anne boleyn

In Defense of a Black Anne Boleyn

Not that anyone needs me to defend the idea, but…

Today I watched a trailer for the upcoming mini-series starring Jodie Turner-Smith, and I have to admit, I was impressed. By the acting, the cinematography, the music, but most of all by the stated intent of this new entry into the vast collection of works about my beloved doomed queen.

“Dishonest or devoted? Traitor or trailblazer? Sinner or saint? You may know the history…But you don’t know her story.”

The argument has been made that everyone knows what Anne Boleyn looked like, so why bother making her Black? What point are they trying to make? I can’t speak for the original intent of the producers, but in watching the trailer, my attention was drawn to Anne in each and every frame; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. This has not been true in previous versions of the story where she was portrayed by a white actress, no matter how beautiful. Which brings up the crucial thing to understand about Anne: she was not defined by her beauty, but by her uniqueness. With her French upbringing and flair, her intelligence and wit, her sparkle, her passion and ambition, her unconquerable spirit, she captured the heart of one of England’s greatest kings in a way no one could have imagined or foreseen–and she was hated for it as much as she was admired. What must it have been like to be in her presence? What was it about her that drove Henry the VIII to such extremes of uncontrollable love and unrestrainable hatred that he would fight against all of Christendom for a decade to make her his queen, only to throw her to the headsman barely three years after attaining that goal? I have yet to see an actress who I feel captured the indefinable quality she must have possessed, that fierceness of spirit coupled with irresistible allure and a whiff of sacred mystery.

In light of this, what difference does it actually make to have a white-skinned actress playing her? Again, we all have a pretty good idea what she LOOKED like, and no one will be fooled, watching this, into thinking she was a Black woman. What we don’t know, what we can’t grasp from either the flat historical portraits or the conventional modern portrayals, is what she WAS like–and if the trailer is any indication, Turner-Smith’s Anne has some powerful insights to impart. Perhaps even a couple of shattering revelations.

The times have changed since Anne walked the earth, but what girls and women (trans women and girls included) can learn from her even now is that defining ourselves by our relationship to a man can be extremely dangerous, regardless of any short-term rewards. (Again, Anne was Queen of England for less than three years.) But at the same time, we can also learn that sometimes the men around us will be our only means of opening doors, introducing new ideas, gaining a foothold into the machinery of power. Almost 500 years after Anne’s reign came to its tragic end, it is still very much a man’s world. Always, in any fight, women must weigh the potential dangers to ourselves and our loved ones against what stands to be gained. Always, we must cling to our faith, our convictions, and our ideals in spite of any dangers if we are really determined to persevere–as Anne was.

“Fear can be fuel. Let your fear drive you to be bigger, louder,” Turner-Smith’s Anne says. “The sky itself will not limit you.”

In Anne’s case, she lost her throne (and her life) due to her inability to give Henry a “great son for England,” the male child a fortune teller had supposedly predicted she would bear. Instead, she gave him Elizabeth I, the female child who went on to become arguably one of the greatest rulers in all of history, a “great SUN for England.” I wish Henry, misogynistic asshole that he was, (sorry, Anne–for she really did love him,) could have lived to appreciate the irony–not to mention witness the consequences of his utter wrongheadedness. Turns out, his judicial murder of Elizabeth’s mother led his daughter to swear off men, and the resulting lack of heirs produced the untimely end of the Tudor dynasty. Ah, the hindsight allowed us by history.

(I have NO idea when this will be available to watch here in the US, but I can’t wait!)

life · life update

A new chapter begins

So, Jolene and I have landed in Whitinsville, MA–in the town, and in fact in the very house, where she grew up. This will come as a surprise to many of you; I haven’t wanted to keep it a secret, but there were various reasons why it was better to keep it offline until now. I also spent the last six weeks of our time in Oregon desperately ill (and bedridden), due to a tooth infection that went rogue, so there wasn’t much opportunity to contact anyone.

We drove out here in an RV with Jo’s brother and his wife over a period of six days, with Molly and our five cats, having shipped as many of our belongings as possible beforehand. Along the way, we had to stop for half a day in Salt Lake City for our eldest cat, Neech, to see an emergency vet, who found enlarged kidneys (one more so than the other) and gave him an antibiotic shot, sub Q fluid, and an appetite stimulant. (A month previously, in Eugene, a blood panel with our regular vet had not revealed any problems other than an elevated white blood cell count.) Upon arriving in MA, we made an appointment for him, but ended up taking him to yet another emergency vet after he still hadn’t eaten for several days. Blood work and imaging at one of the best animal hospitals in New England revealed one almost nonexistent kidney. It was presented to us that we could opt for $4000 in procedures that would probably not work at his age or in his condition, or we could opt for euthanasia. We have no current source of income and this didn’t seem like a real choice anyway, so we decided–regretfully, painfully–that it was time to say goodbye.

