day I have an idea about this thing and I want to turn it into this other thing. [01:12:00] And I imagine then still that there is a future that I want to prepare for where those things are possible or where they may also not be necessary.
Jonathan: How many blankets does a person really need? Not that many actually when you have one that you actually, that you like, and maybe that you made yourself. Maybe one for summer and one for winter and one to take for the park and, well, maybe one for the sofa and, you know, one to eat on and, uh, one to have sex with and, uh, you know, there's, there's, there's a lot of different kinds of planar surfaces that we can drag around with us and like wrap around ourselves and, uh, that can accompany us through life.
Jonathan: So, yeah, craft, craft brought me abundance and in something that felt very Uh, solitary, but my experience of being a human being and being a like mask coded person and not feeling necessarily that I had access to for whatever strange, mysterious reason to um, [01:13:00] a stable cohort that, uh, people come and go in my life a lot.
Jonathan: And I've been very close with a lot of people and develop really strong bonds. And yet I've watched the like ebb and flow of that and let people move away. Um, both geographically and emotionally. And that, uh, trying to find some other things to hang on to, uh, to remind myself of those times of that comfort, of those, those links of that attachment, um, are important.
Amy: I do, um, I think it's so interesting that, um, we talk about toxic masculinity as a separate thing from masculinity itself. I think it's so interesting that all three of you, um, have gorgeous facial hair. So there's some part of each of you that is, is leaning directly into masculinity. And so I [01:14:00] kind of want to end just by, like, celebrating.
Amy: You know, we have toxic masculinity. That doesn't mean the masculinity is toxic. We're just trying to, yes, chest hair, all the hair. I love it. Thank you so much. Listeners, you're so sad you weren't here live to see the chest hair show. But again, I want to say again, like, um, we have toxic masculinity, but we also have fucking beautiful masculinity.
Amy: And I'm so grateful and proud of the three of you for coming and sitting in circle with us and examining both toxic masculinity and beautiful masculinity. And I really want to celebrate masculinity in these, in these last few minutes that we have together. Um, I'm not really sure how other than just to say like, I celebrate your gorgeous masculinity, and I really appreciate your thoughtfulness in attempting to reject those toxic aspects of masculinity while still [01:15:00] embracing the beautiful parts of your masculinity.
Amy: So I guess just like, thank you and you're gorgeous. Maybe you can wrap that thought up better for me than
Risa: can. I'm just going to turn it into an invitation. So thank you in your gorgeous and last words, you know, this, this, the idea of slipping a spell through the cracks to people who are trapped in an idea or, or in friendships or things that don't give them peace.
Risa: In their journey of masculinity, whatever that looks like, or maybe it's through like a crack to an earlier version of yourself. Like what do you, what do you know? What's the spell you can offer if there is one?
Remy: I would like to offer the spell of listening, of listening to the people surrounding you, surrounding me, um, [01:16:00] and the spell of compassion, of self compassion.
Remy: It's, uh, every time I'm doing a ritual about things that I want to invite within myself, it's always the first thing. I think it's a lifelong journey. Um, but, yeah, listening and being compassionate, first to oneself, um, to then be able to be compassionate with others. Um, I think it's,
Jonathan: for me, the, uh, road that I've taken
Remy: to try and,
Jonathan: um, break free from these traps
Remy: and, like, explore my gender, my masculinity, my femininity, um, not only just by myself, because we never [01:17:00] exist only by ourselves.
Risa: this is radical magic. You say it so humbly and so gently, and this is the most radical magic for all of us, but I do think, you know, having been in academic spaces or, um, working with, uh, sound techs, or like in these, like, very, like, Male dominated rooms working in tech, um, where, you know, that stereotype was very lived out where, like, the, the men in the room all felt like they had to take up all the space all the time.
Risa: Sometimes to the point where it felt tinged with the desperation, like. We can all tell you've lost the thread, but you're still talking like you're still screaming into the void, because you feel like you need to know you need to control you need to land on something that that affirms that you're. In a place of power or that you're okay or something.
Risa: And [01:18:00] the, the kindness of including in our gender identities, the call to listen to each other, right. That like, it's okay. It's not necessarily about leaning in or leaning out or some sort of marketing buzzword, but like that we are these loops around each other and looping and weaving with listening to each other and compassion can ease us, I think.
