by Joey Morris
There is truth in witchcraft.
Most who imbibe the divine waters of this path are Seekers; searching with an innate hunger for a deeper truth, embracing spiritual ecstasy, or keenly divining a sense of explanation to a world that has always seemed more to them than popular convention would admit.
Truth is not always simple, easy, or beautiful.
Truth sometimes takes the form of the darkest shadow that howls at you from beneath the bed at the witching hour, or the crushing admission of weakness at inopportune moments.
Lately it has been the itch under the skin of this witch that opposes the idea of constant unwavering gratitude that so infects modern spiritual schools of thought;
“If we are to be wholesome, spiritual and good; then we must always be grateful.”
Whilst gratitude certainly has its place, surely to prompt dogmatic gratitude is an off-kilter notion that glorifies a hollow falsehood; we as human beings (let alone witches) are not, in any fashion, in a sense of permanence.
Everything has its season and to be dismissive of those drives which leave us feeling ungrateful is to promote a stagnation; to deny that initial embracing of truthful searching.
We have to dismiss the idea that we should plaster gratitude like a band aid, smile meaninglessly if we are hurting, or pretend that itch under our skin does not exist and instead seek deeper understanding.
Now I’m not saying for a second that I encourage you to adopt a blasé attitude, or whine about everything you don’t currently have, or start looking all gift horses in the mouth or anything but there is something truly sinister behind this concept of the passive aggressive attacking with gratitude attitude which gives me spiritual hives…
1) Gratitude attitude as a drive killer…
One unfortunate conclusion of the modern spiritual dogma of gratitude attitude can, in extremes, lead to complete demoralisation and utter complacency which stagnates and binds our life force as witches.
Witchcraft and the accompanying concept of magick is often described in terms of change;
“Many Witches’ first definition of magick is a variation of Crowley’s famous one, “Magick is the art and science of causing change in conformity with Will.” I like to add the world spirituality…” – Christopher Penczak, The Temple of High Witchcraft Llewellyn Publications 2007 p64
In stark contrast the idea behind modern interpretations of gratitude is that you should be unceasingly grateful for those gifts you already possess.
There are times when this notion becomes oppressive, force feeding you a notion that a submissive smiling ‘Thank you ever so much, Sir’ submissive attitude is preferable to the fiery artistic yearning deep within your soul to create, speak, protest and liberate.
Whilst I am firmly against the idea of greed being a worthwhile concept, it seems that to invest so heavily in the idea that you should be grateful for the life you have denies the purpose of inner drive to accomplish more.
It almost feels as though it is the antithesis of passion.
Passion has been at the forefront of the mind of this witch this month especially in modern political circumstance which seems keen to oppress and silence anyone different.
Passion is vital, for change, for success, and for witchcraft.
“A recipe for Success? Passion. Passion. Passion. In order to achieve success at any given area, there has to be passion, with bells on. Passion for what you do will see you through the difficult and hard times, it pushes you past the point of ever giving up, because when something is your passion, it can never be described as ‘simply.’ It is not ‘simply’ a profession, or a job. Passion transforms that into artistry. It is not ‘simply’ a hobby. It is a soul calling mission. No one can claim your work to be less than it is when you’re passionate about it, that ‘simply’ won’t fly. That’s also why many projects don’t succeed; because it’s not your passion, your calling, your work. The same can be said for romances, friendships, even magick. If you’re not willing to go a little crazy with the overwhelming sense of love and passion you have for it, well then, you’re not invested.” – Joey Morris 2017
It is fully possible to be passionate about your life both in terms of achievement and potential, in fact it seems a preferable mindset to the lacklustre gratitude; for you can fully embrace your experiences, roadblocks, trials and tribulations as well as the need to be more, in whatever fashion appeals most truthful to your soul.
“It’s just what I’m built to do. I’m a bitch, a hustler, a dangerous force, a spell caster, a whore. And I’ve got a heart of gold, but my golden heart now hereby officially off-limits to the non-leaders and non-hustlers of the witching world.” – Carolyn Elliot in A Love letter to filthy transgressive Witches and Whores
2) “If everything’s super…
… then nothing is.”
Yes, I’m deliberately misquoting The Incredibles.
The act of gratitude for a witch can absolutely be completely sacred; rituals and spells that relate pure truthful gratitude towards the universe, the Gods, and other people can be soul enriching, deeply meaningful and humbling.
In one instant your heart can swell with the enormity of a situation, until the emotion seems to burst within, filling you completely with a healing, connective force beyond description.
These occasions deserve to be respected, and honoured, and highlighted for what they are; powerful, truthful and infrequent enough to emphasize their specialness.
The idea of constant gratitude in contrast rings hollow; it is fake, and simply untrue.
Human beings, which we all are at our core, are not always grateful and whilst we can always aim to be graceful (ergo not dismissive or rude about other people’s gifts or words, or indeed about our own lives) not every event merits a ticker tape parade. Gratitude is a response felt on a sliding scale, which is something hardly ever mentioned in articles encouraging permanent gratitude.
