by Joanne Morris
You have the power
Burning through your veins
It’s so ancient it sings of time
So primal it howls
Feel the Earth beneath you
Not merely in the language of flowers
But the roots of all things…”
– Joey Morris
It seems to this Witch that in current witchcraft circles a deep chasm of opinion has fractured followers of the path into seemingly distinct and separate groups. The disagreement centres around a deceptively simplistic concept; “what makes a witch really a witch versus a charlatan?”
Battle lines are quickly drawn; duels are held at dawn, the banshee screeches can be heard for miles around in a largely futile shaking of ego sticks that accomplishes very little other than a few nasty insults being slung on either side of the proverbial Witches hedge.
There are a hundred ideas as to what constitutes a “real” Witch versus a “fake” one to which an assortment of negative labels are attached, and people duel to the (figurative) death over these concepts which usually they have invented themselves.
Or read somewhere. Or received from the Almighty Holy Turnip of definitions.
The problem with this idea is that it suggests that somewhere, out there in the abyss is a correct answer; which of course is ridiculous, there is not.
Witchcraft is a highly individualised path which is constantly flowing and evolving throughout time; it should not, and arguably cannot become stagnant, lest it die a death within the heart of the practitioner.
The idea of a competitive form of witchcraft where we nose over the fence and judge people based on what we can see them doing frightens the beejezzuz out of this Witch because it represents a shallow world view of something which is meant to be loaded with emotion and spiritual significance.
The idea of comparative Witchcraft has become so notorious in the realm of social media that the term “Witch War” is instantly recognisable to those involved as a catalyst of bickering.
The art-form of respectful debate is quickly becoming lost; as opinion becomes disregarded and termed “slander” and anyone thinking or speaking from an opposing view point is defamed as though they had engaged in something shameful.
Firstly, unless we have found a way to leech the every thought and stalk the every movement of another Witch, (which sounds like a fantastic horror movie idea, call me Hollywood…) then we do not know what and how they practice, how much, when, or what colour knickers they were wearing at the time.
If they choose to share some of this information with the public at large then we might get an inkling of their craft, which we should applaud rather than condemn because it can be downright scary to speak out as a Witch into a world, which by and large still condemns those practicing magick as fruit-loops or degenerates.
You only have to look at the recent killings in Florida that were wrongly attributed to Wiccan rituals by the sheriffs there to confirm that.
Or the banning of sales of Witchcraft spells and related items on Etsy.
Or the attempted hindrance to searching for occult websites by the UK government.
You know, real causes that should cause us Witches to be outraged and disgusted rather than those we apparently seem keen to focus on.
Then we have to remember that if a person chooses to share an aspect of their craft, it is likely they have been selective in this decision; they went through a psychological process before sharing it; deciding how much they wanted to share, where to post it and even editing images attached to the idea in question.
We cannot judge a Witches path based on such limited information (although why people want to do such a thing still irks me), unless they have invited us into their lives and share an incredibly personal aspect of themselves with us, we do not know them; and if they have shared their secrets with us, what sort of person would it makes us to shame them after they trusted us?
Furthermore, it is none of our God-or-Goddess-damn business.
The only person we should be so focused on, is ourselves. How we practice, what we get out of it, what we have learned and how we are breaking the mould of who we used to be.
There comes a time in every witch’s life where we either transcend from basic to bad-ass or get stuck in a rut of basic witchery; because let’s face it, we were all new once and we had to start somewhere, picking up bad habits and believing everything we came across.
At some stage down the hedge lined path, we get a rude awakening. If it has happened to you, then you will instantly recall when it occurred; such memories tend to be burned into our psyche.
The universe, in one form or another, lets us know that we are not only human, but completely fallible, small and inconsequential. Not only that, but you were mistaken in what you thought you knew about witchcraft, magick and the world in general; shattering all your misconceptions and generally leaving you feel chewed up and spit out.
At the time, it felt like a really, really bad day, followed by a week of hellishness and many interrupted nights of soul crushing uncertainty.