Risa: Out of performative masculinity and into something maybe much more powerful. So thank you so much for saying that James, do you have a, do you have a spell or like some sort of warrior scream?
James: He slipped the snare. May you find yourself in the unknown. May you let go of those who set expectations for you that don't [01:19:00] honor the complexity of who you are. May you be devoted to being in the unknown and resting in the incomplete, knowing that there will never be a complete knowledge of who you are and the complexity of who you are.
James: And may you enjoy drinking in that mystery.
Risa: Jonathan, what you've said was already so beautiful, James, that blessing, I think we'll have to cut it out and make it something that stands alone so we can return to it. It's so beautiful and powerful. And Jonathan, you've gifted us with so many things you've said that brought me to tears. Do you have a closing blessing gesturing?
Risa: You're done.
Jonathan: Oh, I'm definitely that person who can keep talking. [01:20:00] I only, I get to earn this extra spot by, uh, by being deeply impactful. And so I get away with it. That's another source of power. Being able to suck up a lot of extra space. The things I would like to... You got the invitation. Yeah, yeah. That's right.
Jonathan: Um, what I was thinking of to wrap up that came from earlier was more about, uh, affirmations. If we talked about masculinity in ways, uh, like, uh, old skin that we wanted to shed, uh, that I wanted to think about and affirm the things that were important to me and that have a, like, mask tinge to them or that are coded both, um, Coding like programming, but also coded like in slime, uh, or in sauce.
Jonathan: And there's some idealized versions. Uh, and that I'm discovering more now as, uh, in [01:21:00] my now mid forties and like silver fox, um, plaid shirt, you know, lesbian adjacent dad era to, um, solidity, to reliability, to a quiet strength that, uh, like trees can bend in the wind, but also stand and give shade. Um, that will break and fall over in storms also, and that, that the deep capacity to nurture is not something that's coded, uh, by gender and that, uh, the, the rich creative aspect of life of living of like engendering things is within all of [01:22:00] us.
Jonathan: Um, as I like this man, I think one of my major like life envies and like, uh, tragic. Greek tragic kind of feelings is about not being able to give birth and that a lot of my creative energy draws life from this inability to carry life inside of my body in that way. And it's an interesting wound to think to carry, but also to see.
Jonathan: Um, what healing that, what addressing it and like, um, engaging with it resonates out into the world and all the things that I'm able to do with my life, with my energy, with this force that's inside of me, um, that's an exchange in some way for not, uh, having that capacity and maybe striving to do so, but in other [01:23:00] ways.
Jonathan: And so think about generativity now at this period of like, what can I offer? What can I give back? And in giving and in generating, what am I offering to myself and what ways am I also showing up and being solid and reliable for myself, giving voice to that very small, um, uh, fragile thing inside of me, the sense of self or this like small child or, um, this, this son or daughter of mine that is mine, but isn't, um, and, uh, and to let that person out to play.
Risa: you all so much. Thank you for being with us at this strange time in the season, and strange time in the world, strange time to [01:24:00] be people, strange, strange time to be trying to figure out how we make an impact that is healing, or fertile, at least. Um, and thanks for being so generous. It's your.
Risa: Insights, um, struggles. I don't know. It felt, like, incredibly generous, um, the honesty that you shared with us today, so. We
Amy: don't, we don't generally, um, type vulnerability as a masculine trait, and I think all three of you have made us rethink that binary for sure.
Risa: So I'm gonna say, bless the fucking bee, but I'm also just But yeah, I'm gonna say bless the fucking me and
Amy: we're gonna say Happy Lamas Happya.
Amy: And bless the fucking be and [01:25:00] bless the fucking me.
Remy: Bless the fucking be.
Risa: Yeah. But I also just, if you guys have two more seconds, cuz Connor and Rachel have been with us the whole time. If you do wanna, um, unmute or turn your cameras, say hi, respond to anything, um, I did wanna give you the opportunity, although I know that's not always.
Risa: Um, something that folks are here for. Hi, Rach. Hi.
Jonathan: I just wanted to say thank you. I think that, um, that's exactly the, one of the biggest gifts that, that you folks gave tonight was your generosity of vulnerability and we really appreciated hearing all of that. Thank you. Yeah, I also wanted to thank you for, for sharing so much of your personal experiences.
