The Strength of The Witch
Magic has always been a central component of who I identify as and how I relate to the world around me. I have been this way since I can remember, as a young boy I constantly sought different sources of enchantment. The images that represent witches in popular culture and folklore have always been seductive to me. As a child I remember dressing up as the Wicked Witch of the West…for multiple Halloweens. I would wear the pointed black hat and play with my cauldron even when it wasn’t Halloween, looking back I think those were my favorite toys. I always felt a sense of power and enchantment when I would dress up like a witch and create spells and potions.
Witches have power in their lives and the world around them, stirring the tides of the Universe, moving space and time in their favor. I have always viewed non-magical/non-spiritual people as incomplete and naïve. Those who have no desire to contemplate spirituality or who simply follow their parent’s traditions blindly without questioning are the people I am talking about. I feel that as humans we need to believe in something, and most people deep down feel that inner call.
For me personally it is such an important part of being alive. The study and practice of magic and occultism began as a quest for power through knowledge. I was let down over and over by Christian doctrine. Not only being gay, but being irresistibly attracted to all things magical and paranormal, there were many things that completely contradicted the very core of who I am as a person. There were many times throughout my life that I came back to Christianity to attempt to conform to what I thought the world expected of me, mainly out of fear or guilt. Personal growth and spiritual understanding were topics that weren’t important until later in life when it came to magic. Initially, like many new practitioners I was concerned with amassing as many spells as I possibly could, building my Book of Shadows, and the recording of magical correspondences. As a young gay man I was focused on protection magic and love magic mainly. Since the two most prominent forces in my life at that time was my desire to find a lover, and to protect myself from those who would do me harm because of who I was.
Questioning and Questing for Control
I was fascinated with magic in general and studied as many diverse practices and topics as I could, finding that one always led to another. I did many charms and rituals for attracting desired things and for manifesting power, mainly glamours and influential magic to alter the perception of those around me. Looking back on these early years I have learned that I was desperately seeking control, feeling at many times throughout my teens and twenties to be completely out of control. I was also using occult studies as an escape from stress.
It wasn’t until some years later that I came back to my studies and began again to pursue them as fiercely as before. There had been many short periods in the past that my practice and my studies waxed and waned due to life’s circumstances. I also went back to school after many years of freelance research. I majored in Religious Studies with a concentration on religious text and practice through ritual. Part of my interest in the study of religion was a desire to have a better understanding of the core beliefs of the world’s most influential religions. In addition to my interest in the Pagan traditions of the Northern Europeans I wanted to gain a better understanding of the history of Christianity and how it has changed over the centuries. Spiritual understanding has always been an important part of my life occupying my thoughts since I was very young.
The conditioning that we receive from society and religious institutions is very good at teaching as to act as part of a greater whole, like part of a machine that should behave in a certain preordained manner or the great machine will not function. Those in power figured out thousands of years ago how to use religion and fear to control the masses. Pagan Spirituality, Occultism, and Witchcraft has allowed me to confront many of the oppressive ideologies that I was exposed to during the Satanic Panic of the nineties. I was also raised in part of the country where Conservative Christian beliefs were the dominant force in society and politics.
Magic for the Sake of MagicMagic often serves individual needs and is focused on attainment of material desires and the empowerment of the practitioner. Solitary magical practice can sometimes seem like it is only a path that serves the self, however solitary practitioners are often the forerunners of the evolution of modern magic. By focusing in on one’s individual practice they are able to bring unique insights and ideas to the greater magical community. Standing against the discrimination many of us face for the various differences we exhibit is what hones our will, giving us the initial strength to say “No more!” Prompting us to strike out on our own paths and reach out to the Otherside. Certain spirits, hearing the desperation in our cries respond and are willing to assist us, oftentimes they have been pulling us in this direction all along.
The Sphere of Da’ath
According to The Temple of High Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak, a study of the Kabbalistic Tree of life and ceremonial magic, the word Da’ath means “knowledge.” It is not and actual sphere according to lore, but the shadow of a sphere. It leads to the dark side of the Tree of Life. Penczak writes that the sphere represents all knowledge, but not the understanding to use it. One can become lost in the abyss and become obsessed with magical knowledge.
This is the infamous mire of the “armchair occultist, forever seeking knowledge but not putting it to use. A witch that doesn’t do magic is like a plant that is starved of sunlight. Sometimes we become so addicted to the acquisition of new information that we often forget about the practice itself. Some may ask, “How could one be a witch and not do magic? Witches can’t be cut off from their power!” In one sense that is true, but there are a number of reasons that a witch may stop practicing or be unable to practice for a period of time. Social pressures, relationships, depression, addiction, and financial issues are just a number of circumstances that can be detrimental to one’s practice. Oftentimes the practice itself, or lack thereof becomes its own source of discouragement. During times of hardship our magical development is put on hold, ironically during those times we could use it the most.
Depression and anxiety are factors in many peoples lives, often the result of stress, trauma or environmental factors that can trap us in negative thought patterns. these thought patterns become power-stealing thoughtforms that are basically vampiric in nature. The use of magic as a form of escapism leads to a sense of dissatisfaction with oneself and the world. There is a feeling of purpose but that purpose is unfulfilled. While initially intensive study and listing of correspondences builds discipline and allows one to develop a new symbolic vocabulary
Focusing on Individual Practice
I have personally allowed myself to fall into the abyss often for months or years at a time, continuously researching new topics instead of revisiting old one’s and developing my own occult insights I have allowed others to dictate my mental intake. The constant feeling of never having absorbed enough information, never having written or read enough can become like psychic vampirism, creating a deep spiritual need for more and more information. It is the realization of this and the validity of our own practices and interpretations of the Unseen that allows us to reclaim access to our power. I have come to this realization over the past few months or so. I have decided to take a break from reading books on magic and witchcraft, while increasing the amount of writing I do that is based on personal practice. I am also dedicated to incorporating Art back into my magical practice using various mediums to express spiritual concepts. I have also begun a regular divinatory practice using the Tarot and scrying in the crystal and the cauldron. I have opened myself to more individualized opportunities for communication with my familiar spirits, and recording those experiences. It is this decision that has helped remind me of the importance of individual practice, devotion and spirit work.