We’ve all come across this at some point, people saying what real witches do and don’t do. The irony is that you’ll see the same statements interchanged with whether or not witches do it, based on the witch saying it. “Real witches [don’t] curse.” or “Real witches [don’t] use crystals.” or “Real witches [don’t] work with deities.” It is the worse form of witchsplaining in action, but most of all comes across as grandstanding their authority on the subject. Grandstanding almost always comes from a place of insecurity. I think making statements about what “real witches” do and don’t do is just as dangerous as encouraging people to take their magick frivolously and not put any serious thought into their practice, training or the positive or negative consequences of the use of any magick.
Most interestingly is that it seems when these people try to argue why they believe this, it comes down to one of two areas – witchcraft as a magickal science and witchcraft as a spirituality or religion. While these two areas often intersect, these are two distinct things and not always packaged together for witches nor does it always need to be.
Alchemy in a lot of ways is very similar in this sense. Alchemy is a magickal science for some while others have alchemy as their main spiritual path. What would be more effective, if you truly want to help someone out is to share your point of view with anecdotes of the results you have witnessed in your magick and that of others.
I have been watching for the last couple of weeks people spouting their reasoning for their opinions based on their belief (or lack) of witchcraft as a spirituality and belief (or lack) of witchcraft as a magickal science and feel that the arguments seem to usually fall quite short and limited in their points of views in both areas, but it’s not my place to impose my opinions or beliefs on other people without being asked, especially strangers. One of the things that is beautiful about witchcraft is its lack of central authority and dogma and the diversity of magickal paths this creates as a truly Aquarian practice.
When we make blanket statements of absolute certainty about witchcraft we begin sewing the seeds of dogma. Challenging ideas and bringing in different viewpoints and voices keeps us from being dogmatic and I find that I usually only interject when witches start making claims of certainty and sweeping generalization of witchcraft when there’s strong evidence to the contrary. Because as we have seen with other religions and spiritualities throughout history, dogma is the seeds of the weeds that will turn into extremism and fundamentalism and strangle out everything that is beautiful about the craft. Everything should always be questioned and discussed.
The witch is historically the non-conformist, often living on the outskirts of the village instead of actively participating in it. The witch is the heretic in the eyes of group-thought, the one who walks alone down the crooked path instead of the straight or bent paths. The witch is historically marked as other, being under no authority of another, including the gods themselves – free and sovereign to do as they Will. People are often surprised to find out that I am not pro-cursing. I am not anti-cursing either. I believe in “do what thou Will shall be the whole of the law”. Will with a capital W. Your Higher Will. Everyone’s Higher Will is different and takes them down a different path. It is not my place to tell witches that they are real or not real for following my ideas or perception of what witchcraft should or shouldn’t be.
Now, do I think that there’s self-proclaimed witches that seem to have no idea what they’re talking about and probably couldn’t cast a spell to walk out of a door? Absolutely. But I don’t feel threatened by these people and furthermore I could be completely wrong about them. Just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a witch in their own world. Their magick has absolutely nothing to do with my own and I am secure enough in my own power to not feel the need to tell others how wrong I perceive their witchcraft to bring legitimacy to my own. I am secure in my magick because I know it works. I don’t need others to validate my magick and I don’t need to invalidate the magick of others to know that I am a witch.
This is where the sovereignty of the witch seems to come in. This is also why I don’t feel the need to prove my magick to others. They don’t need to believe it. That doesn’t effect me in any way, shape or form. Their opinion does not take away from my power because I do not believe that my craft works, I know that my craft works. At the same time this isn’t a free-pass to stay stubborn and ignorant or set in one’s ways without an open mind. There are often times that I come across certain methods of folk magick and have seen people achieve success with them when it should go against the “science” of how magick works.
Perhaps if others put as much time and thought into living and creating magick from a place of personal authenticity and honest evaluation, they might not have to feel threatened by others and scold others for not living up to their “right way” to do things. Then again, perhaps not. However, my personal goal has been to focus more on my own craft, and not on the magick of strangers unless I am formally teaching or training them, in which case I still try to just show various ideas, options and paths as well as the occult or metaphysical theory of “science” behind it. What they do with it or how they choose to incorporate it in their lives is up to them.
I rather empower people to find their own path and their own relationship with magick than dictate it to them. I have seen my own beliefs shift and evolve over the years through experience, so I know not to take stock in what I’m currently believing. Instead I try to take a more “scientific” approach of understanding what I know as true for myself from repeated real results, while acknowledging the paradox that just because I got results through my ways doesn’t mean that others can’t get results in a completely different way that flies completely contrary to my own methods.