We are the granddaughters of the witches you did not burn. ~ Unknown
I wore high-top tennis shoes for A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer. I think they are still referred to as tennis shoes. I’ve wanted a pair for a very long time, would pick them up from the shelf in the shoe department, turn them this way and that, then return them to the shelf without even trying them on.
I don’t know why.
And then I was in the staged reading of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer. My piece: “Conversations With my Son.”
“You’re coming in from the garden,” the director suggested. “Do you have a pair of high tops?”
Finally, I had an excuse to buy high tops. I found them online for a mere $6.00.
You should know that though I have always wanted to garden, I am absolutely clueless when it comes to growing things. While my dogs and cats flourish with me, I have the distinct feeling that plants of all varieties know I appreciate them, but want me to appreciate them from afar. I don’t have the ear for their language.
I added a hat and flannel shirt to my costume. And then I put on the shoes. Magic shoes.
They were comfortable. They connected me to the ground I walked upon, whether the stage, the green room, or the muddied grass that surrounded the theatre. I believed I was a writer/mother/gardener/feminist who wrote, tore out articles that recorded the horrors of women used as spoils of war and everyday victims of “domestic” violence, sent them to my son, called him in the middle of the night and as he went into meetings to pitch ideas for writing to talk about the state of women in the world—and also worried and wondered: did I damage my son as a man and as a person with these horrors perpetrated by men.
She didn’t, this writer, Susan Miller. Her son seems fine. A good man. There was a light at the end of the hall in her home growing up, It signified safe passage. So she had a light at the end of the hall in the home in which she raised her growing son as a single mother.
I think it’s that light at the end of the hall—safe passage—that allows a child to grow, to flourish, to feel entitled to his or her story.
Many of our ancestors were burned as witches. Some for political reasons—it was a way to wrest property from them—others because they were connected to their female selves. For generations mothers tried to protect their daughters from suffering the same fate by teaching us to cover it up, go along, act as if we were powerless.
I think that legacy is changing. There were witches that did not get burned at the stake and their descendants, those like me, are finding our footing, our voices, our beating hearts—courage.
The word “courage” is from the Middle English. It denotes heart as the seat of feelings. In the Animal-Wise Tarot deck, the Cougar card means Coming into Your Own Power. Fill your heart with power knowing the time and circumstances are right to take charge of your life most effectively.
Something about those shoes. I wear them whenever I can now. So much better than those high heels that cripple our bodies. Sometimes we need to don a costume to realize that it isn’t a costume at all, but who we actually are.
I am the granddaughter of a witch they did not burn. I am not alone. With our beating hearts filled with power, our voices are speaking the truth of the human heart. Authentically. With compassion. And with the light turned on at the end of the hall.