Monday, August 29, 2016
So you want to be a Witch. Well, that's just fine...But are you sure?
Because this isn't going to be easy. It's going to take a lot of study and practice. It's going to be a lot of trial and error and things are going to go slowly at the beginning, because you're going to have to establish a personal rapport with the Natural world. It takes time and effort. Things that work for others may not work for you, and I will guarantee that they will not work for you in the same way as they work for others...because we all have different energy. We all vibrate on an individually unique level. Establishing that relationship with the forces of Nature is crucial to your success in using magick. This isn't Charmed or Practical Magic where you throw a fireball at an opponent to disable them. It doesn't work that way; being a Witch doesn't employ Hollywood special effects.
One does not simply sit down one day and decide to be a Witch. Calling yourself a Witch, plopping a pointy hat on your head, donning a flowing cape and carrying a broom doesn't make you a Witch
(although those things are all fun outward signs of such). Reading one-or fifty- books on Witchcraft doesn't make you a Witch. Knowledge and use of those things unseen is what makes you a Witch.
That's why Witchcraft is called the Craft of the Wise. .You must acquire knowledge and skill, which only comes with practice and putting what you have learned to use in everyday life. There are no shortcuts; I've been a practitioner for nearly 45 years now, and I'm still learning because Witchcraft is an art and process. I didn't learn everything I know straight away, and in fact when I began I didn't even have a name for what I was doing. I certainly never dreamed that it was Witchcraft. And because I had no mentor back in those years, I never dreamed that the little things I was doing were actually spell casting or ritual. I did things intuitively, in a place that felt safe, secluded away from others, where I felt close to Nature, and where Nature returned my efforts with the gift of powers to perfect and use. I always felt different from others in that way: not special, just different. And my inherent feeling turned out to be true: I had the ability to use the energy and forces of Nature in ways that were beyond the mundane. Nothing spectacular and flashy, mind you...but they were there. My ability grew as I studied on my own and finally with a group of like minded individuals who had their own unique set of abilities.
Finding the power in the forces of the natural world requires concentration and attunement in order to become sensitive to the vibrations around you. Some of us are better than others at this, but I believe that all humans are born with their own level of sensitivity, and that the majority of us loose this as we age due to the outside influences of society and culture. It's much like childhood imagination which simply goes away in some individuals...and thrives in others.
Back to those books...A book, any book, is not ever the 'end-all' because books should be used for a reference. I have a few books I favor because I like the author's style of writing and the way they disseminate information, but none of those books or authors are the final word or authority on any one given subject on magick or Witchcraft. And while those authors can be considered as teachers when no other is available even one-on-one teachers are merely guides. The power begins with you and comes from inside; books and teachers are vessels that help release the power within. Books are the spark of imagination that make you think; but the power has been yours all along. That's why you should never become so attached to a book ( or author) in a way that limits your practice. Like using a map or GPS when driving, you use other things when making the journey: your eyes and intuition and what is around you. Maps are used for reference. Sometimes the GPS takes you off course. It's the same with books.
While I have a deep and abiding regard for tradition, I am not a student of the "stand here and do this" school of magick. You can do things your own way (within reason), and to be honest, none of the really good authors or actual teachers I have studied with have demanded rigid compliance to instruction. Nearly all of them allow 'wiggle room' for individuality, and in fact most encourage it. Doing things rigidly 'by the book is', in my humble opinion, only a poor imitation of what someone else has done. I believe that not only does the power lie within you, I believe that the energy comes from the essence of what you are doing. I am a firm believer in putting yourself into your work and personalizing it-re-write a spell to suit your intention, make substitutions, use tools you are comfortable with, dress comfortably. The knowledge of correspondences and herbs, etc., are all still necessary, but so is learning to use them in new and unique ways. The magick doesn't come from these things. The magick is you. ( There are many schools of thought on the subject of magick and this is only mine. You may like someone else's, or develop your own.) My own thoughts on the subject are if the information you are using has no real resonance with you, then it's essentially useless. Others believe differently. I think it goes back to that respect for tradition I spoke about earlier. For me, Witchcraft, like everything in our world, has evolved and changed over the years. What was useful back in an age when occult knowledge was hidden from the general population was like that for a reason which may still hold value, but our world is not the same, and we develop new understanding all the time.
In the beginning, Witches and cunning folk used what was available to them. They wrote their own words and conjured spells in a way that was personal and meaningful to themselves. The energies available to them came from the vibration and essence of those things. That's why their magick worked. That's how they used the Universal forces of Nature to their benefit. That's what made them who they were. And so can you!
Before I end this little pep talk, I do want to say something about negative elements. You may have heard about the Law of Return, that "whatever you put out come back to you three times". Phyllis Currot, a respected Wiccan High Priestess and author, charmingly calls it the "Boomerang Whammy Rule". It has to do more with the Hindu belief in karma than anything to do with magick. Nature is neither good nor evil. Dark and light need one another (Stars still shine in the daylight but are only seen at night). Universal energy is neither positive or negative but is receptive to the manner in which it is used. Why? Because through magick we experience immanent divinity. We literally touch God/dess and become one with the Divine and that gives us an experience of the interconnections of, well, everything. Even that nasty jackass down the street you'd like to turn into a toad. It changes your perspective. I'm not saying that witches never hex and curses are never laid-but they have their place and are used with caution because usually there is another way of handling the situation resulting in a beneficial outcome for all. No, it's not all sweetness and light, but it's too easy to get caught up by negative emotions which eat at you and will surely influence your practice in ways you'd probably regret. We don't not use negative energy because we're afraid of the repercussions, we learn ways of turning it around by finding something more effective that makes our work in tune with the holiness of the Sacred Divine. That's a lot for a beginner to think about, but everyone of us needs to do this at some point for our abilities to develop usefully.
And so...It's not about calling yourself a Witch...It's about what you want to do with the inherent birthright that is the use of personal power and the elevation of your unique vibration. Do you want to go about like the characterization of a fictional Witch, or do you want to genuinely practice the Craft of the Wise? The next move is yours...