No Hogwarts Here...In America, We Homeschool!
Article ID: 12112
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: December 16th. 2007
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The other afternoon I took my brother to lunch, where we actually had a decent conversation as two, thirty-something, grown adults.
I don't know how it is in other families, but in mine, that means having a chat that didn't revolve around the usual sibling stuff like what Mom or Dad last said to whom, why our sister is doing whatever, etc. Perhaps it was because we were on neutral turf, a restaurant and not at either of our respective homes. Or maybe it was because we weren't at some other family-related function (birthday, wedding, funeral, etc) ....that I got a glimpse of the man who is my little brother.
We talked about our respective mortgage woes and our future financial plans. We chatted about going back to school, even if online, to finish the degrees we'd both started and never got around to finishing, much to our parents' disappointment. We talked about my marriage and his latest dating escapades.
And we talked about Harry.
I have to say, first of all, that I have had absolutely no influence on my brother's love for Harry Potter. He came into it from the movies, after having actually taken a screenwriting class while college part-time. He analyzed the script, compared it to the film and then read the book.
Like most folks, he thought the book was so great, he started reading the whole series. He'd analyze the plot of each book, compare it to the movie, read the scripts, and then describe how he would have done the screenplay this way or that way instead. He knew I loved the stories too, so we had something in common to chat about that didn't involve the rest of our family, or even my spouse.
But then, of course, my brother often poked light-hearted fun at my thinking myself a witch too.
Long before we were sitting in this restaurant, we were kids living at home with Mom and Dad. I was the bossy older sister; he was the annoying, snooping brother.
I would spend a good deal of time alone in my room, reading or writing. I had a secret stash of books my Catholic parents would have freaked if they'd known about, and I had kept them locked away in my hope chest. Books on paganism and witchcraft, the historic and actual kind, not the fictitious and Victorian poetic sort.
When my brother found them, he was stunned. I remember how he'd threaten me with telling my parents, which he eventually did.
And now, as an adult he seems ok with my being his nutty older sis although he doesn't generally ask to what extent I do whatever it is I do in my witchery. Like the rest of my family, they know something is odd, but its 'don't ask, don't tell' with them.
Under the guise of poking fun at me during our Harry Potter analysis, he mentioned that the ring on my right hand looks particularly 'witchy' because the stone is large and unpolished. He asked if it was some magical stone or possibly a horcrux. It isn't of course, but I jokingly mentioned it is my witch ring.
He gasped. I took off the ring to show him it was simply a piece of jewelry, just that the stone has a special meaning and significance to me. I think he’d thought it would have an emblem of a snake or raven or spider or something on it. Didn’t expect it to be so… ordinary.
After a moment of silence, he asked me, "So you're the real deal then?"
I said yes.
He said, "It isn’t like Harry Potter really, is it? Like did you go to school somewhere to learn that witch stuff?"
My turn to laugh. "No, " I replied. "In America there are too many people who aren't open to the idea that what I do is a valid spiritual pursuit and has scientific and religious merit. So we have to learn it....via homeschool."
He started to say something a few times, but eventually came up with "So you probably like have a book of shadows then, like they do on ‘Charmed’? And that's why you've always liked Halloween, right? Wow. It all makes sense now!"
I sighed. So many misconceptions, and me wondering whether or not to bother trying to explain it all, even to my brother.
I settled for "Well, its not anything like the movies or the TV shows. It is not like the Hollywood ideas of supernatural. But it does have elements of magic all its own, with just as much science and other things too. To me, it just makes more sense to do this than anything else I've ever been exposed to. It is natural and comes naturally to me."
He looked thoughtful, then asked, "So like are your friends all witches with you?"
"Nope, not all of them, " I answered carefully. "And those that are, aren't the same variety I am studying to become."
"Which of your friends are? Any of them that I know?"
"I won't say, sorry. Not good to 'out' other people, " I said.
"Well are you like in a coven then? Is your husband a warlock then too?"
"Male witches are usually just called 'witches' not 'warlocks, ’ and no, he's not involved in what I do. Although he's known about what I believe since before we got married. And before you ask, no, I don’t call him Darrin….to his face!"
We both laughed.
He asked, "You've probably been doing this for at least 20 years by now, huh? Are you like a teacher of this stuff?”
"I'm studying a different variety than I was back then. This one is a more intensive kind of practice...like a priesthood kind of thing. That's really all I can say that will make any kind of sense to you."
"Wow, " he said. "My sister the priestess?! Does that mean you can you do weddings and stuff with that?"
"Yes, if I choose to get a license for it in this state. But I've never been asked to officiate, so I don't bother. The 'public witch' thing doesn't interest me anyway, " I said. "I like to do my private stuff and not get mixed up with the tabloid-type messes."
"Oh yeah, like that recent thing I read about in Salem with the raccoons?" he asked, feeling hip because he'd seen the article on Yahoo.
"Yep, like that. That sort of ridiculousness isn’t anything of the stripe of Witchcraft that I practice, so don't worry about your sister doing gross, malevolent things like that."
"But you do perform spells, right? You have herbs and read incantations? Hey, I've even seen cauldrons in your house!"
I smirked. "Yeah, I do occasionally work with herbal charms. But I also enjoy using holistic medicines and cooking with herbs too, so its not all potions stuff like I'm Professor Snape or something."
"What else do you do then? What about the wand stuff? Oh, and you collect brooms too!" he said excitedly, like he'd suddenly sleuthed out a puzzle.
"Let's just say that I like having what are considered 'traditional Halloween witch' props around because they suit my sense of humor more than they serve any real need in what I do. Mostly..." I grinned at him mischievously, arching one brow.
He responded by doing his impersonation of Aunt Petunia Dursley from the first Harry Potter movie, "My parents were so proud. We have a WITCH in the family. But I knew my sister for what she really was....a FREAK!"
And we both laughed until our sides hurt and we developed coughing fits so badly that the wait staff asked if we both needed another refill on our drinks.
So ended the conversation of my 'coming out of the broomcloset' officially to a member of my family. I just wonder what, if anything, my brother will be curious enough to look into further, online or otherwise.
I wonder what, if any, of the conversation he'll repeat to my folks.
Not that it matters.
I'm proud of who and what I am, letting naught stop me or turn me aside.
Copyright: Copyright: © 2006 Michelle F. Starrett (Albiana)
Location: Glen Ellyn, Illinois
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