The story behind the new name and logo and the direction I am facing for the way ahead.
In 2020 I burned out, hard. I managed to muddle on with work for a few months, but in 2021 I had to make some hard (yet in a way very easy) decisions and temporarily close down my store and business, the Alchemista. The reasons for the burn out are many and I often think of it as a tapestry of interwoven threads, coming together to tell a story. The story is so intricate and comes with so many twists and turns, that I don't know if I'll ever be able to tell the whole of it in any meaningful way (and if I can, if I'd want to do so publicly), but I can lift up individual strands or zoom in on sections of a few woven threads. A part of the tapestry tells the story of how I burned out on my work and I wrote about that in 2021 in this blog, which still rings very true.
In short (hopefully), I had started to believe that as someone who talked and taught about witchcraft and spirituality on the internet and in courses, I had to be a person with the Answers. Listening too much to online business coaches and too little to myself led me to think that it was essential that I projected Certainty and I positioned myself as an Expert. I had to remove all questioning language from my writing, according to what I read on the internet, and I had to write pieces that showed off my Expertise. But, as I wrote in my 2021 blog: "And the years spent thinking [...] I had to be Someone With Answers has bled me dry. And simultaneously I've sewed and cemented shut every opening in me to keep the questions in. Because questions I have plenty. I overflow with questions."
Fast forward about a year and I am starting, very tentatively, to ease back into work. But trying to step back into the Alchemista feels like putting on a coat that just doesn't fit right anymore. It's a little too small, it pinches in places while not being snug enough in others and it just feels uncomfortable. It's not that it was all wrong, I was returning to this work after all. Something about it was still calling to me, drawing me back in. But having realised all of the above, I knew that there was also plenty that needed to change. Yes to the work, but no to how I had been going about it.
So I felt it was time for a change. And if I was going to give this work another go, while also turning it on its head and going about it completely different this time, I felt that a new name was appropriate. And in a way that my own writing never does, the phrase 'I pray at the alter of maybe' from the aforementioned blog had stuck with me. It floated around in my head for months after I'd written it and never did it loose its meaning or did it become less true. After shuffling words around a little and doubting a lot, I decided that it had to be Maybe Altar. Beyond the fact that I simply like the name and the shape of it written out is appealing to me, I need it to be my compass. Moving forward with this work I never want to forget that I have no desire to be the one with the Answers and I in fact to not believe that that is the best thing I can offer.
I'll be the one asking the questions and I'll be present while you ask the questions. I will walk along the twisted path with you while we wonder and wander. We'll try things on together and offer ourselves and each other grace when we change our minds. We will make space for play and exploration and discovery, rather than boxing ourselves in with rules. We will find ways where witchcraft can be the thing that drew us to it in the first place: something that tethers us and gives meaning to our very human experiences. We'll move away from it being a source of anxiety where we doubt if we are doing it right or if we have enough knowledge and lists crammed into our heads. We let it be the balm it was always meant to be. We find that we do not need to be different or better to be a witch or spiritual person. We already are.
I often compare witchcraft to a path (and I'll never stop, because the metaphors are too good), but in many ways it is like a house to me. A solid safe space, that I get to shape in a way that works for me. It has a large kitchen table and soft curtains billowing in a gentle breeze. It has a big pot of tea on the table and books on the shelves and scented flowers in its garden. And my particular house has an open door and no gate I intend on keeping. The door and the kitchen table seats are open to you. I went through many iterations of a logo in the shape of a house, but none of them felt quite right. Until I drew the one with the doorway and the little bit of shadow, indicating a door flung open wide.
I am not sure what the path ahead has in store for me and us and for this business and that makes me anxious, but increasingly also makes me curious and cautiously excited. Because I believe we are onto something here, maybe. We start with an open door.