There is a sentiment we have heard from some of our 3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast listeners over the past year. These particular listeners are often new to the Craft, or returning after a long absence, and feel as if they are not “witchy” enough.
One thing which may be contributing to this idea of not being “enough” is that many Witches and Pagans today are Solitary practitioners. Interest in Wicca, Witchcraft, Heathenry, Druidry and other pagan traditions has seen significant growth over the years. Many people who come into these spiritual paths are in areas where others of like-mind are hard or impossible to find. There may be no covens, kindreds, groves or groups working in the local area of those who’ve determined to follow an esoteric path.
Therefore, these people must find a majority of their information via the internet through Google or Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. There is also a dizzying array of books published from which a new Witch or Pagan can choose but it can be hard to find what is best for them with nobody to guide or direct their choices.
For the Solitary Witch or practitioner, there is no authority figure, governing body, or personal teacher who can guide or correct what they do in the Craft or how to proceed on their spiritual path. Autonomy in spiritual practice is one reason many Solitaries choose the Craft, but for someone coming out of a structured religion, having no one but yourself to turn to for guidance can be daunting. Additionally, some people struggle with a need for validation that what they are doing is right and good. When they don’t have access to such assurances, many beginners will begin to question or doubt their choices.
So, people will follow The Witches of Instagram, Pinterest, or the many pages and groups on Facebook (including 3 Pagans and a Cat) looking for guidance and find pictures of gorgeous altars, or they will read descriptions of what other Witches and Pagans are doing in their practice or the relationships they share with their Deities. Then when some of these beginners look at their own altars, compare their candle spell to one which is more elaborate, read an opinion piece about what “real witchcraft looks like”, they begin to worry about their practice or spiritual path.
Here is my two cents, for what it’s worth.
Comparing one’s practice to someone else’s can only hinder spiritual growth, cause apathy and do real damage to a person’s sense of self. People begin to ask: “Should I be following this spiritual path? Is practicing witchcraft a passing fad for me? Am I smart or good enough to be a…(insert pronoun here)?”
Car, Ode and I have touched on this topic in past podcast episodes. We’ve participated in a thread about self-doubt on our Facebook Group. This concern came up again a few weeks ago during a conversation with some listeners on our Discord. But what really got me thinking about this issue of self-doubt is an article by Martha Kirby Capo posted on The Corner Crone, giving a name to this downward spiral thought process.
The technical term is Imposter Syndrome and according to a Wikipedia quote shared by Martha in her article it is defined as “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”
In my opinion, the “Am I Witch enough?” question is self-doubt realized in this subconscious Imposter Syndrome. I’ve witnessed self-doubt work its way through one person to the point she sold all of her occult books and left the path believing her interest in witchcraft to be a fad because her spells didn’t seem to work and she wasn’t as “witchy” as other people. Now, whether this sentiment is true or not is moot. The young woman embraced her doubts and made a decision based upon those feelings.
After learning about Imposter Syndrome and joining in a discussion about the topic in one of the witchcraft Facebook groups to which I belong, my first thought was “I’ve never had Imposter Syndrome in regard to the Craft. Maybe as a writer or public speaker, sure, but not as a Witch.”
However, as I write about self-doubt and how such thinking plays out in one’s life, I’m no longer sure if my assertion is correct. Let me tell you a bit more about my journey to becoming the Witch I am today. Maybe doing so will help me suss the matter out for us both, dear reader.
My first introduction to the Craft came in 1995.
I was a young mother with two children under the age of five with a husband who traveled every week for work. We had one car and he needed it so I was at home alone with no transportation Monday – Friday.
Our apartment was a few blocks from a library, so once a week I’d pack my children in a stroller and off we’d go on an excursion. Lucky me, every time I walked through the door the librarians declared it “Kid’s Story Hour.” Those ladies would whisk my children off for cookies, juice, stories and art activities leaving me free to wander the book aisles for an hour.
