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. 🙂

Pagan Journal: Thoughts on the Equinox

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Funny; Saturday evening rolls around, and I find myself really craving some spiritual time! And then I don’t really have time for it until Sunday; but here I am.

A few sciencey tidbits about the equinox:

Apparently day and night aren’t exactly equal on the equinoxes; the equilux is the day when they’re exactly equal, and it happens a few days before the equinox in March, a few days after the equinox in September.

Neat to learn a bit more about why the seasons work the way they do in different parts of the world – the self-test questions on the TedEd website are helpful to make it stick too.

I did manage to sneak in a ritual tonight ;). Soon I will live in a space where I won’t need to hide it.

I did a tarot reading for myself with this spread; proved to be really insightful, encouraging, and reiterating a few things I already know. Sometimes you need to hear it from another source, though. Or have it shoved in your face by a deck of cards! One of my cards to prune was the Knight of Swords, and that brought someone I know to mind so quickly.

I experimented a bit with using my imagination to go to the astral realm too, and explore these cards a bit more deeply, with the help of a little character who popped out of my brain. I’d like to learn more about people who practice astral projection, create thought forms, all these kinds of things. I feel like I’ve already partially done this, when I would get so engrossed in the story in a book, and then maybe imagine myself talking with characters from the book. Definitely something I will explore more in the future.

Spring means new growth. Growth can be painful; I think I’m experiencing some growing pains now. That’s alright. ❤

Hope you all had a good equinox, whether it’s bringing in the spring or the fall!

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Pagan Journal: Forging My Path

Time to settle in for some tea and introspection, I think. 🙂

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Maybe I’ll make that a weekend habit; to set aside some spiritual time! I like that idea.

I do a fair bit of thinking about my spiritual path, and reading, watching, listening about the paths of others. I don’t do a lot of practicing these days. I have been paying attention to the changing of the season (which is so wonderful!) and the filling of the new moon; I do like to know what’s going on that way, to be centred using those points. So I do practice my spirituality in those ways.

But I think I’m at the point where I want to develop rituals to express my spirituality, and delve deeper into it. I was listening to this RobCast episode the other day; a few minutes into it they start discussing irrational beliefs, rational thought, and what Rob calls transrational thought(/belief?). It’s a fascinating topic. I guess the way I understand it, the transrational occurs after you’ve gone through your rational examination of the beliefs you’ve been brought up with, and realize the need to give a name to experiences that are not quantifiable. This isn’t the same as holding beliefs without examining them, in a non-rational way. This is recognizing that there are parts of our existence that we can never fully understand, due to the limitations of our physical bodies through which we experience the world. Recognizing this, and using powerful names that already exist to make an attempt to talk about what’s going on in the realm of spirit.

Does this mean that I think a “realm of spirit” literally physically exists somewhere? Not necessarily. I can certainly easily allow for that possibility though!

I just noticed there’s a really beautiful old tree outside the window of where I’m staying:

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Kind of looks like he has an eye and is watching me. Looks friendly anyway. 🙂

One person I’d consider a spiritual mentor is Kelly-Ann Maddox. Though I’ve never talked to her, I feel like I resonate so much with what she says in her videos, and they’ve really helped me start to define my own path. I think that she is definitely someone you could consider transrational; she thinks critically, but is also open to the mysteries. She describes herself as a spiritual counsellor who holds the torch and walks alongside you for a while. I love that image 🙂 .

She offers a few different ways to work with her, which I think I will save up to purchase one day in the not-so-distant future; the Spiritual Counselling Session for sure. The Creative Magick Brainstorming Session is another that really appeals to me. So I’m thinking I can structure my approach to this part of my life in these two dimensions: the spiritual side, and the side that is curious about magical experimentation.

It does feel rather open and raw to share these thoughts publicly online – even under a pseudonym!! lol. I’ll have to do some private journalling as well, some private communion and ritual work. But at the same time, I’m glad to have a public blog about it too; it helps me to keep coming back to it, to make it a regular practice. So, thank you for reading. 😉 ❤

Pagan Journal: Happy New Moon!

So, I have twelve different drafts for blog posts on here. Different ideas that I want to explore, from the nature of reality to the astral realm to soft polytheism, deity, the whole nine yards. I do want to learn more about these things, and work out what makes the most sense for me and my practice; but I also want to have this space as a kind of public journal. A place where posts don’t have to be perfectly thought-out and edited so that I think others will think they’re interesting. Basically, I don’t want to get too self-conscious about my thoughts and my writing.

One part of (most) pagan spiritual paths that appeals to me is the following of the wheel of the year; paying more attention to the seasons as they change, and celebrating the changing year. The next point on the wheel of the year is the Vernal Equinox – spring! ❤ It’s already been feeling like spring here in Virginia, where I’m currently visiting. I’ll have to consider how I would like to celebrate this turn of the wheel.

