There’s a special comfort in knowing things for certain, but all too often in life, ambiguity is our closest companion. We can choose to walk with uncertainty or run away out of fear. While I love dancing in the in-between with my dear friend uncertainty, there are a few things I know for sure.
The Magic Of Ambiguity
I’m comfortable with a high degree of ambiguity. In fact, if you ask people who know me well, they’ll tell you of my deep affection for complexity. When the path ahead, or the decision at hand, is less than obvious, I am at my best. The straight, paved road is not mine to walk. The crooked path of the witch who’s lived long enough to know that very little in this life is for certain is where my dirty bare feet can be found.
Being A “Baby” Witch And The Burning Need For Answers
Way back when I was actively starting to practice witchcraft, I had a burning need for answers. Even now, the fire of anxiety associated with these early times is easily rekindled when I think about that earlier version of me. She wanted to know how to fix everything that was wrong with her, everyone around her and the entire world.
All these years later, I am happy to report that I have discovered how to fix everything. Unfortunately, insta-spells, rocks in my bra and elaborate rituals weren’t the answer. In general, witchcraft as action – by this I mean doing workings – is often focused on egoic things like manifesting a new job or finding true love. None of these things is the answer, at least not for me. Instead, what I’ve learned is that the way to fix anything is to contemplate, plan and do the work. Sometimes, the only thing possible is to accept what’s happening. We can still contemplate, plan and do the work, but it’s all about acceptance. I’ve been grumpy lately about the plethora of posts on social media begging for help with spells, interpreting tarot cards, identifying the spirits in photographs and other similar acts by those desperate for answers. I get that, even if it does annoy me at times.
Seeking Spiritual Maturity
The search for answers is at the heart of the witch’s journey. However, the answers we find when we truly seek the mysteries are often of a decidedly immaterial nature. We reach a place of spiritual maturity where we can do the work necessary to solve our everyday problems, whether with witchery or otherwise, without being immersed in it. We can grow into being in the world, without being of the world. We achieve this by breaking down the illusion of separation, a requirement for doing so is dancing with ambiguity. As above, so below can only be truly understood when we stand in the in-between.
Ambiguity: A Trusted Ally
Fundamentally, for those of us seeking the deeper world, we’ll never be satisfied with material abundance. Relationships, cars, houses, designer handbags and such things won’t bring satisfaction. Even the objects we acquire in the pursuit of metaphysical prowess can leave us feeling empty. That’s because the energy signature of most things, excepting the ones that speak to our truth, are reflections of our shadow self, the desperate, fearful side of us who just wants someone or something to give us all the answers. When we reach the place of living our truth, ambiguity becomes a trusted ally.
Ambiguity is a spirit to me, like all the others emotions and states of beingness. It has a personality, an appearance and it’s own free will. She wears flowing grey skirts and hides her face. She dines on veggie patties smothered in bacon. Cigarette in one hand, super-green juice in the other. Ambiguity is not lazy, but she can appear frozen because there are so many forces pulling on her at any given moment. I am ambiguity and she is me.
The liminal space between choices is where I dance with ambiguity until I discern the best course of action. I’ve had a week that’s been so full of epic choices that it seems like too much for seven days to contain. In the end, I decided to take a huge risk because if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s than fortune favors the bold. Read on for my list of thirteen other things I know for sure. I’m offering this up for discussion, and perhaps to inspire you to create your own list.
#1 Magic, as in a general force, is real
I recently attempted to summarize my complex views of Hekate and the deeper world because I feel it’s important that we discuss the ways we perceive the general force that infuses all the world, even if we don’t believe in it. For me, the Anima Mundi is very real. How I choose to perceive it is up to me, perhaps based on some sort of divine communication or personal preference. I have immense respect for those who take the time to contemplate what magic means to them.
For me, this force is both creation and destruction, life and death, fear and love. This force requires friction, from human conflict to wildfires.
#2 Magick, as in specific energies/spirits, is real
The force that fuels the world presents itself in ways that we are able to perceive, from ghosts to faces in trees. For those of us who practice witchcraft, magick, or another form of energy work, we connect to these forces, petitioning and bending them to our will. The difference between magic and magick is crystal clear to me: one is the general operating principle of the world and the other is what we do with it. Miracles are magical; witchcraft is magickal.
#3 Where focus goes, energy flows
This is true, and it is tricky, and it is a pain in my ass. More accurately, it’s a pain for my authentic self because my shadow side thinks it hurts so good. Indulging in all manner of harmful behaviors from self-defeating thoughts to gossip distracts us from living our truth. But, sometimes, I really need to vent. Awareness of the thoughts and behaviors that keep us from being all we are meant to be is the first step. Then we have to refrain from doing it. One of my favorite practices is, “just for now,” as in “just for now I am not going to let myself think I am fat,” or “just for now, I will not talk about so-and-so’s outrageous behavior.” I’ll end up mired in the spiritual muck if I’m into super-shadowy actions, feelings and behaviors.
