I’m teaching my hereditary witch (otherwise known as my teenage daughter) the basics of modern paganism but we’re starting with basic energy and associations.
I described her first steps into ritual in this post
Since then, I’ve put together a small program with various learning objectives to ensure she gets the right kind of training at the right time.
When I teach adults, it seems natural to begin with the elements and their associations.
But that’s quite an abstract concept for younger teenagers. Their use of similes and metaphors probably isn’t as established as you’d expect. Whilst you don’t need to understand the elements to be a witch, I do feel the ability to draw links and associations is essential.
Being a witch for me is about picking up on things. How is my friend feeling today? What do my dreams mean? What does this omen represent?
Much of our symbolism is cultural, but I can’t expect my generational imagery to spark in her mind the same way it does in mine.
It’s important for my baby witch to learn what these things mean for her. After all, she’s the one sensing them. Not me.
Asking her what colour the element fire is or what animal she associates with water isn’t so useful. Instead, we started with emotions.
I asked her to think about different emotions – happiness, sadness, love, anger, hunger. We visualised these emotions one by one and considered how they made us feel. How did we stand? Where did we feel them on the body? Did they feel hot or cold? Energising or draining?
Then she created a list of various associations. We talked about what colour happiness was, what animal we associated with sadness, what food would love represent?
Emotional energy for young people is often felt in extremes.
They may be super guarded and protective, or they could be open and fluid and habitually absorb the energies of those around them.
They can be super confident and loud, or they can be apologetic and nervous, unsure of themselves and their changing bodies.
Happiness and sadness are also often felt as extremes.
As we teach paganism to young people, we’re eventually going to be asking them to command a circle and invoke elements.
Yet how can they do this without being able to command their own energy?
Casting a circle when you don’t feel confident in your own skin is difficult.
Much like learning theatre, the first step to witchcraft is being comfortable in who you are and using your voice.
This starts with learning where you start, and others end. It starts with being able to separate your emotions and feelings from those of the world around you.
Hence, we start by really focusing on what each of these energies feels like.
After we’ve taught our hereditary witches to sense emotions as energies, we can start to show them how to recognise the energy of themselves and their peers.
Many witches are extremely empathetic and find it hard to separate themselves from the world. Part of being a witch is learning to do this, firstly to prevent burn out, but also to be able to distinguish who you’re picking up messages from and for.
The next step therefore is really learning their own energy.
Who are they? How do they ‘feel’ energetically? What colour do they associate with themselves?
Once they’re aware of themselves they can start learning to shield and protect and strengthen their auras.
When they’re comfortable in where they begin and end, they can start to think about how their friends and family feel energetically.
Ask them to practise sensing who enters a room without looking up. Suggest they release their shields for a second or two when they meet friends and briefly sense how they think their friends are feeling that day.
This is also where the work on feelings comes into its own as they can begin to learn how they pick up psychism. They could sense as colours, or songs, or as temperatures. Try not to guide them towards what we assume their associations will be. Allow them to figure it out for themselves.
Part of learning witchcraft is learning about ourselves.
This is the second part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about how to train hereditary witches. Eventually it will become a stand-alone course which goes into far more detail than can be usefully covered in Patheos posts.