A simple thank you can be good manners above all; especially when someone has made an effort on your behalf; it is a beneficial habit… but over gushing at any given opportunity lends itself to a disbelief about the sincerity of your emotions.
Furthermore there are times when gratitude should not be the response given, even if that is the expected response.
Honesty in situations which are designed to bully you into acquiescence is the trademark of a strong witch; refuse to be told when you should be grateful, and if a situation offends you; speak up.
The power of our voice is well known in witchcraft circles as a magical tool for effecting change; as once unleashed, words cannot be undone.
Truth is the weapon of a seeker, even if it is not a well liked truth; and if we are truly seeking a spiritual existence, we must realise when we should also be ungrateful, and speak out against oppression that causes that emotion.
3) Gratitude versus Privilege…
Stop me if you heard this one growing up; “You should be grateful for that meal, there are starving children in the world that would kill for it.”
My response was always why aren’t we sending it to them to help them out then… which was usually a bad idea in an oppressive and abusive household.
I understand that most who use this phrase or similar are likely tired parents who just want their children to eat the food they have prepared and for most it is not part of other witches shadow work of dealing with odd memories which were actually about domination, humiliation and silencing.
So, admittedly, I perhaps see darker shades in this concept than others might.
However, I cannot shake the notion that gratitude is often used to help us ignore our own privilege, it somehow becomes a balm that if we are grateful then we aren’t monstrous individuals – it becomes a soft core excuse for us to ignore our privilege when others are suffering and when even adding our voice to theirs could help create social, economic and humanitarian change.
“The Only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Burke
A perfect current mirror for this notion can be highlighted by watching the responses to the Bafta awards where Adele in her acceptance speech declared that she did not feel she ought to have won, instead honouring Beyonce and her album Lemonade.
The outpouring of responses throughout social media is indicative of this idea of gratitude versus privilege; many arguing that Adele was ungrateful, some arguing that her album was ‘superior’ and that there was no “need” for her response.
Which ultimately seeks to sterilise the act itself, in which Adele admitted she felt the burden of privilege.
Adele felt that Beyonces Lemonade album was speaking out on behalf of Black women in particular, who are marginalised.
She admitted in a sense that whilst she was grateful for recognition, that the impactful nature of artistry which highlighted the oppression and suffering of Black women and sought to give them empowerment was vital, and deserved recognition.
Lemonade was a step outside convention, the usual accepted social norms, and could affect real change.
Adele was not ungrateful as some have suggested, she simply spoke her truth.
Spirituality can be completely toxic in terms of ignoring other peoples truths; it rears its head in discussions of witchcraft, especially those that promote the idea that we should live as our ancestors did, worship as they did, ignoring the global scale on which we currently live and the accessibility to the histories of people who are not our own.
Privilege and worse, the dividing of individuals based on hateful concepts emerges with those who claim that you have no right to follow a certain path based on your ancestry, colour of your skin or your sexuality.
There is a whole vast chasm of difference of being grateful for who you are versus this ugliness, but unfortunately gratitude can become a wall of ignorance to hide behind.
Admitting the truth of personal privilege doesn’t make you a monster, it just means that you are aware of unfairness in the world, and where possible, would seek to eliminate such discrimination.
4) Conceal don’t feel…
…don’t let them know.
This follows on neatly from the idea of gratitude and privilege as frequently it is the goal of those who do not wish to hear passionate points of view… comfortable with social norms as they are and the state of things, they tell people they ought to be grateful in order to silence them, and this often devolves into a form of emotional abuse.
“You should be grateful it was not any worse.”
Sadly, the idea that it could have been worse is something which is frequently cited by survivors of abuse as a coping mechanism as well as something which is said to survivors by others.
It is a damaging phrase which seeks to minimize the pain and experience of one individual rather than seeking to empathise or understand.
Spiritual paths are often sought out by those who have, at some point, experienced soul shattering forms of pain, they understand difficulty and the ugly sides of humanity and wish to evolve; seeking to be the metaphorical and even metaphysical Phoenix which transforms from the ashes which burnt them so horribly.
Witches stand at the font of change, with their fingers pressed to the energetic pulse of the world, sensing beyond the veil, creating and shaping reality, and ultimately seeking that change from within.
Every experience acts as a form of personal alchemy; shaping us into ever evolving individuals; every emotion is not only valid but necessary in this process.
Demeaning any individuals personal experiences is beneath us, it lowers us to a pettiness which takes away from our humanity, and shows us that we have limited thinking as we cannot accept or comprehend that which is other.
And surely, this is against the very core nature of what it means to be a witch.
A witch is other, wild, strange, and different…
Living by comparison to what others are doing, or feeling takes away from our realness and devalues not only our experiences (even if we are misguidedly seeking to elevate our experiences) as well as other peoples.
Telling people they should be grateful that their experience was not more horrifying shows a complete lack of empathy and distorts gratitude into a weapon to injure others around us, and for what?
To pretend the world isn’t quite such a scary place after all?
Stare into the void, witches. Refuse to give in to fear. Make a difference.
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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