You are Not My Mother
Bright Blessings Film Lovers!
I am reviewing an amazing film made in Ireland that will scare your socks off and remind you that magic is real, and we had better pay attention when magical forces are eating away at us. I have to say this is literally one of the best films I have seen in a while and I cannot recommend it enough. It is called You Are Not My Mother, and it was released in 2021 starring Hazel Doupe, Carolyn Bracken, and Ingrid Craigie. Here is a trailer to watch:
It is based on a very old folk belief from Ireland, the belief in Changelings. The lore states that the Sidhe decide they want a human being for themselves sometimes, so they swap said human out for one of their own. Human beings can tell sometimes, the trade has been made, and they just want their own loved one back. One ascribed way to get rid of the Changeling and get the loved one back is to place the Changeling in the fire, where it will burn up, yes, but will return to the realm of the Sidhe. The Sidhe will then return the human to its family!
Well…the way you can tell the person is a Changeling is that it is abnormal or different than before. If it is a child, it is said to be wizened looking and to grow much faster than normal. It is also said a Changeling will bring bad luck to the household and drain their resources. If a child or even an adult starts to act strange or become weak with no explanation, some people believe they are a Changeling,
I have to wonder what happened back in the old days when a child was born deformed or suddenly started having odd behaviors because it was sick? Did people actually throw babies into fire????? Well, unfortunately, threats by fire were not the only way people sought to get a Changeling traded back for a human. They would torture said Changeling or do extensive exorcisms and all of this sometimes resulted in death.
One such victim of this belief was a woman named Bridgit Cleary, who was a wife who had gone back to live with family while her husband worked. She became quite successful and independent, selling eggs and buying a singer sewing machine for herself, which was considered pretty fancy! She suddenly fell ill in 1895, and it was believed she had bronchitis. Friends and relatives tended to her, as did a doctor, all of whom did their best, but her husband’s suspicion arose that she was a Changeling.
By March 16 of that year, she was reported as missing, and on March 22, her burned dead body was found in a grave that was shallow. Nine people were initially questioned about her murder, and the truth soon came out. Her husband called a Priest, and flat out told the Priest he refused to give her the medicine the doctor prescribed because he did not agree with it. She was reported as “agitated”- and who wouldn’t be???? He eventually tried to force feed her, and involved fire, trying to force the Sidhe out, and her dress caught fire. The result was her death. Seven people were charged, all but one served time with jail and or hard labor. Her husband served penal servitude for 20 years and then emigrated to Canada.
This case was used by some as evidence that rural Irish folk could not self-govern due to Catholic superstitions, and she was called “the last witch burned in Ireland. So yes, some people genuinely believed in the power of the Sidhe and took physical action when they believed there was a Changeling in their midst.
On to the film!
Set in modern times, You Are Not My Mother tells the tale through the eyes of Irish schoolgirl, Char, who lives with her mother, Angela, and her grandmother, Rita. Angela is struggling with her health and is depressed. One day, Char asks her grandmother, Rita to take her to school, but she is not feeling well. While Char has missed school and assignments despite the fact she is an excellent student, she really wants to go to school that day, so her grandmother tells her to ask her mom to take her to school. Surprisingly, Angela gets up to take Char to school!
On the way to school, Char tells her mom she must stop at the grocery and get food for the house, and her mother basically has a meltdown and pulls off the side of the road. Char flat out tells her mom to get it together and get groceries on the way home and walks the rest of the way to school. Angela disappears! The police are called as well as Char’s uncle, and the next day, Angela comes home…or is it Angela?
After a psychiatric medication regimen- which her uncle mysteriously overdoses on after her mom “makes tea” for him…Char’s mom Angela seems to begin recovery! Rita is not so convinced it’s Angela. Slowly, the ugly truth comes to light that when Char was a baby, Rita said she had to intervene to protect her from the Sidhe, and Rita believes the Sidhe have returned for her by first taking Angela!
Char thinks her grandmother is nuts! She does not believe in the Sidhe, and she at first believes her mom is actually doing better. Then, little signs start, and more and more signs come, and Char comes face to face with suddenly believing in things she never would have thought were real. It’s up to her to get her mom back, and she knows just what she has to do! I won’t give a spoiler for what happens next, but I will tell you about the magical lessons this film give.
- Don’t ignore your Elders- At first disregarding her grandma Rita’s warnings, Char comes to rely on them, and in the end it is the things her grandmother has been teaching her since she was a small child, things she had regarded as backwards superstitions, that save the day.
- Know who your friends are- In a plot twist, some of the kids Char goes to school with have been really mean to her. How parents allow their “little angels” to be rotten little terrors is beside me, but in this film, some of the kids are just rotten as hell. One of the kids, however, is not as rotten as one would think, and she turns out to be a true friend to Char. Char goes back and forth with trusting and not trusting her friend, and in the heat of the moment, her friend really comes through for her even though Char was doubting her.
- Don’t tell yourself things can’t be as you know they are- Char spends a lot of time denying what she is witnessing because she does not believe such things exist. How can you doubt what you see and hear just because you can’t remember experiencing the same thing before? If Char had listened to the warnings based on what she was observing, a lot of trouble would have been saved- as well as at least one life. Believe in what you know to be true.
- There is more to this world than what we see every day- The Sidhe are the hidden creatures that walk among humans in this film. In reality, there are lifeforms and forces surrounding us, even if we cannot see them, and some of them directly affect us. Paying attention and being open to accepting things that are not mundane or human based will help plug you into being aware of everything that is around us.
- It’s never too late – Well, for ONE person it was, but it is better to be late to accept reality and take action than never. We should at least try, even if we hesitated at first, and ACT, even if it is later on in the struggle. Sometimes, though, waiting until we are good and ready to act makes our action even more effective, and we should never underestimate right action, even if we should have done so sooner.
- Magic is real- While magic is a powerful part of the realm of the Sidhe in this film, Rita and Char demonstrate that we human beings have magic of our own. It was the magic that Char and her family and friend used that broke the spell the Sidhe cast, and magic is not really what we could call “supernatural”. It’s a very natural part of reality, and something we can and should learn to excel at.
The magic of old lore comes to life in this terrifying film. Setting it in today’s world reminds us that the Sidhe have not disappeared, magic is real, and the Old Ways are still very much alive even though we are living in modern times.
This is a highly recommended film for horror lovers, and especially for those who walk a magical path and believe in the power of the human ability to move energy and change things with our own magic.
Enjoy this film.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, Lord Shadow, and she became a Third Degree High priestess in 2022. She belongs to the Black Dragon Clan.