This month at Patheos there is an ongoing discussion on the “Future of Faith in America” asking each of us to answer this question: Why I am still a ________ (insert name of your religion here.) Why do I still embrace this wyrdly wandering, beautiful and horrifying, rapturous and humbling path? Goooood question! Why, oh why, do I do this, particular, thing?
Insanity not withstanding, the first answer that pops to mind is that This Thing is just who I have always been. Whether I’m *doing* the praxis, the mechanics of religion, or not, is beside the point. Frankly, I am not a person of “faith;” either I know, and I know why, or it gets none of my power. Despite what any naysayer may think, my brand of Witchcraft has no time for “superstition” but all kinds of room for mystery, wonder and poetic, mythic truth. I can hold the space for the unknown, without succumbing to irrational fears.
Perhaps that is the first reason I continue to embrace occult sciences and Witchcraft in lieu of other forms of religion; I do not need “faith” when I have the rational, observable universe that I can taste, see, *perceive,* touch, hear, feel in all her delicious, visceral glory, both “above” and “below.” How does one turn down a date to co-create with the gods?
“…and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in Her praise. For Hers is the ecstasy of the spirit, and Hers also is joy on earth; for Her law is love unto all beings.(3)”
I remain in service to Spirit because when I call upon their guidance and power, when I “pray,” they show up, they answer…in words, feels, and full-color visionary detail. Not only do we co-create; we can argue with each other. Moreover, Their thealogy, as revealed directly, and through study, challenges me to evolve into personal sovereignty; to live ethically, lovingly, while taking responsibility for myself. I am encouraged to face my fears, to be strong, to question everything, and to seek answers both intellectually and through wild experience. I grow, make love and fully engage in the delight and challenge of the world.
“Let Her worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. (3)”
The other option:
Mind you, there are two separate considerations here: Witchcraft is a praxis, mechanics with an underlying science, that can be learned by just about anyone and applied with varying levels of success. These folks come into my metaphysical store and refer to how they “used to dabble in Witchcraft” but then they wandered on to other things.
But then there are those who *are witches.* I agree with author Margot Adler, that Witchcraft, is a “religion without converts, (2)” By my experience, it is like a predisposition, an orientation, which has never felt much like an option. The deeper into this “rabbit hole” of witchery I go, the more clear the patterns and flow of the Universe become, and that compels me onward, despite the sacrifices.
I have tried a few times to give it up, to lay down the tools, hang up the pointy hat and attempt a pleasant, comfy muggle life. But the witchyness screams up from the depths of the soul and will not be quieted. You *see* things that cannot be unseen. You *know* things that will not be unknown. There is no flavor in the mundane, no succor enough to quench the drive and hunger of the Witch’s spiritual cravings, or so I’ve found.
I’ve chosen to call this path I walk Modern Witchcraft, as have others before me.
What is Modern Witchcraft?
Here is the marketing blurb of what I do and teach:
Modern Witchcraft, as I teach it through The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions, is a path of wisdom, reason, empowerment and responsibility that stands proudly on the historical and religious foundations of our ancestors. Yet, we look to the future and strive to create a healthy way of life in a modern world. We blend scientific knowledge with ancient mysticism to evolve beyond “religion” and superstition into a spirituality that brings healing, peace, and balance to the seeker. The path of the Witch is a dance to the rhythm of nature. This dance transforms and strengthens us, while giving us a framework for processing the lessons of this life with grace. To seek the path of the Witch is to seek enlightenment. All that we do here is for the highest good of all involved, harming none. We strive for a state of “perfect” or unconditional love and trust, at one with the Divine Spirit of the Universe.
What’s in a Name?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” (1)
Lovely sentiment, and on the surface I agree, why does it matter what we call this thing? But then, there is the occult meaning–the deeper, hidden-just-below-the-surface meaning. I now serve Aphrodite, and so I know a thing or two about roses. During my first year of dedication to Her, I wrote this here:
Divine Love is a many splendored thing, as they say. The roses smell lovely, in their delicate unfolding of brightly colored petals into the sunlight, but they are nurtured in the dark, dank shadow of the earth, fed by the decay of last season’s death, shat out by worms. Between the earth and the blossom, there are the thorns.
I have found that the “rose” of witchcraft is also the thorny path, and has the whole range of “smells” from shit-tastic to enchanting. We could say it doesn’t really matter what we call it, yet, language is tied to thought and thoughts create reality. The witch, the magickian, uses language in spells, chants, mantras, affirmations and incantations, meant to create changes in that reality. So, our choice of language is important. In part, we create ourselves, this path, this religion, this community, by the words with which we define them.
As always, the heated debate continues over how we label all these little boxes and pigeon-holes we’ve obliged ourselves to fill. The fallacy trap so many fall into in the beginning of their journey is to name the box first, climb in, then endeavor to fill it up with trappings, rituals, costumes and catch-phrases…trying to live up to preconceived ideas of what it means to be Witch, Wiccan or Priest/ess (or any other title.) For the sovereign being, if we continue to define our own “box” or religion by parameters defined and maintained by others, we’ve already lost.
For the last two weeks I’ve held the space on this question of what I am and why, allowing it to ramble around in my thoughts. I found more questions popping up than answers; more need to define the language; more need to release judgement of other’s paths; to mind my own business and just Do The Work. I accept that nothing remains constant–everything changes.
There is nothing “still” about me or my practice. Spiritually, I’ve been on a long winding road of every -ism, making many stops along the way. Witchcraft itself is an ever-evolving spiritual jewel of practice with as many facets as there are people perceiving it. Trying to pin down this ephemera just might cause more frustration than it is worth.
“And thou who thinkest to seek Her, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, She has been with thee from the beginning; and She is that which is attained at the end of desire.” (3)
So, despite the thorny path, I journey on.
Until next time…Blessed be!
- William Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
- Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler, Beacon Press, Copyright 1979, 1986
- The Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente