I love reading, especially about witchcraft. But, there comes a time when I need to stop my endless quest for knowledge and actually do some witchery. I’ve got to burn that book, witch.
Most of us witches are always reading something in an attempt to advance our understanding of the craft. I’m definitely a bookophile, I read about four books a month. My thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. But, there’s a difference between book learning and wisdom. I’ve learned more about witchcraft through self-reflection and from studying the tides than all the books on witchcraft I’ve read combined. It’s in the doing of witchery that I’ve started to get wise about the craft. You might be thinking that this is a peculiar thing to recommend since I am a writer. It’s exactly because of this that I am saying “burn that book, witch.”
This Witch and the Written Word
I’ve been busy writing a book on Modern Hekatean Witchcraft in addition to writing here, on my Facebook page and developing content for the course I’m currently running. Then there’s the next course that starts on the Spring Equinox, the book of prayers to Hekate…you get the idea. I am always writing.
And always reading. Right now, I’m reading Christopher Penczak’s Ascension Magick again (maybe I’ll get it this time), rereading Hekate Liminal Rites, and taking small doses of Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. For some unknown reason, I’m also midway through a biography about Jane Austen. I’m sure the reason for reading this will be revealed in due course!
Then there’s all the blogs I regularly read, some very popular and a few completely obscure. Add on top of this pile everything I am reading as research for the book, my blogs, and the courses I teach.
You get my point. My life is devoted to the written word. I wouldn’t want it any other way. As I digest Man’s Search for Meaning, I keep thinking that a meaningful life comes from doing things, rather than reading about them. I doubt that Frankl would have developed his wisdom if he hadn’t experienced the horrors of concentration camps. I’m not saying that we only find wisdom through suffering, although a witches’ journey often does include a great deal of pain. We can look to our own painful experiences to find meaning in our lives and witchcraft.
Finding Meaning Through the Written Word
Through reading I am prompted to explore my own inner workings and to piece together my own life in a way that makes sense to me. Applying knowledge like this for personal development work is an attempt at becoming wise. Great books about witchcraft motivate us to do this sort of internal work. They push us towards wisdom. This is why we need them. However, if we are just engaged in reading to acquire information, we run the risk of not becoming wise. It is through applying our knowledge to self study that we can not only find meaning in life and our witches’ journey, but we can also become better at our witchery.
Into the Fire
Wisdom comes from closing our books and actually doing witchcraft. Sometimes, it’s enough to quietly close my books and contemplate things. With other books, I get busy doing the exercises that they contain. Then there are the times that I need to separate myself entirely from book-learning and do things that can truly teach me who I am and further develop my witchery. It’s time to do witchcraft rather than reading about how to do it. I need to burn that book, witch.
Early this morning, with this frame of mind, I decided to burn the first few chapters of Keeper of Her Keys: An Introduction to Modern Hekatean Witchcraft. I did this for a few reasons. First, I often burn things as a way of releasing them out in the world. Over the flames, I prayed that my book will find its way in the world to where it can best serve myself and others. Second, I’ve been feeling a little too much into the world of words lately, so I wanted to create separation between the written world and myself. Third, I very much want the spirit of the book to be imbued with the energy of doing witchcraft, not just reading about it. I want my future readers to be inspired to burn this book, too. My imagined audience should take my words as guideposts that inspire them to develop their own witchy wisdom.
Seeking the Balance of Knowledge and Wisdom
My whole book-burning mindset got started earlier this week. I was restless and out of sorts. Fortunately, I’ve figured out my personal remedy for this state – to go out into a wild and remote location. I’m blessed enough to already live in a tiny fishing village, but even this place gets to “people-y” for me at times. I felt disconnected from Hekate and my witchery. Off I went “up the shore” as we say around these parts. Hiking through the barrens and along the granite cliffs this time of the year is even more physically demanding because of the ice and snow. This exertion – and the bit of risk that comes with being in such a place – drains my ego and reconnects me to the energy currents that I use for devotion to Hekate and in witchery. No book has ever done this for me.
I’ve been exploring what balance means to me lately. In those flames this morning, I found the balance between knowledge and wisdom. The written word can only take me so far, then I have to do things with it – maybe even burn them. The flames burning in spite of their snowy underlay, shooting up towards the sky were truly magickal. Such a powerful reminder that balance is found by doing witchery and by reading about it. Too much of either is not good for me.
Burn that Book, Witch
I’m not advocating for burning actual books. It may not even be possible for some of you to burn things, or to wander along coastal bluffs. What I’m suggesting is that you symbolically burn your books. Forget about what you know. Lean into the mysteries of life. Search for meaning in your own witches’ journey. Do something, like going for a walk in the woods so you can study one tree and marvel at the mystery of the forest. Make up your own ritual or spell without using any external knowledge sources. This is where you’ll find true wisdom. Go for it – burn that book, witch.