Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Walking The Path As A Public Witch

Author: Medea

I am a ‘public Witch’. The phrase means different things to different people but generally it means I am one who has come ‘out of the broom closet’. That has come to mean different things to me as the years have gone by.

I never was really in the ‘broom closet’. From the time I was introduced to The Craft by way of The Tarot at age eighteen, I was very open about it. Sometimes the openness was just for ‘shock value’. Sometimes it was just to be ‘different’. More often than not my openness was just a part of my personality. Like a puppy, I gleefully and playfully was just ‘me’ all over the place.

Now, at the age of forty-seven (can I really be that old?) and High Priestess in my tradition, I am still open about it, yet in very different ways. I rarely go for ‘shock value’ anymore (there are, however, those occasions when I cannot seem to help myself) . I have been a professional Nurse for twenty plus years and have learned in some instances the less said, the better. This learned, of course, the hard way. In many, many areas of my life I am much more tolerant and not so quick to take offense. I cannot attribute this to age or wisdom, as in many ways I am very immature and like it that way. It is a by-product of the path in which I have chosen to walk. One of the many, many gifts I receive.

I no longer feel the need to flash a Pentacle ring or necklace every chance I get. Most jewelry associated with the Craft and my religion are worn in private or under my clothes, close to my heart, as they should be. Yet, if I choose to wear such things in public (or forget to take them off) I make no effort to hide them, give no explanations, and make no apologies. My car is no longer adorned with bumper stickers proclaiming me ‘Witch’ or ‘Happy Heathen’. I didn’t take them off, but simply quit feeling the need to replace them each time I had to replace a vehicle. Yet I would not refrain from putting one on my bumper if it caught my fancy.

These days when I find it necessary or appropriate to speak of the Divine in general company I am as apt to say ‘God’ as ‘Goddess’ or ‘The Gods’. I have seen that getting caught up in nomenclature or schematics lessons somehow the sacredness of what one speaks of. If I am asked what Church I go to (a common question here in the South) I tell them. I don’t use flowery or holier- than -thou phrases such as ‘Nature is my Church’.

I say I am Pagan, if need be I say I am ‘Witch’, but more than that, I say I am a person of faith. And in some eyes I see the flash of recognition and in others I see distrust and incomprehension. These things no longer bother me. I am not meant to crusade. Neither am I, or my life, meant to be perfect. I can lapse in my old ways from time to time without being ‘lost’. I can make mistakes.

These days my Pentacle hangs on the lamppost in my yard. It hangs there for protection of my home and property as well as a nod to The Craft. It matters not who sees it and who does not. My home is Pagan and I call it a Temple House. It is where our rituals are mostly held. Where our classes are held. Where I sit and work on my computer on things that are important to the Temple. It is filled with altars which range from very simple to elaborate. Like all things, they change as they should, and I understand one does not need the trappings of religion to walk one’s faith. The house is lived in. It is welcoming to The Gods and Spirits I call, to my blood family and my Temple family and to visitors who come and go. It is meant to be welcoming to visitors of all faith and I believe for the most part it is. It is a work in progress, like the Temple itself. Like all things which grow and change. Like me.

I returned to the place I was born and raised after a twenty-year hiatus. It is a rural area in the Wilds of Tennessee, deep in the Bible Belt. It is a wonderful and beautiful place and the people are wonderful and beautiful too. Yet suspicions and prejudices linger along side traditions that smack of the Old Religion. I am known as a Witch and there is no mistake I am ‘the Real Thing’. At first I was humored, seen as a local girl who went ‘Out West’ and got some very strange ideas. There is often surprise when it is learned I was first introduced to the Craft in good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee. But here in the Wilds, Nashville, too, is a long way and there are many strange ideas to be found there. Maybe not as strange as ‘Out West’, but still strange.

When the realization came that this is not a passing fad for me, and that not only did I practice what I believed but ‘preached’ what I practiced the attitudes began to change. Family members and childhood friends, some I loved dearly and had missed for a long time, began to avoid me. Their attempts to ‘save my soul’ fell on deaf ears, and I took offense to being prayed for in Churches that I would ‘find my way and be saved’. They could not convert me, could not understand when I asked ‘saved from what?’ or said ‘I’m already saved’. And so I became a lost cause and to some a threat. There is no brand of persecution as scorching as that of those we know and love. My invitations to my home were unanswered by some. It became clear there were homes in which I was no longer welcome.

