I’ve been teaching Modern Witchcraft classes year-round for just over eight years, now. I consider it my sacred mission to provide safe and responsible training to spiritual seekers. Great things have come from it, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. This turning, I’m guided by the messages of The Hermit Card, to embark on a solitary reexamination of everything I hold to be true. Thus, there is challenging “shadow work” afoot. It’s been a really hard year of disappointments, which led me to question why I even bother to teach witchcraft anymore. Then, the other day I ran across an old audio journal entry that helped me to remember why…
My Ulterior Motives for Teaching Modern Witchcraft REVEALED!
On December 31, 2015 at 1:26 in the morning, I ruminated about changes I intended to make to my curriculum, just before I would greet the 7th year’s new seekers. I asked myself:
- What do you say first?
- What is the point of witchcraft?
- Why do our initiates come back to report that taking our course in Modern Witchcraft was: “…the most painful year of my life, but so worth it. I’m a much better person now?”
By talking it out, I revealed to myself what my ulterior motives were for teaching new witches these difficult things. For better or worse, here it is….in my own sleepy voice. I posted it to YouTube, with an array of pictures from a year in my witching life. I’ve transcribed the recording below so that I will not forget my sacred purpose again.
Heron’s Audio Journal Entry, December 31st, 2015 – 1:26 am
I’ve been up for days, more or less procrastinating, trying to write out my thoughts about beginning the seventh year of teaching classes in the series we call Modern Witchcraft 366. It’s a ‘year and a day’ program I’ve been teaching now for six complete years. I’m getting ready to start the seventh year on Friday.
I had this wild idea to completely rewrite the curriculum, or at least the first two sessions, because I felt that after all that I’ve learned over the past six years (also, so much has become part of what is in the margins, things I say but aren’t in the hand-outs) and I’d like the hand-outs to match what I actually say. I have learned so much since I began.
What is the point?
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it means to be a witch, and what I would tell someone who was taking their first steps of formal study, assuming that these people are actually meant to be witches, for one, and they will complete the study someday… They are about to take up the work, so… What do you say first? What do you say on the first day to help set their first steps in the right direction?
I’ve been thinking… “what’s the point?” If I were to come into this new thing, perhaps knowing nothing about it, full of hopes and expectations…What’s the point?”
I remember taking a class with Spanish Moss [a Wiccan Priest I know], and he very succinctly said that “the point of our praxis is to purify us of our fears and save us from our illusion of separateness. That was ‘salvation’ within witchcraft.” I really like that idea. I think that is the point.
I want to tell them that the entire thing is based on…sourced from…ABOUT…Divine Love. If it’s about Divine Love, then the opposite of that is fear. Then, obviously, the praxis would be to purify us of our fear. Then you have to introduce the entire concept of Divine Love, the polarity, and the new paradigm. What do you say first?
I’ve also been thinking about how so many of my initiates, when they returned to the next seeker meeting, to speak to their experience, almost all of them say something akin to, “It was the most painful year of my life; it made me a better person; it was so worth it.”
Some people spoke of [their dedicant year] being terrifying, horrifying, difficult…and they aren’t wrong. So these new folks have heard that, but how do you describe what that means?
I think the thing that is difficult is that if you take up the concept of sovereignty, which is the next thing I’d say is important, what does it mean to become sovereign? Then suddenly there are no scapegoats, no whipping boys. You become the “they” that you’ve been complaining about.
It’s about no longer externalizing the locus of your control, projecting outward, as if everything that is wrong in your life is the fault of others. By the same token, everything that is right in your life is because of what other people do. But truly taking responsibility for creating your life; making the bed that you’re lying in; confronting the consequences of your actions; righting what you do wrong; becoming your own lawmaker, your own judge, your own law-enforcer; becoming fully sovereign; becoming the King or Queen of your own world, and taking full responsibility for what that means, that is hard.
It means leaving the crowd, being in the spotlight. It means taking up the staff like Gandalf and being the one that stands between others and the Balrog, plunging into the darkness in battle. It means speaking up. It means being the one that charges into the fray and does something about it…whatever the “it” is.
