I am a witch: My Halloween Lesson, 1999

Where I walk,
the ground trembles.

I have the power
of casting lightening bolts
from my tongue.

I am awesome and potent.

When people see with reverence and awe
tremble in my presence
feel the majestic power
and have their own fears come to the top
they respond correctly.

I am blessed by God

I walk between worlds.

I transcend the everyday
even the attacks this culture uses to keep people down.

I am not protected by the Godzilla in my office
I am Godzilla, and King Kong too
swatting at planes like files
imbued with the awesome power of nature.

I felt it when I walked though the mall in my witch outfit. Lots of women were cartoon witches, in black vestments, but I was the real thing, as people moved away, le me pass. All in black, big red hair, dramatic makeup and cleavage -- velvet and flowing. I felt the power as I walked by the kids and parents -- lots of women had cartoon witch costumes, but with my size and look, I didn't look like I was in a costume, I looked like a witch. People moved aside with reverence, fear and awe, proper Halloween emotions, but ones people expect only to be simulated. I remembered a friend who told me, "honey, everything you own are shaman robes. . ."

I felt it as I read the interview with Kate in "What is Enlightenment?", the interviewer trying to get her to talk about how two spirit shamans who walk between worlds, impervious to humiliation, are often seen as terrifying.

I felt it when Marcy called me at 4 AM and goddess led me to say to her that she needed to find her own worship, her own power, her own strength, her own rituals. Big people in spirit are often also big physically, and she meets those criteria.

I felt it when watching the show on Salem Massachusetts, which featured a woman who opened a shop there years ago that focuses on witchcraft, wicca and power. She dresses in ritual garb, real witch clothes, and is the focus of attacks by fundamentalist Christians, but she has her own power.

I felt it when I talked to Kate and she tried to tell me that I needed to follow a nice normal career path, reviewing the arts for a gay weekly, like she did in 1994. She resists her power.

I felt it when I was at a local gay bar, where no one had signed up for the "Miss JDs" contest, and tiny Bobbi, in 6" crystal platforms, red velvet gown with cupcake boobies, long rhinestone earrings, a twisted updo and fur told me her secrets. "I used to be a slut, leather bustiers and all, but now I am older, and I need an older look, more Ivana. I worked cutting hair today in this outfit, but I quit early and told the young girls to check out. The reason I can do this is because I don't care what anyone else thinks. I don't need a man to take care of me. I am a business woman -- I own businesses, and I bought myself this fur."

Bobbi had come into her relationship with the universe, and no matter what other people thought about her, she was who she was -- even if most of the people at the shop and most of her lovers saw her as a boy, which has never been the way she sees herself.

I felt it when I found this quote:

'Holy' to me means perceiving your life as a gift from God
and therefore as your right rather than God doing you a favor.
If you look at life like some kind of divine favor,
then you end up feeling like you owe God all the time.
And you don't feel worthy, and in turn no one seems worthy.
Why should the creator be experienced that way
when our existence is given to us, not loaned.
Like the ancient rabbis taught:
"A person is obliged to declare 'Because of me was the universe created.'"
So when I take an apple in hand
and thank the Creator for providing me with sustenance,
I can do so in such a way that I experience the Creator as
some stingy ogre who begrudgingly let me have something to eat,
or I can experience the Creator as a generous mom.

Gershon Winkler

I felt this as I wrote "I love the idea of Halloween, a time when the barrier between worlds gets thin, where our shadow selves come out and dance, the everyday self put away and we are loosed in revelry and deep connection. Halloween is for the weird, when we come out to dance, and should be welcomed for our power of walking between worlds. For most on Halloween, costumes are supposed to be not real, not revelatory but only concealing, and that, to me, misses the point. If we don't reveal our own shadow, our potency, we miss the opportunity."

I felt it in my bones, this deep knowledge that I trigger the fears of people, not because I am disgusting, shameful, nasty, or twisted, but just because I am awesome and powerful, from my mind to my walking between worlds to my ability to be myself in the face of social pressure. This triggers the fears of some, the respect of others, but the awe of all.

