1950 - 1962
Book of Gen
It is not enough to give each child the same tools for living
Each one requires different tools who is made of
clay or wood, stone or sand, some or all. - Ardriana Cahill
The intent of Mother's writings was more than a journal of magickal reflections, spells, lore, poetry, songs, and invocations. It was the proof that she was who she knew she was and she did what she knew she could do. To keep accurate records of her divinations and magickal workings - no matter the outcome, was to record the truth of her work and not leave it to impression, reflection and memory. In past ages, a witch respected herself only after many years' appraisal of her Book of Shadows - titles like, elder, mage, adept or priestess, High or otherwise, came harder in those days.
One philosophy is that one is not considered a good witch until her Book of Shadows is weighed at its completion. The title Elder was once only given to the dead or near dead. This practice tempers one's ego, instills a wait and see humility and provides real evidence that magick is a working force of nature.
Let me add that this proof is a tool of confidence for oneself to proceed and progress. One need never prove one's abilities to the questioner who is ego driven. I have never felt the need to perform like a trained monkey for an audience. But ask me an honest question, I'll give you an honest answer.
I have had three driving forces in my life to pursue metaphysical/magickal knowledge, and chronicle that journey 1) to honor my mother, 2) to understand myself, how I do what I do 3) to find others like who, in fact, do what I do. So that I might not feel so much a freak. (Unlike so many today, whose pursuit of being the freak is the goal.)
Today it is so much easier to just call oneself a witch rather than actually becoming one. And that is fine if all you seek is to witness the beauty of the goddess, the joy of the dance, and the belief that magick is all around you. My blessings to you. But I wouldn't trade my experiential journey for all the blithe roads of imagination.
Who needs fantasy when reality is this good.
From Birth to the Age of Reason
Las Vegas, NV
9 months old – Begins to talk
My first word was not Dada or Mama or any other traditional baby word. Mother said that I never spoke baby talk. My enunciation was extraordinarily accurate from the beginning. My first word was “Up“—with the unaspirated “p”. My second word was “Chow”. My godmother believed me to be a genius. (I take no pride in this accomplishment, as my intellect is a gift from the gods and I had nothing to do with it.) Being a genius herself, Godmother thought she was a good judge. Mother agreed, although she was not a genius, she was exceptionally intelligent. Mother began reading Shakespeare at the age of five. She started school at 4 years old, skipped second grade and was to skip sixth grade too, but
Grandmother refused since starting a year early and skipping a grade put her in the same class as here sister Gertrude who was two years older than she was. She would already be graduating high school just as she turned fifteen.
Indian Springs Nev.
9 months old – Learned to swim
We were living on Indian Springs Ranch across from Indian Springs AFB. The private ranch formerly an artists haven was being used for officer housing. There were no schools, so Mother had to home school my half-sister (2ed grade) and half-brother (6th grade) in the mornings. There was a man made lake on the property only 40 paces from our back door. Mother would let the children swim after lunch and thought it a good thing to water proof me early. She said that I swam before I walked.
10 months old – First memory
Since my father was a Captain in the Air Force, we had a thirty-day vacations every year. We usually spent it going back east to visit my mother’s family who lived in Absecon, NJ or my father’s family in Deposit, N.Y. On a visit when we were visiting my father’s family, we spent a day on a pond in canoes. I distinctly remember sitting in a narrow boat floating on the water. I remember seeing the trees on the shore. I remember hearing voices behind me a small distance away. (I’m guessing other canoes.) My most vivid memory was sitting between someone’s legs. She wore a dark small print dress and her legs were soooooooo long! My feet only reached to her knees and her feet were waaaaaaaaay down there!
Now, I had no words to describe these things call knees and feet. I only have the pictures in my head. But I distinctly remembering measuring my thingy with her thingy and her other thingy being way down there!
Mother challenged my memory, saying that it must have been a story she had told me. The challenge failed when I told her all the stories that she’s told me of my early years have painted videos of me being viewed outside myself. Dancing with the Mariachis in San Antonio, singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic in the La Porta Hotel’s dining room, floating my pretty ruffled panties out the window of the car as we drove back home to Las Vegas. I had imaged of these events from the dozens of tellings I had heard over the years, but those images were all like watching home movies. The difference is that my memory of the canoe event was viewed through my eyes alone, and without words. Mother didn’t remember the event. Father called his sister, my Aunt Leora, who confirmed the story in 1964, remembering it vividly saying that she still owned the dark printed dress.
Nearly 2 years old
Learned to sing in French
Mother taught me to sing and on a lark decided to teach me to sing “Are You Sleeping?” in French. She said that I had a natural accent. Both my French and Spanish teachers in junior and high school agreed that I am a natural mimic. Mother had been awakened by her best friend, (Aunt Margie) when she was a teen-ager. Mother was speaking fluent French in her sleep. Mother didn’t speak French. She thought that perhaps our French ancestors gave us a predilection to the language and accent.