Jonathan: Um, and I, I think one thing I was thinking of throughout was I was curious if anyone had maybe a role model or someone who's in your life that may be acted as [01:26:00] permission to go against the grain, or to be some sort of deviant in a way. And if, even if it's not, you know, maybe recorded just curious if there was someone like that.
Jonathan: Kind of maybe some of the first steps you might have experienced, um, in terms of maybe changing either mannerisms or aspects of, of how you experienced
Amy: gender. Yeah, I want everyone to answer but I just want to say, Fred Rogers, to bring the name Fred Rogers into the conversation to me like, Mr. Rogers is the epitome of what men can do if they are good and kind.
Jonathan: Somebody else. So I feel like I. I've told the story or a number of stories which really slag my mother, and I feel a bit exposed about that and not representing the whole part of the story and that actually the person who's possibly the most radical about helping me in this way is my [01:27:00] mother, who did not code, any of these things with like feminine traits, and that I learned, whether I liked it or not, to cook, to sew, Um, to mend things, um, to take care of myself, um, to take care of my family, uh, to bake pies when I didn't feel like baking pies, or to, like, make bread, and that I was deeply encouraged to, uh, sing and dance and, uh, be expressive, uh, and be loud, uh, As long as I also was like extremely, uh, good at school, but, but, uh, I didn't grow up in a space where that felt weird or that, uh, was, uh, unwelcome and coded my curiosity about these things was deeply fostered.
Remy: Um, I think my model is also, like, close [01:28:00] and, and, like, family tied. Uh, it is, uh, Jonathan, um, actually. Uh, who's... Like from the lack of judgment and guilt and shame gave me the gift of being able to see my own self shame and explore it and, um, play with what I was and who I was and who I am and, um, celebrating it with me.
Remy: Um, it definitely being able to have someone. Close by who's just with open arm, open arms, um, and celebrating my person and like my, [01:29:00] all of my, what I identified as my flaws or, um, my shame about like eating bags of candies and, and stuff like that. Um, making me realize that the only thing now that was stopping me was myself.
James: two, one, I think the biggest, um, The biggest exemplar for a lot of this stuff is seeing how most of the male figures who were In a position to help me failed me and learning from each of those failures as much as I would from the permissions of people who would support me who that person was my mom, my mom was like this like extremely strong non binary person who like lifted weights with bandanas on and muscle shirts on.
James: Yeah, my mom
Jonathan: was fucking rad. She was the
James: best. Oh, am I allowed to say [01:30:00] that? Dang.
Jonathan: My bad. Okay. Oh no, swearing,
Risa: swearing all the time.
Jonathan: Yeah, I should have, I should have opened with that. No, it's my
James: bad. I just forgot. I know we always do that in the coven stuff, so I should have known. But yeah, my mom was an amazing, amazing non binary person.
James: Woo, doggie. She was the best. And she really gave me permission to be as weird and out there. Um, as I want to be. It's why I still watch X Files a lot. We used to watch that. We used to watch Sightings. You remember Sightings? Oh my gosh. Unsolved Mysteries, we were deep. We were deep in the, like, the original lore of the sci fi channel.
James: Like, deep. Um, and that, you know, I think being weird. and permission to being weird is one of the greatest gifts. And I mean that in a very positive way. I don't mean it in like [01:31:00] the, I'm talking about like the muscular weird where it's like, whatever the hell you want to do,
Jonathan: just go do it. You interested in it?
Jonathan: Let's go
James: do it. Um, and that was a big juxtaposition to, um, other people whose love and acceptance was contingent upon me playing a role that I played within their world. I was a main character in her world. Just as now she's a main character in my world, um, you know, within my death work practice because I talked to her all the
Jonathan: I talked to her this morning. I got to get on that. I wanted to say that craft allows me to bear witness to the process of becoming, to the thing coming into being that's being conjured by my fingers. and from my tools, uh, as well as, uh, the person I'm becoming by [01:32:00] doing those particular things.
Risa: I mean, howl?
Risa: Because we don't use church languages. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. Bye. I love you. I love you. for conjuring the real. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. My wise friends. I love you. Bye.
Amy: If you want to support the Missing Witches Project, find out how at missingwitches. com and pre order New Moon Magic! 13 Anti Capitalist Tools for Resistance and Re Enchantment by Risa Dickens and Amy Torok.