There’s part of me that welcomes the current acceptance of witchcraft, but a deeper part cries out in protest. Witchcraft has always been on the margins of society, at the edge of the wild. Here in this liminal space, there was great freedom because the threat of confinement was always nearby. Our witch ancestors were of the wild in their connections to animals and plants, and the necessity of making the most of what they had on hand. I think that the wild and free witchcraft of days gone by is not nostalgic, but absolutely necessary.
Hell, Yeah. Taking Risks is Part of My Witchcraft.
Trembling all over, I forced myself to lean back further and further into thin air. Then I took that first step. As exhilarating as terrifying, I climbed down that 400 m (about the same in yards) rock face. At the bottom, I was met by another “mom” type – a complete stranger – who greeted me with “I can’t believe you did that.”
Honestly, I couldn’t either. Well, one part of me couldn’t, the other side (ah, the joys of being a Gemini) was like, “HELL, YEAH. Let’s do it AGAIN.” (I did several times, I love heights of all varieties.) Because while I was going down that cliff I felt wild and free. It’s that feeling of being truly alive I find when I’m getting a spell just right, or in flow during trance or climbing cliffs. Maybe it’s my internal horned goddess that drives me to conquer mountains. Like her, my need for the wild and free is a completely primal force.
Give Me More of That Old Time Witchcraft
This article is a follow-up to Give Me That Old Time Witchcraft I wrote a few months ago. “YES” was the message I received from so many of you. There seems to be vibe in the Witch World that craves the sort of primacy I do. A desire to return to a less structured version of The Craft. Too much organization (as much as part of me loves it), is not good for my soul. Perhaps not yours, either.
The Freedom of Our Witch Ancestors
Here’s the thing: me jumping off that cliff is akin to the risks taken by those old time witches just by being themselves. Queen Doreen (Valiente) has been whispering to me for at least the past six months, asking me to dance naked with her in the pale moonlight. I’ve never been one for going completely naked in a working because I hate feeling that vulnerable, but there’s merit in doing rituals without clothes because it is risky business. It’s wild and free.
Witchcraft in those days of yore was inherently risky business. Being identified as a witch could be literally life threatening. Through all my years of being a risk-taker, I have realized that it’s in taking those risks that we find freedom. That the wild is only sweet after knowing the confinement of the cage.
More directly about my point is that witchcraft requires risk. I wonder if in these days of acceptance (for the most part) of many witchy things (like fortune telling, meditation, essential oils) and the popularity of the witch aesthetic, if we aren’t taking a huge risk. I’m talking about losing the essential wildness of witchery.
The Wildness of Witchcraft
As a writer, the meanings of words are fascinating for me. Let’s explore the definitions of the word “wild.” We use it to describe things and people that are out of control. However, the original meaning refers to things being in a natural, untamed state.
Witchcraft today is risking losing that wildness. We have access to so many courses and products that we don’t even ever have to go hunting for spell ingredients out “in the wild.” How very unlike those old time witches especially the practical wise-women and cunning folk who I was talking about in my original article. They grew things, collected objects and even appropriated them in dubious ways. To this day, I believe that these are the best ingredients for our workings, whether for a spell or an offering to Hekate.
Neatly packaging witchcraft is like putting tigers in cages. It might be beautiful, but it’s both dangerous and nothing like the real thing. Witchcraft needs space, but more importantly it needs wild energy – animal spirits, botanical properties and the elements. Most of all, it needs wild places like the sites where those old time witches gathered.
Sweet Freedom is Accessible and Required
When we take risks and go out into the wild we get a taste of freedom that is often lacking in our modern lives. I’m not advocating for cliff jumping (though it is a blast), but for facing our fears and taking what I call “two safe steps to the left.” This can be as simple as writing your own spell if that’s slightly beyond your comfort level. Revealing your true self to someone you trust is another taste of wildness because you’re tapping into your own “naturalness.” You can find a spell to help with that here. Or you can get out in nature to forage for spell ingredients (always wear gloves and be responsible). Speaking of gloves, wild witchery for me includes daily work with various botanicals. Because I like to ignore rules, I burned my thumb dead-heading my aconite this morning. Sometimes, I push it a bit too far. BUT, 99.9% of the time my wild ways work out exceptionally well. My advice besides gloves: do your research, ask for tips, mash it all together and then get into the wild.
Wild witchcraft is about getting dirty. It’s not always pretty. Making a potion from wild harvested ingredients isn’t going to end up looking like an Instagram picture. But it’s as real as the witch. If we are going to keep pushing forward into mainstream society, I hope that we can retain a witchcraft that’s wild and free.
Simple Ways to Practice Wild Witchcraft
I mentioned a few ideas earlier, but here are a few more:
- Use bodily fluids in spells and rituals. If you are a menstruating female, figure out a way that’s right for you to include this monthly ingredient. I like the idea of offering it to Hekate as part of the Dark Moon ritual in the spirit of the ancient practice of giving her ritual leftovers.
- Go on a quest for spell ingredients, a new wand or something else. I often set an intention – or get an intuitive feeling – before going on a hike about a certain event or object that will come forward while I’m exploring.
- Encounter animals, especially your totems or familiars, in their natural habitat. Birds are everywhere. Sit in the park practicing shape shifting into your favorite local species. Crows are an obvious choice.
- Grow plants in your own home, maybe even risky ones like a poison. (Keep away from children and all the other safety procedures. Don’t touch that aconite with your bare hands – voice of experience speaking here.)
- Challenge your physical self. I think that the witches’ middle world self can get incredibly restless when we spend too much time in our heads. Witch it up by setting intentions or making it into a “correspondence quest.”
- Study a Wild Goddess, such as Artemis or especially that island-bound ultimate Wild Witch, Circe (I really need to write an article devoted to her.) Then seek their companionship while exploring the great outdoors. Circe, in my experience, is much more amenable to this than The Queen of Arrows.
- Connect with your witch ancestors by doing a trance journey to The Witches’ Realm.
Experiencing Wildness Helps Master It
Wild witchcraft is not just about the inherent joy of being an outlaw, it’s also the way we learn to control the natural forces that we work with in magick. The more I understand the natural world and push myself further, the better capable I am of creating spells that work the way I want them to (as opposed to the opposite…which no one wants.) Observation and experience are key ingredients to witchery, way more crucial than fancy products.
Create Your Own Wild Witchery
Those are just a few ideas. The best ones will always be those that you come up with because our imagination is the key to a witchcraft that’s wild and free. Those old time witches relied on their minds to solve problems, push their limits and to keep safe. Even though (most of us) live in a very different world today, we still need to cultivate this energy or risk losing what witchcraft has always been and should be. I need a witchcraft that’s wild and free and I think you might, too.
Freedom Doesn’t Need to Cost Much
I’ve used “free” as an expression of emotion during this blog, but it also means “inexpensive.” When it comes to wild witchcraft, the two can go hand in hand. Sourcing ingredients from nature (NEVER take more than what you need) is a very economical practice. You can read more about low-cost witchery in my ever-expanding list.
PS – Sometimes being free and wild means sharing a very unflattering image of yourself…go ahead and chuckle at my wobbly middle-aged self hanging in mid-air. It’s funny, uncomfortable but definitely wild and free.
Learn more about my course on Applied Modern Witchcraft that will help you create wild and free witchcraft, The Sacred Seven. My course on Modern Hekatean Witchcraft will be starting in the fall. Join the Keeping Her Keys Facebook community. Become a member of our group all about Applied Modern Witchcraft that is VERY wild: The Witches’ Realm.