“I am not an angry girl but it seems like I’ve got everyone fooled. Every time I say something they find hard to hear they chalk it up to my anger and never to their own fear.” — Ani DiFranco, Not A Pretty Girl
You cannot talk about the stories of Witchcraft without talking about anger. It bubbles up around the edges, spills over into the narrative and makes itself heard. It’s in the Witch trial records. It’s in the lore. It’s in the stories of Aradia. It’s in The Crucible. Even Endora of Bewitched isn’t free from anger. You might say righteous anger is one of the marks of a Witch.
The lore of Witchcraft speaks to the poor and oppressed. We are commanded to be free of slavery. Witchcraft is borne of an occupation mindset, just as Christianity was borne from the anger at the occupation of Jerusalem, and anger is part of it’s roots. Whether you consider this to be the anger of a feudal peasant against the authority of the nobles and the church, or the anger of post-WWII English rebelling against the morals and culture of the Industrial Age, anger is still there.
When anger is transformative, cultures can flourish, religions are born, and new horizons can dawn. Anger is not a bad thing. It is fuel, it is propulsion, it is spark. Used and expressed, anger can push us to accomplish great things. Hidden, denied and allowed to fester, anger leads to bitterness, malice and depression. Anger is a tool, and the worth of a tool is in how it is used. A Feri Witch might have insight into how to transform anger into something constructive using the Iron Pentacle exercise.
So here is a story of the anger of Witches from my own tradition. I’m putting this into my own words and hopefully have the facts mostly straight:
Back in 1975, Lady Circe of Toledo, OH, and Lady Sintana from Buffalo, NY bought a house and opened up House of Ravenwood in Atlanta. About a year after they opened up, they were arrested. Lady Circe for fortune-telling and Lady Sintana for operating a business without a license (my understandin). The officers thought this would be a quiet arrest, but they were wrong. The media was alerted and the Witches expressed their anger over being discriminated against for their religion.
Lady Circe returned to Toledo, but Lady Sintana stayed. The anger had lit a fire in her, and she stayed. She stayed and she founded a tradition which continues today. The Atlanta police began to fondly refer to the coven at the House of Ravenwood as “our Witches”. Requiring security for rituals, bullet-proof glass on the front door, rednecks with shotguns issuing threats in the middle of the night and frat-boy pranks didn’t stop her. Ravenwood tradition grew stronger and more resolved. It eventually moved from the old house in Atlanta, and grew and spread. There are Ravenwood tradition covens on both coasts and likely hundreds of initiates. At least 5 covens in North Georgia alone are descended from Lady Sintana. I’m told she originally had planned to return to New York once Lady Circe was settled in here, but instead she got angry and stayed.
I’m glad she got angry. I’m glad she stayed. Getting angry didn’t make her an angry person. An expression of or acknowledgement of anger doesn’t make someone an angry person. Because when you say “angry person” you mean “bitter person” or “malicious person.” That’s not what Witchcraft is about. A Witch does not stew in bitterness or become malicious. Bitterness and malice are for those who feel helpless, and a Witch is never helpless. A Witch is conscious of his or her own power, is aware and respectful of the power in those around her, and when moved by a just anger, knows how to channel the power of others and their own to constructive means.
That’s my story of Witchcraft for today. If you have a story you want to share, shoot me an e-mail at sfoster at patheos.com.