After taking a break from blogging for Patheos, I did not intend for my first serious post to be slamming another blogger, and yet here we are with a blogger begging for evisceration. Our illustrious leader here at Patheos Pagan, Jason Mankey, recently directed us to an Independent article written by Ceri Radford (2020, January 12) called “I spent a week becoming a witch and the results were worrying.” I have to say, they certainly were, enough so that I eventually re-edited this article to take out my peppering of swear words.
I read Ms. Radford’s post, felt my IQ points dropping as I did so, and had to step away for a week to be certain of how I felt about it before I decided to take it on. As much as I hate to give this piece any additional traffic, in the interest of full disclosure, I am compelled to include the link to it. Even pasting it into my pristine clean writing interfaces makes me throw up in my mouth a bit, but it does bring up an interesting consideration about our conversations with the Gods.
The article addresses the book The Modern Witch’s Guide to Happiness by Luna Bailey. Since Ms. Bailey suffered some slings and arrows in the Independent piece, maybe we should slip over to her Amazon link and buy the book to give her a win for the month. To say that the Independent blog post is appalling is an understatement. In the nearly four decades that I have been a Witch, I have become used to waving away insulting comments as if they were gnats. Like death and taxes, they will always haunt us and to spend time addressing them only gives them more power and makes them more important than they are. This one just hit me and many others wrong.
I could spend my words here easily picking apart her narrative and not even break a sweat. Of course, we in the Craft immediately know that anyone who thinks they can become a witch in a week is unworthy of serious attention. I am only now starting to truly get the hang of being a Witch myself and that is after decades of focused, concerted effort. Ephemeral, adaptive, and ever-evolving, Witchcraft is its own entity and you don’t so much get to know it, as it gets to know you.
The author’s comment of, “Standing in the light of a full moon to recite our resolutions may be harmless, but as a society we shun science at our peril” implies that Witches are ignorant and rejecting of science when in fact, Witchcraft IS science. That is the kind of insight you do not gain in a week but through years of serious study applying scientific theory and Newtonian concepts to the energy we channel when working magic.
You do not get to denigrate and mock an entire culture without taking a beating and by the time I got to the article, an army of well-spoken Witches was already swinging swords and brooms in the comment section taking her apart better than I ever could. That being the case, I decided to instead focus on one of her many painfully cynical and short-sighted comments referring to the Craft: “it’s all built on a wobbling base of bats***. No matter how many spells we cast to ask the universe for help, the universe isn’t listening.”
Is anyone out there?
“The Universe isn’t listening.”
We can argue that she specified spell casting to ask the Universe for help and one school of thought holds that energy for spell work comes from our own personal internal stores. Some believe it is a combination of personal and Divine energy that goes out into the world to create life change. Others believe we merely channel down the energy of our godhead and direct it toward our goals; that we are the rake, not the gardener. Praying is often maligned in Paganism as a word too Christian for comfort, but many of us, I would venture to say even most of us, pray to our Gods frequently.But are they listening?
Regardless of the label one assigns to their own personal Divine, we all go through crises of faith when we wonder if they are listening. God, Goddess, the Gods, the Creator, the Universe… we always want whatever we worship to be bigger and badder and smarter and stronger and more omniscient than we are, don’t we? Many of us babble to our Gods all through the day, but do they listen?
The Universe IS listening
One of my mentors from decades ago used to say, “The Universe believes what you tell it.” If you say, “I am such a failure” or “I will never love again” or “I just can’t do this task,” the Universe listens, agrees, and reinforces your statement by sending affirming experiences to you.
One of the most difficult concepts for me to teach my magical students is “Your words have power.” My belief is that we must be so careful about what comes out of our mouths because as another of my mentors said, “We work magic with the blink of an eye.” In the Bible, Jesus says, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” (Matthew 15:11) If we truly wish to claim our power as a Witch or other magical practitioner, it is essential that we maintain accountability for the power of our words.
Why? Because the Gods are listening. Our words affect the well-being of others. Words weave magic in the world and create outcomes. Our words are part of what defines us in life. Author Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The most common way we affect the feelings of another person is with our words. I wrote about this at length in a previous Patheos post called “The Power of Words.” If we accept that our words have power here on the earthly plane and create outcomes, it is a short jump to the presumption that yes, the Gods listen to and have an interest in what we say.
Be truthful, be kind, be pertinent, and be helpful
Ultimately, we must come to our own conclusion about concepts regarding not only the existence of Gods but whether they are listening to us if they are, in fact, there. My own experience consistently reinforces that yes, something is there listening and responding, regardless of what we call it.
Perhaps, however, Ms. Radford is absolutely correct with her statement. “No matter how many spells we cast to ask the universe for help, the universe isn’t listening.” Maybe the Universe listens to us if we say something worth hearing and maybe, just maybe, the Universe isn’t listening… to her. We should likely take a cue from the Gods and not listen to her either.
Radio personality Bernard Metzler said, “Before you speak, ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, and is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.” In practice, we should at least try for three out of those four. Ms. Radford’s post as not truthful because it did not even hit close to the mark in effectively representing Witches. I will go so far as to say it is impossible to perceive the article as kind. It served no point other than to insult, minimize, and ridicule what others take very seriously, so it was unnecessary. The post most assuredly was not helpful for each of the first three reasons. No wonder she chose to take The Modern Witch’s Guide to Happiness as the book to try and take to the carpet. With that kind of approach, she has little chance of finding happiness anywhere, bless her heart.