It means leaving behind “all things that do not serve your highest good.” And, you know? When you speak those words, you have no idea what that’s going to mean. Then one day you see relationships falling away. You see things you loved once no longer serving your needs, and you think, Ugh! That’s terrible for me!
That is kinda painful.
Things that used to be your excuses…that’s the other thing, you have no excuses anymore. There are no good excuses for bad behavior, or not owning your own shit, or projecting outward; looking at the world and seeing only the mirror that is YOU, and projecting your own impression of that upon everyone else. There is no excuse for prejudice. There is no excuse for hatred. There is no excuse for the things that are crutches.
That is hard.
I mean, people want to think it’s about doing the spells, or the rituals. I don’t even think its about worshiping the Gods. I don’t think the Gods *need* our worship. I think you can do this completely without any concept of THAT [worship]. But it *is* about co-creating…learning how to pray in another way.
There are definitely times that it is appropriate to kneel in humility, but for the most part it is about standing tall and strong with your chin up and co-creating like the god that you are. It’s about NOT begging, for anything, but speaking into manifestation, with power, those things that are justified, correct and good for you, harming none. To do that with the Gods side by side…or the powers that be, or the Universe, or the Force…whatever you want to call it…
Beneficial or Baneful
I find it important to redefine words. There are so many words I want to redefine…ceasing thinking about things as being “positive or negative.” I want to switch that to “beneficial or baneful,” or “Beneficial of harmful.”
I want to think about… instead of winning, or succeeding, or things that imply a competitive nature, that we think, “Is this for my benefit? Am I being effective? Effective… I like the word “effective.” Does this create change in accordance with my will? My Highest Divine Will?”
Ego and Highest Divine Will
That’s the other thing that makes [witchcraft] so hard and painful: Ego. You have to realize there is little ego and then there is BIG EGO. There is personal will and then there is Divine Will. You can’t let the personal stuff that is so rooted in the moment, and perhaps pain or reaction, or wounds… You can’t let that derail you, misdirect you. It’s about tapping into Highest Divine Will, and sometimes what is ultimately *good* for you, hurts like hell in the moment, and you don’t want it!But you learn eventually to trust that Highest Divine Will is ultimately the only way, and that the longer you spend fighting it, or running from it, or chasing the wrong thing (the little ego thing) you are only going to waste your time. You aren’t being effective.
Wyrd: Personal Destiny
I want to teach them about the river of Wyrd. Which is personal fate. You do have options; some are a complete waste of time and energy, leading to nothing but anxiety, frustration, anger, fear, hatred. There are choices that empower, that are effective; that get you somewhere FAST! They seem like magick, because they are suddenly in alignment with the river wyrd…
…whether it’s the metaphor of a river or not, isn’t really the point. But…
You have to be moving in the direction of your personal destiny, and that IS in alignment with your Highest Divine Will. You can choose to cling to the edge in fear, refusing to participate. That is a waste of time!
You can choose to go get lost and mired down in the bog of avoidance, addiction or heartbreak, or anger, or whatever it is… That is a choice, again, that leads to misery.
You can point the prow of that boat against the current, and paddle feverishly, and get no where, because you’re afraid of the future, and want to cling to the past. That won’t be beneficial.
Captain of your Own Destiny
OR, you can choose to figure out where this river is going. How do I operate this boat? Let’s figure out this star chart so I know how to navigate. Let me read up on what other people did, so maybe I can be a little forewarned. Maybe learn the ways and skills of a good boatman, a good captain, figure what to do, and then knowing that truly there is no map anyway, plunge into the unknown. But do it prepared, and learn new things, and go on new adventures, and be the captain of your own ship, your own destiny. That is terrifying!
But that is the only way to not live a miserable, anxious, frustrated, fearful, hateful, godawful life. I just want that for them. I want that for them, even though it is hard.
I know that not everyone in that room is suited to this [witchcraft]. Every year we have maybe one-third of the people who start, to finish. That is OK. We can’t all be the captain, I suppose. We can’t all be the shepherd.
