The things that wander into my brain when the nearly full moon is keeping me awake: Witches are like jellyfish.
(Come with me on this one, you might enjoy it.)
I had been thinking over interactions I’ve had in person with a variety of people over the last week or so. After spending most of April in my studio working, with little social interaction beyond Nathaniel, cats, students and close friends – suddenly I had house guests, art openings, book talks, vending, parties, gigs. I mingled with all kinds of people from various backgrounds, ages, experiences, and social-economic structures. Mix in a late night conversation with Mat about psychic interactions and mediumship – and I got to thinking about my days as a nearly full-time psychic reader and my diverse clientele.
What does that have to do with jellyfish? Actually quite a few similarities: energy & form, movement & flow, and work.
Energy & Form
I often feel like a jellyfish when I’m moving through various groups of people.
Folks may talk a lot of about setting up protective wards, shields, grounding, etc – but for me personally, there is an intrinsic, instinctive reflex in dealing with people in general. To try and put it into words, I would explain it as a gentle buffer that protects while filtering in necessary information. It’s nearly always on, dampened pretty much only by alcohol.
Scientifically, jellyfish lack a brain and basic sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose), but they have extremely sensitive nervous systems that allow them to perceive stimuli and react very quickly. Narrowly avoiding the obvious some Witches also seem to be lacking brains at times joke, psychic perception and intuition could be compared to how jellyfish get by in the world. Witches often feel and experience things that can’t be observed plainly by eyes or ears or explained through rational thought.
Most jellyfish are nearly invisible, imperceptible until you’ve made physical contact – and sometimes not even then. You might not even know you’ve encountered one until long after. Also, a lot like Witches. Often hidden, not immediately apparent, undetected that they’re taking stock of the situation. Of course, there’s always the man 0’war* who must make a big show out of everything – looking all scary and stingy, getting in everyone’s way. Bet you don’t know anyone like that.
Side note: I think a lot of practicing Witches who work with people and the arts also utilize the same buffer structure, which explains why we occasionally (ahem frequently) tend to bump awkwardly into each other as we’re swimming along.
Movement & Flow
Jellyfish utilize the currents of the water to flow into where they need to go, but most are also equipped with an internal propulsion system, so they can jet along when they need to. Again, I feel a kinship here, because I find it’s easier to flow with the current of the Universe and how it’s directing me, versus against it. But I can certainly can do move when action is necessary. That way I’m not overworking myself, and energy expended is well-used for a defined purpose.
I want to take a moment here to distinguish between “cultural current” and “universal current.” Going along with social norms, bandwagons, and whatever is easiest isn’t what I’m talking about here – that’s cultural current. The Witch is historically iconoclastic, counter-cultural, and marginal. Universal current is the pattern of how things are unfolding on a larger scale – spiritually, metaphysically, in liminal, unknown and known places. It connects in with that perception of things outside of the standard sensory organs.
I grew up at the Jersey shore, where in the summertime, the warmer currents and storms would deposit a great amount of jellyfish on to the beach and fill the waters. There was a myth passed around that the clear jellyfish don’t sting, it’s just the ones with the red bits. Really, all jellyfish are capable of stinging, it just depends on whether you as a being are sensitive to it. You can look at spellcraft/magick/metaphysics the same way. They all have punch, they all have varying levels of effectiveness and implications – it depends on the practitioner and the situation. The same energy that can be used defensively can also be used to bring home dinner.
There’s no big show of it either. The jellyfish sidles up, stings, noms, and heads on its way. And as I mentioned earlier, most folks are none-the-wiser until later. The same works best for spellcraft: do what you need to do without a lot of fuss or attention.
Also important to note, from https://animalcorner.co.uk/jellyfish-anatomy/: “Jellyfish have an incomplete digestive system…The absence of these organs means that the same orifice is used for both food intake and waste depositing. Jellyfish dispose of their waste matter very quickly. Jellyfish cannot afford to carry too much bulk around with them otherwise they would find it difficult to stay afloat.”
So much jellyfish wisdom there in that quote! I am reminded of the Witch’s Guide to Etiquette – as well as some Moonstruck wisdom via Olympia Dukakis’ character, “don’t shit where you eat.” Don’t dish out what you can’t stomach and don’t hold on to things that will hold you down.
I think I may need to form a cult of Jellywitches.
*technically, the Portuguese man o’ war isn’t a jellyfish, but you get the idea.