Once A Witch, Always A Witch: Remembering Reincarnation

A lot of us who practice witchcraft have little things that we’ve done as children that were seemingly magickal without realization. Though reincarnation was one of the things I was skeptical about since I had no proof and didn’t want to believe in something blindly. It is now my belief that a lot of our magick is metaphorically “in our blood” so to speak, that we often incarnate with a lot of carry-over knowledge and practices that we often write off as childhood imagination. Gerald Gardner wrote in The Meaning of Witchcraft that “The witches are firm believers in reincarnation, and they say that ‘once a witch always a witch.’”

Image Credit: Julia Santa Ana | CC0 License
Image Credit: Julia Santa Ana | CC0 License

I have always had a draw towards and fascination with witchcraft and the “unseen”, for almost as long as I can remember. When I was about eight years old, I had a little makeshift altar that I worked with. My only exposure to witchcraft at the time was movies like The Craft and the works of Silver Ravenwolf such as Teen Witch, which were perhaps the only books at that time in my life that I could fully grasp. This book in particular was my “gateway drug” so to speak, into the world of witchcraft and the realization of my identity as a witch.

One of the interesting practices I did, was something I neither read about nor saw anywhere. I would sneak cologne from the bathroom, pry off the top and pour it into a bowl and light it on fire with a lighter I had stolen from my grandfather. I would watch the flame burn an electric blue and use that fire to empower all my tools, call upon Spirit and to feel especially witchy which would enable me to enter a different state of consciousness and leave the mundane reality behind.

Years passed and I didn’t think much about it. However, I started having re-occurring dreams. In these dreams I was a woman in either Italy or Spain, though some of teachers have also suggested it may have been Basque. In these dreams I dreamed that I would sneak into some sort of prison and smuggle in poisonous tinctures to specific people telling them that they needed to take it so that they wouldn’t suffer any further and to protect the “others”. I began thinking perhaps these were memories from a past life since they were so vivid and so re-occurring.

However, there was another dream along these lines that made me question this. In these dreams I was the same lady, but I was in some sort of a small Catholic church. There was a priest before me and a mob behind me. In the dream I knew that I was “caught” and the end was near, so there was nothing to hold back. I pointed my finger at the priest and said, “You think your God is powerful? The God who brings so much pain and death to this land? I spit before your God and I spit before you! Tell me, can your God do this?!” and that point I begin levitating in the church. Pretty dramatic, huh? Perhaps this is where my deeply rooted aversion to indoctrination stems from. It’s the floating aspect of this dream that had me doubt that these were real past life memories.

However, during Witchcraft 1 at the Temple of Witchcraft when studying reincarnation and past lives, I shared this with my class and my mentor. My mentor encouraged me not to shrug this off, that I needed to realize that these memories were coming in dreams – and that just like dreams my brain was trying to make sense of a situation and that it was possible that it was using metaphoric dream imagery to convey a certain feeling that I had during that time. I proceeded with the past life regression journey taught by the Temple and presented in The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, hoping that perhaps I could get a glimpse of this life. To my dismay I didn’t. What I received instead was many different lifetimes in many different locations flashing rapidly with the only thing constant in them being that there was a black cat and a barn owl in every scene – my two main spirit allies throughout this lifetime.

Image Credit: Mat Auryn (Spirit Flame from one of my altars)
Image Credit: Mat Auryn (Spirit Flame from one of my altars)

However, it wasn’t until I began reading the work of Raven Grimassi that I had a sudden epiphany. In his book Italian Witchcraft: The Old Religion of Southern Europe he writes, “The Spirit Flame represents the presence of the gods as well as the Spirit of the Old Ways. Aradia taught that fire came from divinity and she used it as a symbol of the teachings (of the Old Ways). All that the Strega do, whether magickally or ceremonially, is drawn from the Spirit Flame. It is one of the most powerful tools that a Strega can possess. […] the focal point of the altar is called the Spirit Flame. A bowl is placed upon the center of the altar, and is filled with a special liquid that will burn with a blue flame. Many Strega use an Italian liquore called Strega Liquore, but rubbing alcohol works nicely, as does any good quality cologne. The appearance of the blue flame represents the presence of Divinity within the ritual setting. The use of fire as a sacred symbol is one of the most ancient of practices.”

This was a huge moment of revelation and confirmation for me. The puzzle pieces were beginning to fall into place and for me a firm example of a memory or shards of memories of a past lives. It all began to make sense. I decided I wanted to reclaim this practice into my rituals. Interestingly enough my path led me to the Sacred Fires tradition of Witchcraft which focuses on deity as a main trinity; Diana as the Goddess of the Witches, Dianus (or Lucifer) as the God of Witches and Aradia as the Avatar of witchcraft.

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