The Goddess does not demand sacrifice though at times it may seem so. I eventually came to understand that in order to have the things I found important in my life there were some things that by nature had to go. There is always grief, but as all things it passes and is, if not understood, accepted.

There were those who came and went. And there are those who stayed. Rituals of one became rituals of two and then three and then as many as fifteen at any given time. Others want card readings or advice or a little magick to ‘help out a situation’. Sometimes they are open about it and do not care who knows or what is thought of their association with me. Sometimes they come on the sly. I have learned to recognize those who come for a reason, such as the Goddess may have, and those who want what I can give and firmly believe me to be going to a Christian hell. There are those who do not care what becomes of me, but care about what it is I can do. Sometimes I still grow angry, usually out of hurt from the fall of one who I may have at some point respected. Mostly I do what I feel to be right and it has become very easy.

Inevitably the question will come from somewhere: ‘How did you get into that?’ that, of course, being Paganism or Witchcraft and sometimes thinly veiled ‘in league with The Devil’. I no longer feel the need to explain how Christianity never ‘felt right’ for me, implying of course I was somehow superior to that particular belief. These days I usually shrug and say ‘Like anyone of faith, I was called to it.’ This leaves little to argue about.

In my tradition today we celebrate Lenaia at the time of Imbolc, yet like so many things, the lines are blurred and the messages are the same. This Imbolc season I find myself taking stock and reflecting on many things about my life and the Path I walk. They, this life and this path, have somewhere along the line become one and the same. Perhaps it is the knowledge of having achieved this very thing, without setting out to do so or even hoping that I could, which is causing me to reflect. Perhaps it is my age, and the realization that, though I am not so old, I have most certainly lived longer in this life than I am going to live. It could be the weathering of so many changes over the last several years, some devastating enough to make me question my faith. Having come to terms with myself I have accepted many things I thought I could not. I can do this; accept these things, because at some point I began to trust that my Gods know what they are doing.

In January of 2001, I performed a solitary ritual outside in the yard at the old house my brother and I shared, divorced siblings clinging together in the changes of life. This was many years after I had picked up my first Tarot deck and felt the power of Otherworlds and the promise of mysteries revealed in them. It was cold and the Full Winter Moon rose high in a dark and starless sky. The moon was the color of ecru and its light brightened and dimmed with my incantation and my song. I had felt and witnessed the Power of the presence of the Divine before. I had seen first hand the workings of magick. Yet this was different. It was as if I were tapped on the shoulder. I had the feeling that Someone had finally gotten my attention. She had been waiting patiently for me to notice She wanted my attention. The voice I heard on the Wind, though the night was Windless, was real even though I could not make out the words. It was as if there was one voice, no, a thousand voices, and though the words were unintelligible I knew they said ‘Follow Me’.

I did not call the God and Goddess by name then, a last holdout of my Pentecost upbringing. They were to me The Lord and Lady. Yet I knew there were names, many names, and I would come to know Them. Although I became a Priestess of Hekate, it was Diana, the Huntress Mother, who called to me that night. I now know Her feel and Her smell and I recognize Her voice. When I hear Her name mentioned I see in my mind’s eye the silver disk floating in the Winter Sky. I often thank Her for calling me.

It wasn’t long after that I held my first private Imbolc ritual, as I have ever since, as I will continue to do. The day was sunny, bright, and cold. The kind of day that often depressed me. With stick incense in hand (patchouli because that is all I had) and the instructions from Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca’ in my head I picked my way through the thickets behind our rental house. I found a clearing and sat down, my nose running and the frozen ground pressing against my too thin pants for the weather. I meditated in silence, one thing I was only beginning to get good at. I sat there a long while, sometimes registering the sound of small animals in the thickets. Somehow understanding the sounds of the animals were gifts. I then told the Gods the things I have told them many times since:

I am Your daughter and Your lover. I give myself to You in this life and in any others to come. Set my feet upon the path You wish for me. Teach me the things I need to know. Give me the strength to learn them. I honor You and I love You. So Mote it be.

I meant those words the day I said them. And many times after, even as I wondered how hard this life has to get. I mean them now. The Gods listened and they knew I meant them and they have granted me the very things I asked for.

I love this life. It is at times messy and ugly, often chaotic, and on occasion extremely painful. It is equally interesting, comforting, and fun. And so there is balance. And so I am very, very blessed.

