“What you pay attention to is what you become conscious of.”
Sloughing is inevitable. We shed our skin approximately every 27 days. We invite new perspectives and surrender our old ways almost unwillingly, if the timing is right. We battle and cry and move forward. Personally, I build alter-egos that help in this process. Ones that will heal, ones that will not fade with time. Ones that are conjured from a place of truth and beauty. I summon the powers of indestructible Goddesses like Kali and Ixchel. Goddesses that have endured heavy pain, while remaining undoubtedly feminine and robust. It doesn’t even necessarily have to come in human-like form. It could be something as beautifully simple as a memory or an inanimate object that satiates.
That said, we must acknowledge why this power is important in the first place.
Why go this route?
Why work so hard to come to terms with what we were, in the place we are now?
I can get ludicrous and go into specific details about the filth that I’ve endured. I can tell you about rape and abuse, about wars and my having to leave my country and learn a new way of assimilating. I can talk about the after-effects of these things on my adolescent-self, my young-adult self, and even on the 37 year-old woman I am now. But mostly, my aim, is to explain how I managed to overcome. My aim was never to wallow, my aim was to soar like a fucking Phoenix. Plus, that’s what my poetry is for. Catharsis.
The word Bitchcraft can evoke an amalgamation of imagery to people who are unaware of its power. More so, to people who have no idea what the word actually entails. At first glance, it looks and sounds like a spell of sorts. Something that unlocks permission for women to become a headless monster in the company of men, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.
I’ll start by showing you its more popular definition:
—Bitchcraft. Noun. The art, skill, or practice of being a bitch.
Bitchcraft is much more cavernous than that bland explanation, though. It’s a regeneration. A refurbishing of our music. An unlocking of notes that have been crooning since the first beat of the Earth. It’s a recognition of power and a warm bath of integrity. It can re-arrange our neurological pathways, and revamp our DNA.
One of the first questions we must ask ourselves in the process of this reclaiming is who we are as individuals? Who we were? And through what process are we willing to become a version of ourselves that speaks the language of this craft?
We must bathe in the waters of the now, and learn to accept it as a migratory dance for the things we will become. We must gather weaponry, and learn to endure its heavy weight, willingly, until it becomes a phantom limb. Fighting through internal and external carnage will always be the norm, that’s inevitable. But enduring it will lose its cruelty in its shade.
Secondly, we must be properly & metaphorically dressed. We must wear our best spells like amulets. We must glide gallantly through the thickest muck. The key is to become both soft and calloused, without losing our grip. We must be like soft nimble fingers playing the harshest most discordant thematic thread on ivory keys. We must become rhythmic human narration, chanting our demons loose and engulfing the good bits. We must reify these things in every tendril of our beast. We must be like tigresses, like snakes, like warm Caribbean waters.
I have to admit, this part is difficult, because, like medicine, what works for me, might not necessarily work for you. But, I’ll say that time is a huge factor when it comes to owning this craft. Mostly because experience, which only comes with time, teaches us to become acutely aware of red-flags that may arise in the midst of relationships and/or friendships. These red-flags are the leeches that suck the power we are so adamantly trying to harness. We must be able to walk away without even the slightest hesitation of looking back. We must serve our highest resolve, and realize that through this process, we will rise and soar and morph into a symphony of our own composing.
I’ll also say that my most treasured trick was the funeral of my past. A literal funeral where all that impaired me was laid to rest. This of course will also be different with everyone. The technique you use will be yours, and yours alone. Remember it will be painful, because killing an essential part of what has become your identity will be gone. You will mourn it, but you will also feel fluorescent, aerial, and capable of immersing yourself into those places you’ve avoided. Let it drip that heavy drip, enjoy the fever, and never even think about visiting it again.
Lastly, is mindfulness and becoming intimately aware of your body’s language. Being present during your every interaction, our every feeling, however uncomfortable or unnecessary it might seem. Become your own lover. Treat yourself with the kindness that others didn’t. Enjoy your company and relish in the strength that emanates from you. Make forests fear you, excrete sweetness tinged with poison. Allow the healing agent of music, art, and poetry to drown in you, and come to surface. Take the pain and let it rot, let it germinate into an abundant garden. Make your own fate.
Perhaps, I’m missing a few things, but I’m a strong believer in keeping things simple.
Mostly, Bitchcraft is about living your truth.
About speaking your truth.
About owning your truth.
And most importantly, about remembering your truth.
INGRID CALDERON is a Salvadoran refugee residing in Los Angeles. She's published in Leste Mag, Electric Cereal, Dryland, Seafom Mag, Anti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, etc... Her latest poetry book Zenith is published through Editions Du Cygne, a French publisher based out of Paris. Her goal is to be an anonymous voice that cuddles the masses. She wants to be relatable, not unique. Find her on Twitter @BrujaLamatepec.