The Key

Shawn is a kitchen witch, poet, and plant enthusiast who loves pies, books, ancient ruins, and old houses. She is also a founding member of the Hex Rated podcast. You can find her poetry on Instagram @blackbirdwyrd and more of her writing at


As I wound my way down the Silver Strand Bikeway on Coronado Island, California, desperately wishing I had chosen to have, say, A BIKE rather than try to walk it on that unseasonably warm September day, I came across a message in chalk on the cement pathway: 

You Are the Key

That message, no matter who had written it, was for me.  Right then.  No one else. 

I had cried the moment I got to San Diego Bay.  I had cried with relief, with anticipation, with longing.  Who am I kidding, I cried a little when I got off the plane and smelled the amazing fragrance of California air, filled with flowers and sea breeze and promise.  I don’t know exactly what promise smells like, mind you, but the air was filled with nothing other than magic.  Every inch of my skin was tingling with what I knew to be true – I somehow belonged there. 

As a person who most of the time has felt like she belonged exactly nowhere, this explained my tears.  I have spent most of my time on this planet trying to be someone other than myself to feel like I belonged.  This often meant being more than just one different person – I needed to be one person for each different group of friends, another person for my family, and yet still another for work.  It was exhausting, it led to excessive and destructive behavior, and more than anything else, was a fracturing of my soul.  A soul I did not love or accept. 

The last four years have been a discovery of self – no rediscovery, because there was never an initial discovery in the first place.  After driving home late one night inebriated with my doggo in the car, I felt an outpouring of fear and remorse.  That feeling was replaced the next morning with the knowledge that it was high time I started a new chapter – one which did not include the cloud-ridden haze of operating under the spell of alcohol.  I never did use it as an occasional pastime.  I used it as one would use Thor’s fucking hammer to obliterate feeling.   ALL feeling.  That’s not to say I was a round-the-clock drinker – I wasn’t.  Yet.  When I woke up that next morning though, something inside me had flipped.  I’m a lucky one, so far.  No relapse.  No need to even touch alcohol now, because I know it’s not a solution for any of my problems.  Feelings, at first, were weird, hard, terrifying, impossible to name.  I’m getting better at this, but it’s a process.   This process has led me on a crazy, unexpected, and truly amazing journey, and it led me directly to that message in chalk on a Coronado Island bike path.  The message also included a chalk drawing of an actual key, and as I have developed an ongoing dialog with Hecate, this came as no surprise.  When I ask for signs, I usually get them, and the signs are most always incredibly, hilariously sarcastic:  YOU ASKED FOR A SIGN.  IS THIS CLEAR ENOUGH? 

It was.  In less than three months, San Diego will be my new home.  My husband and I are leaving Texas, where I grew up and have lived permanently for the last twenty years.  I have built a life here – parts of that life are mired in pain, regret, and sorrow, but other parts have been exhilarating and beautiful.  It has hit me only in the last few years that my deeper purpose is to integrate those experiences, both good and bad, to render myself and my soul complete and whole.  Everything – getting sober, taking chances, exploring my thoughts and feelings to whatever depths I am willing to plumb – is an act of integration.  Having this knowledge offers a new perspective; one that welcomes change while still fearing it, but knowing that I, all at once, shape this change as well as do not control it at all. 

That concept is hard to grasp, even now.  How can one not control anything but still shape the change in a life?  What I have begun to realize is that regardless of what I do, the universe will ultimately be the deciding force.  I can wield my power and magic as I see fit for any given circumstance, and I believe that the energy emitted from that exercise has value and purpose – but the natural and supernatural world that I move in has superiority over anything and everything I do.  It’s almost like, if allowed, we can work in tandem with the universe, as long as we are ok with letting go of our need to manufacture whatever we deem intrinsic – be that safety, money, love, et cetera.  I can manifest all day and night, if I realize that whatever is in my highest good will be the outcome.  I am sure you too have discovered that whatever is in your highest good may not always be the thing you think it should be. Or what you WANT it to be. 

But I digress.  This esoteric plane of thought can be brought into a more tangible, concrete example:  Last September, I made a trip to San Diego and fell head over heels in love with the area and with the feelings that were inside me while being there.  I know it is “just a place,” but it offered much more of some of the life qualities I seek.  I made baby steps to start putting energy into the universe that whispered, “I want to be here.”  The whisper became a voice, the voice became a shout.  However, I was not making any headway in a job search or a plan to physically GET there.  Suddenly in February of this year, an offer came for my husband.  There it was – nothing was perfect or ideal or the way I thought it would look, but there it was.  Once we decided to take that offer and run with it regardless of my situation with work, things just started falling into place.  I had no control.  Yet I shaped it.  I continue to shape it.  Is it messy?  Absolutely.  Am I frightened?  Of course.  I am physically leaving friends and family who have all been necessary for all the growth and progress I have made.  Through all of this, so many of those in my life that have been beside me continue to be right there, cheering us on, and wishing the best for us in our new home-to-be.  My physical presence or lack thereof will not change the bonds we have established.  Thanks to the amazing power of technology, I will still be able to talk to them, to see them on a chat.  It does not replace their hugs or their warmth, but they will be there for me. 

The transition of a geographic move leads me to examine other recent transitions – from destructive behavior to healthy behavior; from denying my soul to filling it; from never really pondering my actions or reactions to digging deep to discover the why of how I behave.  I cannot live inside myself without also examining the larger world around me – I am moved to tears then action by suffering and I am in constant awe of the beauty which can be found if I just take the time to look.  Once we give in to the idea that nothing is constant or permanent, that all is change, we can begin to accept it without judgement and go forward with intention.  The energy for all of humanity I want to emanate is that of examination of change, and how to move with the tide rather than against.