I love being Pagan. It is a wonderful thing to know what one’s path is and to be allowed to walk it. The Buddhist say ‘do the dishes for the sake of doing the dishes’. The clean dishes are only a result of doing the dishes correctly and wholeheartedly. Clean dishes are not the goal, doing the task well is the goal, everything else is, well, gravy. They say the same about the journey we call life. The journey is the point, the destination only the result of taking the journey well and wholeheartedly. Take the journey for the sake of taking the journey, walk the path for the sake of walking the path. Every now and then cast your eyes to the top of the mountain for a moment, but only a moment, focus on your goal, reassess your progress, make the proper adjustments, and get back to the task at hand.

In giving true love for the sake of giving true love, I have been given the truest of love. In giving friendship for the sake of giving friendship, I have received friendship. In being faithful for the sake of being faithful, I am given faithfulness. In giving mercy and kindness and justice for the sake of giving mercy and kindness and justice, I have received mercy and kindness and justice far beyond that I ever expected. In teaching the things I know for the sake of teaching the things I know I have been taught. And such fine teachers I have.

I walk the Pagan Path and the Path of the Priestess (and yes, Witch) for many reasons but mainly because it is my journey, what is put before me to do. It is an awesome task, an honor, and a door to many fleeting moments of happiness, which add up to a joyful life when all is said and done. Sometimes this path of mine is walked on nothing but faith because all else seems to elude me. Yet that which eludes me becomes mine if it is meant to be, and though I question and rail against the way, I am committed.

Along the way I catch the most peaceful sunrises, beautiful sunsets, healing breezes, and mighty storms. I am taught humility; I am reprimanded, led gently back when astray, and kicked hard when I need it. I am loved unconditionally and I know this without a doubt. I neither fear Death nor look for it, waiting for the rewards that I think might be my due. My rewards are many, and they are now. I may at times dread the act of dying and wonder if I will be granted a merciful death or if suffering at the end of this life is part of my lesson and task. Yet I trust that I will have what is needed for me and what is in the end the best. And I will not make that journey alone.

Those who have gone before will welcome me. The Gods will guide me and the Lady Hekate will walk with me as She always has. Cunningham pointed out that there is a difference in believing in something and knowing something. Many of the things I thought I believed I have come to know. To know a thing to be true is to accept it without having to understand it. There are many things I do understand and many things I will someday understand. But knowing, that is something that is not given lightly. It cannot be earned or bought; it can only come from walking the journey and walking it with an open heart and a willing soul.

I am one of many who aid this Phoenix we call Paganism to rise. My voice is among the silent ones who roar their presence into this world in this time. Our books and our Temples were burned and like so many things, though the way could have been easier, it had to be. Our Temples stand in our hearts and in our souls, in our country homes, and our suburban yards, in our small apartments in sprawling cities. This wonderful thing we call the Internet weaves us together across many, many miles. We have new books with words from Powerful hearts. We have remnants from the past which survive and which are important yet unimportant and therefore kept in perspective. We have the new and the old in which to learn and to build from. Balance. As it should be.

I am parched with thirst, and perishing,
But drink of me, the ever-flowing spring on the right (where) there is a fair cypress.
Who are you? Where are you from?
I am a child of Earth and starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone)
— Orphic Lamella from Thessaly

I Am A Witch! Hear Me Roar!

I Am A Witch! Hear Me Roar!

Author: Diana Midnight

 

I remember when I was a little girl; I used to ask my mother why we never went to church like other families. My mother used to come up with various excuse, and I kept asking anyway.
Later in life I became friends with the little Christian girl down the street. If I wanted to spend the night on Saturdays they told me I had to go to church with them the next day. I didn’t mind, it was a new experience in my life, and I had always wanted to go. Since we were younger kids, we got to go to youth group. They talked about god and did booklets; by the end of the class they did trivia.

Being stuck watching OPB all my life, I learned a lot about all religions and they had lots of stories from the Bible. Anyway, while my friend goofed off I listened to the teacher. For some reason things didn’t feel right. It felt wrong as soon as I stepped inside the building, I couldn’t breathe and I felt judged. Despite my discomfort, I was respectful and used my manners. I helped my friend answer all the questions, even though she should of known the answers herself. At the end of class, before we were allowed to leave, the teacher asked us a very personal question. “Have you excepted Jesus Christ into you heart?”.

