I’m back from California Witchcamp and Redwood Magic. Unlike last time, when the spiritual work I started at camp confounded my desire to write publicly for most of a year, this time I find myself wanting to post everything that I can find time to dig into…
After all the magic around web-weaving at camp–unweaving the web of lies and reweaving the web of life with fierce love–I arrived back in Santa Barbara to find that webs had preceded me there. Ted found this one sitting in our garbage can when he took out trash during the final weekend of camp:
And Shayna gifted Rebecca with a smaller one that’s hanging in our bedroom.
But the last web was the strangest. Rebecca’s thick, wavy hair had gotten impossibly matted–lots of tangles thicker than my thumb and one bigger than four of my fingers clenched toward a fist. Normally 2-3 weeks without regular showers wouldn’t do this to her hair! And I can say that because this isn’t the first vacation I’ve let it go. I approach detangling with a mix of guilt, befuddlement, and anger that apparently I’m in the position of needing to figure out hair. I’ve never figured out hair. I mostly haven’t wanted to. So it’s no surprise that normally I can only manage to comb for 10-15 minutes before I get impatient and rough, or that normally I’d cut out anything this matted. My kid loves her mane, though. She doesn’t want dreads, and there were too many snaggles this time to just cut.
Detangling took hours. My fingers were prunes from all the detangler I’d sprayed, but they’d become gentler than I thought was possible. I started to trance, until I wasn’t brushing my daughter’s hair anymore. I was touching my mother’s wavy thick hair again, which she got from her ancestors in Germany, and which as a teenager her mother had insisted she keep long and braid around her head, even though she hated that. I was touching my father’s ancestors’ hair… Our family from the South has stories about being part Cherokee, generations back. But when I read my DNA report earlier this year, I didn’t see an ancestor who was Cherokee by blood: They were black. Now I imagine the invisible snaggles around that elision in our family history–knots in throats and stomachs and hearts.
This week I combed love into my ancestors’ hair, because I know their hair hadn’t always been treated gently, and it felt like maybe they could use it. Like maybe I was untangling knots beyond my kiddo.
I didn’t need to cut anything.