I am a big fan of yours and have a question that I am kind of embarrassed to ask but thought you were (the) perfect person to reach out to.
Some quick backstory: December of 2017 I had a really intense ritual where the “Man in Black” came to me, carved the word witch into my chest, and told me that when I was ready to “actually step into my power” he’d be there. I had some dreams that followed which really identified him as the Witch Father to me. Now, that’s the most real call I’ve ever felt from the “gods”.
Later, I found Black Rose Witchcraft and was working through it. I was so enamored by the sabbath meditation- there was the witch father as I had seen him, and it was a very palpable magical experience. However, it scared me. I’ve never worked with Gods, although I’ve fiddled around with trying to. I was raised in a non-religious household, so it’s been hard for me to truly believe in any form of deity.
My biggest fear is how real it all is, and that I will lose my sense and ability of autonomy in a working relationship with this figure. I don’t want to lose a sense of control and autonomy over my life.
So, there is my question: is this fear unfounded? How do you maintain your autonomy when working with the gods? How do you find the balance of stepping into the power without being overridden by the power of something that feels so big to me? Any insight is welcome.
Dear God-Fearing Witch,
Thank you for writing to me and for your permission to take this to the blog! I don’t think you are alone in your fear of losing yourself when it comes to partnership with the more potent spiritual forces that we work with in the occult. This is a discussion I have with every single one of my students because how we choose to approach this will create major ripples in our personal philosophies and approaches to witchcraft in general. Depending on how you view divinity (and even spirits themselves), these partnerships can come fully loaded with issues but are also capable of bringing great reward. The only question you need to answer is; what do you want from your relationship with them? To really dive into this, we are going to need to make a few distinctions and look at the possibilities surrounding them.
In my experience, the average witch has some sort of partnership with “the gods.” These are usually devotional in nature and allow the witch plenty of room for polytheistic exploration. Perhaps there is an altar or statue, maybe a special candle or two, and of course at least a book or two featuring work related to the deity. But in general, the relationship looks more like you are casually dating with no intention of settling down just yet. There is nothing wrong with this. Most of us come from spiritually abusive religious backgrounds or, in your case, are coming in to all of this with a truly fresh perspective and going deep just isn’t realistic at this time.
When reading just about any 101 book out there we are presented with a list of gods and what they are known for. We are told to pick one and try them out, get to know them, and eventually one or several will stick. Sometimes this leads to working with gods of different pantheons or even obscure gods that might otherwise remain unknown if it weren’t for something you read in a book. But for the most part, it is through that period of trial and error (dating if you will) that the seeds of the deeper work are sewn.
This is also one of the most important parts of the whole process. This is when you get to see if you and the spirit are a good fit. I work with the goddess Diana, but if you were to ask me about her I would likely tell you things that don’t resonate with the classic roman goddess of the hunt. To me, she has many layers and many faces and is one half of the entire universe. Her going from moon goddess to being half of everything in existence was a very long and personal discovery. One that others have made before me who were introduced to her through the book Aradia: Gospel of the Witches, but not one that can be taught nor one that is going to fit for everyone. Diana and I “dated” for a long time before we got serious.
During this period, I met a lot of other witches who had deeper than average connections with their gods. Some of them believed, in a similar way to Abrahamic belief, that humanity was made to serve the gods. That to truly know them required serious devotion, unquestionable faith, and a surrendering of one’s own free will. These witches were powerful, undeniably so, but the idea of living in spiritual servitude wasn’t exactly my thing. I was never looking for a new personal lord and savior. I did, however, initially follow this example, because it was all I knew.
Luckily, that wasn’t what my deities wanted of me, quite the opposite. They weren’t even willing to get serious until I had figured myself out. That meant knowing who I was without them, who I wanted to be with them, and what I was and was not willing to do for them. Like any good life partner, being around them made me want to be a better person. At first, I wanted to be worthy of their attention, but eventually I figured out that what they wanted of me was not to be a slave, but a partner in the flesh. I learned that it was ok to doubt them, question things I was experiencing, and that they had to prove their worth to me as well. I have something they want; spiritual dedication and attention. In this way we have a symbiotic relationship.
Yes, they are powerful spirits and are far more than I will ever understand, but they are spirits none the less. Like all spirits, we have the ability to set the rules and our own expectations when working with them. The degree of intimacy will grow over time and those expectations may change. It is normal to fear the loss of autonomy when you experience something larger than yourself.
I think it is actually a necessary part of what it means to explore the occult and travel the path of mysteries. But if that fear is a response to being faced with the unknown than it isn’t serving you as an occultist, it is only keeping you from fulfilling your potential. If you felt like you were in serious physical danger, then maybe that spirit isn’t for you.
The fear goes away, the trust builds, and the relationship will either prove fruitful or not. As the saying goes, “the proof is in the taste of the pudding.” Trust that you know what is best for yourself and allow the partnership to grow overtime like any other relationship you are choosing to commit to. Be as diligent in your standards with the gods as you are with your lovers, and all should be well. If you don’t trust yourself to find the right lover, then the journey begins there.
Best wishes on what comes next!
Send your “Dear Devin” letters to firstname.lastname@example.org and label them “Dear Devin” in the subject line.