Last month during the week of Thanksgiving I was invited to speak at an interfaith thanksgiving service at Christ United Methodist Church here in my hometown. I stood before a congregation of people I didn’t know as a witch representing Hekate and spoke about gratitude in conjunction with my faith and practice. A Hekatean witch speaking from a Christian pulpit is a marvel in and of itself. It is not so long ago that witches and those who weren’t even witches but were simply accused of the craft were persecuted, and it still happens even today. Yet there I was, reading from Yeats and sharing about the deipnon and the role of gratitude in witchcraft, then finding myself fist bumping the pastor’s husband at the end of the service and receiving acceptance from the other faith leaders and many in the congregation who attended. It was surreal and wonderful all at the same time.
Those of us on the path of the witch are surely used to any number of aggressions and micro-aggressions. I mainly interact with other witches and those interested in witchcraft/alternative spirituality at this point (and those who don’t but have accepted me long ago), so when it comes to interacting with those who aren’t involved in the community I feel the same trepidation I have always felt around those who aren’t involved, the same bracing for whatever vitriol is coming next. Though I am fully out as a witch and very much in the public eye, this internal response hasn’t gone away. When Pastor Elizabeth called me and asked me to participate, I knew I needed to do it. When I stood up at the pulpit my legs were shaking. I had the support of Hekate, of my ancestors, of my online coven, and yet my legs still shook.
I’ve been living in the paradox of being in the public eye and being a very introverted person. Like, peel an orange and find another peel underneath level of introverted. I share what I know, I make space for the sacred, I carry the torch that lights the way for others and provides them with the comfort and guidance they need, the very torch Hekate handed to me lit with the same fire she uses to guide me and comfort me through my own healing. But I don’t show my face that often. I don’t tell my story. And in public I still brace for the inevitable criticism or ignorant comment when I share about this “eccentric” part of myself. Sometimes I flat out avoid sharing it in new circles because it allows me to be more comfortable in the moment, even though it is a disservice to me and others in the long run.
Standing at that pulpit was the epitome of putting myself out there in a situation where bracing for the worst is natural. In a not so subtle way, that was the beginning of Hekate driving it home that I need to put myself out there fully, that I need to do what feels uncomfortable because it’s what honors me and honors her. It was also a reminder that I’m not responsible for how other people respond to me, that all I can do is represent myself with truth and integrity and the rest will work itself out. People can and do surprise. I was surprised by the warmth I received in a place (the church in general) that would have called for my death not so long ago. My gratitude to Pastor Elizabeth for creating a space of safety for people of all faiths and all walks to come and share, and for inviting me into it. Thank you for this precious gift.
I spent a great deal of my life learning how to remain unseen, while another part of me drove me to be seen in some way. I have hidden a great deal of myself, my experience, my knowledge, because I didn’t want to be too loud or take up too much space. I didn’t want to seem presumptuous. And in my meditations I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to start sharing more of myself, more of my story, to let go of false humility and shine. The sun doesn’t care who it blinds, after all. And because if not now, when? If you’re here for this, if you’re here for my story and this dive into the strange, welcome, and thank you for witnessing me.
To see the interfaith service, Click here – my contribution begins at about 15 minutes in.
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Featured image via pixabay.