Witchcraft: My Definitions and My Journey

It’s been a tumultuous summer! Hoping for a much calmer and healthier time coming soon. Seasons change, and I think this one will move on eventually too, as hard as that can be to believe when you’re in the midst of a challenging time.

I’m watching this (again 😊) and thinking about my own connection to the word witch.

 

The Archetype of the Witch

What does he/she look like for you? I envision a woman, probably because I am one ;).

TARA – Goddess of Compassion (2007) by Michael Tracey

She is powerful, sure of herself, confident. Strong, empowered. Wise, knowledgeable, informed about lots of different fields, like a bit of a Renaissance woman. Mysterious, not giving everything away.

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Morgan Le Fay (1880) by Edward Burne-Jones

She is in connection with her inner child; curious, playful, adventurous, mischievous. She can be solemn and serious or gleeful and lively, depending on the situation.

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TARA – Goddess of Compassion (2007) by Michael Tracey

She doesn’t conform to rules and social norms that don’t suit her or serve her. She is brave enough to be more than a little different by living in a way that is authentic for her.

The Practice of Witchcraft

What does the practice of witchcraft mean to you? What do you have to do to be comfortable considering yourself a witch?

For me, I feel like I need more study, for one thing. Though I may always feel that – the more you study, the more you realize how little you know :D. But the practice of learning is important to me in the pursuit of witchcraft. Maybe I’ll consider doing a course of dedicated study for a year and a day, as some traditions require – appeals to my inner academic! I would spend that time studying the texts that are most important to me, practicing, and experimenting. Of course, this wouldn’t stop at the end of the year and a day period – this study would be ongoing. It’s like a profession, you need to continue learning and improving, at a healthy pace of course.

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A Witch (1646) by Salvator Rosa

Also, practice. Regular practice. My practice has been somewhat haphazard up to now; to really grow and have it be a bit more useful, it’d be good to keep track of what works well, what resonates with me, what doesn’t. Might be nice to find a primer for easy spells that has an approach I like, try mastering those first. The challenge is that I generally find few texts where I agree with everything they say; I really need to create my own way forward.

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The Magic Circle (1886) by John William Waterhouse

My Personal History of Witchcraft

I’ve always been so drawn to the idea of magic and witches. The Harry Potter books were a big influence, of course, which I’m rereading now; I recreated many classes with my brother and the neighbor kids, making potions and practicing spellwork. I gravitated towards fantasy books until I was in my early twenties, when I felt like I should expand my literary horizons. But I do keep coming back to them, time and time again.

When I was a preteen, I started learning a bit more about contemporary practice. I downloaded and printed about 100+ pages on magical systems, wicca, spells, witchcraft, and more. This was found by my mom, who was more than a little freaked out 😊 – I thought I’d been sneaky enough, but obviously I hadn’t! Her reaction led me to put it aside for a while.

Eventually, when I no longer lived with my parents and had a bit more freedom, I would dig a bit deeper into the teachings, explore some of the basic books that are available. But I would usually run into some people stating their own beliefs as gospel, giving no sources for their information or explanations for how they came to these conclusions. Granted, a lot of the topics we deal with in witchcraft are not provable/quantifiable; but it rubs me the wrong way when I read someone making statements about how the universe works, or about how one should practice the craft, without adding the disclaimer “this is what I feel to be true, and my life experiences have led me to this conclusion”. Hearing a bit about how they came to these conclusions helps as well. Even if it’s just that they read it in a book and it instantly felt true, I don’t think that’s something to discount.

The Philosophy of Witchcraft

Being a witch can impact the way you approach everything in your life: the food you eat (what impact are you having on the earth and your body?), your interactions with other people (considering what they’re going through, what forces beyond their control have brought them to this point), your livelihood (how are you impacting the world, what kind of energy are you working with and spreading in the world?).

Kelly-Ann shares a lot of quotes that resonate with her path, some of which really ring true for me as well.

Witchcraft as Personal Growth

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From Kelly-Ann: “Much of my witchcraft is about better understanding and unraveling myself rather than trying to play with stuff around me. An internal shift creates a longer-lasting and more effective external shift.”

Also really important for me is the way being a witch affects your relationship with yourself. It can empower you, knowing that you have strength to draw on. Knowing that you have the capacity to embody any archetype you need. (I really like the idea of embodying archetypes, to dig into later 😊). Knowing that you have the power to influence the events of your life. That you aren’t just going along for a passive ride, but can take action to influence more good in the world, more level-headedness and critical thinking, more kindness and generosity.

Witchcraft as Critical Thinking

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I think that’s a big part of why Kelly-Ann and her work appeals to me so much. I don’t resonate with all of her magical practices or beliefs (from what she’s shared publicly anyway), but her approach to learning and being open to possibility is the way that I want to craft my path.

Critical thinking is another important factor in witchcraft for me. While I’m open to just about anything, I won’t blindly accept something without exploring it more deeply. For instance, I’m not sold on crystals having magical properties, but I have little experience with them, so I wouldn’t bash it without giving it a proper examination. (Even if I’m disinclined to use that system, I wouldn’t bash it, because I’m not an asshole :P.) Again, the tricky thing is that most of the topics related to witchcraft are not things that can be easily measured or observed, which is why many of them are not considered scientific.

Witchcraft as a Path of Transcendence and Wonder

Despite a lack of tangible proof to back up our practices, I think it’s really important to remember that we don’t (and cant) know everything about the universe and how it works. Not to mention what’s beyond the universe. Living as though the current scientific discoveries are all there is to life is so limiting! (Another thing I’d love to learn more about is physics, and theories about the nature of time! To be explored…)

Witchcraft can also be a way of creatively engaging with your life; making it more colourful, adventurous, exploratory. Working with your inner child and the realms of imagination can be powerful tools, as intangible as they may be.

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Witchcraft as Communion with Nature

As a comment on #8, she says: “If we are thinking of ‘nature’ as the places and things not made by the hand of man, then we can think of the path of the witch as one good way to get our hearing back and start listening, deeply, carefully..” I haven’t even touched on the relationship to nature in this post – maybe because I consider that to be more to do with pagan spirituality than the practice of witchcraft. But I do think that witchcraft involves working with the natural world (of which we and everything are a part – considering ourselves as separate from nature is problematic in so many ways…).

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Hecate (2006) by Joanna Barnum

Witchcraft as a Connection to Gods and Goddesses

A quick note on gods and goddesses. Ants can have no real conception or understanding of us. Bacteria can have no real understanding of ants- both of these statements should have the disclaimer of “as far as we know”. From looking at their brains, it seems like they don’t have the capacity to understand much of our lives or why we do what we do. Consider this: we study beings who seem to be mostly less complex than us – though maybe that isn’t true for the larger mammals. Still, we see ourselves as the dominant species on the planet (and are, as far as we can tell). Maybe there are beings or forces outside our understanding and conception that impact the universe and beyond. We would be like ants to them, incapable of truly understanding or perceiving them. There certainly are many natural forces beyond our control and understanding. Maybe for me, part of being a witch is to allow for these things that we can’t perceive or understand, to open myself to their workings.

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Joining the Goddess (2011) by Maria Jose Leon

Despite the fantastic illustration above, for me, so far, witchcraft is something that I practice alone. I could be able to work with others, allowing them to follow their systems in conjunction with my own; but I am very solitary by nature. For now, I’m happy to work alone and share my thoughts with the community.

That was a lot to get out :). Glad that I did though! Sometimes I can feel things, sense that I have some understanding of things, but I’m not quite satisfied until I’ve found the words that get the closest to expressing those feelings. This was a good step in that direction. 🙂

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