by Amy Marienblaume | Instagram
TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses breast cancer and the loss of my mother in my teenage years. If you have lost your mother and need additional support, I encourage you to seek out a local grief support group, or a therapist that specializes in grief counselling. If you’re someone who prefers reading to in-person groups, I have personally found Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers helpful. Grieving the loss of your mother is a lifelong process. Know that everything you may be feeling is normal. I am sending much love to you.
I still remember the moment that my mom told me she had breast cancer. I was 7. She picked me up from the after-school babysitter and we went for a walk. I remember it was cold and grey outside. There was snow on the ground. She told me that about two months before, she had found a lump in her breast during a routine self-examination and gone to see Dr. Mike (our family doctor had an impossible last name so his patients all knew him as Dr. Mike, or Dr. G). She went on to tell me that she had been through a series of tests and that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She explained that even though she didn’t look sick right now, she was, and that she would soon be going to the hospital for surgery and special medicine.
I will spare you the details of the next 7 years, but she fought bravely, and so hard. She and my father did everything they could to give my brother and I as much of a normal childhood as possible. She tried every known medication available at that time, trial drugs, naturopathic medicine, reiki, and a multitude of other treatments. She died a month after I turned 14. There are no words that adequately describe how utterly devastating losing her was. It’s been nearly 22 years, and there are still occasional hard days when all I want to do is talk to her, or ask her advice. Grief is like the ocean – some days it’s calm and you float easily without a care in the world, and other times the waves swallow you whole and you struggle to come up for air.
My mother… the witch?
About two years after she died, I as a voracious reader was tasked with going through her collection of books, deciding what I wanted to keep for myself, and what we would donate. Tucked away in the bookcases (not hidden, but not outwardly on display), were books about crystals, astrology, herbs, meditation, her journals, and other things. Many of her books were full of notes and her own observations. Having recently started down my teenage witch path, I began to believe that just maybe, my mother had been a witch too.
I grew up going to a Lutheran church every Sunday with my parents and younger brother. My mom was active in a number of groups within the church – a women’s spirituality group, a book club, and a breast cancer support group that she herself started – so I struggled to reconcile the idea that she could have been a Christian AND a witch. I began to remember the things she imparted on me from a very young age – meditating, energy work, respecting the power of the elements, scrying with fire, using plants as medicine, healing with crystals, using oracle cards, and on, and on. I knew that she had belonged to a large group of women who met somewhat regularly, but especially around the change of the seasons. I remember my father making a joke about her dancing naked under the moon. One woman she was particularly close has watched over me since we lost her, and is someone I now know to be a witch to this day.
I desperately wish I could say that I still have her books and journals. But after I had to abandon my teenage witchcraft practice, and after moving house a number of times, they have all but disappeared.
Finding my Path without Mom
My father loves to tell people how much I am just like my mom. In many ways he’s not wrong, but hearing him say “the apple never falls far from the tree, but in Amy’s case the apple fell right on the roots” over and over is really hard. In the years after her death, I felt like I couldn’t be my own person when everything I did was measured against how smart, eloquent, intelligent, or creative my mother was. A handful of years ago, I finally mustered the courage to tell my father how damaging that statement was for me. Thankfully, he has stopped repeating it. Or, at least has stopped repeating it when I’m around.
In stepping back into my Witchcraft practice as an adult, I have been amazed to see how much of what my mother taught me come back. As I celebrate the Sabbats, I’ve been able to incorporate things we did together and involve my own son into my practice. When I write a spell, I can feel her guiding me. When shuffling oracle cards, I hear her voice in my head and remember her teaching me how to feel the energy of which card is right for that day.
Making a Connection
One of the amazing things about being a motherless witch is that I am still able to access her when I need to. It’s clearly not the same as if she was still in this world, but I feel her around now more than I ever did before reclaiming my witch identity. I am far more tuned into the signs that she leaves for me. She visits in my dreams and mediations. Her smell permeates the air when I need her. I feel her stroking my head at night like she used to when I was a little girl. And in that I know that I am not alone.
About the Author: Amy is a newly re-awakened witch living in South-Western Ontario. As a Scorpio sun, Pisces moon, and Scorpio rising, she can be found reading and recharging in the bath when she’s not chasing after her almost-five-year-old Leo son she is raising with her Sagittarius husband. Professionally, as a Human Resources Business Partner, Amy brings her magic into the office by guiding the rest of the team to build self-awareness, compassion, and empathy with the goal of creating a more harmonious and enchanted workplace. You can find her on Instagram at @thewakenedwitch, where she shares her journey into owning the identity of Witch.