When I’m faced with doubt and uncertainty I find solace in Witchcraft. When my world seems to be spinning out of control I look to my Craft for comfort and guidance. Witchcraft can’t fix everything, but it can make things feel a whole lot better. Witchcraft offers an escape when the world gets to be just too much, but it also empowers so that we might have the courage to face that world and change it.
Witchcraft offers a world full of possibilities. I believe in science, but I also believe that fairy-folk live in my backyard and that the souls of the dead sometimes gather around me. In circle I’ve asked for angels to watch over my rites, and at the bar Dionysus has literally shown up to bring change into my world. As a Witch there’s also something brewing in my cauldron and right outside my backdoor.
When I’m unsure about the future I can consult the Tarot or scry with a mirror. Some parts of our society no doubt scoff at such things, but not most Witches. Our world is big, open, and still full of mystery. There are things we can explain, and those we can’t, and we’ll use either/or to empower our lives and give it meaning.
The history of Modern Witchcraft is full of strong and inspiring individuals. While Witches and Pagans are still very much a minority in today’s world, more people than ever are aware of our existence. We’ve been referenced on The Simpsons (“It’s called Wicca and it’s empowering!”) and Samhain-season generally sees us in all sorts of news articles and even sometimes on television. We’ve come a long way in just seventy years. But what must have it been like to be a Witch in 1953? Or even 1971?
I marvel at the strength possessed by women such as Doreen Valiente who stood proudly for the Craft long before it was fashionable. I salute pioneers like Dr. Leo Martello who fought for both gay and Witch rights back in 1969 when doing such things could literally destroy one’s life. As we face challenging times ahead I think of those individuals and countless others who stood up in the face of oppression and religious bigotry and helped to establish our community today.
Our mythology is potent and timeless. The story of the Burning Times that many of us grew up with is more mythology than historical fact, but that doesn’t make the tale any less powerful. The lesson to be learned with our Burning Times mythology is that Witches are strong, and will overcome no matter what obstacles are put in their way. Even when faced with death, we will hold onto our Craft and honor our traditions.
And as a Witch world mythology speaks truth to me. Tales of Greek Goddesses and Gods aren’t just stories, they are windows into our world and into the very nature of the gods. Cerridwen stirring her cauldron is more than just a fantasy spun by the bards of old, it’s an invitation to conjure up our own magicks.
Witchcraft has given me a chosen family. My coven is a family, and it’s a family I’ve chosen to be a part of. I wasn’t born into it, I came to it, and it to me. It’s a safe space where I don’t have to worry about some crazy uncle spouting nonsense at the dinner table. It’s a group of people that hold me up when I’m feeling down, and it’s a group of people that I’ll fight for until this body runs out of breath.
Most spiritual paths don’t allow us to choose those in our congregation. The Christian church of my youth was made up of hundreds of individuals, and many of them were the kind of people I didn’t want to break bread next to. As a Wiccan-Witch I’ve been given the power to choose my family, and I”m so happy to have that family right now.
Witchcraft connects me to the natural world. Mundane religions pay lip-service to the changing of the seasons, but Witches feel the turn of the Wheel. The energies of the world stirl and swirl around me when Summer gives way to Autumn, and I feel the power of life stir and call when Winter transitions into Spring.Witchcraft has made me acutely aware of nature and my place within it. I’m not this world’s master, I’m simply a part of it. When we wound the Earth we wound ourselves. Too many other belief systems seek dominion over the Earth, I know that it has dominion over me.
As a Witch I walk between the worlds. I think we often forget just how powerful a well cast circle is. It’s not just a container for energies or a way to signify sacred space, it’s a portal between the worlds. In my circle I walk amongst deities and mortals. I stand side to side with angels and elemental energies. I wield power both alone and with others, and I can send that power to the farthest corners of the known universe.
There is something indescribably beautiful about sharing a space with deity. In that space between the worlds I have been held by a goddess and received her counsel, and I have seen things normally kept hidden from human eyes. It’s easy to trivialize a “time that is not a time and a place that is not a place” but it’s a very real part of Witchcraft.
Witches transform what we touch. Witches have the power to change the world. Perhaps it’s not always in the big sweeping ways we might like, but even the small things matter. In circle when I wield my athame I transform simple items such as salt and water into tools of purification. When we smile and treat everyone around us with dignity and grace we also transform things.
There’s a popular bumper sticker that contains the words “Witches Heal.” What is healing if not transformation? Let’s heal those who are hurt and make our world a better place in the process.
Witchcraft is about work. I like to think that in my coven we “do the work.” But what exactly is the work? Certainly much of that work has been directed inward over the years. It’s the exploration of the self that allows us to become better people, better magicians, and grow closer to our deities, but it’s also about external things as well.
It’s about using our energies to try and bring about change in this world and for those we love. It’s about sending love and comfort to the sick, and trying to protect those who are vulnerable. It’s about learning to love and letting go of silly and nonsensical prejudices. Witchcraft improves not just the spirit, but also the heart.
My deities are strong. I do not believe that my gods are all powerful, but I believe they are strong. They were strong enough to re-emerge after being ignored and neglected for several centuries by we humans, and today they are strong enough to stand beside us and lend their energies to our own. When I’m at my wits end I look towards the quiet power of Cernunnos and the ever-pouring love of Aphrodite.
In circle the deities we call upon share their energies with us so that we might change this world and our circumstances for the better. In a world with billions of voices and oh so much noise, my deities reached out to me so that I might hear them and draw closer to them. To me that’s power and it’s a power that has served us all well.
Witchcraft celebrates joy. For a Witch sex is not a purity challenge or something to whisper about in back hallways. It’s something to be celebrated both within and without the circle. It’s something special, sacred, pleasurable, and even fun. It’s a way to grow closer to those we love, and something to simply enjoy when we partner with someone looking for the same.
As a Witch it’s easy to look around this world and be angry. Our neighbors are often treated as second-class citizens, and we’ve all seen loved ones vilified for simply being who they are. But there are still moments of joy to be found in our day to day existence. There are sunsets and super moons, waterfalls and ocean tides, and so many other beautiful things. May we long recognize the beauty and the gifts of this Earth and this mortal life and celebrate them, no matter how dangerous the road ahead might be.