“Mommy, put down your Medicine Book.”
It’s morning — about a year ago — and my young daughter has toddled out from our co-sleeping bedroom into my office nook where I have my legs curled up under me and I am writing in my journal.
I have not taught her these words: Medicine Book. I have never used them together as a phrase. Would never have thought to. But they describe the essence of my journal perfectly. It is a tool, a place, a sacred space — for magic, creation, transformation, and healing. I don’t know how my girl, just 2 years old at the time, has channeled this wisdom. Medicine Book. She’s connected.
I write in my journal almost every day. I’ve got a whole library of journals going back to my very first — a special leather-bound book gifted to me by my then-boyfriend when I graduated from high school in 1990. He knew I was going to be a writer, and he wanted to give me something beautiful to inaugurate my writing life. In 2011, I tore out all of the pages of this particular beautiful book and shredded them. I still have the beautiful binding, though. I keep it along with the rest of my 27 years' worth of journals. They are a burden to lug about when I move into a new place. (And I do move a lot! A Sagittarius Sun combined with an Aries Ascendant plus formative years in a military family yields a deep imprint for change, especially changes of address.) I reference these burdensome books only occasionally. But when I do, they are a goldmine, holding the history of my personal development. Especially the years 1996 to oh, maybe 2003, during which time I was super-diligent about recording moon phases, astrological influences, and details on rituals and rites as I set down my roots in magic and Goddess spirituality.
Journaling became my more-or-less daily practice after I made my first journey through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way in 1998. Her "Morning Pages" tool of writing three pages long-hand each day helped me build a nice supportive habit of daily writing. I sustained this habit (or perhaps I should say: it sustained me) over a long stretch of time... until I had a baby at the ripe, young age of 41.
Middle-of-the-night feedings wrecked my sleep... and my creative rhythms. Daily practice disappeared. Well, in all fairness, it's more precise to say that my daily creative and spiritual practices were replaced by the daily practices of caring for an infant while maintaining my magical, creative business.
Once my daughter and I were finished with the nursing phase of our relationship and we had made baby-steps (ha ha) toward sleep independence, I started to regain the kind of nightly rhythm that supports my preferred morning rhythm. Which is drinking espresso while I write in my journal. I record my dreams from the night before and draft my plans for the day ahead. I muse, I whine, I celebrate. My pen dances across the page. Paper and pen tango with passion and purpose. They slow dance in meandering purposelessness. Sweetness, rage. The journal welcomes it all.
When it comes to the tools for my personal writing, I'm very particular. My journals (I fill up several per year) must be beautiful, with high-quality smooth paper stock, and the pages must be blank — never lined. I like to write in my journal with my favorite fountain pen. For the past 10 years, that's been a sleek, blue-enamel-barreled beauty. A Parker 51 Special Edition. I coveted this pen in the display case of the local stationer for at least a year before a lucrative branding gig for a medical device manufacturer empowered me to make the investment. (I’ve collected fountain pens ever since that old boyfriend who gave me my first beautiful journal followed it up with another gorgeous gift — a Mont Blanc. That was my gateway drug for fine writing instruments.) I don't use my blue Parker for any other writing besides in my journal. It is a deeply magical tool. It is akin to an athamé, a Witch's knife. The athamé is a tool of the Air, of intellect, words, insight. My pen — dedicated as it is to my Medicine Book — is well suited to act as my athamé.
I have always treated my journals as sacred. When I gained a Witch’s vocabulary, I experimented with calling my growing library of handwritten tomes Books of Shadows or Grimoires. Neither of these names kindled a connection in me. For a while I tried out Book of Light; that felt better but was not quite right. I dropped the notion of having them be anything other than what they were: journals. When my daughter bestowed upon them the title Medicine Book, something deep in my psyche went click-click-click. A sweet feeling of freedom and fulfillment came with those words.
On that morning — moons ago — I put down my newly named Medicine Book and pull my girl up onto my lap. I beam at her with delight, surprise, and pride. "How do you know my journal is my Medicine Book?"
She doesn't answer. It is an irrelevant question to her. She just wants her mommy's attention. So simple.
But her powerful naming that day brought together a golden ball of meaning around what my writing is. For me, and for my readers. (While I don't let people read my journals, I do write consistently in public forms and have done so for my entire career.) Writing is medicine. My personal writing — my writing process — is medicine for me. And I venture that your writing is medicine for you. And my public writing is medicine, too.
Which is why, as I launch this new iteration of EastlyCreative.com, I am naming my blog Medicine Book.
May these words be good medicine. Creative magic to make your soul sparkle.