I often feel like a Bad Witch when reading about the experiences of my friends and peers, and that’s generally because many of them believe in and do things that are not a part of my own practice. I don’t believe there is one to be a Witch or practice Witchcraft. Instead there are dozens of ways, and we aren’t all going to do the same thing, and that’s just fine.
Working With the Dead
Perhaps nothing other Witches do befuddles me more than working with the dead. I think we very much can work with the spirits of the dead, and I believe that there’s something within us that survives death. Again, it’s nothing related to lack of belief, it just all comes back to personal practice.
My reluctance to work with the dead most likely stems from a couple of sources:
Belief in reincarnation: I can understand those we’ve lost recently being around, but as a believer in reincarnation I’m not sure that all of my ancestors from hundreds of years ago are necessarily going to be available. I could be my own ancestor, or perhaps my wife is one of those ancestors, I’m not sure. This theological debate in my mind has led me to not spending a lot of time contemplating past generations of my family.
My beloved dead were not Witches: Calling to my Christian grandparents as a Witch troubles me. I don’t ignore them or anything, remembering and reuniting with them are a part of my yearly Samhain activities, but I’m hesitant to call upon them at other times of the year or actively work with them for magickal solutions in my life. I respected their religious beliefs in life, and I respect their religious beliefs in death.
Deity has long been one of my primary focuses as a Witch: I became a Witch because of the Goddess. Later I discovered and began relationships with various individual deities, and that’s been my focus as a Witch ever since. I’ve always gotten everything I’ve needed as a Witch through those various deities.
Over the years I’ve worked to develop a relationship with the Mighty Dead of Witchcraft, but my relationship to those spirits is vastly different from my relationships with deities. I don’t mumble under my breath in the middle of the day to Gerald Gardner, nor do I light incense for the spirit of Doreen Valiente. I ask them to join in our coven’s work if it pleases them, but we don’t actively petition them. It’s a very different relationship.
By nature I am not a people person. I like people, I enjoy talking to people, but I’m often awkward and shy around large groups of people that I don’t know, and never more so than when the conversation turns to astrology. I have a lot of friends who believe in and practice astrology, these are all people I respect and often admire to boot. But I’m not a believer in astrology, and have never really been drawn to it.
I’ve never believed that Pluto has any control over my life, and the near constant social media panic over “Mercury going retrograde” has always annoyed me more than Mercury actually going retrograde. I believe that the season one is born in might affect their mood and outlook on life (as a Winter baby I’m guessing January birthdays result in a person not believing in astrology), but I don’t see the planets connected to that. It is true that the moon effects us in a variety of ways, but we are close to the moon, and the gravity of the moon controls our tides. That makes sense to me, Neptune is too far away to have the some sort of influence on us and our planet.
Though I’ve long been fascinated by esoteric orders such as The Golden Dawn I’ve never had much use for the Kabbalah. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the Kabbalah, but for whatever reason none of the “how to” lessons I’ve encountered have ever really stuck with me. I know people do things with the Tree of Life, but I’ve never quite figured it all out for whatever reason. I can tell you the history of the Kabbalah, and why it’s important but when people ask me how it works I’m generally at a loss.
There are certain things I’ve encountered in Witchcraft over the years that just feel right to me for whatever reason, the Kabbalah has never been one of those. Part of it might be because I’m not Jewish and I’ve never spent a lot of time with the Hebrew alphabet. Some of it is probably because I used to believe that Wicca was a “Celtic religion” and the Celts didn’t use the Kabbalah (and they didn’t do much of anything that we find in Wiccan-Witchcraft today). I often think it’s something I might come back to one day, but I probably won’t.
I don’t like having my tarot cards read. I know a lot of people who consult the cards daily, and many others who at least get a reading done when they are unsure of the future or are concerned about a potential outcome. I think it’s been over ten years since my last reading, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. (Though sometimes in ritual everyone in my coven might draw a card and have it interpreted by the Witches around them, but that’s not quite the same as a full reading.)
I believe in tarot, it’s more that I just don’t want to know what might be around the bend. I’ve got a pretty clear plan in place for the next four or five years, and if something is going to interrupt that plan I’d rather not know about it. When I was younger I used to be a pretty active tarot card reader, and that was something I enjoyed, but I’ve lost my passion for that too. There are so many people out there who are better at it than I am, that it just feels like a waste to have me do it when a much better Witch can do it instead.
I’m deeply invested in the tarot historically, along with the runes, and just about any other system people use for divination. I just don’t tend to apply those practices to myself.