Witches are walkers between the worlds. To me, we exist in the liminal spaces. We bring the Dreamtime and the physical realm together. We speak to gods and spirits on behalf of ourselves and others, and we often allow gods and spirits to speak to others through us. We heal bodies and we heal souls and we cause changes to resonate from the astral to the material
A witch is one part shaman. Shamans are the healers of the tribe. They know the lore of natural medicines and healing processes. They know the ways of the animals and plants upon which the tribe depend for sustenance; they know the rhythms of the seasons so that the tribe can prosper in accordance to their ways. They speak to the spirits of the land to gain this lore; the spirits of the psyche to heal the mind and soul; and the spirits of the dead to process grief. They ask the Gods Their will and wisdom and do their best to interpret these for the good of the tribe.
A witch is also a magician. She (or he) causes change. She is a catalyst, a transformer. She takes action. She makes stuff happen. Sometimes this is accomplished through magick; that is to say, through influencing probabilities in favor of a desired outcome. Sometimes this is accomplished by taking physical action. And sometimes this is accomplished simply by changing perspective.
In order to be able to do these things, a witch must exist in the spaces between. He (or she) must lurk on the fringes of society like the Lady of Shalott because only then can he see the scene clearly. He must challenge taboos because only in pushing the limits can the true scope of probability be grasped. He must have his head in the clouds but keep his feet firmly on the ground, or the wisdom he gleans from the world of spirit serves no earthly good. He must revel in physical being (“sing, feast, dance, make music and love”) but remain focused on spiritual things. He must find the spiritual in the material.
A witch must do her best to balance reason and intuition, and not become too attached to either, but accept that both are ways of “knowing.”
I think that as a result, a witch by necessity learns not to polarize things too much after a few years. Regardless of tradition, a witch learns to think in terms of “yes, and” rather than “either, or.” She learns that between one perspective and another perspective is usually where the truth actually lies. Or perhaps even both perspectives are truth.
I’ve decided to call this blog “Between the Shadows” because to me, this is what witchcraft is all about: finding those in-between places, celebrating them and learning to thrive there. A shadow is neither light nor dark. It is neither life nor death. It is gloaming, it is twilight. And there’s where the witches dwell.It can be a weird (Wyrd?) existence, dwelling in the liminal places. I find that I am often seen as being on the opposite side of the fence from whomever I’m talking to; and usually, my opinion is somewhere in the middle of things. Not undecided, not on the fence. Firmly in the middle.
Even among other witches I am often seen this way. My tradition originates in BTW witchcraft and adds a fair smattering of a lot of North American witchcraft elements. Eclectics see me as hierarchical and hidebound; traditional witches see me as eclectic. Ritual magicians see me as a sort of hedgewitch; hedgewitches see me as an occultist. I’m good with that. This tells me I’m right in the liminal space, right where I want to be.
Because I exist on the fringes, sometimes I have opinions which seem completely off the beaten track. And sometimes, I seem overly conservative. But that’s because each and every opinion is entirely my own. Neither did I simply accept that whatever I was told was true, nor did I immediately fight against it simply because it was the way things were. And just because I hold one opinion, another is not excluded. Yes, and. YMMV. And I think most witches are like that.
For me, life is a constant Schrödinger’s cat of possible outcomes, many of them depending on perspective and expectation. And the truth is that we all hover between life and death anyway, with each possibility equally at hand from moment to moment. Or, as Stephen King wrote in his rhetoric about writing and horror, Danse Macabre: “We tumble from womb to tomb, from one darkness and towards another, remembering nothing of one and knowing nothing of the other: except through faith.”
Here are tales and thoughts from the fringes. I choose to take twin torches in hand and walk in both worlds at once. I’ll stand at the threshold and look through the portal first in one direction, then the other. I hope you’ll join me in the crossroads. To me, Samhain, when the Veil is thin, seems the perfect time of year to begin.