Las Vegas, NV
2 Years old
Satchel arrived. An imaginary boy with dirty blond hair and muddy green eyes, and freckles all over his face. He was always dirty and always getting into trouble and getting me in trouble. I can still see him clearly in my mind to the present. I have no memory of inventing him. Nor do I remember from the inside, the stories Mother told me of our earliest adventures together. I do remember that he went everywhere with me. I never really understood that no one else could see him, until I was older and mother told me the truth that she only pretended to see him.
I have snap shot images of him in my mind: squinting his eyes in the sunlight, on one knee tying his shoes, running away from me, playing in the street in Cheyenne when I was perhaps six. He taught me made-up games, sang badly and had a shy smile. He once even found a lost silver bracelet of mine. I believe Satchel was a true unconscious manifestation. (“Yeah, but secreted from what?”<-Aliens reference)
Las Vegas NV
4-years old – First example of self-full filling prophesy.
An older neighbor boy told us younger kids that there was a monster in the sewers and could be seen through the holes in the manhole cover. We all picked a hole and looked in. I saw a large eye blink at me. The iris was solid black and the white was bright chrome yellow. As I ran screaming, so did all the other kids.
I never knew what I actually saw, but later (around age 8) I decided that my imagination filled in what I was told I would see and I got my first lesson in the proverb "We find what we seek." I also realized that my imagination was too vivid and a danger to me being able to see the truth.
Nearly 5 years old
My first premonition came to me in a dream. It was actually telepathic, not like the clairvoyant dreams I would have later in life. The dream was of a big black spider, about three inches long. She was making a web just under the front porch light and just above the doorbell. Mother called my nightmare a fear dream, and that it wasn’t real. I woke from the dream crying, went to Mother's room and asked if I could sleep with her, since Father was stationed TDY in Iceland (or Greenland or some such solitary duty). She told me not to be afraid, that fear dreams were natural. In the morning, I left for kindergarten, but ten paces from the front door remembered that I’d left my lunch on the table. I ran back to the front door and began screaming. Mother came running out to see what was bleeding or broken and found only the spider...her perfect silken silver web finished and exactly where I saw her weaving it.
It was not technically a premonition as I was witnessing her weaving as it happened. The spider was removed to the back garden, and I slept with Mother for another two weeks. One night as we snuggled, Mother explained that it was not uncommon for things like these to happen to “our people.” She began telling me stories of her childhood. And I stopped being afraid.
Six years old
Cooter arrived. An imaginary friend that was a perfectly beautiful girl with black hair and blue eyes. She wore a pink party dress with many petticoats underneath, white socks and black patent leather shoes. I remember thinking that Satchel was nothing but trouble and Cooter was perfectly behaved. I think she was an unconscious creation that I had patterned after a doll I wanted. I was not a pretty child and looked up to her. She died after only a year or so. Years later I realized that she was deadly dull.
Late Summer 1956
Five years old – first magickal training
I only remember one extraordinary visit with Grandmother before she died. I was finally old enough to fully enjoy her company, playing with her old high buttoned shoes and listening to her stories. She began my training by teaching me to wish over my left shoulder looking at what she called the New Moon or the Borning Moon (the first crescent). I didn't want to spoil it, that mother too had taught this to me. She taught me to blow a kiss to the Lady Moon as a greeting. I learning why animals go to heaven. (She said, everone goes to heaven who love their children.) My first spells included how to tie my shoes magickally so they could choose where to walk safely. Tie ribbons in my hair to ward off evil. Fluff a pillow five times towards you to insure peaceful dreams. Sweep bad memories out of my room. And my favorite, The Hair Brushing Spell.
Six years old
I flunked “Sand Pile” due to the cut off dates being different from NJ to Wyoming. Went to kindergarten again...bored to death. Had three boyfriends, one handsome, one crippled from polio and one homely and athletic. They helped me place a baby bird back into a nest.
They said it would never live...I went out and sang to it when no one was around. We watched for weeks as it grew and flew away. The teacher made my bird a science project.
Early Spring 1957
Six years old – killing the Devil
I was training for my first holy comunion. Mother explained that it was a rite of passage meaning that I was not a little girl any more and I was very excited to be growing up.
