The sun rises on a new year, to my great relief. It is a custom among Patheos bloggers to post a review of their year of writing, with a list of their most read articles. I tried to do the same, but as I reviewed all that I’ve written this year, it wasn’t what I said publicly that struck me as important. 2018 is better defined for me by the things I DID NOT SAY….well…things I did not write down and publish where the public could find it. You’re welcome.
There were SO many pointy thoughts I had the integrity and self-control NOT to scream into the internet… and yet in 2018 I still managed to post 60 new articles, topping 205 total in my archives. So many words, and none of them were what I really wanted to say (which would have been closer to “Screw this abuse; I quit.”) Nay, far more interesting than anything I’ve posted this year, are the 45 drafts I’ve begun but never completed…yet. Consider the MUTE function, now OFF. <giddy up!>
That being said, the top 2 most-viewed articles this year do tell a story about my own Witching lessons for 2018…
The Challenging Side of the Pendulum’s Swing
While there are some amazing things that happened in 2018, (like a book-deal with Llewellyn! WOAH!) the scales did tip heavily into the “challenges” side of the pendulum swing. My family and coven-mates surely heard an earful as I processed it all, bless them. Without their support I might not have made it through those darkest hours before dawn. It’s been a long, fiery slog through Mordor, but I did make it all the way to Mount Doom. Much was destroyed in those fires. I’m beat up, disenchanted, disillusioned, and still waiting for the eagle-uber to carry me home. (1) Yet, I drag through the finish line more self-aware and steeped in strong opinions.
I’ve spent the previous turning of the wheel dwelling deeply on dark and disturbing trends in both society and pagandom. While the outer world burned, both physically and spiritually, I also faced many fires in my own life… I’ve listened carefully to the harsh criticism posted in public forums, and within my own home. I’m a work in progress, just like everyone else, so I’m integrating some changes in my approach and thinking, where I think it will help.
#1 Most Read article of 2018: Warding Ritual for Spiritual Protection of your Home.
The “Most Read” article of 2018 was the piece that originally caused me to be burned at one particular stake all year long, but was actually posted in August of 2017. I’m very proud of this piece, and the classes I’ve taught that emerged from it’s preparation. I know that it has helped legions of people to reclaim their own homes as safe, sacred spaces. But DAMN has it caused me some personal problems. So here is what I really want to say about it:
While every clearing and warding technique presented here is inspired by standard witching practices, and found in similar forms in countless books and websites, across multiple magickal traditions, every word of this article are my own unique contribution. Therefore, this particular arrangement of words are my intellectual property.
That being said, no one “owns” witchcraft practices. I offer these writings freely on this blog because I swore a vow to teach witchcraft openly, and this is basic Witchcraft 101 stuff to which every seeker should have access, in my opinion. Every teacher and writer in the field is sharing what they’ve learned from their own teachers and the books that trained them, who shared what their teachers taught them, but with each generation adding their own personal flair and adaptation. These things are part of an oral tradition that stretches back into antiquity.
This create-your-own warding ritual was inspired by what I’ve learned from at least 6 of my magickal teachers, and collaborations with fellow coven-mates over the years, but the specific way that I integrated these age-old witchcraft techniques for this article was my own, with my own, original incantations, written fresh for this article, never before enacted.
Meaning, this WAS NOT an exact script for any spell I’ve ever worked, because to publish the details of one’s own warding spell is tantamount to handing over your security system’s “disarm codes” to a burglar. Not to mention that one must “be silent” about such magickal things. I mean, duh.
#2 Most Read Article of 2018: How to Avoid Being Burned at the Stake: A Guide for Pagan Leadership.The second most read article was the only forthright article I wrote all last year, and it was in response to the stake-burning I’m STILL receiving for that #1 Warding article. I almost deleted this bit of satire, rather than publish it, but my editor encouraged me to take the chance. Once Samhain-tides closed the year, I guess the time was finally right for the mute to come off. It turned out to be the most shared article in the history of Witch on Fire, and so far hasn’t garnered a single critical comment that I can find. I guess I struck a frayed nerve. <go figure>
Since 2003, I’ve held a number of volunteer positions within the pagan community; from Yahoo Group moderator, to open sabbat leader, to study group organizer; to shop owner, conference hostess, witchcraft teacher, to becoming a sworn Priestess of Aphrodite and Hermes, and becoming the first elected High Priestess of The Sojo Circle and holding that position for three years via unanimous vote. I also threw 10 years worth of fabulous, public, Witches’ Costumed Balls before I stopped. Every snarky, impossible satirical example given in this piece are from my personal experience. I’ve burned at every single one of these stakes. But upon my life, I swear I’ve done my level-best to be fair and ethical in every service I’ve volunteered to provide.
2018: A Hermit in Silence
It is noteworthy to mention at this point that my Great Work dedication for 2018 called on the elemental powers of Fire and Air to grant me the courage I needed to speak my truth. Ain’t that a bitch? I have a love/hate relationship with witchcraft, as per my usual.
Despite my intention to write my book and share the love, and bravely say all the hard things, last year really was more about the lessons of the “Hermit” and “Tower.” I drew these cards in the tarot time and again. After the tower of the ego burns to the ground, I was to withdraw, investigate my shadows by shining my own wyrd light upon it in new way. Then, do my damnedest to figure out what my Highest Divine Will was supposed to be doing, and then do that thing. Most importantly, there was need to shut up and pay attention. In witching parlance, I was still in the earthy “be silent” portion of my magickal cycle.
To those ends, I went on hiatus from all my service work with clients: no tarot readings, Reiki healing sessions or past-life retrieval work until Samhain. I took myself off of the shop schedule most of the shifts, allowing the other employees to take the lead behind the counter, and become the new face of The Sojourner. I also handed over the majority of teaching in the mystery school I founded, to a new “Head Mistress.” Webweaver did a great job, and we are gearing up for a great new year with a room full of new seekers!
Most importantly, last year in response to all this controversy, and the fatigue it causes me, I insisted that I be allowed to step-down as High Priestess of The Sojo Circle. After 9 years in the captain’s chair, at Yule I gratefully turned the wheel over to a dedicated council of strong, new coven leaders. I am giddy with happiness to step out of their way, and see where they will guide our coven’s coming journey.
So, for the critic accusing me of being a power-hungry cult-leader, you can now cease and desist…or better yet, take it up with the new management.
Great Blue Heron Returns
In 2019, I am un-muted. “Great Blue Heron” appears once more in omens and visions…asking me to wade back into the liminal places, discerning between sustenance and shit, and speak the unpopular truth. There is a fresh air filling my lungs and lifting my wings into the light of this new year. Ever watch a great blue heron as she hunts? She can be patient and graceful, then fierce and decisive when the moment to strike is nigh.
Happy New Year, Witches!
(1) I’m referring, of course, to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings stories, but you knew that already. 😉