Hereditary Magic

    by Angela Zimmerman

    Growing up, I was blessed with female relatives who were magic even though they were heavy duty Christians.

    My Great Grandma would put fifty cent pieces under pillows to ward off bad dreams. My paternal grandmother passed down a recipe for catnip tea to my father that he’d always use when we were sick. My great aunt could hum and bounce even the most colicky baby to sleep.

    These were the type of women who had to make do with the little they had.

    Real salt of the earth women who practiced real salt of the earth magic.  They’d never openly admitted to being witches, but I guarantee you, you could feel the magic swirl around them.

    If you think feeding a gaggle of people on a pound of beans and ham hocks ain’t magic, you’re mistaken.

    If you can’t see that magic in keeping the house warm when you’re out of cut wood, you’re blind.

    And that ability to chase off the nightmares with nothing but some loving words and a silver coin?

    That’s some of the purest magic I’ve heard of.

    They taught me to make the kitchen the center of life in a house. Food, love, and advice are served, all you can eat, just the way Grandma would.

    When I don’t know what to do with a recipe, their voice is what I hear. “A little of this, no that’s too much. There ya go, just right.”

    They taught me to watch the clouds and tell the weather by the movements of a herd of cattle. How to talk the fire out of a burn. What to do with the guts of a chicken.

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    By watching their bent wrinkled fingers, I learned how to snap pea and sew wishes into clothes. I saw prayers hemmed in pant legs and love stitched in dresses of cheap fabric.

    I learned the prayers and hymns to make vegetable oil holy. The songs to cast demons and shadows. What to do to make sure the garden grew during the driest part of the summer.

    Their magic wasn’t  pretty and it wasn’t nice. It was real. And while they never sat me down and told me the ins and outs what they did, I learned.

    I think now, as a mother, I did more than learn. I remembered.

    This magic in my blood was once theirs.

    It’s written on my bones just like it was written on theirs. It was a time before I was me and maybe even before they were them.

    It’s a  generational gift they weren’t even aware they were sharing. Like my green eyes and thick calves.

    These women, whether they knew it or not, turned me into the witch I am today.

    While I was in labor with my firstborn, their spirits guided me through the pain. The nights I cried broken-hearted, they stood over me and whispered the language of darkness in my ear.

    I learned from them how to be a grown woman. I learned how to be a mother. Not all the lessons were great ones though. I learned good people make bad decisions. And I learned that some family is forever while some family is better forgotten.

    They taught me to fight and how to swear. And I learned how to make sure those that crossed me never did it again.

    I supplemented their teachings with learnings of my own. But their lessons are the base I have to build my Craft on.

    Every bit of me is a little bit of them. My light and dark, my mistakes and my victories.

    When I celebrate myself, I celebrate them. When I remember them, I remember myself. Holding them in honor is holding myself in honor. And really, if I don’t do it, I will let myself and them down.

    My craft is the patchwork quilt made from the women before me. Look deep in yourself and your ancestral history. Your power will be waiting there.



    If this essay resonates with you, please join our WITCH email list by using the forms on this website so we can stay in touch.

    About the Author:

    Angela Zimmerman is a stay at home witch, aspiring blogger, and mother of dragons anxiously living a domestic life. You can follow her wanderings at Conjure and Coffee.


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