My Life’s Magical Myth
March 18, 2014

I was born on July 6, 1968. When you work out my Soul and Personality Tarot cards it works out to the only combination that has three cards. 7+6+1968=1981; 1+9+8+1= 19;10;1. The Sun, The Wheel and The Magician. For more info on Soul & Personality cards, see Mary Greer’s Tarot For Yourself. This is a fairly powerful combination and I can feel each archetype working in my life at different times.

When I was 11 years old I got my first Tarot deck in my Christmas stocking. I took to it immediately. I began reading for everyone. I should talk a little about my mom and my family. After all, what kind of woman puts a Tarot deck in her daughter’s Christmas stocking? My mom, that’s who. My mom, Mary Frances Perez, and her mother before her and back before her reaching all the way back to Ireland and Spain were strong women. We have been rebels, family leaders, champions, nuns and mothers throughout our family’s history. We were/are, also, cursed women. Alcoholism in my family, also, reaches all the way back. I have come to believe that one of the many reasons the women in my family drink is to deaden the psychic abilities that runs in our line. Until recently those talents would have been an embarrassment at the least and a source of persecution at worst.

My mom was already a rebel before she graduated high school. Being who she was and living in the times she did, Mom became one of the earliest feminists. She was the first in the family to divorce. The first to reclaim her maiden name. The first to go to law school and the first to question the teachings of the Catholic Church. Specifically, she questioned what happened to the feminine aspects of the Divine. Mary and the community of saints were fine, but when you have a God with three aspects shouldn’t at least one of them be a woman? Mom stopped going to church, but never actively practiced a pagan faith. However, I did grow up with “Green is a Goddess color” on a sticker in our front door window. She dabbled in magic with some contradictory results. She believed very much that if God existed; God was a woman. However, mom was more focused on political and social issues and spirituality was mostly a side issue for her. I am tempted to list her many accomplishments because I am so crazy proud of her, however, that would be a bit off topic. With regard to my spiritual development, let me say that the Tarot deck she gave me sums up her approach to spirituality. She let me have my own head and exposed me to as many different ideas as she could.

Oh, I almost forgot the most important thing my mother gave to me. Shamelessness! Mom told my sister and me that being a women was glorious. That not only were we as good as boys, we were better. (Before anyone gets their undies in a bunch, it was the early 70s and Mom was an early feminist and that is how they reacted to the sexism of their early lives) We were encouraged to try anything and not never let our gender stop us. Neither Merce nor I wanted to play male sports like football or basketball, but if we had wanted to, Mom would have taken the school district to court until we were allowed to. She told us that getting our period was a wonderful thing. It was our mark of becoming a woman. She celebrated it with each of us, by taking us to get our ears pierced. We were women now and it was a wonderful thing. This gender positive environment shaped me and blessed me in ways I am still discovering. It certainly shaped the magic I practice and the spirituality I celebrate.

In my early teen years, either before or after I got the deck, I began to carefully examine the question of God and spirituality. I began to pray before bed sometimes. I was reaching out into the void to see what was there. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but I gradually became aware that someone was reaching back to me. When I would spend the night at my Grandmother’s house, I would climb out onto the roof outside my bedroom window and gaze at the moon and pray to her. I’m a Cancer and grew up knowing my planet was the moon. “Moonchild” was one of my Mom’s nicknames for me.

Some mundanely traumatic things happened to me when I was in junior high. Ordinary things, my mom got remarried, we moved away from everyone I knew, I got two little brothers and a little sister, my stepdad got laid off so we were really broke. All this made me very shy and insecure. I had few friends. Who am I kidding – in school I had one friend. Her name was Jocelyn and she was going to Rosary, the all-girls Catholic high school. The thought of going to West Aurora high school, which was HUGE, without my one friend scared me to death. So I asked my mom if I could go to Rosary, too. After she recovered from the shock of anyone WANTING to go to Catholic school, she agreed. She was never too hostile to her faith and still identified as a Catholic, just a lapsed one. Plus, Rosary was known to be the Best college prep school in the western suburbs.