It was said to the whole class, but seeing as I was the new kid, I knew it was directed at me. She told us that if anyone hadn’t that we should all close our eyes and raise our hand. I slowly raised my hand. I knew that for me that this was a brave move. I was the only one. She told us to put down our hands and open our eyes. Our eyes met and she told the class (Well, just me really.) that if we wanted to accept Jesus into our heart we could stay after class and talk to her.

When my friend and I were at the door she looked at me and gave me the meanest most judgmental look I had ever seen. I was glad to get out of there; I knew that I could never be a Christian. After that experience, I was ashamed to claim any religion as my own. I felt that they were all to judgmental and that I’d rather spend my time out in nature.

I’ve always loved nature. Night or day, sunny or cloudy, wet or dry…It’s all so beautiful, so MAGICAL. I could sit in one spot for hours, just laying in the grass and listening to the animals or playing in the water and making images in the sand. In a way, I was always a Pagan, a Witch. But I never put a label on my love for nature, for the Earth.

Watching the moon and stars was just a hobby: hikes and walk in the park just something I did for fun. Gardening. That was what first got my interested in Wicca and Paganism. I could make anything grow, and the results were amazing. I wanted to learn more. I started reading books on herbs and natural medicine. I went online a lot, because I often kept library books too long and my late fees were amazing (and not in a good way.) . I often stumbled onto a few Wiccan websites talking about using herbs for magick as well as medicine. I was…intrigued. I just couldn’t help myself.

Herb lore was an important thing in natural medicine. We wouldn’t have figured out more then half of the things in modern medicine if it weren’t for fork lore. Well, after a while I started to read about the other parts of Wicca. I read everything I could find or put my hands on. The library was limited for Wicca. Judaism and Christianity books filled the shelves, and I found only three books. Sad, I know.

The web was my only unlimited source. But before you get the good you must first sift through the bad. Which is a lot of work, and takes hours upon hours to work through. If I saw sites that spelled magick as “magic”, I ignored them. I ignored websites with free love spells and that told you if you buy their services you could get back your ex or become rich. I focused on the spiritual part of the religion, and that cut out all the weirdoes and creeps. I studied and studied, never stopping, always reading and learning.

Finally, after much study, I decided to call myself a Pagan. It felt as if a great weight was lifted from my shoulders, and as if my spirit was lighter. It felt RIGHT. It was if I was always meant to be Pagan. I was 13 years old by then. 2 years had passed before I was brave enough and sure enough of myself to claim such a strong connection to the Earth and others. I kept telling myself, you’re a WITCH! My passion for my religion made my heart sing, it was the deep bass of thunder, a lions roar. It could never be contained!

Of course I had to tell my family, I was so proud of myself. My father took it well; he wasn’t surprised at all. My mother…well, she was raised Catholic. I don’t think she even took me seriously, or if she did she thought I was crazy. My little brother was (and still is) rude and told his friends that I only thought I was a Pagan and didn’t even celebrate the holidays. Little did he know, I had been celebrating them for years. As for my big brother, he thought I was an idiot. I knew he wanted me to be a Christian, and like my childhood friend, probably thought (and still thinks) I’m going to Hell.

Personally, I not worried. I’m not sure if my big brother ever found out, but his wife (now his ex) after finding out, gave me a small spell book. “The little book of spells” was cute but very cliché. I loved it, it had novelty and it showed that not all Christians thought the same about Wiccans/Pagans. It showed that I had the love and respect of my sister in law.

I’ve been a Pagan for 6 years now, and I will be forever more. I am proud of myself and what I’m apart of. I shall never be ashamed to be me. We are all Earth’s children, and all of us have a need for faith. Even if we hear our wisdom from different voices. That little Christian girl and me are still best friends, despite religious differences. She listens instead of tuning out when I mention something involving my religion. I do the same for her, and I believe no matter what we need to listen to others even if we don’t want to hear it.

I’ve been working on a Book of Shadows for a few months now. My love of poetry has really helped with that, and with all I know about herbs my book is filling fast. I’m hoping that one day I can share the Earth’s wisdom with my children and grandchildren, and hopefully they do the same.

May the Goddess bless you and light your path in your times of darkness.

Blessed Be! XOXO

The Secret of the Witch

The Secret of the Witch

Author: Lady Lira

Keeping something a secret is sometimes one of the hardest things a person might have to do, especially if it’s a really big, juicy, important secret.

Like being a witch.