#4 To those who choose to see it, life is both magical and magickal
Shifting away from shadow energy opens up the space within us to see just how absolutely amazing this life is. There is magic all around us, from singing birds to the sleepy smile on our lover’s face. When I reach a state of blissful calm in meditation, I am in the magic. As a practitioner of witchcraft, my chosen form of energy work, magick is real when I choose a tarot card that perfectly reflects the guidance I need or when my spell is successful. There is no separation between magic and magick: they are one and the same. The difference is in how we interact with it.
#5 Focusing on the magic and working the magick yields real growth
There are times when I am frustrated with witchcraft because too many practitioners remain in the shallow end of the magical pool. Emphasizing quick-fix spells and elaborate rituals rather than diving into the more meaningful depths of the deeper world. Witchcraft, and other forms of energy work, can yield real spiritual growth or it can be entirely egoic. I’m not judging what anyone else does, but, for me, I need to hold my breath and go deeper. The more we focus on true magic, the stronger our connection to the unseen forces becomes, thereby strengthening our ability to use magick to resolve problems and manifest things. Spiritual and/or magical bypassing occurs when we focus on the results rather than the process.
#6 This is because the law of the universe is growth
Every year, the landscape around me falls to ruin, and, then, almost miraculously, each spring the verdant world returns to life, growing greener, taller and stronger. Spiritually speaking, each incarnation of ours is an opportunity for our soul’s to progress further. When we resist, stagnation occurs. We get stuck. Distress, despair and fear become our allies because we refuse to accept the primal force of the universe always bends towards growth. It can be exceptionally slow at times, but it’s there. Resisting this growth is futile.
#7 Growth only occurs after destruction
Growth doesn’t occur without destruction and friction. We can’t evolve without conflict and pain. This is all necessary to correct unbridled growth. However, when I was first starting out on my quest to understand the unseen world and my place within it, I just wanted the good stuff. Only focusing on growth gets us into real spiritual trouble. Not understanding that magick/energy work requires both destruction and creation leads to a sort of “fluffy” mentality, wherein unresolved shadow energy reigns supreme.
#8 The crossroads is where we can choose to grow or turn back in fear
The crossroads is the spiritual space where we can choose to dance with ambiguity, face our fears, and choose to grow. Or not. When we are on a sincere quest to understand ourselves and the deeper world, we’ll often end up at yet another crossroads. This is because we are aware of the potential changes within our embodied selves and how our choices impact our soul’s progression. We aren’t alone at this junctures, spirits and corporeal friends can be a valuable source of support and wisdom. Reaching out to them is truly magic(k)al. Ultimately, we stand in the crossroads on our own.
#9 This is not meant to be easy
If there was one thing I would tell my younger self and anyone who is desperate for a quick improvement it is this: all things worth having come with a price. The quest for understanding ourselves and the deeper world always involves spending plenty of time in our personal hell. The only way out of hell is through. Sometimes our choice at the crossroads is to walk straight into it. When we are in hell, we can choose to handle it with acceptance, grace and tenacity, or wallow in self-pity and shame. Choose wisely.
#10 Self-evaluation is a requirement
It’s often said, including by yours truly, that the only rule that matters in witchcraft is to know yourself. I’ll take this a step further to say it’s the whole point of this journey we’re on. If we could only all get to the place where reflection replaced desperation, then the world would be a much kinder place. However, friction is necessary. So on we go, learning from our mistakes, making new ones ,and then learning some more.
#11 Witchcraft, to me, is a practice that leads to deepening spirituality
I’m sometimes asked, “why witchcraft?” True that I could choose a more acceptable label, but that wouldn’t be speaking my truth. I’ve come too far on this path to reject what feels authentic to me. By casting spells and performing rituals, I become more immersed in the unseen world of plant spirits, imagination and source. Witchcraft, to me, is breaking down the illusion of separation. It’s not about getting a new car, although I’ve certainly worked the magick to manifest one.
#12 The shadow is our greatest teacher
Often when we are in the in-between, dancing with ambiguity, it’s a threesome with our shadow selves. That shadow reminds us of the past, of our weaknesses and our hurts. The shadow is not to be destroyed, but calmed. This is accomplished by listening to what she has to say without letting her run our lives. The more we deny the shadow’s wisdom, the more we are in her grip.
#13 At the end of it all, I have to be true to myself. This means admitting failure, saying no, and risking being unpopular
This is a hard boundary for me right now since I’ve just rejected certainty in order to pursue my purpose. Part of this process has been to admit to myself that I’ve failed in some areas. This hits me the worst when I realize that I’ve betrayed myself, which can happen when we are too nice rather than choosing kindness. Kindness begins by treating ourselves well, being authentic and sovereign. Niceness is letting people violate our boundaries because that shadow of ours fears rejection. The only thing that matters is being proud of the person we see in the mirror. That’s magical.
That’s my list of thirteen things I know for sure, I’d love to hear your personal truths.