I have identified as a witch for almost twenty-years and my journey has deepened over the years. When I first realised that I could happily wear the ‘witch’ label, it felt as if part of my spirit had returned home.
To be honest, I really didn’t have much of a clue what that meant in practice. I was in uproar from my ‘normal’ life falling apart and the concept of witchcraft was far outside of my usual bounds. I had no idea that witches still existed nor that there were belief systems outside of traditional religion. It was all beyond my everyday existence, but a random book on the subject (well, actually about Wicca) fell into my lap and my life changed forever.
Finding witchcraft satisfied part of my yearning for understanding the mysteries. I didn’t realise that the journey unfolding would become integral to my very being. Nor did I realise that my quest for answers would lead me to more questions.
Like most people new to the witch game, it took me a while to find my feet. Life wasn’t so online orientated (it was back in the days of dial-up) so I devoured any books I could find. And I practised what I could – which really means, what I felt brave enough practising (I was half convinced I would accidentally summon a demon each time I lit a candle).
Even though I was not brought up in a religious household, Christian conditioning had still crept into my consciousness. The devil, demons, angels and the suchlike were figures I could identify with. Of course, witches were in league with the devil so did that make me an evil person? Had I unwittingly signed over my soul? There was a lot of unravelling to do.
Depending on your location, environment and upbringing, every newbie witch has to navigate the minefield of beliefs – to banish negative beliefs and to form new, empowering ones. Without doing this, you end up hovering on the surface of witchcraft and following the trends.
Witchcraft isn’t a path to take or tread lightly. Today, it might look like a fun fashion label to wear and a great hobby to collect all the must-have, mass produced paraphernalia. Hashtag witch is on fire.
What you commonly see is the New Age version of witchcraft. An amalgamation of concepts and ideas wrapped up in new, shiny pentagram paper.
Underneath the layers, witchcraft is far from pretty. It strips away your beliefs, as I mentioned before, and causes you to re-evaluate the world around you. Questions are your relentless companions and each time you think you have found an answer, challenges come up to question what you thought you knew. Over the years, I have come to realise that I know very little, nothing really. And yet I still quest.
My views on witchcraft have shifted drastically from my fledgling days. I no longer want to flirt with popular books outlining spells and rituals. I want to know the depth of witchcraft: the origins and the practices of my ancestors. This is a challenge in itself because it can only be educated guess work and information channelled from otherworldly (or should that be underworldly?) sources.
Witchcraft is far, far more than its hashtags would make you believe. It’s about finding yourself and understanding the calling. It’s about reconstructing your view of the world and working out how the new perspective fits in with modern life while honouring ancestral roots. It’s about walking with one foot in the past but practising in the here and now. It’s about being of service to the community and the Old Ones.