Once or twice a semester, I’m invited to present on Modern Witchcraft in the World Religion classes at local colleges. Considering I’ve been teaching this subject openly for nearly a decade now, and I own the very public witchy store, I’ve developed a reputation of being accessible and respectable enough to hold my own along side the other clergy. I’ve become the “go-to” Public Witch and Priestess for everything from interfaith services, to academic panel discussions, to private interviews for college research papers.
Not everyone can be a public witch, not everyone should be, as this really is a very private and subtle path not suited to many. They don’t call these “mystery teachings” for nothing! However, the Gods asked this of me as part of my vows of service in the Priestesshood. Eventually I ran out of excuses, and got to work.
There are many things that I just love about this public witchery gig. For one, it is a rare day that a Witch is invited to discuss her theology at length, in a lecture hall full of non-pagans. I get to be the catalyst, sparking wild new thoughts, holding up the mirror, and naming the elephants in the room. Because I am the scary witch, I can say the brutally honest, helpful and unexpected things that people most need to hear.
Of course, there are drawbacks to being this far outside of the broom closet, but I’m not dwelling on that this Valentine’s Day–I’m stopping to smell my Lady’s Roses. Yes, despite the thorny path, there are still blossoms aplenty.
9 Roses along the Thorny Path of the Public Witch
1. Sacred Permission to Question Everything
I love giving sacred permission to question everything, engage their minds, decide what is correct for themselves. Just by existing happily in the world as a Witch who escaped her Southern Baptist upbringing, I imply that they, too, may discard what does not serve their highest good, no matter how old, nor how revered, nor EVEN what their parents think. Go back far enough and I promise you have pagan ancestors. What did they think? How did THEY live? EVERYONE has pagan ancestors–even Jesus, even Siddhartha Gautama, no exceptions. They would be proud of you for having the courage to dig up those bones, and discover what they found to be sacred. You do them honor when you cease to be a mindless sheep.
2. Acceptance of their complete and perfect self
I love seeing the release of joy when I affirm that within a pagan cosmos they are sovereign beings worthy of dignity and respect. I honor them as fellow incarnate God/desses, no matter what their outer self looks like, nor who their inner self wants to be. I remind them that they are Perfect, whole and complete. I especially enjoy giving my LGBTQ listeners sacred permission to be their most true selves. My Lady welcomes them to love whom they love, without hindrance.
3. Divine Minds Create Reality
I love watching their brains sorta melt, meld, and blow open wide, as I over-lay modern sciences like quantum physics and Jungian psychology, with ancient mystery school teachings. Consciousness creates this reality; we are both the dreamer and the dream. You can actually *hear* the pop, whirr and sigh as the connections sync up in their thinking. The collective WOAH! creates cosmic eddies that tingle my spine. Yes, your thoughts create the world. Let’s think up a better one!
4. Sexy Shenanigans at “church.”
I love the giggles when I equate the Big Bang Theory of creation with the first cosmic orgasm between God/dess. Then I quote “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals” from the Charge of the Goddess, and “Drink the good wine to the old Gods, and dance and make love all as praise…” from the Wiccan Crede by Doreen Valiente. I make my joke about the perks of serving Aphrodite, such that when I stay in bed and make love on a Sunday morning, I’ve technically gone to “church.”
At it’s heart, Witchcraft is a fertility religion, rooted in the sacredness of Nature. I firmly believe that the entire purpose of existence here in the middle world is to learn all the lessons by enjoying yourself, trying all the delicious things, glorying in the body, and feasting on the 5 senses. That is why I choose to practice an Ecstatic Religion. Yes, we affirm the sacredness of sex, and not just for procreation. Sex is a divine expression of that ecstasy of Spirit within the flesh! So, please, go forth and get some, but for God/dess’ sake, be good at it! (and safe, and responsible, harming none.)
5. Meeting a God/dess will Rock Your WorldI especially love it when a college student who needs to attend a ceremony for a class project, sits in on one of my meditative journeys. The best experiences start with claims by the student that they are an atheist. Yet, they attend like an anthropologist on a field study, just to get the grade. So very often, these folks with the LEAST expectations are the ones who, no shit, travel directly to the heavens, in full visionary color and detail, and straight out of the gate meet an ARCHANGEL, or a GOD–and I do mean a specific God or Goddess who rocks their world.
They discover that divinity is not just the “old, white dude with long, white beard and pointy finger of judgment in the sky” archetype they’ve previously thought was their only option. Very definite, very profoundly REAL things happen for these students. The symbols and imagery they see are in alignment with occult wisdom of which they knew nothing–they blow my mind, which at this point is saying a lot. Lives are changed.
I love it when the lid of black/white thinking is blown off.
6. Honeymoon Paradigm
I love introducing our “Honeymoon paradigm” of Goddess loving God, how Their Love manifests as everything and everyone in the cosmos. (Rather than good vs. evil.) We explore how the polar opposite of Their Love is the Void, from which emerges fear—fear of a lack of Their love.
They ask me “what is the point of Witchcraft?” I say, “to purify us of our fears so that we can become LOVE, on all levels, and enjoy life.”
I ask, “What are you afraid of?” and you can see them taking inventory in their minds of all the ways their current religion and our society makes them feel unloved, and what assholes they’ve been because of those wounds.
Then a deep, mournful, resonant A-HA spreads across their faces in the most painful of ways. I see their wounds spelled out like thought bubbles over their heads; I feel their pain. Then into those fetid places I whisper of interconnection, of acceptance, of unconditional Divine Love from which we can never be separated, and the tension releases.
We ARE love. We have everything we need at our fingertips. We are blessed in our natures. There is nothing inherently wrong with them. I might be the first person who has ever said these loving things to them.
7. The IS-ness gets real
I love when they *feel* their own power for the first time. When they connect to the flow of the cosmos, and the unseen becomes tangible. The need for “belief” or “faith” evaporates because the toe-curling wonder is right before them to see, touch, feel, smell, and KNOW. I love when this ceases to be a debate about religion and becomes the IS-ness. It just IS. It becomes the thing that cannot be denied or ignored.
8. Courage in Claiming your truth
I love standing up in a crowded room full of muggles and saying out loud, “I am a witch and a priestess” and I love that those words no longer make my voice shake, nor tears to flow. I’ve now been able to say them so many times that I can have that courage where others might not. Perhaps they can someday find their own courage because I opened the way.
So far, no stones have been thrown, no pitchforks raised, no blazing inferno ensues. I love it that room upon room of eastern North Carolina people have now had an experience where a reasonable person defied the stereotypes, and turned out to be a decent neighbor of theirs. I claimed loud and proud to be something they previously thought was malignant and terrifying, and instead I made them feel good about themselves. I hope they all went out and told a few friends that witches aren’t so scary after-all, and that changed the world just a little bit for the better.
9. Singing the Song of our People
I love it when, after one of these public speaking engagements, someone seeks me out at the shop, and starts a question with “This might sound crazy, but….” and the thing they’ve been most terrified to say out loud, and are finally confiding in me, is as normal as peanut butter and jelly to folks like us. They just might be a witch, too. The witchflame in me sparks the witchflame in you.
YES, there is a “normal” for exceptional people like us witches, and that is what I most enjoy nurturing in others. I can honestly say that no questions are crazy, or stupid or weird to me anymore. Hell, they are just singing the song of our people.
Its nice to find out you have “people.” I do so enjoy making those introductions.
Happy Valentine’s Day,