making it up: or why I think magick is a game of truth and dare

making it up: or why I think magick is a game of truth and dare July 28, 2023

I wanted to write about something else this week, but my brain has already forgotten what it was excited about, so this is a surprise entry.

(Not that you would know that unless I said anything…)

My friend Hilary took pictures of me before a ritual at California Witchcamp. As I was looking at them, reviewing them to see how they turned out, and if I looked as witchy as I wanted to look…I took myself back to that dusk, mosquito-laden moment.

I looked at her camera and said (more than) a few times, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Where do my hands go? How am I supposed to look magicky? I feel like an idiot.”

And she said, “Just be you.”

I took a breath, and pictures happened. And I looked like me (mostly – I’m still getting to know me, after all. Sometimes I don’t recognize her).

Sometimes I looked serious and like the witch I feel on the inside, sometimes I was laughing and making faces because being serious feels like a costume.

Trying to ‘be’ something makes me feel like I’m doing it wrong.

Photo: Hilary Buffum

Why So Serious?

Maybe it’s the neurodivergence. Maybe it’s society.

All I know is that this is the way I felt when I first tried on witchcraft: itchy and strange and out of place. And I (definitely) didn’t look cool enough to do it.

I thought I needed to be serious. To be perfect. To know what I was doing before I even learned to do it. To get it all right. To understand things quickly and completely.

To be born with it versus having to go through any learning curve or uncomfortable phase.

But…I’m still going through that. Thankfully.

Magick started somewhere (we’re not debating this, k?) or it was everywhere. Because magick is all things, all times, all ways, and all peoples. If magick originates and is inspired by the earth, then it is EVERYWHERE. It started with the first emergence of beings, however you describe that moment.

Magick is in our bones. It is a truth of existence. And it is a dare to continue to unfold it, to act with it and beside it. An ongoing spell of intention and creation.

And creation has never been neat, orderly, or entirely predictable.

And yet, I still feel that I need to be ‘serious’ to be ‘good’ or ‘effective.’ But…really? Magick is also the laughter that escapes my mouth when I tap into a joyful moment of ‘oh-crap-what-was-I-going-to-sing-here’ in the middle of a Samhain ritual. It is also the smile that creeps across my face when I recognize myself in the divine or when I step away from the fire because I already know what it will tell me.

What Happens at Witchcamp Stays at Witchcamp (not really)

At a camp (I’m consciously keeping this vague), I was part of a small, co-created ritual that asked me to tap into what I wanted to bring into my life. Like so much magick asks and dares.


I spoke into the space a desire for healing to be less earnest, more joyful. That I might laugh more, and live into the love spell I keep singing about. That I become a wide heart that feels it all. The truth. The dare.

And it felt bold. Bolder than anything I ever promised a godd I’d give up. Bolder than telling a large group of witches I would quit smoking before Hecate as a witness. (And I didn’t make good on that promise for a few years. Ooops.)

Bolder than stepping in the middle of a group to admit that I felt like an imposter priestess of Aphrodite because I believed (then) that I had failed at love.

I’m sharing this to offer something simple – magick is not about everything you need to learn and regurgitate so you sound well-read.

Magick is making it up because you are emerging as you will and as you do.

You can’t predict what is coming, you can meet it, though.

You can show up, take a breath, and do the best you can. Sometimes, it will be awkward, and you will make faces and say things you don’t mean, and it will be captured in the outtakes of a photo session with a beloved in the woods.

And sometimes, you will just settle into the moment and smirk.

And that’s the thing to do.

That’s the thing: to stand in your truth just as you are. You might change (likely), but in this moment, you are you. Let yourself be you.

Dare to be the you that shows up and stands up and says, “I am uncomfortable, and I am here.”

Make it up. We all are.

"I remember when my cat Walter was very sick, and I was beyond terrified of ..."

holding the unholdable: the magick in ..."
" -- The Reclaiming tradition has Witchcamps all year around the world. Vermont Witchcamp usually ..."

What I’m Packing for Witchcamp
"Yes -- thank you for sharing!"

Honoring the Wild: The Long Arc ..."
"Witch camp?? Is that actually a thing?? Anyway, I've been to this campground in Maine ..."

What I’m Packing for Witchcamp

Browse Our Archives