Like all other religions, Witches seek answers to the ultimate questions. What is the meaning of life? Why am I here and what should I do? Often folks ask me how I answer those questions. They want me to define what all witches “believe.” This question is a side-effect of an over-culture dominated by orthodoxy – or right belief; this is not a question one witch can answer for them.
Belief is defined as the ideas one accepts to be true. Witchcraft is an Orthopraxy – meaning right action – so we aren’t in the business of standardizing beliefs, nor telling other people what they should believe. However, we love to dig in to helpful methods for discovering what is true for ourselves.
In other words, what I accept to be true is none of your business. How you answer the ultimate questions, should have no bearing on my life, and vice versa. However, it is of paramount importance that we each, individually, examine our own “beliefs” very carefully, because they act like an operating system, running surreptitious programs in our subconscious minds that will definitely affect your life.
You are what you believe.
When you choose your beliefs, you create your world. You set the mold of who you can become. If you believe you are powerless, you will never take control of your power. If you believe you are limited, you will never challenge those limits.
Beliefs act as a filter, screening information before it gets to your conscious mind. They act so strongly that they only allow through what you already believe to be true. Anything contradictory is ignored or rationalized away. But when something contradictory keeps getting in your face, demanding your attention, that is when things can get ugly.
When we are confronted by evidence that doesn’t jive with our beliefs, folks tend to react defensively – hackles raised, anxiety, posturing, condemnation, ATTACK! Sounds like a typical scroll through Twitter, amiright? This tension is called “cognitive dissonance” in the psychology biz. Folks don’t like that feeling…makes them a touch crazed, as they lash out like wounded animals.
Beliefs Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies.
If you believe “God” can only be an old, white guy, who long ago deserted us here on his sadistic game-show death match, only showing up to smite the unworthy losers with his pointy finger of judgement, then you will never experience divinity in any other way. If distant condemnation is all you know, then Venus herself could stroll right up to you on the street, kissing you deeply on the mouth. She could wrap you in a loving embrace of unconditional acceptance, all rose and cardamom and heady pheromones of seductive bliss, telling you in plain English that you worthy and Perfect, and a blessed being of Divine Love. She could rapture you to carnal heaven right then and there…but if you’d never even considered that She was possible, you will never know Her.
“What whore is this?” you might say. “Begone foul temptress! I’m too busy battling demons for your shenanigans!”
If you are sure the point of life is to suffer, then you will find a way to suffer. Your limiting beliefs will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The old fear-based paradigms keep us bound in a reactionary, powerless and easily manipulated state. Advertisers, politicians and religious leaders understand the power of dictating what you should believe. “Beliefs set a vision around which people take action.” wrote Joyce and River Higginbotham, in their most excellent book, Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religion.
Fear is the biggest motivator of all. Fear that you are less worthy of love without their deodorant brand, their style of jeans, their make of car. Buy this thing, vote this way, join our club, support our cause, and maybe you’ll be restored to some state of grace. Drink our brand of beer, and for a moment there may be a reprieve from your aching loneliness.
Witchcraft is a praxis meant to conquer our fears, to remember the perfect state of Divine Love from whence we came, and now embody. The biggest and best-kept secret of Witchcraft: we can awaken from that illusion of separateness that feels so hopeless and terrifying, and live a kick-ass life of bliss…. without buying a single thing. (1)
Cognitive Dissonance is a Good Sign: Respond, Don’t React
For witches who are seeking a deeper truth, feeling the tension of cognitive dissonance is a good sign that you are making progress. You’ve just discovered some bit of hidden programming, and this is your golden opportunity to work on it. Rather than reacting, take time to respond.
- Shut up.
- Turn to face the challenge. (Don’t run away!)
- Lean in and look closely. What is actually happening here? Pull WAAAY back and look for the bigger pattern.
- Ask lots of questions of yourself, of the other people kicking up dust over whatever is happening.
- Seek Higher Guidance through divination.
- Shut up and listen some more.
- Hold the space. Feel all the feels, name them, let them flow through without judgement
- Step outside your own brain, and analyze the situation. What belief program is causing the root problem?
Now, What kind of life do you want to live?
What kind of world do you want to create?
What beliefs will best get you there?
- Respond appropriately.
Beliefs have a power! But the fears and beliefs of other people do not have to be your own. To redefine your own beliefs, is a process of releasing the fears and limitations of others, and ultimately a process of growing up. Remember that mindlessly obeying the will of the “authorities” is a childlike mentality that our patriarchal over-culture practically demands of us. Just say no.
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right!~Henry Ford.
If we are sovereign beings, we cannot allow our families or culture to hold us hostage. Regardless of how we were raised, what we believe today is our decision. By the same token, what other people accept to be true is not your responsibility to change; your only job is maintaining the respectful boundaries between you.
“Live and let live, fairly take and fairly give.” ~ The Wiccan Rede, Long Form
We may not yet be aware of all the sub-conscious programs that influence us, but it is up to us to engage in the journey of self-exploration and understanding. Reclaiming our power to choose our beliefs can be a life-long effort, and don’t expect it to be easy.
This exploration can cause fear and discomfort as you challenge the status quo. Think about Galileo and the “round earth” believers during the renaissance. He was excommunicated and put under house arrest for standing up for what he knew to be true. His truth TERRIFIED the folks in power at the time…Same was true for Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr, and Gandhi, and Pythagoras, and Joan of Arc… the cognitive dissonance created by free-thinkers too often shows up with pitchforks and torches, but we can’t let that stop us from evolving into a better life.
Reclaim Your own Brain
The brain-washing to submit, cower, comply, and obey like a naughty child, has been ubiquitous all our lives; at public school, at church, in governance, and on the assembly-line floor. As we awaken into this new age of awareness, it’s time to grow up, stand-up into co-creative partnership with our Deities, our teachers, our leaders, and in our workplaces.
Learn to trust your own perceptions and experiences, take confidence in your growing power and accomplishments along the journey. If you follow your inner knowing, you will find the courage you need to think and believe for yourself.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I believe it is my duty as a witch to question everything. After that, I choose a truth that we are here to enjoy life on earth because it is a beautiful gift. I think it is our sacred mission to seek out union and explore Divine Love through every interaction…with all the inherent pleasures and struggles that comes with it, as a means to keep evolving.
But more importantly, what do you believe?
1.) Please enjoy the irony that I make my living as a witchy shopkeeper, with the selling metaphysical things, which I consider to be mostly superfluous. But I’m absolutely honest to any customer who asks me “what do I need to buy for a spell to achieve (name any goal)?” and I will say, “You don’t need to buy anything, you only have to believe it is possible; your thoughts will create your reality. But, if you would like some material allies to help get your thoughts aligned with your Will, then I can team you up with the finest quality witchy merchandise….” <cackle>