My Mama Was One of the Missing Witches

To Mama Pamelita - my most badass ancestor.

Jasper Joy
Mar 15, 2023
4 min read
AncestorsQueer Magic
Photo by Lahiru Supunchandra

My mama was one of the missing witches. Purple hair, huge tattoos, a red Harley Davidson she was too short to ride so she wore custom-made platform boots. Mama had one brown eye, one green eye and a glare that could stop an MMA fighter dead in their tracks. She taught me magic by means of altar tending and Buddhist principles. In the mornings we’d sit before angels and dragons and crystals. My buddhist prayer beads would click-clack as I rubbed them between my little hands. We’d chant:

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Thank you Jesus for this day.

Mama had picked Jesus up on her way to sobriety and threw him into her new-age collection of culturally appropriated beliefs. There was a Bible in our house but I don’t remember anyone ever reading it. Our Jesus was a queer compassionate rebel who never intended to create rules, let alone a monolithic religion. Mama would ring a little pewter bell and repeat “thank you Jesus” as I chose a tarot card for the day. The card descriptions were mysterious gibberish to my child brain, rooting into my subconscious until I began to study their meanings as a teenager. I’m still seeking to fully understand them. The tarot is a sacred text I return to again and again in order to better understand my place in the Universe.

The Harley Davidson was a red-thunder-wind. Growing up, I became an expert at gripping onto the backseat cushion as we soared along stretches of curving roads with Mama’s sober biker friends. Mama loved that motorcycle so much she rode it straight out of this world. Leaving me to struggle through life as a teenager-turned-grownup without a north star. The prayer beads collected dust and eventually were lost. I didn’t thank Jesus for anything ever again. All of the angels and dragons flew away and I wandered into dangerous shadows, thick and heavy, pulling me down.

Mama loved that motorcycle so much she rode it straight out of this world. 

But I kept creating altars with candles and tarot cards. I wrote poems and fashioned the rhymes into spells. It took an eternity but I escaped the thick shadows and began the long daunting journey back to myself. I read books about witchcraft and took tarot classes. I attended drum circles and meditation groups. I found other witches. I learned about edible wild flowers and went to enough therapy to last three lifetimes (and still going!). I fell in love constantly and  became proficient at tending to my own broken heart. Gender and sexuality were increasingly ambiguous and Queer with a capital Q became my new north star, leading me into my twenties and beyond.

Painting of Pamelita by Brit

Along my healing and reclaiming journey, my work as a professional Witch began to take root. I threw Queerness and Witchcraft into the cauldron with a few additional spices and stirred the pot. Queer Conjure began to bubble up- first as a candle making project (which I was very bad at!) and eventually as a practice of queering the path towards magical liberation. I became inspired by witnessing other trans+queer people fully living their whole magical selves, and sought to diligently care for the trans+queer community using magical practices and equitable principles.

Today, Queer Conjure is a business, a podcast, and a discipline. I am an animist who believes Queerness is the soul-force that connects all things. My work is defined by open-hearted ethics, non-hierarchical systems and a blatant disrespect for the state. I believe that after death, only healing and expansion are possible and people get better after they die. I also believe that Life is sacred and full of Wonder. It’s a juxtaposition I’m happy to hold and my relationship with my Mama Ancestor is better for it.

I wasn’t with Mama the day she died, but she’s been with me ever since. 

I wasn’t with Mama the day she died, but she’s been with me ever since. Calling me on the phone in my dreams and peaking out at me through my child’s face. She never labeled herself a Witch but she embodied the archetype all the same. I think of her every morning as I approach my altar with my daily affirmations. I think of her when I’m detangling myself from binary concepts of gender and love. She guides me through parenting and spellcrafting. I am proud to be the living legacy of one of the missing witches. I’m proud to support Queer and Trans Beings in areas of meditation, spiritual daily practice, tarot, love and joy. I am proud of my survival and I am proud of Queer Conjure. I invite you into the growing connections we witches are weaving, with the belief that magical liberation is inherently Queer. Hail, and welcome.

Jasper Joy (they/he) is a trans+queer witch, writer, tarot translator and parent of neuroqueers. They currently live in unceded territory of the Eastern Band of Cherokee people of the past and present. You can find all of their work and offerings at queerconjure.org and patreon.com/queerconjure

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