During a very rare fight with my partner, I screamed that I was suffocating. The truth behind my fury: I felt as though my power was being leached. I felt an animalistic urge to defend my internal energy. It wasn’t even about our relationship, I was having a fight with a collective oppressor. He just got caught in the crossfire (and, yes, I apologized).
I was having a fight with a collective oppressor.
I don’t believe I am alone in this feeling: that aspects of ourselves are consumed in different ways, by different entities. Our children can drain our ‘parent self’, our workplace can drain our ‘career self’, our anxiety can drain our ‘joyful self’. It can leave us worn pretty fucking thin.
I recently watched a documentary on Vivienne Westwood where she spoke of not allowing her company to grow to the point where she would lose creative control. That’s how I felt: like my creative control was in jeopardy. I felt like all the balls I had in the air were actually bombs, and I was on the brink of losing myself. So I lost my shit.
In the aftermath, I dug into the place where the anger came from, and I was reminded of a couple of things. Years ago I read the book, The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood. The book’s tagline never left me:
"A divided heart, a split self, the sense that to succeed at one means to fail at another."
Why do I have to choose? How can I embody all these roles and remain Sovereign?
The other image that came up as I followed this thought into the woods is a piece of art I started a while ago but am yet to finish. It’s Pandora, condemned for unleashing all havoc on mankind. Or it’s Eve, herself misbranded as a sneaky little slut who ruined paradise.
My rejection of these possibilities for womankind was the crux of my explosion. Thanks to eons of patriarchal, misogynistic bullshit being subliminally and overtly dumped into my psyche, I felt guilt about not being enough in my varied roles. I felt split, divided, and bled dry. I felt crushed by the weight of carrying generations of shame and shit that wasn’t mine. It wasn't Pandora’s or Eve’s either.
Witchcraft screams “ALWAYS BE CURIOUS!” Witchcraft rewrites Eve as a fucking goddess.
I am suffocating, but witchcraft is where I go to breathe. To nurture all versions of me, guilt-free. It’s the cauldron that holds all aspects of myself. Witchcraft is where I can connect to Source, pre-myth. Witchcraft screams “ALWAYS BE CURIOUS!” Witchcraft rewrites Eve as a fucking goddess, who had the guts to seek knowledge outside of what was on offer. Witchcraft whispers in your ear at night, “always seek truth.” Witchcraft is where curiosity turns into art. Witchcraft is art. Witchcraft is how I stitch all the divided parts together. When life dilutes my power, witchcraft helps me call it back. Practicing reminds me that life is magic. Witchcraft is the hope left inside the jar.
Like my art, this is an unfinished thought, and it'll change over time. Like me, it’s rough and frayed at the edges. Sometimes I feel crushed by the mundane. Sometimes I’m plagued with guilt (especially when I'm playing out my hermit card fantasy). Sometimes I’m soft, sometimes I’m hard. Sometimes I just have to do the fucking dishes. But there’s always time for magic. It’s where I’m the most myself. Witchcraft is the vessel that holds me.
Mel Jones, she/her, is an educator, artist, youth worker, witch who is currently completing her master’s in art therapy. Mel advocates for at-risk youth, creates safe spaces, facilitates workshops, and coordinates community dinners. Mel’s career centres around saying, “fuck you” to shit systems. Mel lives in the Australian bush but will be travelling the States and Canada with her family in 2024. If you would like Mel to volunteer for your cause in 2024, hit her up @ravenswhim, she might be in your neck of the woods.
Got some money, expertise, or time magic to spare? Seek out your local youth centre and help out. It takes a village of witches.
Power, R. (2008). The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood. Red Dog Books.
Tucker, L. (Director). (2018). Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist. [Film]. Dogwood.
"Hand Stitched vintage silk and cyanotype handkerchief with transferred images"