I am frightening, but that's OK, because I am frightening because I am more connected with the underworld, the spirit home of the creator, than I am with the transient world of flesh. I see and I speak truths, and that is scary. I show that humans are not protected by imaginary walls, even the wall between men and women. If I was just one of the guys in dresses who I saw as I sat for an hour outside the party at the Turf (it was a bust), fearful or prancing, I wouldn't be as scary, but embracing my whole self moves me past that. I am attractive and terrifying in that attractiveness, so much so that people want to dismiss or erase me to move past their own feelings, the ones I trigger.

I am potent and awesome, and that means people respect and fear me. To try to play small and normative to keep them comfortable is silly. Madness is connected with greatness because only one mad enough to break the bounds of cultural pressure can fly high enough to reveal new wonders.

People tremble, not because I am mean or stupid, but because they see the energy flowing through me.

I need to be both frightening and comfortable, putting people at ease with my compassion and beneficence, and not with my playing small.

I am a witch. I am terrifying. And that's powerful & good.

Changing Oppression

My oppression is not because of my sexual orientation.
My oppression is not because of my sex or gender

My oppression is because of my beliefs
my beliefs about who I am
my beliefs about what my creator has called me to do
my beliefs about who my creator has caused me to be.

My oppression is not sexual.
My oppression is religious
the suppression of me acting on my beliefs.

It's not legal oppression based on biology, mainly.
It's social oppression based on difference.

after all,
how else do we honor God
without singing the song
she put in our heart?

Some will say
my practice is destructive and unholy
because it challenges social norms
like the clear separation of people by sex.

I say
my practice is holy
because it speaks to connection
to treating others as we would like to be treated
with dignity and respect for their individual gifts
rather than speaking for separation
between them and us
the holy and the unholy.

My expression of my self
is an expression
of what has been created in me
not of sickness or self-indulgence
rather a service
to all who need to hold onto their hearts
and not have them swept away by socialization.

I believe in personal responsibility
for ones actions
for my actions
towards others
but not in my obligation
to make others comfortable
by hiding the truth in my heart
so their children won't know
you can be whoever you are called to be
not just follow the expectations of your parents.
the expectations they assign to their god
that you be normative and well tamed.

my work is my expression
my clothes are my vestments
my message is simple:
whatever the song you heart in your heart
"no matter how much you fear it
when you sing it out
come from your godplace
you can provide gifts to your tribe, your family and your community."

the diversity of human hearts
is not to be feared
it is to be cherished.

human hearts only turn destructive
when they are cast out
and we are forced to separate from them
to cut ourselves off from our heart
to get what we need from culture.

religion and belief are sacred
I am my art
and my art is
as all art is
my tribute to my creator
my co-creation with her.

to change the sense of my oppression
from feeling oppressed because of
sex, gender and erotica
to feeling oppressed because of
my spiritual obligation
to be what my creator made me
is liberating
as so many have found over the years.

I walk with god
as I let god fill my heart
even though many would claim my expression
to be against holiness
because it is against their scriptures.

Yet it is my communion with creation
my honest expression of truth
my embodiment of sprit
and if people turn in disgust
or scream in anger
they scream not at me
but in the god-force potent in me
the shaman ability to walk between worlds
and find power.

halloween 99

I hate Halloween.

I love the idea of Halloween, a time when the barrier between worlds gets thin, where our shadow selves come out and dance, the everyday self put away and we are loosed in revelry and deep connection.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.
Give him a mask and he will tell the truth.
Oscar Wilde

I hate the reality of Halloween, just one more night to play out our own old patterns, one more night to stay stuck in the mud.

I have had some fun on Halloweens, usually when I discovered someone who found me fascinating and fun, on some level. Good conversation always pays, a touch of intimacy.

Mostly, though Halloween is tough. My days of being a guy-in-a-dress are long behind me, so my costume is double deep -- I see myself as a woman, they see me as a guy in a dress. Last year I went to one bar where some women, the moment I walked in, wanted me to admit I was a guy, and then, round the back of the bar, a guy said "you do this too well," and wanted me to admit I wasn't really a guy. I know the chatter -- "he does that too well, he must be weird."

