This weekend I celebrate my 39th birthday and I gotta tell ya, it feels really weird. I’ve been telling myself that I’m “almost 40” for a couple of years now. I’ve been doing this so it won’t feel so surprising once I actually get there. As I face the final year of my thirties, this aging witch, has been wondering a lot about age.
I started my first coven when I was seventeen; well coven might be a strong word, there were three of us that started doing rituals together at that time. In my early twenties, I lead full moon gatherings with the women I worked with and some friends. I started teaching people I didn’t know about witchcraft in my mid-twenties and in my early thirties I started teaching in the Reclaiming Tradition, about hoodoo, spellwork, Goddesses, and more. And I’ll tell you what, before every single class, the thought goes through my head, “who am I to be teaching/leading/offering this?”
Experience or Age or What?
For a long time I blamed my fears on a lack of experience. I just didn’t have enough experience and someday, after years and years, I wouldn’t feel like that anymore. As the years went by I started to blame my feelings on age. I started to think that someday when I was older, I would finally feel confident, and without doubts on what I had to offer. These feelings of self doubt never stopped me from teaching, leading rituals, putting myself out there, but they did create a shade, an outline of my shadow; my relationship with that tricky imposter syndrome.
Now I look back at my almost 25 years of experience being a witch (thank you high school boyfriend for dumping me at 15, so I could come to this path), my over two decades of being in leadership, and I am starting to admit that I do know what I’m doing. And I say this with the proper amount of ego, a right size of pride, and knowing myself. I’ve been doing this a long time, I have a lot of offer, I know what I’m talking about, and I’m a good teacher.
It is impossible to explore all of this without looking at the over-culture and its expectations on what it means to turn 40. We are youth obsessed and I notice myself wanting the wisdom that comes with the lessons that only aging can bring, but I’m also afraid of the aging process. I am fearful of the invisibility that comes with being an older woman in our world. When society tells me that my only value is my body and looks, even when I know better, I feel these concepts wrestling inside of me. The value of youth, the value of aging, the value of experience. And the fact that I am using the word “value” with all of these descriptors.
My life now is not like what I would have imagined it to be when I was fifteen. I don’t feel old, which I thought I would. I know some people reading this will be like, “Oh you’re still a baby!” and for others it will be like, “Yikes, 40, you’re old!”. I feel both of these things. I feel young and still so inexperienced. There is so much that I don’t know and don’t understand. And yet, I feel wise, I have learned a lot, and I feel called to share that with others.
Thirty-nine feels like a liminal year and magic happens in the liminal spaces.