Sunday, September 27, 2009

To Be A Witch

You are not a witch because you buy witchy stuff from eBay (much as we all love a bit of witchy stuff). You are not a witch because you wear a pentacle, or get a tattoo, or buy and read books on witchcraft from or from a cute feminist bookstore in your town (much as we all love to read some witchy books). Stop allowing your lust to substitute for a daily practice.

You are not a witch because you wear robes or elven jewelry or because you have black fingernail polish or because you burn incense in your apartment or because you learn to read tarot or palms or tea leaves. Stop allowing your physical image and your fear of death to substitute for a relationship with the divine.

Yes, Younger Child loves all of those things. But Younger Child, alone, cannot make you a witch.

You are not a witch because Lady Something Luna Something Hawk Something Ravensomething Moonglow pronounces you a witch or because you complete some on-line "mystery school" course. You are not a witch because you've been scourged or annointed with oil or because you've said some sacred words. You are not a witch because you've gotten the five-fold kiss. Stop allowing other people to exercise power over.

You can BECOME a witch with no paraphanelia at all, just by going outside under the full, or dark, or quarter or half or three-quarter Moon, or under the sun, or at dawn, or at dusk, or whenever, and saying, with intention, "I am a witch. I am a witch. I am a witch." But in order to BE a witch, you must do more. Otherwise, you, as a witch, will fade, rather quickly, into nothing.

In order to BE a witch, you must help to turn the wheel. You must sit down daily with the Goddess and the gods and develop relationship. How scary is that? You must ground. Also, scary, especially when done daily. You must be present, as a witch, as often and as frequently as possible. Ditto on the scary. You must do the work involved in developing a relationship with the land, the watershed, the trees, the herbs, the wildlife, the rocks -- everything -- in your sacred space. Again, scary. You must change the world with magic, challenge those in power, heal the sick and powerless, provide the imaginal and charged image of the wild woman living at the liminal space between village and wood. You must do what is dangerous, you must see and worship the divine in the mundane, you must be willing to allow magic to creep into the modern world through the temporal port of your own warm human, bloody body. It's all as scary as shit if you actually commit to doing it on a daily basis and not just when you feel like it.

It's neither as easy, nor as "fun!" to be a witch as many modern people imagine. Mostly, to be a witch is work, work, work, not necessarily exciting nor technicolor work, although, Goddess knows, on occassion . . . . To be a witch is to wake up every morning, even the mornings when you need to dash into work, and to do a witch's work of relationship, grounding, physical presence. To be a witch is to stop and turn the wheel, even when a million "mundane" concerns call out to you. To be a witch is not to own stuff nor to read stuff nor to wear stuff nor to go to stuff. Sorry. To be a witch is to commit to work, difficult, repetitive, spiritual work and to do it over, and over, and over and from one season to the next and to the next and to the next.

Are you a witch? I am trying to be.

Picture found here.


Lyon said...

Thank you for this post. Excellently written and well said.

Nettle said...

yes, yes, yes. thank you.

The One and Only Elfwench said...

beautifully said and so true.

Double Jointed Fingers said...

This is why I read your blog on an almost daily basis.

You are a great teacher and teller of the truth.

clymela said...

What Double Jointed Fingers said!! especially like the reminder that so much of what we are required to do we do alone with our own homely, common self in our own common time but looking back is so beautiful to see how much those minutes and hours have shaped us into something strong.

Liri said...

Just last night I thought of you, after following a link to a post at Jezebel, I Was A Fake Teenage Witch. After citing a story about J.K. Rowling being denied a Medal of Freedom (heh) by President Bush - something about Dear Leader not wanting to be seen as endorsing witchcraft - the major portion of the post addressed a "witch phase" that the author says she and a lot (?) of girls go through in their early teen years (age 10-12 or thereabouts).

The poster (and comments) readily acknowledged the shallowness of the youthful phase, noting that the dress-up and role-playing in no way represented true practice of the nature-based faiths (Wiccan, Paganism, etc.), although some "nerd girls" were motivated to actually explore the real thing(s) seriously; silver lining and all that.

Are there any good online references that explain the distinctions between the various major nature-based faiths (Wiccan, Paganism, Druid, +???). I've also seen that there are geographical differences, but that appears to be the case for most widespread religions.

I find the subjects of faith and spirituality fascinating, although I'm not religious myself.

Liri (aka Sharl)

Liri said...

FYI, a post by Lisa Derrick over at the FDL Collective: Queens NY GOP Won't Dump Pagan Candidate. The post concerns NYC city council candidate - and Theodist First Atheling* - Dan Halloran. [*First Atheling acts as both a king and high priest in Theodism, apparently]

Lisa Derrick links to this archived site for a discussion of Theodism by adherents themselves (Halloran may have authored that entry, at least in part - I couldn't tell from a quick read). The Wiki entry is a bit more generic, of course, but might provide some better context to those like me who are ignert noobz regarding such matters.

Sadly, Halloran's opponents are using this knowledge in pretty much the sleazy way one would expect in this here Freedom-of-Religion-Lovin' U-S-of-A. A shame really, since his mostly wingnutty standard-issue GOP political views should be enough to turn off reasonable folks.

Marya said...

Such uncommon sense!

Hecate said...


It's a bit outdated, but Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler is a v good survey of different Pagan religions.

Teacats said...

Lovely lovely posting. So true and so very challenging to Help to Turn the Wheel. I believe that witches take notice of all of the changes that occur when the Wheel turns. We See the Cycle of the Seasons; we celebrate the changing of the years -- and we are grateful for the days too. We hope and we care. We truly believe that: As Above, so Below. And we add: So Without; so Within.

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

beweave said...

Goddess knows I'm trying to be...

Vermillion said...

I am trying very very hard to be, to the point where I've basically decided to start from scratch all over again.It's hard as a coconut and forcing me to face some truths about myself but it's worth it.

Lovely post Hecate, thank you.

Lucy Fur Leaps said...

Thank you so much for this deeply comforting post- it is scary and it is hard work but there is no way round it- got to go through that wood ;-) You made me laugh and cry at the same time and feel a bit stronger. Turning, turning, turning... xx

Shehuntstoo said...

lovely and a wonderful addition to my morning think

Thank you!!

Anne Johnson said...

Does it count as being a witch if you let the groundhog mow your lawn? Seriously, I'm a Druid -- and there is a difference in philosophy -- but I do an evening practice daily and pretty much consider every cubic inch of space to be a miracle.

Another thoughtful post. Thanks!