Cease Being Sheep
That is another thing. It’s about not being a sheep…eh…we’re going for metaphors… It’s easy to be the sheep. “Someone else is in charge; you are in the middle of the flock; just move where the flock goes; there is power in numbers.” Whatever…
But then, here you are in witchcraft, and it really is a solitary path. It really is. You come into this world alone, and regardless of who you choose to walk in tandem with, it is a solitary path, and you will leave this life alone. Ultimately, you are in charge of you. You are in charge of getting yourself where you need to go. It is no one elses responsibility to get you there. You are in charge of you.
That is hard. That is scary. It can be…
But then once you know what is out there, once you know how to react to it, once you have the skills and tools you need to be good at what you do, knowing how to navigate life…then, not so much!
So, I guess your first day of witchcraft school is kinda like the first day of a new job where you really have no idea what to expect, and you’ll have to get all your training once you are there.
Not everyone is suited to Witchcraft
I don’t know… I’m not your typical witch, but I’ve got some very strong ideas about what it means. I think the tradition that we’re forming is very demanding of people to become better people and be leaders of those who are not capable of taking up that work. Because there are some, obviously. [Witches] being caregivers, stewards of the environment, or young people, the mentally ill, old people, the sick and injured, those wounded; those who are still bound by the ways of this blind society, and blindered still… we must become a voice for the voiceless, for example. [We must] help to empower the powerless.
Witches Lead by Serving
Anyway, being able to do that with compassion, to be able to rise in enlightenment and awareness… To become incarnate Gods in full awareness that they are, while somehow simultaneously growing in compassion, and empathy… growing in humility, and understanding that they serve. They have grown in leadership, so they may serve those who are less aware, and to do so with humility, grace and compassion.
If nothing else, what is the role of the clergy or a priest, but to help guide with compassion those who are less aware, without being an ego-maniacal prick?
Witches are Wise Counselors
Being the councilor. They come to you because you CAN see the pattern. You can see where they went wrong. You can see the direction they can take to get back to where they need to be, but somehow do that with humility, so you don’t sound like a bossy know-it-all, or a condescending ego-maniac…like some people I know.
That’s the trick, isn’t it? That’s really the thing that is hard: You have to embrace your fellow man with such open-armed compassion, because you can now see how ass-backward wounded they are! It’s so freaking clear to you, but you can’t say that to them! They wouldn’t hear you anyway! What good would it do? It would only do harm to do so, but meanwhile you coexist, you help to heal in a way that is open and accepting and creates… that builds, rather than destroys.
Witches are Healers
It’s the small and fearful, and ass-backward people who destroy, and tear down and bully… That’s not how we can be. That is also hard. It’s about loving the worst of us, because you can see where they are at…you see their wounds.
Taking up the life of the witch is like asking to put on this pair of glasses that allows you to see the wounds of the world, and they are gushing. They are bleeding out all over, and it is so clear! You can see how they are just prying that wound open with their addictions, with their self-loathing…with their ineffective choices…with their harmful choices.
Witches are Walkers Between the Worlds
And yet, you’ve still got to walk through the world. It’s like suddenly you’ve got this What the Fuck no matter where you’re looking. And you’ll be like, “Oh my god, the world has gone mad.” No! You’ve just become sane finally, and you can see it. The world was always mad.
I’ve written somewhere that “some days I feel like the lunatic, and some days I feel like the last sane person on earth.” It’s really hard to navigate that line sometimes. I think it’s important to have other witches around, other trained and enlightened people around…people who are working hard to better themselves, so they can help keep you on the rails, and you in check. And you can help keep them on the rails, and them in check. That’s important.
I feel the weight of this year. This is the seventh year, from the root on up, seven. We’ve reached the crown chakra. We’ve reached the top note of the octave; beyond this, we enter a new octave. So this needs to be the year I feel like I get it right. There is a lot I would change. This will be the honing year, the crowning year. Then hopefully, next year I’ll have it prepared, and I can potentially publish.
Anyway, enough for now, it’s almost two in the morning. Signing out.