Being A Witch

When my good friend Pam, the most amazing and prolific psychic I’ve ever met, asked me to write articles for her site on being a witch, I jumped at the chance. And then… I fell. That often happens when one jumps with no concern for the ground beneath them. That much I had already learned years prior, even before I began my interest in the craft. It’s something every witch learns at some point in their lives, in fact. We spend so much time staring up at the stars and reaching for them, we sometimes forget about things like gravity! It suddenly dawned on me that I had never written an article. Where would I even begin? What would it be about? And most importantly, how in the world could I get my fast-as-a-train-speeding-through-the-city brain to quiet down long enough to write it? I decided right then and there that I would treat it no differently than approaching a spell or ritual. I’d gather my materials (read: laptop, something yummy to drink, and fond memories of my life), plan it out, focus on my intention, and garner every bit of faith that I had in the outcome. Much like a spell, I found the words had an energy of their own and I began writing. A biography this is not, but since I’m all for sharing experiences that edify and contribute to other’s spiritual and personal growth, and since I doubly enjoy sharing my knowledge of the craft, I suppose a bit of background is in order. There is always an origin story to be told. Mine begins with my grandmother. There are many who will claim to have witch lineage through their families. It becomes a sort of badge of honor, really. It’s not uncommon to hear a person lie about someone in their family who was supposedly a witch, healer, druid, priestess, whatever. Let me begin this by saying: My grandmother was not a witch. However, she was the witchiest non-witch I’ve ever known. If anything, she’d be considered an eclectic Pagan by modern standards. She believed very much in the great healer Jesus of Nazareth and did not hold back about her devotions to him, but she also knew of the old gods and talked of them just as she did Jesus. She knew the proper herb to cure every ailment you could ever imagine. And she knew who was going to be calling before they even knew they’d pick up the phone. She could bring bad luck to someone with nothing more than a glance. She was fire and ice, light and dark, and nature’s cruelest and kindest powers shown simultaneously. She made absolutely no bones about her interest in the occult and possessed a wisdom about her that was tangible and palpable. Growing up around her and learning from her mysterious ways gave me quite the interest in magick. As I got older, that interest grew and grew like a wonderful seed planted that blooms into life just when it’s ready. The year I turned 15, it was ready… I began reading in earnest about modern paganism. I read about its origins in the 1950s when pioneering minds took up the mantle of digging up ancient beliefs, changing them, rearranging them, and yes, even creating new ones. You’ll find much disagreement in the pagan community about whether Wicca, Witchcraft, and other forms of pagan practice are new or old. The truth is the answer lies somewhere in-between. Certainly some of the rituals we observe have their basis in ancient ceremonies. Our holidays, for example would fall under that category. What you know as Halloween, we know as Samhain—an ancient Celtic festival designed to honor the dead. What you call Easter, we know as Ostara—the celebration of the spring equinox when symbols of fertility like eggs, rabbits, and the like were used by our ancestors to symbolize the budding earth springing into life during this time. And yet, there are new observances, too. Wicca is both old and new. The practice of magick is both old and new. And the two need not necessarily meet. I am a witch and a practitioner of the old ways, but I am not a Wiccan strictly speaking. I borrow some theology from the Wiccan religion, but fortunately for me, magickal practice is varied and flexible. I’m free to take (or not take!) whatever I want from anywhere else. Unlike some other spiritual paths, there are no instructions when it comes to learning magick. Some excel naturally at it; others take years to master even the most basic concepts. It can be a cruel teacher and a harsh master and only through perseverance can you ever win its deepest secrets. And I did win them, though the path to that prize was atop a high mountain and at the end of my ego’s I started off like any other young and budding witch; I wanted to learn the most powerful spells and bend the world to my will. I faced and chased down my darkest self and somehow came out to the other side. Somewhere along the way I learned that “power with” is much greater and more rewarding than “power over”. I won’t lie and say that it was an easy lesson. It was, perhaps, the hardest of all to learn and one that took me over 8 years to really get a handle on. By the time I had turned 23, I began clawing my way beyond the idea of using magick to get what I wanted. I rose above the flames of hatred I had created and well above the temptation to use those powers to harm others. Every single day was a battle with my own ego and shadow self. That’s the thing: No one ever tells you how intoxicating real power can be. No one ever tells you that magick is an extension of yourself, taking on the shape and form of your own personality. Your personal power becomes a thing of itself, good and bad. One of my favorite quotes about magick comes from the movie “The Craft”. In my favorite scene, the humble witch Lirio is asked if she practices black magick. Full of wisdom and an eerie calm, she replies thusly: “True magick is neither black nor white. It is both because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance on its own.” If ever I had the chance to visit my younger self, I’d do my best to impart this lesson a bit earlier on. Then again, I know in my heart that my younger self would never listen, not even to me! Some things can only be learned through trial and require our full participation, even if reluctantly. And thus, we come to the end of my introduction and this article. Being a witch is such a core part of my identity now that it has become inseparable from me. It is as much as a part of me as my very name, the thoughts in my head, my breath upon the air, and truly as indivisible from me as my own essence. But this isn’t just my story. Magick is synonymous with reality itself. We all practice it in some form or another. You don’t have to cast a spell to experience it. The next time you look the love of your life in the eye and feel the spark between you, know that is magick. When you go outside on a beautiful spring day and take in the sights and smells and marvel at the breeze that moves the trees in incomprehensible ways, know that is magick. When you wish upon a star and soon realize you have what you yearned for, know that is magick. And last but not least, know that the highest force in the universe is love and love is the most powerful magick I’ve ever seen. It’s within each and every one of us, just waiting to be awakened. Don’t be afraid to awaken it! Brightest blessings until next time, Archer Owl

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