When I Was Good: A Death Ritual for the Sweet-Blooded Witch.
Oh, thank you for the invitation! Just let me finish burying this body, then I’ll shake the dirt from my hair and be right over.
Don’t look so upset, my love. I do this every year, and I promise no one will ever find the flawless one I’m lying to rest here beneath these mother oaks. I promise no one is waiting for her to come home or wondering what’s become of her, and I swear the world’s a better place in her absence.
Step back a bit, Priestess, lest I’ll sully your white robe again. Stop shaking your head and clicking your tongue in disgust! You’ve stumbled into my garden, after all, and I’m trying to concentrate. This autumn dirt is heavy with worms and blood, and my arms are scrawny from a summer of debauchery. Oh, alright! If you insist, I’ll tell you who she was, this rotting pile of flesh and bone, but I’m not sure you’ll approve.
If you must know, she was me when I was good, and every shovel-load of stony soil puts her that much closer to the wicked underworld where she belongs. These twig houses and pagan totems I’ve hung above her lonely grave won’t save her soul, for I’ve taken that wild wonder for myself and swallowed it whole.
No ethereal guru or promised savior could have torn her from my long-nailed grip, and there was no battery of protection spells conjured by the old-world Goddesses that could have bound me from choking the breath from her lungs.
When I was good, I was the parentified daughter who cooked her own breakfast in dirty pots and tucked herself in beneath the flea-infested blankets. I read all the books I was meant to, and I stopped myself short of beckoning a demoness to crawl through my window at night and devour my innocence so I could better stand against evil.
When I was good, I was the loyal lover who opened her legs when she was asked and closed them in shame when the one to whom she belonged was sowing his bitter seed in every breeze that blew. By day, I kept my gaze on the ground, but by night, I stared so long from the window I could see the spiral dance of time and know I was meant for more than fickle romance.
When I was good, I was the anxious mother who kept her babes chained to her breast and worked tirelessly to buy designer toddler shoes, knit small scarves out of hypoallergenic wool, and shielded their cosmic minds from all manner of violence. Ha! Look at me now, digging a shallow grave for a corpse whose neck I bruised with my own hands!
When I was good, I was a sensitive and sweet-blooded Witch indeed. My ethics were impeccable, and my magick was so diamond-white, it could blind an angel. I would lie awake beneath the moon, hoping to sprout feather-light wings and be carried to Summerland on a warm wind, and I would shy away from all that angered the whimsical, whisper-voiced enchantress that was me.
Well, that soft-bellied puppet is in the ground now, my friend, and she’s not coming back. I hope you weren’t here to invite her to your party, to grace your guests with her golden-tongued wisdom and glitter-pink, gutless intrigue. Do you want to know why I had to put her down?
She wasn’t built for this wounded world, and she was dampening the fire in her belly with wayward convictions and unfinished, half-worked spells. This one, this good one, was nothing more than a pristine mask for the red-hot feminine ire and holy, fork-tongued hellfire that is me.
I haven’t begun to rage yet, neighbor, and there are other fed-up Priestesses burying their own too-tame selves in their backyards right now, as we speak. I am not alone in my longing for the dark harvest, the soulful retrieval, the righteous, the raucous, and the real.
How about we make this party of yours a rising? I’m just about finished here, and I know where to find all the willing Witches and freaky outcasts. They’re the ones holding court near the wildfires and bleeding on the steps of government buildings.
We’ll need them if we’re to change the world and stop the carnage, if we’re to harness the most potent form of our activist-magick and birth a world better equipped to house ever-compassionate creatures like this one.
For now, this still-bodied, ineffectual one is staying in the dirt. Here lies me, when I was too good to stand up for what I knew to be true and too controlled to pound my fists on the walls of backward institutions until my Witch’s blood stained their white walls. Here lies me, when I was but a thin, pink shell for the unbroken and loud-mouthed wild.
Here lies me, a now long-gone woman with a voice so muted no one could hear her scream when I put her out of her misery. May she rest in peace.