The Chestnut Tree

When we moved into this house there was a shrub in a metal pot in the back of the garden. It was tucked away in the shade and the moisture that collects in this lower part of the garden after rain had all but eaten away the bottom of its container. It looked abandoned and we felt sad for it, so we planted it in the garden, straight in the soil, and it started growing faster than I had ever seen anything grow before. It was full of bright green leaves in the summer and it hid our bins from view, so I felt very pleased with our little rescue mission. Until this spring when we discovered our shrub was in fact a chestnut tree.
Without my noticing, its trunk had tripled in size from last year to now and it is well on its way to being a proper tree and now it scares me. What if I cannot control how large it will grow? What if its size or something it sheds upsets my neighbours? What if the roots damage the fence or the stones? I do not know how large a chestnut tree grows in a garden and I don't know if I can have any influence on this. I don't know if chestnut trees invoke allergies or are particularly vulnerable to diseases. This thing that was once a shrub that I understood -even if I clearly had no clue what it actually was- has now become one big unpredictability. And it scares me.

Recently I have been wondering if I am afraid of succeeding. I have been trying to get back to work, to sharing with you, to writing and teaching and making for years at this point, and I have yet to find my way back to it. I constantly find my road blocked by fear, my feet frozen to the ground. And all this time I thought that what I was afraid of was failure. Of trying and not succeeding. Of getting negative feedback to what I put out into the world. But I think if that were the case I would actually have an easier time with getting myself to just do it. Because in this endeavor there is no bigger failure than not even trying and I frankly have received shockingly little negative feedback for someone who has been sharing and selling on the internet for several years (and when it does happen it actually doesn't really touch me all that much - so long as I stand behind what I've shared).

I think I am afraid of succeeding and not in the Manifestation Babe way where I think the only thing keeping me from success is fear of success and I can positive affirmation my way to being a millionaire, but in the way where true success means growth and I do not know what that will look like. Before I burned out I loved my work, but I also know I cannot go back to that. In the years since too much has changed and my entire view on the world and witchcraft and selling and everything in between and beyond has changed. And if I cannot go back that means that everything ahead of me is new. And what if it turns out that succeeding is a chestnut tree? What if I cannot control how large it will grow? What if its size or something it sheds upsets my neighbours? What if the roots damage the fence of the stones?
But what if I took that chestnut tree and I planted it in my front garden? What if I lifted the grey lifeless stones to reveal soft warm soil underneath and I planted the tree there, with plenty of space for its roots? What if it grew large and during hot summer days we could sit under its shade? What if its branches filled with birds and in autumn children would come gather the nuts it dropped for fall crafts?

Much like the surprise chestnut tree, if I take my witchcraft and my work (the two have become inextricably linked for me, for better or worse) out of its rusty pot that no longer serves it and I plant it in the soil it needs, I don't know what it will grow into yet. And I think that this scared me, because I didn't feel I could talk to you about my practice until it was full grown and I understood its shape. But I am by no means a new witch. And if I can find myself at a start again, in a place where I have this sapling with no idea what it'll grow into, I am surely not the only one. Perhaps full grown is a myth anyway. I don't think a tree is ever done shapeshifting and I don't think we are either.

I am going to practice letting go of my preconceived notions of what my practice and my work will grow into and instead surrender to growth. I think it will be very hard, but a little easier if we are in it together.

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