It’s tough to hide part of who you are, but the fact is large sums of pagans out there have to do it every day. Perhaps your co-worker is a Druid, or your classmate is a Wiccan. Maybe your Aunt Marge is a Hedge Witch, or that stranger walking down the street is a Shaman. You may never know it, even when they’re staring you right in the face…all because they keep it a secret.

I, like most pagans, have to live with the secret that I am studying the Magickal Arts. My mom is aware that I’ve dabbled in a bit of Wicca, and goddess bless her open-minded soul, but it’s not a topic that I’m too eager to bring up at dinner-time, since she’s not too fond of religious discussions. But except for her, I keep my secret hidden from the rest of the world, afraid that I’ll be beaten down for my ‘offbeat’ interests.

I was raised Christian, since the majority of the family followed that faith though it wasn’t long before I (and my mother) began to fade away from the church (I was probably about eleven at the time) . Eventually we became agnostic, though it took a while before the guilt of not believing in the Bible eased up. I found myself feeling lost and confused with no solid beliefs, and often wondered about those heavy universal questions: “How?” and “Why?”

I was so frustrated with the world, and I couldn’t seem to sort out what was truth and what was just a bunch of woven lies.

Growing up, even in a Christian family, I had always adored magic (k) and fantasy. I was always the kid who wanted to believe in something a little longer than she should, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I was the avid Harry Potter Fan, even though my grandma looked down begrudgingly on its witchly contents. In my heart, I knew it was all real to some degree. It HAD to be real…the magic (k) , the wonder, the dreams of a young child. Because if it wasn’t…then I would have lost a part of my soul.

It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I came across the workings of real Witchcraft. A good online friend admitted to me the experiences she went through as a young teen Wiccan- the fun and wonder it brought her, but also the terrible mockery and discrimination she faced.

That night I decided to Google ‘Wicca’ and ‘Witchcraft’ and I found pages and pages of beliefs and a wealth of information. Wicca and all its forms (from Fae and Draconic to Gardnerian and Alexandrian and all the versions in between) , Druidry, Shamanism, Dianic, Minoan, Eclectic… the list went on forever! I couldn’t believe it! All these different religions, and they all practice magick? Real, actual magick? Plus they tied in with my growing love of ancient mythology!

I was enthralled, intrigued, and deliriously delighted beyond my wildest and craziest dreams. I had stumbled upon the secret, the part of myself that I would mask from my friends and classmates. I’d discovered the occult arts, “The knowledge of the hidden, ” as it translates. I was back on the path to spiritual enlightenment, and very excited (Well, it was more like I was wandering through the woods, edging clumsily toward the path) . I looked into Wicca more closely, and found was one of the closest religions I had found yet that complimented my personality. I’ve been on and off then on again in my study, learning what I can, when I can, always tempted by the oh-so-fascinating and mysterious subject.

My Wondrous Path So Far: I keep a tiny composition notebook wrapped in rustic brown paper that serves as an inconspicuous Book of Shadows, and any form of an altar is yet to be set up. I’m still trying to discover what Gods and Goddesses I will follow, but that is all part of my journey in finding my path and myself. As far as any books involving Wicca or Witchcraft… they are allowed to rest freely on my rickety wooden shelf, except when company stops by for an over-night visit. Sometimes I feel more comfortable hiding them away under the bed or a crummy sofa cushion just to avoid any awkward questions.

It’s not something I want to hide, the fact that I started studying witchcraft, but I feel its necessary in my time and place, at least for now. I’m dominated by a school world ruled by the concept of Bully vs. Victim, a hub where even the slightly weird, unique, or unordinary are picked on and laughed at.

It can be like that even in the adult world, which leads to the main reason why so many prefer to study in secret rather than express themselves out in the open: It’s the fear of not being accepted, or being “disowned” by your extra faithful Christian family. It’s the the worry that maybe your friends will give you a funny look or your boyfriend will call you crazy. No one wants to feel ashamed or un-liked, so in many cases, it is easer to simply keep silent.

I congratulate those who are brave enough to proclaim their faith, and I remind those of you who have open-minded and accepting friends, family, or coven members that you are very fortunate. I end here by saying that though it may be a secret now, it is also one of the greatest gifts. Perhaps one day soon I will able to feel more comfortable and open about discussing my ambitious pursuit of magickal knowledge.

As I continue to learn and explore the Craft, I continue to grow as a person…

And I continue to hold the secret of the witch.