Cyndi Brannen who runs Keeping Her Keys posted a question on her blog’s Facebook page the other day about the phrase “so mote it be.” The question about “so mote it be” didn’t really cause much of a stir in my brain but what was attached to it did : I am doing research for a future article on “SMIB” and I need your input! This is about saying it during witchcraft ONLY not in religious activities. (bold font from me.)
Separating “witchcraft” from my religious activities? In my case, I just find that impossible. Witchcraft IS my religious activity. I realize that many people keep firm boundaries between their magickal practices and their “religious” or spiritual ones, but I’m not one of them. Magick can certainly be stripped from a specific religious context. A candle spell without a muttered prayer to any particular deity can be performed by a Christian or a Pagan, but the moment I invoke Aradia or Pan I’m coming from things as a Witch and not an agnostic. But magick like religious belief in deities, requires belief in something we often can’t see, in that sense I find them similar if not identical.
I realize that I’m a Witch of the Wiccan persuasion, and for some people that means “not a Witch” at all, to which (get that!?) I say hogwash. The first people we would call Wiccans today identified as Witches and their books all had “Witch” in the title. Wiccans are not the only kind of Witch, but they are a kind of Witch. Besides, I’ve met very few “Witches” from outside the Wiccan-sphere who are much different from me. Traditional Witches, Feri Witches, Aesthetic Witches, Hekatean Witches . . . . we all share a lot of the same stuff. We are all adults here and perfectly capable of nuance. Most of us understand that a word can have a multitude of uses and meanings.
My Witchcraft lives, because of, and bleeds magick. Everything about it is magickal. From the moment I step into circle and feel the energy of my coven-mates around me to the last hurrah of “and may the gods preserve the Craft!” what I do is magickal. My sacred space? Magick circle! Calls to deity? Not just lip service, but something that shows up in ritual and changes how we all function. (I’m transformed by their presence, and magick is transformative right?) Raising energy and the cone of power? Completely magickal, and also magickal in the sense that the energy we raise is sent to a particular destination, in order to change something. Even the simple act of blessing the cakes and ale is meant to infuse the bread and cider we eat with energy.
Can I perform a magickal act without Witchcraft? I suppose so, but why would I bother? My Witchcraft includes my gods, and I find that my spellcraft works better when they are there. Much of my spellwork also takes place inside a magick circle, whose conception is unique to Modern Witchcraft. People have been using circles for centuries as a form of magickal protection and as a place to interact with powers greater than our own, but we Witches were the ones who saw it as a vessel for containing magickal power and then releasing it a certain point. A circle used in such a way is the very definition of Witchy.
I know that there are some people who say that Wicca specifically is a “fertility religion” and perhaps I understand some of that reasoning, but it’s never truly worked for me. My wife and I have no children and aren’t looking for any, so we have no need of personal fertility in the biological sense. Many Wiccan groups have lovely myths illustrating the Wheel of the Year-a connection to the renewed fertility of the Earth each year-but for me that death and rebirth is magickal. Change is magickal. Transformation is magickal.
My own practice also includes goddesses, gods, and all that lies in between (and there are many deities all over the gender spectrum). Perhaps some people think the worship of a “Goddess” and a “God” somehow makes what I do a fertility show, but that’s never really crossed my mind. Certainly if one wishes to call what they practice a “fertility religion” I say more power to them. There can be many interpretations of things.
I have been yelled at in the past for wondering if Wicca is not a nature religion, and if one wants their faith to be a nature religion that’s great! I’m not saying that I’m right and you are wrong. Nearly all the Witches I know honor the Wheel of the Year in some fashion, but when I really think about it, I tend to honor it in a magickal way. I either use the natural energies about me to manifest change in myself or something around me (transformation=magick!), or perhaps I honor a certain deity in circle whose mere presence is magickal.
Certainly when I’m at my most Pagan I feel connected to the natural world in a way that’s hard to describe. Love and awe of the Earth might be the one thing left that unites Paganism as a general whole, but when I’m doing the doing, most of what I do ends up being magickal. Even that tree I’m hugging out in the woods with Druids has a pulse and an energy I can only define as magickal.
Again, your Witchcraft can be completely lacking in spirituality or religion and I’m fine with that. Your Witchcraft might be a nature religion. Great! And you might think of it as a fertility religion . . . you’ll get no argument from me on any of those counts. But for me, it’s a magickal religion, and every act of magick and devotion connects with something greater than myself.
Before I started this article today I lit some incense and asked a certain pretty lady to help get me through another day of writing. My act was both one of devotion to her, but also a magickal one, and without Witchcraft I don’t think I would have ever had the courage to even listen to her call. I don’t know how devotion can be seen as anything but religious, and the results that were obtained through that transaction ended up being magickal. Separate my Witchcraft from my magick? Impossible.