Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What Are Witches For?

SheWho asks: What are witches for?

I once had an intense crisis that caused me to seriously consider the question: what was the point to my being incarnated at all, especially if it was all going to end far sooner than I'd been led to believe? (As SheWho notes, we can ask for teachers, but we can't control the nature of the teacher that we get. It can be an experience. Sometimes, it can be an experience that we hate. Teachers come in so many shapes and colors. Often, they're long gone and ill-lamented before we go, "Oh. That was a teacher. Shit. Was it necessary to fuck me over like that?" Answer: apparently, yes.) And the answer that I got, resoundingly, was the answer that it's easy to give to SheWho's question: you were incarnated because deity wanted to find out what it would be like to be you.

But that answer's too easy to give to SheWho's question. It answers the question: why is any one of us here, but it doesn't explain what witches are for. My general answer is that witches are here to help to turn the wheel. I've long since forgotten where I first read that "a witch's job is to turn the wheel and round and round the wheel must turn," but it made immediate, instinctive sense to me. Gael Baudino's fiction often captures this concept. So does Terry Prachett's. So, I was oddly reminded tonight, does Zena Henderson's.

But, again, that's too easy. What does it mean to turn the wheel? The wheel of the year turns of its own accord, it can seem, and certainly it would go on turning with or without the aid of any individual witch. There are, as SheWho's post notes, different ways to help to turn the wheel. The wheel has so many spokes. They can all use a shove. Some witches teach. Some care for animals. Some do magic to heal the land. Some care for women or children or ancient herbs. Some pray unceasingly. Some sing. Some inspire others. Some create beauty, which always stands as a bulwark against the breaking of the wheel. Some work directly for social justice.

What matters, I think, here, just before Mabon in 2007 CE, is to figure out which spoke of the wheel feels most comfortable against your shoulder. Where can you provide the greatest torque? Are you providing that torque? If not, why not? If not now, in the words of the saying, then, when?

I had an amazing weekend, this past Labor Day. Deep dreams and deep insights into where to go next. One moment I was running errands and the next moment I was surrounded by green vines and branches and experiencing a vision of what the next ten years or so of my life are about. From that point on, I have been filled with such a deep, underlying joy. Not that anything's likely to be easy. Only that it's likely to be right. The longer that I practice as a witch, the longer that I do the boring, difficult daily practice, the more that I come to depend upon and expect these experiences.

What are witches for? Witches are for manifesting the Goddess here on earth, for turning the wheel of the year, for performing the amazing act of appreciation, an act which nature requires, an act upon which the gods and goddesses depend. And witches are for whatever your are for, for putting the shoulder up against that particular spoke of the wheel that calls to you, that sings your name, that cries out for your particular shoulder. You know it when you are about to fall asleep, when you are in deep meditation, when you let your Better Self roam free.

So mote it be.


mdhatter said...

Dawh. I had that dream about 10 years ago and lately I'm sort of waiting for the next one.

but good for you! Roll. with. it.

SheWho said...

I love this line:

(there are) different ways to help to turn the wheel. The wheel has so many spokes. They can all use a shove.

And I love the many answers and insights in this one. It's a wonderful essay.

I get a kick out of the ways we inspire one another - it's very fruitful. Thank you for the sister spirit and for being one of my Muses :-)

I also laughed at reading "Shewho" instead Sia. Let me tell you how that started. One of our literary volunteers called me that when I was directing The Witches Ball in California. It comes from Rumpole series on Masterpiece Theater. He refers to his wife as "She who must be obeyed". Of course, we were dealing with Pagan volunteers, which is like herding cats, so it quickly turned into "She who would like to be obeyed at least some of the time" and that was my official title from then on.

Best Regards,


Sandy-LA 90034 said...

This post has helped me make some sense of the conundrum I've been experiencing recently.

For most of my life, I've been out of balance with the world around me and this manifested in major depression, anxiety and stress.

To make a long story short -- between medication, group therapy and an enlightened West Los Angeles Mental Health Center, I've spent the last several years bringing myself into a sort of balance I've never experienced before in my life.

I experience calm, peace, tranquility and such immense gratitude for what is now in my life versus what went before that seemed so unbearable for so long.

The quandary I'm in: how to feel at peace in a world out of balance? How to experience joy and gratitude and thanksgiving in a country that is off its hinges?

You've given me some things to think about -- maybe some of us can contribute by adding a sense of balance to our surroundings.

I spent yesterday's holiday -- a very hot Los Angeles day -- in a lovely park surrounded by breezes blowing in off the Santa Monica Bay and someone blowing bubbles in the wind and just laying in the shade listening to all the groups of people relaxing, cooking on grills and enjoying the way the children nearby crowded around the enclosure for two bunnies my friends brought with them.

It's taken me 60 years to come to this place and I am luxuriating in it. But I also want to contribute somehow to straightening out our political situation.

Thank you for your thoughtful post.

Anne Johnson said...

Sometimes I'm the wheel, sometimes I'm the road.

Walhydra said...

Dear One,

Thank you very much for this post. It speaks to me in the midst of what you call "the boring, difficult daily practice."

In fact, it speaks very poignantly to me that I should stop bitching and moaning about "the boring, difficult, etc." and just do it--as a prayer, as a clumsy dance, as part of breathing and being awake.

Thank you, again.

I think it was Sara over at Pagan Gospell who pointed me to your blog a couple months ago, and I've been "bloglining" you ever since.


If you wish, take a look at Walhydra's Porch, where I do most of my bitching and moaning.

Again, thanks for keeping me honest.

Blesséd Be,
Michael BrightCrow