As a girl on Halloween, I always dressed up as a gypsy fortune-teller. When I grew older, I swapped out my fortune-teller costume for a black gown and a pointed hat so I could play dress-up as a witch.
On the surface the reasons were convenience and vanity. While a lot of my friends wanted to bring out their ghoulish selves for the night, I wanted to be all dolled up. Putting on bangles and dangly earrings and wearing a long flowing skirt with a scarf over my head made me feel pretty, not to mention that all I had to do was raid my mother’s jewelry box for the accessories.
Playing witch was easy enough, too. The local toy store packaged the whole outfit in a bag. The broom came from my cleaning closet. And while most portrayals of witches have them looking decrepit with deformed noses, I put on lipstick, blush, and eyeshadow like I was going out on the town.
Looking back, I realize that while most people were putting on costumes to dress up as scary creatures or famous characters, I was using the occasion to go out in public dressed up as myself.
I know. I’m not a gypsy and I don’t tell fortunes. I can’t fly on a broomstick or cast any kind of spell. Although I sure would like to—fly, that is. (Unfortunately, witches have gotten a bad, inaccurate rap that led to millions of women getting burned at the stake a few hundred years ago. For more on that go to Witch Burning = Misogyny on BroadBlogs.)
To me, the fortune-teller and the witch are archetypes of the wild woman. The untamed woman that refuses to conform to society’s restrictive ideas of how females should behave. The woman who is in touch with her inner knowing and moves to her own rhythms and saturates in her own desires. A woman who knows her own power and embraces her personal magic.
Dressing up as witch and fortune-teller allowed me to tap into my own wild woman that I wasn’t even aware existed within me.
I do now. I may not be able to see the future or boil a potion, but I do brew up stories with words. I may not have supernatural powers, but I know I have real power.
I also like to think of myself as rather witchy in an Elphaba from the Broadway musical Wicked kind of way. Her song, Defying Gravity, has become one of my anthems.
And I’d bet that there are many others who emerge on Halloween dressed up as their super alter egos.
A few days ago on Facebook, actress Alyssa Milano posted a photo from last year. In it she is breastfeeding her baby and dressed as Wonder Woman. Accompanying the image is the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding.
Milano may be dressed up in costume, but she is a woman who has birthed and is nourishing a human life with her own body. What could be more Wonder Woman-like than that?
Happy Hallows to all!
May your witchy or superhero self come out to dance under the light of the moon tonight and every night.
When women come together
Their bodies can reverberate
Creating a rich stew
Of yummy nourishment
I’m floating in a warm pool surrounded by women. Eyes are closed. Hands gently lap the water. Movements are languid, barely making ripples. One woman sits underwater, as if suspended. Above the surface, her breath rises, forming bubbles.
We look like we are hibernating, which in a way we are. This is, after all, a retreat.
It’s just us ladies, so no pressure to pull in one’s tummy to create the illusion of flatness. No need to wear oversize t-shirts to hide soft upper arms or round thighs or skinny hips. No need to walk sexy or look hot. Each of us is resting, saturating in what it feels like to fully inhabit our own skin. We are hiding nothing.
I used to look at my feet and see big… long..ugly. At least that’s what some of my relatives told me they saw when I was growing up . So I stopped taking care of my feet.
In college I walked around the Berkeley campus for four years in Nordstrom style loafers. I bought them in all the different colors: Blue. Black. Beige. And red. When I’d wear out a pair, I’d buy another pair. I’d take the BART across the bay to San Francisco on a Saturday.
Once, when I went home for summer vacation, my aunt looked down and said, “What have you done to your feet? They look like you’ve been plowing the rice fields [in the Philippines]!” Oops. Then again, how would she know?