It is at this low moment that we are faced with a choice; we crawl back defeated into basic witchery and pretend like nothing ever happened or we transform.
Or we let the knowledge of ineptitude and inconsequentiality wash over us like a cleansing fire and seek to rebuild ourselves; shinier, better and in most cases, at least a little humbler.
This is where I believe the divide comes from with regards to the tattered old argument as to what makes a “real” witch: from those too afraid of personal transformation who wish to cling to the familiar boundaries of basic witchcraft.
Instead of taking stock of who they are and the idea that they could be wrong, they lash out at anyone whose seen as different.
Clinging to outmoded ideas is symptomatic of those who are terrified of personal transformation; such as the concept that ancient Witches lived a certain way which inevitable gets cited as some form of template for modern Witches to go backwards instead.
There seems to be a real fear in the Witchcraft community that if we embrace who we are now, then we dismiss who our ancestors were; which feels a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Modern witches cannot live (or even pretend to) live like “ancient witches” for a number of reasons.
One, as a student of history, I am telling you we cannot say how ancient people lived. History is based on clues and we discern a reasonable explanation from that. In modern days often we get an idea in our heads about how these things were, and largely those are over simplified and wrong.
History is being challenged all the time.
We need to take our rose-tinted glasses off and stop pretending the past was better just because it is older.
Secondly, the men and women of the past wouldn’t have wanted to be called witches as for a large portion of history that term was negative, instead you would have had medicine men and women, herbalists, mid-wives; people who came under attack because they dealt with life and death, and many of them were easy targets for the ruling elite who marched them to the hangman’s noose or funeral pyre.
That is why we try to “re-claim” that word now, and wear it with pride instead of fear, at least in Western society, for it is still used as a death sentence in other parts of the world, reminding us that though we have evolved as human beings, we still have work to do.
Finally, there is no point pretending we live in any time other than the time we do. It is not better or worse than any other point in history (as much as some of us would like to live in a different period) we live in this one, for a reason.
Our ancestors died so that we might live, so let’s respect that sacrifice and honour the time in which we live.
We have many true gifts living now, the internet and social media are huge boons, as are books and videos to share knowledge, and shops to access all sorts of information we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Show me Witches complaining about the modern world and I’ll show you people who would not want to go without indoor plumbing or central heating.
Telling people that they are not “real” witches is just a form of attack because no one has the right or ability to look into another’s soul and tell them what they are.
We might look at people who act in weakness, jealousy and hatred and say “this is not what a witch is,” because such behaviour degrades the notion of what it means to be a witch, and try, by our own words and lives (because living is the example) to show a stronger, honest, integral witch and hope to inspire and lead by example.
Constantly spewing hate, threatening people, insulting peoples hard work and going around calling people names and trying to belittle them is the realm of the weak and basic Witch.
Living by example is the realm of the bad-ass witch who has done (and continues to do) the hard work, who has been through the fire and come out the other side stronger although a little singed.
Bad Witches are changed by their experiences of Witchcraft, spirituality and life in general and moreover they embrace that change, because they understand that the concept of transformation underpins what Witchcraft is all about; to affect and influence the world around us.
The world has changed and Witches along with it, and if we just get on board with that process then we can honour the past whilst letting go of it, after all,
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” – L.P. Hartley.
So forget what Miss Jones the Garden Witch at number 12 is doing. Just do you, and you will be the real-est of the real witches you ever met. You might even find that Holy Turnip.
About the Author:
Joey Morris is a Celtic Witch and Daughter of the Goddess Morrigan who shares many of her experiences on video via her YouTube channel.
The YouTube channel blends discussions of spirituality, witchcraft, the Celtic path, and the Goddess Morrigan alongside lighter topics such as visiting pagan places and witchcraft supply shopping.
It also showcases StarryeyedSupplies, which is an online metaphysical store created and ran by Joey offering a wide variety of supplies and tools for witchcraft, all handmade with magical intent.
Joey’s shop can also be found via Facebook.
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