At Rosary, I learned about the faith I had Baptized in as a child. (Later I discovered a key difference between religion classes in high school and religion classes in grade school. At Rosary, questions were welcome and classes were taught less as rules to be memorized and more like a philosophy classes.) I fell in love with Catholicism. (I should mention that I had been to Mass a few times before. Mostly at wedding and funerals – things like that.) I loved the ritual, the candles, the incense, the statues, the stories, the stained glass, the art, and the mystery. I also really liked what I was taught in religion class. I was taught that it mattered what you did, not what you said. The doctrine of Faith AND good works was perfectly logical to me. The purpose of life was to look after your fellow humans and to make the world a better place. That mistakes are forgivable. That love was the root of it all.

The parts of Church teachings that I didn’t agree with or found stupid I just shrugged off. Oh, I would argue them in class. If Sister (or later lay teachers) didn’t convince me, I didn’t change my mind. However, I didn’t make a big deal of it. They were wrong. I was right and it didn’t matter that the establishment didn’t agree. It didn’t strike me as odd that I had more faith in my own reasoning than in 20 centuries of theology and divine revelation. 2,000 years of old white men just meant that there were a lot of WRONG old white me.

To further complicate things, I was reading more and more about the Tarot. I was reading cards for people every chance I got. I was reading history, mythology and feminist literature. So I was realizing that there was a TON of stuff in Catholicism that the Church had pilfered from the pagan faiths of Europe. That just made me even more of a Catholic than before. I quickly realized that it was the pagan elements that I loved most. I knew from reading those same histories that one thing Protestants all agreed on was that all the ‘evil’ pagan influences should be purged. Bleck! Why would anyone want to do that? Get rid of the pagan influences and the Cult of Mary (which I also loved and still have a strong devotion to) and all you have left is the Bible and old men talking. Yuck!

And now we come to Steve. How to explain Steve? Philosopher, Socratic teacher, actor, uncle, hero, friend. I met Steve in 1979 when he began to work at the repertory theater I practically lived at, the Riverfront Playhouse. He would ask me what I was reading and we’d be off talking about books of all kinds. He would tell me about other mythologies I’d never heard of. He introduced me to the rudiments of philosophy. He lent me books on the Tarot and other forms of divination. Finally, he introduced me to earth based Goddess focused religions. I inhaled this information. This was the early 80s and Scott Cunningham had just begun writing. Steve gave me every book as it came out. I began experimenting with magic and identifying as Wiccan. The more I read, the more I loved it. However, rather than reject my Catholicism in favor of Wicca, I grafted the two together. After all there is centuries of magical traditions woven into Catholicism all over Europe.

On to college. I went to Loyola University of Chicago right on the shores of Lake Michigan. I still grew my two spiritualties in tandem. At the same time I was studying to get Confirmed, I was doing private rituals at the lake during moon rise. I found ‘occult’ stores like The Occult Bookstore (when it was on Clark) and Isis Rising and Lil’ Shop of Incense. I met magically inclined friends including my first ‘true’ love, Michael Sweeney. Oh God, I loved him, and, of course, where we bonded together the most was magic. Mike worked with crystals especially a green glass orb that he had poured power into and elemental magic. We would walk up to Pratt Beach and out on the cement pier. We’d drink cheap pink champagne and play with energy. Who could call the biggest wave was a favorite game. I began to do my most serious work with Michael. We had several friends with similar interests, but Mike and I were really in harmony with each other. Each person in our friendship circle had different areas of study and we all shared what we learned. I got a dabbling of shamanism, totem animal work, herbalism, crystals, Tarot, Auric working and a bunch of other stuff. Our circle held together until about a year after college and then we all got pulled in different directions.

I moved home to Aurora. I reconnected with my other best friend, Marla. Marla was my friend from the theater throughout high school. She was interested in magic and Wicca too. Marla had several friends who were magically inclined and I began hanging out with them. Plus, I was once again learning at Steve’s side.

Late night conversations about magic and religion eventually developed into a plan to start our own coven. (Not Steve. He was/is/always will be a loner.) It became a core group of about 5 people. Marla, her fiancé, another couple we knew and me. We read up about covens and initiations and I picked Steve’s brain at length. We wrote a ritual and celebrated it. We took each other’s measure and sealed them with blood. Fortunately, Marla had begun her nursing training by then so it was all very safe. It was possibly one of the most moving experiences of my life. We named our group the lofty sounding name of “The Coven of the Earth and Sky”. There was one key point which eventually became the coven’s undoing. None of us actually held the same beliefs nor did we want the same things from the coven. The coven practiced together as a group for about 4 years. Then personality clashes and disagreements about where to go next brought the whole thing crashing down.