My family raised me to be a Christian and I’d followed those teachings all my life despite being a clairsentient medium since early childhood and being drawn to witchcraft for as long as I can remember. As I wandered the rows of books I’d be drawn to the religion section, searching for answers to spiritual questions I’d been ignoring for years. One day I found a book which changed my life: Ariadne’s Thread – A Workbook of Goddess Magick by Shekinah Mountainwater.
The book introduced me to Wicca, goddess worship, and the modern practice of witchcraft.
The story is much too long to share in this post but suffice it to say my perspective changed on a lot of things upon reading that book. Questions about spirituality and deity were answered in a new way for me and more questions spawned from there. I was unable to embrace Wicca for almost five more years. When I did make that choice, my spiritual journey brought me into goddess worship and witchcraft through Wicca, Traditional WitchCraft and then Christian Witchcraft.
Like I said, it’s a long story.
For eight years I explored my spirituality, learning about witchcraft through books such as A Witch Alone by Marion Green, Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler, Scott Cunningham’s work, Dorothy Morrison and Laurie Cabot’s books, Silver Ravenwolf, as well as being trained by a mentor for two years. Even so, there was this kernel of self-doubt rooted in fear from over thirty years of Christian teaching and biblical indoctrination to overcome.
Everything I did as a Witch felt right and like coming home to my true self.
However, the fear of punishment by an angry God, or of leading my kids into punishment by teaching them about the Craft, always prickled at the back of my mind. Self-doubt which led to me stopping and starting my witchcraft path multiple times, culminating in a return to Christianity for almost a decade. A decision which returned me to ignoring my psychic abilities or viewing them through a narrow lens and writing two books for Christians on why they should stay away from witchcraft by regurgitating the aforementioned indoctrination with an evangelical zeal which is now a little scary when looking back.
Did I feel like an imposter when so overwhelmed by self-doubt and fear?
Never as a Witch, but as a Christian? Yeah, maybe on some level I did, especially after experiencing a spirituality so different than the one I’d known growing up. Maybe as a Christian, I’d been believing in something because it was status quo and the “safe” choice. But I can remember asking questions even as a child and receiving answers that didn’t satisfy. Accepting a religion which I believe has never been true for me, not in the way a religion or spiritual belief is meant to be true. Not in the way spiritual belief is meant to help you become your best self.
Hmmm. Maybe I’ve wandered into another topic here.
I mean, there are legitimate times to question if you are no longer sure you are heading in the best spiritual or religious direction. Times when choices need to be made. Maybe the difference is in the types of questions being asked and how those questions make you feel about yourself. If your questions make you feel unworthy or delegitimize your practice or path because of comparison to others, maybe it’s time to reflect on why you would be prone to devalue what you do, say, or believe.
So, if those types of questions do start coming to mind – Am I really a Witch? Is this spellcrafting stuff real or am I kidding myself? Is my altar good enough? Do I have to let people know I’m a Witch? Are robes or complicated rituals necessary to become a real Pagan? – please remember to ask yourself these questions, borrowed and adapted from a blog post written by Ode’s friend, Kiya on finding a spiritual path or religion:
- Does being a Witch or Pagan improve you?
- Does being a Witch or Pagan make you happy?
- Do you find Witchcraft or your chosen Pagan tradition/religion beautiful?
If you can answer yes to even one of these questions then you are doing fine.
All the trappings, comments, or pictures shared on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook which might be causing you to doubt, worry, or compare yourself to some other Witch or Pagan is a person putting their best image of themselves forward to the world. Also, remember if you are a Solitary Witch or Pagan the only person you have to answer to is yourself and whatever deities you might honor.
I’ve said it on our podcast before and I’ll say it again now.
You are Witch enough.
Allow yourself to have an expression of spirituality, practice, belief, or tradition which is unique to your true self, however that looks. Don’t worry about how some other person works their Craft. Get ideas, inspiration, and whatever you need but add your own touch of magick. In the end, that’s all that really matters.