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By Midnightblueowl [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Another is the lunar cycle, its ebb and flow on a smaller scale. How neat is it that the gravitational pull of the Moon can effect the Earth so much that it pulls the ocean towards it, bringing in the high tide! These forces are at work and affecting us all the time, though we generally don’t sense it, or would be hard put to pinpoint it if we do.

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By Lookang many thanks to author of original simulation = Todd Timberlake author of Easy Java Simulation = Francisco Esquembre (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The description of that gif file has some neat info about tides too:

Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of gravitational forces exerted by the Moon, Sun, and rotation of the Earth.

The semi-diurnal range (the difference in height between high and low waters over about half a day) varies in a two-week cycle. Approximately twice a month, around new moon and full moon when the Sun, Moon, and Earth form a line (a condition known as syzygy), the tidal force due to the sun reinforces that due to the Moon. The tide’s range is then at its maximum; this is called the spring tide. It is not named after the season, but, like that word, derives from the meaning “jump, burst forth, rise”, as in a natural spring.

When the Moon is at first quarter or third quarter, the sun and Moon are separated by 90° when viewed from the Earth, and the solar tidal force partially cancels the Moon’s. At these points in the lunar cycle, the tide’s range is at its minimum; this is called the neap tide, or neaps (a word of uncertain origin).

I’m fascinated by the connection between biological rhythms and the lunar cycle. My cycle happens to be synced up with the new Moon right now, which is nice – why not start the new lunar cycle with a new menstrual cycle! 😀 But more to the point, this excerpt from Wikipedia really struck me:

The approximately fortnightly tidal cycle has large effects on intertidal[54] and marine organisms.[55] Hence their biological rhythms tend to occur in rough multiples of this period. Many other animals such as the vertebrates, display similar rhythms. Examples include gestation and egg hatching. In humans, the menstrual cycle lasts roughly a lunar month, an even multiple of the tidal period. Such parallels at least hint at the common descent of all animals from a marine ancestor.

I never thought about how the length of our menstrual cycle could be related to the fact that the animals from which we’re descended used to live in tide pools!! Wow. Now, that last sentence is linked to a citation from Darwin (The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871), so I don’t know if there’s more recent work that gives more evidence for or against that idea.

Many pagans talk about having a new moon ritual. Ritual, its use, and my feelings towards it, is a whole other post on its own. I need to figure out what feels like an authentic ritual expression to me; I really can’t just follow the words that someone else has written.

To be really free in my exploration of that, I think I need to be alone. I need to have no other human eyes on me. I’ll have the chance to have that space, starting in April; so I’ll wait til then to really dig into the exploration of ritual.

That’s all for now! If anyone reading this celebrates the moon cycle or the wheel of the year, I would love to hear about how you do it. 🙂

Hello Pagan and Witchy Community!

God (Gods, Goddess, etc), do I ever need this outlet.

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My beliefs are certainly pagan; I revere nature. I’m starting to explore polytheism, waffling between hard and soft polytheism (unapologetically). I love the freedom that an eclectic path allows – choose what works for you, explore.

I’m also fascinated by the occult, witchcraft, and systems of magic. That is one of the main reasons for creating this space, really; I need a place to share my views without needing to edit them to make them easier for others to swallow.

The world is so full of possibility and potential; why limit yourself? Why limit your experience?

So, I am creating this online space for myself to fully explore my spirituality and curiosities. I’ve chosen a new name, created this sacred space, allowed myself to dabble and experiment. It’s quite exciting really, to take on the name of “witch”; something I’ve been drawn to for many years, but have held back from due to others in my life.

I’ll share whatever I find interesting concerning this pagan path as well. I was just reading Thorn Mooney’s post on her Patheos blog about how an individual’s spirituality is likely to evolve over time, just as they do; I love this point of view. Like I mentioned above, I’m currently exploring different ideas surrounding deity – the idea that they’re archetypes formed from our collective unconscious; that they have power through the generations of worshippers who have come before us; that they are beings of their own in some sense, whether sometimes physically but mostly astrally. (Is astrally a word? You know what I mean.)

I’m going to try out which of these ideas feels right to me at this time; and I expect what feels right for now to vary as I grow older. I embrace that concept of growth and change. Does it mean that the literal reality of whether these entities exist or not changes? Not likely. But who’s to say? What is the nature of reality? Is it “consensus reality”, what we all agree upon to be real (which does not exist, as we all believe different things anyway); is it decided by what we happen to truly believe at any given moment? Do we create our reality as we live it?? (Wormhole ahead!)

I hope to use this venue to meet others on this path. MAN, do I ever need to talk about it.

Blessed be. 🙂 ❤