He was 16. Imagine that. (If he’d been human, he would have been looking at colleges.) When we left Philadelphia for Eugene, more than twelve years ago, we had to euthanize my keeshond, Orion, whose abdomen had been revealed to be riddled with tumors. Every time we move, it seems, the process is bracketed by death.

We are currently living in one half of a large duplex–much bigger than the apartment we were renting in Eugene, and much more house than we could afford if it wasn’t in Jolene’s family. We still need to figure out how we are going to make a living here, but for now at least there is a roof over our heads, and our landlady is Jo’s mom. Whitinsville is a small town, and so different from any place I’ve ever lived before in my life than I’m still reeling from the change. But not in a bad way; I already love the house, and I think I’ll come to love living here in small town New England, given time.

Today, Jo and I both got our second Covid shots. In June, we have tickets to fly from Boston to Georgia for the birth of our first grandchild, my daughter’s son. My heart is full to bursting with the anticipation of meeting my grandson, and believe me–believe me–I am fully aware how lucky I am that he is being born this summer, and not last.

I have reopened the Wytch of the North Etsy shop (readings will be back soon!) and have plans for a second shop to showcase my handspun yarn and fiber arts. Slowly, our life rhythms will resume and daily schedules will be re-established. I have spiritual ramblings to get into, but I think that’s enough for this particular post.,

I hope everyone is well and thriving. Please urge everyone you know to get vaccinated. We will prevail!

Patreon

January Patreon Update

A long overdue check -in for my Patreon supporters can be found on my Patreon page here. (Because this video contains information that is not yet public knowledge, I have locked it for my patrons only. If you are a Patreon supporter at any level and don’t particularly like going to the Patreon site–for which I can’t really blame you–email me at lauriebethdawe@gmail.com and I will send you a direct link to the unlisted video on my YouTube channel.)

For everyone else, I am currently on hiatus from doing Tarot readings, which leaves me with more time and mental bandwidth to make videos, so there will be a public one for everyone coming within the next few days! In the meantime, I hope you all are doing well and holding it together as well as can be during what’s been a pretty stressful start to the new year. ❤

divination

Advice for New Pagans (by Beth & Jolene Dawe)

After delivering a Deity Communication or Deity Identification reading to a customer, I often receive a quick “thank you so much!!!” response. In many cases this is followed by–a few hours to a day later–by a message asking, “So, how do I connect with these deities?”

My best advice would be to start slowly, and build from there. If you are able to, start by setting aside a space for Them in your room or in your home. (It doesn’t have to be a large area; a corner of a bookshelf or dresser will do for now as long as it is set apart as belonging to Them.) If you are unable, due to your living conditions, to set aside a permanent space, I suggest keeping your shrine items (see below) in a box that is dedicated to Them, and setting up your sacred space each time you are able to spend time with your deities. This box could be a decorated or painted shoebox, a toolbox if stealth is required, a storage bin or tote, a reused mailing box, a pretty box or tin from the craft store, etc. Whatever you already have on hand, can afford to acquire, or feel drawn to use will be perfect.

As for your shrine items: Put a candle in your sacred space (whether that space is permanent or temporary).  If you are in a situation (such as a dorm room) where you cannot have real candles, feel free to use a battery-operated one. I don’t feel it lends quite the same ambience, but my wife actually prefers them for safety reasons, and it’s certainly better than nothing. Also, print an image of your deity from online and get a frame for it. (The dollar store is a good place to find frames). The picture will give you something to contemplate, and the candle will lend light and energy to your sacred space. The image you choose need not be something traditionally associated with your deity, or something other people would associate with Them, as long as it calls to you.  It need not be a visual image, either, because some people are not visually-oriented, and maybe that includes you. It could be something tactile; maybe there’s a stone that makes you think of your deity, or a piece of fabric, or maybe there’s a smell, a certain essential oil or fragrance.

You can then begin to give Them offerings and talk to Them in this special area you’ve reserved for Them. Start by offering something very basic, such as a glass of water that you refresh daily; all spirits love water, and because water conducts energy it makes it easier for us to connect with Them. As time goes on, you can offer up part of whatever you are having for dinner, or if you want to make a really special offering you can research what foods are sacred to your deity in particular, and/or what foods were common to Their geographical region and culture, and prepare a special treat for Them. (Feel free to enjoy this meal along with Them, as in most ancient cultures the food offered to the gods was shared with their worshipers.)

You may also find it helpful to hold your devotional rituals at night. The night is a psychic quiet time when people are either asleep or resting, rather than rushing around on daytime errands. This makes it easier for us to expand our senses beyond the physical at night, and begin to be able to sense and communicate with spirits and deities.