During this same time period, I met other magic practitioners through the roleplaying groups I played with around town. I met other Wiccans, a Loki-follower, more shamans, some dabblers and some posers. I, also, met my third ‘true’ love. (My second wasn’t someone I practiced magic with so he doesn’t show up in this story.) I still have a snapshot of the moment I met Timmothy. He came into the house and I felt a shock of recognition. At first I thought it was his long-haired stoner appearance that struck a chord with me. After all, most of the men of my childhood had looked like that. I think now, it was a deeper recognition. One I still can’t completely describe. One of my roommates had brought him over for a card reading because of some relationship problems he was having. We became friends and later lovers. Timm had been practicing magic since he was 15 and we were the same age. He had more esoteric and magical knowledge than anyone I had ever met with the exception of Steve. He had been the leader of at least two magical circles. He had ritual sites all over the Fox Valley into which he had poured energy. He was talented and powerful.

However, he had a darkness to him. Not a darkness like a moody, haunted bad boy (although he had that too). He had a dark energy that felt a bit like tar. I didn’t like it and feared it. At the time, I thought it was because he practiced types of magic that I would consider ‘black’. For example, he had no problems violating other people’s free will if he felt he needed to. While I still disapprove of that, I now understand that the tar like darkness came more from his own life traumas and possible from past incarnations. He has done a lot, since then to cleanse that toxin. While he’s probably never going to be free of it, he’s made a lot of progress. In the fifteen years Timm and I were together, I learned a hell of a lot about ceremonial magic, esoteric philosophies and so much more. I still consider Timm to be my superior in magic in every way.

In 2002, after the birth of my last son, Timm and I moved back to Chicago. I had a job offer and we both wanted to live in Chicago. Throughout all this time I had continued to study and work on my magic although progress ebbed and swelled as you might expect when one has three kids. While living in the city was wonderful, it was also pretty terrible. Among the high points were connecting with other pagan minded people. I attended classes and public rituals with Chicago Reclaiming. I went to drummings. I met a host of magical people from whom I learned a lot.

For the first time, I worked as a Tarot reader and teacher for money. At one of these, I met this crazy woman, Amanda and her husband David. Amanda and I were reading cards together at the Rogers Park Jazz Series. We met that day and we started talking as if we’d know each other for years and were just picking up a conversation where we had left off. After that I saw Amanda and David once or twice a year and it was always as if we had seen each other a week or so ago. I had wanted to study with them for a long time before I finally did so. A combination of my own busy crazy life, the demands of motherhood and my own insecurities kept me from asking.

Finally, several years ago, after I was living in Cicero (Boy, what a mistake that move was!), I began studying with the Torrey’s regularly. What a wonderful revelation it has been. I have learned so much and developed my spirituality in ways I never would have dreamed of while moon bathing on my grandmother’s roof.

From Cicero, I moved home again. Not just out of an inner child need to ‘go home,’ but as a conscious choice. There are many reason why I moved back to the Fox Valley and I’ll list a few of the magical ones. I want to be near Steve. He’s getting older and needs someone to look after him. I want to be near the Fox River which has great energy for me and was one of my first goddesses. There are several points of mystical energy in and around the river and Aurora. While Aurora has a lot of pretty conventional people, it, also, has a lot of independent people and many of them are spiritual &/or magical. I knew I needed to leave Cicero and I couldn’t afford to live in Chicago. I considered other suburbs, but at the core of it all, Aurora has great mystical energy, really cool people, my family and most of all it is home. It is where my roots are and it is where I get my strength.

While I believe myself to be an accomplished witch, I have only been part of a dedicated coven once. Furthermore, that coven was self-developed and self-initiated and not part of any formal Wiccan tradition. I don’t really feel this is a lack in my development, but I am excited to be part of a formal coven and to go through established ranks. I am always looking to deepen my spirituality and I feel this will be a great way to do it.

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