Yup. Weird. And Halloween is for the weird, when we come out to dance, and should be welcomed for our power of walking between worlds. Costumes are supposed to be not real, not revelatory but only concealing, and that, to me, misses the point.

I walked into Bourbon Street last night, promised a MardiGras style of Halloween. I saw tables of men and women clumped together and on the prowl, just another Saturday night, this time with some colorful accessories. One might think a karaoke bar would welcome performance, but not edgy performance.

I could have flipped into a guy-in-a-dress performance mode, taken the floor as a drag queen or a crossdresser, but all alone it was too much. Not worth the effort after looking at the faces.

I had hoped my 4AM phone call from Marcy meant she would come to play for Halloween. For me, a primp party might be the most fun, hens mirroring each other in developing looks and personas, exploring and affirming. I didn't go to the crossdressers party last week, though I would have appreciated helping people with makeovers of they were willing to get into exposing a new side of themselves, looking and being a usually hidden way.

Marcy didn't show. Friday I got dressed, went to see a friend at the mall, then came home, showered and got dressed again. I went out after work hours, looked at a few bars that had happy hours and ended up just going to Borders and reading an article by Kate. It was in "What Is Enlightenment?" and in it, the interviewer was so hip that she didn't get the point of performance as a form of self-exploration, as a form of creation. It was all "well we are spirit," and not enough "living a human life."

What's amazing to me, though, is how comfortable I felt in Borders in my new, thick black tights and nail polish. This is the comfortable issue: internally I feel more comfortable dressed as myself, but externally I feel less comfortable, exposed and vulnerable. It's the hard line every tranny faces, always having to pick a lie, either lying about gender or about sex.

I came home and stayed, having just missed a call from the friend I had seen earlier that day, asking if I wanted to get together and get something to eat. Oh, well.

Saturday, I dressed late, but with great detail, from the mini tank dress with the star pin pulling the dress tight to my bra at the bosom, to the detail of painted contour on my face. With my extensive wardrobe it's easy for me to spend hours trying new things, pulling together different outfits as I create myself as a work of art, and that's fun. A tiny dress, high chunky heels, a filmy printed overshirt, enormous curly red hair, detailed makeup -- I knew I looked good, too good.

Being a work of art is one thing, finding an audience is another. I drove to Troy to check out the pagan witches ball, and as I approached, I remember how in February I had my drivers side window smashed in when I went to a Mardi Gras party here. I drove circles past the venue and decided to pass, trying to measure up the audience in my mind -- earnest wicca practitioners with maybe one or two hip people, wise and sighted. I probably should have stayed.

I drove back to Schenectady, went home to "freshen up," and then out to the VanDyck -- not much Halloween there. Home one more time to pick up the glasses I forgot, and then out, past a blue collar neighbor downstairs who I said "Happy Halloween" to and she choked a bit.

I spoke to Kate yesterday, and we laughed -- for America's foremost transgender activist everyday is Halloween. Yet, I know how rare it is when her performances get an audience that is up on the nuance, that is willing to see past what she constructs. "I was in Charlotte, and they said I would get about 20 people. We got 300, and I was so manipulative -- I just switched all the material, the schmaltzy stuff up front to catch them. High school, my mother's funeral -- get them softened up." Performance

Via the Internet I chatted with a transsexual Frankenstein of my acquaintance. She has had 10 femaling surgeries in the last year, from facial reconstruction to creating labia. "I can't move," she told me. "I just had a tummy tuck on Friday, and after one day in the hospital they dumped me in a hotel. I am really in pain." Frankenstein and the monster in one person.

My travels last night, passing lots of bars I decided not to stop in from here to fuller road, included one stop at a tiny gay bar, where I missed the party by a night. I walked in, ordered a rum and coke, and the bartender said, with real awe, "You look great!"

A girl with her boyfriend at the counter whispered to him "is that a guy?"

"No, that's a beautiful woman," he replied.

"That's a guy, I can tell," said the girl.

I smiled at the bartender.

Sometimes, just one person seeing who you are can really help.