I recommend establishing a daily practice, but this can consist of anything you choose, no matter how simple. In fact, it is better if you start simply, because consistency is much more important than elaborate ritual or fancy words. (That being said, don’t beat yourself up if life interferes and you miss a day–or a week–here or there. Simply begin again.) And all worship is best when it comes from the heart. You can serve Them a cup of tea if you like as long as you are truly present for it, not simply doing it by rote. (But having said that, rote happens, and don’t give yourself a hard time when it does. When you catch yourself doing things by rote, take a moment to hold that, to be aware of it, and then refocus.)

You can also light a candle, gaze into its flame, and offer up a prayer to Them. Do not overanalyze working with the gods; working with the gods is simple. It is as simple as sitting down and having a chat with a new friend, and along the way you may quickly find that They are in fact a very old friend. 

I definitely support learning what you can about Their culture of origin, how They were worshiped in antiquity, and how They are worshiped by modern people today, but I would also suggest maybe putting this off until a habit of regular devotion/touching in has been established. Ultimately, it’s about knowing yourself, right? If you’re the sort of person who tends toward perfectionism, knowing too much about your deity’s background or how other people work with Them could derail you at the outset, or make you feel overwhelmed. Allowing yourself to get to know the Spirit in question, just between the two of you, can be beneficial before adding in the cultural trappings. 

Whether you decide to dive into research right away or delay it for a bit, don’t allow any of this information to intimidate you or make you compare yourself with another worshiper unfavorably. There is no contest; you are simply getting to know Someone, just as you would in any other relationship. This is an ongoing process, not a race to the finish line. As time goes on and you learn more, you may want to incorporate some of what you learn into your own practice–or you may not. Either is fine. Your relationship with this deity is yours–not anyone else’s to make judgments about. Allow Them to guide you.

How will you know if it’s working? Ultimately, it is really just going to take time and experience to know what it feels like when They are present in your space, and what it feels like when They are communicating with you. In the meantime, just go ahead and talk and trust that They hear you. 🙂 You can also watch for signs–bits of overheard conversation as you go about your daily routine, animals or birds you see, feelings you may get that don’t seem to come from you, etc. Some deities communicate with us by talking inside our heads, but not all of Them do. Some communicate by means of emotion, visions, or just an instant sense of knowing something. Many of Them will tailor Their preferred communication method to better connect with the person trying to work with Them. Again, it will just take time to see how things will play out in your particular relationship.

If you’d like to go more deeply into the ins and outs of deity communication, I recommend a book called Trance-portation by Diana Paxson that discusses how she learned to communicate with deities, having started out being what she called “headblind.” It’s widely available via Amazon and basically wherever books are sold. Diana was my mentor in the Troth’s clergy program (which I successfully completed but then chose not to take the organizational oaths–and thus did not become official Troth clergy), and her own past struggles with deity communication make her insights into the topic so much more valuable than what I can offer in a brief blog post here.

Uncategorized

LAST DAY for my Black Friday Weekend Sale

The sale ends at midnight tonight! (EST, I believe, since Etsy headquarters are on the East Coast.)

Readings are NOT on sale. However, everything else in my shop is! From now through midnight on Tuesday, you’ll get 25% off all ready-to-ship physical items in the store–no coupon code needed!

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Shop Pagan Rosaries
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Shop Tealight Candles
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Shop Tarot Wraps and Altar Cloths
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Shop Handspun Yarn
Uncategorized

Black Friday Weekend Sale

Well, it’s been quite the year, hasn’t it? After being laid off from my retail job back in March, I really thought I’d get a ton of work done at home (lots and lots of making!) to get my Etsy shop off life support, but it didn’t happen. Instead, I struggled with depression and anxiety for much of the year, and things only began looking up again for my shop when I added the Tarot readings back in again.

So, for now, the readings are my primary focus, and I’m making other things as I can. But still, as 2020 limps painfully towards its (hopefully not too shocking) series finale, I thought, why not have a sale? It’s the first one I’ve had all year, and it will be the last for at least another six months.

Readings are NOT on sale. However, everything else in my shop is! From now through midnight on Tuesday, you’ll get 25% off all ready-to-ship physical items in the store–no coupon code needed!

Shop Pagan Rosaries
Shop Tealight Candles
Shop Tarot Wraps and Altar Cloths
Shop Handspun Yarn

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

videos · YouTube

Write it Down! (Keep a Journal) | Quick Witchy Tip #1

I’m starting a new series on my YouTube channel called “Quick Witchy Tips.” These will be a collection of quick, easily digestible videos targeted towards people new to paganism or witchcraft, new to working with the pagan gods, and/or those who have been around a while but could use some help energizing their practice again. I hope you enjoy these and find them useful!