One nun had a different goal. I always had nice nuns as teachers. Sister Patrick was a round and joyous lover of god,
children and laughter. And she gave great hugs. But there was another nun, whose name I have forgotten, who substituted
for her and frightened me with the power of the Devil to steal my soul no matter what I did. I could pray and be good and
pray and pray and pray...but if I wasn't vigilent, the devil could snatch my soul when I wasn't paying attention. My vivid
imagination took over and for weeks, I terrified myself with visions of that red skinned, claw handed, pointed tailed being,
reaching out from under my bed to grab my leg. I can see it as clearly as if it truly happened. I imagined him under my bed
waiting to snatch my soul, no matter what I did. I could never tell a lie or steal or covet anything and he could still
get me. It was at this age that I learned that I could not stand to be afraid. So after several nights of no sleep...I
swallowed hard and I crawled out of bed to the cold tile floor. I can still feel how good the cold felt pressed against my
fevered cheek. The light from the hallway lit the underside of my bed and he wasn't there. He wasn't there. But I was going to make sure. I
dared the devil to steal my soul by sleeping on the floor where he could get me. (I was too young to rationalize that
if this worked, all I had to do was stay away from the underside of a bed to be safe!) I awoke well-rested and realized that I had not turned
into some slavering putrescent creature. The devil didn't get me. So, that morning I knew that there was no such thing. I had barely
begun my Catholic training...and was already telling the church that I would only be a member on my terms. My first
communion was a joyous excuse to dress up and have everyone see that I was not the same little girl that I was just weeks before. What they didn't
know was that it didn't happen that day in the white dress, but several nights earlier, when I beat the devil. Now when Christians try to
sell me on how dangerous the devil is, I tell them, "he ain't so tough."
Seven years old
Something changed in me that year in first grade. The entire year is nearly a blank to me. I can't remember school, friends, or family. I remember getting yelled at for dancing in the classroom. I remember drawing numerous pictures of girls with long flowing hair and jewels tied into each strand.
My only vivid memory was a lesson I learned that year. My best friend Darlene was with me when I found a multi colored rhinestone broach on the playground at recess. I thought it was magickal, but knew that it might belong to someone. I wanted to turn it into the school lost and found but was afraid to. So she went with me to help me -- as my friend. Six weeks later, no one claimed it...and the school lost and found gave it to Darlene, because she turned it in. And She Kept It!!! I lost a friend that day. But I learned that if I wanted to be a bystander for lack of courage, I was never going to earn the magickal broach. That day I stopped being shy.
With few friends, it was my first year really exploring nature. I remember being alone a lot. I played in the grasslands behind the house, making cut-out floor plans and playing house by myself. When my siblings wanted to play hide and seek in the tall grass...I would go hide and never come out. I’d make a grassy bed, lie on my back and watch cloud dragons, the sunset and count the stars. I’d tie thread to Dragonflies tails
and fly them like kites, then let them go when I was done. I made boats to float in the small creek beyond the grasslands. I’d first help Mother, then on my own, plant orange, yellow and ivory Marigold seeds in the flower beds in the back yard. I remember playing in the hydrant water in the dip of the curve of my street, Washington Ave. I remember sledding in the snow from the top of Washington Ave down the hill to the hydrant curve. I remember pressing autumn leaves in a book. Finding birds feathers and polished stones. I remember believing that I heard the elves bells on their shoes at Yuletime. (Wink.) Yet even losing the magickal broach, with all the sunshine and snow and water and jewel colored Dragonflies, it was truly a magickal year.
I've always used the word died instead of faded, when talking about not seeing Cooter or Satchel anymore. (They were both so real, especially Satch.) I was playing in the backyard of a friend on a swing set. As I turned to leave my friend, I saw Cooter hanging by her knees on one of the horizontal support bars.
There she was white knees, thighs and panties showing, her mulitple white petticoats hanging over her face with only her arms showing dangling to the ground and her black hair hanging just under the hem. I told her I was going home and she said that she was going to stay and play some more. I never saw her again. And I don't remember a feeling of loss.
Early Fall 1957
7 years old –
Here I learned my first lesson in prejudice. School prayer was still allowed in schools, and the predominate religion of Amarillo, Texas was Baptist. The school version of the Lord’s Prayer was Protestant. When I refused to say, “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” I was suspended for three days. Mother argued with the principal that the way I say the Lord’s prayer was part of my religious freedom and that if I simply kept my head bowed until the end and said Amen with the others, I was being quite proper. He allowed me to return to school (or she could make his ankles swell and his tongue turn black).
My mother had to explain to me that because our family was Catholic, we might not be liked. She said that many people are Protestant...as they “protest” Catholicism because they thought Catholics were too pagan because we celebrate holidays on pagan dates, worship graven images that we call fine art, wear talisman that we called holy medals, we pray to a pantheon of demigods that we call Saints and
Ancestors and we worship the Blessed Mother as if she were a goddess. And she laughingly said that I mustn’t tell anyone that, because for some of us, it was true.
More to come:
Faery flowers and Charlie, The magickal house. My bower kingdom. Maple leaf hunts The smell of wood chips and mulberries. Why plaid means fall. Climbing a tree in Vegas. Sitting at the bottom of the pool
© 2004 - 2010 Ardriana Cahill
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